My Top Albums of 2014
Dec 26, 2014 // read
I like music, and I like sharing music, so I thought I’d go over my favorite albums of the year.
Just a warning: some of these albums aren’t from 2014, so… Don’t get upset.
“Lost In The Dream” — The War on Drugs
I stumbled on this album by accident, when I was scrolling through new releases on Rdio. I initially enjoyed the first track, so I saved the album, but didn’t return to it until several months later. And boy am I glad I did. This album evokes the feeling of a light night drive on the highway, but in the ‘80s. Each song has a simplistic and very present drum beat, but the complex layering of strings and synth give this album a psychedelic feel. Makes for great background music, but also great music to just listen to. Favorite song: “Under the Pressure”
“Curtis Lane” — Active Child
Okay, I’m very clearly cheating here (this EP was released in 2010), but hey, I never said I was restricting this list to albums released in 2014. Any who, I’ve been a big fan of Active Child for a while since hearing You Are All I See and only recently found this EP (which I really thought was released this year, thanks to Rdio). Each track feels epic in scope, thanks to his chilling falsetto and echo-y beats. “When Your Love Is Safe” is the kind of song you want to start your day with. But maybe that’s just me. Favorite song: “When Your Love Is Safe”
“Racine Carrée” — Stromae
Again, cheating here. I actually discovered Stromae thanks to a French class I took in the spring. This album is a lot of fun to listen, too, with catchy beats and sounds deserving of a stadium. (See “moules frites.”) I’ve got to be honest, I love this album largely because it’s in French. Be sure to check out “Papaoutai,” and definitely listen with the music video, which is as good, if not better, than the song itself. Favorite song: “Papaoutai”
“Awake” — Tycho
It’s a short album, but it’s filled with ambient goodness. This album is great music to do work to: it’s high energy, lacks vocals, and provides a consistent beat, without being oppressive. His music is an interesting mix between digital sound and live instrumentation, creating at once a futuristic and nostalgic tone throughout the album. No favorite track here. It’s all good.
“PHOX” — Phox
This is probably the only “happy” and “upbeat” album on my list. Their folk/pop sounds oozes bubbly feelings of summer. Take “Slow Motion”: mandolin, clapping hands, and whistling galore. The leads’ alto vocals are raspy while also being liquidy smooth. Their sound is addicting. Favorite song: “Laura”
“White Women” — Chromeo
This isn’t so much a commendation to the album as it is for one particular song: ”Old 45’s”. I was so convinced this was going to be the song of the summer, but I was woefully wrong. I just love this song. It sounds straight out of the ‘70s. But it’s so catchy! When the chorus comes on, it makes me want to dance, which is saying something.
“Handwritten” by Gaslight Anthem
Speaking of 45s, “45” on Gaslight’s 4th album is another summer song that makes me want to blast this in my car stereo while careening down the highway. This album is the rock song that you’ve been looking for in recent years, but haven’t been able to find. Their Americana and folks roots are particularly apparent on this album. I love “Howl,” which is a response to Springsteen’s “Thunder Road.” Favorite song: “Blue Dahlia”
“High Violet” — The National
Yep, cheating again. An album nowhere near 2014, but I only heard the album for the first time this year. The National for me is the matured sound of the cathartic punk music I listened to back in high school. Each track is meditative and poetic, given weight by Matt Berninger heavy baritone. Favorite song: “Bloodbuzz Ohio”
“Harlequin Dream” — Boy & Bear
A great album for the fall. Their sound is similar to The War on Drugs, but folkier. I would also compare their sound to Fleet Foxes. Full of catchy riffs and atmospheric vocals, this album had a lot of replay value. I recommend listening to this album while going for a walk through fallen leaves. Favorite song: “Southern Sun”
Okay, I swear the rest of these are actually from 2014…
“Ryan Adams” — Ryan Adams
Believe it or not, I first heard Ryan Adams on Conan. I know, what kind of millennial am I? Anyway, this album is odd to me because in many ways I find it kind of bland. He has clear Americana roots, reminding me of Springsteen and Stephen Kellogg, which I like, but the tracks on this record lack the complexity of say, Ben Howard, who I’ll mention next. Still, I found myself replaying this album and humming “Wrecking Ball” for months at a time. Favorite song: “Wrecking Ball”
“I Forget Where We Were” — Ben Howard
As someone who dabbles on the guitar, I have so much respect and appreciation for Ben Howard. He keeps the singer/songwriter genre from becoming stale. Still, I thought his previous album, “Every Kingdom,” had more replay value for me than this one. That’s not to say that this album isn’t great. It’s definitely his darkest work yet.
"Ghost Stories" — Coldplay
I’ve appreciated Coldplay in the play for select songs here and there, but never enjoyed their albums in their entirety. I saw this album on someone else’s best of 2014 list, and I was really surprised by this one. I’m going to forever associate this album with an all-nighter I pulled for a final paper, but that’s beside the point. The album has a chill, downtempo feel, with “A Sky Full of Stars” as an exception. Favorite song: “Midnight”
“Resurrection” — New Found Glory
New Found Glory was one of the first bands I started listening to as a kid that wasn’t passed down from my parents. They’ve been around forever and have produced about a dozen albums, yet each one manages to retain their own tone. I was really disappointed with “Radiosurgery” from a few years ago, which I thought was pretty bland, but this one reclaims their stake as one of the definitive pop-punk bands of our generation. It’s an all-around fun album. I still miss the maturity they displayed in “Coming Home,” and wish they’d put out more like that. Favorite song: “The Worst Person”
"Sonic Highways" — Foo Fighters
I haven’t really fallen for any of their albums since “In Your Honor” (2005), but this album brought me back. I haven’t had a chance to watch the mini-series that inspired this album, but it’s on my queue. Favorite song: “I Am A River”
In case you wanted a sampling of everything, I put together a playlist of a song from each album! There are links below for both Rdio and Spotify.