Albums Of The Year 2014
This year has been full to the brim with amazing new releases and reissues. It has seen a real comeback for Vinyl records, showcased yet again by an amazing RSD back in April and has enabled us to extend our Vinyl department. Electronica has had an especially vibrant twelve months with labels such as Brainfeeder releasing stunning albums consistently all year including our No1 album, and for us, we’ve seen a new diversity in customers, in age and tastes that has allowed the shop to grow to having the best stock we think we’ve ever had! Hope you enjoy our array of lists of what we think have been the best records released in 2014. Enjoy! We wish we could add write ups for every one of our top 100 but we cant spend that much time n this, so instead here is list in full of our favourite albums released in 2014. It was long winded affair, taking up around 10 hours and included around 20 bits of paper, several short lists (each), various scoring methods, discussions, recaps and one drunken man singing Pink Floyd. Please feel free to ask any member of staff about any album if you’re unfamiliar and curious.
All albums are available in store!
FULL LIST OF OUR TOP 100 CLICK HERE. ALSO CHECK OUT UNDER AOTY2014 FOR OUR TOP 20 REISSUES, COMPILATION AND STAFF LISTS.
1. TAYLOR McFERRIN – EARLY RISER
Taylor McFerrin, eldest son of soul legend Bobby McFerrin, has signed to Brainfeeder, and it’s an excellent fit: more to do with his carefully slack beat-work than his family pedigree. On Early Riser, he takes a stab at reinventing classic 60s/70s soul for the la beat scene and beyond, downplaying the genre’s heart-on-sleeve emoting and emphasising its more psychedelic sonic features. The results are breathtaking. It’s a lazy, languorous, sun-dappled Sunday morning of a record that moves fluidly between soul, electronica and jazz, with elements of fusion and prog. McFerrin shrouds his compositions on his debut album, in a wide range of contemporary and throwback sonic textures that simultaneously look to the past for inspiration and the future for direction. It hints at what a 2014 Stevie Wonder, nudged back towards his experimental/accessible best, on an appreciative label, might achieve. Like Wonder’s peak work, it undercuts buoyancy with a tugging sorrow, and stops things getting too mellow. Listen more closely and you can hear an aching desire to communicate sadness and rapture, usually at the same time. Painstakingly assembled by multi-instrumentalist McFerrin, who used to cut up and sample his hippie parents’ Beatles, Hendrix and Stevie records, Early Riser is a feat of performing complexity and programming intricacy. There are meandering passages, but also bursts of progressive fervour. The vocals – by McFerrin and a series of guests, who generally bring a feeling of quiet intensity – add colour to an already varied palette. This is music that operates at the crossroads of jazz, hip-hop and contemporary R&B, becoming the logical extension of the black musical experience, incorporating the past, present and future into what could serve as the vanguard for a new creative movement and a revitalization of a long-dormant American art form. The finished product could easily appeal to fans of Erykah Badu and Talib Kweli – artists he has supported live, but also to lovers of 70s jazz-fusion and 00s turntablism. Whatever your flavour, Early Riser is for you. A gorgeous record, likely to be seen as a touchstone in years to come.
2. MELANIE DE BIASIO – NO DEAL
Among the buzzing cyber hive and unrelenting pace of modern life, there is a special place for albums that suspend time. The album, that was released almost a year ago in the de Biasio’s home country, possesses the same dark and oppressive mood as Mark Hollis of Talk Talk’s smoky self-titled solo album and the first two Portishead albums, with the trip hop electronics replaced by an atypical instrumentation. An instrumentation that perfectly fits the impressive voice of de Biasio: hard too ignore and bound to cause an international epidemic of goose bumps. Melanie de Biasio’s first album in six years is seven songs of dark, transcendent music. Despite its seemingly monochromatic tones, sombre atmosphere and minimalist, jazz-infused instrumentation, the album is flecked with glinting shards of diamond-like illumination. Shining brightly most of all is De Biasio’s mesmerising voice. Revered by many in her native country as the Belgian Billie Holiday, she defies this comparison to iconic jazz singers on her cover of Nina Simone’s I’m Gonna Leave You – a track Biasio reimagines brilliantly with the neat, clipped enunciation of her bruised yet burly vocals and holds the listener captive for the duration of the album’s seven songs. As the final patters of the album’s send-off, With All My Love, dissolve into the ether, the eerie silence that’s left is dizzying.
3. DAMIEN JURADO – BROTHERS + SISTERS OF THE ETERNAL SON
Damien Jurado says his new album, Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Son, is “about a guy who disappears on a search, if you will, for himself and never goes home.” That search comes complete with rolling stones, resurrections, zodiacs, gardens, and a fictional utopia called Maraqopa. There’s a confusion of plots and identities throughout the album, with just enough detail given to evoke further hidden panels of image and story There’s also paranoia, the frisson of conspiracy, in the album’s more ominous tracks: oblique references to torture in “Magic Number,” shady men pulling files in “Metallic Cloud,” and a possible alien abduction in “Jericho Road.” The brothers and sisters of the Eternal Son, following their cultish space messiah, are either egregiously deceived or gloriously redeemed, but Jurado’s saintly burnouts bravely maintain their mad belief in figures and powers and plots that can ultimately take over the world. If there’s an occasional fatuity to the nostalgia of the recent folk revival, it’s one that Jurado avoids, partly through the strength of the album’s attentive production, courtesy of the Shins’ Richard Swift. Brothers and Sisters is full of the same lush psychedelia as that band’s Port of Morrow, with Swift’s keyboards and frequent Latin percussion, surrounded by endless nets of reverb, ably supporting Jurado’s layered vocals. The singer’s delivery is more pliant than it’s ever been, moving from the hushed echo-chamber whispers of “Silver Malcolm” to the fuzzed-out shouts of “Jericho Road.” But the real magic is in the melancholy appeal of his daydream, what he calls his “temporary Earth” in “Magic Number,” and the persistent possibility of revelation that Jurado catalogues with grim bravado and wry hope.
4. SHARON VAN ETTEN – ARE WE THERE?
5. STEVE GUNN – WAY OUT WEATHER
6. TODD TERJE – IT’S ALBUM TIME
7. BECK – MORNING PHASE
8. CARIBOU – OUR LOVE
9. SBTRKT – WONDER WHERE WE LAND
10. SINKANE – MEAN LOVE
*****CHECK OUT OUR ALBUMS OF THE YEAR 2013!*****
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