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The Best Albums of 2014: 30 – 21

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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 #31 which you can check out HERE, we continue our countdown from #30 to #21 below.

30. Paolo Nutini – Caustic Love

Paolo Nutini Caustic Love
There must be pressure on Paolo Nutini every time he goes to create new music, as there are very, very few modern musicians who can reinvent themselves, create pure, original music, keep from straying too far into the pop genera and yet create vastly popular music, time and time again. Caustic Love is an amazing feat of music creation, production and writing. “Iron Sky”, which was released as a single, competes as one the best standalone songs of the past few years, its passion and purity is something very rare in today’s music age.

29. Illum Sphere – Ghosts Of Then And Now

illum sphere cover
Ghosts Of Then And Now is a magnificent electronic album, a piece of atmospheric, sophisticated art – thirteen tracks that create another world. This album does well to make songs great to listen to individually, but when listened to together, trap you in a cosmic outer body experience. “Sleeprunner” is a fighter for our favourite standalone song of year with a brilliant use of sound and space. The album was gaining hype almost a year before it came out, and when it finally dropped, it didn’t disappoint.

28. Isaiah Rashad – Cilvia Demo

We all know Top Dawg Ent as the home of Kendrick Lamar, Ab-Soul and ScHoolboy Q, whose releases have set benchmarks in Hip-Hop in the last few years. The latest addition to the family, Isaiah Rashad, has entered the fray with his very accomplished debut record Cilvia Demo, with guest appearances from Michael Da Vinci, Jean Deaux, Jay Rock, ScHoolboy Q and SZA, and notable production from The Antydote, Farhot and Sounwave. On this record, Rashad is introspective and relatable over crawling, smoky beats and has a delivery that exudes an unwavering confidence.

27. Clipping. – Clppng

I loved Yeezus but I’m always divided on how I feel about groups like Shabazz Palaces (for the record their new album almost made my list this year) and Death Grips (whose new record didn’t even make it close to getting on my list), so I was more surprised than anyone to find myself loving the new Clipping. album so damn much. I never thought I could enjoy someone rapping over nothing but guitar feedback or an alarm clock but DAMN I was wrong. This is the most ferociously unique rap album of this year, and between the absolutely bonkers production and the darkly poetic lyrics about drugs, poverty, and police brutality, it’s like the sonic equivalent of a violent horror movie with beautiful cinematography: even though you’re disturbed by what you are experiencing, you just can’t turn away. It takes a lot of guts (pun intended) to open a Hip Hop album with a track about a female serial killer, but it absolutely paid off. Clipping. swung for the fences with a barbed wire-wrapped bat on this one and it’s the dirtiest, bloodiest home run the genre has seen in a long time.

26. Jhene Aiko – Souled Out

jhene aiko souled out
Souled Out is one of our favorite concept albums of the year, simply because the concept is one easy to resonate with and there was no other person to do this better than Jhene Aiko with a pure voice of gold. Everything about this album screams perfection. While everyone was turning up, twerking or doing the schmoney dance, Jhené Aiko offered an enthralling alternative, for the ones who call for of some soul-searching. Jhené tells the story of dealing with confusion, depression, and heartbreak and we are on the journey with her, and once you enter Jhené’s hazy world, you find yourself in a place that will leave you thinking into a deeper space, questioning and having a yearning for more.

25. D’Angelo – Black Messiah

After fourteen long years since his last album Voodoo. D’angelo finally released his third studio album Black Messiah in 2014. Packed with soulful songs themed around love and politics, D’angelo hasn’t failed to disappoint. If you were wondering if D’Angelo has still got it in him to deliver another classic album, one listen of Black Messiah will quickly quash those worries. The 12-track album is D’angelo at his truest and best form. Songs like “Really Love” and the inspirational “Ain’t That Easy” remind us of why we first fell in love with D’angelo and Neo-Soul. D’angelo is truly the Black Messiah as succeeded in delivering us an amazing and true Neo-Soul/R&B album. Black Messiah reminds us of how much D’Angelo is a musical genius, it is an album that a new generation of audiences can fall in love with, and relate to, but it also speaks volumes to an older generation that grew up listening to D’Angelo.

24. Royal Blood – Royal Blood

royal blood royal blood
Brighton duo Royal Blood released their self-titled debut album in August, and with all the scuzzy riffs of IThe Foo Fighters and the blues rock of The Black Keys, these guys debuted an album that was worth its weight in gold! 2014 has not been very prolific in true Rock albums, last year, we had huge rock anthems from Artic Monkeys, Queens of the Stone Age, Biffy Clyro and more. This year we have not had many big rock LPs, but we do have Royal Blood. A raw sound created from a ‘Death From Above’ style bassist and drummer combination, it is a noise that deserves to be played at top notch. Royal Blood have done well to fill a hole in British rock music this year. Heavy, hard and loud, this album is an electrifying belter of an album. Raw and wild!

23. First Aid Kit – Stay Gold

If there’s one thing that Swedes can do, it’s write good pop songs. Something they’re not necessarily known for though is folk, but Söderberg sisters First Aid Kit effortlessly marry these styles on their second album Stay Gold. There’s a vein of melancholy running through it all, and along with their sweet melodies, these girls seriously know how to tug on heartstrings. First Aid Kit are proof that the best American style folk music has not been made in the US over the past few years. Everything about this album is beautiful and bright; harmonies, lyrics, music. You have to really pick at straws to find faults in the album as it doesn’t slip up at all. There are some brighter sparks from this sparkling LP including “Silver Lining” and the beautiful title track “Stay Gold”. It’s an album you can put on at any time, to accompany any mood.

22. Money For Rope – Money For Rope

money for rope
Originally released in their home country Australia in 2012 but landing in the UK this year courtesy of independent label Killing Moon, Melbourne posse Money For Rope come on like a blitz of raw, high-octane energy on their self-titled debut album. That might have something to do with the fact that they have two drummers. Or because they just have a way with huge, fuzzy riffs. There’s shades of The Doors in their bluesy, messy rock, and they’ve got that dangerous combo of both sneering attitude and unshakeable confidence.

21. Julian Casablancas + The Voidz – Tyranny

Tyranny Album Cover
Julian Casablancas‘ output in the past few years has varied wildly in terms of quality, but Tyranny ranks up there with his best works. Darker and more aggressive than The Strokes’ past two albums, and even more bizarre and eclectic than his last solo effort, this album surprised the hell out of us with it’s unrelenting manic energy. “Human Sadness” is the coolest, most bizarre arena rock track we’ve heard in years, while “Father Electricity” shows a surprisingly complex understanding of Latin funk music. But for all the randomness, the songs are all bound together by gloriously distorted analogue production and intensely anti-corporate vocals. Being an unpredictable man who generally does not seem to give two f**ks about what his fans think about him, it will be interesting to see if he returns to phoning it in with his old band to keep the revenue flowing, or stay with the much more sonically interesting Voidz. You can probably guess which one we would prefer.

Keep it here for our Top 20 Albums of 2014! To revisit #50 – #31 on our list, click HERE

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

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