Best Music of 2014
Dear Music Lovers,
As another year draws to a close, we present our list of Best Music of 2014. All 10/10 music. Most available on vinyl. Many were part of our Record Of The Month Club. Sign up to get the best releases automatically during 2015!
Hear them all at once while you read...
Skaters - Manhattan
The latest answer to the Clash. Why borrow when you can steal? Perfectly reinvented.
Parquet Courts - Sunbathing Animal
Like a nascent Strokes, this is pure practice-room rock. Direct and simple recording. Confident lyrics and some of the best hooks around.
Blonde Redhead - Barragan
A superbly recorded record from veteran band Blonde Redhead. From the opening acoustic guitar of "Barragan", to the morphine dance track "Dripping" this is a superbly paced album like we used to get before iTunes took over.
Eno & Hyde - High Life
Intoxicating african rhythms and melodies mixed with Eno's favourite synths. Reminiscent of Peter Gabriel and Graceland at times.
Goat - Commune
Another pseudo tribal masterpiece from Swedish pagan rockers Goat.
Isaiah Rashad - Cilvia demo
50 minutes of true soul-down hip hop with rolling, groovy beats. Perfect for long drives and after-midnight slow dancing.
Lee Fields - Emma Jean
Lee Fields just gets better and better. On par with anything from the 70s, we are lucky to be blessed with a true soul genius.
Michael Jackson - Xscape
It's hard to believe it's been over 5 years since MJ died and even harder to believe how good these eponymously released tracks are. Always way ahead of his time, these "rejected" tracks from 20 years ago are better than most pop music being made today.
Morrissey - World Peace is None of Your Business
OK, Morrissey's personality and politics are a matter of debate, but there are few songsmiths as gifted with the English language still writing today. Tongue in cheek at times and serious as death at others, there hasn't been someone making as politically interesting music since Billy Bragg in the 80s.
Orwells - Disgraceland
Straight ahead rock with no pretensions. Just give it to me! Solid throughout.
Schoolboy Q - Oxymoron
Schoolboy Q almost crossed into Kendrick/Drake pop stardom with this stunner of an album. Flawless beats with powerful bass and a unique rhyming flow put SBQ near the top of the heap in rap.
Spoon - They Want My Soul
Spoon's best album yet. They finally realize they needed another instrument in the band and it shows with a full and layered production. Their Sgt. Pepper's. Brilliant Rock.
Timber Timbre - Hot Dreams
Hot Dreams will enter the canon of Canadian classics along side Harvest, Blue and Songs from a Room. Moody, dreamy, with great orchestration and superb sonics.
Todd Terje - It’s Album Time
What we all thought the Daft Punk album was going to be. Disco inspired, raw dance music. Perfectly crafted from beginning to end. Few electronic albums rise to the status of "classic". This one will be played in 20 years.
Ty Segall - Manipulator
Perfectly following in Ariel Pink's well-blazed retro garage rock footsteps, Ty Segall outshines the master in this year's Manipulator release.
Wild Beasts - Present Tense
With aspects of Depeche mode, Gabriel's So, and other English 80s production, it's clear that the nostalgia from the 80s is the driving force in the music industry in 2014. This is perhaps the most successful example. Superb production.
Run the Jewels - 2
If you're still in doubt about the relevance of hip hop/rap after 40 years, this should be the unequivocal proof that rap is pushing music forward more than any other genre. This is one of the most layered and complex records produced this year. Topics range the gamut and the power of the beats are a true test of your stereo. Like a squadron of fighter jets passing overhead, if at least the sound of this record doesn't awe you, you're missing something vital in your system. Explicit, great lyrics...
Kevin Morby - Still Life
Perfect blend of the Band, Dylan and Wilco. A singer-songwriter of exceptional talent. Beautiful recording. Every collection needs this.
Future Islands - Singles
If you're going to steal, steal from the best. The Smith's best dance tunes updated. Catchy and embarrassingly honest.
The Men - Tomorrow's Hits
A terrible sounding recording of some really great country rock. The Stones got away with it, and the Men give them good company.
Thug Entrancer -Death After Life
It probably took Kraftwerk months to sequence their drum machines on each of their tracks. Now you can do it in 15 minutes at home. Most of the people who do it today are making crap music. Here's the best example of the genre from this year.
TOPS - Picture You Staring
Light sunny pop with some edge. This is like the Cardigans meets Pretenders. A really solid pop record.
Ultimate Painting - S/T
A blatant Velvet Underground rip off. Is it good or is it just a referential homage to show how jealous Gen X, Y, and Z are of the 60s?
Dean Blunt - Black Metal
The first record to completely mirror the smartphone generation. Every style of music in one place and all done amazingly well. Indie rock, dub, atmosopheric, dance, rock, lo-fi. Skip skip, back, again, what was that? It's a new musical lexicon for the A.D.D. generation. Brilliant like Godard.
Lana del Rey - Ultraviolence
Widely panned after her breakout record, this is every bit as good and in many ways better. Lana addresses her previous critics and turns the tables with irony and sophistication. Another test LP to show whether your system is really set up correctly. If it is, you'll hear a giant enveloping panorama and feel the bass. If not, it will sound like a laptop. There's no margin for error in this complex production.
Shellac - Dude Incredible
Shellac's first record in 7 years, it shows Steve Albini still in top form. Perfectly combining 12 year old boy and 40 year old men with beards, this is a guy record in every way. Get the buddies together with some beers in the garage and put this on the "old" stereo. Someone's gonna try to do a karate kick with disastrous results.
Freddie Gibbs / Madlib - Pinata
Super smooth flow laid-back hip hop. Can't wait for summer.
Jerome Sabbagh - The Turn
Well-recorded strong-messaged jazz which is listenable through the whole album. Amen to Sunnyside for being one of the very few serious jazz labels.
Andrew Bird - Things Are Really Great Here, Sort of
The best sounding record of 2014. Absolutely peerless sonics. Folk revival a la Fleet Foxes. A must-own.
Kevin Hearn - Days in Frames
Toronto native Kevin Hearn has made an unbelievably endearing record with some of the catchiest melodies of the year. Superb production (especially on vinyl).
If you'd like to hear them all in one playlist: