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Top 100 Music Albums of 2014 by buzzdainer (2019)

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The juxtaposition of light and dark is the metaphor that makes the most sense of my 2014. On the light side, I relocated from North Carolina to Colorado to live with my then-partner. It was a purposeful and beautiful time in my life, when I finally quit a tenure-track academic job to be with the person I loved most in the world. We spent a magical summer and fall exploring together the trails in the Flatirons, Indian Peaks, and James Peak Wilderness. We went to farmer's markets together, listened to podcasts, cooked tasty and nutritious meals, and played at the dog park. But like most things in life of such otherworldly splendor, it didn't last. Hence, darkness. To my good fortune, though, I was returned to the West, the place where, turns out, I believe I was meant to end up. The Rocky Mountains took hold of me, and much of the music I listened to that year reflects the feelings of majesty and grandeur that I felt about those mountains. 2014 wasn't quite as strong a year, musically, as 2013, but it contained at least as much depth. And the quality 2014 did provide was perhaps even more rewarding because it could often be found in surprising and unexpected places.

Chart updated: 32 hours ago (Created: 02/19/2016 19:25). Chart size: 100 albums.

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Sort byOverall Rank | Number of Charts | Average Rating | Number of Ratings | Release Date | Title | ArtistDate Added
RankAlbumArtist
1. (=)


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After The DiscoUnited States Broken Bells
Initially I didn't quite understand how this collaboration between James Mercer and Danger Mouse fully utilizes Danger Mouse's talents, since there are few traces here of his solo work or his work with Gnarls Barkley. What I've come to understand is that Danger Mouse is the type of collaborator and producer who draws out the unique abilities of those with whom he works, almost always creating something new, fresh, original, and distinct from their usual sound. This second full-length album from Broken Bells really works--the melodies are flawless, the songs are groovy, and every time I hear a track from this album, I want to turn it up loud. Perhaps that's one ultimate test for what makes an album great: its turnupability. These lines from "Leave It Alone" carry special resonance for me: "You were sheltered, loved and fed / But you just couldn't leave it alone." A pretty good summary of the forces that undo a lot of relationships.
(First added to chart: 02/26/2016)
Year of Release:2014Appears in:61 charts
Rank in 2014:80Rank Score:343
Rank in 2010s765Overall Rank:5,013
Average Rating:  69/100 (136 votes)
Comments: 14 comments
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2. (=)

Ryan AdamsUnited States Ryan Adams
Although Ryan Adams--as you can tell from even a cursory look at my charts--is one of my favorite recording artists of the new century, I don't always love his aesthetic choices. One of the weirdest of all these was his decision to cast Cassandra Peterson, a.k.a. vampish horror hostess Elvira, in his video for "Gimme Something Good." As one of my friends remarked of the 63-year-old Elvira's cleavage-heavy performance in the video, "Good for her?" So Ryan's pop culture tastes can be, er, questionable. As for the songs on this album, this is about as close as Ryan Adams gets to a straight-ahead rock-and-roll album that isn't merely a nod to his influences. It's a driving collection of solidly written, energetically performed songs, catchy as hell and ideally suited for the Red Rocks Amphitheater performance I saw where Ryan and his band had their performances punctuated, and ultimately truncated, by one of the fiercest thunderstorms I've ever witnessed.
(First added to chart: 02/26/2016)
Year of Release:2014Appears in:52 charts
Rank in 2014:90Rank Score:312
Rank in 2010s853Overall Rank:5,416
Average Rating:  77/100 (73 votes)
Comments: 8 comments
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3. (=)

Swimmin' TimeUnited States Shovels & Rope
Charleston, South Carolina, husband-and-wife duo Shovels & Rope made waves in the Americana scene with their 2012 debut O' Be Joyful, a set of rowdy sloppy-tonk songs with a Southern gothic tinge. Swimmin' Time is the successful follow-up, pitching drawling vocal harmonies against a bluesy, lo-fi backdrop of guitar, piano and drums. "Stono River Blues," named for a tidal channel that was the site of a major slave uprising in 1739, is the highlight, with its allusion-inflected lyrics: "I gotta sister on Wadmalaw / She floats all day in the Ledenwah / One day she left the chickens in charge / And floated off to Heaven on a party barge."
(First added to chart: 02/26/2016)
Year of Release:2014Appears in:3 charts
Rank in 2014:900Rank Score:20
Rank in 2010s7,605Overall Rank:32,223
Average Rating:  75/100 (2 votes)
Comments: 1 comment
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4. (=)

This Is All YoursUnited Kingdom ∆ (alt-J)
Alt-J has the distinction of releasing three albums in the 2010s, all of which are among my favorite albums of the decade. This Is All Yours is probably the warmest and bassiest of the three albums, the one where their electronic effects have the greatest cumulative emotional impact--though on the whole, I still love An Awesome Wave just a little bit more. It's a kind of concept album, I suppose, though the exact subject matter is a little obscure to me. I'm not exactly sure what to make of the songs with "Nara" in the title, except to say it's an ancient city in Japan known for its beautiful primeval forests. Maybe that's enough. One reviewer called alt-J the "Wes Anderson of song lyrics," which might be giving them too much credit, though I will say they manage something magical through impressionism rather than literal meaning.
(First added to chart: 05/09/2016)
Year of Release:2014Appears in:203 charts
Rank in 2014:9Rank Score:2,561
Rank in 2010s104Overall Rank:982
Average Rating:  73/100 (449 votes)
Comments: 28 comments
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5. (=)

SongsUnited States John Fullbright
If "farming accident ballad" were a recognizable musical category, "High Road" from this album would have to be the all-time greatest song of the genre. Then again, (I hope) there's not a lot of competition. There's a lot about this album that make it an unlikely candidate for my enjoyment. For one thing, the album title, Songs, strikes me as either just lazy or or a failed attempt at humility, or both. And then there's the fact that Fullbright is from Oklahoma, the home state of James Inhofe and Scott Pruitt. But Fullbright won me over with an excellent performance at the Rocky Mountain Folks Festival, and this album is chock full of well-written, authentically sung folk songs. Maybe I need to give Oklahoma a chance after all... Nah.
(First added to chart: 04/04/2016)
Year of Release:2014Appears in:5 charts
Rank in 2014:936Rank Score:19
Rank in 2010s7,892Overall Rank:33,121
Average Rating:  76/100 (7 votes)
Comments: 1 comment
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6. (=)

Lost In The DreamUnited States The War On Drugs
This album came somewhat out of nowhere for me. When it came out, my expectations were modest, as I'd heard Adam Granduciel and company's previous release, Slave Ambient, and thought it was competent but not particularly interesting--maybe even a little boring, with its sprawling, extended guitar noodling and Dylanesque song structures. A number of the tracks felt to me like interludes meant to fill space between songs, rather than proper songs unto themselves. Lost in the Dream, however, has none of these limitations, and in fact most of the songs feel like emotionally complex compositions unto themselves. It is genuinely affecting, reverb-heavy heartland rock, and I mean that as high praise. As good as this is, it was just a taste of what was to come, as A Deeper Understanding is one of the truly great albums of the 2010s.
(First added to chart: 03/18/2016)
Year of Release:2014Appears in:685 charts
Rank in 2014:1Rank Score:12,075
Rank in 2010s17Overall Rank:236
Average Rating:  82/100 (916 votes)
Comments: 89 comments
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7. (=)

St. VincentUnited States St. Vincent
Annie Clark, a.k.a. St. Vincent, has consistently delivered quality throughout her career, and on this self-titled album she sharpens her music's edges to near perfection. In her review for Pitchfork, Lindsay Zoladz writes, "St. Vincent continues Clark's run as one of the past decade's most distinct and innovative guitarists, though she's never one to showboat. Her harmonic-filled style bears the influence of jazz (she picked up a lot of her signature tricks from her uncle, the jazz guitarist Tuck Andress) and prog rock, two genres known to embrace sprawl. But Clark's freak-outs are tidy, modular and architecturally compact—like King Crimson rewritten by Le Corbusier." That's a very fine summary of what this album does well, and it's truly enjoyable to hear an artist in peak form, as Clark is on just about every track here.
(First added to chart: 02/26/2016)
Year of Release:2014Appears in:413 charts
Rank in 2014:6Rank Score:4,451
Rank in 2010s59Overall Rank:588
Average Rating:  79/100 (668 votes)
Comments: 54 comments
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8. (=)

Shake Shook ShakenFrance The Dø
Parisian duo Dan Levy and Olivia Bouyssou Merilahti make polished, danceable pop songs, and this is their most refined effort to date, in which the ramshackle percussion of their previous albums, a trait that I found charismatic but perhaps not a recipe for long-term growth, is replaced by warm synths and laptop beats. Perhaps because I was feeling a little emotionally maimed at the time, the epic track "Lick My Wounds" is the one that most grabbed my attention, but "Trustful Hands" is another sugar-sweet highlight.
(First added to chart: 07/06/2016)
Year of Release:2014Appears in:11 charts
Rank in 2014:627Rank Score:41
Rank in 2010s5,216Overall Rank:24,267
Average Rating:  75/100 (13 votes)
Comments: 2 comments
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9. (=)

LighghtUnited States Kishi Bashi
I first saw Kishi Bashi the thirty-fifth and final summer that downtown Asheville, North Carolina, held its annual free concert series called Bele Chere. Most of the people I know in Asheville weren't sad to see it go, as it made getting around the city pretty inconvenient, but I loved all the free music and street performers and other weirdness that came along with it. It also gave me the opportunity to see Kishi Bashi live, which was a genuinely affecting and beautiful virtuoso performance. He's an incredible violinist who uses looping technology to amazing effect onstage. His songs all seem to have bizarre titles, but they don't come off nearly so weird when he performs them live, instead settling into some gorgeously entrancing grooves and harmonies. Lighght isn't quite as consistent as its predecessor, but it's a very fine album that deserves a place near the top of 2014's list of best albums.
(First added to chart: 05/10/2016)
Year of Release:2014Appears in:36 charts
Rank in 2014:214Rank Score:128
Rank in 2010s1,934Overall Rank:10,728
Average Rating:  79/100 (29 votes)
Comments: 4 comments
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10. (=)

They Want My SoulUnited States Spoon
Based on their output so far in their career, I rate They Want My Soul just about an exactly average Spoon record: not quite as good as Gimme Fiction or Girls Can Tell, but slightly better than A Series of Sneaks or Transference. Put another way, They Want My Soul is a really good album. That's how consistent Spoon has been. This is more of a treading water kind of album rather than a groundbreaking masterpiece, but that's the thing with Spoon--all their albums find a memorable groove, and all are worth owning and reward repeated listens. "Do You," the lead single from this album, is quintessential Spoon: groovy, full of hooks, with a distinct blue-eyed soul influence that sets them apart from other indie rock bands. Great stuff, as always, from one of the great bands of their generation.
(First added to chart: 03/25/2016)
Year of Release:2014Appears in:279 charts
Rank in 2014:13Rank Score:2,382
Rank in 2010s118Overall Rank:1,049
Average Rating:  79/100 (392 votes)
Comments: 32 comments
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Top 100 Music Albums of 2014 composition

Artist Albums %


Cloud Nothings 1 1%
Tanya Tagaq 1 1%
Joseph Arthur 1 1%
Nap Eyes 1 1%
Lake Street Dive 1 1%
Damien Jurado 1 1%
Parquet Courts 1 1%
Show all
Country Albums %


United States 78 78%
Canada 8 8%
United Kingdom 6 6%
Ireland 2 2%
Sweden 2 2%
Australia 2 2%
France 1 1%
Show all

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Top 100 Music Albums of 2014 ratings

Average Rating: 
84/100 (from 2 votes)
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100/100
04/29/2019 02:48
92/100
  
80/100
03/19/2019 23:31
77/100

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Thank you for commenting on my chart! You've got a great chart going here as well. Yes, we've got some selections in common for the year. But you've also got a lot more here that I haven't heard yet. Will certainly use your chart as an inspiration when revisiting 2014.
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