The 50 Best Albums of 2014

Jessie Ware tops the list

I like making lists like this one. They serve as an archival resource—a permanent snapshot of a fleeting cultural moment. Even when they’re not definitive, then, they’re useful.

You’ll probably detect my stylistic biases here, naturally; I’m not that into noise, punk, contemporary jazz, metal, country or modern classical music. Those are just not my lanes—and I’m cool with admitting it—so someone who’s really into those genres is gonna bug out if they feel like taking this list super seriously, which I don’t recommend. But when I look at it, I see a lot of women, which makes me happy, not too much hip-hop, which makes me sad, and a few extra fresh faces, courtesy of Tove Lo, FKA twigs, Kindness, Jungle, Sam Smith and Alvvays. (It’s also worth saying that if a few months at the end of 2013 could be considered fair game, then Beyonce and Sky Ferreira would’ve been in the top five.)

Even though I spent an unnatural amount of time trying to make this list right and tight, I will have missed a few. That’s why there are 20 honorable mentions. Feel free to tweet us @phillyweekly with the stray orphans you think should’ve found a home here. Meanwhile: bookmark ‘em, sample ‘em, buy ‘em, own ‘em. Or, hell, take this paper to AKA, Best Buy, Repo Records or Long In The Tooth. Jessie Ware on vinyl is divinity. Oh, and fuck Iggy Azalea. Also, Azalea Banks is an idiot—even though I love her.

Happy New Year, and happy listening, y’all!

50. Taylor Swift, 1989

49. Sylvan Esso, Sylvan Esso

48. Schoolboy Q, Oxymoron

47. Real Estate, Atlas

46. Jungle, Jungle

45. Parquet Courts, Sunbathing Animal

44. Temples, Sun Structures

43. Royal Blood, Royal Blood

42. Sharon Van Etten, Are We There

41. Elbow, The Take Off and Landing of Everything

40. Jenny Lewis, The Voyager

39. Merchandise, After the End

38. Alvvays, Alvvays

37. Flying Lotus, You’re Dead!

36. Paolo Nutini, Caustic Love

35. Big K.R.I.T., Cadillactica

34. Damon Albarn, Everyday Robots

33. Kate Tempest, Everybody Down

32. YG, My Krazy Life

31. BanksGoddess

30. Jamie TCarry On The Grudge

29. Hurray for the Riff Raff, Small Town Heroes

28. Freddie Gibbs & Madlib, Piñata

27. The War on Drugs, Lost in the Dream

26. Vacationer, Relief

25. Miguel, NWA.HollywoodDreams.Coffee

24. Perfume Genius, Too Bright

23. Sun Kil Moon, Benji

22. Beck, Morning Phase

21. FKA twigs, LP1

20. Neneh Cherry, Blank Project

19. Sia, 1000 Forms of Fear

18. Kindness, Otherness

17. Mac DeMarco, Salad Days

16. Tove Lo, Queen of the Clouds

15. Caribou, Our Love

14. Run the Jewels, RTJ2

13. Lana Del Rey, Ultraviolence

12. Lydia Loveless, Somewhere Else

11. Ed Sheeran, x

10. Little Dragon, Nabuma Rubberband

9. D’Angelo, Black Messiah

8. Sam Smith, In The Lonely Hour

7. Lykke Li, I Never Learn

6. Future Islands, Singles

5. Aphex Twin, Syro

4. St. Vincent, St. Vincent

3. Angel Olsen, Burn Your Fire For No Witness

2. Todd Terje, It’s Album Time

1. Jessie Ware, Tough Love

Honorable mention: Stars, No One Is Lost; Perfect Pussy, Say Yes To Love; SOHN, Tremors First Aid Kit, Stay Gold; Wild Beasts, Present Tense; Tricky, Adrian Thaws; Hiss Golden Messenger, Lateness of Dancers; Ex Hex, Rips; Robert Plant, Lullaby and … The Ceaseless Roar; Hozier, Hozier; Jack White, Lazaretto; Avi Buffalo, At Best Cuckold; Swans, To Be Kind; East India Youth, Total Strife Forever; Sturgill Simpson, Metamodern Sounds in Country Music; The Bug, Angels & Devils; Ben Frost, AURORA; Cloud Nothings, Here and Nowhere Else; Thom Yorke, Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes and Hospitality, Trouble.

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