Top 20: The best albums of 2014
Buro 24/7 Middle East's favourite music from this year...
With only a matter of hours left of 2014, it's time to take in all the best music that has been released this year.
From the new form of synth-pop that became very popular in the last twelve months to the indie rock genre and classic R&B tunes, Buro 24/7 Middle East shines a spotlight on some of the best musical offerings from 2014 which can't be forgotten... And are headed for great things next year.
FKA Twigs – LP1
British songstress, Tahliah Debrett Barnett – better known by her stage name FKA Twigs – is one of this year's biggest newcomers. Originally from Gloucestershire, England, Twigs' debut album LP1 was released in August to critical acclaim, with her raspy voice and experimental beats keeping her on the forefront of the music scene. Top names in music such as Sampha even helped out on the album, helping produce the track Numbers, as well Paul Epworth (Adele, Coldplay, The Rapture) who's responsible for Pendulum, the album's most emotional ballad.
The War on Drugs – Lost in the Dream
Formed back in 2005, The War on Drugs is an American indie rock band from Philadelphia, USA. Lost in the Dream was the six-member band's third studio album, written and recorded following an extensive touring and period of loneliness from primary songwriter Adam Granduciel, with the latest offering from the band featuring the smash hit Red Eyes. Lost In The Dream has also been declared as one of the best albums of 2014 in numerous publications around the globe, from US music magazines to Belgian newspapers.
Lykke Li – I Never Learn
Fusing violins, synthesisers, tambourines, trumpets and cellos with her ethereal vocals, Lykke Li's music is one-of-a-kind. On February 27, the Swedish popstar rose to musical stardom as she released the video for the title track of her third studio album, I Never Learn. Following the release, Li's songs have been getting critical acclaim, especially her lead single No Rest for the Wicked. According to Li, the album is the final installment in a trilogy chronicling "a woman in her twenties and her search for love and herself."
Caribou – Our Love
Our Love is the sixth studio album by Canadian musician Caribou, released in October, via City Slang and Merge Records. The electronic album reached number 46 on the Billboard 200, and it boasted some hit singles such as Our Love and Can't Do Without You. "It can change your perspective and the effect you want to have on the world, and Our Love is a worthy tribute to that messy, unbelievably powerful force." said Pitchfork in its review of the album.
MØ – No Mythologies to Follow
Recorded by Danish artist MØ, No Mythologies to Follow was her debut album and combines the genres of indie pop and electronic dance. Her track Pilgrim was also featured as the score in the Italian version of Acqua di Gioia's advertisement, with most of the album's twelve tracks built on top of a base of pulsing synths and hypnotic melodies.
Sia - 1000 Forms of Fear
After battling with a turbulent past, 1000 Forms of Fear was Sia's first album in four years, and was the Australian singer-songwriter's sixth studio album and her most popular. Chandelier, released in March 2014, served as the album's lead single and one of the most listened to songs of this year (and came complete with the delightfully strange video of a small girl dancing above). This album marked Sia's first number one album in the United States and sold – in its first week – more than 52,000 copies.
Jack White – Lazaretto
Lazaretto is the second studio album by Jack White, released through White's own label Third Man Records in association with XL Recordings and Columbia Records. Lazaretto was partly inspired by a collection of short stories, poems, and plays White wrote when he was 19-years-old and rediscovered years later while in his attic – with the album debuting at number one on the Billboard 200, selling 138,000 copies in its first week.
Sam Smith – In the Lonely Hour
A Buro 24/7 Middle East favourite, The Lonely Hour marked the debut album by British singer Sam Smith. It was released in the United Kingdom in May and features the hit singles Money on My Mind and Stay with Me, both of which went to number one in the UK, as well as peaking the top ten in over ten countries. In an interview with Digital Spy, when asked to describe the album, Smith said, "My debut album is just a diary from a lonely 21-year-old. That's what it is. It was my way of talking about the only real issue in my life.
Damien Rice – My Favourite Faded Fantasy
My Favourite Faded Fantasy is the third studio album by Irish singer, songwriter and producer Damien Rice. The album was produced by musical legend Rick Rubin and was released in November, almost eight years since the release of his previous album, 9. After eight years, one would expect Rice's music to be different from before, however he's returned with eight satisfying, wholesome tracks.
Beck – Morning Phase
Morning Phase is the twelfth studio album by American musician Beck. The breakthrough indie rock album was released in February via his new label Capitol Records. Upon its release, the album received critical praise and is currently nominated in five categories at the 57th Grammy Awards. The album features melodic acoustic chords, chiming percussions, and synthesizers that blur Beck's echoing vocals.
St Vincent – St Vincent
St. Vincent is the eponymous fourth studio album by American musician St. Vincent. The alternative rock album was produced by John Congleton and features unique collaborations from Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings drummer Homer Steinweiss and Midlake drummer McKenzie Smith – with eveything recorded in Elmwood Studios in Dallas, Texas. Alex Denny of The Fly rated the album four-and-a-half stars out of five, describing the new tracks as "her most ebullient, ambitiously styled music to date"
Ed Sheeran- X
British favourite Ed Sheeran released his second studio album X (pronounced "multiply") on June 20, becoming an international success in its first week on sale. This month, Spotify even named X as the most-streamed album in the world for 2014, racking up more than 430 million streams for the year. Sheeran's X is also nominated for 'Best Pop Vocal Album' and 'Album of the Year' for the 2015 Grammy Awards. Sing, one of the album's more popular tracks was even produced by Pharrell Williams and influenced by Justin Timberlake. "It was pretty close to a direct inspiration," he told Billboard. "I love 'Justified' and 'FutureSex/LoveSounds, so I took inspiration from those."
Lana Del Rey – Ultraviolence
Falling into the pop rock category, Ultraviolence is the third studio album by American singer-songwriter Lana Del Rey. Originally, after her major-label debut Born to Die in 2012, the singer dismissed the possibility of releasing another record, however production continued in 2014 where she collaborated with Dan Auerbach to create Ultraviolence. The album features hit singles, West Coast, Shades of Cool, Ultraviolence and Brooklyn Baby. Del Rey has also recently confirmed her first headlining dates of the 2015 Endless Summer Tour.
Thom Yorke – Tomorrow's Modern Boxes
Tomorrow's Modern Boxes is the second solo album by Thom Yorke of the English alternative rock band Radiohead. The music was produced by Yorke's long-time producer and collaborator Nigel Godrich, and independently released via a paid-for BitTorrent bundle in September, and was successfully downloaded over a million times within six days of its debut. This week, it was also unveiled that Yorke was the most legally downloaded artist on filesharing service BitTorrent in 2014.
Coldplay – Ghost Stories
This year, the famed British band released their sixth studio album. Ghost Stories was recorded by the band throughout 2013 and 2014 at the band's purpose-built home studios in London, England, and in Los Angeles. It also features a variety of celebrated guest producers, including Avicii, Timbaland and Madeon, and the band's frequent collaborator Jon Hopkins. In an interview with Zane Lowe, frontman Chris Martin explained, "The idea of Ghost Stories, for me, was "how do you let the things that happen to you in the past - your ghosts – how do you let them affect your present and your future?"
Pink Floyd –The Endless River
The Endless River is the fifteenth and final studio album by the iconic British progressive rock band Pink Floyd. It is Pink Floyd's first studio album since the death of keyboardist and founder member Richard Wright, The Endless River was released on 7 November 2014 and mostly comprises instrumental music. It is based on 20 hours of unreleased material Pink Floyd wrote, recorded and produced with Wright during sessions for their previous studio albums.
Alt-j – This Is All Yours
This Is All Yours is the second studio album by English band Alt-J, released on September 22 2014, the indie rock band's debut album An Awesome Wave was released in 2012 in Europe and won the 2012 British Mercury Prize. Their second album, This Is All Yours, was released in September and went straight to the number 1 position in the UK. The majority of the songs from This Is All Yours were written while touring their debut album, An Awesome Wave, while newer ones such as Hunger of the Pine were written in "a really cool little converted Warehouse in Hackney, very cliché East London", according to the band.
Metronomy – Love Letters
English electronic band Metronomy dropped their fourth studio album Love Letters, in March, with the British indie-pop band led by Joe Mount and was recorded at Toe Rag Studios. The title track of the album's (also called Love Letters) music video was even directed by one of the all-time greats of the medium, Michel Gondry. Metronomy's single Love Letters was even named by Zane Lowe as the "Hottest Record in the World".
Beyoncé – Beyoncé
Beyoncé never fails to impress, debuting her fifth album as a complete surprise to the music industry and world. The album has been identified as one of the most explicit pop albums ever recorded, and the superstar – who became the most nominated female artist ever for the Grammy Awards – developed an audio visual to every track on the album on a strictly 'no public knowledge' policy. Beyoncé managed to debute at number one on the U.S. Billboard 200, earning Beyoncé her fifth consecutive number one album in the country. Bey and her husband Jay Z also managed to find time to do a joint tour this year, with their 'On The Run' tour grossing more than $100 million in ticket sales.
Flying Lotus – You're Dead!
American electronic producer Flying Lotus – producer Steven Ellison – released his fifth studio album You're Dead! in October in the UK. Lotus managed to excitingly cross both electronic and hip hop genres together, with his album featuring Kendrick Lamar and Snoop Dogg, with the album reaching the American Billboard Top 20 this year. You're Dead was also named one of the top 50 albums of the year by Rolling Stone.