Top 25 Albums of 2014

Updated by The Wild Honey Pie on December 8, 2020

Top 25 Albums of 2014

At the end of every year, we always say the same thing, “this was a pretty great year in music.” Call us unrelenting optimists (because we are), but 2014 has been no different. From the return of D’Angelo with Black Messiah — which was everything those of us who waited 15 long years could have wanted — to masterpieces of  songwriting by The War on Drugs and St. Vincent, there was never a shortage of extraordinary music that spanned genres, generations and sonic territories. Add to this mix an array of stunning debuts from Sylvan EssoTove Lo and Honeyblood, and the converging trajectory of our mainstream and indie favorites feels more profound than ever. This also feels true of this year’s sophomore releases, which saw alt-JBlake Mills and Kishi Bashi demonstrate a new level of maturity and growth in their songwriting, leaving us eagerly anticipating their next move.

It was also a year that obliterated the idea of classifying music as a single genre. Folk meshed with electronic (Sylvan Esso) and with pop (First Aid Kit). We heard R&B like no one had heard before (D’Angelo) and avant-garde for the pop-loving audience (Rubblebucket). Meanwhile, ODESZA was crafting some of the most accessible electronic gems to date and Run The Jewels barreled to the forefront of unique hip hop. Artists seemed to go out of their way to prove that everything and anything was possible. Even the artists who stayed within their musical boundaries, though, like Future Islands, Sun Kil Moon and Sharon Van Etten, managed to remind us why we worshiped them from the beginning.

Ultimately, 2014 was the year that everyone continued to complain about non-existant record sales and the rise of music streaming, while emphasizing the importance of touring and developing online communities. And, of course, there continues to be resistance of these sweeping changes by select artists, including Taylor Swift who removed her music from Spotify only to break sales records that will likely be intact for the foreseeable future. Looking towards the future, will 2015 be the year that music video albums become a thing? Will the tipping point for music streaming be reached with the entry of Apple into an already crowded field? Will artists and labels begin, and in some cases continue, to find diverse revenue streams through partnerships, brands and creative media? We think so. Special thanks to Sunny Eckerle for making the lush artwork for this playlist.

25. Honeyblood - Honeyblood
24. ODESZAIn Return
23. Ariel Pinkpom pom
22. Future IslandsSingles
21. LandladyUpright Behavior
20. Glass Animals - ZABA
19. Sun Kil Moon - Benji
18. Courtney BarnettThe Double Ep: A Sea of Split Peas
17. Kishi Bashi - Lighght
16. alt-JThis Is All Yours
15. RubblebucketSurvival Sounds
14. Sharon Van EttenAre We There
13. Perfume GeniusToo Bright
12. St. Vincent St. Vincent
11. Tove LoQueen Of The Clouds
10. Mac DeMarcoSalad Days
9. Dan CrollSweet Disarray
8. Adult JazzGist Is
7. First Aid Kit Stay Gold
6. D’AngeloBlack Messiah
5. Run The JewelsRun the Jewels 2
4. Blake MillsHeigh Ho
3. Angel OlsenBurn Your Fire For No Witness
2. Sylvan EssoSylvan Esso
1. The War On DrugsLost In The Dream