It’s funny, when I first thought about making a list of my top albums for 2014, I couldn’t think of more than two that moved me this year. But music can creep in and become a part of your existence, sometimes without you even knowing. In digging through my phone, Rdio playlists and record collection, I realized that so many albums I’d been listening to did in fact come out this year, stretching my list from just a couple to a fine 10, with one unforgettable honourable mention. Without further ado, check out part one of my top albums of 2014!
FKA Twigs – LP1
While y’all in North America were losing your minds over Beyonce, I was opening my ears in the across the pond to the beautiful FKA Twigs. There aren’t enough words to describe the strong sensuality that this album exudes. Twigs’ brand of subversive, subtle yet incredibly powerful sensuality is mesmerizing, and woven into every song on this album. Her light, breathy voice, layered into harmony upon harmony raises goosebumps on every inch of flesh, sends shivers of spines and an irresistible urge to wind your body right into your brain. There’s a sensual decadence to this album; you can imagine it playing in the suites of a modern day palace, with beautiful silk clad women dancing together, while their male subjects watch in delicious agony, aroused and astounded at the same time by the beauty and power before them. in Twigsworld, women rule – ESPECIALLY in the bedroom (“Two Weeks” – try not to get turned on by that song). Her music is made for powerful, confident women, because that’s what she is. her quiet confidence is inspiring, and encompassed in this album. So you guys can keep your Bey – I got my Twigs and she’s my awesome.
The Strumbellas – We Still Move on Dancefloors
This is just a perfect summertime album. Folk with just enough rock to make it lively, while still retaining those key elements; strummy, sweet guitars and soaring harmonies. It’s an album that puts a smile on your face, makes you think of beautiful sunny days, the wind blowing through your hair as the Strumbellas play this record for you from a stage in the middle of a park somewhere. That’s really what sealed the deal for me on this album, and it’s inclusion in this list. it’s an album that comes to life when played live, the energy the band exudes, the beautiful chemistry that flows between artist and audience. Singing, dancing, jumping and simply living, it’s an album that infuses happiness into every one who hears it. Get a load of this strummy twangy, sing along worthy goodness in you before the year is out. Bonus points if you play it while sitting by a warm cozy fire while wearing cozy flannel pajamas and drinking hot apple cider, I think the Strumbellas would like that.
Rich Aucoin – Ephemeral
I was sold on this record before it actually existed, like most Rich Aucoin fans. This is an album born of Aucoin’s ingenious and infectious live performance. The beauty of this album is that it gives you the feeling of being at an Aucoin show while sitting at home with your headphones on. The work and thought that went into this album is also staggering. Aucoin invited a slew of Canadian musicians to contribute, and also used sample tracks of his audience singing along to the songs in order to have a huge number of voices on this album. It’s a complex album in that you can hear and feel the work, effort and innovation that went into its creation, but its beauty is in its simple ability to evoke an emotional response in its listener. it’s impossible to stay still at a Rich Aucoin show, and it’s impossible not to feel all the feels while listening to Ephemeral. But contrary to what its title implies, this is an album that will stay with you, that you’ll reach for when you need a pick me up, a burst of energy, or simply a musical blanket to cuddle you into comfort on a cold winter night.
Phantogram – Voices
I was hooked on this album the moment I heard “Fall in Love” on the radio earlier this year. Seeing Phantogram perform sealed the deal, and I took Voices home (on vinyl of course) that same night. It’s been a staple on my turn table ever since. Sarah Barthel’s beautiful, sweet yet strong voice fills my apartment, whether I’m swaying to “Bill Murray” or dancing my ass of to “Howl at the Moon”. It’s that perfect cross over album, helping me toe the waters of electronic music, while still firmly planted in the familiar worlds of pop, with just enough rock to keep me interested.
Dear Criminals – Woman
I have always loved “different” covers, when a band or artist not only performs the song of another, but personalizes and changes it to the point that the listening experience is altogether different and unique. That’s exactly what Dear Criminals does with their EP Woman. I discovered Dear Criminals at the Emerging Music Festival in Rouyn Noranda earlier this year. They played an ethereal set in front of a misty lake, the cinematic feel of their music perfect for the natural backdrop and man-made artscape of a stage that was built for them. You can imagine my surprise when the familiar lyrics of “…Baby one more time” fell oh so sweetly from singer Frannie Holder’s lips. I was mesmerised. Dear Criminals had taken this bubble gum pop hit and made it a delicate and lovely work of art, the likes of which Ms. Spears could never aspire to. Their publicist sent me back to my hotel with a copy of the EP, and I discovered that the band had given that same magical treatment to multiple pop hits, making them shiny, new and so beautifully different than the originals. Head over to the bands soundcloud page and pay what you can to own this album for yourself. Just do it, trust me.
Stay tuned for the second half of this list, out tomorrow!