You could spend the rest of your life arguing about the best albums of any given year. It’s always a very subjective, personal choice. Great records come into your life over the course of 12 months, you rant and rave to your mates about the music that’s blowin’ your tiny mind and they either agree, disagree, or think you’re just plain mental that you’re rocking out to an album of Guatemalan finger cymbal solos. So, without prejudice or judgement, I bring to you my favourite albums of 2014. There’s something for most of you in here. Please note, although these records are numbered, that in no way reflects my preference for these albums. I just like some order in my life.
1. Warpaint – Warpaint
If I had to walk away with one album from 2014 it would be a close call with this second, eponymous record. The lush twin vocals of Emily Kokal and Theresa Wayman combine with their hypnotic playing and inspirational drumming of Stella Mozgawa, producing one of the best dream pop records of the last ten years. They knocked out a great set at Glastonbury in 2014 to boot.
2. Mica Levi – Under The Skin OST
This, to your lager swilling mates, is the film where Scarlett Johansson gets her kit off. To the initiated, this is the creepiest soundtrack to the most mind-bending film of 2014. If you can listen to the whole record without fear of alien seduction and consumption, then you clearly didn’t watch closely enough. Not an album for a dark night.
3. SBTRKT – Wonder Where We Land
‘New York New Dorp’ had the weirdest name for a song that everyone seemed to love in 2014. It also came ahead of an album that defies categorisation. Sure, Sampha returned to bang out some great sounding songs. It also had one of the best hip-hop tracks of the year hidden away at the end of the record. ‘Voices In My Head’ yielded great reward for repeated listens.
4. Shit Robot – We Got A Love
If you’re not hip to the stellar output of DFA Records, this could be the album that gives you the necessary in. 90s House through a thoroughly millennial lens provides enough modern grooves to throw shapes long into any big night. Pro tip: the vinyl sounds so much better than the digital release.
5. Session Victim – See You When You Get There
Contrary to popular opinion, not all European dance music is all cold angles. The German duo, Session Victim, spent most of 2014 record this Jazz and breaks inflected House record in the sunny environment of San Francisco. The vitamin D encased in this record is more than enough of your recommended daily allowance.
6. Flying Lotus – You’re Dead!
FlyLo upped the stakes in 2014. With his contemporaries still caught up in the world of guns and ho’s, he brought out a dark, simmering meditation on death. It’s a powerful record that spins the idea of hip-hop into ink-black reaches of the cosmos. From the artwork on, this record still takes you on Interstellar-like journeys long after the first, initial exploratory listens. You’ll never hear a Kendrick Lamar track deeper than the one dropped here.
7. Ramona Lisa – Arcadia
The first solo debut from Chairlift singer, Caroline Polacheck, is a solo record in the truest of forms. Record in seclusion with only a laptop, the album creates a lush sounding record with expansive vocal performances. From the co-writer of Beyonce’s ‘No Angel’, this is the flip side of slick R’n’B.
8. Jess Williamson – Native State
From the opening of ‘Blood Song’, you are swept up into the dry, acrid sound of Austin, Texas. It’s a short, sharp record that floors you with its emotional palette. There’s plenty of banjo, guitar and slide on this record to please any fan of wooden music. Don’t call it country though, this record more than elevates itself above genre.
9. Illum Sphere – Spectre Vex
‘Spectre Vex’ serves as the remix album for Illum Sphere’s full- length album ‘Ghosts Of Then And Now’. This is worth the admission for Lone’s remix of ‘Embryonic’ alone. A pulsing, modern, sleek re- shape of a record that just missed out inclusion on this list. This is the chill-out record you missed out on.