The 20 Best Albums of 2014

12/17/2014 1:31 PM |


13. Aphex Twin Syro

In the 90s Richard D. James seemed like an oracle who’d glimpsed the future. Re-emerging after a 13-year absence, we learn his visions were 100 percent correct though his view was limited to the interior of his own countryside cottage. This is a freakishly secure record, unmoved by trends that rose and fell in electronic music while he was away. It’s the contents of a single head, knowable only for the sly, sinister grin it’s permanently wearing. Key Track: “minipops 67 [120.2][source field mix]”  — JK



12. Freddie Gibbs & Madlib Piñata

Gibbs described this record as “a gangster Blaxploitation film on wax,” which is basically on point. The Indiana rapper is our guide, but he’s not the star—he’s a weary antihero who’s seen some shit. Gibbs’s foil-in-not-giving-a-fuck, Madlib, is the director, surrounding Gibbs and a litany of starry guests with retro-soul samples, taut snares, and enough 70s slow jam grooves that you’d float away on a cloud if you weren’t anchored to the street. Key Track: “Deeper”  — Phillip Pantuso



11. Sleaford Mods Divide and Exit

One of the most out-there records of the year, Divide and Exit , must be listened to repeatedly to understand what these Northern England slackers are up to. Turns out lyricist Jason Williamson and his beats-man Andrew Fearn are beating suburban banality with dismissive depravity, echoes of avant-garde hip-hop, and The Fall. Be careful with Divide, it’s far more art than entertainment. Don’t just play it, listen to it–closely. If you’re lucky, you’ll come out feeling awash in a cheap beer- and-molly hangover. Key Track: “A Little Ditty”  –ND



10. Protomartyr Under Color of Official Right EP

We love this Detroit garage-rock band and not just because we’ve spent our fair share of wasted hours inside Jumbo’s—a neighborhood bar enshrined on Protomartyr’s excellent full-length debut. Frontman and seasoned barfly Joe Casey and his fresh-faced crew could’ve easily stuck to formula on is follow-up. Instead, they add poppier riffs and psyched-out chords, beckoning a larger, much-deserved audience. Key Track: “Want Remover”  — ND



9. Viet Cong Cassette EP

A cassette-only release with a run time as long as plenty of punk records, Viet Cong’s debut “EP” might be trying too hard to seem like the work of low-key, lo-fi newbies. They’re actually a congregation of Canadian indie vets, long-missed members of the tragically short-lived Calgary band Women among them. Their identity—smart, dark, super-tight rockers better than the basement they’re currently playing—arrives fully formed. Key Track: “Unconscious Melody”  — JK



8. Liars Mess

On the seventh rad record of a dud-less career, Liars play like an unhinged old man dancing alone at a rave. You may not know why he’s there, but you can’t dispute the awesome time he’s having. Other bands from their generation are now trying to reinvent themselves or recapture old magic, some even reforming prematurely for a festival payday. Greeting artistic maturity with Dadaist club jams, in continual flux based on nothing but their own impulses, Liars never lost it. Key Track: “Vox Tuned D.E.D.”  — JK


One Comment

  • These are the best albums of 2014? This is some of the most uninspired and unexamined vomit I’ve ever heard. It’s a self-indulgent, jerk-off fest – I would feel less depraved listening to Taylor Swift, at least while I drown in that bubblegum kitsch I’ll get to hear a pop hook.