Chris T: Top Albums of 2014

Allentown, PA

I discovered podcasts early this year, and they’ve really cut into my music listening–especially into time for discovering new music, so mostly I’ve heard the albums that made the biggest splashes and the new albums by the old artists. Frankly, most of the latter were disappointing. Releases by Weezer, Tom Petty, Leonard Cohen, and Yusuf Islam all were unremarkable. Fortunately, Prince came through in a fun way and D’Angelo’s welcome late entry did a lot to offset the trend.

top ten albums

10Charlie Haden & Jim Hall: Charlie Haden — Jim Hall

There’s nothing groundbreaking about this album, but it’s a wonderful listen for fans of jazz guitar. Haden and Hall died within about 6 months of one another last year, and this post-humous release testifies not only to their talent but to their lifelong friendship.

08Prince: Art Official Age

Is it getting hot in here? Hey…when did my pants come off…?

07Woods: With Light and With Love

We’re a little too deep into winter to listen to Woods because this is lighthearted, summertime psych. The snow is coming, but after the thaw, when the bulbs just start poking through the topsoil and little seedpods crowd our every windowsill, life and hope will be renewed, with light and with love.

06Wild Beasts: Present Tense

Like Art Garfunkel, Hayden Thorpe has the voice of an angel. But unlike Art Garfunkel, were you to, say, encounter some troubled water, you should not confuse Thorpe with someone who gives a fuck.

05Sharon van Etten: Are We There?

More of the same great music from Sharon van Etten: emotionally-wrenching yet somehow still easy to listen to.

04Angel Olsen: Burn Your Fire for No Witness

In her stark instrumentation and heart-aching delivery, Angel Olsen combines elements of a lot of other favorite artists and has invited critical comparisons to such other singer-songwriters as PJ Harvey, Sharron van Etten, and even Patsy Cline. Bind all that together with a voice that’s 100% tone and a dark country way of seeing things, and you’ve got an artist for the ages.

03FKA Twigs: LP1

Like a jazzy, sexy, Portishead, which wouldn’t exactly qualify as a compliment if FKA Twigs weren’t such a worthy heir to the tradition of English trip-hop. Baby-making music for introverts.

02D’Angelo and The Vanguard: Black Messiah

Not to be confused with Adult Swim’s Black Jesus, which I don’t recommend. D’Angelo’s triumphant return after 14 years of wandering has only produced greater and greater reward with every back-to-back listen I’ve managed to cram into the last week and a half. It’s obviously tough to evaluate the long-term listening potential of an album still so fresh and infatuating, and a day may come that I regret rating such a latecomer to 2014 so highly, but that day will not be tomorrow.

01Run the Jewels: Run the Jewels 2

This one is a no-brainer: funny, political, and profound. I’m not sure what else to say. Just press play and you’ll hear.

similarity to overall top ten: 57.83%, 7 matches

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