2014-12-30T12:00:03+00:00 2015-11-03T17:49:58+00:00

EARMILK Presents: The top 50 albums of 2014 [50-25]

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We at EARMILK pride ourselves on being the place to come for all of your music needs. We might not have the best click-bait articles or the weirdest headlines for you to fill your days at work, but when you come onto our site, we guarantee you one thing- the best music from the names you may know and love, as well as names you'll be hearing about in the future.

We do it because we love music, but also because music is a shared experience, and any snob telling you otherwise need not be on our site. With much thanks and love sent your way, we had our amazing writers and contributors talk about their favorite releases from this year, starting with…

 

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50. Todd Terje

It's Album Time

  • Olsen Records
  • April 8, 2014

 

 

 
I’ve heard 2014 referred to as the year of the Norwegian producer, and it’s pretty true – Cashmere Cat and Kygo both had huge years; however, nobody impressed more than Todd Terje, though.  He’s been releasing music for a decade, but, as its title so bluntly suggests, his debut album just came out this year.  Terje’s long list of disco-leaning singles shows how firmly rooted he was in the club music mentality, as well as how restricting that can be.  People demand an album these days, so when It’s Album Time dropped, Terje found himself with a boatload of new fans that had never taken notice before.  For the most part, the tracks are eccentric, whimsical dance music; and then there’s the album centerpiece, “Johnny & Mary,” a tear-jerking ballad featuring Roxy Music’s Brian Ferry.  Hopefully we won’t have to wait until 2024 before Terje decides it’s album time again. –Mike Waite

 

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49. Spoon

They Want My Soul

  • Lorne Vista Recordings
  • August 4, 2014

 

 

Few bold, noble, and brave bands have been able to withstand the changing of times and the evolution from analog to digital. Those that have have come forth with vigilance, vigor, and dedication to a sound that is uniquely their own and evolving with every forthcoming release. This year the Texas indie rock band Spoon solidified their ability to move stedfast through the years, and hold true to their own unapologetically raw and eclectic sound. Their 8th studio They Want My Soul, is a not-so-subtle proclamation that execs and labels want conformity yet they refuse to comprise a drop of artistic integrity.  
This album is the perfect follow up to Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga and is an introspective look on past memories, thoughts, and insecurities. Beautiful, intricate, sporadic yet perfectly calculated songs are paired with detailed lyrics that make the whole album pop. It helps that they had the help of indie-legend producers Joe Chiccarelli (Frank Zappa, The Shins, Jason Mraz, U2, My Morning Jacket and more) and Dave Fridmann (Neon Idian, Tame Ipala, The Flamings Lips and more) to co-produce the record with them. They Want My Soul is a work of modern musical art in an industry saturated with bleak, self-aggrandizing artists and asinine lyrics. Spoon will continue to make the sound we love and we will continue to lap it all up like milk from a saucer. –Clark M. 

 

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48. SBTRKT

Wonder Where We Land

  • Young Turks
  • October 7, 2014

 

 
SBTRKT again does no wrong in Wonder Where We Land, which further explores the mind of the British producer and gets even weirder, stranger than he had with his debut album, SBTRKT. 2014 saw the producer working with the likes of Vampire Weekend's Ezra Koenig, A$AP Ferg, and Raury, while working with old favorites like Sampha and Jessie Ware. The sophomore album only brings up one important question- how will SBTRKT top himself next time? –Artham

 

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47. TOKiMONSTA

Desiderium

  • September 23, 2014
  • Young Art Records

 

 
TOKiMONSTA hasn't had a year in which she wasn't killing it since she first began in 2008. The young Torrance born artist resonates heavily for those living in LA particularly. Raised in Torrance, living in LA, going to UCI… that sounds like a typical Southern California life, but hers is anything but. Filled with genius music and vibrant live shows, the young American is a true inspiration for those trying to make it in today's music world. Effortlessly graceful, her music in Desiderium only extends the perfection she highlighted during her time at Ultra Records and Brainfeeder before that. While we're not going to get into the whole Deadmau5/Krewella debate, but one thing we definitely agree with, TOKiMONSTA is utterly incredible. –Artham

 

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46. Beck

Morning Phase

  • Capitol Records
  • February 21, 2014

 

 
Morning Phase was Beck’s return to creating moody folk tunes, which made his 2002 album Sea Change so memorable. From the opening strings of “Cycle,” to the melancholy twanging guitars of “Morning,” the mood is set. Stand out songs “Heart Is A Drum” and “Blue Moon,” pull you further into Beck’s somber psyche. However, Beck lets us know there is still light at the end of the tunnel in the song “Don’t Let It Go.” He reminds us that the art of musical storytelling can help us get through the toughest situations life has to offer. –Winston B. 

 

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45. Rich Gang

On Tour Vol. 1

  • September 29, 2014
  • YMCMB

 

 
Rich Gang is an amorphous rap collective that began in 2013 with Rich Gang: All Stars, a joint compilation from Lil Wayne’s Young Money and Birdman’s Cash Money labels. This year, Young Thug, Rich Homie Quan, and Birdman formed the supergroup that followed, releasing Tha Tour Part 1: consisting of 20 tracks, ready to be played out in full and run through the night’s ratchetivities. This quintessential mixtape is a representation of the rise and dominance of ATL and ratchet-stoner rap, fronted by Young Thug and Rich Homie Quan. Young Thug might even be the most influential and defining voice of mainstream rap right now, with his signature stretched and contorted voice, feverishly yelping and slurring. Thugger and Quan make a formidable pair and their chemistry seems to be at best in: “Tell Em (Lies),” “Givenchy,” “730,” and “I Know It.” –Isabel Kim

 

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44. Raury

Indigo Child

  • NA
  • August 24, 2014

 

 

 
This year the world was hit with a new generation of music. The disparate interests of Lorde, the shake ups and shake downs of the hip-hop industry, and much more to reminisce on. Although his sound was difficult to describe or label, 18 year old Raury took the world (and internet) by storm with the drop of his new project Indigo Child. Most were confused, and many were desperate to capture his time as a new artist, hoping to claw and grasp onto his unique and unmistakable style as if they discovered it. I myself reveled in it. Not only was this release similar to the stars of the new generation, the fact a new adult was able to make such an impact was refreshing, and it deserved a quiet celebration. Some of my favorites were “Cigarette Song”, “Armor”, and especially the oddly melodized “Woodcrest Manor”
Many speculate as to whether Indigo Child is just an impressive teenager’s unfinished project, or whether Raury garnered more acclamations than he actually deserved. I believe that in between the samples of arguing with his mother and the words of “Superfly” (“We all want someone / We all want something”) this is the simple expression of a teenager who shows true potential as an amazing artist. I remember hearing about big celebrities like Kanye and Andre 3000 shooting him advice, telling him to ignore the masses and just continue on as himself.  People may forget just how pure this album was during its curation, without the gossip or massive acknowledgement. This kid made an audible diary for all of us, and it’s spectacular. That is enough for us to anticipate the next release greatly. –John Saunders 

 

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43. Travi$ Scott

Days Before Rodeo

  • Grand Hustle
  • August 18, 2014

 

 
Houston rapper and producer, Travis Scott, released the album of the summer: Days Before Rodeo. The sophomore album delivers a captivating experience in a hazy ride through the artist’s dark, strange mind. There are 12 tracks with appearances by Migos, Big Sean, Young Thug, Rich Homie Quan, T.I., The 1975, and Peewee Longway, as well as production by Boi-1da, Lex Luger, Metro Boomin and more. Scott is Kanye’s protégé, who has distinguished himself for his meticulous and ambitious efforts crossing trap and rap, especially notorious for his drums. What Scott lacks in lyrical substance, he makes up in style and idiosyncratic production. Each track in this project is distinctly impactful, but highlights include: “Mamacita,” “Drugs you Should Try,” “Skyfall,” and “Sloppy Toppy.”- Isabel

 

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42. J.Cole

2014 Forest Hills Drive

  • Roc Nation
  • December 9, 2014

 

 
 It's really up in the air whether or not 2014 was actually a good year for hip hop, and there are a whole myriad of articles you can find right now on that explores this debate. One good thing that did manage to squeeze out of this year was J.Cole's 2014 Forest Hills Drive. The album that celebrates everything he's accomplished, his past, and in many ways his future is a startlingly magnificent piece of work that's philosophical, entertaining, and an overall lyrical masterpiece masterfully displayed over stunning beats. This probably made any end of the year list, and it found a way on ours too, and for good reason, J.Cole is helping keep intelligent rap alive. –Artham

 

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41. The Glitch Mob

Love Death Immortality

  • Glass Air Records
  • February 11, 2014

 

 

The Glitch Mob have always explored various sounds in electronic music, and they've successfully mastered a sound that appeals to a massively wide audience in their sophomore LP. Still experimental, still fully electronic, the album is an eclectic mix of stadium sounds that still explore the various ways in which something that can be played at the height of a festival can still be different and unique and different from that standard EDM sound. Love Death Immortality was a fascinating look into electronic music in 2014, and a great piece to rage to overall. –Artham 

 

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40. Above and Beyond

Acoustic

  • Anjunabeats Records
  • January 28, 2014

 

 
The guys from Above & Beyond have always had a magical way of reaching into our hearts and souls with their music. With a special rendition of some of their biggest hits, they managed to impress us all yet again earlier this year with their Acoustic album. Tony, Paavo, and Jono have had quite the impressive year, from celebrating their 100th Group Therapy to releasing the Blue Sky Action remixes. But they kicked off the year with quite a bang with this Acoustic album.
Above & Beyond surprised us all with how well their trance music translated into a fully orchestrated production. Fan-favorite tracks like "Thing Called Love" and "Sun & Moon" stole our hearts all over again as the vocal tracks majestically intertwined with the organic instrumentation. Emotions pour from each individual track with even more ferocity than the first time we heard these songs. Creating their own rules along the way, Above & Beyond's music has become more real and more accessible by being conveyed to us with instruments that we innately understand.-Paige

 

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39. Gorgon City

Sirens

  • Black Butter/Virgin EMI
  • October 6, 2014

 

Gorgon City had an amazing year, and one part of it was the release of their debut album, Sirens. With lush sounds cascading over beautiful vocals, the album was fun, free, and easy to listen to. While by no means changing minds and influencing politics, the album was the escape we needed from all of the weird and strange atrocities happening stateside, and a chance to listen to something that provided escape. With stunning feature work from the likes of Jennifer Hudson, Laura Welsh, and Yasmin, among many others, the album was yet another milestone on the English dance scene. –Artham

 

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38. The War on Drugs

Lost in the Dream

  • Secretly Canadian
  • March 18, 2014

 

 

Philly rockers The War on Drugs made a name for themselves with their 2011 album Slave Ambient, but it was Lost in the Dream that established them as the torchbearers of classic, honest rock ‘n’ roll.  While they conjure comparisons to some of America’s legends, like Bruce Springsteen, they’re also not afraid to slide into a meandering drone, like on Lost in the Dream’s epic opener, “Under the Pressure.”  Pressure is a big theme for this band, but in 2014, Lost in the Dream was an escape from the daily grind.

 

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37. Mac Demarco

Salad Days

  • Captured Tracks
  • April 1, 2014

 

 

 
Of course Mac Demarco's Salad Days is on our top 50 list, did you really have any doubt Demarco wouldn't make it? Regardless, the slacker rock style reminiscent of the songs your older brothers and sisters were listening to while they were in high school bring nothing but a sense of nostalgia and laid back stoner vibes to the forefront. Perfect for blasting on those lazy, slow sunday mornings, Demarco captured the essence of being lost in a senseless world, while still having the same laid back vibe the entire way. Apparently this was written after the chaotic world of touring had finished, and he was bringing sense back into everyday life. Makes perfect sense. –Artham

 

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36. Machinedrum

Vapor City Archives

  • November 17, 2014

 

 

 
After getting an introductory tour through Machinedrum’s personal dreamworld on last year’s Vapor City LP, we were all too eager to take a second journey through those surreal, shifting streets.  Fortunately, Travis Stewart had a whole second batch of tracks at the ready, resulting in another excellent album, Vapor City Archives.  With his snappy juke rhythms, ethereal, ghostly melodies, and unmatched work ethic (who didn’t he remix this year?), the veteran producer seems like he’s just getting started. 

 

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35. Arca

Xen

  • Mute Records
  • November 4, 2014

 

 
After impressive behind-the-scenes production for big-name artists like Kanye West and FKA twigs, Venezuelan producer Arca amazed and unsettled the world this year with the release of his latest solo album, Xen.  Far from something one would sit back and unwind to, the album is a razor-sharp, nightmarishly experimental work.  From the pyrotechnics of opening track “Now You Know” to the dissonant strings of “Family Violence,” Xen provided the soundtrack for the darker aspects of 2014. – Mike Waite

 

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34. Little Dragon

Nabuma Rubberband

  • Loma Vista/Because
  • May 9, 2014

 

 

Swedish band, Little Dragon, have been gracing our ears with music since 2006; their most recent album Namuba Rubberband is easily one of their finest pieces of work to date.  Formed whilst at high school in 1996 and fronted by half-Japanese, half-Swedish songstress Yukimi Nagano, the album was released in May this year on Loma Vista Recordings in the US. Little Dragon are influenced by the likes of A Tribe Called Quest and Gorillaz and have an ethereal dreamy electro-soul sound.  Their individuality makes this album one of the best we’ve heard this year."- Amy

 

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33. Sango

Da Rocinha 2

  • Soulection
  • January 23, 2014

 

 

 Soulection had been killing it in general all of 2014, but one album in particular managed to stand out. Sango's tropical influenced Da Rocinha saw its sequel Da Rocinha 2 appear this year. What resulted was a stunning piece of overall work that crafted fine lines of dance, tropical vibes, and the all-familiar elements of Soulection feels, that crafted into an album that was playing nonstop during the warmer months. It still brings out those good memories, and is worth blasting whenever one encounters the chance. –Artham

 

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32. Lone

Reality Testing

  • R&S Records
  • June 13, 2014

 

 
After the spiral vortex of Galaxy Garden, Matt Cutler’s 2012 LP as Lone, the British producer brought things back down to Earth for this year’s aptly titled Reality Testing.  More specifically, he made what was largely a hip-hop record, but rather than sink comfortably into a well-worn genre, he redesigned it from the ground up, resulting in an infectious collection of flawless tracks.  Refusing to rely on rappers or any other guest artists, Cutler instead let occasional spoken-word samples and his melodic genius do the talking, paying tribute to ‘90s-era rap music and British IDM simultaneously, all while retaining his aesthetic signature. An album of far greater subtlety than the manic Galaxy Garden, Reality Testing doesn’t immediately smack you with its excellence, but you’ll return to it time and time again.- Mike Waite

 

 

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31. Hundred Waters

The Moon Rang Like a Bell

  • OWSLA
  • May 27, 2014

 

 
Not all Floridian exports make the world cringe with disgust. In fact, Florida is home to some of the world’s best musicians and producers. Tom Petty, Allman Brothers Band, Rick Ross, 2 Live Crew, Diplo, and even Iron & Wine claim origins from North America’s southern most state. In 2012, the world was introduced to Gainesville’s Hundred Waters after their rather unlikely partnership with Skrilex’s OWSLA label. On May 27th, 2014 the four-piece indie/art rock band released their second album with exceedingly positive reception.
Reminiscent of Enya, Bjork, and The xx, The Moon Rang Like A Bell showcases the band’s true musical capabilities. Recorded over the course of three years, the 12 song album saw many revisions, as well as influences from the band’s debut album tour with alt-J, The xx, and Julia Halter. With expert use of ambient space, organic instrumentals, and ghostly chanting vocals, the sophomore album polishes off a few of the subtle flaws of their first, further demonstrating the true capacity of their musical abilities and potential for their evolution as an iconic band.
As former ravers and retired EDM headbangers settle into their careers, marriages, and adult lives, many find greater appeal in mellow radio-friendly music. However, OWSLA’s interest in Hundred Waters and the warm response to their seamlessly executed album, The Moon Rang Like A Bell, embody more than just a predictable shift in the demographic. Their evolution as a band over the course of two albums reflects an observable global departure away from EDM and strictly computer-based productions towards classically trained instrumentalists and composers, and the all but lost genres of a mere few generations prior.- Nathan

 

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30. Slow Magic

How to Run Away

  • Downtown Records
  • September 9, 2014

 

 

How To Run Away is Slow Magic's much anticipated sophomore album. After his debut album in 2012, there's been a plethora of remixes from producer and a lack of clues of his future releases. His futuristic tribal mask performances aren't the only things that continually draw in fans, rather his forward thinking, unusual beats is what keeps everyone yearning for more. Compared to his first album, it's much more polished, layers upon layers are woven together to form lush soundscapes and depth. Loyal Slow Magic fans will find comfort in hearing those signature synths and that downtempo mood emanating from every track. The album is a cohesive whole and is a must for any music fan. 

 

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29. Flight Facilities

Down to Earth

  • October 27, 2014
  • Future Classic

 

 

The release of Flight Facilities debut album Down To Earth, felt highly anticipated and somewhat overdue to their fans. The first major single that the Australian duo revealed was "Crave You" back in 2010. The emotionally powerful music received worldwide recognition, as many were drawn to memorizing melody and soft vocals of Giselle Rosselli. The track not only stuck in a global audience's mind, but also in the imagination of producers from every electronic genre. A vast amount of remixes followed "Crave You"'s success and continuously kept up for each new single afterwards from Flight Facilities. The duo caught on to the added level of attraction remixes can create and released several EPs of remix bundles with new music.
So what exactly is it about Flight Facilities that has caught so much of the world's attention over such small content? The answer lies primary in the duos unique way to master their summer infused sound with new levels of mood stirring. When I listen to singles like "Clair De Lune" or "Two Bodies", there is a layered underlying tone of emotional interest. This Australian duo have found out exactly how to appeal to the masses using female vocals from Emma Louise, Christine Hoberg, and Giselle Rosselli. Collectively, Down To Earth brought all this magic together to form an amazing album experience. – Alex L

 

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28. Azealia Banks

Broke with Expensive Taste

  • Prospect Park
  • November 6, 2014

 

 
Ever since her prodigal single “212” from the 1991 EP sprang from the NYC underground, where she towed the line between girl on girl cattiness and straight hoodlum the industry hasn’t known what to do with Azealia Banks. And based on her recent online hip-hop turf war with superstar Iggy Azalea they clearly still don’t. But there is just so much going on in her follow-up 2014 LP Broke With Expensive Taste, Caribbean dance hall, dubstep, house, post-disco and a dance pop underpinnings all spat out by a mouth fouler than Lil’ Kim’s. The industry may never know what to do with Banks, but if she continues on this path in 2015 they’re sure to take notice.  –Paige

 

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27. RL Grime

VOID

  • Wedidit Records
  • November 14, 2014

 

 
RL Grime has been one of the most consistently impressive artists out there, gracefully walking the fine line between mainstream EDM fans and those more interested in what the industry’s most creative have to offer (i.e. the underground). VOID, his debut album, finally entered the world, and man did it not disappoint. With dramatic highs and equally hard hitting lows, the man knows how to create drama perfect for the festival scene. What is especially impressive about the album is the fact that while many producers and DJ’s that have hit such financial success will take the easy way out for big commercial success, RL Grime’s album proves to be well rounded in emotion, balancing between festival ready masterpieces like “Kingpin” with Big Sean and “Valhalla” with Djemba Djemba, and then slowing it down for a track like “Always.” RL Grime certainly proved that creativity is endless with VOID, and with a strictly dark aesthetic, Grime is sure to present even bigger surprises in 2015.- Artham

 

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26. Jessie Ware

Tough Love

  • October 6, 2014
  • Island/Interscope

 

 

 

Jessie Ware has been continuing her hot streak into 2014 with Tough Love, her follow up album to the stunning debut Devotion. Her sophomore album saw her delve deeper into her soul, reveal more, yet bring it neatly into her perfect aesthetic. We've got some strong vocalists on this album, but Ware's atmospheric vocals and stunning lyrics are definitely something we're thankful to hear again in 2014. –Artham

 

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25. Mr. Oizo

The Church

  • Brainfeeder Recordings
  • November 18, 2014

 

 
There are strange acts in the music industry, and then there's Mr Oizo: the zany French producer meets filmmaker–if you haven't seen the cinematic classics as Rubber, make it your highest priority besides finishing this list–who's style cannot be contain by conventional genre labels. If this is your first time listening to the Ed Banger and Brainfeeder Records signee, know that you're in for a chaotic journey. Oizo leaves his humble abode and heads straight for the streets of Los Angeles with the release of The Church, the 10 track album that'll move dance floors all night.     
If you ever needed an example of harmony in chaos, look to tracks such as "Dry Run" and "iSoap." The former has the Lambs Anger madman pairing up with one of The Netherlands most slept on producers, Bart B More, for a room-shifting madhouse experience (especially with that "scream for daddy" sample peppered throughout the track,) while the latter of which begins as an offbeat clash before introducing a funky guitar sample that reveals Oizo's off the wall style.
Other tracks worth mentioning are the well received intro "Bear Biscuit," with it's grinding, glitchy hip hip-eqsue beat that could revive the dead and the closer which shares it's name with the album. "The Church" is a perfect crossroads between Oizo's musical ability and storytelling skills, as he uses a loose narrative that involves iPhones, nightclubs and stealing cars and leaves us wondering as to where he'll go from here.  
Our only gripe with the project is that, at 30 minutes, it leaves us on such a high note that it's difficult to go back to regular life. It's a solid and seamless listen and we're hoping that this isn't the last release from Mr Oizo on Brainfeeder. – Nick

That's the first half of our list. Check back again tomorrow for the second half! 

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Album Review · Exclusive · Feature · Lists

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