The Official List of the Best Albums of 2014

by Gordon Elgart on December 31, 2014

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Picking a list of our Top 10 albums has become quite the task here at Spinning Platters. Every year, we share a gigantic playlist with each other, made up of albums nominated by our entire staff. For 4-6 weeks,  it’s the only thing I listen to. Sometimes we find a new favorite album, and other times we find ones we actively root against. But in the end, the votes are tallied up, and we get our Official List. We’ll start this one off with number 10.

10. PHOX – PHOX

It’s rare that a band comes out with a debut as fully realized and mature as Madison, Wisconsin’s Phox. It’s a record that harkens back to a time before rock n roll, where pop musicians were unafraid of blending together elements of folk, jazz, and country. It’s a record that Nat King Cole would be proud of. An album where you can have a stunning torch song that features a solo where a clarinet and a banjo duet. It’s a record that could have been released at any point in the last 60 years, yet would have sounded fresh in any era. (Dakin Hardwick)

9. OK Go – Hungry Ghosts

Viral video kings, Ok Go took a bit of a departure from their usual sound on their 4th LP, Hungy Ghosts, using more electronic elements in their sound. During my shuffle expedition of listening to all 500+ songs on our Best Of list, I kept finding myself checking to see who was playing, every time the very catchy, Turn up The Radio and funky, I Won’t Let You Down would pop up. However, the album as a whole has a fun, invigorating feel.  (Caroline Hernandez)

8. Perfect Pussy – Say Yes to Love

If you miss Mika Miko and find Bleached to be a little too scrubbed for you, Perfect Pussy proves that alliteration complements yelling into microphones, megaphones, and telephones. The record has the same effect in the morning as a shot of espresso. With more feedback than an old-school eBay seller, this record is grrrl-ulous while keeping most of the songs around 2 minutes. (Joel Edelman)

7. Rob Cantor – Not a Trampoline

The former yellow-tie member of Tally Hall put out a solo album this year, and while he made his mark with some clever viral videos, the album has his old band’s signature mix of expertly produced pop songs full of silly whimsy and sadness, often at the same time. This is indie bedroom pop with a major label sheen, and would feel at home in any era. Just a beautiful record through and through. (Gordon Elgart)

6. Run the Jewels – Run the Jewels 2

While following the whole Iggy Azalea vs. Azealia Banks debacle, especially the part when Q-Tip schools Iggy on the history of hip-hop, one comment in the forums really resonated: “Yeah, when I listen to ‘Ain’t No Fun (If the Homies Can’t Have None),’ it really makes me think ‘wow, I’m observing a socio-political movement!'” This person has a valid point: much of the modern-day mainstream hip-hop we’re exposed to is littered with rhetoric about rims, grills, meaningless sex, sizzurp, 99 problems and so many more variations of misogyny and materialism. In a year that has witnessed an uprising against institutionalized racism, an album like Run the Jewels 2 is a timely soundtrack. It’s raw, menacing, completely unapologetic, and, most importantly, accessible. A sequel to last year’s collaboration between Killer Mike and El-P, career MCs who built their reputations in the underground with mixtapes, it hums along at a quick 39 minutes with throbbing, unrelenting backdrops. Lyrics such as “You want a whore with a white dress/I want a wife in a thong” confront our corrupt, hypocritical politicians head-on while Zack de la Rocha hasn’t sounded as fired up about anything since his early Rage Against the Machine days as he does on “Close Your Eyes (And Count to Fuck).” Forget this year, RTJ2 may be one of the most essential hip-hop albums released in the last decade. (Kara Murphy)

5. King Tuff – Black Moon Spell

The biggest criticism of this album is pointed at King Tuff‘s cheeseball lyrics and hammy guitar solos. Yeah he wears his influences on his sleeve and sound like a nasally teenager when he sings but so what. I mean fuck the critics. Dave Grohl put out a masterbatory documentary about the “making of his new album” by dragging us through 8 different cities and pretending that this silly pretense is a validation for “Rock ‘N Roll” and then delivered us the same old false drivel that he’s been selling for decades now. Am I supposed to feel guilty or ashamed to love an album that actually feels fun and alive in a way that “Rock ‘N Roll” was meant to be experienced? No, fuck the critics. I want my King Tuff to be corny and dirty and chasing the devil in that way that Rock was always meant to be played. (J. Lawrence King)

4. Spoon – They Want My Soul

With their eighth studio album, They Want My Soul, Spoon has been reborn.  Returning from a much needed break after 2010’s passable release, Transference, Britt Daniel and co. hit the studio in late 2013 with producers Tony Hoffer and Dave Fridmann (who both produced another album on our Top 10 list, OK Go’s Hungry Ghosts), to create a fully rounded album complete with atmospheric melodies and energetic hooks.  From the deep emotions of the pop rock radio single “Do You” to the hip hop beat layered introspection of “Inside Out”, there’s not a dull moment on this new musical offering.  After 20+ years together, a milestone most indie rock bands can only dream of reaching, their sound has never felt more confident, soulful, and at ease.  (Chad Liffmann)

3. Angel Olsen – Burn Your Fire For No Witness

There’s something about Angel’s voice that ever so slowly reminds you of an engrossing old movie. It tiptoes sweetly and unapologetically like honey, up on the beach like tiny waves at sunset, slowly engulfing it whole. Her previous record, more acoustic in substance, starred this voice. A modern throwback meld of longing, devotion, and self confidence, that seemingly escaped the 1940s, authentically out of a time warp. Burn Your Fire For No Witness, reflects the maturation of living and gaining a few more years of wisdom, love, and heartbreak in this mixed up future. Trading in for an electric guitar, this time around, Angel Olsen does heart-achingly burn that fire on that beach for no one but herself. Yet, she does it so brightly, and with such fervor, and such candid beauty, that any witness, can’t help but surely surrender to the warmth of its glow. (Raffi Youssoufian)

2. St. Vincent – St. Vincent

Created in a galaxy far, far, away, musical star-lord Annie Clark was sent down to rescue intelligent life from Earth. She lures you to the mother ship with her latest installment, full of ethereal, melodic harmonies and interstellar guitar picking. St. Vincent oozes strength, asking for only the confident to follow the sounds not of this world. From the first track, you’re pulled towards her voice. Mystified. Hypnotized. You stand there, looking up, as memories of 2014 flash before you. This year has been rough, so, you seek solace in the bright light that is St. Vincent. “Nanu, Nanu, St. Vincent. Take me to your leader.” And she takes you – to one of the most beautiful, complex new worlds you’ve seen in eons. (Michelle Viray)

1. Jenny Lewis – The Voyager

It took seven years for Ms Lewis to finish her follow up to 2008’s Acid Tongue. In that time, she experienced her long time band Rilo Kiley dissolving, as well as the passing of her father. Bringing us to what my be her most open and honest record yet. The Voyager is a beautiful display of emotional catharsis that simply feels good to listen to. It’s like getting a big hug from somebody that understands everything you are dealing with, and then forces you to dance it out.  (Dakin Hardwick)

Jenny Lewis‘ newest is a beautiful journey into her world: a sometimes lost, but always powerful, 30-something woman. There’s a lot to relate to lyrically and a lot to enjoy musically. She can break your heart then lift you up and leave you in a better place than where you started.  (Marie Carney)

Gordon Elgart

A music nerd who probably uses that term too much. I have a deep love for bombastic, quirky and dynamic music.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Michael January 4, 2015 at 10:30 pm

Pretty good list – I appreciate the thoughtfulness. What did you think about Perfume Genius’ – Too Bright? I would also add Cheatahs self-titled album harkening back to the Swervedriver-sound…..Be well, Michael

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Michael January 5, 2015 at 10:39 am

I appreciate your list. I wonder what you thought about the Perfume Genius – Too Bright album? I thought it was incredible. Lastly, the Cheatahs self-titled album was a great throwback to the Swervedriver sound….Be well, Michael from Alameda

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