Writers’ Poll: Top 50 Albums of 2014

Albums of 2014It turns out DrunkenWerewolf’s Albums of 2014 poll is surprisingly cohesive. We’re not talking about a mainstream takeover of the painfully obvious as per last year’s Kanye West entry. No less than four writers voted for the singularly most independent record included below: a self-release produced in the musician’s own bedroom. Three voted for the most successful album on the list, all of them placing the full length at the top of their own. Everyone in the top ten has been voted for at least once, with numbers 10 through 20 comprising unanimous second favourites.

You have to wonder, what’s made 2014 so different from previous years? It could simply be that DrunkenWerewolf has finally hit its stride and is recruiting writers with a similar taste in music. Considering the strong Radiohead love/hate divide, that seems unlikely. Perhaps the year has provided a compact, objective experience. Have terrible albums been universally accepted as terrible and good albums universally accepted as good? Maybe, just maybe, everything 2014’s provided the listening world with has been of a suitable standard to be liked by most people and hated by very few… Nah.

Whatever’s happened, DrunkenWerewolf has leapt into a big vat of unity with jolly smiles and surprise jazz hands. We all agree, mostly. Below we’ve listed our Top 50 Albums of 2014, so voted by the DrunkenWerewolf writing and editorial team.

50// Nothing - Guilty of Everything

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49// Avi Buffalo - At Best Cuckold

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48// Kate Tempest - Everybody Down

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47// PUP - PUP

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46// Broncho - Just Enough Hip to Be Woman

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45// Be Calm Honcho - Honcho Dreams

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44// Caribou - Our Love

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43// Schoolboy Q - Oxymoron

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42// Jungle - Jungle

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41// Against Me! - Transgender Dysphoria Blues

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40// James Vincent McMorrow - Post Tropical

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39// Drowners - Drowners

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38// A Sunny Day in Glasgow - Sea When Absent

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37// Eagulls - Eagulls

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36// Johnny Foreigner - You Can Do Better

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35// Jesca Hoop - Undress

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34// Planning for Burial - Desideratum

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33// Sinkane - Mean Love

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32// Oxygen Thief - The Half-Life of Facts

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31// SZA - Z

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30// Run the Jewels - Run the Jewels 2

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29// Jack White - Lazaretto

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28// Alt-J - This Is All Yours

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27// The Amazing Snakeheads – Amphetamine Ballads

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26// Jaws - Be Slowly

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25// Flying Lotus - You're Dead!

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24// Interpol - El Pintor

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23// Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks - Wig Out At Jagbags

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22// Real Estate - Atlas

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21// Radiator Hospital - Torch Song

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20// Kyla la Grange - Cut Your Teeth

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19// Fox and the Law - Stoned to Death

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18// TuneYards - Nikki Nack

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17// Jessie Ware - Tough Love

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16// Timber Timbre - Hot Dreams

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15// Jamie T - Carry On The Grudge

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14// The Black Keys - Turn Blue

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13// Kelis – Food

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12// Bombay Bicycle Club - So Long, See You Tomorrow

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11// Swans - To Be Kind

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10// Isaiah Rashad - Cilvia Demo

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9// Sun Kil Moon - Benji

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8// Esben and the Witch - A New Nature

It’s been a relatively short five years since Brighton’s nightmare pop trio first released their debut EP 33, and with two albums under their belt Esben and the Witch unveil their new album A New Nature, the first since their departure from Matador Records.

Recorded live to tape by Steve Albini at his Chicago-based Electrical Audio studio, A New Nature is the sound of Esben and the Witch revising their abrasive cinematic manifesto and throwing caution to the wind as they head into new territory. With Daniel Copeman’s drum machines now unplugged, his frame settling behind a full kit, Rachel Davies bass and vocals are afforded a much freer, looser dynamic with Thomas Fisher’s guitar sliding between an amalgam of Pink Floyd and Sonic Youth, with just a touch of drone a la Earth and Barn Owl.

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7// Whales in Cubicles - Death in the Evening

When we first heard Whales in Cubicles in 2012 a small cannon of light erupted in the black space that had become the British indie scene. With the 90s revivalist movement in full swing, we feared the worst for the guitar laden masses. That was until the London based four-piece wielded their chosen six-string in the direction of breakthrough single “We Never Win”. Robust and inspired yet delicate and unique, the song was an instant hit in our books. We had found our sound to champion throughout the era.

Whales in Cubicles may not stray too far from the beaten track on their debut album Death in the Evening, but they do bite at the heels of independence. Ironically, perhaps. Theirs is a talent comparable to the forefathers of the grunge and rock scenes; opener “Yesterday’s News” stinks of Gish era Smashing Pumpkins and “Nowhere Flag” has a touch of Nirvana about it. Meanwhile Whales in Cubicles’ peers blend into a melting pot of neighbours, dogs and mainstream hit makers. There’s a tendency to sound very similar to the next Joe. Whales in Cubicles wear their influences on their sleeve, but their shirt is a tailored cut. They're no Mr Bloggs.

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6// EMA - The Future's Void

Some albums defy space, time and whatever intergalactic studio they were recorded in. Some albums push and embody musical boundaries, taking sound to its very limit without making the process seem try-hard or even deliberate. Some albums leave in their wake utter devastation, combined with an intoxicating realisation of beauty. 2014 doesn’t deserve such an album. EMA has given it to us anyway, in the form of her sophomore album The Future’s Void.

Last time we saw the Portland based musician formally known as Erika M Anderson, she was grinning coyly in the direction of a sell out audience at the Great Escape in 2011. The set was in support of her debut album Past Life Martyred Saints. Of the same year, it offers a loved albeit underground homage to the soundboard. Wrapping fairy lights around her (momentarily) brunette head and idly kicking shards of glitter ball away from her exit, it seemed to be an iconic moment in her career. Not so. The velocity at which this artist currently speeds makes such a triumph seem as insignificant as cornflakes. EMA has got the world in her pocket and on The Future’s Void, she’s shaking it up.

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5// Beck – Morning Phase

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4// St. Vincent - St. Vincent

St Vincent is an artist that has been much adored by her fans for a considerable amount of time, with many accolades being bestowed upon her. This includes an endless list of publications naming her previous solo effort, Strange Mercy, album of year and a prestigious American Ingenuity Award last year. How exactly could she follow that and collaboration with David Byrne? In a way that only Annie Clark can.

The eccentricity that we have come to know and love is still prevalent on St Vincent, but everything is so tight and thoroughly thought out that it just feels right. You could safely call the album art rock, but there is no hint of pretention. Everything is laid out, yet still with a shroud of mystery about it all. Clark can very easily bounce from the vulnerable to the darker side of things, with an emphasis of love and self reflection in the 21st Century being foremost on this self-titled effort.

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3// The Horn the Hunt - Terrafidella

Leeds based duo The Horn the Hunt have hinted at the ferocity of their new album Terrafidella for a while now. Thanks to promises of greatness we’ve come to expect a lot from band members Clare Carter and Joseph Osborne, and fortunately they’ve not failed to deliver. Released slowly through various online outlets, the tracks contained within this hour of glorious fuss are nothing short of awe-inspiring – fine-tuning the band's obvious talent into something that resembles audible chocolate in a world full of carrot sticks.

Those looking to trace this progression from relative normality to unyielding omnipotence need only turn their head in the direction of the album’s title track. “Terrafidella” crawls in with the same stern determination found on “Raptor”, The Horn the Hunt’s lead track from 2011’s Depressur Jolie. The difference however between the two songs is crucial; where The Horn the Hunt’s former glory exploded into a sort of industrial march, the mighty blow of “Terrafidella” contains itself within Carter’s frankly petrifying growled whisper. The band has somehow managed to channel all their electrified energy into the simplest of sounds, and this talent defying feat echoes throughout Terrafidella as a whole.

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2// Thumpers - Galore

For UK fans, Thumpers’ debut album Galore has been a long time coming. We were first introduced to the London based duo by way of lead song “Sound of Screams”, released online in April 2012. Now well acquainted with “Marvel”, “Dancing’s Done”, “Unkinder”, “Tame” and the eponymous track; for the past three months we’ve been encouraged to sit back and try to relax, while our lucky Yank cousins have devoured Galore in a fuss of Sub Pop induced hyperventilating. On top of that, notable publications like The Guardian, Vice and The Line of Best Fit tipped them alongside us as Ones to Watch at Christmas. Like we say, it’s been a long time.

Fortunately all of the thumb twiddling and desk banging has been worth the wait. Galore is everything you could want from an act who’ve made all the right sounds from the start of their career. They continue to make those sounds. Interspersed between frantic percussion and finger-twizling keyboard and guitar, Thumpers haven’t forgotten the humble atmospheric dirge. “Now We Are Sixteen”, and final two tracks “Running Rope” and “Together Now” give ample excuse for having an albeit well sound-tracked lie down before it all starts again - because you’ve clearly got this album on repeat.

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1// Warpaint - Warpaint

Want more? Read our Ones to Watch in 2015 article here, and our Editor's Pick: Albums of 2014 here. Listen to our Albums of 2014 playlist below!

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One Response to “Writers’ Poll: Top 50 Albums of 2014”

  1. Alasdair 14/01/2015 at 12:19 pm #

    Great list!Really love this blog. You’ve helped introduce me to some great artists recently including Krill and GL. Might have to check out more from Stephen Malkmus & The Jinks. They’ve got a really nice sound and I love bands with a sense of humour!

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