5. FKA Twigs – LP1
Released: August 12, 2014
English recording artist FKA Twigs has already been in the discussion for 2014’s best album with her debut album LP1. Following her debut EP, of course titled EP1, LP1 while longer in duration, still sticks to the quality of music that her first studio piece had to offer. No album will likely match the vocal melodies that this project had to offer this year. Where alternative R&B meets electronic music, LP1 is an amazing album that many will enjoy.
4. YG – My Krazy Life
Released: March 18, 2014
In the discussion for the best rap album of the year thus far, YG’s My Krazy Life is the best debut album for a rapper since Kendrick Lamar’s good Kid M.A.A.D. city. Executive produced by Young Jeezy, with DJ Mustard ‘on the beat’, this album mixes great production with great lyrics. “Who Do You Love?” and “Left, Right” are can’t miss tracks on this album, although it is certainly an album you can enjoy the entire way through.
3. Travis Scott – Days Before Rodeo
Released: August 18, 2014
There’s no such thing as a Travis Scott project without a little bit of a delay. After his website supposedly crashed, Travis Scott finally has blessed the universe with another offering in the form of a project appropriately named Days Before Rodeo, a free album of sorts leading up to his highly anticipated debut studio album, Rodeo.
Days Before Rodeo was far from expected. Travis Scott has found a way to give fans what they didn’t know they wanted to hear, all of this while emulating his influences and crafting it into a masterful, album quality project that lacks a terrible song throughout. He has not only fashioned an appropriate response to 2013’s Owl Pharoah, but he was continued to innovate and surprise the ears of many by twisting and churning familiar elements of music into entirely new sounds and spaces. Travis Scott has not only continued his legacy of innovation and pioneering a very specific, new sound, but he has dropped one of the best releases of the year, by far. Travis proclaims himself on the distorted, warping “Basement Freestyle”, “It’s my year/I got it now”, and i’m finding it very difficult to disagree. – Vikash Dass
2. Jack White – Lazaretto
Released: June 10, 2014
Lazaretto is rib-rattling, confident, and risky, and is the most dramatic, conventional project Jack White has ever put out. It is an exciting, fruitful listen, but is traditional and typical, which are two words not usually associated with White’s catalogue. From the varied moments of western and folk instrumentation to the sweeping country melodies all layered with White’s piercing lyrics and musings, this second record is almost the minimalist, simplistic sound of The White Stripes flipped on it’s head. The real risk Lazaretto runs, though, is drawing the line between established and mundane; a line frequently skipped over and back upon through all eleven tracks. Still, Jack White’s second swing at the solo plate proves to be more than a worthy-listen with its fair share of highlights and quotables, and is a cutting reminder that Jack White’s average is still well above average. – Vikash Dass
1. Lana Del Rey – Ultraviolence
Released: June 13, 2014
Lana Del Rey continued to prove she is more than just a pretty face with her second (or third, depending who you ask) album Ultraviolence. Although this album is certainly more laid back and mellow than her debut album, with heavy production from The Black Key’s Dan Auerbach which vastly contrasts to the hip-hop influenced production of Emile and Jeff Bhasker on Born to Die, it continues to impress.
While Lana lyric’s or content may not be the best in music, she makes up for with her beautiful vocals and surrounds herself with music’s best producers. We can only hope that her and Kanye had time at his wedding to discuss plans for her next album. Singles like “West Coast” and “Shades of Cool”, both released before the album’s release, were surely instant favorites for listeners. But that is not to say that the rest of the album is full of fillers. Songs like “F****d My Way to The Top” and even bonus tracks like “Florida Kilos” keep my interest throughout the entire album. There may not be over the top stand-out tracks like Born To Die‘s ‘Blue Jeans’ and who knows which song will have the broadest appeal on the radio (one of her biggest hits ‘Summertime Sadness’ charted over a year after its release and after the release of her Born To Die: Paradise Edition album), but this album shows Lana’s growth as an artist. Although this may be a weak year for albums, many would agree that Ultraviolence is sitting at the top of 2014. – Dan Garcia