At 17 tracks, Drake's newest album, err, mixtape is way too long. And the production, usually one of the stronger parts of Drake records, is a bit lackluster. Plus his flow is a little more turned up than usual, giving us at times a more aggressive delivery than we are used to getting from Drake. And yet despite all the faults, this is better than most rap that has come out in the past few years. It's strange but you have to have qualifiers when it comes to Drake. His type of rap isn't for everyone, but you gotta acknowledge he is very good at delivery his little niche. So good that he's made doubters believers, including myself. And it's clear he has a lot to get off his chest, spreading across way too many focused and detailed tracks. It's a great late night record, perfect for a city side drive or headphones in bed. It evokes. And while I'm glad this isn't his official album, it's damn near good enough to be.
I know 2014 has been over for nearly a month, but I just hadn't seen enough movies during the year to make a half decent list of my favorite films of 2014. And while I still need to see a few movies, namely Whiplash, Fury, Get On Up, among others, I think I've seen enough to have a solid list. So here are my 25 favorite films from 2014. Not the best, just my favorite. And yes, I've seen American Sniper.
I rather small film about a food truck, but something about it stayed with me, and I found it endearing. Plus the food looks great.
24. The Lego Movie
While I can't praise it like everybody else under the sun, it was very fun and probably the best animated movie I saw last year. It was probably the only one too.
23. 22 Jump Street
Comedy is hard, and sequels usually suck, so I'm glad that this one got it right. Plus the credits were TBS very funny.
22. X-Men: Days of Future Past
Probably my favorite true comic book movie of the year. I think it's far superior to the kinda good Captain America movie.
21. The Raid 2: Berendal
Bigger is not always better. I still think the first one is better, but I mean this is an action movie fans wet dream. It's insane, and I like it alot.
20. The Theory of Everything
On the surface, it feels a lot like Oscar bait. But I found that the acting and the the focus on the relationship rather than the science keeps it grounded and helps elevate it above the generic biopic.
It's so weird, almost too weird. And it feels long. But some of the scenes near the end are just so damn good, especially that last song.
My favorite traditional comedy of the year. I had such low expectations, and then ended up loving it. TBS very funny.
17. Inherent Vice
It's really long and kinda a letdown. And yet I still enjoyed it, a lot. It's less about the mystery and the clues, and more about the journey. The smoke filled pointless and plotless journey.
I don't care what anyone says, this movie is awesome even if the whole idea is completely preposterous.
I love/hate this movie. Love the space stuff. Kinda hate the Earth stuff. But I really really love the space stuff.
14. The One I Love
The idea is simple, but it is executed so well. And I won't say anything because it would ruint he surprise. Maybe the biggest pleasant surprise of the year for me.
13. Guardians of the Galaxy
The trailer was terrible and on paper I should like this movie, but I dug it. I really dug it.
12. The Imitation Game
I knew nothing about Alan Turing, so I found this movie fascinating. Very well acted and surprisingly not generic. Kudos.
11. Top Five
Best Woody Allen movie of the year.
10. Gone Girl
I love Fincher. And while this is lesser Fincher, it's still Fincher, and it's still very good. Way better than The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.
Yes, it's slow, but it's also damn disturbing and unsettling. I was uncomfortable the whole time. It was really great.
8. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
I really like the direction the Planet of the Apes movies are going, and I am one of those people who could care less about the old ones. Monkeys on horses and shooting people. Baller.
7. Under The Skin
So. Weird. So. Good.
6. Edge of Tomorrow
My favorite blockbuster of the year. Love how it plays with time and your expectations. The ending could use some work, but I forgive it. Plus Tom Cruise is a good actor you guys!
Gonna be honest, in the beginning, wasn't feeling it. And then the boy ages, and it gets better and better until it becomes a full blown great movie.
Selma was robbed of two Oscar nominations. I know this because I saw it. It's fantastic and Oyelowo is Martin Luther King Jr.
Pretentious? You bet. Magnificent? Oh yeah.
Maybe it's because they filmed most the movie on the streets right outside my apartment. Maybe it's because it's both smart, funny and downright disturbing. Maybe because I'm a camera man myself. I dunno. It hit a cord. And I love it's vision of nighttime LA
1. The Grand Budapest Hotel
Still can't believe a movie I saw such a long time ago still holds the throne as my favorite, but really, nothing came close, besides Nightcrawler, from pushing it off the top. Might be my favorite Wes Anderson movie ever.
It was about halfway through the new Fall Out Boy album did I really realize how old I am and how taste changes over time. I have changed, the band hasn't. They actually broke up then got back together and didn't miss a beat, picking right up where they left off. The music they make today sounds like they could have made it earlier in the century. Hell they could have made this music in the 90s, and it would fit right it. It's power pop full of hooks and it's all strangely rather timeless.
Rock is in a weird place that a band like Fall Out Boy can be depended on for their consistency. The newest album is very energetic, very fun and I did enjoy listening to it, even though I am convinced more and more each day that this music is no longer for me. There are bound to be a handful of singles on the record and no doubt I will be hearing it blaring from some radio station or some arena pa system. And it deserves it. It's good. We could be listening to much much worse. I couldn't even place this record among the rest of their discography because well, they don't slip often. So it's a toss up, down to your own peculiarities. Push play, give this a listen, I promise you won't hate it, but like me, you might just be too old or not cool enough to love it.
The Lupe I knew and loved died long time ago. He dropped two fantastic albums which made me believe he had a true classic deep down inside of him. So much potential. Then he released Lasers and everything went to sh*t. He tried to regain his lost moment with Food & Liquor II but it was more unremarkable than anything else. So I am glad to say that Tetsuo & Youth is his best album since The Cool.
Now that's not saying much. It's horribly long, downright excessive to the point that even "normal" length songs under 5 minutes drag. It's exhausting. It's also full of guest, featuring no one I have heard or better yet should have. Lupe feels energetic on the mic for the first time in ages, dropping street knowledge but not heavy handily so. He does resort to rhyming the n-word with the n-word alot, but lyrically it's a step up from his past two efforts. Often times the album is actually very good. The production is interesting. It's very experimental for better or worse. Kind of like a mix of some Flying Lotus and recent Kanye, just not as interesting as either. But I am glad that the album has it's own personality, it's own stamp. No singles to be seen, and maybe that's a good thing. It's a step in the right direction, and for once I can say I might be looking forward to the next album and not expect to be disappointed. It's just bittersweet, because this Lupe will never be that Lupe.
Let's just get this out in the open. The Decemberists are a pretentious band. Hell, it's the best part about them, since they are unabashedly so. They were the perennial college rock band, with songs that felt more like short stories than music. Literary illusions and big words you need to look up in the dictionary, that's their wheelhouse. College me loved it, especially Picaresque. But somewhere along in their past two albums I just stopped listening. It wasn't the same, and they didn't feel the same. It felt exhausting and dense rather than whimsical and baroque.
So I'm glad to say I enjoyed their latest album, and not because it's a return to form. No, no, no. In fact, the album journeys far from their old encyclopedia-like selves. Instead, it gets rather personal. Instead a musical soliloquy about a mariner's revenge, we get the surprisingly simple musings of Colin Meloy's own actual non-fictional life. It's actually kinda refreshing, but will no doubt alienate some fans. But I'm glad they're taking the chance. Yes in many ways they are sounding an awful lot like many other indie bands, but at least a good one. It's a step. No destination yet, but they're going somewhere. I hope they get there.
2015 might end up being the year for comebacks. Sleater-Kinney already released a great record and now Belle and Sebastian, THE indie band, is back with some of their best music in ages. Now I have never been a huge fan. I listened to them on and off. At their best they sounded very sweet, and at their worst very twee. So twee. And yet after listening to Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance, I can't stop thinking I should have listened to these guys more. Much like their followers and eventual peers Stars, Broken Social Scene, The New Pornographer and so on, they have an uncanny ability to craft very good indie pop/rock. And while that often is good enough, here they broaden their sound. I wouldn't say it's experimental, more like dabbling. And the record is better for it, as it is surprisingly consistent, diverse and downright fantastic at times. It might not win waves of new fans, they are THE indie band, so popularity is not their destiny. But it will renew faith in the legion of the loyal and hopefully the wait will be shorter the next time around.
What's really the difference between Panda Bear and Animal Collective? I really can't tell. Panda Bear is technically the solo side of Noah Lennox. And it seems a bit on the darker/serious side as compared to the more carefree fun Animal Collective. Whatever. Semantics. They both make gorgeous music which can best be described like Beach Boys on acid. Wait, the Beach Boys were probably on acid. Whatever. It's sonically diverse and stuffed like a turkey. And it's amazing and bursting. Extroverted music. And yet Panda Bear's newest dives inward. Yes it's still full of buzzes and beeps and boops but there is a real emotional core at the center. A piano sometimes shows up, fuzz lingers. It's often very melancholy and at times a bit cloudy. Not gloomy per se, but cloudy. And often very beautiful. Maybe the title means this is the end of the Panda Bear side. If it is, it's quite the eulogy.
Much like Charli XCX, Mark Ronson has often waded in the shadows of those bigger than them, waiting for their moment to break out. Charli had Sucker, Ronson has Uptown Special. Unlike Charlie XCX, Mark Ronson is a super producer who has made a bunch of hits you all know but no idea who is the guy behind it all. He co-produced Amy Whinehouse's breakout album, and has made a living due to his uncanny ability to channel a retro sound while looking forward. And his latest is also his greatest, pulling out all the stops to bring us some old school 70s and 80s funk. And while it never again reaches the heights of the flaming hot single "Uptown Funk", it grooves like no other record in recent memory, even bringing in a psycho like Mystikal to come and funk sh*t up. It's a really cool album. Legit cool.
I have never listened to a Sleatr-Kinney album before today. And after listening to their "comeback" album, apparently I've been missing out. What we get on their latest is a kick in the mouth, and I'm left with a swollen lip and a half smile. It's a short and sweet punch, never letting up and showcasing that they haven't apparently lost their punk rock touch. It rolls, never letting up, and it's better for it, because you don't want to stop and think about it too much. As a fan of 90s music, the album feels like a bike ride back in time, truly transformative. More than solid, it's the kick in the ass jumpstart that 2015 needs after such a lackluster 2014.
It's very hard to be impartial when watching The Interview, the latest by Seth Rogen and James Franco. Everyone knows the story, involving hacks and a North Korean controversy and theaters pulling it. And then you watch the movie and think to yourself, what's the big deal? It's just a pretty good but not great comedy that's very stupid. And the hype gives it legitimacy it probably doesn't deserve.
But the film does have problems not related to a clusterf*ck of a release. Mainly it's not that funny. This Is The End and Neighbors are far superior, and although it goes batsh*t crazy near the end, you just end up wishing there was more of THAT. Franco really hams it up, and early on it's a little off-putting but by the end his Ryan Seacrest like character is pretty great. Both the asian actors, Randall Park who kills it as Kim Jong-Un and Diana Bang who slays it as Sook are real stand outs. But Seth Rogen, who has been very solid this year, kinda coasts here. Yes he co-directed the movie, but he feels just underwhelming. But it's a interesting concept that mostly lands the execution. It could have been more, but it could have been so much worse. Good enough.
The Pinkprint is a fairly decent pop album. There is just one big problem. It thinks it's a rap album too. And as a rap album, it's nearly garbage. Now Nicki can rap. We all know this, but the fact that everytime she stops singing and starts rapping on this record, you cringe. It's that bad. And the strange thing is everyone wants Nicki to rap, including me. We want Mixtape Nicki, but we never get Mixtape Nicki. We get confused Nicki, who still doesn't know what she is as an artist. And who is obviously going through some emotional stuff and the album is soaked in it. That's not a problem. Neither is the sex, but it's more uncomfortably forced than feminists supremacist. Azealia Banks proved you can find a happy medium between rap and pop, but it's a delicate balance, and instead Nicki here just bulldozes through it all. It's not terrible, it's just frustrating.
Fourteen years is a long time. Hell if he waited a month it would have been fifteen. The last time a D'Angelo album was out I was nearly a teenager. It's been a minute is all I'm trying to say. And here we finally get Black Messiah, and it's real and right on time. With the nation at a racial crossroads unlike we've seen since the LA riots, D'Angelo drops a politically charged album dripped in the neo soul sound he helped pioneer and it's just what we need. He probably no longer has that six pack but I'm proud to say the voice is still silk. And while it could have never lived up to the hype more than a decade of waiting can build up, it doesn't have to. The second you push play, you forget all that nonsense, because it's D'Angelo y'all and gentlemen don't sing like this no more. Now some people won't get it. And that's fine. It's for us, not them. And it's a Christmas a few days early.
The continuation of my favorite songs of 2014. These are the real gems, not that the other 50 were bad or anything, but this is the real deal Holyfield right here.
49. "Left Hand Free" by Alt-J
Song feels like they made it in their backyard. I dig that.
48. "Creature" by Lia Ices
Mixing world beats with just plain great pop, you get some surprisingly dope results. Plus the latter half. Goodness gracious.
47. "Under The Pressure" by The War On Drugs
If you never listen to the album, you can just listen to this track and basically get it. It's a sprawling epic that puts you on a little mini roadtrip in your headphones. Good stuff.
46. "Doing It" by Charli XCX
Pop music my friend. POP MUSIC! But seriously, bow down to the true queen.
45. "Soul Food" by Logic
The beat is so classic, the lyrics so true and the second half flip around. The hustle is hard in this one.
44. "Never Catch Me" by Flying Lotus
Kendrick Lamar helps make a difficult record easier to swallow by giving us a song mixing free form jazz and rap and god only knows what else. It's damn fascinating.
43. "A Sky Full of Stars" by Coldplay
How this song wasn't bigger than it was leaves me clueless, since it's the only Coldplay song on the Coldplay album. And it's a beaut. Bonus points for being it's own club remix.
42. "No Shows" by Gerard Way
Gerard Way will still be making good music when the memory of My Chemical Romance is long gone. And I'm be first in line.
41. "Stay With Me" by Sam Smith
Come on. How can I not put this on the list. It's a big ass Sam Smith ballad that the tiniest bit of the singing public can even stand next to. Vocal artillery.
40. "Oh My Darling Don't Cry" by Run The Jewels
They got the dude from the Police Academy movies, which is bonus points, but also the song bangs. And the wordplay. Hell yeah.
39. "I'm Not Part of Me" by Cloud Nothings
The best thing these guys have ever done is a a surprisingly earnest break up song. Go figure.
38. "How We Be" by Sinkane
There is a hipness on this track that opens up the surprisingly solid Sudanese pop album that is lacking from the rest of the album. Guess sometimes you gotta come out of the gates guns blazing.
37. "Black and White" by Parquet Courts
It's a stoner bands rodeo jam and I can't get enough of it.
36 "Strandbar" by Todd Terje
The song is pretty good but becomes really great when those pianos kick in and it's all over and you throw up the white flag and go home because it can't get any better than this.
35. "#Beautiful" by Mariah Carey
The worst thing about the song is the hashtag because why? But it's a great jam and yes Miguel does most the heavy lifting for Mariah, but she is right there and that's more than enough.
34. "Breakfast" by Kelis
Kelis kicks things off right, setting the tone for the rest of her killer album and also showing off a new sound that I'm all about. The kid's in the beginning are a nice touch too. This is the real thing y'all"
33. "Let Me Be Mine" by Spoon
Auction off what you love, it will come sometime. That is the best opening line of any song this year, hands down.
32. "All The Rage Back Home" by Interpol
It opens up sound like any other Interpol song, then they turn the ignition and BOOM. So good.
31. "Talking Backwards" by Real Estate
Sunny and yet dripping with melancholy, there is a beautiful sadness to this song that is quite unexpected. And very pretty.
30. "Simple and Sure" by The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
The song feels like the beginning of a long lost John Hughes movie.
29. "From The Night" by Stars
Sometimes bands discover their groove and decide to dance. It's nice when they find it. Last year Arcade Fire did it. This year it's Star's turn. And I'm thankful.
28. "Anagram" by Young The Giant
Live, these guys sound an awful lot like Incubus. I should know, I heard them. But on the record they sound just like Local Natives and I ain't mad at them. Gorgeous song too.
27. "Full Stick" by Herzog
It's a fire cracker of a song, short, sweet and a guitar lick instead of a chorus. Gnarly.
26. "Queen" by Perfume Genius
Baroque and broke as f*ck.
25. "Tough Love" by Jessie Ware
In many ways it's the perfect song for Jessie Ware, moving past the old and ushering the new. Oh and it's really really good.
24. "Seasons (Waiting On You)" by Future Islands
The lead singer of Future Islands has a great voice. There is a nice gruff and texture to it sorely missing from modern day music. We need more of this.
23. "Every Little World" by MNEK
There is a voice in the song that asks "do you f*ck to this sh*t?" and it's an honest question, because this song is all sorts of amazing and yes, you probably do.
22. "i" by Kendrick Lamar
Kendrick and a throwback beat? It's not even fair.
21. "Word's I Don't Remember" by How To Dress Well
There is a part in the song where it all glitches out and repeats ad nauseam and it's amazing and affecting. Love it.
20. "Digital Witness" by St. Vincent
The horns, oh the horns. But seriously, it's the whole weird lyrics about how times are changing and technology and it's kinda scary and kinda weird and I should write a book about it.
19. "Two Weeks" by FKA twigs
Obsession in song form.
18. "Down On My Luck" by Vic Mensa
Vic Mensa is a rapper. And not even that good of one. And yet he used his rapped fire delivery while singing to give us a breathless R&B club jam and it's f*cking fantastic.
17. "Jealous (I Ain't With It)" by Chromeo
It should be against the law to be this catchy
16. "Every Other Freckle" by Alt-J
Weird. Brilliant and weird. It's the kind of song only Alt-J can make. Nobody else on this level.
15. "Fall In Love" by Phantogram
This buzz saw of a song is the best thing Phantogram has ever done. Kudos.
14. "The Way We Do It" by Jurassic 5
I got giddy like a 5 year old kid on Christmas when I first heard this track. J5 was back and the sounded just as good as when they left, rocking a "Concert Schoolyard" like beat produced by the late Heavy D and they just slay it. So. F*cking. Good.
13. "On The Regular" by Shamir
His best song and it's not even on the EP. And it's near perfect, catchy as hell and as much a mission statement as it is a killer single.
12. "Strange Feeling" by Panama
The best song of the EP is a bonus track. Go figure. It's so good and so different and I'm all about that life.
11. "Red Dust" by James Vincent McMorrow
That last stretch. Holy moly. My ears popped.
10. "Magic" by Coldplay
Restrained and yet stunning, it's the best thing Coldplay has done in years.
9. "0 to 100 / The Catch Up"
That beat. Drake's flow. The anger cooking and boiling the track. And the James Blake interlude. I wouldn't believe it if I didn't hear it myself.
8. "Can't Do Without You" by Caribou
Building up and up and up and up. Then KABOOM. Nice.
7. "Under Pressure" by Logic
Those who hate on Logic point to this song, which sounds an awfully lot like Kendrick's "Sing About Me, I'm Dying of Thirst." And to them, I say f*ck you.
6. "Do It Again" by Robyn & Royksopp
Ever club, play this song. Over and over and over again.
5. "Jackie and Wilson" by Hozier
With a great guitar rip and blues, mad blues, the song is way cooler than it has any right to be. This is my jam.
4. "Good News" by Daley
The piano and that voice. Match made in heaven.
3. "Love Never Felt So Good" by Michael Jackson
So there are like 3 versions and every person has their own take on which they like best. But it doesn't matter, because this is the best Michael Jackson song we have ever heard in probably over a decade. No joke. It's f*cking amazing and you know it and I know it. You ever wonder why you feel in love with MJ? Listen to this and you'll remember.
2. "Brand New" by Pharrell Williams
A duet with Pharrell and Justin Timberlake and how the hell wasn't this the biggest song of 2014? Because people are dumb and life doesn't make sense, because this song is the best.
1. "They Want My Soul" by Spoon
The title track to my favorite album of the year also happens to my favorite Spoon song on the album. Seems appropriate that it top my list.
It's a sign of how things are that the songs of 2014 are much better than the albums of 2014. It's the way things are going. The album is dying and the single is reigning supreme. So here is my rather eclectic mix of favorite tracks from 2014, part 1. Songs 100 to 50. Songs 49 to 1 coming soon.
100. "Balmain Jeans" by Kid Cudi
Kid Cudi doesn't hold my grasp the way he used to when he was one of my favorite artists. But this song with some killer swoons by Raphael Saadiq is pretty excellent.
99. "Follow" by Mary J. Blige
On The London Sessions, Mary J. goes for a different sound on the second half and it works, like really well. She's overqualified to be a house diva and yet here she is playing the role alongside Disclosure. Thank you.
98. "How We Feel" by Panama
The Panama EP was probably one of my favorite collections of music this year and this trick (one of a few on this list) shows off their versatility. Plus that piano.
97. "Gust of Wind" by Pharrell Williams
Pharrell teams up again with Daft Punk and of course it's a chill as f*ck winner.
96. "First" by Cold War Kids
The Cold War Kids are surprisingly consistent at making good music, and this stand out track on their latest shows off why.
95. "Silver" by Caribou
Much like that other song, it's a lot of patient build up with a great volcano eruption near the end. Just wait for it. It's worth it.
94. "Mr Noah" by Panda Bear
Anytime we get some Animal Collective, err, Panda Bear ear candy, we shall rejoice. Poor dogs though.
93. "If It Wasn't True" by Shamir
Shamir's Northtown was one of my favorite EPs from 2014, and this is the best song on that. Can't wait for the debut.
92. "Repeat Pleasure" by How To Dress Well
So freakin' pretty.
91. "I've Had It Up To Here" by Weezer
The band with maybe the best comeback of the year did it the easy way, making a record full of great songs with great hooks. Case in point. Plus it's a self referential dig at themselves and their critics, so bonus points.
90. "Kelly" by The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
Pains always have one truly great female fronted track on their albums, and this is the one off their latest.
89. "Happy Idiot" by TV on the Radio
It's kinda a glitchy weird song and I dig that.
88. "Blockbuster Night, Pt. 1" by Run The Jewels
One of the reasons Run The Jewels rules is because their sh*t bangs and they angry. And their best tracks are when they keep it grimey. Real grimey.
87. "Look Up" by Daley
This is the first song I've ever heard by Daley, so it holds a special place and deserves to be on the list.
86. "Xscape" by Michael Jackson
The title track to Michael's posthumous album is a Invincible leftover that is better than at least half that album. Go figure.
85. "Brill Bruisers" by The New Pornographers
The album is very playful and feels very free, so it's only appropriate that the best song on the album has no real chorus. Just a lot of ba ba ba's.
84. "Morning" by Beck
This songs makes me feel like I'm waking up in a cabin on a Spring day somewhere in the middle of nowhere with the dew still on the grass. Love songs that evoke that kinda stuff.
83. "How We Are" by Lia Ices
The drums. The drums!
82. "Wonderful Everyday (Arthur Song)" by Chance The Rapper
Yes, it's a cover of the theme song from the afternoon cartoon Arthur. And it takes that song and make it something bigger than some silly song for a kid's show.
81. "Writings On The Wall" by OK Go
The video is all sorts of awesome, and the song is nearly as good.
80. "One And All" by The Smashing Pumpkins
It's 2014, but this song sounds like vintage Pumpkins. Ya dig? I dig.
79. "Second Thoughts" by Dornik
Another year and no album. Makes me sad. But he's still putting out great R&B music that I just can't get enough of. Just release the damn album already homie.
78. "Boom Clap" by Charli XCX
One of those songs of the summer that actually deserve to be a song of the summer.
77. "Zero Zero" by Gerard Way
The album is mostly hair metal and britpop influenced, but this sounds as close as we are gonna get to a My Chemical Romance track in 2014.
76. "Asleep" by Makthaverskan
The passion behind the lead singers voice as she screams the chorus is really something and so is the album, which you should definitely look up if you can spell the band name correctly when you Google it.
75. "Destroyer" by Panama
Second track by Panama to make the list is a little 80's influenced ditty. And that end. Whoa.
74. "Birth In Reverse" by St. Vincent
One thing that is under appreciated by St. Vincent is how good a guitarist she is. She really is great and doesn't get the credit she deserves.
73. "Say You Love Me" by Jessie Ware
In many ways, this is Jessie Ware's big ballad that shows her arms are long enough to box with God (Adele).
72. "Human Sadness" by Julian Casablancas+The Voidz
The album is very experimental and will probably turn off most Strokes fans. But there are diamonds in that rough, like this long dive into the abyss.
71. "FUNKNROLL" by Prince
It's not really funk. It's not really rock and roll. I don't know what the hell it is. But I like it. I like it alot.
70. "Brooklyn Baby" by Lana Del Rey
Another sad girl song. But it helps that it's a very good sad girl song.
69. "Coming of Age" by Foster The People
Supermodel is a good album and I stand by that. Proof.
68. "On My Mind" by Dornik
Release the album. Release the album. Drop it. Tonight, just drop it.
67. "Temporary View" by SBTRKT
Sampha really is the MVP on SBTRKT latest record. He takes songs like this and just take it to a whole nother level.
66. "January 28th" by J. Cole
A deeply person song by the most earnest rapper in the game. Plus he's a January baby like me, so bonus points.
65. "Delorian Dynamite" by Todd Terje
Terje his great at titling tracks, and this is no different. It's like going back in time to the 80's. Get it? You get it.
64. "Why" by Les Sings
Figures that the best song on an album with mostly instrumentals is the one with actual vocals.
63. "Pop Thieves (Make It Feel Good)" by Childish Gambino
Is it weird that the more pop/R&B side of the the Childish Gambino EP/Mixtape release is the better part and it's not even close? Whatever, homie is a better singer than Drake.
62. "No Rest For The Wicked" by Lykke Li
You wanna cry? Listen to this song all alone in the dark. You'll get a good cry in.
61. "Come Get It Bae" by Pharrell Williams
I can put up with Miley in small doses, and we get just the right amount on this song. Oh and that Pharrell guy is good too.
60. "I Had This Thing" by Royksopp
It's a big sweeping fall in love in the club song. More please.
59. "Really Love" by D'Angelo
While I'll believe it when I see it, this gives me hope that we might hear the new D'Angelo album in my lifetime and that homeboy can still sing. Also, THIS IS NEW D'ANGELO GUYS!
58. "Hideaway" by Kiesza
57. "Uptown Funk" by Mark Ronson
I wanna hear this record so bad already. It's funky, it's throwback. I'm all about that life.
56. "Los Awesome" by Schoolboy Q
Yes, it doesn't sound like anything else on the LP since it's produced by the Neptunes. But it fits, like crazy well. More please.
55. "Water Fountain" by tUnE-yArDs
So what if it's just "Iko Iko", that song rules and we haven't had something like that in a while. Plus she get's pissed on the second half and I'm all about that life.
54. "Stranger to My Happiness" by Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings
Vintage to the max, plus the undertones of Sharon Jones struggle with cancer underneathe gives us a jam with some great emotional resonance.
53. "Quartz" by TV on the Radio
Maybe I just love how it sounds like it starts in medias res. Or maybe it's the passion behind the opening lyrics. It's just awesome.
52. "Guess Again!" by Thom Yorke
It feels like he dug up this song from some dark dank basement. And I'm all about that life.
51. "Habits (Stay High)" by Tove Lo
The song begins kinda like some kinda Ke$ha disaster before the chorus kicks in and you are like, oh.
50 "Gimme A Chance" by Azealia Banks
She straight rips it on this track and then on the latter part starts flowing in Spanish? Damn.
Okay guys. Like I said 49-1 coming soon. Probably tomorrow or the next day.
Can we call this year a wash? Looking back on it, 2014 might have been one of the most disappointing years in music I have heard in a long while. I look at my list, full of really great music, but lacking stuff that truly transcended. I might remember a few in the future, but 2014 was largely forgettable. This list is lacking and it saddens me. Yes 2014 made a nice late charge, but if often felt a little too little too late. But here we go anyways. Rules are obviously obvious. These are my favorite albums, not what I believe to be the best. Second, no EPs allowed. Mixtapes maybe. Alright, here we go, counting from 50 to 1. Forgive me.
Honorable Mentions (EP Only Edition):
Always by Panama
Do It Again by Royksopp & Robyn
Northtown by Shamir
Kauai by Childish Gambino
Mr Noah by Panda Bear
50. Me. I Am Mariah...The Elusive Chanteuse by Mariah Carey
It's weird to say this, but people slept on a Mariah Carey album. She doesn't have the voice she used to (She is 45 guys!), but she's like Kobe, half a step behind, but still damn impressive. And so is this record, and this comes from a person who was never much of a fan. So yes, I'm asking you to listen to a Mariah Carey album in 2014, and promise you will enjoy it.
49. Tomorrow's Modern Boxes by Thom Yorke
The bad news is this isn't a Radiohead album. It's not even as good as The Eraser, his previous dip into solo work. And yet it's still full of haunting music that might make you think your laptop is haunted. The music twitches and buzzes. It's bipolar, like your own musical palette. You'll eat it up.
48. I Never Learn by Lykke Li
It's a heartbreaker of an album, but that doesn't mean it hurts. It's mature and moody and damn good. And most importantly, it'll make you feel something, which is sadly rare when it comes to music these days. We should cherish this kind of stuff.
47. Michael by Les Sins
Les Sins is Toro Y Moi. Okay cool? Now that we have that out of the way, this album, almost entirely without actual vocals, instead filled with stellar production and gnarly samples is a great experimental dive. And when it works, it really lifts off.
46. Everything Will Be Alright in the End by Weezer
I had all but given up hope on Weezer. And they pull something like this AND TOTALLY REDEEM THEMSELVES. But seriously, who the hell thought that Weezer could make an album this good after years and years of mediocre to plain bad music? They once made an album with Hurley from Lost on the cover. Think about that. And then they made an album full of gems. One of the biggest and best surprises of the year.
45. You're Dead! by Flying Lotus
I know many people LOVE this album. I don't. It's difficult. It's mostly free form jazz mixed with god knows what and while I appreciate the skill and boldness, it's not something I tend to choose to listen to. And yet I can't leave it off this list, because the moments it sucks me in, it really gets me and I'm slayed.
44. Sunbathing Animal by Parquet Courts
Imagine how good these guys would be if they weren't always stoned. Wait, scratch that. Their half fried brains come up with great music that senselessly meanders, without any direction beyond being really good rock 'n roll. It's always summer when you listen to Parquet Courts. Ain't no problem with that.
43. Voices by Phantogram
The first time I heard Phantogram was when they opened for M83 and were cool as f*ck. They are still cool as f*ck, dropping a badass album that has plenty of umph. If it had a little more umph it would probably be higher, but I can't complain much. It's cheeky and I like it.
42. Songs of Innocence by U2
The iTunes debacle was a real shame when you realized that U2 and Apple gave us a really good album for free, just they were total creepers in their method. And so that is the narrative rather than the fact that U2 still makes pretty good music you guys.
41. Oxymoron by Schoolboy Q
Rap had a terrible year. But you can't pin that on Schoolboy Q, who dropped an album that might not be for anyone, but exudes confidence and personality. Maybe it's inflated into this spot because this list sorely lacks good rap, but who cares. It is abrasive rap that at least tried. And when it bangs, it bang bangs.
40. Days of Abandon by The Pains of Being Pure At Heart
On their last record, The Pains of Being Pure At Heart, a mouthful of a band name, tapped into 90s rock revivalism and really rocked it. But on their newest, they go back even further, to the 80's of your favorite John Hughes flicks. And it works again. Maybe with not as spectacular results, yet still pretty remarkable.
39. Ghost Stories by Coldplay
Coldplay fill up arenas, so it's surprising they released a relatively small, intimate, quiet storm of an album. It's kind of like Parachutes but kind of not. They will never be that band again. But it's nice that they went within for once. And the album stays slow, calm and controlled before finally erupting for one climactic song ("Sky Full of Stars"). It's nice, really nice, and very very pretty. And it's miles ahead of whatever Mylo Xyloto was.
38. El Pintor by Interpol
I guess I'm a bit of an Interpol apologist. Every album except their past one I've loved. So those who say this is a return to form, to them I say they never left. They still are making great rock music to listen to in the dark under a dim night light.
37. Singles by Future Islands
I can't explain why, but Singles feels like the best dad album of all-time. I don't even know what I even mean by that. It just feels like the music is geared toward my generation when it should really resonate with one a bit older. But despite the fact that listening to Future Islands makes me feel old, it also makes me feel good.
36. Xscape by Michael Jackson
Posthumous albums are a strange brew. It's hard to really listen to them and fully enjoy them since. The artist is dead. And the music has been changed, and is not exactly what the artist had intended. But that doesn't mean it still can't be good, which is why as a big Michael Jackson fan, I was pleasantly surprised by Xscape, since it actually had some pretty good Michael Jackson music and at points might be better than Invincible, and I love Invincible.
35. Morning Phase by Beck
I'm gonna admit something. I wasn't so hot about Sea Change. Not my thing. I usually like weirdo Beck, not sad sack Beck. And this is also sad sack Beck. But it's still cool, because it's still Beck and Beck is awesome. Just go back to being weirdo Beck. I miss weirdo Beck. Beck Beck Beck Goose.
34. The Inevitable End by Royksopp
Royksopp's "final" album is also one of their best, an electric tour de force. You'll dance, you'll cry, you'll smile. It's just drop dead gorgeous and it'll be "sad" to watch them go (get it? You get it).
33. Nikki Nack by tUnE-yArDs
Yes it's basically a white girl making African influenced music, but once that novelty wears off, you realize that there is a genuine appreciation here and skill in the appropriation. Plus it's weird as hell, and I dig that.
32. Wonder Where We Land by SBTRKT
Somehow, someway, dubstep made it's way on the list. Well, it's actually more post-dubstep electronic stuff, but it's still here. Kinda. But nevermind that, because this new SBTRKT album is a mix of really funky instrumental tracks, really cool tracks featuring Sampha, and weird guest stars who may or maynot work. It's definitely not safe, and I reward ambition.
31. Queen of the Clouds by Tove Lo
Swedish chicks make the best pop music. No joke, this stuff is awesome. Robyn has good company. And I don't even really like pop music normally, but her attitude and the general badass catchiness of the proceedings really won me over. She's a hot mess and I'm hot for her. Okay, I should stop before I go to hell.
30. 2014 Forest Hills Drive by J. Cole
The years most honest and genuine album is a rap LP. Deeply personal and lacking mainstream singles, J. Cole's solid record isn't a classic, but it sounds awfully close to one. Nas would be proud.
29. Sound of a Woman by Kiesza
It's two decades too late, and yet strangely right on time. A great throwback record to the days when house music diva's ruled a small section of the airways. Brought me back, way back. Love these nostalgia trips. Now team up with Disclosure already.
28. Lost in the Dream by The War on Drugs
It's a critical darling, one of the best reviewed albums of the year, and will end up on alot of end of the year lists, especially near the top. And I agree, kinda. It is very good indie rock seeped in Americana. It's just not usually my jam, so forgive me that it's not higher.
27. Hesitant Alien by Gerard Way
My Chemical Romance was a good band. I don't care what anyone says. They were legit. And so now that they are gone, I needed this. It's not that same, but it's good in it's own way. It's a grab bag of glam rock, britpop and 80s "stuff". It's very cool and unlike most solo albums, it does not suck. Quite the opposite.
26. Ultraviolence by Lana Del Rey
When I first listened to Lana Del Rey, back when she had no idea what she wanted to be as an artist or even how to sing properly, I really dug it. She was a complete and utter mess, but a fascinating one. So it's a shame she kinda figured it out and actually made a genuinely good album. I miss the crazy, but hey everybody has to grow up. Just sucks she now makes sad girl music and ditched her gangster Nancy Sinatra style. But this isn't a bad consolation prize.
25. Hozier by Hozier
If this year proved anything, it's that white boys got soul. And the debut by Hozier is proof in the pudding. It's a little bluegrassy (if that's even a word), a little churchy, a little folksy. And while he's far from the first person to appropriate gospel into popular music (thank you Ray Charles), he's one of the few that doesn't make you cringe. This is a great debut and can't wait to hear more from this guy.
24. Atlas by Real Estate
Real Estate doesn't leave much of an impression. Their music is sunny yet dripped in melancholy. It's kinda soft and songs do tend to blend together. And yet it is very good, almost better than it has any right to be. And this album is all sorts of amazing. I just wished other people could remember them enough to appreciate them like they should.
23. Ices by Lia Ices
Similar to the tUnE-yArDs' record, Lia Ices takes world music and spins it. And I dunno why, but I love it when she does it. It feels so fresh and different. And with such a slacker of a year musically, we need more people pushing the right buttons. Now you might be like, who the hell is Lia Ices? Look her up, give her a listen, since this is some great stuff.
22. Food by Kelis
It's hard to imagine this is the same Kelis who was once with Nas and made a stupid song about milkshakes. She's been kinda legit for a while, but this is really the coming out party. Produced by TV on the Radio's Dave Sitek, it has a really great sound and her voice takes it to another level. A real diamond in the rough.
21. Art Official Age by Prince
Prince is back guys. Did you hear me? Prince is back. Just ignore that other album.
20. In The Lonely Hour by Sam Smith
I complain alot about this album. I wish it had some teeth. I wish it wasn't just the male version of Adele's 21. I wish the production had some kind of edge. But then I need to shut the hell up because Sam Smith can sing. Like really sing. Pop music hasn't had a vocalist like this really since, I dunno, Whitney and Mariah during their peaks. I am not exaggerating, his voice is an impressive weapon and he'll figure out how to truly wield it soon enough.
19. Broke With Expensive Taste by Azealia Banks
Too little too late? Hardly. Instead Azealia proves good things happen to those who wait.
18. White Women by Chromeo
I maybe an idiot, but I really truly don't know if Chromeo is a joke, because they aren't that funny, and the music is damn catchy. They sound like they could be a modern day Hall & Oates with a sense of humor. And that's no slouch. Plus they got some heavy hitters joining the party, so maybe I don't even care if it's all a big practical joke being pulled over my eyes and ears. They got me.
17. Post Tropical by James Vincent McMorrow
Another white boy with soul, even better than the first. And they're all Irish, haha. Sometimes I stumble upon real treats and I'm glad I found James after hearing his killer "Higher Love" cover and discovered that this folk singer had chops for some R&B type stylings. Glad he went that direction and hope he continues to explore it to the fullest. Our ears are thankful.
16. Seeds by TV on the Radio
What happens when one of your band members passes? You keep making music that he would have been proud of. And that's what TV on the Radio did and it's beautiful and touching.
15. LP1 BY FKA twigs
The album cover makes me uncomfortable and so does much of the album material. It's dripping with sex. Unlike anything I've ever really heard. And it's not terribly explicit, it just sweats it, through the pores of the music itself. It's completely bizarre and yet there is no denying that this is something truly special. There is such craft, energy, rhythm, feeling, poetry. It maynot be wholly my cup of tea, but this actually might be the best album of the year. It really is a masterpiece.
14. Our Love by Caribou
Probably the best (okay second best) electronic album of the year, it's a rich, layered musing on all types of love. And it's ear candy for the masses. Headphones not included.
13. Run The Jewels 2 by Run The Jewels
Many people will say this is the best rap album of the year. They might be right.
12. Too Bright by Perfume Genius
It's beautiful. Just beautiful. A baroque pop(?) album that feels like the beginning of something and the end of something else. Like an introvert becoming an extrovert, spilling the contents of his heart so long hidden so deep. It left me stunned. Albums rarely leave me stunned. I don't know what else to say.
11. It's Album Time by Todd Terje
One word. Groovy.
10. Sucker by Charli XCX
Trashy but not trash, brash and a little bratty, Charli XCX expands her sound by maturing into the immature. She knows her audience is young and kinda dumb, so is the album. But that's not giving her enough credit. It's also f*cking fantastic and should have been the album on everyone's summer rotation, the soundtrack to everyones pool party. Alas it was not, but hopefully this will finally make her the pop star she already knows she is.
9. Days & Nights by Daley
Been a good solid year for R&B and it's fringes. Plus score another for the Brits. Daley is a revelation, a fantastic debut with a smooth androgynous voice that grabs hold and never lets go. I'm fine with that, because it doesn't get much smoother than this.
8. Black Messiah by D'Angelo and The Vanguard
Maybe it's the the emotion in me, but the fact that this album is real, honest to goodness real makes it deserve a place on this list. And the fact that it's f*cking amazing also warrants this spot. I amended this list just to place this album because it's just perfect and it's D'Angelo and the world really needed this.
7. "What Is This Heart?" by How To Dress Well
Alternative R&B is here to stay. And this might be the prime example, a sweeping R&B epic that will leave you soaked.
6. Tough Love by Jessie Ware
It may lack the urgency and freshness of her debut, but that's her debut and this is her maturing. The expansion of her sound and her voice really shines here, cementing her as a legitimate threat to be the best voice in the biz. There is a reason EVERYONE is or wants to work with her. My little secret is growing up. Wait, that sounded wrong.
5. G I R L by Pharrell Williams
How do you make a truly great pop album? Well, it doesn't hurt that you might be the best producer in the game and are known for making some of the biggest hits in the past 20 years of pop. Add to the fact you seemingly are a vampire that doesn't age, including your voice, and speaking of voice, have found yours in what type of music your stylings belong to. Oh and throw in a killer duet with Justin Timberlake and you got this new classic. Haters gonna hate.
4. St. Vincent by St. Vincent
How do you even start to explain the brilliance of St. Vincent and her self titled album? You don't.
3. Under Pressure by Logic
My favorite rap album of the year wasn't made for the kids of today. It was made for people like me, those who remember hip-hop's history, who used to listen to A Tribe Called Quest, Nas and even The Red Hot Chili Peppers, who want a classic album rather than some flash in the pan. Yes, it feels an awful lot like Kendrick's album, but there is too much skill, too much thought, too much flow, too much good sh*t for this to be some lame copycat. This right here, this is legit.
2. This Is All Yours by Alt-J
Triangles are my favorite shape.
1. They Want My Soul by Spoon
Personally, I think this is the best album Spoon has ever made. And that's good enough to be my favorite album of the year. It's not saying much, but it is what it is. Oh and I should say this album is all sorts of amazing. Listen to it. Like now. Like right now. Now. NOW! GO!
Poor girl. She should be one of the biggest pop artist around, but instead gets second bill next to the likes of Icona Pop or Iggy Azalea. Her previous record was slick and hip and should have been huge, but it wasn't. So how much has he grown in a year? Well, not really. She's regressed. And it was the best thing that has every happened to her. Her newest album is bratty, brash, immature, snotty, loud, trashy and also f*cking fantastic. Like a Ke$ha record by someone who could actually sing, or write, or take a bath. It's the soundtrack to countless teen movies that may or maynot ever be made. And it kick's Taylor Swift's limp 1989 ass. Top to bottom with earworms galore, it should make Charli XCX a star. But don't tell her that, she is already acting like one. Swag.
In a genre where great rappers have very distinct flow, rhyme and voice, J. Cole is the everyman. Have you ever heard someone do an imitation of J. Cole? No, because you can't, and if you did, you probably would be sounding like yourself. J. Cole is an earnest rapper. Yup, an earnest rapper. He really felt like he let Nas down, and we believe him because it's true, he felt his music was not living up to his idol's standards. And so comes his newest album, afforded the freedom by his label that many rappers don't get that chance too *cough* Lupe Fiasco *cough*. There are no singles, and the album, rather than find that new sound, is very classic sounding. It has a timelessness to it that most rappers have no patience for, and yet we the listener are rewarded by it. Plus the story telling is top notch. Is it masterful? Hardly, but it is very good and more importantly, very genuine. In a dark land of fake emcees, J. Cole holds a candle.
First Weezer, and now this. What is old is new again and what was long lost has been found and dusted off. The new album by The Smashing Pumpkins might not be the return to form some are clamoring for, but it's short and very sweet. Billy Corgan often sounds here like he still has a head of hair, and it's great that the passion is back. It actually shows a bit or range to, giving you a nice little dance down their catalog. Now I've actually quite enjoyed the past few Pumpkins albums, including Zeitgeist, but they have lacked consistency. That isn't really the problem here. There actually isn't many problems in fact. It's just a straight up good rock record, and that genre is sorely missing this kind of stuff. So I'm very happy to say this is a success. I adore it. Get it? You get it.
Back in 2013 (feels like long) The Wu-Tang Clan performed Coachella and straight wrecked it. They were amazing, energetic, rowdy and a little crazy. It was maybe the best set of that year and I ate it up. So when I heard they were coming back together under the iron flag to record a new LP, I got very excited. My brain kept saying that the Wu is finally back, after 7 long years. And then it dropped.
A Better Tomorrow is the worst album Wu-Tang has ever made. It's not even close. It feels distant and lazy. The production sounds clean rather than grimey, almost like The Wu forgot who they are and what they do. It doesn't bang, it whimpers. RZA doesn't even bother to take the album by the reigns, leaving nearly half of the production to lesser producers. It leans on live instrumentals at times, but sounds like a poor man's Roots album. Plus the rhymes are rather wack at times, with Meth sounding like an old man, complaining that kids need to pull up their pants. We hardly get any joints with most the crew, and if feels often like they are either drowsy or recorded their bars in their home, far away from the other members. Even the album cover is atrocious. And while there are occasional glimmers of what the Wu used to be, it's buried so deep it's nearly impossible to find. For every "Pioneer the Frontier" there are two songs like "Miracles" that make you want to press skip, and that's not a healthy ratio. Wu-Tang doesn't sound like a crew here, they sound like a boy band. Terrible, utterly terrible. The most disappointing album I've heard in years.
I know nothing about Ariel Pink except that dude is weird and this album is fittingly strange. It's hard to quantify or relegate. It's experimental, a bit psychedelic, definitely indie, often times comical and strangely pop at times. It's genreless. And it's surprisingly good, if you are into that sorta thing. There is some obvious craft here, as it is able to morph into different styles so effortlessly that you can't help but be impressed. And yes it goes down a few rabbit holes I wasn't willing to follow but I like the fact it dares to go there in the first place. Is the laugh on the listener or are we in on the joke? No clue. It's one of the weirdest albums I've heard all year and that's kinda refreshing. And while it's definitely not my cup of tea, it feels like it's something special and there has to be an audience who is going to drink this up like holy water.