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 #10 to #1 below.
10. The War On Drugs – Lost In The Dream
Some artists sit down and create an album in few weeks or a few months, riding on a wave of creativeness, trapping themselves in a studio and getting it done. The War on Drugs took a year to record their album in full, deciding to make something as detailed and as well-crafted as they possibly could. You won’t hear any short or trimmed back songs made for today’s short attention spans, this is a proper full length album from a time when music meant something more. This is an album you have to give a chance, you have to listen to in full and you have to give credit. The band’s third album Lost In The Dream is their break-through release, and it’s a deserved one. The title couldn’t be any more fitting: as you float through the sprawling space of the quite epic tracks, you couldn’t be anywhere else but in a dream.
9. Jessie Ware – Tough Love
Following on from her 2012 debut album Devotion, Jessie Ware was back in that studio, collaborating with the likes of BenZel, Dev Hynes and Emile Haynie on her sophomore project Tough Love which was released in October. This album showed more developed song writing and musical production from Ware, exploring new and different genres like Gospel and Dub. This was Ware’s progressive, more grown-up and experienced album, taking all the ingredients of her beautiful debut Devotion and delving even more deeper, lyrically and emotionally, and out emerged her testimonies of Tough Love. Jessie Ware went on to feature on Nicki Minaj’s “The Cryin Game” from her Pinkprint album, while J. Cole featured on a remix of Ware’s “Kind Of… Sometimes… Maybe”, just going to show how far this 30-year old London native has come, with an array of international stars wanting to work with her. Next step for Jessie Ware? Take over the world!
8. Run The Jewels – Run The Jewels 2
Killer Mike and El-P are adorable. Their friendship and chemistry is enviable to any and all musical duos. They also happen to be one of the most visciously aggressive and militantly truthful combinations in all of Hip-Hop. Upon first listen, the lyrics of this album may seem like a series of empty threats towards all humans, but clever listeners will realize that they are talking specifically towards rappers with lack of conviction and corrupt authority figures, specifically police. What sets them apart from every other rapper yelling “f**k the police” (i.e. every other rapper ever) is that Mike’s dad was actually a cop. Oh, and the fact that El-P is easily one of the top five best Hip Hop producers of all time. Featuring guest spots from Beyonce’s secret weapon Boots and hip hop veterans Zach de la Rocha and Gangsta Boo, the album is more diverse than their first effort, but the focus never turns away from the duo themselves. This is a ferocious piece of work, yet it also happens to be thoroughly fun and enjoyable, a combination almost as fantastic as the members themselves.
7. Mac DeMarco – Salad Days
Mac Demarco is a guy who loves playing with his public image. Between his disheveled physical appearance and his constant antics at concerts, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to assume that his music is of an aggressive, punk-influenced nature. But nothing could be farther from the truth: DeMarco plays incredibly mellow, relaxing psychedelic pop music with a heavy reliance on old school analogue technology. “Passing Out Pieces” is a strong contender for best single of the year, while the music video for “Chamber of Reflection” is easily the goofiest, most gloriously stupid thing to hit the internet in a long time. It’s hard to imagine a guy like him ever hitting it big in the mainstream, but he seems perfectly content to live in squalor and smoke himself to death with cheap cigarettes instead. DeMarco’s music on this album doesn’t take itself too seriously but that doesn’t mean it’s not good music, it’s fun, It’s unique and it’s a great sound. Salad Days is one of many peoples’ surprise favourite albums of the year because it’s just so darn easy to listen to.
6. Caribou – Our Love
Dan Snaith’s entire career as Caribou has been a struggle over deciding whether to make electronic dance music or 60’s style psychedelic pop music. On Our Love, his first album in four years, he has struck a better balance between the two than ever before. He manages to out-chillwave every band that was ever dumb enough to refer to themselves as chillwave, and also manages to out-Jai Paul Mr. Paul himself. However, tracks like the title song and lead single “Can’t Do Without You” are so unique in the context of modern dance music that even though the lovelorn lyrics would suggest otherwise, Snaith’s confidence (at least musically) is at a dizzying peak.
5. Sam Smith – In The Lonely Hour
Some might say an obvious choice, but I say the only choice! Credit where credit’s due because Sam Smith’s debut album In The Lonely Hour, released in May, is and will always be a beautifully, honest album straight from the soul of Smith. Previously appearing on the likes of Naughty Boy’s “La La La”, and Disclosure’s “Latch”, it wouldn’t be long until we saw Smith in all his glory on his own featured album. Winning both the 2014 BRIT Critics Choice Award and BBC Sound Of 2014 Poll, you already knew Smith had something special! Smith highlighted that this album was about just being “sad”, an album from a lonely 21-year old, unrequited love and the pain and injustice of bruised love. This was Sam’s year, receiving a whooping six Grammy Award nominations, and becoming the only artist in 2014 to sell one million album copies in both the US and UK. All in all, In The Lonely Hour is a worthy album and one that resonates and touches so many people. This is classic soul, it shines through because of the pain he was willing to share with everyone, because everyone knows how painful unrequited love can be.
4. Jungle – Jungle
Who would have thought that behind this year’s most funky modern soul record were two unassuming white boys from West London? Modern soul straight out of the UK, who could have predicted the huge success these guys would have so quickly?! Jungle emerged with the funkiest grooves and were ready to show the world what they had been missing! In July, the band released its self-titled album Jungle, recorded between the band’s own home in Shepherd’s Bush and XL Recordings Studio, one of the greatest albums of the year! When you heard this record, you knew it was something pretty special! This band was certainly one of the hottest thing we came across this year. Their blend of pulsating beats and shimmering falsettos made it an instant go-to party album, but underneath the glossy sheen, there’s also a sumptuous moodiness. With tracks like “Busy Earnin'”, “Time”, “The Heat” and “Platoon”, this band showcased just how good their music is and there’s plenty more where that came from!
3. Azealia Banks – Broke With Expensive Taste
While Broke With Expensive Taste, the debut album from Azealia Banks, may not have been the most anticipated album of 2014, it was certainly one of the long awaited projects of the year. Featuring a collection of seventeen daring, progressive and exciting tracks, including her most famous hit “212 “, which was released a mammoth three years ago, the 23-year old rapper from New York delivered a fresh and fierce debut album. There’s just something different about Ms Banks as observed via this album that we describe as “one that has spunk and character”. There is simply no way you don’t see this album in all your favorite lists of 2014. The record is a tornado of music, featuring different genres from Dance to Hip Hop to House, tracks like “Desperado”, “Nude Beach A Go-Go” and “Miss Camaraderie”, only go to highlight how much this album from Banks was well over due and needed, and in the end, well worth the wait!
2. J. Cole – 2014 Forest Hills Drive
On his third album 2014 Forest Hills Drive, J. Cole is part prize-fighting boxer looking to smash the throne to pieces, and part nostalgic reminiscer looking back on the path he’s taken to get to the top. He does both of these things with fluid rhymes over lush beats, and it all comes together to make this arguably his best album yet. Considering the fact that there was no marketing whatsoever for this album, it packs a solid punch both commercially and critically. It is honest and engaging and yet without a radio single to boot, the album went gold in just two weeks. If you aren’t a J. Cole fan, this album will turn you into one and if you are a true Hip Hop fan, you won’t have to worry about the state of it, J. Cole is keeping it alive and with that being said, Hip Hop is in safe hands with J. Cole.
1. FKA Twigs – LP1
Tahilah Debrett Barnett aka FKA Twigs was the lady to watch, stand up and pay attention to in 2014. Released in August 2014, with production Dev Hynes, Paul Epworth, Clams Casino and Sampha among others, Twigs’ debut album LP1 is rare, contemporary, mesmerizing, unusually pleasing, and very different, with Twigs showcasing her individuality and not being afraid to own it! Twigs is doing something very rare, there is nothing like her debut album out there, a contemporary R&B electronic album with gorgeous, crystalline production and the most perplexing, intricate music – its ethereal sensuality is one of legends! FKA Twigs’ otherworldly voice floats in and out of the sparse electronic arrangements on LP1 to create something that’s beautifully haunting. She’s boldly striking out on her own path, and by doing so, she’s taken what we’ve come to know as alternative R&B in the last few years and completely re-imagines it.
To revisit #50 – #1 of our Best Albums of 2014, click HERE