Best Albums of 2014

2014 may not have been a year where something comes out of nowhere or a particular album grabs the cultural zeitgeist while at the same time appealing to my sensibilities, but it did reconfirm certain artists who have crafted terrific work in the past as well as introduced me to a few under the radar gems. So, without further ado, I entreat you to indulge in the auditory smorgasbord that is my favorite 25 albums of 2014! The year has come and gone, but the music lingers.

by Jericho Cerrona January 12, 2015

Albums 25-11 Next

25. Singles Future Islands
Singer Samuel T. Herring's operatic vocals and wonderfully stilted dance moves gave the overcrowded 80's retro synth-pop sound a necessary jolt of energy in 2014, and his bandmates followed suit with a consistently engaging record that blurred the line between bombast and genuine emotion.

Tyranny Julian Casablancas + The Voidz 24.
Strokes frontman Julian Casablancas pulls off a major detour with this ambitious stew of genre riffs; loaded with free-form post-punk, krautrock, and warped electronica that makes up for it's lack of coherency by being brazenly weird.

23. Typical System Total Control
Melbourne art-rockers Total Control fully embrace their new wave-inspired keyboards on this dense collection of genre-defying pop tunes that owes a debt to groups like Human League and Joy Division, but which breaks free from such comparisons to forge it's own unique path. A bonafide game changer.

Foundations of Burden Pallbearer 22.
Massive riffs, dramatic tempo shifts, and Bret Campbell's high-pitched vocals all bring down the house on Foundations of Burden, the awesomely majestic and brooding record from Pallbearer that proves they are the reigning kings of stoner/sludge metal.

21. Circular The Mor Paranoids
Fast and scuzzy garage-rock in the vein of The Fall and The Sonics, but with a no-frills rock'n roll energy that places it amongst the genuine under the radar discoveries of the year; this gnarly lo-fi gem by The Mor Paranoids was recorded 10 years ago and finally gets it's much-deserved release.

Spun in White DarlingChemicalia 20.
Mastermind/songwriter Ian Bone and company layer on the squealing guitars, blown-out speaker dissonance, and dark lyrical content in what amounts to the band's legitimate stab at an alt-rock record. Bleak as fuck, but with a surprising undercurrent of humanity.

19. Benji Sun Kil Moon
Acoustic bass notes, strummed guitars, and singer/songwriter Mark Kozelek's gravely voice dominates this melancholic bruiser of an album; a hauntingly beautiful testament to baring one's should for their art. Meanwhile, the razor-sharp focus on death, isolation, and mortality on display is excruciating in its rawness.

Salad Days Mac DeMarco 18.
Some may call it slacker-rock, but 23-year-old Canadian songwriter Mac DeMarco creates a sound beyond lazy signifiers; drooling out off-kilter pop gems with self-deprecation, wit, and inventively jangly guitar playing. He may sound shit-faced throughout, but this DeMarco kid has some serious soul.

17. Grassed Inn Blank Realm
Drawing influences from the Flying Nun catalog, Sonic Youth, and The Velvet Underground, Blank Realm move away from the noisy lo-fi cassette sound of years past into cleaner sonic pastures without ever sacrificing their eccentricity. A bittersweet collection of wonky pop tunes.

Baazar Wampire 16.
The ghost of Diamond Dogs-era Bowie permeates the latest zonked-out ode to 70's psych-rock from Wampire, whose vintage sound and oddball weirdness is on full display here; with antiquated synths, electronic backbeats and of course, tons of drunken sax giving everything an irresistible charm.

15. Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Sun Damien Jurado
A spiritual sequel of sorts to 2012's masterful Maraqopa, this dub-influenced epic beautifully accentuates Jurado's falsetto harmonies with lush, sweeping soundscapes. By far singer/songwriter Damien Jurado's most ambitious release yet.

The Serpent and the Sphere Agalloch 14.
The Serpent and The Sphere is a work of immense depth and technical mastery that accomplishes that rarest of things in the metal universe by creating a nearly transcendent experience that goes beyond tortured screams and chunky guitar riffs, proving that restraint is just as formidable as burning everything to the ground.

13. Lese Majesty Shabazz Palaces
An avant-garde work of Afro-futurism built around 18 songs structured in 7 suites that bury cosmic wordplay under echo-laden effects and jazz samples, Seattle duo Shabazz Palaces take the contours of hip-hop and furiously wrestles it away from formula. Erratic and ambitious, but also undeniably catchy.

La Isla Bonita Deerhoof 12.
Deerhoof's idiosyncratic qualities are all here in force; disjointed rhythms, syncopated guitar riffs, progressive time signatures, and Satomi Matsuzaki's cooing/yelping vocals, but the wildly talented band also maintain a stripped-down accessibility on their 13th album that belies their more spastic qualities. Getting back to basics never sounded this vital.

11. Shrink Dust Chad VanGaalen
An absolutely beguiling collection of acoustic-based bizarro pop songs; Shrink Dust just might be Chad VanGaalen's best record yet, with his fragile voice wailing over woozy folk-rock soundscapes and reverb-heavy production. Haunting, affecting, and truly unique.

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