2014 felt like 2009, a year with a couple stand out records but an off year since we didn’t have any new Kanye. So goes Kanye, so goes the year.
I listened to as many albums as I could get ahold of this year and even as it ends I’m still finding stuff I missed or should have spent more time with. Much love to Rich Gang, Guy Gerber and Puff Daddy, Charli XCX and A$AP Ferg.
1. Death From Above 1979 – The Physical World
I just wrote and then deleted a long autobiography about my relationship with Death From Above 1979’s first album, about the mythology created about the band with my wife and my friend Lauren, about the times that Sebastien was a jerk and Jesse was the coolest dude ever. But I don’t want to bore you. Death From Above 1979 are back, and this album rules. The production is cleaner but the songs are still brutal, ferocious, and instantly danceable. A joke we make is that Jesse’s bass is tuned to “awesome” at all times. I mean that in the truest sense. This band inspires awe in me. This record leaves me awestruck. It is a triumph and I am so happy they’re back. 10 years was worth it. Sebastien is still a jerk but that is why we love him.
2. Keys N Krates – Every Nite
Trap dance? I don’t know the official term but Every Nite is all bangers.
3. Duck Sauce – Quack
Another long wait that was worth it. A-Trak told a podcast in 2011(!) that this record was done and mixed and it finally came out this year. A-Trak is the partner that Armand Van Helden has needed his whole career. Van Helden has certainly created some masterpiece singles in his lifetime but a full cohesive album? Not until Duck Sauce. A-Trak is a people pleaser and he works well to accentuate Van Helden’s strengths and keep all his goofing around contained in the skits. This is dance floor nirvana.
4. The Afghan Whigs – Do to the Beast
Greg is back and he brought tunes. This is a divisive record since Rick McCollum isn’t featured on it but it still sounds like the Whigs to me and Greg is in fine form. In the sea of reunion cash ins, this is a record with purpose and spirit.
5. Mastodon – Once More ‘Round The Sun
After the slump of 2011’s The Hunter, …Round The Sun is a nice return to form. Killer riffs abound and these guys still know how to write a hook. Standing ovation.
6. Run The Jewels – Run The Jewels 2
El-P made me a believer with his production on Killer Mike’s 2012 R.A.P. Music. I didn’t exactly see the light on the first Run The Jewels but the sequel definitely hit my sweet spots. The raps are vicious and the beats are there to match them.
7. Brody Dalle – Diploid Love
Brody Dalle’s post Distiller’s career has been largely silence, with the exception of the Spinnerette project, which took a promising EP and expanded into a disappointing album. Diploid Love is a total success, with Dalle playing nearly everything and just rocking faces. Dalle’s voice still retains that trademark rasp and she sounds like a Beast.
8. Klaxons – Love Frequency
Is this really the last Klaxons album? Bummer. This one is more like the Myths of the Near Future with laser synths and less guitar. Rachel thinks it sounds like 2007 which is great! 2007 was great!
9. Sloan – Commonwealth
Sloan seem to be on an every other album thing with classics at this point in their career. After roaring back with Never Hear The End of It in 2006 they released the short and relatively subdued Parallel Play. That record is mad underrated. Then in 2011 they dropped The Double Cross which is a fucking masterpiece so it makes sense that Commonwealth would be more chill. Of course, it only takes a couple listens to realize that Sloan still have it and will always have it, that their songs will imprint into your mind and you’ll be singing them forever.
10. Skrillex – Recess
He could have just made 11 bangers and said “That’s a wrap” but instead he sought out some interesting collaborations, and just tried to see what would stick. Not as hard hitting as Bangarang, this would be the thoughtful Skrillex album. Still has some dance jams but he is in a headier place. If this one left you wanting there is always the Dog Blood stuff which are all face melters.
11. Ariana Grande – My Everything
I was hoping for this to be 2014’s Kiss and while it didn’t quite get there it still has plenty of jams. Songs with Zedd, The Weeknd, A$AP Ferg, all fire.
12. Stars – No One Is Lost
Despite their claims, I thought Arcade Fire really shit the bed with their “dance music” attempts on Reflektor. Stars made similar claims on the run up to No One Is Lost but hey, they came through. Only the title track and the closer have that club feeling but the rest of the album is a more than solid collection of indie rock jams, and as someone with little stomach for indie rock these days that is saying something.
13. We Are Scientists – TV en Français
I’m a We Are Scientists fan for life so every record goes into immediate rotation. This one is more chill with less rockers but these guys still know how to crafty punchy tunes. I’ll take it!
14. Slipknot – .5 : The Gray Chapter
My expectations were low to non-existent for this album. Paul Gray dies, they kick Joey Jordison out of the band, the last record was just ok, was this album even going to exist at all? I should have realized that nothing gets a metal band invested like the death of bandmate. Like Back In Black and Down III, .5 is all righteous fury and chewed anger. And they have “Custer”, which is an immediate instant classic. I read they’re closing their shows with it now.
15. DJ Quik – The Midnight Life
DJ Quik is a legend and genius and all of his albums are great. Same with this one.
16. Spoon – They Want My Soul
Spoon are so good at this point that it is easy to underrate them or just plain take them for granted. This album is more top quality Spoon for us Spoon loving masses.
17. Todd Terje – It’s Album Time
This album sounds like these weird instrumental albums my dad used to play when I was growing up. I think they were like new age or something like that. Listening to this reminds me of being 10 years old but not in any specific way. I say this because I can’t describe the feelings this album elicits any other way. It’s really good and it makes me feel like a child.
18. YG – My Krazy Life
As I type this I read that YG and DJ Mustard are feuding. If so, get this last document of their fruitful collaborations.
19. French Montana – Coke Boys 4
I joked in January that this was the best album of the year but then I kept listening to it and I guess I love French Montana?
20. Katy B – Little Red
I don’t think this record caught on because they waited over 2 years to captialize on the excitement of “Aaliyah”. Drop this album in Spring 2013 and you might have had something. That said, it still has plenty of fun dance cuts and hey, they included “Aaliyah”!
Best Songs of 2014
- Swet Shop Boys “Benny Lava” Heems of Das Rascist drops of one off EP with the jam of the year. I heard he’s quit music and working in an office now which is total bummer because dude has bars.
- Federal Reserve featuring Cam’ron, A-Trak, Juelz Santana & Dame Dash “Dipshits” This promised a Dipset return that didn’t happen but while you play the track you feel like Cam and company are set to take over the world. Dame Dash with best spoken word outro of the year. Also A-Trak!
- Death From Above 1979 “Virgins” The first 10 seconds of this song are the greatest 10 seconds of your life.
- Keys N Krates “Are We Faded” Yes.
- Death From Above 1979 “Trainwreck 1979” The comeback single that said that everything will be alright and the boys are back.
- Stitches “Brick In Your Face” This was the year of Stitches. He has a gun tattooed on his face and he loves cocaine. Also video of the year.
- Future featuring Pharrell, Pusha T and Casino “Move That Dope” Pharrell has the best verse on this track and there are a LOT of great verses on this track.
- Bobby Shmurda “Hot Nigga” Free Bobby.
- Duck Sauce “Time Waits For No-One” This is the great sequel to “U Don’t Know Me” that we’ve been waiting 15 years for.
- Dej Loaf “Try Me” The nicest song about murdering your enemies.
- Hercules And Love Affair “Do You Feel The Same?” These guys can’t make a full record but they’re usually good for one jam and this song is a JAM.
- La Roux “Uptight Downtown” La Roux followed up a five year absence with 9 songs, 1 of which was this one, totally great, and then eight forgettable whiffs. But yeah, this one rules.
- Ariana Grande feat. A$AP Ferg “Hands On Me” These two sound absolutely jubilant about having sex.
- Drake “0 To 100” Swap in “We Made It” or “6 God”, Drake dropping loosies and still running shit without an album.
- A-Trak & Lex Luger “Ohmygosh” A-Trak also also worked with Lex Luger this year and made some bangers so basically A-Trak was running shit in 2014.
- Drake “Trophies” More Drake.
- Brody Dalle “Don’t Mess With Me” Noted.
- The Afghan Whigs “Algiers” This sounds a lot like the True Detective theme song which is also a pretty good song and hey a not bad show have you watched True Detec-
- Kylie Minogue “I Was Gonna Cancel” This Kylie album felt slight but had a few wonderful moments, this Pharrell production being the highlight.
- Designer Drugs “Crystal” BANGER BANGER BANGER BANGER BANGER!
- Young Money featuring Tyga, Nicki Minaj and Lil’ Wayne “Senile” This beat is insane and I can’t believe they let Tyga rap on it but Nicki and Wayne drop flames and thus it is a classic.
- French Montana featuring Jadakiss “88 Coupes” Harry Fraud needs to do a Ghostface album, stat.
- Run The Jewels featuring Zach De La Rocha “Close Your Eyes (And Count To Fuck)” As a longtime Rage Against The Machine fan, I was excited for this and the fact that it actually delivers on it’s song title is remarkable.
- Basement Jaxx “Never Say Never” The Jaxx have been just ok since crushing shit on Kish Kash in 03 and Junto is a nice return to form. “Never Say Never” is their best single since “Good Luck”.
- Nick Jonas “Teacher” I’m as surprised as you. The rest of the album is a snooze though.
- Nicki Minaj featuring Beyoncé “Feeling Myself” Nicki Minaj released “Only” as a single instead of this and I just can’t wrap my mind around it.
- Sloan “You Don’t Need Excuses To Be Good” Chris Murphy is a golden god.
- Slipknot “Custer” New classic.
- Beyoncé “7/11” The self titled album ended up on my list last year but this track is as good as about half the songs on that one.
- Disclosure featuring Mary J. Blige “F For You” Disclosure are inherently boring but Mary J. Blige makes this a first class banger for the ages.