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11 Best Albums Of 2014

Joyce Jude Lee |
December 29, 2014 | 6:29 p.m. PST

Music Editor

Photo Courtesy of Young Turks
Photo Courtesy of Young Turks

Every year end, we reflect on all the good (and bad) music that artists have gifted us during the year. 2014 saw the success of a lot of new faces and new sounds, and for that we should be extremely grateful.

When deciding who and what album would end up on this list, I purely sought out music that sounded like they were movies for my ears; music that had the power to make you feel. Out of the many greats that were release this year, here are the Top Albums of 2014.

FKA Twigs "LP1"

Robert Pattinson is a lucky man to have such a wondrously talented girlfriend. FKA Twigs (whose real name is Tahliah Barnett) stuns with this superbly produced debut. Collaborating with some of the best producers, including Devonte Hynes (Blood Orange), Arca, and Sampha, Twigs and co. put together some seriously beautiful and textured tunes that takes alternative RnB to another level, if you can even classify it as RnB.

FKA Twigs admits to recording random sounds and words to get into her flow, which results in a lot of beautifully unstructured songs. The LP abounds Twigs whispery soprano juxtaposed with hard beats and almost robotic electronic sounds--it's equal parts gothic, experimental, and electronic. Also shortlisted for a Mercury Prize this year, Twigs' "LP1" abounds impressive tracks like "Two Weeks" and "Pendulum" that will send chills down your spine and keep you listening.

READ MORE: FKA Twigs At The Regent Theater

The War On Drugs "Lost In The Dream"

This Philadelphian band may not be on your radar because they don't get the most airplay on local radio stations, but this album is easily one of the best of 2014. The War On Drugs combines hazy guitar and employs a Springsteen-esque flare in this dreamy guitar record. Having written the record while suffering a bout of depression, guitarist and singer Adam Granduciel pens and plays vulnerably beautiful tracks, which makes the record all the more memorable. Though you may not be able to make out the lyrics on the first listen, the melodies in the song are simply cathartic-each beat resembles a flickering light of hope. Next time you have to take a long drive somewhere, pop this in your car and have it be your best roadtrip companion ever. 

alt-J "This Is All Yours"

Right off the bat, the textured "Intro," the first track of alt-J's "This Is All Yours," signals that the rest of the album is stellar. alt-J has done it again. There is truly no one else like them. Even though founding guitarist Gwil Sainsbury departed the band last year, the rest of the band was able to come back stronger than ever with their stellar sophomore record. They won the Mecury Prize a few years back with "An Awesome Wave," but this record has won them a new legion of critical acclaim and fans all over the world.

Standout tracks like "Hunger of The Pine," "Left Hand Free" and "Every Other Freckle" are personal favorites, but every track on the record is beautifully produced. It may require a few thorough listens, but once you hear the brilliance of the production, you'll agree that it's the best of 2014. Simply put, "This Is All Yours" is one of those albums that could soundtrack an epic Sci-Fi movie.The record even features a Miley Cyrus sample (which surprisely works wonders) and features other artists like Conor Oberst and Marika Hackman. If you want to see the band live, alt-J is already slated to play many festivals next year and are headlining Madison Square Garden in the Spring.

Photo courtesy of Vagrant Records
Photo courtesy of Vagrant Records
Bombay Bicycle Club "So Long See You Tomorrow"

Not only did Bombay Bicycle put on the best show I've seen this year, but they also made one of the best composed albums of 2014. This London band has been running the indie circle for many years now, but their record "So Long See You Tomorrow" is particularly impressive. Jack Steadman and co. take BBC to another level with tracks like "Luna," "Carry Me" and "Home By Now," each of which boasts uniquely textured sounds that you won't find anywhere else. Just listen to "Wherever Whenever" and tell me this album isn't one of the best you've heard this year. This record is hard hitting at all the right moments, and completely quiet when Steadman's emotional vocals need to shine through.

Like Jungle and FKA Twigs, Bombay Bicycle Club was also shortlisted for a Mercury Prize this year, deservedly so. The band recently bit farewell to Earls Court Arena, playing a stellar show with a guest appearance from Pink Floyd's Dave Gilmour. You'll want to have this record spinning on repeat after giving it a thoughtful listen. Thank goodness it's enough to hold us over till the band comes back, as they're taking it easy in the new year having toured for the past 12 months and made four albums in five years.

READ MORE: Bombay Bicycle Club At The Wiltern

St. Vincent "St. Vincent"

St. Vincent, also known as Annie Clark, has come a long with with her fourth album, "St. Vincent." The album, which has been nominated for a Grammy for Best Alternative Music Album, is as eccentric as it is marvelous. Eccentricity is a formidable line to tread, but it works for St. Vincent. The trumpets, up-and-down vocals and inside-out riffs abound album highlights like "Digital Witness" and "Birth In Reverse."

This record isn't only good, but also funny in nature. The lighthearted nature abounds the album; some funny moments are when Clark mentions inhaling pieces of the Berlin Wall with a friend and how Jesus' love isn't as good as yours. 2014, which was a powerful year for feminism, was equally powerful for Clark. As a champion for this ideal, Clark exudes self-confidence in her music and takes full reign on all the weirdness that makes her music and persona so damn endearing. 

Jungle "Jungle"

Jungle is definitely the band to watch in 2015. The record has already been lauded by critics all over the world, and has earned the band a Mercury Prize nomination for best album of the year. Songs like "Platoon" and "Busy Earnin'" have a Bee Gees type flare but boast new experimental sounds-the band uses dangling glass Coke bottles as instruments in the album and during their live set. Listening to Jungle may be one of the best things you can do for your ears. Groove on.

READ MORE: Jungle At The Fonda Theater

Hozier "Hozier" 

If you have only listened to "Take Me To Church" and thought that this Irish dude is 'pretty good,' give his debut record a thorough and careful listen. Andrew Hozier Byrne is undoubtedly one of the best singer songwriters the world has seen. Only 24 years old, his lyrics suggest that he probably hit the maturity of a learned 35 year old man at an early age. Vivid imagery, metaphors, and lush vocals abound the album, especially in songs like "Cherry Wine," "From Eden" and "Someone New." He'll likely be running the festival circuit whilst promoting his album in the new year.

Photo Courtesy of Columbia Records
Photo Courtesy of Columbia Records
Foster The People "Supermodel" 

Mark Foster and his band have waited a few years to release new material since "Torches," but came back stronger than ever with their sophomore effort "Supermodel," which was mostly written in Morocco. Unlike the title of the album suggests, most of the tracks are incredibly introspective and raw, and its sound varies from start to finish. Songs like "Best Friend" and "Are You What You Want To Be" have the traditional electronica sound Foster is known for, but other tracks like "Fire Escape" and "The Truth" showcase a much more raw and stripped back version of Foster The People. 

READ MORE: Foster The People At The Shrine Auditorium

Royal Blood "Royal Blood" 

"Figure It Out" has been making rounds on alternative rock stations, but it is definitely not the only track from the Brighton duo that deserves a listen. You won't notice at first, but the entire album is recorded with only bass and drums-yes, there are only two people in this band. This record, when released in the UK, was the fastest selling rock album of 2014 and outsold both The Strokes and Vampire Weekend's debuts when they were released. With incredible riffs and stellar vocals, Royal Blood will have you headbanging and wanting to mosh to their garage rock record.

READ MORE: Interview: Royal Blood

First Aid Kit "Stay Gold" 

To slow things down a bit, give First Aid Kit's album, "Stay Gold," a thorough listen. If you don't know who they are, Klara and Johanna Soderberg are basically a female version of Mumford and Sons. With harmonies and lyrics tracks that can make you weep, First Aid Kit transports listeners back to simpler times with tracks that evoke heart wrenching nostalgia.

READ MORE: First Aid Kit At The Wiltern Theater

Photo Courtesy of Big Machine Records
Photo Courtesy of Big Machine Records
Taylor Swift "1989"

Last but definitely not least, is Taylor Swift's "1989." With this record, Swift completely abandons her country music associations and goes full-fledged pop. Singles like "Blank Space" and "Shake It Off" are bonafide pop hits and the songs are as catchy as songs get.

As the only platinum selling album of the year, Swift, who is Billboard's Woman Of The Year, is guilty pleasure. This is one of those albums that you may hate yourself for loving, but at this point, we should all embrace it. 

Reach Music Editor Joyce Jude Lee here.



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