Best of 2014: The Best Albums of 2014

25. SD: Truly Blessed (iHipHop Distribution)
It takes guts to step out on your own. It takes real guts to walk away from a successful situation to go solo. Sadiki “SD” Thirston has a lot of things (talent, vision, originality), but more than anything, he’s got guts. Stepping away from GBE and the Chicago drill scene that he came up in, Thirston’s debut is filled with wonky, druggy melodies and anthemic, extroverted choruses that are well-balanced by drill’s insular roots.

24. 18+: Trust (Houndstooth)
Coming off like the XX’s delinquent older cousins, the LA duo’s proper debut saw them going deeper down the rabbit hole they started exploring with their early mixtapes. The boy/girl vocals hold a palpable tension and sensuality that is often lacking in such acts, and the sparse arrangements and sneaky hooks form the perfect seabed for their breathy pillow talk.

23. Run The Jewels – Run the Jewels 2 (Mass Appeal)
2014 was a year that needed battle anthems, and Killer Mike and El-P were happy to oblige, providing the perfect soundtrack to a turbulent year. The muscular, relentless album deftly pairs pearls of wisdom with gleeful rebellion and undeniably sticky beats. The wily vets know that if you make a socially conscious album that’s also fun to listen to, your message will reach a hell of a lot of people.

22. FKA Twigs: LP1 (Young Turks)
One of the most ubiquitous, anticipated albums of the year, LP1 more than lived up to the hype. A powerful vocalist and a penetrating writer, Tahliah Barnett fearlessly lays everything on the table, crafting forward-thinking R&B that deals with topics like insecurity, intimacy, and power with gripping emotion and acumen.

21. Ryan Adams: Ryan Adams (PAX-AM)
Concise. Direct. Focused. These are three words I never imagined that I’d be using to describe the formerly long-winded, scatterbrained 40 year old’s music. There’s no open-ended jam sessions or overindulgent half-baked ideas here; it’s just eleven sharp, well-written AOR rock tracks that are as easy as the Los Angeles winter. Ryan’s third act has been a series of nice surprises, and long may it continue.

20. Popcaan: Where We Come From (Mixpak)
Already a dancehall superstar before the release of his proper debut, Where We Come From cements the Portmore product as a force to be reckoned with in the pop world as well. A heartfelt love letter to his hometown, the disc captures all the love, pain, romance, struggle, and joy of life on Jamaica’s south coast. Best of all, the stories are soundtracked by adhesive hooks and airy, island melodies.

19. E+E: The Light That You Gave Me To See You (self-released)
A splendid mess of an album, Elijah Crampton creates beautiful, chaotic sonic collages, that combine disparate genres, tones, and tempos… often in the same song. The relentlessly experimental, hyperactive musician, draws influence from everything from traditional Mexican music to pop radio ballads, and the disc is reminiscent of lazily toggling through radio stations in your car. On its face, it’s a hell of a difficult album to crack, but if you spend some time with it, it’ll open itself up to you in a way you never imagined. It’s the strangest record I heard in 2014.

18. Ian William Craig: A Turn of Breath (Recital)
The Edmonton native may be a classically trained opera singer, but his bewitching debut is anything but classical. Over the disc’s 12 songs, Craig rips his instrument to shreds and pieces it back together, creating beguiling, mantric hymns that effortlessly glide through you and leave with you with eyes closed and mouth open.

17. Owen Pallett: In Conflict (Domino)
The finest LP of a fine career, In Conflict is a fascinating album that sees Pallett’s songwriting muscle catch up with his virtuosic compositional talent and technical ability. While he remains a spellbinding violinist with a graceful, flexible tenor, the most impressive part of the Canadian’s fourth LP is the storytelling and the palatial melodies, resulting in a compelling, coherent concept album that explores internal conflicts with depth and understanding.
16. Tinashe: Aquarius (RCA)
The runaway success of the 21 year-old’s debut LP is an exciting indication of where pop music in 2014 is. A unique album by any standard, Aquarius undulates slowly and unravels into a balanced LP that fuses aqueous R&B with twisted pop sensibilities. Few artists combine the accessible and esoteric as effectively as Tinashe does here.  
15. Perfume Genius: Too Bright (Matador)
The Seattle songwriter’s first two albums were emotional thunderstorms filled with quiet, gut-wrenching piano confessionals. While the direct, powerful songwriting remains in tact on his third LP, Mike Hadreas opened up his sonic palette, balancing the piano ballads with welcome touches of glam and electro. That said, the songwriting remains the album’s heart, and few hearts bleed as expressively or affectingly as Hadreas’ does.

Posted on by TP1.COM in Best of '14, Featured

Comments are closed.