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gorilla vs. bear’s albums of 2014

GvsB // ALBUMS OF 2014

Here are our favorite records of 2014. The general consensus seems to be that this was probably not the most amazing year of all-time for new music, and further, we just weren’t feeling that many of the unanimously lauded critic/indie blog favorites this time around (many of which we wanted to love, but it just didn’t work out, with a few notable and very obvious exceptions). But as always, if you looked beyond the basic jams that everyone else insists are great, there were some serious jewels to be uncovered just below the surface. And we only had to cheat a few times this year, that I’m aware of (sup Lewis, Burial, & Johnny Jewel). Check the full list + an essential/beautiful spotify playlist after the jump, and as always, we’d genuinely like to hear your picks too. Thanks for sticking with us for another year, look for our perennially more interesting Songs of 2014 list in the coming days…





35 YOU’LL NEVER GET TO HEAVEN | Adorn





34 KORALLREVEN | Second Comin’





33 MR TWIN SISTER | Mr Twin Sister





32 SCHOOLBOY Q | Oxymoron





31 VESUVIO SOLO | Favors





30 THE WAR ON DRUGS | Lost in the Dream





29 VIET CONG | Cassette





28 SALES | Sales





27 ALVVAYS | Alvvays





26 MICA LEVI | Under the Skin

It’s difficult to separate Mica Levi’s intense, harrowing score from the film, obviously. But if you listen as you’re drifting off to sleep, you’ll find it also works well as a soundtrack to your own personal nightmares.





25 BEVERLY | Careers





24 TINASHE | Aquarius





23 JOHNNY JEWEL | rarities & unreleased (soundcloud)

Not an “album” per se, or even an “official release”, but Glass Candy/Chromatics mastermind Johnny Jewel has been quietly archiving some of the most beautiful music to be released this year over on his soundcloud, and as of today, he’s still going at it. Unreleased alternate takes, demos, rarities and covers all offer a glimpse into the prolific producer’s process; there’s even some lovely solo material, and it’s all free for the taking.





22 JESSIE WARE | Tough Love





21 RECYCLE CULTURE | Drown Me Up

It was tempting to just put this guy’s entire 2014 catalog on the list, but if we had to pick a favorite, it was his soothing, dreamily contemplative ambient composition Drown Me Up and its “peaceful, languorous Balearic waves“. But yeah, just go download it all.





20 PANDA BEAR | Mr Noah





19 DJ DODGER STADIUM | Friend of Mine





18 ANGEL OLSEN | Burn Your Fire For No Witness





17 ANA CAPRIX | For Seven Nights This Island is Ours





16 SHARON VAN ETTEN | Are We There





15 LEON VYNEHALL | Music for the Uninvited

We were latecomers to the greatness of Leon Vynehall, admittedly, but since his latest record came into our life, Music for the Uninvited — which was inspired in part by time spent listening to cassettes in the back of his mother’s car as a child — has been like a warm, fuzzy, danceable blanket. There’s something comfortingly repetitive and hypnotic about Vynehall’s dreamy style of deep house that sets it apart, and makes it an ideal soundtrack for late night decompression.





14 YUMI ZOUMA | Yumi Zouma





13 MARK BARROTT | Sketches From An Island

One of the most overlooked records of the year from International Feel main man Mark Barrott: his blissful Balearic dreamscape Sketches From An Island gives off similar vibes as that Quiet Village record we adored from 2008, but Sketches has an understated elegance and undeniable transportive quality that makes it feel like the next best thing to an actual tropical escape.





12 FLYING LOTUS | You’re Dead!





11 ANDY STOTT | Faith In Strangers





10 LANA DEL REY | Ultraviolence





09 FEAR OF MEN | Loom

Wistful, literary guitar-pop from Fear of Men: Loom is the UK group’s gorgeous and very emotional proper debut full-length, and it only reinforces our feeling that Jess Weiss is “one of the most devastating lyricists in the game, in both content and delivery”.





08 FREDDIE GIBBS & MADLIB | Piñata

Cinematic, soulful, hard-as-fuck street tales from the dream team of Gangsta Gibbs & the legend Madlib. Despite its gritty subject matter, Piñata manages to be one of the most fun records of the year.





07 LEWIS | L’Amour / Romantic Times

Two lost classics from the early ’80s, reissued by the great Light in the Attic, and inextricably tied to their unbelievable, or at least unlikely, provenance and the backstory of their creator, who might be a ghost. The music, which sounds either way ahead of its time or impossibly of-its-time, holds up.





06 DOSS | Doss + remixes

Our favorite debut of the year: a flawless, fleeting set of “cathartic, trance-inducing emotional dance music“, for which our love was only enhanced after seeing her do it live. Psyched to follow where she takes it next.





05 BURIAL | Rival Dealer

Yeah, this one came out last year.




04 TOPS | Picture You Staring

Our romantic, soft-dream-pop ideal, from one of the most underrated bands in the game.




03 ARIEL PINK | pom pom

pom pom is a brilliant, demented pop record that was marred for some, understandably, by the truly obnoxious shit Ariel Pink tends to say when baiting the leering music press (which, to be honest, seems like a fun, easy thing to do). It’s also one of the most touching records he’s ever made, with tracks like “Dayzed Inn Daydreams” and “Picture Me Gone” scaling the same rare emotional heights as “Round and Round“, which remains one of the best songs ever. “Not Enough Violence“, “Put Your Number in My Phone“, and “Lipstick” are all legit song-of-the-year contenders, and we’ve even come around on most of the silly novelty jams; apparently “Dinosaur Carebears” transforms from “mildly annoying” to “kind of amazing” after enough listens. Still can’t get down with the first half of “Sexual Athletics“, though, and even SoKo’s endearingly deranged hollering couldn’t save “Negativ Ed“.





02 GROUPER | Ruins

A lot has been made of Ruins‘ backstory: recorded in isolation in Aljezur, Portugal, to a portable 4-track, with a single mic and an upright piano; graced by the sounds of frogs, thunderstorms, and a rogue microwave beep, all left intact; the “emotional garbage” left in the wake of a devastating breakup. None of this can be understated, though, as Liz Harris intended for Ruins to be a “document” of a very specific time and emotional place. “A nod to that daily walk. Failed structures. Living in the remains of love.” And the rawest, most heartbreaking album of the year.





01 SHABAZZ PALACES | Lese Majesty

Unlike their previous, also brilliant full-length Black Up, Shabazz Palaces’ new “sonic move” Lese Majesty is not necessarily conducive to absorption in small doses. The record is a massive, dense monolith, divided into suites that only start to make sense after countless repeat listens. It’s a bridge from rap’s beginnings in the early ’70s into its future — structurally, thematically, lyrically, sonically, all of it — that sounds so many light years ahead of everything else in the genre that its nods to the past only reveal themselves after one invests real time immersed in what we called “the impossibly deep, singular astral landscape” that the group has created.






01 SHABAZZ PALACES | Lese Majesty
02 GROUPER | Ruins
03 ARIEL PINK | Pom Pom
04 TOPS | Picture You Staring
05 BURIAL | Rival Dealer
06 DOSS | Doss
07 LEWIS | L’Amour / Romantic Times
08 FREDDIE GIBBS & MADLIB | Piñata
09 FEAR OF MEN | Loom
10 LANA DEL REY | Ultraviolence

11 ANDY STOTT | Faith in Strangers
12 FLYING LOTUS | You’re Dead!
13 MARK BARROTT | Sketches From an Island
14 YUMI ZOUMA | Yumi Zouma
15 LEON VYNEHALL | Music for the Uninvited
16 SHARON VAN ETTEN | Are We There
17 ANA CAPRIX | For Seven Nights This Island Is Ours
18 ANGEL OLSEN | Burn Your Fire For No Witness
19 DJ DODGER STADIUM | Friend of Mine
20 PANDA BEAR | Mr Noah

21 RECYCLE CULTURE | Drown Me Up
22 JESSIE WARE | Tough Love
23 JOHNNY JEWEL | rarities + unreleased (soundcloud)
24 TINASHE | Aquarius
25 BEVERLY | Careers
26 MICA LEVI | Under the Skin
27 ALVVAYS | Alvvays
28 SALES | Sales
29 VIET CONG | Cassette
30 THE WAR ON DRUGS | Lost in the Dream

31 VESUVIO SOLO | Favors
32 SCHOOLBOY Q | Oxymoron
33 MR TWIN SISTER | Mr Twin Sister
34 KORALLREVEN | Second Comin’
35 YOU’LL NEVER GET TO HEAVENAdorn

…and the full 2-hour Spotify playlist:

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