Here we go again as we continue to take a look back at all the year has had to offer. Today we’ll be rounding up Twistedsoul’s 20 best albums of 2014, with entries 10 -1. Obviously, some gems will not make the list, and we aren’t going to please everybody. If you think we’ve missed a particularly strong album, then let us know in the comments section. Dig in and enjoy our top 10.
10. Aphex Twin – Syro
In case you hadn’t noticed, the gurning genius came back in a big way with ‘Syro’, his first new LP since ‘Drukqs’ (2001). Culled from his legendary trove of recordings, it’s apparently “about a fifth” of what he’s done in the last 10 years, “…one album out of many possible ones”, according to his interview with Rolling Stone. Syro is easily is one of the most adventurous and best long players you’ll hear this year, bar none.
9. 18+ – Trust
We absolutely love the debut album from 18+. The duo, Justin and Sami,, have operated since 2011, evolving through several media formats of music, performance and visuals which graphically explore identity, gender, sex and morality. The sound of 18+ has bewitched its audience; sonics which are at once over-bearing and subtle, the delicate voice of Samia spitting sweet nothings over fucked-up beats and hooks which permanently hack their way into your subconscious. Their mixtapes have existed in the internet’s dark underbelly, and their debut single ‘Crow’ sold-out of physical copies in unbelievable time. Believe the hype!
8. Sun Kil Moon -Benji
Having seen all the rave reviews i was quite keen to listen to Mark Kozelek’s aka Sun Kil Moon album, this was my first experience of him, so I didn’t know what to expect. From first listen you can sense the mood of the album as an almost depressing one based on the first track. Benji certainly isn’t for everyone–what great albums are?–but it’s utterly riveting from beginning to end. Benji’ is so much more than just another record – it’s the epitome of a gift that keeps on giving. Guest musicians include Sonic Youth’s Steve Shelley, Jen Wood (who has worked with the Postal Service), Will Oldham, and Owen Ashworth. A breathtaking album that demands your attention.
7. Dean Blunt – Black Metal
‘Black Metal’ is Dean Blunt’s follow-up to 2013’s excellent ‘The Redeemer’. Seemingly impossible to pin down he takes a swerve once again and delivers his most beautiful piece of work yet. Swamped in atmosphere, melody, guitars and a drum machine, ‘Black Metal’ begins with the looped strings of ‘Lush’ and climbs from there on in. It’s got traces of Lee Hazelwood and even Scott Walker yet Mr Blunt still maintains his trademark brand of song writing. A unique talent and an album of 2014 with ease.
6. Little Dragon – Nabuma Rubberband
It was nearly three years since Sweden’s Little Dragon released their third album Ritual Union and this year they came back with their highly anticipated follow up Nabumba Rubberband.The new album takes a different path to previous outings, taking it’s cue from club music, this album has a definite dance vibe. Contrary to the dancier feel the group said the latest offering consists of “Janet Jackson-inspired slow jams Yukimi used to listen to wandering around Gothenburg during the unrelenting winter.” They weren’t kidding and it’s bloody excellent. There’s so much here to work with yet the album is a breeze to listen too. Perfect pop music.
5. Flying Lotus – You’re Dead
The incredible return of Flying Lotus on Warp. ‘You’re Dead!’ sees producer Steven Ellison taking us on a transcendental voyage into the afterlife. A wholly immersive, psychedelic journey, it’s a virtuoso performance from one of the decade’s most talented and inventive artists. The album features contributions from (in order of appearance) Herbie Hancock, Kendrick Lamar, Captain Murphy, Snoop Dogg, Angel Deradoorian, Thundercat and Niki Randa.
4. Swans – To Be Kind
Experimental rock band Swans dropped one of the years most twisted albums, as they often do. ‘To Be Kind’ contains 10 new Swans songs that – like their last album, 2012’s ‘The Seer’ – will punish and reward listeners for more than two hours. Some songs are quite melodic and the emotions are not so severe. The shortest song lasts eight minutes, the longest and best ‘Bring the Sun,’ is a full 35 minutes. Special Guests for this record include (among many others): Little Annie (Annie sang a duet with Gira on the song ‘Some Things We Do’, the strings for which were ecstatically arranged and played by Julia Kent); St. Vincent (Annie Clark sang numerous, multi-tracked vocals throughout the record); Cold Specks (Al contributed numerous multi-tracked vocals to the song ‘Bring the Sun’); Bill Rieflin (honorary Swan Bill played too many instruments to list here, ranging from additional drums, to synthesizers, to piano, to electric guitar and so on. Take a listen, you’ll be glad you did.
3. Shabazz Palaces – Lese Majesty
Seattle-based hip hop experimentalist Shabazz Palaces drooped their new album Lese Majesty, back in July and we haven’t stopped playing it since. The album title is a play on the term “Lèse-majesté,” a French term meaning “injured majesty”—in other words, a crime against the state. The release comes three years after they put out one of our favourite hip hop albums in recent years, their brilliant 2011 debut, Black Up. The duo made up of Ishmael Butler, who used to rap as Butterfly in Digable Planets, and multi-instrumentalist Tendai ‘Baba’ Maraire, the son of Mbira master Dumisani Maraire. Abstract and idiosyncratic, it made our top ten in an instance , an artful, restlessly experimental release.
2. Angel Olsen – Burn Your Fire For No Witness
Strong in her ability to show her humanisms, there’s an outright strength and beauty in Angel Olsen’s open treasure chest of dynamic vocals and lyrics. ‘Burn Your Fire For No Witness’ is built upon Olsen’s trademark style of a delicate yet assured frankness. One that perhaps wouldn’t be so out of place aside a Will Oldham record. If your ears have yet to be charmed by Burn Your Fire For No Witness, then prepare yourself for a treat.
1. FKA twigs – LP1
The boundary-pushing FKA twigs released her debut album back in August to a chorus of approval. Over the past few years, the London-based artist has produced a series of strikingly original pieces of music, each of which featured an equally striking visual accompaniment. ‘LP1’ is FKA twigs defining artistic statement to date, building on the success of her two previous EPs and accompanying videos (‘EP1’ and ‘EP2’) which have elevated FKA twigs from a word-of-mouth secret to global obsession over the past two years. The album features none of these previously released songs; instead each track on ‘LP1′ is brand new, born out of FKA twigs’ artistic philosophy of spontaneous creation and collaboration in the studio. FKA twigs is unlike anything you’ve ever heard before, the British avant-pop auteur is rewriting the sound of modern music.