David Goldfarb: Top Albums of 2014

Philadelphia, PA

top ten albums

10Damon Albarn: Everyday Robots

Half a dozen albums could share this spot with this uneven album. But it’s highs are so high with such brilliant clarity, this solo album’s solo album holds them off. This is the sound of Albarn closing himself off from the world, looking at warily and with suspicion, a clarion call of beauty.

09Perfume Genius: Too Bright

Did I think Perfume Genius gritless sound needed a heavy dose of Suicide? No, I did not. Shit was I wrong.

08Sharon van Etten: Are We There?

How can an album this good be a disappointment? Inevitably, I’ll look back on this album and wonder how I ranked it this low.

07Spoon: They Want My Soul

A monster come-back from Britt & Co. Couldn’t believe it was them when I first heard it.

06Angel Olsen: Burn Your Fire for No Witness

The first half of this album is as good as anything produced this year. It peters off towards the end, but this has to be the most exciting breakthrough of any artist this year.

05Woods: With Light and With Love

Woods finally breaking through. A stammeringly good record from the ashes of their lo fi sound. I can’t wait to see where they go next.

04Sun Kil Moon: Benji

Look at me, coming late to the Mark Kozelok, Red House Painters, etc. game. Nothing Kozelok has done has really struck a chord with me until this personal, whimsical album broke through my thick skull. “Ben’s My Friend” began 2014 as my favorite song of the young year and hasn’t lust its luster since. As to the War on Drugs feuding? Philadelphians are a forgiving people

03Beck: Morning Phase

I spent most of the year feeling let down by this album, as good as it is. Sequels to classics have a tough ride. It may be no Sea Change, but it is gorgeous and well-built, re-affirming Mr. Hansen’s surprising place in contemporary music: one of our very best songwriters.

02Run the Jewels: Run the Jewels 2

Killer Mike and El-P are both 39. Five years ago, Killer Mike was an ATL-ian that never quite got there. El-P’s def jux master class seemed long over. But when they got together, it’s like the whole world clicked. If their previous albums boiled, this album seethes with a white hot rage (well, except for the naughty wink of “Love Again”). It should be impossible to build one of the best rap tracks of the year using the played-out college rage of Zach de la Rocha. In their hands, it was inevitable. Vince Staples may have the titular song of the year of death at the hands of police, but this album, bleeding from Killer Mike’s father-heart, is its core. Thematically, lyrically, emotionally: this album is everything Kanye wanted Yeezus to be. And shit does it sound good.

01The War on Drugs: Lost in the Dream

Go ahead. Accuse me of being a Philly homer. But this album isn’t a Philly album. It’s an album of expanse and drive. Of throwing down the windows on a beatup rental on a cross-country trip. This is American rock, drained of everything but the longing. With a Philly soul. Which, yes, makes it better.

honorable mentions

First Aid Kit, Stay Gold; Mac DeMarco, Salad Days; Parquet Courts, Sunbathing Animal; Strand of Oaks, HEAL; The Antlers, Familiars; Ty Segall, Manipulator; Vashti Bunyan, Heartleap; Wild Beasts, Present Tense;

Another solid year for music, but one that shared some pretty bitter dissapointments. Foxygen turned in a mess of an album that I can’t convince myself to spend the time with to separate the wheat from the really dense chaff. Jessie Ware took a darker turn when all I wanted her was to repeat her pop mastery. St. Vincent… I see some of you loved it, and I never warmed an inch to that album. Real Estate, likewise, left me wishing for album prior.

But when you had big growth for so many bands and returns to form of Beck and Spoon, how could I complain? Easily. But that’s who I am: a noise narc. But also, I’m complaining because a certain Brit ex pat made me listen to that Sia album: an intense, brutal form of international torture.

similarity to overall top ten: 68.33%, 7 matches

top songs

As always, I follow the rule of “nothing on the top 10 album list” and “not spending more than 30 seconds filling this out.” I blame Matt Karp for this section existing in the first place. Of course, he didn’t even complile his. Typical Washington Footall Team fan.

10Caribou, “Can’t Do Without You”

09Mac Demarco, “Salad Days”This song sure does sound familiar, hmm, Blood Feathers?

08Jessie Ware, “Tough Love”

07Vince Staples, “Blue Suede”

06Mr Twin Sister, “In the House of Yes”

05Father John Misty, “Bored in the USA”

04Parquet Courts, “Instant Disassembly”

03Ariel Pink, “Picture Me Gone”

02Todd Terje, “Johnny and Mary”

01Panda Bear, “Mr Noah”

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