2014 has been as hectic a year for album releases as the last. Now, as 2015 looms on the horizon, we take a look back at 30 standout records from the past twelve months, here’s the first half:
Against Me! – Transgender Dysphoria Blues
The first album since singer Laura Jane Grace came out as a transgender woman also happens to be the best punk album written in years. These ten flawless contemporary punk bangers have the accessibility for anyone to love, the edge to drive anyone wild, and the grace to make anyone fall in love with this band.
Jack King @
Arca – Xen
After landing himself production jobs on Kanye West‘s highly-celebrated Yeezus and FKA Twigs’ full-length debut, LP1, Arca retreated from media attention, choosing to further develop his unique sound instead. Thus his debut album, Xen, doesn’t reflect the current climate of cookie-cutter production, but mirrors a dissatisfaction with it. And, through this destruction of archetypes, and the graceful submission to chaos, a state of zen emerges.
Ben Hindle @
The Black Keys – Turn Blue
The Black Keys’ eighth studio album embodied their graduation to a prestigious league of bands. An effortless amalgamation of tastes from late sixties psychedelia to their idiosyncratic glam-blues swagger, Turn Blue marked their final step to true maturity: a consonant fusion of fully conceived and flawlessly executed music.
Minnie Wright @
Black Stone Cherry – Magic Mountain
With it’s soulfully raw and southern feel, Black Stone Cherry’s latest album Magic Mountain encompasses every strong ingredient to make the perfect rock and roll album. Weaving foot-stomping riffs with Chris Robertson’s distinctive vocals, the band have inspiringly taken their stoner rock sound and fused it with a heavy, driving tone that just screams faultless conviction.
Body Cheetah – Raking The Wind
Following a landmark year full of gargantuan releases, one would hope for something mind-blowing from one of the giants, but alas, 2014 belongs to the little guys. It’s only his fourth full-length, but Body Cheetah has mastered autumnal beauty better than anyone channeling David Lynch ever has.
Joe Price @
Chiodos – Devil
Gaining Craig Owens back as frontman was the best decision Chiodos could have ever made. Devil’s combination of slow acoustics with rough guitars and emotional howling brought the record to the forefront of originality in the genre. Each song is able, willing to stand on its own and brings lyrical brilliance to emotional topics.
Kaitlyn Ulrich @
Clipping – CLPPNG
2014 has been an unusually shy year for hip hop; fortunately we’ve had clipping. to bring much needed audaciousness and confrontation to the genre. If the combination of harsh noise and Daveed Diggs’ rapid verses didn’t convince you of clipping.’s powers than the shrill alarm clock, manically twisted hip hop norms and children’s choir will.
Connor Cass @
Deadmau5 – While (1<2)
Demonstrating his essentialism to electronic music, the outspoken producer proves that he has matured, returning with two hours of atmospheric piano laden, rolling electro mixes accompanied by challenging and complex instrumentation. Deadmau5 expresses the evolution and understanding of dance music culture through twenty five innovative tracks and brought an unruly presence that EDM lacked so desperately.
Lydia Hughes @
DZ Deathrays – Black Rat
Black Rat is essentially the best of everything that happened in rock music between about 1989 and 1994. The ‘thrash-pop’ duo have created something so intensely deep and complex that you could listen to it a hundred times over and still take something new away from it. Each song is as unique and memorable as the last.
Callum Cornwell @
Flying Lotus – You’re Dead!
Steven Ellison finally allows his jazz tendencies to run wild on fifth record, You’re Dead! and it’s all the better for it. It’s both his most far-out and song-based release yet, while flowing uninterrupted throughout to feel like one cohesive listen on the descent into death. Kendrick Lamar, Snoop Dogg and Herbie Hancock all drop by for guest appearances as well as Ellison’s sinister alter ego Captain Murphy. An endlessly entertaining affair, You’re Dead! combines the eccentric with the empathetic in a collection of crashes, beats and dancing basslines.
James Barlow @
Foxes – Glorious
Already having presented her potential through her collaboration with dance producer Zedd on ‘Clarity’ beside singles ‘Let Go for Tonight’ and ‘Youth’, Foxes’ Glorious managed to excel any expectations that were placed upon it. It saw a selection of instrumentation come into its creation such as synthesizers, pianos, forceful drums and an effervescent, remarkable vocal.
Aaron Jolliff @
He Is Legend – Heavy Fruit
On their fourth record He Is Legend have taken sludge, stoner and psychedelic elements to craft a delightfully dark record rarely found in rock today. The way it’s cleverly constructed with careful ambience that links songs together makes for a wholesome captivating listen. They found their sound on It Hates You, but here they have sharpened it.
Rob Sayers @
How To Dress Well – “What Is This Heart?”
Tom Krell, aka How To Dress Well, has retained his love affair with the 80s on “What Is This Heart?”. Drenched with Krell’s trademark falsetto and lo-fi melodies, this album’s a true testament to his versatility – from synth-dipped pop to melancholy orchestral arrangements, he remains cohesive by placing his addictive R&B spin on every track.
Freya Cochrane @
Issues – Issues
Here on their debut, the band’s winning combination of pop, R&B and metalcore is more polished than ever as Tyler Carter’s melodic voice and Michael Bohn’s harsh growling vocals complement each other beautifully. The personal nature of the lyrics gives listeners something to relate to and coupled with the mix of genres, help create something truly exhilarating to listen to.
Shannon McCabe @
Jack White – Lazaretto
Jack White’s second solo album entitled Lazaretto brings together various genres of music and all the tracks effortlessly fall together in a unique way. The album, like White’s previous work, has those standout riffs and gothic melodies that he has used in the White Stripes and The Dead Weather yet he has added intrigue to Lazaretto which makes it slightly mysterious. It’s an experimental record with some familiarities thrown in, which makes it a typical Jack White album.
Tom Staniszewski @