The best albums of 2014 so far

Damon Albarn, Kelis, Against Me!, Le Butcherettes, F*cked Up and more

June 27, 2014

Doing a mid-year best-of show for Sound Opinions was a Kot idea; when it first came up years ago, I figured we ought to wait for year-end, 365 days being a more sensible measure of time (and more of a milestone passed) than a mere six months. But he won that particular coin toss, and there is something to be said for taking a breather half way through the year to catch up on or reassess great sounds you’ve been loving, or which you might have missed. Plus, as Rust Cohle ruminated on True Detective, what is time anyway, if not a flat circle?

In any event, further illuminating my favorites of 2014 so far in time for the radio show and podcast, here’s my list of the Top Five, plus some other discs that very much remain in heavy rotation.

 

5. Damon Albarn, Everyday Robots (Parlophone)

The first proper solo album from one of the most ambitious and distinctive artists to emerge in the ’90s, a quiet and beautiful meditation on his childhood, teens, and twenties as he closes in on middle age.

Here’s my review for this blog, and here is our discussion for Sound Opinions.

 

4. Kelis, Food (Ninja Tune)

The chef, musician, mother, and unforgettable pop star behind “Milkshake” back in the day cooks up a five-course feast of heartfelt neo-soul.

Here’s my review for this blog, and here is our discussion for Sound Opinions. (And listen for Kelis chatting and performing live on Sound Opinions later this year.)

 

3. Against Me!, Transgender Dysphoria Blues (Total Treble Music)

In which Laura Jane Grace writes more movingly about gender identity than anyone in rock ever has, while musically summoning the Clash at its rollicking, anthemic best.

Here’s my review for this blog, and here is our discussion for Sound Opinions.

 

2. Le Butcherettes, Cry Is for the Flies (Nadie Sound)

I’m still trying to scoop my brains up off the ground after the angry assault of the second undeniable album from Teri “Gender Bender” Suaréz.

Here’s my review for this blog.

 

1. F*cked Up, Glass Boys (Matador)

And speaking of angry blowtorch assaults, Toronto’s art-punks abandoned the concept album idea this time and merely gave us a set of some of the most ferocious but melodic songs since Hüsker Dü in its prime. Along with four tracks of drums!

Here’s my review for this blog.

And now, here are some more contenders, in no particular order, when we get back to list-making come December.

Parquet Courts, Sunbathing Animal (What's Your Rupture?)
 

Jack White, Lazaretto (Third Man/XL/Columbia)
 

Sharon Van Etten, Are We There (Jagjaguwar)

Lykke Li, I Never Learn (LL Recordings)

Neil Young, A Letter Home (Third Man Records)

tUnE-yArDs, Nikki Nack (4AD)

The Black Lips, Underneath the Rainbow (Vice)

The War on Drugs, Lost in the Dream (Secretly Canadian)

Lydia Loveless, Somewhere Else (Bloodshot Records)

Warpaint, Warpaint (Rough Trade)

Broken Bells, After the Disco (Columbia)

Angel Olsen, Burn Your Fire for No Witness (Jagjaguwar)

Bob Mould, Beauty & Ruin (Merge)

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