This year has been a whirlwind for music releases; week after week, new albums have appeared left and right. Some have been amazing, and some…well, some could have been better (but we won’t name names). Anyway, here are my picks for TOP 14 Best albums of 2014 (in no particular order).
15. Lowborn by Anberlin, released on July 22nd, 2014, via Tooth & Nail Records.
What a fantastic final album; it’s bittersweet, but such a work of art. It’s emotionally charged, with stunningly well-written lyrics, not that I’d ever expect anything less from Anberlin.
14. Cavalier Youth by You Me At Six, released on January 26th, 2014, via Virgin Records.
The band’s fourth studio album is every bit of fresh, original, and entrancing as their first. You Me At Six seem to get more personal on the album, and approach a more pop-rock sound than on their previous releases.
13. Restoring Force by Of Mice & Men, released on January 28th, 2014, via Rise Records.
You know an album is good when a band goes the extra mile and records an acoustic version of it in its entirety. There is a raw power throughout Restoring Force, and the brilliance behind it is impossible to ignore. The departure from the modern standard brings ripples to the scene overall, but also showcases the growth and artistic development of each member in Of Mice & Men.
12. Head Or Heart by Christina Perri, released on April 1st, 2014, via Atlantic Records.
Personally, I adore this album. Not as much as her Ocean Way Sessions album, but it’s definitely up there as far as favorites go. There is so much vulnerability, personality, and vocal power on this album, it demands to be replayed.
11. Vessels by Stellar Young, released on December 16th, 2014.
As said in my review, “Vessels has a sound that I could only imagine the musical lovechild between Anberlin and fun. would. Stellar Young prove to be a wildly talented group, not that there was ever any doubt about that. The album is beautifully executed, with a powerhouse presence and an undoubtable quality to it. ”
10. In The Lonely Hour by Sam Smith, released on May 26th, 2014, via Capitol Records.
There is so much beauty and power displayed on this album. Every song is enchanting in its own right, launching Sam Smith into the limelight as the true star he is. Finally, the soul has been brought back to pop music!
9. 1989 by Taylor Swift, released on , 2014 via Big Machine Records.
As someone who has followed Taylor Swift’s career from the beginning, it amazes me to see the personal growth of the songstress, typically known for tearing down her exes and writing every girl’s breakup anthem. On 1989, Swift shows a more mature, poetic approach, with an original artistic flare. There’s something on this album for everyone, including some of the catchiest lines…and the best misheard lyric of 2014. “Gotta love those Starbucks lovers…”
8. Bloom & Breathe by Gates, released on October 21st, 2014, via Pure Noise Records.
Wow. A debut album that has a cinematic, sophisticated sound to it, and is genuinely a work of art. Throughout the album, the band’s dedication to their craft, and their limitless talent, is obvious. I’m expecting a lot from these guys!
7. Imaginary Enemy by The Used, released on April 1st, 2014, via Hopeless Records.
If you didn’t rock out to “Cry” at some point this year (especially you Octane Radio listeners/gym rats!), you’re lying to yourself. That single set the spark for this album, and once I listened, I couldn’t get enough. I daresay I’ve played this album more than I should have, but it was worth it.
6. May Death Never Stop You by My Chemical Romance, released on March 25th, 2014 on Reprise Records.
Another bittersweet listen in 2014; it was brilliant in its musicality and as an overall summary of an amazing band’s career, but so hard to listen to knowing it was the last MCR release. As far as “greatest hits” albums go, I’m voting this as one of the best. “Fake Your Death” is such an anthemic, brilliant new track, and I love delving into my nostalgic side through the older tracks.
5. Forever Halloween (Deluxe Edition) by The Maine, released on June 17th, 2014, via Universal.
Forever Halloween was amazing; the deluxe edition? INCREDIBLE. As I said in my review for Infectious Magazine, “While Forever Halloween was near-perfect as it was, it is difficult to imagine the album without these extra songs now that they’ve been heard. The Maine continue to show growth and excellence as the years wear on.”
4. Duality by Set It Off, released on October 14th, 2014, via Equal Vision Records.
Brilliant, catchy tracks, all decorated with the originality of Set It Off. This reminds me of a heavier version of The Cab’s Symphony Soldier in that I just want to play the whole album again and again and again.
3. Talking In Your Sleep by The Cinema, released on December 16th, 2014 [independently released].
I have so much respect for this album. First off, because it comes from the minds of two very talented men, but also because the album took two years to make, and was accomplished while they both worked on different coasts. Just…wow. It’s an incredible group of songs, and, best of all, it’s another release that avoided the cursed “sophomore slump.”
2. Slow Me Down by Sara Evans, released on March 11th, 2014, via RCA Nashville.
Catchy as hell, with a poppy, uptempo tone that is impossible not to love. It’s a perfect driving/car-aoke record; I promise, you’ll sing your heart out to basically every song.
1. Heart On My Sleeve by Mary Lambert, released on October 14th, 2014, via Capitol Records.
Mary Lambert can do no wrong. The songstress has crowds enchanted with her stunning vocals and her fearless way of tackling subjects people don’t want to talk about. With songs like “Secrets,” Lambert has resonated with listeners, and opened up a beautiful story.
House of Mercury by Ship Captain Crew
Fictionist by Fictionist
All That Gold by James and the Drifters
High Noon by Arkells
Get Hurt by The Gaslight Anthem