(artwork by Dana Pacifico)

We are almost a month and a half into 2015, but I finally got around to publishing a full list of my favorites albums of 2014. There was a lot of great music released, so much so that I had to make a separate honorable mentions list of records that just missed the cut. Which makes the 50 records that did make it even more impressive.

If anything, these albums are more so my favorites of the year than “the best” as it’s all totally objective. But these were the albums that defined the 12 months of 2014, soundtracking endless drives into the cities, summer festivals, moments of solitude, as well as parties and celebrations of all kind. Looking back, it really was a pretty damn good year.

With that said, here are my 50 best albums of 2014:

50. Sharpless – The One I Wanted To Be

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Sharpless - The One I Wanted To Be

49. Kevin Morby – Still Life

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Kevin Morby - Still Life

48. Temples – Sun Structures

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Temples - Sun Structures

47. Twin Peaks – Wild Onion

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Twin Peaks - Wild Onion

46. The Drums – Encyclopedia

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The Drums - Encyclopedia

45. The Horrors – Luminous

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The Horrors - Luminous

44. The Orwells – Disgraceland

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The Orwells - Disgraceland

43. King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard – I’m In Your Mind Fuzz

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King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard - Mind Fuzz

42. White Lung – Deep Fantasy

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White Lung - Deep Fantasy

41. Caribou – Our Love

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Caribou - Our Love

40. Ariel Pink – Pom Pom

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Ariel Pink - pom pom

39. Marissa Nadler – July

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Marissa Nadler - July

38. Blake Mills – Heigh Ho

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Blake Mills - Heigh Ho

37. Bombay Bicycle Club – So Long, See You Tomorrow

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Bombay Bicycle Club - So Long, See You Tomorrow

36. Lydia Ainsworth – Right from Real

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Lydia Ainsworth - Right from Real

35. Alex G – DSU

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Alex G - DSU

34. Aphex Twin – Syro

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Aphex Twin - Syro

33. Fear Of Men – Loom

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Fear Of Men - Loom

32. Tune-Yards – Nikki Nack

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Tune-Yards - Nikki Nack

31. Amen Dunes – Love

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Amen Dunes - Love

30. Mr Twin Sister – Mr Twin Sister

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29. Hamilton Leithauser – Black Hours

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Hamilton Leithauser - Black Hours

28. Royal Blood – Royal Blood

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Royal Blood - Royal Blood

27. Sylvan Esso – Sylvan Esso

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Sylvan Esso - Sylvan Esso

26. Alt J – This Is All Yours

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Alt J - This Is All Yours

25. Sharon Van Etten – Are We There

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Sharon Van Etten - Are We There

24. Springtime Carnivore – Springtime Carnivore

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Springtime Carnivore - Springtime Carnivore

23. Parquet Courts – Sunbathing Animal

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22. Lana Del Rey – Ultraviolence

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Lana Del Rey - Ultraviolence

21. The Antlers – Familiars

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The Antlers - Familiars

20. Tops – Picture You Staring

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ABT040 TOPS LP-Jacket 11183 v2

19. Hundred Waters – The Moon Rang Like A Bell

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Hundred Waters - The Moon Rang Like A Bell

18. Damon Albarn – Everyday Robots

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Damon Albarn - Everyday Robots

17. Real Estate – Atlas

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Real Estate - Atlas

16. The New Pornographers – Brill Bruisers

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The New Pornographers - Brill Bruisers

15. St. Vincent – St. Vincent

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St. Vincent - St. Vincent

14. Cloud Nothings – Here and Nowhere Else

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Cloud Nothings - Here and Nowhere Else

13. Shabazz Palaces – Lese Majesty

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Shabazz Palaces - Lese Majesty

12. Adult Jazz – Gist Is

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Adult Jazz - Gist Is

11. Ty Segall – Manipulator


Ty Segall - Manipulator

10. Mac DeMarco – Salad Days

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Mac DeMarco - Salad Days

It seems to come so easy to Mac DeMarco. He follows up 2 with an even more complete well rounded effort, that’s surprisingly very mature for someone who acts so goofy. From start to finish Mac delights with some delightful, polished material that even explores synth work. No matter, Mac is able to take anything and make it into his own. At 24-years-old, Mac is only just getting started.

9. Angel Olsen – Burn Your Fire For No Witness

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Angel Olsen - Burn Your Fire For No Witness

Angel Olsen is one of the most exciting voices in folk music at the moment, even more so as she experiences with more rock-oriented sounds as she did on Burn Your Fire For No Witness. While those moments (“Forgiven/Forgotten” / “High Five”) are stirring, it was the more haunting moments such as “White Fire” or “Windows” that stuck with me.

8. Beck – Morning Phase

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Beck - Morning Phase

With Morning Phase, Beck returned to the folk beauty that he touched on with Sea Change many years ago, and won a Grammy for Best Album as a result. A pretty amazing (unexpected) achievement, but one that’s definitely deserved. It’s a true album that has a living breathing pulse, with every song integral to the carefully crafted whole.

7. D’Angelo And The Vanguard – Black Messiah

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D'Angelo And The Vanguard - Black Messiah

Ironically if I rushed to get my list out December struck like so many others, this album would have been left off. But thankfully I waited (a bit too long, I admit) as the long-awaited return of D’Angelo is a triumphant effort that bleeds soul. He put so much into this record, and it shows.

6. Spoon – They Want My Soul

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Spoon - They Want My Soul

Spoon have been the most consistent rock band in America for some time now, and They Want My Soul is just further proof. While so many bands fade at this point of their careers, Spoon seem to have found new life. While this record is very Spoon in spirit, it sees them experiment with new sounds and methods to achieve it.

5. Run The Jewels – Run The Jewels 2

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Run The Jewels - Run The Jewels 2

The best hip-hop album of the year and probably the most fun. Although it’s a rap record, it’s a rock album in sprit, with super-charged mega beats that hit harder than most rock albums did this year. It’s a perfect party album, with hit after hit flying at you through the speakers, each track as fired up as the next. The first record from Killer Mike + El-P was good, but RTJ 2 is something else entirely. These guys are an exiting force, something that music really needed.

4. The War On Drugs – Lost In The Dream

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The War On Drugs - Lost In The Dream

Fuck Mark Kozelek. That’s what I’ve been thinking of late when returning to Lost In The Dream, the triumphant and bold release from The War On Drugs. A band that released such a great record shouldn’t have to deal with the bullshit ego from another artist. It’s such a well produced record, with so much power and beauty found at every moment. I still remember my first listen to “Red Eyes” and wondering how the hell any other song on the album would beat it. I don’t think they did, but they sure did come close, with equally awesome efforts like the widescreen opener “Under the Pressure” and the hypnotic “An Ocean in Between the Waves.” This is a record that people will be returning to for a long time. Expect to see this high on the best of the decade lists. We’re halfway there…

3. Wild Beasts – Present Tense

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Wild Beasts - Present Tense

Wild Beasts are so damn underrated. Although their latest effort Present Tense seemed to be liked by mostly everyone, it wasn’t quite loved as much as I love it. They’ve been so consistent for so long now, so it wasn’t a surprise that I enjoyed the album so much. But even I found myself somewhat surprised but the maturity found here. Sure there are some very Wild Beasts songs on here like “Wanderlust” or “A Simple Beautiful Truth,” but they found new ways to use space and ambience for powerful effect on more refrained, poignant moments like “Pregnant Pause” and the hypnotizing finisher “New Life.” I have a hard time picking just one definitive favorite track, which says it all about this magical album.

2. Alvvays – Alvvays

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Alvvays - Alvvays

Alvvays debut album just happened to be one of my favorite albums of the year. It was the record of the summer for me, a listen that provided excited turns at every corner. “Archie, Marry Me” is the rightful benchmark, but it’s just one of the many highlights. At only 9 tracks long, there’s not fat to be found. Although they’re at their best when they’re creating tight brisk arrangements, they also capture something different on tracks like “Party Police” which are rather sincere and heartwarming. There’s something relatable to be found in all of the songs, which is possibly why this album connected to me so well. At the end of the day, it’s an album that I can put on at any time, anywhere and be taken away. That’s all the convincing I need.

1. Future Islands – Singles

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Future Islands - Singles

This was the year of Future Islands. Not only here on this blog, but for many likeminded music fans across the country. The incredible “Seasons (Waiting On You)” was our first taste of this gem of an album, and although it’s arguably the song of the year (find out where it ranks here soon), the rest of the album is built with songs equally as strong and essential. Take the perfect album closer “A Dream of You and Me,” which would be my #1 if it wasn’t for “Seasons.” From start to finish, Singles hits on something universal, something that connects with you deep down in the pit of your stomach. It’s an album that captivated me throughout the year. I have memories listening to it on my flight back home to SXSW, as well as countless drives over the summer with the windows down as it blasted into the welcoming streets.

So often bands hit it big with an album with one truly great song, with the rest being forgettable filler. Future Islands did it the right way, with ten unforgettable songs creating an album that won’t be forgotten anytime soon. I don’t know how they’re going follow it up, but why worry about that now. Just enjoy this classic.

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