BY TER STAFF
Some may argue that 2014 has not been the best year for albums. However no matter which side of that argument you are on, we have compiled our list of the 30 albums of the year that you NEED to listen to. From the up-and-comers like Raury and Vince Staples to the pop icons like T. Swift, our list has everything you need from 2014’s year in music.
30. Childish Gambino – STN MTN/Kauai
Released: October 2, 2014
While “The Boy” character from Because the Internet was one of the most intriguing, honest, real perspectives to ever be experienced in a rap record, when Donald Glover decided to give him a spin off of sorts in STN MTN/Kauai, we weren’t mad at it. STN MTN starts as a boastful, raw dream of that character, that he “ran Atlanta”, which cannot happen if you don’t have a DJ Drama mixtape. Filled with reimagined Atlanta-bangers old and new and very random but amazing Drama tags and speeches, STN MTN is just a great exercise in pop trap-rap, but is literally a dream that comes crashing down only to be picked up and elevated into the much better, retro-feeling, low-fi beach-y R&B experience, Kauai. Flexing the vocal muscles teased in previous album cuts like “3005” and “Telegraph Ave (Oakland)”, Kauaifollows an interesting Jaden Smith-assisted narrative all while singing and crooning new style love songs with just the right amount of familiarity.
29. Logic – Under Pressure
Released: October 21, 2014
Logic’s debut studio album Under Pressure was met with more acclaim that even some of his day-one fans may have predicted and pays homage to another classic debut album that came out just a couple years ago, Kendrick Lamar’s good kid, m.A.A.d city. Like the ‘Under Pressure’ singer David Bowie, Logic draws from his inspirations in music (Kanye West, Miles Davis, Red Hot Chili Peppers) and filters out exactly what he needs to piece together his art. The production on this project is laid back while the beats are cold and tell listeners a story about who Logic is, making Under Pressure one of the year’s top rap albums.
28. Jhene Aiko – Souled Out
Released: September 9, 2014
In 2013, the beautiful and talented Jhene Aiko released an EP called Sail Out that was littered with pop-appeal and commercially-pleasing rap features with names like Kendrick Lamar and Childish Gambino. On her debut album, Souled Out, however, Jhene turns down the traditional pop-R&B melodies for raw, unfiltered experiences with somewhat experimental production and some of the best writing we heard all year. Whether she’s addressing the importance of her child on a song like “Promises” or reflecting on a quote of her brother who tragically died from cancer on “W.A.Y.S.” (An acronym for Why Aren’t You Smiling?”), Jhene opened herself up in an elegant catharsis of emotion and passion, blessing 2014 with one of the most honest yet unique records of the year.
27. Taylor Swift – 1989
Released: October 27, 2014
Over the past few years, Swift went from one of the biggest names in country to the biggest name in music. This isn’t just another Taylor Swift album, though. This album is pretty noteworthy not just for being the first album released in 2014 to go platinum, in one week nonetheless, its noteworthy as Swift has made the complete transition from country to pop. This isn’t a country album, or a country album with pop influences, it is a bonafide pop album. It was a predictable progression, and it was a progression I have been waiting on for a while because I’ve always found Taylor to be talented, but I just wish that she didn’t choose country to display those talents (as that somewhat limited her), until now of course. 1989 is definitely a surprise and I’m glad that Taylor was able to make the successful transition without losing or excluding her original country fanbase. It’s an album that has no right to be as good as it is. – Matt Monroe/The Early Registration
26. Death Grips – niggas on the moon
Released: June 8, 2014
One of a few of 2014’s surprise releases, n*ggas on the moon is part one of the Death Grips final project, the powers that b. This first part is 8-tracks and comes in at just over a half hour, and is everything you expect from a polarizing Death Grips album. If the Death Grips aren’t for you, than neither is this album. If you like the Death Grips and what they provide to music, than you will certainly love this album. ‘Black Quarterback’ and ‘Big Dipper’ are just a couple of the album’s stand outs, but the album as a whole is what makes it one of the top projects of 2014.