Christian’s Favorite 25 Films of 2014

As the resident host of THE THIRD ACT PODCAST, Christian Estabrook went on a Herculean screening binge of epic proportions and this variety is reflected in his 25 favorite films of 2014. A proponent of strong female leads, independently-minded success stories, and cinematic racial tolerance, Mr. Estrabrook's list is guaranteed to make your eyeballs quiver with filmic ecstasy.

by Christian Estabrook February 1, 2015

Previous 6. Next
LYLE
25-11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

Christian’s Favorite 25 Films of 2014

As the resident host of THE THIRD ACT PODCAST, Christian Estabrook went on a Herculean screening binge of epic proportions and this variety is reflected in his 25 favorite films of 2014. A proponent of strong female leads, independently-minded success stories, and cinematic racial tolerance, Mr. Estrabrook's list is guaranteed to make your eyeballs quiver with filmic ecstasy.

by Christian Estabrook February 1, 2015

Previous 7. Next
VIC + FLO SAW A BEAR
25-11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

Christian’s Favorite 25 Films of 2014

As the resident host of THE THIRD ACT PODCAST, Christian Estabrook went on a Herculean screening binge of epic proportions and this variety is reflected in his 25 favorite films of 2014. A proponent of strong female leads, independently-minded success stories, and cinematic racial tolerance, Mr. Estrabrook's list is guaranteed to make your eyeballs quiver with filmic ecstasy.

by Christian Estabrook February 1, 2015

Previous 8. Next
ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE
25-11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

Christian’s Favorite 25 Films of 2014

As the resident host of THE THIRD ACT PODCAST, Christian Estabrook went on a Herculean screening binge of epic proportions and this variety is reflected in his 25 favorite films of 2014. A proponent of strong female leads, independently-minded success stories, and cinematic racial tolerance, Mr. Estrabrook's list is guaranteed to make your eyeballs quiver with filmic ecstasy.

by Christian Estabrook February 1, 2015

Previous 9. Next
THE DANCE OF REALITY
25-11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

Christian’s Favorite 25 Films of 2014

As the resident host of THE THIRD ACT PODCAST, Christian Estabrook went on a Herculean screening binge of epic proportions and this variety is reflected in his 25 favorite films of 2014. A proponent of strong female leads, independently-minded success stories, and cinematic racial tolerance, Mr. Estrabrook's list is guaranteed to make your eyeballs quiver with filmic ecstasy.

by Christian Estabrook February 1, 2015

FILMS 25-11 Next
25 VISITORS


24 THOU WAST MILD AND LOVELY


23 IT FELT LIKE LOVE


22 INTERSTELLAR


21 THE WIND RISES


20 2 DAYS, 1 NIGHT


19 DEAR WHITE PEOPLE


18 CITIZENFOUR


17 FOXCATCHER


16 A FIELD IN ENGLAND


15 NORTE, THE END OF HISTORY


14 FORCE MAJEURE


13 THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL


12 BORGMAN


11 A GIRL WALKS HOME ALONE AT NIGHT
25-11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

Best Films of 2014

This was the year of the cinematic marathon, as I plunged deep into every filmic nook and cranny I could crawl inside, coming out with a whopping total of 200 films viewed that were released in 2014. Lest you consider me utterly insane (which I probably am), somehow I was able to condense that number down to my 25; a task, ultimately, which feels at least partially irrelevant given how many strong films got left out. Still, I am very proud of the flicks that made the cut. So, without further ado, here are my favorite 25 films of 2014!

by Jericho Cerrona January 31, 2015

Previous 1. Previous
UNDER THE SKIN
With Under The Skin, director Jonathan Glazer has crafted the year's most extraordinary cinematic experience. If one is looking for a story with identifiable characters; look elsewhere. If one hopes to hear interesting dialogue, then this won't be your bag. If one wishes to indulge in sexual imagery or violence, well, there’s a bit of that, but it’s never delivered in a way meant to titillate. Instead, Glazer's atmospheric sci-fi parable about an alien being (played in a revelatory performance by Scarlett Johansson) shows us things we’ve never seen before in a way that feels thrillingly vital and new. For that and many other reasons, Under The Skin is the best film of 2014.
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25-11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

Best Films of 2014

This was the year of the cinematic marathon, as I plunged deep into every filmic nook and cranny I could crawl inside, coming out with a whopping total of 200 films viewed that were released in 2014. Lest you consider me utterly insane (which I probably am), somehow I was able to condense that number down to my 25; a task, ultimately, which feels at least partially irrelevant given how many strong films got left out. Still, I am very proud of the flicks that made the cut. So, without further ado, here are my favorite 25 films of 2014!

by Jericho Cerrona January 31, 2015

Previous 2. Next
THE DANCE OF REALITY
Cult filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky's first film in 25 years is a revelatory, surreal, and surprisingly uplifting work of genius that reconfirms the master still has the goods. An autobiographical account of his own childhood living in the small town of Tocopilla during the early 1940s intercut with a dictator assassination plot, this is the director at his most humane. Clowns, amputees, a mother saying all of her lines in a soprano singing voice, and yes, even genital mutilation make the rounds in predictable Jodorowsky fashion. Filmmaking at it's most personal and transcendent.
. .
25-11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

Best Films of 2014

This was the year of the cinematic marathon, as I plunged deep into every filmic nook and cranny I could crawl inside, coming out with a whopping total of 200 films viewed that were released in 2014. Lest you consider me utterly insane (which I probably am), somehow I was able to condense that number down to my 25; a task, ultimately, which feels at least partially irrelevant given how many strong films got left out. Still, I am very proud of the flicks that made the cut. So, without further ado, here are my favorite 25 films of 2014!

by Jericho Cerrona January 31, 2015

Previous 3. Next
THE WIND RISES
Hayao Miyazaki's latest masterpiece is haunting, sorrowful, and undeniably gorgeous; framed as both a love letter as well as a cautionary tale about the power of aeronautical engineering. Placing the dichotomy between idealized beauty and the horrors of technological advancement front and center, Miyazaki is wonderfully attuned to the careful rhythms of everyday life, imbuing everything with a sense of compassion and gracefulness. A fitting swan song for an artist working at the height of his creative powers.
. .
25-11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

Best Films of 2014

This was the year of the cinematic marathon, as I plunged deep into every filmic nook and cranny I could crawl inside, coming out with a whopping total of 200 films viewed that were released in 2014. Lest you consider me utterly insane (which I probably am), somehow I was able to condense that number down to my 25; a task, ultimately, which feels at least partially irrelevant given how many strong films got left out. Still, I am very proud of the flicks that made the cut. So, without further ado, here are my favorite 25 films of 2014!

by Jericho Cerrona January 31, 2015

Previous 4. Next
INHERENT VICE
Groovy, far out, and probably the closet cinematic equivalent of trying to have a sensible conversation while being stoned out of your gord, Inherent Vice uses the conventions of pulp, noir, and stoner comedy and gives us a narrative-defying plunge down the rabbit hole. Paul Thomas Anderson's adaptation of Thomas Pynchon's novel is hilarious, strange, confusing, and oddly enough, touching as a nostalgic ode to the death of 1960s drug-fueled optimism.
. .
25-11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

Best Films of 2014

This was the year of the cinematic marathon, as I plunged deep into every filmic nook and cranny I could crawl inside, coming out with a whopping total of 200 films viewed that were released in 2014. Lest you consider me utterly insane (which I probably am), somehow I was able to condense that number down to my 25; a task, ultimately, which feels at least partially irrelevant given how many strong films got left out. Still, I am very proud of the flicks that made the cut. So, without further ado, here are my favorite 25 films of 2014!

by Jericho Cerrona January 31, 2015

Previous 5. Next
MR. TURNER
Mike Leigh's sprawling semi-biopic about British painter J.M.W. Turner is determinedly "un-middlebrow"; structured as a series of seemingly meandering vignettes following Turner's travels, his artistic drive, and the quirky aristocratic patrons he comes in contact with. Gorgeously shot and free of the standard biopic formula, Mr. Tuner hits the stratosphere with a galvanizing performance from Timothy Spall (played mostly as a series of grunts, grimaces, and odd facial expressions), that also gets at layers of emotion buried within a very complex personality.
. .
25-11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

Best Films of 2014

This was the year of the cinematic marathon, as I plunged deep into every filmic nook and cranny I could crawl inside, coming out with a whopping total of 200 films viewed that were released in 2014. Lest you consider me utterly insane (which I probably am), somehow I was able to condense that number down to my 25; a task, ultimately, which feels at least partially irrelevant given how many strong films got left out. Still, I am very proud of the flicks that made the cut. So, without further ado, here are my favorite 25 films of 2014!

by Jericho Cerrona January 31, 2015

Previous 6. Next
THE MISSING PICTURE
Director Rithy Pranh's astonishing interpretation of the horrendous atrocities dictated by the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia during the 1970's is the year's most heartbreaking film. By representing his childhood memories living under the genocidal regime through a combination of newsreel footage and meticulously crafted dioramas populated by hand-crafted clay figurines, Pranh goes beyond mere documentary by looking directly into the face of horror. A indelible document of a historical tragedy.
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25-11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

Best Films of 2014

This was the year of the cinematic marathon, as I plunged deep into every filmic nook and cranny I could crawl inside, coming out with a whopping total of 200 films viewed that were released in 2014. Lest you consider me utterly insane (which I probably am), somehow I was able to condense that number down to my 25; a task, ultimately, which feels at least partially irrelevant given how many strong films got left out. Still, I am very proud of the flicks that made the cut. So, without further ado, here are my favorite 25 films of 2014!

by Jericho Cerrona January 31, 2015

Previous 7. Next
SEE YOU NEXT TUESDAY
Drew Tobia's jet-black comedy follows a pregnant, socially maladjusted young women named Mona, who lives in a state of squalor with no clue what to do with her life. There's much more to this purposefully off-putting film, but the triumph here is just how much Tobia truly loves his damaged characters. Daringly abrasive, but also profanely hilarious; the biggest surprise is the fragile heart beating underneath all of the toxic dysfunction.
. .
25-11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

Best Films of 2014

This was the year of the cinematic marathon, as I plunged deep into every filmic nook and cranny I could crawl inside, coming out with a whopping total of 200 films viewed that were released in 2014. Lest you consider me utterly insane (which I probably am), somehow I was able to condense that number down to my 25; a task, ultimately, which feels at least partially irrelevant given how many strong films got left out. Still, I am very proud of the flicks that made the cut. So, without further ado, here are my favorite 25 films of 2014!

by Jericho Cerrona January 31, 2015

Previous 8. Next
A FIELD IN ENGLAND
Ben Wheatley's mid-17th century English Civil War film brings to mind a bizarre mixture of Stanley Kubrick, Monty Python and The Wicker Man; but more than anything, this insane free-for-all plunges us deep into psychedelic hell and then back again. Surreal, dreamlike, funny, and nasty as hell; A Field in England is independent cinema at it's most bracing. A work of mad genius.
. .
25-11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

Best Films of 2014

This was the year of the cinematic marathon, as I plunged deep into every filmic nook and cranny I could crawl inside, coming out with a whopping total of 200 films viewed that were released in 2014. Lest you consider me utterly insane (which I probably am), somehow I was able to condense that number down to my 25; a task, ultimately, which feels at least partially irrelevant given how many strong films got left out. Still, I am very proud of the flicks that made the cut. So, without further ado, here are my favorite 25 films of 2014!

by Jericho Cerrona January 31, 2015

Previous 9. Next
LEVEL FIVE
This fictional documentary hybrid about a lonely female programmer attempting to reinterpret the World War II battle of Okinawa under the guise of a computer game is an extraordinary achievement. Chris Marker's strange, vaguely science-fiction experiment is an uncategorizable fusion of cerebral discourse, disturbing history lesson, and pre-Internet chat-room graphics that predicated the way technology would mold our perception of historical events. Filmed in 1997 and finally getting a US release in 2014, Level Five is powerfully singular cinema.
. .
25-11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

Best Films of 2014

This was the year of the cinematic marathon, as I plunged deep into every filmic nook and cranny I could crawl inside, coming out with a whopping total of 200 films viewed that were released in 2014. Lest you consider me utterly insane (which I probably am), somehow I was able to condense that number down to my 25; a task, ultimately, which feels at least partially irrelevant given how many strong films got left out. Still, I am very proud of the flicks that made the cut. So, without further ado, here are my favorite 25 films of 2014!

by Jericho Cerrona January 31, 2015

Previous 10. Next
DEAR WHITE PEOPLE
Justin Simien's razor-sharp debut goes beyond a Spike Lee-influenced sledgehammer attack against racism, lumping black culture's confusion regarding their own social identity in with the racially-charged ignorance of the white man. Though there's a streak of topical anger broiling underneath Simien's satirical handling of the tone, there's also gentle humor and genuine emotion that raises Dear White People above the level of mere farce. The year's most relevant and topical film.
. .
25-11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

Best Films of 2014

This was the year of the cinematic marathon, as I plunged deep into every filmic nook and cranny I could crawl inside, coming out with a whopping total of 200 films viewed that were released in 2014. Lest you consider me utterly insane (which I probably am), somehow I was able to condense that number down to my 25; a task, ultimately, which feels at least partially irrelevant given how many strong films got left out. Still, I am very proud of the flicks that made the cut. So, without further ado, here are my favorite 25 films of 2014!

by Jericho Cerrona January 31, 2015

Films 25-11 Next

25. GO DOWN DEATH
Writer-director Aaron Schimberg's bizarre oddity takes place somewhere in a skewered version of America, often playing like a low-budget folklore theater production shot in evocative 16mm. The eccentric stepchild of Guy Maddin and David Lynch, complete with a final 15-minutes that's the most delightfully baffling coda of the year.
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YOU AND THE NIGHT 24.
Brilliantly transgressive and stylistically bold, Yann Gonzale's debut defies narrative convention while still packing an emotional punch, takeing place over one evening where a group of friends and strangers get together for a party with the possibility for sexual misadventures. The synth-laden 80's-influenced score by M83, meanwhile, absolutely rules.
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23. EXHIBITION
Director Joanna Hogg grabbles with London upper-class malaise and how wealth affects one's ability to maintain a sense of artistic drive in this detached exercise that traps a married couple inside their artist loft. The audience, too, feels trapped, through a combination of precise framing and atmospheric sound design that slowly builds an indefinable feeling of dread.
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A SPELL TO WARD OFF THE DARKNESS 22.
The year's most mystical movie, Ben Rivers and Ben Russell's glacially-paced curio is impossible to categorize and even more impossible to explain. Combining documentary grittiness with a Terrance Malick-esque pondering of the natural world, The Spell To Ward Off The Darkness has it all; Estonian communes, hippie ramblings, hikes through Finland, and a nearly 30-min black metal concert.
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21. 20,000 DAYS ON EARTH
Those who don't worship at the altar of Nick Cave may flee, but Ian Forsyth and Jane Pollard's portrait of the musician is a semi-fictional account of the artistic process that's both endearingly daft and wholly cinematic. Using a flurry of Cave's words, music, and personal ruminations, 20,000 Days on Earth flirts with the documentary format in clever ways. Plus, there are cameos from Ray Winstone and Kylie Minogue. Enough said.
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THE DOUBLE 20.
Jesse Eisnenberg gives a comedic tour de force in a dual role in Richard Ayode's Kafka-esque tale of an office drone working for a dreary corporation. Comparisons to Terry Gilliam's Brazil will abound, but Ayode has his own voice; littering his film with bizarre visual gags, kooky cameos, and striking Soviet-style set design. A boldly satirical take on corporate mechanization and the need to break free from societal norms.
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19. INTERSTELLAR
Interstellar has been criticized for being hokey, episodic, and given to long stretches of dialogue where characters literally explain the plot, but honestly, who cares? Christopher Nolan has fashioned a 165-minute colossus of invigorating science, awe-inspiring outer space visuals, and direct emotional humanizing that swings for the fences. For all it's grand philosophizing about theoretical physics, though, this is still an intimate story about a father and daughter separated by the cosmos.
.

OF HORSES AND MEN 18.
One of the year's true originals, filmmaker Benedikt Erlingsson's debut feature traces six vignettes involving the relationship between various horses and their owners, all set against the frozen tundras of Iceland. A tonally audacious fusion of deadpan humor and shocking visuals, Of Horses and Men pits animal instinct against human error, and comes away with something wholly unique.
.

17. ELENA
A haunting collection of home videos, photographs, and elegiac narration, Petra Costa's brilliant cinematic memoir seeks clarity in the face of unbearable sadness, reframing her sister's death through remnants of hazy memory and tangible evidence. Non-linear, fragmented, and infused with grief, passion, and undeniable ambition, Elena isn't really a documentary at all, but rather a sobering and defiantly personal affirmation of life.
.

POLICEMAN 16.
Strikingly assured and politically cunning, Nadav Lapid's debut juxtaposes macho Israeli police officers with passionate young radicals in a way that sets up certain expectations regarding class warfare, only to upend them. There are no easy answers or sense of catharsis here; only a growing feeling that things won't well, culminating in a disturbing and strangely moving final reel. Forget American Sniper; this is the bracing must-see political film of the year.
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15. STARRED UP
This powerful character study about a 19-year-old criminal transferred to an adult prison is unflinching in it's depiction of lives society has given up on, complete with gritty direction from David MacKenzie and a superlative lead performance from Jack O'Connell. In between spurts of shocking violence, the film stops to consider whether or not it's characters are worth saving, but it's O'Connell's complex rendering of a violate young man that lingers most.
.

THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL 14.
Wes Anderson's eighth feature is one of his best and most lively films, factoring in all of his stylistic preoccupations and deadpan dialogue with a larger canvas and snappier pace than his past work. Inspired sight gags, visual puns, slapstick-style action, and carefully calibrated camera movements are everywhere; but it's the clever screenplay and inspired comedic performance from Ralph Fiennes that truly impresses. A dazzling Rubik's Cube of whimsical invention.
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13. SOFT IN THE HEAD
Unconventional, aesthetically challenging, and emotionally astute, Nathan Silver's film centers on an alcoholic 20-year-old who spends most of her time careening from one disastrous social situation to the next. Adroitly capturing the contradictory impulses of being young and reckless; complete with jittery closeups and frantic editing swirling around Brooklyn life, Soft in the Head emerges as an extraordinary example of go-for-broke indie filming. Vital, alive, and uncompromising.
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BORGMAN 12.
Warning: Never let a bearded homeless man into your home to take a bath. Borgman, the latest mind-fuck from Dutch writer/director Alex van Warmerdam, ponders that question and many others; including possible fallen angels, terrifying children's bedtime stories, shape-shifting canines, and manipulating dreams. An unnerving, darkly funny, and elusive film that demands multiple viewings. A verifiable bourgeoisie nightmare.
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11. THE CONGRESS
Visually arresting, narratively wonky, and completely fascinating, Ari Folman's The Congress nods towards the Orwellian dystopia of Brazil, the faux-reality landscapes of The Matrix, and the loopy animated surrealism of The Yellow Submarine, but always remains wholly original. With the aid of Robin Wright's phenomenal lead performance, the film represents a defiant fuck you to the Hollywood studio system; an imaginative, existential, and daring piece of work that opens up new realms of cinematic perception.
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25-11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

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

Previous 1. Previous
To Be Kind Swans
The year's crowning achievement belongs to Swans, who have crafted an album that invites an almost ritualistic surrender to cocooning yourself inside it's trance. Chaotic, grand, all-encompassing, and impervious to commercial consideration, To Be Kind is that rarefied thing that requires absolute allegiance to the idea of the album as experience. Multi-instrumentalist Michael Gira, who has been conjuring waking nightmares as the mastermind behind Swans since the early 1980's, has fashioned his masterpiece; a work of unspeakable ambition that speaks to the band's willingness to push the boundaries of rock music. Hyberbole? Hardly. To Be Kind is the best album of 2014; a veritable nightmare, all fluttering shadows and howling laughter.
. .
25-11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

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

Previous 2. Next
Pom Pom Ariel Pink
Provocateur Ariel Pink's latest madcap opus manages to take familiar sounds from past decades and twist them to fit his peculiar sensibilities, landing somewhere at the nexus of nostalgia and forward-thinking genius. It's a beautiful mess of an album; a tangent-jumping patchwork of kitsch mixed with a delirious attention to detail, the kind of thing Phil Spector might dream up while smoking out with Zappa and Beefheart on the Sunset Strip. Anti-pop? Ludicrous? Poking fun at our obsession with pop stars? Sure, it's all of that and more. Hilarious, bizarre, and irresistibly addicting.
. .
25-11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

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

Previous 3. Next
Celestite Wolves in the Throne Room
Black metal duo Aaron and Nathan Weaver take a bold left turn into the throwback era of otherworldly, 1980's sci-fi soundtracks with Celestite; a shape-shifting and altogether brilliant record that will have many metal fans dumbstruck with disbelief. Gone are the thunderous drums and menacing vocals, replaced by analog synthesizers and ambient soundscapes. In other words, more Brian Eno than blast beat wreckage, but this is more than simply pastiche. A beautiful, harrowing, exhilarating, and contemplative auditory experience.
. .
25-11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

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

Previous 4. Next
Nikki Nack TUnE-YArDs
Playful, off-kilter, and just plain extraordinary, the third release from TUnE-YArDs dives further into Merrill Garbus' obsession with Caribbean rhythms, afrobeat, R & B, and digital trickery. The overall weirdness of her sound is often complimented by dark lyrical content, and the songwriting; a rush of swirling keyboards, tribal drums, and propulsive baselines, is catchy without ever being streamlined. A vibrant work post-modern pop.
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25-11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1