The Best Albums of 2014: 20 – 11

We Present To You… We Plug Good Music’s Best Albums of 2014

It has been that time of the year again where several music blogs and magazines and entertainment websites all try to highlight their ‘Albums of the Year’ lists and we at We Plug Good Music are no different in that regard. However, where we do differ, is that this is the ONLY definite list of the Best Albums of 2014. We’ve already highlighted some of the best albums of 2014 from #50 to #21 which you can check out HERE, we continue our countdown from #20 to #11 below.

20. Damien Rice – My Favourite Faded Fantasy

damien rice
What a treat this album is – My Favourite Faded Fantasy was the first record Damien Rice released in six years, and it is perhaps his best ever. The singer-songwriter had already shown everyone that he was an amazing singer and music creator, but we all had to be reminded just how good he is. The lyrics, the singing, the melodies, everything about this album deserves praise. There are songs on this LP which will attach themselves to many people and bring a tear to the eyes of all of them, because Damien Rice is just that good.

19. BADBADNOTGOOD – III

BadBadNotGood III
BADBADNOTGOOD have had an amazing year with some fantastic remixes, doing some great jobs as producers and creating one of the standout albums of 2014, III. The album contains a concoction of sounds and styles anchored by Jazz, the result is something intense yet fun, loud but relaxed, modern yet Jazz. I fell in love with the album in its original form and then I heard them play live in the Basement Boiler room and fell in love all over again. The amazing drums and bass rise to another level live, and the fact that an album as complex as III can sound that good live cemented it as one of the best sounds this year.

18. Lecrae – Anomaly

Lecrae Anomaly
Lecrae’s Anomaly was Christian Hip Hop at its best. We didn’t know a Christian Hip Hop album could be so good and it was reflected with its debut at No.1 on the Billboard albums chart. Anomaly was also the first album by any artist to top, both the Billboard 200 and the Gospel Albums chart. Anomaly’s choruses are bigger and more commanding than Lecrae’s previous album releases, the verses are more confident and highlight a better lyrical prowess than we’ve previously heard from Lecrae, and the subject matter is more relatable and personal. All in all, Anomaly goes down as not just one of the best Christian Hip Hop records of 2014, it is one of the best Hip Hop records of 2014.

17. Young Fathers – Dead

young-fathers-dead-front-cover
The winners of this year’s Mercury Music Prize, Scottish trio Young Fathers were the underdogs to win, and we like that they won for such a worthy album, DEAD. Young Fathers first appeared in 2008, and with EPs in 2011 and 2013, but it would be their debut album DEAD that would finally highlight to the world how brilliant musically these guys are! Their Scottish, Liberian and Nigerian heritages would be the glue that fused and molded their Electronic and Hip Hop music together perfectly on Dead. Featuring gritty beats and thought-provoking lyrics, this band were doing something ‘new’, and making the most exciting experimental music, and were finally recognized for it.

16. Flying Lotus – You’re Dead!

Flying Lotus You're Dead
One of the most prolific producers of the past ten years, Flying Lotus continued his unique brand of music with his fifth studio album You’re Dead!. Flying Lotus continues to influence so many artists, that every album he creates is miles ahead of the game, and this new record, featuring the likes of Thundercat, Kendrick Lamar, Niki Randa and Snoop Dogg and will strong nods to Hip Hop, electronic music and Jazz, is no exception. You’re Dead includes 19 snippets of sounds old and new that could lull you to sleep or keep you up on your toes. The album is probably one of Flying Lotus’ more experimental, darker albums but still one of the best this year.

15. Death From Above 1979 – The Physical World

Death_From_Above_The_Physical_World_album_art
Rock has been given a major injection of noise this year, with the cult heroes’ sophomore album, released a decade after their debut. Death From Above 1979 are ‘just’ a bass and a drum set, but the combined force of the twosome’s sound will easily blow away a band three times their size. It’s a visceral and merciless sound that pummels from start to finish. When audiences call for a band’s return and the band answers their calls, the band often tries something different. A different style, a new instrument or a more mature sound. However sometimes, they give their audience exactly what they want, what they have missed, the sound they loved. Death From Above 1979 grabbed the same bass, tuned it to the same setting and let rip on Physical World. Punky, grungy rock peeled back to simplicity. Grate aggressive riffs, loads of drums and a dirty distortion. What more do you want?

14. Aphex Twin – Syro

aphex twin syro
Aphex Twin returned out of nowhere this year with Syro, one of his most upbeat and surprisingly simple works to date. While still far removed from today’s modern dance music, the mood here is lighter and more accessible than the majority of his career, with a heavier emphasis on rhythm and a decrease in emphasis on texture. Also featuring lists that show all the equipment used to make the album (there are a LOT, he does not use computers for this stuff) and a comprehensive breakdown of all the money that was spent making it, it’s clear that the elusive artist isn’t really one for unnecessary showmanship. As far as long-awaited return albums go, this has got to be one of the better ones in recent memory, and if Richard D. James is telling the truth, he has FIVE other ones ready to go at any moment. It would be great if we didn’t have over a decade to wait for the next one.

13. Beck – Morning Phase

Beck Morning Phase
While Beck did not deliver on his promise of releasing two albums this year (unless you consider Songreader an album), Morning Phase more than delivered on its own. On his 12th album, Beck transforms into a troubadour wearing his heart on his sleeve, with emotion hanging so thick in the air you could cut it with a knife. Lips will quiver, eyes will tear up, and smiles will form from the sheer beauty of his songwriting. This is Beck in full-on psychedelic folk mode, reflecting on his time off recuperating from a back injury and hanging out with his family in absolutely gorgeous fashion. Between the ambient soundscapes of “Wave”, the 60’s-esque pop of “Blackbird Chain” and the mellow acoustic guitar and piano driven goodies that lie everywhere in between, the singer has never seemed so comfortable in this genre. Whether he’s singing about the cosmos, the ocean, life, death, or the titular sunrise, his first album in six years feels like a warm embrace from an old friend. Now if he could just get around to releasing that rumored Flying Lotus collaboration…

12. Ben Howard – I Forget Where We Were

Ben Howard IFWWW
Despite having a vast amount of emotion contained within Ben Howard’s amazing debut album Every Kingdom, it wasn’t considered a sad album, it had many uplifting and warm songs in its artillery. His long-awaited sophomore album I Forget Where We Were still contains oceans of emotion but it is all very downhearted. Ben’s passion, and feeling shines through but it shines not with the previously lit warm flame but one that gives us a cool chill. This album is one of my favourites because sometimes people want songs to educe or accompany their sorrow, and I Forget Where We Were can be that album.

11. Freddie Gibbs + Madlib – Piñata

Freddie Gibbs Madlib Pinata
Madlib has done collaborations with seemingly every underground rapper alive right now, but Freddie Gibbs was never an artist I would have really expected to team up with him. The Tupac of the dirty south has always gravitated towards darker, grimier beats, but it turns out that his dirty gangster style works incredibly well with Madlib’s clean, jazz-sample-based beats. Boasting an impressive list of guest features including Danny Brown, Earl Sweatshirt, Scarface, Mac Miller and others, as well as the year’s best posse track, this seemingly unlikely combo has delivered an incredibly smooth Hip Hop epic that is at once fresh and unique while also being deeply rooted in classic Rap music. Piñata is without a doubt not just, one of the best albums of the year, but the most surprising one as well.

Keep it here for our Top 10 Albums of 2014! To revisit #50 – #21 on our list, click HERE

Words by Melanie John, Oli Kuscher, Jake Garrett, Nick Hart, Neefemi Oyedele and Ayo Adepoju

Ayo Adepoju

Ayo Adepoju

Creative Director for We Plug Good Music. Works in Digital PR/Publicity for New & Emerging Music. Done stuff for BBC Nottingham, MTV Wrap Up and SoulCulture UK. Follow Me on Twitter HA!
Ayo Adepoju

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About the author:

Creative Director for We Plug Good Music. Works in Digital PR/Publicity for New & Emerging Music. Done stuff for BBC Nottingham, MTV Wrap Up and SoulCulture UK. Follow Me on Twitter HA!. Follow him on Twitter / Facebook.

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