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Top 10 Albums Of 2014

I have teamed up with Cate again for our lists of the best albums of 2014. This will be good.

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Our Top 10

We've been actively searching out new music this year and have compiled a diverse list of albums that we think are the best representation of good music in 2014. It's all there, people -- the music we've cried to, the music we've jammed to, the music we've made out in the car to. Check it out:

We've been actively searching out new music this year and have compiled a diverse list of albums that we think are the best representation of good music in 2014. It's all there, people -- the music we've cried to, the music we've jammed to, the music we've made out in the car to. Check it out:

10. Flying Lotus - You're Dead!

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(Music Video: "Never Catch Me feat. Kendrick Lamar" by Flying Lotus) [EXPLICIT]

Henry: This is the second year I've put FlyLo on my Top Albums list -- I included Until The Quiet Comes back in my 2012 list -- and it's not because I'm some crazy superfan, it's because he creates such freakin' masterpieces can I not include You're Dead!? Driving, powerful, soulful: he brings in fantastic artists like Kendrick Lamar, Thundercat (as per usual), Captain Murphy and Snoop Dawg to grace his fantastic production. It's just so good: I can't wait to see how FlyLo changes hip hop's artistic direction over the next few years. I'm giddy.

And that music video is one of my favorites of all time: the choreography is on point.

Good for: Jamming

Listen to: "Never Catch Me feat. Kendrick Lamar" and "Coronus, the Terminator"

10. Bear's Den - Islands

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(Music video: "Elysium" by Bear's Den)

Cate: In the age of Mumford and Sons, it's understandable that we're all a little scared of banjos. Thankfully Bear's Den brings a new tone to the tired genre of folk-pop, each track layered with an unexpected but satisfying mix of instrumentation. The soaring, introspective melancholia of Islands has so much more musical depth than the solo artists of folk-pop, but with a reservation that distinguishes it from the overly bright sound of Mumford. It keeps the focus on the outstanding lyricism rather than a pop hook, and highlights the mellow croon of lead singer Andrew Davies. The album is special for it's lack of trying too hard, like the girl next door.

Best music video of 2014 goes to "Elysium." Someone pass the tissues, so I can wipe my tears as I plan my edgy stick-poke tattoo.

Good for: Crying

Listen to: "Elysium" and "Above The Clouds of Pompeii"

9. Alvvays - Alvvays

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(Music Video: "Adult Diversion" by Alvvays)

Henry: I always include a newcomer on my top 10 list. This year's newcomer smash hit, Alvvays' out-of-the-ballpark eponymous album brought indie-pop back to life with their lo-fi, fuzzy sound. The album starts off with a steller repertoire: "Adult Diversion" feels like a warm August afternoon, "Archie, Marry Me" comes in with a most sincere nod back to the late 60s, "Ones Who Love You" is sugar-coated greatness, and "Next of Kin" bounces around in a fun embrace with catchy melodies. Unfortunately, Alvvays provided way too good way too fast. The last half of the album slows down considerably: "Dives" may go on a bit too long, and "Red Planet" might not be the best way to close the album, but I love this dear little album with all my heart.

Good for: Driving to a first date, having a great date, and then making out in the car after the great date. The whole package deal, really.

Listen to: "Adult Diversion," "Next Of Kin" and "Atop a Cake"

9. Milo - A Toothpaste Suburb

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(Music video: "Sweet Chin Music" by Milo)

Cate: I'm the least qualified person to be critiquing alternative hip-hop, so Milo coming in at 9 must say something about the accessibility of his music. A Toothpaste Suburb is confident slam poetry delivered smoothly and softly, like he's speaking to a midnight audience of his closest friends. It's kept fresh by the range of pace throughout the album and eclectic wordplay: sometimes humorous, sometimes nonsensical, and sometimes hard-hitting. The words portray his incredible sense of identity that I can't connect with culturally, but pulls me in nonetheless. Even if hip-hop isn't your genre of choice, A Toothpaste Suburb might pull you in too.

Good for: Jamming

Listen to: "Ought Implies I Can and I Cannot"

8. The Doppelgangaz - Peace Kehd/Doppic of Discussion/The Ghastly Duo EP

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(Music Video: "Live Rugged" by The Doppelgangaz) [EXPLICIT]

Henry: Talk about a hard working duo: three releases (an amazing album, an instrumental release, and a remastered EP respectively) in the same year with no compromise in quality or gravitas. "KnowntchooTahLie" and "Fall Thru" on Peace Kehd add a different feel to their past sound while "Live Rugged" and "Holla x2" bring back the phenomenal production they're most famous for.

While Doppic of Discussion is no Beats For Brothels album, you can't go wrong with "French Shawty" and "Forgot To Tell Ya" -- banger beats for sure. And if you thought that something was missing from their first two 2014 releases, they bring the fully mixed and remastered The Ghastly Duo EP (previously released in worse quality back in 2008) and all doubts are quelled. I can't wait to see what they bring next -- I'm just worried they will burn out or lose quality after all of these releases...

Good for: Jamming

Listen to: "Live Rugged" and "2012 or Forever"

8. Meg Myers - Make A Shadow EP

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(Music Video: "Desire" by Meg Myers)

Cate: If The Weeknd had a daughter, it would be Meg Myers. She's an explicit rock powerhouse, and a breath of fresh air. It is so damn hard to find female artists who take rock over the overdone and passive singer-songwriter bullshit, and she does it especially well. Having said that, she delivers acoustic ballads like "The Morning After" with a delicate sincerity just as honest as the splitting chorus of the synth pop opener "Desire." I can't narrow her to a genre, and I wouldn't want to - her raw talent ties the album together into the most sexual collection of tracks this year.

Good for: Making out in the car (a decidedly PG activity for an album like this)

Listen to: "Desire"

7. Snowmine - Dialects

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(Music Video: "Rome" by Snowmine)


"Lately I feel we're speaking in tongues

Are you starting to feel my smoke in your lungs?

And I'm swearing on contract when it's not signed.

I'm swearing that safeties in my own mind

could spoil the spirit passing through

even walls ten-thick to break into..."

- Further Along, Farther Away

I'm gonna say it now: "Columbus" and "Rome" are two of the best tracks of the year and the supporting tracks are phenomenal. "You Want Everything," "Further Along, Farther Away" and "Glide" propel most of the album to greatness. Unfortunately, I couldn't help but pull away near the end of the album. The tempos became slower, the volume decrescendo'd, and the vocal quality began to taper. Not the best album of 2014, but a fine contender.

Good for: Making out in the car.

Listen to: "Columbus," "Rome" and "You Want Everything"

7. Gary Clark Jr. - Gary Clark Jr. Live

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(Music Video: "Catfish" by Gary Clark Jr.)

Cate: Usually I would argue that 110% of live albums make my ears bleed. But everything comes together for Gary Clark Jr. Live - an impressively clean sound production that still captures the dirty sound of live blues. It's a nice touch that my favorite tracks are on the album, with extended breaks on "Bright Lights" and a grungy rendition of "Catfish Blues" that remind us why Gary Clark Jr. is the blues king of our generation.

Good for: Jamming, but with the right person would probably turn into making out in the car.

Listen to: "Don't Owe You A Thing" "Bright Lights"

6. Wild Cub - Youth

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(Music Video: "Thunder Clatter" by Wild Cub)

Henry: Let's give Keegan DeWitt a round of applause for transporting us back to the late 80s -- his Phil Collins-esque voice transports the listener through an album we haven't heard since No Jacket Required while still creating a modern, unique sound. "Colour"s driving drum beat and whirring guitars gets our toes tapping and "Wishing Well"s electronic musicality is propelled by nostalgic drums and catchy lyrics. But let's never forget "Thunder Clatter". Never forget "Thunder Clatter".

Good for: Jamming, and then making out in the car. Fast paced first half, then you're good to go for a great time in the second half.

Listen to: "Thunder Clatter," "Colour" and "Straight No Turns"

6. Andrew Bird - Things Are Really Great Here, Sort Of

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(Music Video: "My Sister's Tiny Hands" by Andrew Bird)

Cate: Things Are Really Great Here, Sort Of is the collection of pseudo-traditional murder ballads you didn't know you needed. A true musician's musician, Andrew Bird brings a lightness of touch and a full voice to his stripped down arrangements of The Handsome Family's southern gothic ballads. It's earnest and organic, Bird's genius instrumentation recasting the brilliant narrative of the lyrics into a place unimagined in the original tracks.

Good for: Making out in the car (I will absolutely not apologize for that, as weird as it may be.)

Listen to: "Tin Foiled" "Far From Any Road (Be My Hand)"

5. St. Lucia - When The Night

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(Music Video: "The Way You Remember Me" by St. Lucia)

Henry: St. Lucia's newest album is the best thing since sliced bread. Incidentally, Sliced Bread is a pretty good Australian Ben Folds Five cover band, but this album takes the cake. Seriously though: "The Way You Remember Me"s warm waves of sound and sexy saxophone solo, "Elevate"s bassline and catchy lyrics, "Call Me Up"s beautiful harmonies, "Too Close"s hyper electronic riffs -- it's a freakin' Monet in a pile of Middle School art projects (cough LIGHTS cough).

Good for: Jamming (and let's face it, making out in the car too.)

Listen to: "The Way You Remember Me," "Elevate" and "Closer Than This"

Cate: Henry, this is out of control. Sometimes us ladies just want to listen to good music without making out, okay?

5. Neil Hilborn - Northbound

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WATCH THIS: (Music video: "The Mating Habits of the North American Hipster")

Cate: Neil Hilborn is like listening to the deep rumble of thunder before the rain starts. He's a powerful, heart-wrenching storyteller, his voice propelling the listener through his honest narratives in the sort of way where you're sure your heart is beating in flux with his rhythm. His work is unmatchable in originality; unapologetic, brave, and sincere, never leaning on trite expressionism or analogy to tell his story. Poems like "Liminality," which narrates a tragic car crash, have you holding your breath until the last syllable.

Heaven is an exhausted horse laying down to die / It is you and your ceiling fans conversing in whispers. / Heaven is floating to earth in this already shattered car.

The collection of poems in Northbound will move you in so many ways - he's just as hilarious as he is heart-wrenching, as he proves in his poem "The Mating Habits of The North American Hipster."

Good for: Expanding your horizons

Listen to: "Otesego County" "The Mating Habits of the North American Hipster"

4. Ryan Adams - Ryan Adams/Do You Laugh When You Lie?

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(Music Video: "Trouble" by Ryan Adams)

Henry: Ryan Adams finally did it: he's moved away from his Wonderwall phase. No longer does he feel compelled to be so vehemently anti-genre -- he finally fits into his own sound and it's one of the best things I've ever heard. Both his eponymous album and recently released 7-inch series Do You Laugh When You Lie? wax poetic with the heartbroken cries of the romantic's misunderstood American Dream, and is a truly exemplary evolution from his Paxam singles recorded for 1984.

Good for: Jamming

Listen to: "Gimme Something Good," "By The Way" and "Do You Laugh When You Lie?"

4. The Kooks - Listen

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(Music Video: "Bad Habit" by The Kooks)

Cate: The Kooks' albums are like cheap beer - the more you consume, the better they taste. Listen, their fourth full-length release, is the grooviest, funkiest album of the year. While some long-time listeners pine regretfully for the mellower days of Inside In/Inside Out, I'm captured by the lively baseline, jazzy keyboard, and syncopated percussion that defines this album. It's the ultimate driving album, the bubbling beat reminiscent of warm summer night drives with the windows down and the music up. For now, it's the antidote to seasonal depression - if you see me dancing as I trudge through the snow this winter, you know I'm playing "Sunrise."

Good for: Jamming

Listen to: "Sweet Emotion" "Forgive & Forget"

3. Phantogram - Voices

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(Music Video: "Fall In Love" by Phantogram)


Cate: "Henry, are you putting Phantogram on the list?"

Me: "Oh yeah, you kidding me? It'd be a sin to leave them off!"

Yeah, I'm talking lightning from heaven, death from above stuff if I didn't put this on here. Sarah Barthel and Josh Carter expanded the vision previously started in Eyelid Movies and Nightlife, but not in a way that made it sound like Nightlife 2.0. "Bill Murray," "Howling At The Moon," and "Nothing But Trouble" carve a new, deeper sound into their repertoire while "Fall In Love" and "Black Out Days" harken back to the good ol' days, making Voices one of the most versatile, driving albums of 2014. I swear, I wish the album were longer: it's a normal length album at 43 minutes...but I just want 43 more minutes of this beautiful, beautiful masterpiece.

Good for: jamming and then buying tickets to see them live as soon as possible. I heard they're a blast live.

Listen to: "Howling At The Moon" and "Black Out Days"

3. Anthony D'Amato - Shipwreck From the Shore

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(Music Video: Anthony D'Amato NPR Tiny Desk Concert)

Cate: This album was initially a disappointment, but here it is December and Shipwreck From the Shore is holding down the third spot on my list. Anthony D'Amato's live performances are stripped down, plaintive, and intimate, and hearing his album after his live performance was a shock.

Despite that, it's hard to dislike the album for long. The joyful indie-folk is just so damn pleasant, with a touch of bright bluegrass and gospel influences. D'Amato has a strong voice, one that sounds just a tinge wistful, and the uptick of the arrangement and instrumentation strikes the perfect balance on each track. The juxtaposition between the lively production and the bitterly, bitterly sad lyrics makes Shipwreck From the Shore the happiest heartbreak you'll ever have.

"If it don't work out / You take the bed & I'll take the couch, if it don't work out."

Good for: Jamming or crying ("Depending on your current relationship status," Cate says as a single tear rolls down her face.)

Listen to: "Was A Time" "If It Don't Work Out"

2. Temples - Sun Structures

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(Music Video: "Shelter Song" by Temples)

Henry: In an ode to 60's revivalism, Temples' Sun Structures is like that old vinyl you find in your father's album crates in the attic. Waves of sound, reverb galore, and nostalgic cues envelop the listener in a world of wonder and whimsy. With the sound of a glorified, less-experimental Tame Impala, every song on this album is amazing: "Shelter Song"s Middle Eastern aesthetic, "Mesmerise"s heavenly melodies and angelic chords, "Colours to Life"s string ensemble, "Keep in the Dark"s catchy driving beat -- I could go on and on about how good each track is. Sun Structures flows perfectly, it's practically flawless, but it simply lacks the phenomenal replay value of my number one album of the year.

Good for: jamming -- or psychedelic drugs. Your choice.

Listen to: "Colours To Life" and "Mesmerise"

Cate: Not that we have personal experience with or condone psychedelic drugs in any way, Mom.

2. Noah Gundersen - Ledges

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(Music Video: "Cigarettes" by Noah Gundersen)

Cate: Unquestionability the most poignant album of the year, alternate titles for this album include "I Just Got Dumped" and "Fuck, I Am Just So Sad About You." While my first exposure was unfortunately timed with the crash and burn of a long-time love, I don't think I'm biased when I say that Noah Gundersen is a tragically relatable songwriter. While his intense, passionate baritone is remarkable in and of itself, he's first and foremost a storyteller. Ledges centers around the uncertainty of his age and the sorrow of lost love, with just enough religious references to make you wonder when you last made it to church. It's brought to life by his sister Abby's perfect harmony and lamenting violin - just enough to enhance Gundersen past a singer-songwriter, but still leaving quietness in the tracks, room for a sort of rubato that makes you hold your breath.

Good for: Crying ("Regardless of your current relationship status," Cate says, as a single tear rolls down her face.)

Listen to: "Poor Man's Son" "First Defeat" "Isaiah" or literally any track on this perfect piece of art.

Henry: *is unable to comment because he's sobbing uncontrollably*

1. Bass Drum Of Death - Rip This

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(Music Video: "Everything's the Same" by Bass Drum of Death)

Henry: THIS ALBUM JUST MAKES ME WANT TO GO TEAR UP THE TOWN! Vandalize! Drink too much! Go crazy! Make questionable decisions! Get Rated R!

Honestly though, this album is perfect in every way, shape & form. The production on Rip This is noticeably better than their eponymous album and GB City, something I worried about during the first listen through -- I like my garage rock noisy and crunchy and jarring -- but songs like "Sin is in 10" and "Burn's my Eye" still sound beautifully catchy and discordant. Rip This's aesthetic runs rampant against everything Top 40: "Left For Dead" and "For Blood," the most accessible songs on the album, still bite venomously and both "Electric" and "Everything's the Same" let you thrash to the sheer energy of John Barrett's famous lo-fi punk rock riffs. With a fantastic replay value, this album should be the album you listen to next -- and then listen to again, and again, and again.

Cars crash, guitars scream, and the crowd goes wild: just let the album's signature distortion wash over you in a baptism of defiled debauchery -- you won't regret it.

Good for: Jamming! Vandalizing! Yelling! Rocking out! Doing Rated R Stuff! Yeah!

Listen to: "Everything's the Same," "Sin is in 10" and "Left For Dead"

Bombay Bicycle Club - So Long, See You Tomorrow

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(Music Video: "Carry Me" by Bombay Bicycle Club)

Cate: As the year comes to a close, it's disheartening that So Long, See You Tomorrow has been forgotten in the "Shuffle" (pun intended). One of the most dynamic albums of 2014, Bombay Bicycle Club gave us a musically challenging masterpiece - a culmination of the group's exploration and maturity throughout their past four albums. It's amazing to see artists throw the pop formulas out the window in favor of experimentation and still produce music with significant mass appeal, as is the case with this group. It's quirky and bouncy, yet incredibly emotional. It's experimental and layered with instrumentation, but easy to listen to. Tracks like "Luna" and "Eyes Off You" showcase the talented Lucy Rose, a personal highlight of the album.

Despite three excellent records preceding them, Bombay Bicycle Club gave us the best one yet. The music of So Long, See You Tomorrow has carried me (pun intended, but seriously) through so very much this year, and for that it has a special place in my heart. On it's musical merit, it has a special place as my favorite album of 2014.

Good for: Crying, jamming, AND making out in the car.

Listen to: "Home By Now" and "Eyes Off You"

Henry: And the best puns of 2014 go to...Cate!

Thanks 2014 for such a good year of music!

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