BEST ALBUMS OF 2014: #20-16

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20. Run the Jewels 2 – Run the Jewels

If we learned anything from Run the Jewels’ first album, we knew that they were brutal. While their last LP failed to really hit home with me(probably because I listened to it last minute?) I really thought that this one resonated with me. I think a lot of the topics as well as the hooks and beats all kind of grabbed me in a way that a rap album hasn’t really done since, well….RTJ member Killer Mike’s last album, R.A.P. Music. I mean there weren’t any songs on the last RTJ album that i really played over and over again as much as I do songs like “Jeopardy”, “Close Your Eyes(And Count to Fuck)” and “Oh My Darling Don’t Cry”.

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19. Loom – Fear of Men

The debut album of the english four piece is familiar in sound most definitely but the difference in this band is their leading lady, Jess Weiss. Her tales of doomed relationships and tender vocals float over explosive yet sharp, and complicated soundscapes on songs like “Alta/Waterfall”, “Tephra” and “Luna”. As far as rock/indie rock albums go, Jess Weiss is only to be upstaged by Angel Olsen in terms of grabbing my attention with her hypnotic vocals. It’s part Cranberries, part Morrissey. Fear of Men proves to be one of the more focused and straightforward new bands of the year with a sound that is as dark as it is inviting.

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18. Turn Blue – The Black Keys

Heartache and pain runs ramped all over the Black Keys latest album, Turn Blue. The album had come after the news of lead singer/guitarist Dan Auerbach going through a divorce had broke in February 2013. While the Keys haven’t as much changed their sound as much as they’ve refined it, a lot of the tiny nuances and rearrangements on this album keep it together. “Fever” may have gotten the radio play but it’s songs like “In Time”, “Year in Review” and “Weight of Love” that are absolutely spellbinding. If there is one thing that keeps the Keys afloat, it’s how much soul they can pack into their psychedelic blues. It’s the one quality of their music that continuously sticks in my brain, album after album.

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17. At Best Cuckold – Avi Buffalo

On Avi Buffalo’s second full length album, we find him plagued by romantic misfortune as well as youthful decadence. The equal parts moody and mellow songwriting on At Best Cuckold seems to be lead by very sharp, yet very straightforward lyrics from Avigdor Zahner-Isenberg. What makes Avi Buffalo so interesting is the fact that they aren’t trying to act wiser than their years may assume. So much of the songs on this album are very much about being caught in the moment, sometimes disastrously. It’s an album about as much as being immature as it is being inadequate. 

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16. Benji – Sun Kil Moon

Many of the songs on Sun Kil Moon’s latest are very personal tales being told by Mark Kozelek. And a lot of them are about life and death. The approach on Benji is that of less is more. Less instrumentation, more storytelling. The stories may not go into one another, but it all feels like Kozelek is giving us an observation of life. Life, death, sex, youth, sorrow, friendship, family. It’s all there in this record. 

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