I listened to a lot of music in 2014. Some of it was cool. Lots of it was just whatever.
I definitely found myself enjoying individual songs and EPs more than full-scale albums. If I had set out to compile a selection of my favorite tracks of 2014, it would likely contain a much different group of artists from those present in the following list. Still, these records managed to create my most memorable listening experiences of the year. Some are fun. Most are sad. I hope you like them, too.
Here are my top 14 LPs from 2014.
14. The Ukiah Drag – In the Reaper’s Quarters
Lots of bands are doing this fuzzy desert punk thing right now, but The Ukiah Drag has managed to stay fresh and interesting as its catalogue continues to expand. Plus I like that they’re from Boston.
13. Pure X – Angel
Sad, cheesy-white-guy-sexy, dreamy pop that maintains the blissful drugged out weirdness that has come to define Pure X’s music. This album is really cool.
12. Angel Olsen – Burn Your Fire for No Witness
Angel Olsen stretches her melancholia into both catchy and wistful territories on her first LP since 2012. Her sound is rounded out with the presence of a full band, but it is the singer’s core voice and songwriting that continue to captivate.
11. White Wards – Cigarette Burns
Cigarette Burns is a great, mean punk record, and it is one of my favorite things to come out of Olympia in the past several years.
10. Sage the Gemini – Remember Me
Singles like “Gas Pedal” and “Red Nose” are joined by an album full of equally enjoyable and refreshingly strange hip hop.
9. Ivy – Ivy
One of NYC’s newest punk bands is also one of the most interesting that the city has seen in a while. A truly unique and memorable album that builds strongly on Ivy’s early releases.
8. Future Islands – Singles
Future Islands marches boldly into newly accessible territory without sacrificing its trademark theatricality or dramatic emotional heft.
7. Whirr – Sway
Whirr are mean to people on Facebook it’s pretty funny. This album is also super slow and heavy – it’s great.
6. Hank Wood and the Hammerheads – Stay Home!
There is no band like Hank Wood and the Hammerheads, and there is no good way to describe the music, either. Some of the guitars on Stay Home! are perfect.
5. The Spirit of the Beehive – The Spirit of the Beehive
This unexpected gem is also one of the best shoegaze records to come out in years, and its variety of sounds and styles guarantee something the everyone can enjoy.
4. Grouper – Ruins
This incredibly simple and crushingly somber album is the best reading music you will hear for a long time. When I saw Grouper years ago she was opening for Animal Collective and all the shitty kids at the concert made shadow puppets on her underneath her video projection while she just sat there staring at the floor while her guitar droned out. Grouper has really helped me dislike both myself and other people over the years.
3. Have a Nice Life – The Unnatural World
Gothy post-punk gloominess with fuzzy basslines and pounding drums. The Unnatural World constrains itself to a much shorter running time than the band’s previous efforts, but the tighter execution only enhances the music.
2. Failures – Decline and Fall
This record is so good that some people disliked it because it was too good. Impeccable production, songwriting, and performances years in the making.
1. Total Control – Typical System
Total Control had a lot to live up to after the success of their 2011 LP, Henge Beat, but they managed to exceed the hype with the year’s best LP. Every song is spot-on, and the praise that has rained down on “Flesh War” as the album’s standout track is completely deserved.