Top Five Albums of 2014, part 1
- The War on Drugs: Lost in a Dream
Forget Dave Grohl and his vanity projects, Lost in a Dream is the real sonic highway. Adam Granduciel’s Americana vocals and prog guitars takes the listener on a journey into the golden fields of his despair and it is a fantastic listen. What should be a tired old genre has been an adrenaline shot by The War on Drugs. Not that they’d condone that.
- Sharon Von Etten: Are You There
This album is DARK! There are certain artists that invite you into their personal space with such lack of care that you wonder if they haven’t hit their head and you’re actually intruding. Why does Sharon want to share her break up with the world? The answer? Because it gave birth to the most devastatingly beautiful album of the year. Through 11 songs of despair, frustration, and cold anger, Von Etten rips the stitches from her soul and lets it all pour out. Highlights include Break Me, a fuzz bomb of intent, the calm but cunning Taking Chances and the searing Your Love is Killing Me.
- Interpol: El Pintor
2014 was a great year for comebacks-notably Death From Above 1979- but the real career resurgence goes to Interpol. El Pintor, the bands fifth album (and first without eccentric bassist Carlos D), found the band sounding more vital than they have since 2004’s Antics. Kicking off with the masterful All the Rage Back Home, their white-hot gloom rock proved that bands of this type still have a place in an EDM-obsessed music culture. In fact, they even tinker with the genre in the opening of the albums best track, Tidal Wave. Interpol proved that, in 2014, the dark wasn’t dead.
- St Vincent: St Vincent
Annie Clark’s fourth solo album get points for being the most original and wacked-out album of the year. Leave it to St Vincent to be both Clark’s least accessible album and yet her most popular to date. Clark has crafted a purely original sound (although I suspect she learned a thing or to from last year’s David Byrne collaboration) with the likes of Birth in Reverse and the single Digital Witness, exposing her cool hand at pop songs made up of ones and zeros.
- Warpaint: Warpaint
The LA foursome’s sophomore effort should have been a complete write-off. Surely this ramshackle group couldn’t follow up their blissfully chaotic debut with anything other than aimless prog-surfer noise. Yet Warpaint proved everyone wrong with a self-titled masterpiece full of a more hypnotic and more focused sound. Helped by Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich, Warpaint is full of doubt, isolation and a snarkyness that would be at home on any punk album, yet they wrap it all up in silky compositions such as the lush Love is to Die, the dreamy Feeling Alright and the storming Biggy. Warpaint is quite simply the best album of 2014.
By Kevin Boyle