20. Wild Beasts – Present Tense
Released: February 24, 2014
In an unusual move Wild Beasts released their fourth studio album and its first single “Wanderlust” on the same day, but this is not to say that “Wanderlust” is the only track worth listening to on the album. In fact, if you chose to go with the single over the album on day one, you likely found yourself out $1.99, when you later decided to buy the entire project. Wild Beasts, an English indie rock band, have been together for nearly a decade and are at the peak of their career since the release of Present Tense. If you are an Arctic Monkeys fan, not to say the groups are one in the same, you will likely love Wild Beasts.
19. Warpaint – Warpaint
Released: January 17, 2014
The Los Angeles indie rock band formed in 2004, but released their self-titled album Warpaint just this year. While the groups writing never used to come from the bottom-up, this project was the bands first time writing songs together and it paid off. While it is understandable why this album is very interesting, if you do not dislike it, it is likely that you love it.
18. Gordon Voidwell – Bad Études
Released: February 7, 2014
Hailing from Minnesota, Gordon Voidwell provides a unique sound to R&B, and continues to do this with his mixtape Bad Etudes. He isn’t Prince, but he does his state proud on this one. Voidwell has improved a lot since his first tape in 2009, and has likely learned a lot by landing some significant collaborations over the years. We are excited to see what he will have in store for his debut album, hopefully within the next couple of years.
17. Ab Soul – These Days
Released: June 24, 2014
These Days… is fantastic in it’s own right. It might be lacking the cohesive, thematic glue of Control System, but it is still somewhat blended and fluent in it’s own right. If it has any underlying theme to it at all, the project’s frequent and excellently executed biblical references and ideas come to mind, with the single “Stigmata” comparing Christ’s physical pain and suffering to the metaphorical struggle of Ab-Soul’s life (“I’m more than a man, I’ve died and rose again/Left these holes in my hands, so you know who I am”) and even the album’s opening track “God’s Reign” has Ab-Soul reflecting on his personal losses and struggles and blaming them on God’s wrath, leaving him “scared to move These Days” as SZA croons on the hook.
Other highlights come from records like “Hunnid Stax” where the more playful side of Soul comes to life, as it is one of his bangers obnoxiously referencing money and sex. Not without a chopped and screwed Lana Del Rey sample and a drug-influenced Mac Miller hook, Schoolboy Q finally jumps in for his own view on these lavish luxuries. “Nevermind That” boasts a well placed and unexpected Rick Ross verse over a droning and scattered trap-influenced beat, “Closure” occupies the emotional crooning song on the album (Control System was not without this either, for example, “Empathy”) and the leaned-out, Tupac-interpolated “Ride Slow” comes equipped with a squeaky verse from Danny Brown and low, spacey uncredited hook from Earl Sweatshirt. The largest highlight of the album is the answer to Kendrick Lamar’s “Ab-Soul’s Outro” off his 2011 project Section.80, where Ab-Soul offered an almost free-verse, spoken-word powerful verse over strings and brass instruments. Kendrick responds with a similarly structured “Kendrick Lamar’s Interlude” on this album, and after a very Kendrick-deprived year, we are blessed with one of the hardest verses Kendrick’s spit in a long time. With bars like, “Be another example, I’ll take the whole industry hostage if I have to/I’ll sabotage this game, a good kid? Yeah that’s only in my mama’s eyes/I seen a dead body at five and that shit made me traumatized”, it’s hard not to appreciate this masterful track. Ab-Soul hops on for a short verse, and boasts “I’m obviously ominous to my competition/and if I ain’t better than Kendrick than nobody is then!”, which is a statement that’s pretty hard to disagree with. – Vikash Dass
16. MØ – No Mythologies To Follow
Released: March 10, 2014
Danish recording artist Mø, gave us a great debut with her album No Mythologies To Follow. The album contains extensive electro production from Diplo, where “Waste of Time” and “Slow Love” really stand out. However, ten tracks on the album is nothing to sleep on. No Mythologies To Follow is easily one of the best electronic albums of 2014.