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Top 5 albums of 2014

Compared to the year that proceeded it, search 2014 seemed quiet in terms of big, nurse landmark albums. A number of artists that had been absent for a while made a return to mixed success. A number of established artists made middling to bad records while others had decent efforts, cialis but efforts that played it safe. These are five albums that took risks, pushed boundaries and stood out in 2014.

Run the Jewels—Run the Jewels 2.

Arriving like the exclamation point at the end of long screed about injustices in the world, Run the Jewels 2 was the most abrasive, envelope pushing and socially conscious rap release this year. El-p (who produced much of the album) and Killer Mike sound as angry as is humanly possible, which complements the grimy, glitchy production (think Death Grips, or Kanye West’s Yeezus.) In a year that was relatively quiet for rap heavy hitters, this album stuck out like a sore thumb, in the best way possible.

FKA Twigs—LP1

Combining the musical vagueness of Tricky, the bubbling sexuality of Prince and the cinematic nature of Beth Gibbons, LP1 was the strangest and most captivating debut last year. The production on the album is incredibly minimal, and the vocals seem barely there at times, giving it a haunting, creeping feel. You’re left with the impression that the whole thing could disappear, that it could vanish at moment. These leaves you all the more grateful that it doesn’t.

Damon Albarn—Everyday Robots

Given Damon Albarn’s prolific nature, it’s something of a surprise that he hasn’t released a solo record until now. However upon listening to Everyday Robots, it’s easy to understand why.  Albarn, in contrast to the chirpy pop of Blur or the eccentric hip hop of Gorillaz, sounds quite lonely and isolated on many of the tracks, his vocals often lost amid the sea of electronics. Vastly different to anything he’s done before, this is probably his most consistent work to date.

Flying Lotus—Your Dead!

In many ways its appropriate that Steven Ellison (Flying Lotus) is great nephew to jazz greats John and Alice Coltrane. Pretentious as it sounds, IDM is looking like a natural successor to jazz music, and nobody exemplifies this better than Flying Lotus. Most of the tracks on Your Dead! are quite short and seem to start as close to the end as possible. Most of the tracks blend seamlessly as well, which gives the album a hypnotic quality. A mesmerising journey from start to finish.

St Vincent—St Vincent.

On previous albums, Annie Clark (St Vincent’s alter ego) would often confess to being alienated, but on her fourth album Clark admits to being an alien. With squelchy electronics, skittered drums and lyrics that celebrate the mundanely and the absurdity of everyday life, St Vincent sounds like, in Clarke’s words “Alien pop music”.  Oh, and she can still shred better than any metal guitarists.

By Adam Duke

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