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Best New Music, 2014 edition


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Not sure if TRIBE is the best place for these lists anymore, and perhaps I'm jumping the gun a bit, but whatevs, I'm not really expecting anything new and great to jump out in the next month, and so, hey, here we go.

Unlike other recent years, I did not feel that 2014 was an exemplary year for new music. In fact, I thought, overall, that this was a year full of underwhelming disappointments by artists whom would normally make my top 10, a highly subjective list that includes St.Vincent, Lykke Li, The Drums, La Roux… the list goes on.

So, with no further ado, here's the stuff I loved (or liked a lot), and had on repeat all year:

1) FKA Twigs - "LP1" : essentially she's the perfect humanoid fusion of Sade and Bjork, and the slow-burn buildup to her first official LP was a feat of social media (and artistic) marketing genius. Which did not disappoint. Pretty much the most refreshing new album to come out this year. Oh, and I saw her perform live in a small intimate Montreal venue, which was a treat that I expect to never experience again. Only downside: Apparently she's still dating Robert Patterson, who's Twilight tweenie nutbar fanbase has been flaming her with all sorts of negative and racist comments. Oh well, I'm sure she'll grow up and learn better.

2) Mr. Little Jeans - "Pocketknife" - How this exquisite little electro-pop gem fell so far below the radar is the stuff of market-analytics thesis's. Problem #1: It so summertime fresh, yet it was released in February 2014. (Unlike Lykki Li's morbidly depressing album, which was released in May 2014 in the first days of summertime spring, yet was much better suited to the winter months). In any case, no, Norwegian girl Monica Birkenes' album was not *groundbreaking* in the way Lykki Li nor Florence Welch were a few years back. Nope. "Pocketknife" is merely a collection of exquisitely crafted 'lecto-pop gems that you can listen to over and over again and never get sick of them. Plus, her cover of Arcade Fire's "The Suburbs" is widely acknowledged as being superior to the original. All of which, in this year of lameness, conspires to make this album #2.

3) Aphex Twin - "Syro" : well, others praised this album as like the second coming of techno Jesus genius. I won't go that far. I just liked the fact that it did remind me of his mid-90s output (which was when I was all gaga over Aphex Twin).

4) Teen - "The Way and the Colour" : These Brooklyn girls worked so hard on this. You can tell. And yet, while it falls short of being truly moving and epic and innovative, it's still some of the best *experimental* alt-psych-pop to come out this year, drawing heavily upon classic David Bowie and Kate Bush (their acknowledged influences, among others). To complete the package, check out their 2013 psych-pop ep "Carolina".

5) Phantogram ("Voices") vs. Warpaint (self-titled) - not to sure what to make of this battle of the neo-goth girls, which also includes Dum Dum Girls, but this seemed to be a meme this year. Overall, my impressions are - Phantogram has the most catchy songs, and it sounds like they're trying their best to be some neo-goth Beach House. Warpaint's album has the problem of sounding too *samey*, but the standout tracks are just aces. And from what I've seen via Coachella and other live feeds, both acts are just excellent live.

6) Jessie Ware "Tough Love" - wow, now this is a tightrope walk of sorts. On her sophomore album, Ms Ware is veering ever closer to channeling 1980s white soul like Hall & Oates, while keeping it in the bedroom, Sade style. And in the hands of other artists, these songs would come across like so much saccarine pablum. It's only Jessie Ware's incredible voice, her clear conviction, and moments of sound-compositional ingenuity that makes this a top 10, and not an utter piece of crap. Also, that *Red Bull Academy remix sessions" which she recently broadcasted was just the Best.

7) Tennis - "Ritual in Repeat" - yup, that husband and wife team may come across as a bit *preppy*, but still, they're doing their darndest to create an entire album's worth of earworm catchy retro- songs. Nearest neighbour I would say is "She & Him", Zooey Dechanel's decent retro-music gig. Also, I saw them live this past year in an intimate Montreal performance venue, and it was a very gratifying show.

8) Lydia Ainsworth - "Right from Real" : well, you can always tell when someone listens to Kate Bush a lot. To Ms. Ainsworth's credit, she's able to pull off her arty art-pop with cellos stuff, with aplomb.

9) Wild Beasts - "Present Tense" : songs like "Wanderlust" and "Daughters" do tend to creep up the back of your spine the way classic Massive Attack songs used to do.

10) SIA ("50 Forms of Fear") vs Taylor Swift ("1989") - in a year of indie-lameness, it's time to check out what the big name mainstream acts are doing. And of these, Sia has some serious compositional and vocal edge. Taylor Swift, however, knows how to make an album so complete that it *breaks the internet*, or at least saves the mainstream music industry. For now.

11) Other - as usual, some of the best new music was in EP or singles form, and of these, some great stuff was released by Avalon Emerson, Nicole Moudaber, Say Lou Lou, and Jon Hopkins ("Asleep Versions").

ok that's what I got. Whata you got?


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will check some of those out. way prefer threads like this where people talk a bit about the music and the style rather just a slew of youtube clips with little explanation.

I'll post my list soon.


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The War On Drugs-"Lost In The Dream" was probably my favourite record of the year. The songwriting, instrumentation and production were all equally brilliant and mesmerizing. Easily one of the best modern rock records in a while.


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Always look forward to the year end lists, and agree with so many of your thoughts. Not one of the better years for music, but some fantastic gems out there...At times, I have found myself leaning toward a little more harder edged stuff this year, but from top to bottom the War on Drugs album is definitely one of my favourites. Also in 2013 so many great electronic albums were released (BOC, Jon Hopkins, James Holden), and although 2014 doesn't seem as strong, there were some solid releases.

Parquet Courts - Sunbathing Animal - A really solid album from start to finish with the title track one of my favourites of the year.

Roman Flugel - Happiness is Happening - if only for the track Wilkie.

Haunted Hearts - Imitations - Really nice dreamy/shoegazey stuff. A perfect tempo and mood for 2014.

Agree with the inclusion of Aphex. I will throw in Caribou as well. Some really great tracks, and if not at the level of Swim, it is still a pretty solid album.

I haven't checked out Jon Hopkins, Asleep Versions, but still loving Immunity and need to give this a spin.

Also pretty good stuff from Eagulls, Trust, Johnny Marr (surprisingly good album), Horrors and the Todd Terje album.

Some others that escape me at present. Possibly missing the Go Train commute for keeping my music library current.


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real estate - atlas
the horrors - luminous
alvvays - alvvays
traumprinz - all the things

i also heard the new tin man album the other day for the first time and quite enjoyed it.

i'd like to properly listen to FKA twigs, war on drugs and caribou, rather than just hearing it in the background.

i didn't even know there was a new wild beasts album. out of the loop.
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The War On Drugs-"Lost In The Dream" was probably my favourite record of the year. The songwriting, instrumentation and production were all equally brilliant and mesmerizing. Easily one of the best modern rock records in a while.

yes, based on the few recommendations here, I went and procured it, and yes, I can easily see how this will make a lot of top 5 lists.

That being said, anyone else still a music-ie (like a foodie, except into music).

Need more suggestions for what I've missed

Twinkle Toes

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The War On Drugs-"Lost In The Dream" was probably my favourite record of the year. The songwriting, instrumentation and production were all equally brilliant and mesmerizing. Easily one of the best modern rock records in a while.
Great choice!

Sonic Highways - Foo Fighters
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Sal De Ban

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From Pitchfork: Parisian duo the Dø met while recording music for the 2005 French thriller L’Empire des Loups, which translates to The Empire of Wolves. All these years later, their songs still have the spare eeriness that meeting implies. For their new album, Shake Shook Shaken, they pared the music down, focusing on just a few electronic elements and the forlorn voice of singer Olivia Merilahti.

Sal De Ban

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I was very recently introduced to the band Jungle. Quite new fresh awesome stuff. It should be considered among this year's tops.

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Recently stumbled across some songs by this up&coming alt-country singer, Nathalie Prass. Her *gimmick* is to orchestrate her lovelorn songs with 70s style (cheesy) string and sax arrangements. So far it's working.

May be an early contender for best of 2015 list:

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Ghostface Killah - 36 Seasons - Made up for the mess that was A Better Tomorrow by Wu Tang. Only issue was that it was too short.

Todd Terje - It's Album Time - Fantastic Essential Mix followed up by a really excellent disco flavored album.

Caribou - Our Love - one of those albums you'll be going back to every couple of years. Another fantastic Essential Mix as well from a few weeks back.

Live in Toronto - mixed by John Digweed - recorded live @ Guvernment last month, it's a sentimental favorite, a fantastic 3CD mix joint and another winner in the series he's been doing.

Essential Mix - Gorgon City - 23rd Aug 2014 - A stunner 2 hours mix with fantastic vocals and beautiful house music.

Aphex Twin - Syro - Gotta give respect to one of the grandmasters - it's a great album with a solid flow and lots of flavour.

Sal De Ban

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^^ yeah the Terje essential mix was pretty awesome. he threw in some rafferty, mccartney, so many oddball things, and made them work. Delorean Dynamite and Inspector Norse will be very memorable tracks for time to come.


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Well, from the *official lists* I've been reading (The Guardian/NME/Rolling Stone....), of the albums I propped, FKA Twigs, Aphex Twin, and Wild Beasts are right up there, along with War on Drugs, Run The Jewels 2, and St.Vincent .. (St.Vincent.. I get it, but my impressions were those of a similar commentator -"Much to Admire, Little to Enjoy" - her album just left me ambivalent. But she absolutely kills it live - probably one of the best live acts of this year).

Lydia Ainsworth, Todd Terje, and Phantogram got props in several lists.

War on Drugs and Run the Jewels, I slept on, but those are top 10 (or 5) for sure.

Also, Charlie XCX's recently released album "Sucker" is a lot of fun. And D'Angelo's new album is getting major props. So, la vie continue....


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My Fav Hip Hop ALbums from 2014

Ras Kass & Apollo Brown - Blashphemy
Dialated Peoples - Directors of Photography
Ghostface Killah - 36 Seasons
Killer Mike & El-P - Run The Jewels 2
Souls of Mishchief - There Is Only Now
Cormega - Mega Philosphy
DJ Quik - Midnite Life
Prhyme - Prhyme


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I'm a bit late posting this to Tribe, but here is my 14 for 14.

Caribou - Our Love
Leon Vynehall - Music for the Uninvited
Ought - Today More Than Any Other Day
Run the Jewels - Run the Jewels 2
War on Drugs - Lost in the Dream
TekLife (VA) - Next Life
Spoon - They Want My Soul
FKA Twigs - LP1
Vince Staples - Hell Can Wait
Aphex Twin - Syro
Eno and Hyde - High Life
Mac Demarco - Salad Days
Iceage - Plowing into the Field of Love
Clark - Clark

Honourable Mentions:

Moodymann - Moodymann
Eagulls - Eagulls
Todd Terje - It's Album Time
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And am I the only big Ghostface fan who thinks the latest album is just a bunch of half-cocked retread business? Don't get me wrong, I'm not mad about it, it's still Ghost and it's still a decent listen, but it doesn't come close to Fishscale or More Fish.
It's a retread of 12 Reasons to Die, but what I found different is how generous he is with the mic - he gives Kool G Rap, AZ and others far more time on the album than what would be considered a guest appearance.

It's a lot more polished than 12 Reasons to Die, too. Like I said, I might be giving it a better rating on the grounds that A Better Tomorrow was a pretty big disappointment for all the hype, but I'm quite confident that I'll be coming back to 36 Seasons for additional listens in a few months.
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