Best Albums of 2014

So, I know this is a board about tv, movies, and podcasts so please let me know if this is out of bounds and I won't ever do a non-tv related music post again, but since we've got a couple of Best of 2014 threads going I thought I would kick "Best Albums of the Year" out there.

I was really listening to a lot of things during the first half of the year, but I've been heavy into podcasts for the last few months so there is a ton of stuff that I need to listen to, and I am not really ready to put a stamp on a "top 5" just yet, but some of the better records I've come across so far:

Cymbals Eat Guitars - Lose
Herzog - Boys
Sharon Van Etten - Are We There
Parquet Courts - Sunbathing Animal
Hospitality - Trouble
Wye Oak - Shriek
Real Estate - Atlas
Margot and the Nuclear So and Sos - Slingshot to Heaven
Ex Hex - Rips
LVL UP - Hoodwink'd
and I just started listening to Run the Jewels which is pretty awesome.

What have you guys been listening to?


  • This is a perfect place for a music discussion. I also started a music thread last night in General.

    You listed a lot of bands I'm not familiar with. I'll have to check them out. I always love finding new music.

    I just recently became acquainted with Van Etten. We went to the same high school and I first heard her songs last year when she opened for Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds. She also did some fine backup singing for those shows. And then there was that song which appeared in TWD last season. I'll have to pick up this new album of hers soon.

    I've yet to start considering a top 5 or 10. I'll be revisiting this pretty soon.
  • TravisTravis CA
    edited December 2014
    I'm glad you're up for some music discussion. I always like talking year end wrap ups and hopefully finding some good records that I missed.

    I'm a big SVE fan. She's just awesome. I heard about her doing the Nick Cave support and that sounded like it would be a good show. I don't think they came out to L.A. though. I really enjoyed seeing her open for the National a couple years ago though. As much as I did like this album a lot I think I liked the two that preceded it a little better. Tramp is really, really good (it has the album version of the TWD song on it, the one from the show was a demo and the album cut is actually kind of a rocker. I like it both ways a lot). She has such a cool voice. That's cool that you guys went to the same high school. Thanks for mentioning that you put a music thread up. I hadn't seen it yet.

    For what it's worth, I'm listening to a record by this group called Protomartyr that I'd never heard of until a couple of days ago and it's really good. This is going to be a tough year to narrow down. A lot of good stuff.
  • broompersonbroomperson the Iron Islands
    I'm a big fan of The War on Drugs "Lost in the Dream", Death Grips "niggas on the moon", "RTJ 2" by Run the Jewels, and J. Cole's new album just came out and I'm not usually a fan but I like the album "2014 Forest Hills Drive".
  • WarpFoxWarpFox Nashville, TN
    @TravisSmith‌ I've not heard of any of those artists. What genre(s) are they?
  • @WarpFox‌ this is probably WAY more than you asked for, but:
    Cymbals Eat Guitars is kind of an esoteric rock band, maybe along the lines of Built to Spill with a splash of a more arena-esque sound.
    Herzog is an indie rock band. Kind of a more modern and a bit more radio friendly Pavement, Guided By Voices sound. LVL UP and Parquet Courts are kind of in this vain too, but not so much with the radio friendlier side.
    Hospitality kind of reminds me of Elastica. Not exactly the same, but a lot of similarities there.
    Sharon Van Etten is at her roots kind of folky and the songwriting style fits that, but she has introduced more of a rock band feel for her last 2 records. Kind of think (and it is literally what happened on her previous release) of a darker type folk artist getting hooked up with people from the National. Her song (though it was an acoustic demo) was playing on TWD over the final scenes of the episode when Carol got kicked out of the group during the prison when they had the montage of people driving around.
    Wye Oak changes their sound a lot. This album, as much as I like it a lot, is a bit of a step back for them. This record is really atmospheric and artsy. Jenn Wasner (the singer/songwriter) said that this is a record about overcoming extreme anxiety and finding peace, and I think it is pretty audible in the record. Their earlier stuff had a lot more elements of rock in it. This record is a total gear shift (for what it's worth of the people that I talk to who know their stuff, they hate this record).
    Real Estate is mellow indie pop rock.
    Margot and the Nuclear So and Sos is a kind of artsy alt rock band. This album is WAY mellower than their other stuff (about half of it is basically a folk record). I didn't like it for the first spin or two, but there was something that kept me coming back to it (maybe it's just that I've been a pretty big fan for a few years), but I came around on it and like it a lot now.
    Ex-Hex is along the lines of Sleater-Kinney. Kind of in that grey area between indie rock and poppy punk.
    Run the Jewels is a rap act. I'm not so up on how the sort of genre tree works in hip hop or how to articulate it well (I've come across a handful of amazing hip hop records in my time that I really enjoy, but it's far from my bailiwick) but they have amazing beats. A lot of cool electronic elements. El-P is f'n great. His solo record a couple of years back is fantastic too.

    @broomperson‌ I really need to revisit that War on Drugs record. I listened to it once early on and liked it but never gave it a second spin. I think I'll do that today.
  • FreddyFreddy Denton, Texas
    edited December 2014
    The best album I heard this year isn't even a retail release. Yasiin Gaye: The Departure (Side One) is a mash-up album of Mos Def and Marvin Gaye done by Soul Mates. It's not your standard youtube garage remix project though; this is a well crafted and meticulous, fully realized album. Really can't recommend it enough.
  • WarpFoxWarpFox Nashville, TN
    @TravisSmith that was excellent, I'm definitely going to check some of that out. Thanks man.
  • TravisTravis CA
    edited December 2014
    @DoctorBell‌ That sounds great! I actually have it sitting on youtube, ready to push play now. Thanks for the heads up.
    It reminds me, I don't know when it happened but have you heard the Wugazi stuff (Wu Tang Clan mash-up with Fugazi)? Some tracks are better than others but they really, really nailed it on a few. There is some really amazing stuff in there.

    @WarpFox‌ glad to hear it, man. I hope there is some stuff that you like in there. Thanks!
  • @DoctorBell‌ I'm about halfway in and that Mos Def/Marvin Gaye thing is really, really great! Thanks so much for mentioning it. It's fantastic.
  • FreddyFreddy Denton, Texas
    @TravisSmith‌ No sir, thank you for validating my taste in music! Ha ha. Seriously though, the day it got passed my way was a good one. What did you think of the track Peculiar Mathematics (#8 on the album I believe)? That song never gets old, and is easily my favorite.
  • @DoctorBell‌ Well, I am VERY important. HA!
    I've only listened to it once and I kind of let the whole thing just wash over me so I haven't really established a favorite yet, but Peculiar Mathematics was definitely something that jumped out at me. I really like that Mos Def tune and I really dug the new spin. Ms. Fat Booty also jumped out at me. I think that was the first "oh shit" moment. I'm really looking forward to going back through and digesting the whole thing further. The quality is just amazing. I liked some of that Wugazi stuff a lot, but this is a totally different league.
  • So here are my top 5 albums for 2014. This was a bit of an off year as so many of my favorite artists put out great albums last year or they are planning to release albums next year. Then there were all the artists who did put out albums that I just wasn't enthralled with. With that said, I still think this is a strong top five:

    1. The Leftovers soundtrack album. Max Richter's score for this show was gorgeous and perfect for its mood and darkness. As an album, it sounds even better.

    2. Chat Noir - Elec3cities. This is a piano, bass and drums trio from Italy. I guess they are technically jazz, although they are way more eclectic than that. They show a broad palette of tone and color on this album.

    3. Marc Ribot Trio - Live at the Village Vanguard. The guitarist is a titan, no doubt about it. And here is has the brilliant Henry Grimes and Chad Taylor on bass and drums to join him. This is an intriguing set that includes songs by Coltrane, Albert Ayler and a couple old jazz standards thrown in. Ribot's uncompromising jagged style powers through all of it.

    4. Lucinda Williams - Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone. This had me at the title. But really, Lucinda backs it up with a double album of beautifully crafted tunes.

    5. Ahmad Jamal with Yusef Lateef - Live at the Olympia. Yes, it's the second live album in a top five, but when these two octogenarian grand masters and innovators record an album together, it's going in my top 5. Oh by the way, Ahmad Jamal is playing here with the dexterity of a 20 year old and the wisdom of all of his 84 years.
  • TravisTravis CA
    edited December 2014
    This still feels preliminary because I've heard a rush of good records over the last couple of weeks, but I suppose there is no real point to a "best of the year" list that gets posted in February or March. That in mind:

    1. Cymbals Eat Guitars - Lose: I may not like it quite as much as I liked their previous release Lenses Alien, but it is definitely my favorite thing I heard this year. I love the guitar work. I love the esoteric mixed with a bit of arena-esque style. It won't be for everybody, but it's a great record.
    2. Herzog - Boys: This record feels like it would be at home in the 70s. It's fun and it rocks. It's catchy. It strings together nicely. I have this playlist in spotify where I set aside tracks for the year that I particularly enjoy so that I can build a mix at the end of the year, and at one point I realized that I had put about half of this record into it without realizing it. (I probably would have chosen the song Saint Scrapyard, but there isn't an album cut on youtube)
    3. Real Estate - Atlas: This is a really nice, mellow record. It has a very pleasant, sweeping nature that kind of creates the feel of a Sunday drive to the beach.
    4. Celestial Shore - Enter Ghost: This record is newer to me than the others on the list. I only heard it for the first time about a week and a half ago so I don't know if time will diminish my opinion on this, but it is a really striking record. It is hard to explain, but it's just very quirky. I'm totally into it.
    5. Hospitality - Trouble: They're a really great pop rock band, sometimes holding a bit of resemblance to a modern take on Elastica. This is just a really nice record with a variance of sounds and very good songs.

    @AntManBee‌ I'll have to check out that Marc Ribot one particularly. I love his work with Tom Waits.
  • okay...overkill time...I list of albums that have come out in 2014 that I've heard repeatedly (in no order):

    D’Angelo - Black Messiah
    Lake Street Dive - Bad Self Portraits
    Kiesza - Sound Of A Woman
    The Black Keys - Turn Blue
    Jack White - Lazaretto
    J. Cole - 2014 Forest Hills Drive
    Ghostface Killah - 36 Seasons
    Foo Fighters - Sonic Highways
    Fka Twigs - Lp1
    Common - Nobody's Smiling
    Childish Gambino - Kauai
    Big K.R.I.T. - Cadillactica
    Pharoahe Monch - PTSD: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
    Pharrell Williams - G I R L
    Run The Jewels 2
    Sam Smith - In The Lonely Hour
  • A_Ron_HubbardA_Ron_Hubbard Cincinnati, OH
    Wow, good stuff. I've heard of almost none of these. I'm so glad to have so many friends with good musical taste.
  • @ksa1001‌ How was the Gambino record? I liked the first one and somehow missed that he put out another. I dig that Run the Jewels record too. Good stuff.
  • ksa1001ksa1001 Plano, TX
    edited December 2014
    @TravisSmith‌ Gambino's first album "camp" was very interesting. Then the follow-up "Because the Internet" (2013) was even better. This year he released both a mixtape (STN MTN) and that EP "Kauai". Kauai is more laid back and finds him singing more, but if you missed "Because the Internet" I'd do that first, definately a favorite from last year.

    @DoctorBell‌ I got both parts of the Yaslin Gaye albums yesterday and WOW. "Black on Both Sides" has long been one of my favorite albums and I had zero clue this mash-up was out there. Thanks a million!
  • @ksa1001‌ Wow, he's been busy (or maybe it's just been longer than I remembered since Camp). Thanks a lot for the tip. I'll check out Because the Internet.

    Yeah, that Yaslin Gaye album mash up is really, really great.
  • Swans - To Be Kind
    Death Grips - niggas on the moon
    St. Vincent - Self Titled
    Perfume Genius - Too Bright
    FKA Twigs - LP1
    Bent Knee - Shiny Eyed Babies
    Timber Timbre - Hot Dreams

    Was a freakin' good year
  • I've got to try out that Swans record. I keep seeing it pop up on lists, but I haven't heard it yet.
    I never finished the St. Vincent record (got about half way through), but it was off to a good start. I think I was just in the wrong mood. I remember thinking "this is really cool, but somehow exhausting to listen to." I think that's the trouble with listening to a lot of new music at work. Splitting attention is tough with more ambitious records.
  • I've got to try out that Swans record. I keep seeing it pop up on lists, but I haven't heard it yet.
    I never finished the St. Vincent record (got about half way through), but it was off to a good start. I think I was just in the wrong mood. I remember thinking "this is really cool, but somehow exhausting to listen to." I think that's the trouble with listening to a lot of new music at work. Splitting attention is tough with more ambitious records.

    This is really funny to read because man, if you haven't heard Swans yet...well that's exhausting to listen to for sure! In the best way though. But if I ever want to run through the album I need about 2 hours open in the night to just put some headphones on and really get pulled into that beast of an album.
  • @puddingchip‌ I know what you mean. Ha! I gave it a try, but stopped about half way through Bring the Sun because I was at work and even though I liked what I was hearing a lot, I knew I wasn't really digesting/retaining anything. I definitely liked what I heard though. I'm going to have to do exactly what you said soon. It's good stuff.
  • broompersonbroomperson the Iron Islands
    I dug Lana Del Rey's Ultraviolence too. Idk if theres any love for her here or not.
  • I've only heard 1 song and it was pretty recently, but I did like it. I'll have to check out some more. I have a friend whose taste lines up well with mine likes her a lot.
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