I can’t even try to rank these albums, so in no particular order are ten albums that ruled in 2014. I also threw some EPs in that deserve some attention. I tried to snag as much as I could off Soundcloud so you can check it out. Enjoy.
Run the Jewels – “Run the Jewels 2″
My god, this album just rules from start to finish and never lets up. This follow-up to last year’s highly acclaimed album is an absolute masterpiece.
Broods – “Evergreen”
This electronic pop duo from Auckland, New Zealand shares production with critically acclaimed Kiwi, Lorde, and some of the textures in this down-tempo, thought-provoking, and…well, brooding….pop are similar. What differentiates Broods from their more well-known mate is that they bring some more energy and diversity to many of the tracks on “Evergreen”.
This Will Destroy You – “Another Language”
The post-rock group’s first new album in three years is their most dynamic yet, and marks somewhat of departure from their trademark slow, clean, melodic crescendos. The song composition on “Another Language” is much different from earlier work in that it’s fuller and more lush in the textures and guitar effects. Still expect to hear their reserved, dreamy finesse, rather than unhinged bangers. RIYL: Explosions in the Sky
Ocean Districts – “Expeditions”
Another post-rock band because you can never have too much non-vocal articulation of postmodern theoretical approaches to rock and roll, amirite? This album would get my pick for their raging track, “Endurance”, alone, but the rest of the album has a great flow and pretty interesting guitar work that sometimes takes a post-hardcore, proggy path. RIYL: Pelican, Caspian, Coheed & Cambria.
Baptists – “Bloodmines”
This absolutely crushing follow-up to last year’s “Bushcraft” (which I regret not listening to sooner) is one blistering torrent of hate after another. Trigger Warning: you will probably hammer punch everything in striking distance when you listen to this album.
…Of Sinking Ships – “The Amarinthine Sea”
This post-rock group (god, aren’t you sick of me yet?) from North Carolina crafts dreamy, progged-out, meandering odysseys apparently themed around seafaring and shipwrecks. It’s very imaginative, yet chill enough to avoid being self-indulgent.
Death From Above 1979 – “The Physical World”
In 2004, when a friend of mine turned me on to “You’re a Woman, I’m a Machine”, it dramatically redefined my taste in music. Prior to that album, I hadn’t been a fan of stripped-down music that much, instead opting for the almost over-the-top fullness of the likes of Coheed and Cambria and The Mars Volta at the time (still love both so hard). But DFA’s duo of drums and bass/synth managed to leave no empty space in their thundering, dance-your-ass-off art-punk. Anyway, fast-forward a decade and this band continues to define my taste in music. Don’t be surprised that it’s not a radical departure from “You’re a Woman…”; “The Physical World” is certainly something new and different but has all the trimmings of DFA that you’ve loved for years. Update: remember when I wrote about how this white whale has evaded me for ages? Well, I rolled deep down to Nashville and they rocked our faces off with one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. Vindication never sounded so sweet.
Odesza – “In Return”
This electronic duo from Seattle grabbed my ear about a year ago with their ridiculously catchy EP, “My Friends Never Die”, and I’ve been stoked on their new full-length album since they announced it several months ago. “In Return” definitely delivers on the anticipation; there’s an impressive and dynamic range of mature, refined electro-lounge and dub-ish club jams. This is a solid all-around album that I can’t stop listening to. If you like electronic music at all, do yourself a favor and scoop this up.
Yautja – “Songs of Descent”
Pronounced “eee-WATT-yah”, named for a supernatural being of Native American folklore that the monster in the “Predator” movies is based on, this album out of Nashville needs to be in regular rotation for your collection of heavy music. It’s difficult to talk about music without comparing it to other known points of of reference. I’m not saying they’re another Mastodon or Baroness, but there are certain elements on this album that are similar to what really drew me to love early Mastodon and Baroness – crashing syncopated drums, thundering bass lines, and proggy downtuned guitars belting out thick riffs. Oh and don’t forget the gravelly screaming. That’s what I look for in metal, at least.
Old Man Gloom – “The Ape of God” (I and II)
These tricksters were fairly secretive about any album details prior to the release of, not just one, but TWO albums – both named “The Ape of God”. Some folks have called OMG a super group, although the members hate that term since it diminishes the work of OMG by propping it up on the laurels of the associated projects (Converge, Doomriders, Cave-In, Isis, Mammifer). I’ve been rocking Old Man Gloom since I was a pissed-off teenager in rural North Carolina. While much of my own attitude and geographical affiliation has changed, it’s still super awesome to see one of my long-time favorites rocking as hard as they ever have and handily defining the state of heavy music. Grab these important albums. Now.
Cult Leader – “Nothing For Us Here”
Great Floods – “Failures” (RIP)
Karass – “Order of Operations”
The Pass (duh, like all of them. they were super busy in 2014)
Anwar Sadat – “Disobedience”
Bonobo – “Flashlight”