And we’ve made it to the end. But first, a quick recap:
- Day 1 – Alvvays, Angel Olsen, The Antlers, Beck, and Benjamin Booker.
- Day 2 – Chad VanGaalen, Conor Oberst, Coves, Damien Jurado, and Doug Keith.
- Day 3 – Dream Boat, Eagulls, First Aid Kit, Future Islands, and Hamilton Leithauser.
- Day 4 – Hiss Golden Messenger, Hospitality, Hurray for the Riff Raff, Jenny Lewis, and Jesse Marchant.
- Day 5 – Mac DeMarco, Marissa Nadler, Misun, The New Pornographers, and Ought.
- Day 6 – Parquet Courts, Perfume Genius, PHOX, Real Estate, and Royal Blood.
- Day 7 – S. Carey, Sharon Van Etten, She Keeps Bees, Slothrust, and Snowmine.
- Day 8 – Spoon, Springtime Carnivore, St. Vincent, Steve Gunn, and Strand of Oaks.
- Day 9 – Sturgill Simpson, Sun Kil Moon, A Sunny Day in Glasgow, Temples, and Tiny Ruins.
And the last five are…
TY SEGALL, “MANIPULATOR”
For nearly a decade, everything that Ty Segall has touched has been gold – whether as a producer or a songwriter. He has never disappointed, creating albums that are often recognized among the year’s best. As such, to consider Manipulator may be his best album out of the 18 he has written is a testament to the maturation and brilliance of Segall. Despite a running time of 55 minutes spread out over 18 tracks, Manipulator is Segall’s most cohesive and complex album, and it is unrelenting and rapturous from start to finish. It is Segall’s masterpiece.
THE WAR ON DRUGS, “LOST IN THE DREAM”
2014 was a year that had many fantastic albums but very few stood out as loudly and as brilliantly as The War On Drugs. With Lost in the Dream, the Philadelphia-based band released an album that will surely top many end-of-year lists thanks to the earnest and captivating lyrics from frontman Adam Granduciel. It is the heyday of The Eagles, The Traveling Wilburys, and Don Henley and Springstein and Petty-style Americana re-imagined for a new generation. It is classic rock with a modern-day spin, intertwining indie-rock guitars and shoegaze-style vocals. But no matter how you describe it, it is an album for the ages.
It’s incredible to think that Warpaint have been together for ten years. It’s even more crazy when you realize they’ve only released two albums, 2010’s The Fool and this year’s self-titled album. Warpaint is quite different from The Fool, but that’s part of what makes this album such a stand-out record in 2014. There’s a lot of electronics, including drums and synths. There’s also a quite minimal approach to the record that makes each individual member stand out at different times. All four members of Warpaint – Emily Kokal, Theresa Wayman, Jenny Lee Lindberg and Stella Mozgawa – are immensely talented with Lindberg grabbing a spot in NME’s “40 Best Bassists of All Time” list.
WYE OAK, “SHRIEK”
Wye Oak took a little more of an electronic turn this year with their album Shriek, but it is hard to deny the talent of Jenn Wasner and Andy Stack. For some of us, this album was a grower because it didn’t have the indie feel of Civilian or The Knot. But after several spins, we, like so many others, fully embraced the more synth-driven turn from Wye Oak. While it lacked the numbers that made our chests throb, Wye Oak’s evolutionary turn on Shriek made our minds spin and our legs ache stomping to the new found beats of the Baltimore duo.
YOUNG FATHERS, “DEAD”
There were very few albums this year that spanned nearly the full landscape of music than Young Fathers‘ critically acclaimed Dead. Brilliantly marrying the sounds of hip hop, rap, R&B, rock, pop, and psychedelic, no album this year can match the creativity, innovation, and ambition of the Edinburgh, Scotland trio. Despite its complexity and multiple layers and sounds, Dead is an engrossing and mind-blowing album that caught our attention early, as well as critics in the UK, as they were recently awarded the 2014 Mercury Prize, given to the best album from the UK. Where the trio will take us on their next album is unknown, but it likely will once again challenge the way we listen to music.
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