The Best Metal Albums of 2014

A year after bemoaning the death of progress in heavy metal, it was very encouraging to hear plenty of ideas coming from younger bands, especially in the underground extreme scene. Great ideas, but with plenty of room for improvement, something I’d like to hear developed even more. Metal has been so devoid of interesting ideas lately […]

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The 2014 Album of the Year

                      FKA Twigs, LP1 (Young Turks) I had one runaway leader for my 2014 Album of the Year for much of 2014, but one album worked its charms on me in much more subtle fashion, starting this summer, percolating into fall, and by November I couldn’t […]

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The 2014 Single of the Year

Katy B, “Crying For No Reason” Although it was an admirable top 5 single in the UK, the shimmering ballad “Crying For No Reason” should have catapulted Katy B to Adele-level heights. For me, at the very least, it’s a song that has lingered throughout the entirety of 2014, its power feeling even greater the […]

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The Best Singles of 2014, #2

2. Lykke Li, “No Rest For the Wicked” On an album comprised solely of devastating, downbeat, minimalist exercises in misery, Lykke Li’s “No Rest For the Wicked” is the initial focal point, the one track that ropes the listener in the quickest. Built around a simple, plaintive six-note piano melody, Lykke Li and her longtime […]

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The Best Albums of 2014, #2

2. Katy B, Little Red (Columbia) The debut album by young Kathleen Brien was good enough to make my runners-up list back in 2011, but as time went on, the more it grew on me, to the point where it was one of my most listened-to albums of 2012. On a Mission was an auspicious […]

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The Best Singles of 2014, #3

3. Alvvays, “Archie, Marry Me” Could this song not start off any more twee? Chirping birds, plaintively strummed guitar strings like some long-lost Bell and Sebastian demo recorded in a garden. But that’s the mood Alvvays sets out to establish on its lush, lo-fi charmer of a debut album, and breakthrough single “Marry Me Archie” […]

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The Best Albums of 2014, #3

3. Scott Walker + Sunn O))), Soused (4AD) The idea of Scott Walker and Sunn O))) collaborating was one that seemed too perfect to even imagine. “Like that partnership would ever happen.” Well, it did, and fans of the venerable, reclusive Walker, fans of the doom/drone duo, and fans of avant-garde music in general flipped […]

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The Best Singles of 2014, #4

4. Lana Del Rey, “West Coast” I liked Lana Del Rey’s hugely hyped debut album a couple years ago, but I never, ever expected to her to not only surpass that record but come through with a single as stunning as “West Coast”. The first time I heard it was in Paris actually. I’d just […]

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The Best Albums of 2014, #4

4. Lykke Li, I Never Learn (LL Recordings) It’s been rewarding watching Lykke Li evolve as an artist over the past seven years. In early 2008, when “Little Bit” was a minor indie hit over here and her debut album Youth Novels had charted in the top five in Scandinavian countries, she brought fresh, youthful […]

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The Best Singles of 2014, #5

5. Lykke Li, “Gunshot” Lykke Li was the Queen of Misery in an often very miserable year, her album I Never Learn turning out to be one of the most devastating confessional albums I’ve heard in a long time. What’s interesting about the album’s centerpiece “Gunshot” is that it’s the one song on the record […]

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The Best Albums of 2014, #5

5. Triptykon, Melana Chasmata (Century Media) The older I get, the bigger admirer of Tom Gabriel Fischer I become. His music speaks to me a whole lot more than it did 30 years ago. In fact, back then it sailed completely over my head, especially the way he so artfully juxtaposed the primitive with the […]

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The Best Singles of 2014, #6

6. FKA Twigs, “Two Weeks” I have plenty to write about FKA Twigs in the coming days, much of which relates to this extraordinary single from the stupendous album LP1. But when it comes to “Two Weeks”, it is, flat out, one of the steamiest songs I have ever heard. Thrumming sub-bass, beautifully pulsating beats, […]

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The Best Albums of 2014, #6

6. Swans, To Be Kind (Young God)  My favourite interview quote from this past year came courtesy Mike Scheidt of YOB, who offered his own definition of what makes music heavy. “Heavy is people,” he explained. “It’s not amplification, it’s not distortion, it’s not tuning, it’s not a style, it’s not volume. That’s not what […]

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The Best Singles of 2014, #7

7. St. Vincent, “Digital Witness” Already firmly established as one of the most innovative singer-songwriters and guitarists of the last decade or more, Annie Clark finally found a way to integrate pop music into her idiosyncratic, amorphous music on her self-titled 2014 album, and nowhere did the formula work better than on “Digital Witness”. Featuring […]

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