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. This year, we have kept it in-house and called upon some of the core of our 2014 editorial team – Melanie John, Oli Kuscher, Jake Garrett, Nick Hart, our associate editor Neefemi Oyedele and myself Ayo Adepoju to put together this list of the 50 best albums of 2014, so without wasting any more time, let’s get this countdown started.
50. Charli XCX – Sucker
With two of the biggest songs of the year, “Fancy” and “Boom Clap” under her belt before the release of her sophomore album Sucker, Charli XCX was already being hailed as the British Pop star she so clearly has always been. With this album, she not only solidifies those claims but also does the most in 2014 to drive Punk Pop into the future, and give the genre the long overdue update it has so been craving. There is no wonder that Billboard crowned the album the second best Pop album of 2014 and Rolling Stone called it the sixth best album of the year across all genres. Sucker is not to be slept on.
49. Big K.R.I.T. – Cadillactica
On the Mississippi rapper/producer’s sophomore album Cadillactica, Big K.R.I.T. takes us across the galaxy to a musical planet full of Southern swag. There’s a special kind of soul when it comes to KRIT’s work, it’s of that lively southern flavor with rich instrumentation, and it bounces in all the right places. It acts as a perfect vehicle for the rapper’s hopscotch twang, and by all rights, the whole package should now be giving him the status of a major player in the game, with two critically acclaimed albums now under his belt.
48. Linkin Park – The Hunting Party
Even though Rock is not exactly one of my favorite genres, Linkin Park has always been one of the bands that I could listen to and not cringe, and with this album, the band return to their guitar-led Rock roots, and make Rock fun, cool and hip for listeners. Their sixth studio album The Hunting Party is certainly among their best and one of the better rock records of 2014, and with songs like “War” and “Keys To The Kingdom”, this veteran band continue to show and prove that they’ve still got it in abundance. More than that though, you can almost hear the hard word, effort and heart the band have poured out into this record.
47. Bombay Bicycle Club – So Long, See You Tomorrow
More experimental then the band’s previous indie-rock albums, So Long, See You Tomorrow is one of those LPs that is experimental enough to make a different sound but not enough to make it too abstract. The album is another great selection of music by the Plymouth born band, a band that can stray into indie, electronic or rock and make it all sound good. In a ‘through the backdoor’ kind of way, Bombay Bicycle Club have become one of the best British bands of the last 10 years.
46. Cakes da Killa – Hunger Pangs
“This mixtape ‘Hunger Pangs’ was inspired by all the traveling I’ve been doing this past year, the production is definitely heavier, the flows are more jam packed and the hooks are signature in-your-face Cakes. I’m finally coming into my own as a rapper and I’m just doing me – lyrically and spiritually“, said openly gay rapper Cakes da Killa back in June about his mixtape Hunger Pangs, and compared to his breakthrough 2013 mixtape The Eulogy, Cakes wasn’t wrong – the flows are fiery, the lyrics are still overtly sexual, the production is very interesting albeit overpowering, and he is still making his records for a specific target audience. Following the overwhelming acclaim of The Eulogy, Cakes da Killa doesn’t try to morph into something brand new on Hunger Pangs, instead he stays true to who he is and what he does best.
45. Childhood – Lacuna
It doesn’t get much prettier than this debut album from South London Indie Pop band Childhood. With production from Dan Carey, who has also worked with Chairlift, Bat For Lashes and Hot Chip, a hopeful yet melancholic yet psychedelic theme, and strong 90’s British Rock influences, Lacuna stands out from the plethora of sounds that came out of London this year. The indie poppers have a serious knack for creating swirling, shimmering melodies that explode into huge, sprawling choruses. All of this cocoons you in the softest wool and it’s a nostalgic place, you’re more than happy to never come out of again.
44. Mick Jenkins – The Water[s]
23-year old Chicago based rapper Mick Jenkins delivers undoubtedly one of the Hip-Hop projects of the year with his conceptual album The Water[s] – exploring the symbolic and sometimes literal meaning of water. At first listen, this record is difficult to digest but one can’t help but feel this is by design. We are almost forced to listen to The Water[s] repeatedly to make sure we glean from the record all that Jenkins wants us to. With production from the likes of Statik Selektah, THC, Dream Koala, and DJ Dahi, and featuring some of the best Hip Hop songs of the year in “Jazz”, “Martyrs” and “Jerome”, this record is authentic, transparent, vulnerable and moralistic, but never comes across as ‘preachy’ or self-righteous. More importantly, coming out of Chicago this year, Mick Jenkins and The Water[s] are exactly what Hip Hop needs.
43. Train – Bulletproof Picasso
This is our associate editor Neefemi Oyedele’s personal favorite album of 2014, and while you you may not see this on a whole lot of end-of-year album lists, there is just something so great about this album that we’re not sure we can put into words. You have to listen to it, as loud as you can, while driving in your car and tell us what you think. From “Just A Memory” to the Marsha Ambrosius featured “Wonder What You’re Doing for the Rest of Your Life”, the album is more Pop-focused than you might imagine but it works for this veteran band. Bulletproof Picasso is the band’s first album without founding member and drummer Scott Underwood, but you wouldn’t be able to tell as this record does more than improve greatly on its predecessor, 2012’s California 37.
42. Curtis Harding – Soul Power
Michigan-born man, now residing in Atlanta, Curtis Harding is a fiery combination of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Rhythm and Blues, and Gospel. You might recognize him as one of Cee Lo Green’s backing singers or from his previous work with OutKast or most recently, as part of Midnight Sun, along with The Black Lips’ Joe Bradley and Cole Alexander. Harding’s debut album Soul Power hearkens back to that lively sound of the past. It’s both familiar yet exhilaratingly new. While all of the above are in abundance, what this debut has over everything is deep, deep soul.
41. Thrupence – Lessons (Originals Mixtape 4)
A collage of beautiful soundscapes, a meadow of music, a place to escape to. Thrupence uses chimes, violins and xylophones, often supported by lazy beats to create uplifting songs, full of colour and grace. The serenity produced by the Lessons (Originals Mixtape 4) LP means that you do not listen to it but instead wonder through it, happy and content for it take you wherever it chooses. It’s hard to make music that is beautiful, peaceful and engaging but this, from 23-year old Australian producer and visual artist Jack Vanzet aka Thrupence, is an example of such an achievement.
Click HERE for a full list of our Top 50 Albums of 2014!