By: Meghan Kearney
Here are my Top 25 favorite albums of the year. As always, my reminder is that these are my personal favorites – not ones that I necessarily think are the best. They are the ones that meant the most to me throughout the year, carried me through my best and worst times, and will forever be the soundtrack to my memories of 2014. Feel free to let me know what you think – and if you see someone on here that you don’t know, I encourage you to watch the video, or check out the record. Farewell 2014 – you made my ears so happy!
10. Kye Kye – Fantasize
I saw and heard Portland, OR’s Kye Kye for the first time last year at Bunk Bar (In Portland) opening up for Leagues. It was hands down one of the most explosive and mesmerizing live performances I have ever seen in my life. One of those opening acts that makes you regret ever not showing up for an opening act. This record has been with me all year. It helps me sleep, it brings me peace and it takes me to the best outer space.
9. Pompeii – LOOM
Pompeii has a soft spot in my heart. They were the first band, that my very first friend in Portland introduced me to in 2009 (Nothing Happens For A Reason to be exact) and played somewhat of a large role in helping me to recognize Portland as my new home. Their last record came out six years ago, and somewhere around 2011, I never thought I’d hear from them again. Wrong! This album is as beautiful as I could have possibly hoped for, it’s a bit more post-rockey than their past two records, and LOOM has that wonderful Austin vibe all over it.
8. Kiasmos – Kiasmos
This record. This record I first heard while melting into a couch surrounded by some of my most wonderful friends. Since then, just a couple months ago, I have become obsessed with this Erased Tapes team – Ólafur Arnalds, Nils Frahm, etc. etc. Kiasmos is made up of Ólafur & Janus Rasmussen. The record is mostly electronic but created in part by a man who is traditionally a composer. You can imagine how beautiful that must be, yeah?
7. Empires – Orphan
This is a newer record for me this year, but I have spent the past three or so months just dropping dead over it. I still can’t put my finger on what the deep, dark vocals make me nostalgic for. Maybe someone can figure that out for me. It is such spot on, emotional indie rock, hits me right in the heart. For anyone who got real into someone like Future Islands this year, I say leave the hype, check this record out instead. Oh, you guys, I just figured it out. They remind me of a more upbeat National.
6. Sleep Party People – Floating
These rabbit people are the freakiest, coolest act I’ve stumbled upon in years. This record is one of my favorites because it is all over the place. It goes from melodic beauty, to spooky and unnerving, to electro post-rock explosions, to something straight out of a Youth Lagoon set. It’s wild and truly unique. And, they wear rabbit masks when they play. Just Google it. It’s like a really good nightmare of sound.
5. White Sea – In Cold Blood
Where to I even begin with this one. This is hands down my Sasquatch 2014 feels nostalgia, and I didn’t even catch her at Sasquatch. If you don’t know, White Sea is Morgan Kibby from M83. You want to talk about a powerful female artist? This lady trumps all the Beyonces in the world. This record has literally no boundaries. On the surface it sounds like beautiful desperation, but after about 6 listens I started hearing her lyrics. This is one bad ass chick. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out, Lana D. (Warning: There are boobs in this video)
4. Andrew McMahon and the Wilderness – Self Titled
Oh man, oh man, oh man. Andrew McMahon gets me every time. Every single time. He just has a way with words and making sounds that are so incredibly uplifting. He is one of the artists that I always turn to when I get real, real down. This is probably one of my favorite all-around records of any project he has been in. He is so simplistically inspirational, and I’m so, so happy this record came out when it did. All the beautiful piano, all the joy, all the make-sense-of-the-world classic Andy. I wanted to share a visual video, but this is my favorite song on the record and I may even say it is the defining track of my entire year.
3. The War On Drugs – Lost In The Dream
This record is absolutely perfect. It is the sound of being free. The first time I really listened through this one I was on my way back from What The Festival looking out onto beautiful Eastern Oregon scenery and it couldn’t have been more perfect. That hour is one of the strongest memories I have from the year. Fun fact: The final track “In Reverse” is the most heartbreaking song I heard this year in a therapeutic, cathartic way. If I was ordering these albums by which ones I thought were the best, artistically, this would be number 1.
2. k.flay – Life As A Dog
I am completely enamored by K.Flay. K.Flay is an incredible genius. She does the same thing for me that Taylor Swift does but in a way cool, way more adult, way more talented way. Instead of a silly puppy-love break-ups, she hits on the real stuff. The stuff that is too rated R for T. And she does it in an adorably powerful hip-hop way. She is the most perfect female messiah I could ever dream of and every single word she sings describes every emotion I have ever, ever felt. It’s like she crawled up into my head and wrote down all my self-incomprehensible thoughts and spit them out onto this record. I literally worship her. If you are a woman (okay, if you are anyone), you need to listen to this record. Start to finish. Hear every word. Hell – just read the lyrics. Everything negative in your life will make sense and instantaneously evaporate. You are the voice for my people, K.Flay. P.S. please don’t send me a restraining order.
1. Tycho – Awake
I bet no one that knows me saw this coming. My number ones are usually pretty expected. Tycho is one of my absolute most favorite musicians, so no surprise that is truly epic new record is my number 1 this year. This man single-handedly made me appreciate instrumental music, maybe even the entire genre of electronic music. I first saw him play almost three years ago to a crowd of about 200 people, and this past summer I got to see him play for a starry eyed group of thousands. I dedicated my Master’s thesis to him. After his last record, I couldn’t fathom this one being such a masterpiece. It’s better than a masterpiece. This came out I believe the first couple weeks of the year and it hasn’t stopped playing on repeat in my life, in my head, on all my electronic devices since. I don’t think a single day has gone by in 2014 where I haven’t listened to at least a track from this album. He turns emotions into sound so flawlessly. This whole record is beautifully calming, makes you want to just float away out onto an ocean. It is so incredible that trying to describe it with my mediocre language skills would be a disservice. If you are reading this, and you know not of Awake, if there is one thing you do for yourself in the next 24 hours, listen to this record for infinity.
After creating my Top 10 list, I realized, there were so many more records I just couldn’t not acknowledge. These are them. 11-25 of the rest of my favorite records of the year. They all have significant meaning, and are pieces that I find wonderful. Take note if you wish. Thanks for reading.
11. Taylor Swift – 1989
12. Dillon Francis – Money Sucks, Friends Rule
13. Damien Rice – My Favourite Faded Fantasy
14. Hustle & Drone – HOLYLAND
15. Augustines – Augustines
16. Neighbors – Failure
17. Owl John – Owl John
18. Mogwai – Rave Tapes
19. Ryan Adams – Ryan Adams
20. Perfume Genius – Too Bright
21. Tokyo Police Club – Forcefield
22. Wildcat! Wildcat! – No Moon At All
23. Twilight Sad – Nobody Wants to Be Here and Nobody Wants to Leave
24. Beck – Morning Phase
25. We Were Promised Jetpacks – Unravelling