Carolyn's Best of 2014 Picks

Best of 2014 (In a Nutshell)

There’s been a plethora of great music this year, to say the least.  I’ve been sitting and contemplating what I might consider the 'Best of 2014,' and after much debate with myself, I’ve finally reached a conclusion.  So here it is, my favorite albums, EPs, and tracks of this the year of 2014...along with my 10 Honorable Mentions and My Guilty Pleasure Song of the Year.

Ben Howard - I Forget Where We Were

If I had to choose an official album of the year, I think it would be this one.  I (like many others) have been waiting some time for new Ben Howard music.  He disappeared for a little and came out of the darkness of the Burgh Island EP with this mature and pleasant sophomore album.  I think this album secures the belief that Ben Howard can never go wrong, whether it be lyrically or musically, he always continues to surprise us with great changes.

Duologue - Never Get Lost

Duologue constantly seem to be releasing something solid.  Never Get Lost is nothing short of what you’d expect from Duologue.  You can always count on them to make tunes that possess deep layers of sound partnered with true meaning and emotions.  I’ve had “Drag & Drop” on repeat since the album’s release.

Sam Smith - In the Lonely Hour

This may seem to be an obvious choice, as Sam Smith is gracing many ‘Best of’ lists this year.  This album has stuck with me all year, being on repeat for a couple months straight.  In fact, it’s been sitting in my player at home since I bought it back in May.  In some ways it’s like the therapy session I always needed this past year.

The Apache Relay - Apache Relay

I may be a shameless hardcore Apache Relay fanatic, so may have seen this one coming.  Apache Relay is the band's sophomore release that was a long time coming, and it was well worth the wait.  The Apache Relay’s sound has matured with them, which is prominent in this album.

CHILDCARE - Flush EP

Childcare may have been fairly new on the scene this year, but that doesn’t mean it should be overlooked by any means.  Ed Cares released a solid premiere effort with this EP (out on Best Laid Plans).  There’s darkness, rawness, and all around bad assery.  The songs are more about stories, less about personal struggles.  It’s something new and refreshing and I want to hear more!

Royal Blood - Royal Blood

I don’t know about you, but I think we’ve all been in need of a new solid rock and roll band, and Royal Blood fill this void.  This duo of lads released an incredible self titled album and go to prove that you can do it all with just two people.  Tracks like “Figure It Out” and “Careless” are a few of the standout tracks.

The War on Drugs - Lost in the Dream

Just listen to this album.  I can’t even write about how good it is.

Hozier - Hozier

Maybe another obvious choice here, but Hozier is another incredible new album this year.  “Take Me To Church” has been a top track throughout most of the world, but “From Eden” has been my most played track this year.  It’s fresh and new, and appeals to a wide range of audience.  

Bear’s Den - Islands

Bear’s Den have been around a few years now, but Islands is their debut album.  Having gained national attention earlier this year with the emotionally raw video for “Elysium,” they continued to ride it out with the release of Islands. There may be some repeat tracks from earlier Bear’s Den EPs, and even a Cherbourg tune or two, but they’ve been delightfully reworked for the album so everyone gets something new.

Alt-J - This is All Yours

Alt-J have a gift for releasing cohesively solid albums.  There shouldn’t be such a thing as shuffling songs when it comes to something like This Is All Yours or An Awesome Wave.  Anyone who starts off with and "Intro" tracks gets brownie points in my book.  

Can't leave without mentioning some of the top songs of 2014 as well!  There were a handful of singles and special tracks released this year that also stood out.  Like the incredible Kwabs with  "Walk," or To Kill a King's new tunes like "Oh, My Love."  Then there are others like Belgrave and Carroll who gave us little snippets of what they have to come in 2015, and we can't wait!

Carolyn Lederach

Philadelphia, PA