Feast your eyes and ears on the second half of my top ten albums of 2014. Like the first part, my choices feature internatinoal music, a healthy dose of CanCon and are in no particular order, but with a very special honorable mention at the end.
Tove Lo – Queen of the clouds
Without a doubt, this is the album that takes my top spot this year. Months and months ago a friend of mine sent me Tove Lo’s single “Habits (Stay High)”, telling me to give it a listen, that I’d like it. I did, and I did. Then summer hit and you couldn’t turn on a radio or leave your house without singing this song, leading me to investigate further. Her EP Truth Serum served to wet my appetite for the the release of her first full album Queen of the Clouds, an album I now can’t live without. Queen of the Cloud is a musical triptych that chronicles romance as we now know it. Each section is a full sensory experience evoking its title perfectly. From the undulating, sensual and lively beats of “The Sex” and the ethereal sweetness of “The Love” to the eviscerating, heart-wrenching pain of, of course, “The Pain”; Tove Lo’s album can be picked up, put down, and put on repeat in sections, depending on what stage of romantic entanglement you find yourself in, whether it be a heady, sexy fit of passion to a gut-wrenching, soul-crushing breakup, and all the beauty in between. It’s stunningly crafted and perfectly curated, and the results are gorgeous.
Death from Above 1979 – The Physical World
The pressure was on DFA 1979 to make a great follow up to their now legendary debut You’re a Woman, I’m a Machine, and Sebastian Grainger and Jesse Keeler did just that. The Physical World is slightly more mature, but just as thrashy, punky, electonic-y dirty good as its predecessor. It’s the perfect balance of a sonic evolution, while staying true to the headbanging, moshpit creating sound that gave DFA 1979 the staying power they have, and the ability to ride the power and influence of a single album for over a decade. These are the songs that they have been teasing us with at their live shows for the past few years, and if you’re anything like me, you’re going to be thrilled that you can finally have them in your possession.
Teenage Kicks – Spoils of Youth
This is the album that the entire Toronto indie music community had been waiting for. Years in the making, Spoils of Youth was well worth the wait. While this is definitely an indie rock album, there’s a depth, an intense beauty and an undeniable soul to it. This was a hard won victory, the creation of this album, for brothers Peter and Jeff van Helvoort, and you can hear it in every song on the record. The mood of the album ebbs and flows, with energetic high points, soul shattering lows, and many poignant and emotional moments in between. It’s the soundtrack to that coming of age summer blockbuster that everyone can relate to – that mix of hardship and hope, failure and triumph.
Royal Blood – Royal Blood
Royal Blood’s self titled debut album is this year’s AM (Arctic Monkeys’ slinky 2013 release) for me. Ballsy, beautiful and sexy as hell, the boys of Royal Blood have given us an album to drink to, dance to, fuck to, and pass out to after a long and awesome night of doing all of the above. It’s heavy and noisy in the best way possible, quite the feat considering that this band has only two members. This is the album I’ll be putting on to seduce boys, and you know they’ll be loving it. Royal Blood combines the suave sexiness of Arctic Monkeys, the hard rock masculinity of Rival Sons, and hell, they even throw in some Them Crooked Vultures vibes just to make sure no one can keep their clothes on while this album is playing. Well played Royal Blood, well played.
Flash Lightnin’ – For the Sinners
To the surprise of no one, Toronto’s pillars of sex, drugs and rock and roll made a fuckin’ great record in 2014. Flash Lightnin’ managed to evolve and mature their sound, while staying true to their ballsy, sweaty, beer and whiskey soaked style. For the Sinners is music to do bad things to, and have a blast while doin’ ’em. It’s an album to drive too fast to, to pound back too many shots to, and to stay up way to late dancing to. But when you need a soundtrack to nurse your hangover to, this album is also there for you. It’s like that good friend that you know you can party with, but who will hold your hair back when you need her to, and put water by your bedside, because she knows you’ll need it in the morning. It’s a balance that’s hard to achieve, but oh so good when you do, and Flash Lightnin’ have definitely made it work here.
Honourable mention: Soundgarden – Superunkown (the 20th Anniversary reissue)
I’ve credited this album on more than one occasion as the reason why I love music as much as I do. It’s the album that introduced me to Soundgarden, the band that made me realize that music can be an all consuming addiction, in the best way possible. After 20 years Soundgarden has put this gem of a record out, remastered and, if you lined up in the cold on Record Store Day like I did, a collection of bsides and rarities with Superunknown: The Singles. I listened to this record over and over as a teenager, and now again as an adult, making this record necessitate an 11th spot on my top 10 albums of 2014 list.
Want to get your hands on one of these albums, or another favorite of yours? Be sure to tweet me (@nadiae55) and Addicted (@weraddicted) with your favorite albums of this year to win a $20 gift certificate from my favorite record store here in Toronto, Kops Records! Simply tweet “I want to get addicted to music with @weraddicted and @kopsrecords! #addictedtomusic”. Contest closes January 9th at noon, EST. Winning tweet will be selected at random. Winner must be 18 years of age or older and a resident of Canada. Please note the prize can only be collected and redeemed at one of the Kops Records locations in Toronto.