Not too long ago we announced that we’d be seeing 2014 out with our first ever countdown feature – the Top 50 Albums of 2014! Between now and Christmas, we’ll slowly go through the Top 50 at a rate of 10 albums per week, with our #1 being announced in exactly five weeks time! Alongside the list itself, we’ve also got some featured artists talking about their albums. None of that features this week though, as we countdown from 50 through to 41!
50. BANKS – GODDESS
Starting her career off strongly with the brooding Warm Water, American electronic soul singer Banks spent the most part of a year slowly teasing new music before finally releasing debut album Goddess earlier this year. Unfortunately, Goddess fell short of the mark for the most part through the use of similar musical formula’s which become overly predictable as the record progresses.
Best Song: Warm Water
49. PARQUET COURTS – SUNBATHING ANIMAL
Parquet Courts’ second offering of “Americana punk” sees them move away from the barely-there rock of their debut album, opting for longer, more drawn out stoner rock. Although interesting in places, the record does little to retain the success of 2013’s Light up Gold. There are no songs on the record which match the raw intensity of breakthrough track Stoned and Starving, which is disappointing considering the potential they had.
Best Song: She’s Rolling
48. JULIAN CASABLANCAS + THE VOIDZ – TYRANNY
Julian Casablancas is bored of The Strokes. So how does he deal with this boredom? By releasing a collection of noise-rock songs with new backing band The Voidz. For the most part, Tyranny is hard to digest and listen to. It’s not so much an experience, but more an assault (and not of the good kind). Aside from the eastern influence of Dare I Care, you’d have a much better time listening to any Strokes’ records over and over again than to this collection of absurdity. It sounds too much like a Julian Casablancas who’s trying to distance himself from the band in which he made his name.
Best Song: Dare I Care
47. CLEAN BANDIT – NEW EYES
Clean Bandit are just one of those bands who you can’t get away from this year. Their smash hit Rather Be, which is rather good, has been all over the radio all year round with good reason. New Eyes might not be a consistent record (it loses focus after five songs before narrowly avoiding disaster), but it’s certainly a step in the right direction for this baroque-pop group with a penchant for mixing EDM-heavy beats and live string music.
Best Song: Mozart’s House
46. LOWER THAN ATLANTIS – LOWER THAN ATLANTIS
If there’s one thing that any somewhat knowledgeable rock fan will tell you, it’s that pop punk is and always will be repetitive. You know what we mean – bands like (early) Green Day, Blink 182 and All Time Low. All these bands feel the need to use the same chords over and over again to express their dissatisfaction at life and the city they grow up in (it’s a very true generalization, ok?). Lower Than Atlantis follow this formula to some extent, in a perfectly fine album which unfortunately strays too much towards the repetitive side of pop punk.
Best Song: Emily
45. ICEAGE – PLOWING INTO THE FIELDS OF LOVE
Iceage were always supposed to just be Denmark’s favourite hardcore punks with their short, statement-like songs showing us an extremely raw band with lots of potential. For their newest release, Iceage opted to change things up a bit and go for some longer, more substantiated songs. It works in places, for example the ramshackle rock of The Lord’s Favourite, but it falls flat more often than not.
Best Song: The Lord’s Favourite
44. CATFISH & THE BOTTLEMEN – THE BALCONY
What we said: The Balcony is by no means revolutionary or ground breaking , but it’s definitely an album worth listening to. Songs like Pacifier, Kathleen and Tyrants show us that Catfish & the Bottlemen have definite potential for success, but far too often does the album lean towards mainstream pop-rock as opposed to the alternative rock it sometimes seems too scared to show off. However likely Catfish & the Bottlemen are for success, they still have a long way to go before they really hit it big.
Best Song: Kathleen
43. CARIBOU – OUR LOVE
Electronic pioneer Caribou has found himself towards the tail end of our list for one main reason – that his new record Our Love shows a lack of consistency and a heavier emphasis on EDM. It might still be a great electronic record but it doesn’t contain an awful lot of exciting music alongside summer anthem Can’t Do Without You.
Best Song: Can’t Do Without You
42. FUTURE ISLANDS – SINGLES
The hipster hype band of 2014, Future Islands, returned this year with an album considered by many as an album of the year contender. The American trio’s effortless mix of synth-pop, rock and acutely absurd vocals (see them live and you’ll see what we mean) only just manages to sustain interest before it becomes too predictable. Seasons (Waiting on You), however, is one of the best songs of 2014, whereas Doves is a fine track with its sweet synth melodies and wavy chorus.
Best Song: Seasons (Waiting on You)
41. PULLED APART BY HORSES – BLOOD
Leeds hardcore punks Pulled Apart by Horses have started to follow a new career path with their new album Blood. Gone are the raw, hardcore songs such as Back to the Fuck Yeah, having been replaced by the likes of Hot Squash’s smooth Americana rock. It’s by no means a bad record, but it just lacks enough raw power to be as encapsulating as their previous output.
Best Song: Hot Squash
Next week continues with 10 more albums.