Something You Said’s best albums of 2014
It’s been another exceptional year for music. Indeed, somethingyousaid.com’s Top 20 Albums of 2014 – as voted for by our team of contributors – is the closest run poll we’ve ever had. The records in the below list were constantly changing positions (all of the top five held the number one spot at some point) until the very last minute. Here’s how the dust finally settled once all of the votes were counted. Stay tuned too over the coming days for our top songs, films, gigs, TV shows, books and podcasts. You can follow us on Facebook to stay up to date:
SOMETHINGYOUSAID.COM’S ALBUM OF THE YEAR 2014 IS: FIRST AID KIT – STAY GOLD
Swedish sisters Klara and Johanna Söderberg have been consistently winning hearts with their beautiful, country-influenced folk music and their shiny, swooshing hair since they appeared on Youtube doing Fleet Foxes covers back in 2008. And true to form, Stay Gold is wonderful. It is a record to play loud on long, sunkissed roadtrips. Throw an arm high out of the car window and allow the wind to blow through your fingers while you sing along to these honest, soaring, heartfelt songs. Such is the dexterity of the songwriting and so vast is this album’s landscape of emotion that it can soundtrack times of heartbroken fragility as well as those chest-beating moments when you feel like you can take on the entire world single-handed. Bobby Townsend
2. THE WAR ON DRUGS – Lost in the Dream
Like pulling out of a city onto the motorway in the evening, where the car begins to speed up and the traffic drifts away. It’s contemplative, city-like, and erie. You may be in a car or journeying your way through a glass of red wine alone on your couch, and it’s just the right touch to any of these ‘alone’ moments. It nods to the best kind of dad music. Dire Straits, Dylan etc, this really does capture the heart of it all. Ruth Hodge and Golden Lady
3. FKA TWIGS – LP1
This album is not only a stellar first insight into her auto luminescent mind but it also resonates with me. I was going through the tail end of a lengthy breakup, sobbing the lyrics ‘give me two weeks you, won’t recognise heeeeeer’ while ice cream dripped unceremoniously down my chin and into my dignity that had already fled into a messy puddle on the floor. Epitome of class and elegance, she got me through. Kaya Strehler
4. MAC DEMARCO – Salad Days
Mac DeMarco’s records are like those brightly-coloured balls that bounce across the crowd at summer festivals, hands reaching up ecstatically toward them as they soar by, reflecting the sunshine like softly curved mirrors. They work little fingers of light into any space – and this one, Salad Days, is no exception. It’s cool, sweet and crisp. Chloe Mayne
5. CARIBOU – Our Love
It agilely shifts through moods from song to song but has a clear narrative through the love triangle that runs through the album, which is ‘Cant Do Without You’ – ‘Our Love’ – ‘Your Love Will Set You Free’. Proving that even a majestic Caribou will ‘Say Yes To Love’. Felix Englund Örn
6. SHARON VAN ETTEN – Are We There
Haunting and filled with harmonies, Are We There is an album of exceptional intimacy, sublime generosity and immense breadth. The record documents a crumbling relationship and speaks of the impossible decisions, anticipation and resolutions that come along with this. Are We There is a journey that transports you down to the darkness of Van Etten’s experience. Intimate and personal, it is beautifully vulnerable. Katie Helps
7. REAL ESTATE – Atlas
I can’t help going back to the Real Estate album. Time and time again I have put it on the speakers and headphones and it always sounds great! It is as charming as it is relaxing – a wonderful soundscape and innovative songwriting.
8. ALVVAYS – Alvvays
A dazzlingly confident debut longplayer from the Canadians, which sees the delightful delivery of lead singer Molly Rankin soar over irresistible indie-pop. At just over half-an-hour, the record leaves us wanting more too. Oh, and it’s pronounced “always”, in case you were wondering (the proper spelling was already taken, hence the double v).
9. ST. VINCENT – St. Vincent
It’s been another magnificent year for St. Vincent. Her eponymous fourth album, produced alongside John Congleton, further established her as one of the most daring and exciting musicians around. The record has already won heaps of accolades including Album of the Year awards from The Guardian, Sunday Times Culture, NME, DIY Magazine, Mojo, Uncut and Q. Not bad!
10. ANGEL OLSEN – Burn Your Fire For No Witness
Angel Olsen is the dark horse of 2014 with her unassuming but powerful presence. Burn Your Fire for No Witness – quite possibly the coolest album title ever – is perfect from front to back. Her lyrics are emotionally intelligent, vulnerable and raw yet filled with a type of strength that is rare. Her voice – otherworldly and haunting. Tenley Nordstrom
11. GROUPER – Ruins
A newish direction, perhaps, but the intimate and stripped back Ruins continues to illustrate just what a brilliant and creative artist Liz Harris is.
12. JUNGLE – Jungle
This self-titled album is a class production and will stand the test of time, showing the complete control and mastery of artists who manage to deliver a range of tracks with touches of funk and jazz and complete inner city soul. Damon Collum
13. STRAND OF OAKS – Heal
Philadelphia-based songwriter Timothy Showalter’s fourth album is a foot-stomping rock record that largely puts acoustic instruments aside. It is bold, personal, emotional and, as its title suggests, cathartic.
14. AZEALIA BANKS – Broke With Expensive Taste
Broke With Expensive Taste is more than a full-on rap album. It seamlessly flows through UK garage, deep house, hip-hop, dance, pop, grime and RnB. It is almost immediately apparent that, while creating an overarching 90s vibe, this record does sound as fresh and thrilling as anything you will hear this year and that Banks’ strong personality bursts to its fore and stays there from start to finish. Bobby Townsend
15. WARPAINT – Warpaint
Warpaint make unobstructed, quality music, not adhering to rising trends in the musical market but, rather, building what they were creating in 2008 and revising what makes them great, making their sounds truly fresh for longtime listeners and new fans alike.
16. ALEX G – DSU
Scratchy, fuzzy snippets of indie rock that brings to mind Pavement, Elliott Smith and any number of 90s lo-fi shamblers but with a distinct personality of its own and some wonderful whimsical pop moments like the one-and-a-half minutes of perfection that is Harvey. Neil Martin
17. BECK – Morning Phase
2014 was memorable for the return of Beck Hansen. A beautiful record that hinted at his past glory Sea Change. I hope he now feels fit and confident to release something more pop/funk that will get us up out of our seats and truly cement his return. Gary Page
18. THE BRIAN JONESTOWN MASSACRE – Revelation
The thirteenth studio album from The Brian Jonestown Massacre proved to be my favourite so far. In the second track, ‘What you isn’t’, Anton Newcombe’s lyrics, “You’ve got to wake up and be a man… and have a plan”, combined with the song’s rapid, infectious rhythm, outlay the purpose and dedication that is evident throughout. This album demonstrates a careful selection of well put together tracks. A true gem. ‘Vad Hände Med Dem’, ‘Food for Clouds’, ‘What You Isn’t’, ‘Duck and cover’, ‘Xibalba’ have all become favourite tracks for me this year, and I find it hard to pick one standout song for the year. Heather Vousden
19. TY SEGALL – Manipulator
Crowned prince of the garage-pop monarchy, Ty Segall really blew me out of the marbled water this year with the release of his seventh spawn since 2008, Manipulator. While riddled with glistening gems, Feel is the track that pulls one side of your mouth into a lopsided bass-scrunch, eyes closing into fuzzy throes of joy, launching your limp body into the kaleidoscopic realms of – wait, what does the sign say? – that’s right, Garage Paradise. Segall backs it all up with his famously spasmodic, sweaty, lightning-strike of a live show; all things considered, nobody could be more deserving of a somethingyousaid.com sash than this shaggy-haired Californian. Chloe Mayne
20. #1 DADS – About Face
Not content with making up half of the excellent Big Scary, Melbourne-based musician Tom Iansek has also released two records as #1 Dads, the latest of which is beautifully sparse, ethereal and emotive. Bobby Townsend
ALSO… HIGHLY COMMENDED
Here are some albums that didn’t quite get enough votes to make the Top 20, but that our contributors think are worthy of your attention:
BEN HOWARD – I Forgot Where We Were
Ben Howard’s second album, I Forgot Where We Were, was the perfect and fitting follow-up to Every Kingdom. The album is darker, more solemn, and hits straight at one’s emotional core. While the virtuosic guitar-picking that was on full display on Every Kingdom still undercuts the album, he seems to have swapped out his acoustic guitar in favour of more spacey and echoey electric guitar sounds. And this minimalistically epic album may not appeal to everyone, and probably wont garner him fans the same way his first album surprisingly did, but it was the stand out album of the year for me, one that I was anticipating ever since his first album came out. Desmond Chan
LUCA BRASI – By A Thread
Luca Brasi’s By a Thread has a way of inducing a kind of nostalgia for your hopes and dreams that are yet to be achieved. I guess that’s called inspiration. Joel Anderson
PARQUET COURTS – Sunbathing Animal
These guys are refining their sound constantly and have managed to top their Light Up Gold debut album. Courtney Dabb
TORI AMOS – Unrepentant Geraldines
Tori Amos’s album was the best this year – she won’t make any top 10 lists sadly but it really was the best and a true “return to form”. America, the opening track of the album shook me to my core – especially in this weird melodic section reminiscent of a Beatles song that comes out of nowhere. Amazing. 10/10. Jack Colwell
ALPINE DECLINE – Go Big Shadow City
Alpine Decline have been my breakout find this year. I cannot remember where and how I found them, but My Smokestack Only Burns at Night has to be amazing live. Also a little shout out to Anton Newcombe of The Brian Jonestown Massacre for his continuous support and linking to new bands like Magic Castles. He has this incredible knack for discovering and working with a lot of underground experimental psychedelic shoegaze bands. Melissa Barrass
CYMBALS EAT GUITARS – Lose
Cymbals Eat Guitars have always made songs and albums that build and build into what is seemingly mainstream indie-rock until a guitar line dramatically shifts, drums bash out of step, or Joseph D’Agostino wails uncontrollably out of tune. Lose is inarguably the band’s best release to date. Beginning with 6+minute opener Jackson (not dissimilar to Why There are Mountains opener …And the Hazy Sea), CEG carve delicate, gripping indie pop songs from years of suppressed heartbreak and an unrelenting desire to make it big. Lose signals a shift from the unpredictability of Why There Are Mountains and Lenses Alien to a more accessible offering with a less intimidating approach. Matt Lengren
ODESZA – In Return
The album is a starry-eyed dream with textured sounds of synth, celestial beats and exotic twists. Liana Gow-Killingbeck
NEHRUVIANDOOM – NehruvianDOOM
18-year-old rapper Bishop Nehru has been gaining acclaim from a load of respected artists including Nas who signed him to his label. Here he links up with Doom the legendary metal faced MC who gets cooler by the minute. Doom only appears on a couple of verses but the album is soaked in his offbeat and heavy production tinged with quirky samples. Another classic album that you will be listening to for years. 25ThC
Did we miss any of your best albums of 2014? Tell us in the comments section.
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