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


Aorta said…
Wow! Killer list from Run the Jewels and Arve Henriksen, you listen broadly and well sir. Fantastic list. Spotting loads of my favs on there which affirms to me your great taste, so cannot wait to explore the rest of the music I don't know.