20 best albums of 2014 so far


All the music mags have been releasing lists of the best albums so far. And some of my favorite albums have been getting snubbed. Plus, everyone like the Beck album more than it deserves. (Sorry, Beck.)

Since getting Spotify, I've been listening to lots more new music And so I'm going to inflict upon you my own opinion of 2014's best 20 albums so far. My criteria are that the album is on Spotify (sorry Natalie, Hannah-Lou, Trevor), that it is an album (sorry Nerina, Broods), that Spotify lists the album's release as 2014 (which cuts off some great albums on other lists because Spotify says they're 2013), that I've heard the album more than once (which means albums I just discovered looking at these other lists---did you know Norah Jones has a new band with a new album?---aren't eligible), and that I think the album is good. Some of these I think are terrific. But by forcing myself to choose twenty, I'll get to include some that are good but I haven't yet decided whether or not they are terrific. For your information, this is this my current 2014 list. But albums come on and off this list all the time. You may be looking at a different list than what it was when you first read this article last week. It's a living document.

Terrific ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


Nicole Atkins

Slow Phaser
Every song on here is perfect and catchy and says something. I can't pick a favorite. Her album is so good, I refuse to listen to "Sin Song" because I know I will lose my soul. Seriously. This album is effin ineffable.


Rosanne Cash

The River & The Thread
I should grant this list is biased towards albums I added earlier in the year. Easier to get to know an album when it's not on a list 29 hours and 48 minutes long. But regardless, Rosanne Cash's new album deserved all those extra listens. I really admire this album. She's the best at what she does.


Sarah Dooley

Stupid Things
Fun and charm and cleverness and more more more love love love. But I've already written about this album.


Jonatha Brooke

My Mother Has 4 Noses
She sounds a bit like Emmylou and writes songs to match.


Marissa Nadler

Compelling without yelling.

Certainly very good, might be great, highly recommended ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


Katie Herzig

Walk through Walls
Herzig's found a new way to use her unique voice and the songs on this album compel with both serious-face and a clean beauty.


Bombay Bicycle Club

So Long, See You Tomorrow
I don't like this album as much as I did earlier in the year, but it's young, international vibe is still charming.


Hurray for the Riff Raff

Small Town Heroes
Gritty girl-and-guitar country-rock.


Margot & The Nuclear So and So's

Slingshot to Heaven
Twee when you want it.


The Secret Sisters

Put Your Needle Down
Their clean harmonies sharpened over lyrics worth listening to.

Screw eleven!


The Colourist

The Colourist
This is the best pop album I've heard in a long time. And yeah, it seems too perfect not to be manufactured, I can't help loving it. If Death Cab for Cutie was happy---it Brandon Flowers shared vocals with a woman. It's basically all that's fun about rock and roll from the last ten years wedded to the sort of vocals I'm naturally drawn to. It's not fair. I surrender. I love you.



Maybe if I called it the Yeah Yeah Yeahs only they crush you instead of stab you, then would you understand?

Like a lot but haven't decided how much you should take my word for it ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


Tori Amos

Unrepentent Geraldines
It's a solid Tori album. Couple songs that will become fan favorites. Not the best first-Tori-album for the neophyte probably, but you wouldn't regret it.


Lana Del Rey

Essentially, my initial impressions have solidified.


First Aid Kit

Stay Gold
It's Swedish chick singing folk. Please, sir. May I have some more?


Jenny Lewis

The Voyager
It's Jenny Lewis. Haven't decided what else needs to be said about it yet.


Various Artists

I Saved Latin! A Tribute to Wes Anderson
Some of the songs on here are among the best of the year. None embarrass.


Angel Olsen

Burn Your Fire for No Witness
Like a lot of the other folkie countrified girls on this list, only lower and darker.

Clearly good but either I haven't listened to them enough to determine quality or I'm just really conflicted ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


Sharon Van Etten

Are We There
I loved her previous album. Haven't given this one enough attention yet, but so far this one seems equally deserving of love.



Sun Structure
Sort of late Beatles, sort of Moody Blues, sort of new age, sort of awesome, sort of WTF. I've almost cut it from the list many times, only to have a song shuffle in and make me think I love this album. So that.


Lykke Li

I Never Learn
Haven't heard all the songs yet, but a couple of them are simply extraordinary. Start with "Gunshot."


Neon Trees

Pop Psychology
I'm not sure this is saying, musically, much they didn't say last time. But they say it so well.


  1. .

    Already my opinions are changing. Have you heard this Rachel Ries person???

  2. Suggestions:
    Spoon, They Want My Soul
    Sun Kil Moon, Benji
    Stephen Malkmus, Wig Out at Jagbags

    1. .

      The Spoon and Sun Kil Moon albums are in my 2014 list but I hadn't heard them enough to have a strong opinion when I made my top-twenty. That Sun Kil Moon can make such bald lyrics work is astonishing---that the music's great doesn't hurt. Spoon I've always had weird feelings about, but I'm liking the new album so far.

      I'll add Mr Pavement's album now.