Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Top 50 Albums of 2014

I found it hard to keep up with the music in 2014. It was a busy year, to say the least. I defended my dissertation in January, signed four book contracts, had three journal articles and three book chapters published, submitted three other articles to journals, submitted a 900-page manuscript for publication, gave a conference paper, finally saw published the book I coedited with Travis McMaken on Karl Barth, and made serious headway in writing two more book manuscripts. And that is all on top of the dozens of books I edited for publication with IVP Academic. So I’ve had a lot on my mind in 2014. Unfortunately, my music listening suffered.

That being said, I still listened to many albums this year—many very good albums. A number of these albums are by artists who are known for a particular instrument: Arve Henriksen on trumpet, Owen Pallett on violin, Ernst Reijseger on cello, Hauschka on piano, and James Blackshaw on guitar. 2014 was the year I discovered both Henriksen and Reijseger, and I suspect they will feature on future lists. Many of my favorite albums—Henriksen, Richard Reed Parry, David Lang, Reijseger, Hauschka, Blackshaw, Glenn Kotche, A Winged Victory for the Sullen, Barnett + Coloccia, and Golden Retriever—could be classified as experimental or contemporary classical, which is a growing area of interest.

With that said, here is my list of the best albums of 2014.


1. Arve Henriksen, Chron + Cosmic Creation, The Nature of Connections, World of Glass (with Terje Isungset)


Picking Henriksen for #1 is not merely penance for overlooking his Places of Worship on last year's list. Any of his 2014 albums would be worthy of this spot – and all of them together make for a stunning output in a single year – but the release of Chron and Cosmic Creation is the clear highlight. This is daring, eye-opening experimental music. But do not miss World of Glass, where all of the music is played on instruments made out of glass.


2. Flying Lotus, You’re Dead!



3. Owen Pallett, In Conflict



4. Richard Reed Parry, Music for Heart and Breath



5. Perfume Genius, Too Bright




6. D’Angelo, Black Messiah



7. Ibibio Sound Machine, Ibibio Sound Machine



8. Hundred Waters, The Moon Rang Like a Bell



9. FKA twigs, LP1



10. David Lang, Love Fail



11. Ben Frost, A U R O R A



12. Clark, Clark



13. Ernst Reijseger, Feature



14. St. Vincent, St. Vincent



15. Caribou, Our Love



16. Brian Eno/Karl Hyde, High Life



17. Lykke Li, I Never Learn



18. Aphex Twin, Syro



19. Run the Jewels, Run the Jewels 2



20. Arca, Xen



21. Lost in the Trees, Past Life



22. Future Islands, Singles



23. Marissa Nadler, July



24. The Antlers, Familiars



25. Museum of Love, Museum of Love



26. Kate Tempest, Everybody Down



27. Hauschka, Abandoned City



28. Lone, Reality Testing



29. Todd Terje, It’s Album Time



30. Strand of Oaks, HEAL



31. Death Vessel, Island Intervals



32. James Blackshaw, Fantômas: Le Faux Magistrat



33. Lyla Foy, Mirrors the Sky



34. Spoon, They Want My Soul



35. Grouper, Ruins



36. Jess Williamson, Native State



37. Glenn Kotche, Adventureland



38. A Winged Victory for the Sullen, Atomos



39. Lockah, Yahoo or the Highway



40. CEO, Wonderland



41. How To Dress Well, “What Is This Heart?”



42. Mark McGuire, Along the Way



43. Mr Twin Sister, Mr Twin Sister



44. Shabazz Palaces, Lese Majesty



45. Barnett + Coloccia, Retrieval



46. Golden Retriever, Seer



47. Sun Kil Moon, Benji



48. Against Me!, Transgender Dysphoria Blues



49. The War on Drugs, Lost in the Dream



50. Landlady, Upright Behavior