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Sowing's 2014

I deleted all 125 of my lists and am now archiving my favorite albums from each year of the previous decade. Just my way of trimming my profile and making it a bit leaner/meaner. List is straightforward; these are my 20 favorite releases from 2014.
20Royal Blood
Royal Blood


This band seems to simultaneously get too much love and hate; can't they just be decent in their niche? I enjoy this album for a riff-filled romp in old school rock, and it is very satisfying in those moments.
19Saintseneca
Dark Arc


Underrated band in general. "Daendors" and "Fed Up With Hunger" keep me coming back, but the entire album is indie-rock at its finest. Check these guys out if you haven't.
18Pompeii
Loom


Shout out to Observer for the rec, I came around to this a year or two ago. One of the best post-rock albums of 2014. Gorgeous soundscapes with massive peaks, Another vastly overlooked band/album on this site.
17Gates
Bloom and Breathe


Imagine that Thrice and Maybeshewill joined forces to make a dizzyingly gorgeous blend of post-rock and post-hardcore. It's as good as it sounds!
16St. Vincent
St. Vincent


My first St. Vincent album thanks to "Digital Witness" and "Severed Crossed Fingers" hooking me in. This is a brilliantly crafted album that is also extremely catchy. Don't miss out on this if you're into artfully conceived indie-pop.
15Zella Day
Zella Day


The debut EP by this now MIA artist was a huge release for me in 2014. She's basically a catchier and even more hippie-like Lana Del Rey. She sounds like she was transposed from a Vietnam protest straight into the 2010s. "Hypnotic" is a must-hear song.
14Bleachers
Strange Desire


The biggest sounding indie-pop album of the year. Jack Antonoff is a brilliant producer and that really shines here, especially on hits like "I Wanna Get Better." This is just too catchy and fun not to carve out a spot on this list. Album is a 5/5 in the summer, a 3.5/5 the rest of the year.
13alt-J
This Is All Yours


I'll never get why An Awesome Wave is this band's measuring stick when both this and Relaxer are better. Anyway, this is a very cool art-rock album, a little slow/middling in terms of pacing but so easy to get sucked into, like some Narnia-esque alternate world.
12Tigers on Trains
Antarctica In Color


This is my least favorite Tigers on Trains album but it's still excellent. Christian Van Deurs is missing, which makes this more of a Mason Maggio solo album. There's more of a pop-rock edge to some of the songs which detracts a little from the Simon and Garfunkel-esque nature of their previous outings, but also makes this a little more exciting.
11Ages and Ages
Divisionary


My best-kept secret. These guys offer huge, communal choruses and intricate, constantly-shifting indie-rock tempos. The band's best album, this is consistent front-to-end and also features their best songs: "Over It" and "Divisionary (Do The Right Thing)".
10Weezer
Everything Will Be Alright in the End


This was Weezer's major comeback after multiple bad-to-average albums. Sounding like the good ol' 90's Weezer, "Ain't Got Nobody", "Back to the Shack", and "The British Are Coming" remain some of their best songs. This and their White album marked an incredible return to form in the mid-2010s.
9Sharon Van Etten
Are We There


Emotion. That's the best way I can sum up this heart-wrenching batch of indie-rock tunes, and Sharon brings me to my knees routinely with the soul-shattering "Your Love Is Killing Me", while more atmospheric tracks like "Afraid of Nothing" and "Every Time The Sun Comes Up" paint her as the genius indie songwriter that she actually is.
8The War on Drugs
Lost in the Dream


This is an amazing blend of psychedelic rock, ambient shoegaze, and indie-rock. At times I feel like I'm listening to Bob Dylan (especially the album's best gem, "Eyes to the Wind"), while other times a modern Springsteen. At no point do the influences feel like a mere homage though; Lost in the Dream is its own experience and quite unlike anything else from 2014.
7Anberlin
Lowborn


The finale from one of my favorite alternative rock bands, this lacks the Fin-esque mega hit to send them off properly, but is still insanely consistent. The band dabbles in more electronics than usual, and crafts a set of subtly memorable melodies. The lyrics are some of their very best, too, which helps bolster the sentimental value.
6Astronauts
Hollow Ponds


We all have those underground/unheard of albums that we occasionally review without knowing exactly how they'll hold up over time. In this case, my fervent hype was warranted. This album is like an acoustic Brand New album, but in many cases far better because the acoustic guitars achieve a more diverse range of sounds. At its darkest and most dense, "Flame Exchange" marks a top-25 decade song sure to haunt and depress you for years to come.
5Taylor Swift
1989


I love a quality mainstream pop record like few others in critical indie/metal circles such as this community. Normally Swift is something of a guilty pleasure, but I have no qualms about saying that this thing absolutely bangs. The entire album is an evolution from country to pop, and Swift makes the most of it with her catchiest and most well-produced album even up to the present day. This is a classic pop record in every sense of the word.
4Damien Rice
My Favourite Faded Fantasy


If this Irish folk troubadour creates breakup-by-numbers ballads, then he's the very best at what he does. No one can convey depression, longing, and regret like Rice, and that's evidenced on tracks like "The Greatest Bastard". What separates this and makes it a top-5 album is how artfully he achieves his desired results: just look at the 9 minute epic "It Takes a Lot to Know a Man" - a swirling, peaking and dipping orchestral movement.
3The Antlers
Familiars


This is the album that made me come back to this site. As an emeritus I just couldn't resist writing about this album, and then before I knew it I was on a role again. This is Silberman's best vocal performance, which is saying a lot - just listen to "Palace" if you need convincing - and the jazz influences bring a level of elegance that can't be found on any other Antlers album. This is one of their best, and in turn, a 2014 highlight.
2Trophy Scars
Holy Vacants


I'm not normally one to enjoy vocals this weird, but the gruff verses and throat-scratching choruses make this all the more unique. The guitar work here is brilliant, and "Qeres" is one of my favorite songs ever in that regard. A huge concept album that truly sounds like nothing else I've ever listened to, Holy Vacants is a masterfully composed piece that is every bit as melodic as it is heavy.
1Low Roar
0


For being an AOTY, I probably don't listen to this as much as I should. It's very long, and has a lot of ambient/post-rock tendencies that don't lend the album to easy accessibility. With that said, any time I'm able to commit the time needed to hear it in-full, I'm reminded of why it is one of the best records of the entire decade. It has the intrigue of a Radiohead album, the beauty of Sigur Ros, and the folk flourishes of Bon Iver. This is an absolutely gripping experience that doesn't get nearly the attention/accolades that it deserves.
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