Favorite Albums, 2014

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These aren’t necessarily the “best” albums that came out last year, but they’re definitely the ones I’ve listened to the most. Alphabetically:

  • Cibo MattoHotel Valentine — Great to hear them together again. I’m an unabashed fan of Shibuya-kei, and the concept of this album (sung from the perspective of ghosts in a hotel) fits perfectly with the hazy/sunny sound.
  • Damien JuradoBrothers and Sisters of the Eternal Son — This is DJ’s third album with Richard Swift and it’s definitely the spookiest one. The album is soaked in weirdo hippie Jesus music vibes and has an all-women choir that puts it over the top.
  • DntelHuman Voice — There are plenty of human vocals on this album, but no singing or lyrics. This is Jimmy Tamborello at his most emotional, and it’s crushing.
  • Helado NegroDouble Youth — Roberto Carlos Lange doubles down on his electro-psychedelic sound with an extra serving of heavy beats this time around, but it’s his Spanish/English whispered/lilting lyrics about memory and friendship that really hit me hard.
  • KorallrevenSecond Comin’ — From what I can tell, they have perfected the formula for music I will enjoy: driving, syncopated balearic beats, whispered vocals, lots of synth washes, and heart.
  • Neil CicieregaMouth Sounds — Okay, how can I justify why this ridiculous and possibly intentionally awful mashup album is on my favorite albums of last year? Well…I guess when you mash a whole bunch of songs with Smash Mouth’s horrible horrible earworm All Star, things in your brain are never the same. Really though, they way Neil C. treats music on this (and the followup Mouth Silence) is so thoroughly cruel and postmodern and it’s probably a harbinger of music of the future.
  • Run the JewelsRun the Jewels 2 — This is the album that the United States needed to hear last year. It’s two of the best rappers in the world, one black and one white, both nearing 40, spitting the truth to the world as indelicately as possible. Over the hardest beats imaginable. And they gave it away for free.
  • SinkaneMean Love — Besides shibuya-kei and balearic beats (mentioned above), my other weakness is afrobeat and afrobeat-inspired stuff. Ahmed Gallab fuses just enough of the Black President’s sound with synth loops, pedal steel and a 70s smooth rock sound to create something new and fantastic.
  • A Sunny Day in GlasgowSea When Absent — Sunny, twinkling dream pop that’s absolutely crushed with shoegaze guitar squall.
  • Todd TerjeIt’s Album Time — Robot dance music that’s relentlessly fun and relentlessly perfect.
  • Turks & CaicosTurks & Caicos EP — Actually only available to stream on Soundcloud and not for purchase anywhere but that hasn’t stopped me from listening to it over and over. Turks & Caicos is an alter ego of synth crooner Chad Valley focused on mellow, absorbing house music with just the right laid back vibe.
  • TV on the RadioSeeds — I wasn’t crazy about TVOTR’s last album, and they’ve had a tough time in the intervening years. This album might not rank as their best one, but it’s certainly their most straightforward, and it’s a good reminder of why I ever loved them in the first place.
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Soundtrack — This album was with me constantly this year and never failed to provide me with the attitude adjustment I needed from this Awesome Mix.
  • The Lego Movie Soundtrack — I’m a dad. My kids and I thought everything about this movie was awesome. Untitled Self Portrait is the best Batman song ever.
  • Secret Songsshh#ffb6c1 — A compilation from Ryan Hemsworth’s Secret Songs netlabel, these songs all feel like the future to me. This is probably my single most-listened to album of 2014.


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