I find it vaguely annoying-ish when sites or individuals create a ‘best of 2014’ list, as if they’ve discovered some heretofore unknown criteria by which one can objectively arrive at a definitive ranking of something that is purely subjective. This is why for the past few years I’ve chosen to use ‘my favorite’ when making these lists, because that’s all that’s really going on. I don’t care to pretend that my list should have any resemblance to yours. That said, it is my strongly held belief that if Iggy Azalea appears on your favorite albums list for 2014, you pretty much failed somewhere in the development of your music-listening abilities and should probably just do something else instead, like bath salts. That aside, I present to you, my 20 favorite albums of 2014…

 

2floyd0. Pink Floyd – The Endless River

Read my piece titled “Pink Floyd and Purple Cabbage

Lykke19. Lykke Li – I Never Learn

Another strong album from Sweden’s reigning queen of ethereal indie pop.

wye18. Wye Oak – Shriek

I saw them live in Potrero del Sol park on a beautiful day. The perfect soundtrack.

lese17. Shabazz Palaces – Lese Majesty

Confusing, weird and compelling. I wouldn’t expect anything less at this point from the current masters of experimental hip-hop.

cohen16. Leonard Cohen – Popular Problems

Perhaps the greatest lyricist in music history returns with another classic. 

Transgender15. Against Me! – Transgender Dysphoria Blues

A deeply personal and consistently engaging listen; maybe their best album.

eno14. Brian Eno & Karl Hyde – High Life

The second collaboration between Eno & Hyde towers over their disappointing first album together.

frost13. Ben Frost – Aurora

Huge caverns of sound that seem to come from some other kind of world.

cibo12. Cibo Matto – Hotel Valentine

One of the highlights of this year’s Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival, I slept on their new album until seeing them live; so much fun. Try to listen to this and not want to dance. I dare you. 

ema11. EMA – The Future’s Void

When this first came out, it didn’t click for me, but something kept bringing me back, until I finally got it.

Schoolboy10. Schoolboy Q – Oxymoron

I really can’t get enough of the bass lines on this album.

pallbearer9. Pallbearer – Foundations of Burden

Easily the heaviest album on this list. It’s rare for me to fall in love with a metal album these days, but this one worked. 

White-Lung8. White Lung – Deep Fantasy

Scathing punk rock featuring one of the best new punk vocalists in a LONG time. 

sturgill7. Sturgill Simpson – Metamodern Sounds In Country Music

I’ve been doing year-end album lists for over a decade, and I don’t recall having a country album on any of them. That should say a lot, but from the moment Simpson starts talking about Psilocybin and DMT on the first track, it’s clear this isn’t your usual country album.

syro6. Aphex Twin – Syro

One of the most influential artists of my lifetime drops his first album in forever, and it’s characteristically brilliant, though one can’t help but think he has more tricks up his sleeve than he decided to include here.

psychomagia_5. John Zorn – Psychomagia

Zorn composes a complicated, vicious prog-jazz-metal-jam suite and Abraxas pulls the whole thing off flawlessly.

Sun-Kil-Moon4. Sun Kil Moon – Benji

I need to be in a certain mood to throw this album on, but when that mood hits, few albums in recent memory have been as lyrically compelling as this one. Thanks Mark Kozelek.

Swans_To_Be_Kind3. Swans – To Be Kind

Dark, punishing, bleak, beautiful, absurd, strange, dense, intense, uplifting… it’s Swans. What can really be said?

 

Thurston2. Thurston Moore – The Best Day

This is my favorite thing Thurston has released, either solo or with Sonic Youth, since Murray Street in 2002. But, I already wrote about it in depth here.

 

run-the-jewels-21. Run the Jewels – Run the Jewels 2

This album is a fucking masterpiece in every way. From beginning to end, this thing demands one’s attention and never lets up. The production is superb, the beats are consistently interesting and El-P and Killer Mike are both at the top of their games, lyrically.

My Favorite Albums Of The Year For 2014

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