2014 has been an amazing year in music. Last week, we revealed numbers 20-11 of our top 20 albums of the year, with entries from Pink Floyd, The Foo Fighters, Dopapod, Flying Lotus, and more. With great deliberation, we made our top choices, but it was practically impossible to choose a #1 (read: we all have strong opinions about music), so we left the voting for the top spot up to you.
Did you make the right call? Check out the top 10 albums of 2014 below!
10. moe. – No Guts, No Glory [Review]
After a five year break from the studio, jam band moe. returned triumphantly with their eleventh studio album, No Guts, No Glory. The album is one of their finest, ripping right off the bat with “Annihilator Blues.” Some of the later tracks cut deeper, with the more contemplative sounds of tunes like “Silver Sun” (very Pink Floyd influenced) and “Billy Goat,” a soaring tune with a catchy refrain and blistering guitar solos. This is a very listenable album, worthy of its spot among the great releases of 2014.
9. TAUK – Collisions [Review]
Perhaps no band has had as big of a breakout in 2014 as TAUK. The jamtronica live instrumental group get grooving on their second studio album, Collisions. The album is infectious; one listen will have you hooked. Between the fast guitar melodies and powerful drumming is one of the tightest groups of musicians to emerge in the past five years.
8. The War On Drugs – Lost In The Dream [Review]
One of the most eloquent indie-rock offerings of 2014 was Lost In The Dream, an ethereal album by The War On Drugs. The lead vocalist, Adam Granduciel, has a Dylan-esque quality to his voice, drawing the listener into his mysterious world. With an emphasis on instrumentation, bringing in harmonicas and saxophones behind lo-fi synthesizers and guitars, the album is a dynamic creation. Easily one of the finest listens of 2014, moving seamlessly through the band’s dreamy soundscape.
Check out a full stream of the album below:
7. Prince – Art Official Age [Review]
Prince. The funky master knows no limitation, releasing two albums simultaneously in 2014. Alongside PLECTRUMELECTRUM, the rock royalty delivered Art Official Age, his first solo album since 2014, and his thirty-third overall. With elements of electronic, funk, R&B, soul, and good old rock and roll, Prince proves time and time again that his music is worth the wait. The album’s title, a play on ‘artificial age,’ is emblematic of the music; Prince embraces the electronic sounds, and does it remarkably.
6. Umphrey’s McGee – Similar Skin [Review]
When Umphrey’s McGee set out to record their first studio album in five years, they wanted to bring some rock and roll to the table. The band incorporates a lot of influences, ranging from metal to pop, but they set out to create a cohesive sound, and they succeeded. Similar Skin is not only a testament to the band’s musicianship, but also their intricate songwriting. To capture the live energy of Umphrey’s McGee on an album is no easy feat, but Similar Skin is vivacious. Rock and roll at its finest.
5. Thievery Corporation – Saudade [Review]
For Thievery Corporation’s Eric Hilton and Rob Garza, Brazilian music was always a major influence. After many years embracing many styles in their electronically-driven technique, the infamous duo focused their energy on making an album of Brazilian music. They recruited a number of female vocalists and unique instrumentalists for the new album — even the title, Saudade, is a reference to a Brazilian word, most closely translated as a feeling of nostalgia and longing. TC captures this feeling elegantly, with simply fascinating music. Listen below:
4. Phish – Fuego [Review]
One of the most hyped releases in the jam band scene was Phish’s first album in five years. What started as “Wingsuit,” a Halloween set in 2013, morphed into a polished studio recording from the premiere live act. While Phish is not necessarily known for their studio work, Fuego was produced by Bob Ezrin, a veteran who had previously worked with luminaries like Lou Reed, Pink Floyd, and Peter Gabriel. Perhaps the most recognizable cut from the album is the title track, marked by a piano chord introduction that ultimately descends into free-jam territory with everyone’s favorite viking warriors with animal heads.
3. Jack White – Lazaretto [Review]
Despite the media circus that follows him, one thing is certain: Jack White is a damn fine musician. His second solo effort, Lazaretto, is proof that rock and roll has never died. The album contains an absurd amount of raw energy, orchestrated through rigorously composed melodies. Perhaps the most important addition to his sound is the work of Lillie Mae Rische, who contributes accompanying vocals, and plays fiddle and mandolin on the album. Her charming twang, with White’s robust blues-inspired songs, makes this album one of the best of 2014.
2. The String Cheese Incident – Song In My Head [Review]
After a nine-year hiatus, The String Cheese Incident made waves with their studio album, Song In My Head. The album is symbolic of the band’s current status, a mish-mosh of rock, blues, electronica, and, their bread and butter, bluegrass. SIMH has just about everything, from the opening twangy “Colorado Bluebird Sky” to the closing synth-heavy “Colliding.” Grooving from cover to cover, String Cheese show renewed, uplifting vigor for creating and performing music. With ten great songs, this is easily one of the best albums of 2014.
1. Greensky Bluegrass – If Sorrows Swim [Review]
And here it is, your #1 pick: If Sorrows Swim by the inimitable Greensky Bluegrass. GSBG creates emotional music, with tunes that tug on the strings of the heart. If Sorrows Swim is a masterpiece of a bluegrass album; a deeply intimate offering. Yet the music remains upbeat and danceable despite all of the lyrical hardships, a testament to the genre’s ability to get people up and grooving.
Special Honorable Mention: D’Angelo and the Vanguard – Black Messiah
No discussion of albums from 2014 would be complete without a mention of D’Angelo’s last minute addition to the canon, Black Messiah. After fourteen long years, D’Angelo’s album drop was a surprise to us all – so much so that we didn’t have time to properly add it to our list – and, my god, the wait was wholly worthwhile. This is the funky of all funky, stewing influences of R&B, hip hop, jazz and old fashioned soul music into something beautiful. Black Messiah is a full-bodied album, exploring deeply while remaining cohesive with elegance.
Stream it below and judge for yourself:
Our full list of top 20 albums of 2014:
20. Pink Floyd- Endless River
19. Turkuaz – Future 86
18. Foo Fighters – Sonic Highways
17. Aqueous – Cycles
16. Lotus – Gilded Age
15. Dopapod – Never Odd or Even
14. Aphex Twin – SYRO
13. Railroad Earth – Last of the Outlaws
12. Flying Lotus – You’re Dead!
11. Primus – Primus & The Chocolate Factory
10. Moe. – No Guts, No Glory
9. TAUK – Collisions
8. The War On Drugs – Lost In The Dream
7. Prince – Art Official Age
6. Umphrey’s McGee – Similar Skin
5. Thievery Corporation – Saudade
4. Phish – Fuego
3. Jack White – Lazaretto
2. The String Cheese Incident – Song In My Head
1. Greensky Bluegrass – If Sorrows Swim
Your Top 20:
1. Greensky Bluegrass – If Sorrows Swim (25.58%)
2. Moe. – No Guts, No Glory (16.52%)
3. Phish – Fuego (13.82%)
4. Aqueous – Cycles (11.20%)
5. Turkuaz – Future 86 (10.80%)
6. Umphrey’s McGee – Similar Skin(8.98%)
7. Dopapod – Never Odd Or Even (6.12%)
8. Pigeons Playing Ping Pong – Psychology (4.77%)
8. String Cheese Incident – Song In My Head (4.77%)
10. TAUK – Collisions (3.02%)
11. Jack White – Lazaretto (2.94%)
12. Kung Fu – Tsar Bomba (2.86%)
13. Railroad Earth – The Last of the Outlaws (2.86%)
14. Beck – Morning Phases (2.70%)
15. The Motet – The Motet (2.46%)
16. Pink Floyd – Endless River (2.22%)
17. Primus – Primus & The Chocolate Factory (w/ the Fungi Ensemble) (2.07%)
17. Medeski, Scofield, Martin & Wood – Juice (2.07%)
19. Mike Gordon – Overstep (1.75%)
20. Lotus – Gilded Age (1.67%)
20. The War On Drugs – Lost In The Dream (1.67%)
20. Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad – Steady (1.67%)