AllMusic 2014 Year In Review

AllMusic Best of 2014 -

The end of 2014 is in sight, so it's time to devote ourselves to the daunting task of attempting to summarize the musical output of an entire year. Over the next three weeks we're going to tackle the best releases of a few dozen genres and formats, so be sure to keep an eye out for your favorites, whether it's metal or jazz or Americana. We're starting with our editors' overall best-of list, then we'll narrow our gaze to individual genres.
Alvvays

Alvvays

Alvvays

Fantastic debut from dreamy-eyed and undeniably catchy Canadian indie pop quintet.

Vengo

Ana Tijoux

Vengo

This flawless, wildly ambitious offering is not only mature, but sets a new bar for creativity in Latin music.

American Middle Class

Angaleena Presley

American Middle Class

The last of the Pistol Annies to deliver a solo album offers a richly detailed, deceptively relaxed portrait of middle class America in 2014.

Syro

Aphex Twin

Syro

Richard D. James' first album under his primary alias since 2001 is one of his most inviting and enjoyable releases.

Xen

Arca

Xen

The producer's debut album delivers uniquely emotional, organic music that revels in its state of flux.

Here and Nowhere Else

Cloud Nothings

Here and Nowhere Else

Equally fiery and committed, Cloud Nothings' fourth album is sustainable punk.

Craig Handy & 2nd Line Smith

Craig Handy

Craig Handy & 2nd Line Smith

A buoyant celebration inspired by the organ jazz of Jimmy Smith and the joyous New Orleans second-line tradition.

The  Future's Void

EMA / Billy Sandness / Leif Shackelford

The Future's Void

EMA's ambitious second album explores the relationship between identity and the Internet in dazzling, often affecting vignettes.

Rips

Ex Hex

Rips

Mary Timony's power trio shakes up rock conventions on its life-affirming debut.

LP1

FKA twigs

LP1

The ethereally sensual artist's first full-length is some of her most accessible, varied and sexiest music yet.

You're Dead!

Flying Lotus

You're Dead!

Steven Ellison confronts mortality and pushes four genres forward with help from Herbie Hancock, Snoop Dogg, Kamasi Washington, and Kendrick Lamar.

Freeman

Freeman

Freeman

The beguiling Freeman is a soft, melodic hybrid of Y2K Ween and early Paul McCartney.

Singles

Future Islands

Singles

The group's fourth album finds them streamlining their synth pop-influenced sound into something danceable and emotionally cutting.

A U R O R A

Greg Fox / Ben Frost / Thor Harris / Shahzad Ismaily

A U R O R A

Composed in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, this dark, menacing set is the enigmatic composer's masterpiece thus far.

Mahler: Symphony No. 7

Gustavo Dudamel / Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela

Mahler: Symphony No. 7

Gustavo Dudamel and the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela present a compelling performance of Gustav Mahler's oddest symphony.

The Voyager

Jenny Lewis

The Voyager

A gorgeous, melancholy collection of sunshine and heartache that's quintessentially L.A.

Love Apparatus

Jesse Boykins III

Love Apparatus

Chiefly produced by Machine Drum, this offers the best yet from the poetic, breathy-voiced alternative R&B gallant.

Never Hungover Again

Joyce Manor

Never Hungover Again

Raw, exceedingly emotional, and melodic neo-emo-punk that stands proudly next to the classic albums of the '90s emo wave.

Anybody Wanna Buy a Heart?

K. Michelle

Anybody Wanna Buy a Heart?

Even better than the R&B singer and songwriter's debut, additional proof that she's simultaneously larger than life and 100-percent real.

Food

Kelis

Food

The certified chef's sixth studio album is one of her best releases, a fruitful alliance with TV on the Radio's Dave Sitek.

The Golden Echo

Kimbra

The Golden Echo

The New Zealand songstress' second album delivers vibrant R&B and pop pastiches that borrow the best of Michael Jackson and Prince.

Ultraviolence

Lana Del Rey

Ultraviolence

Hollywood pop star moves into more patient and jazz-inflected moods on this Dan Auerbach-produced album.

The Way I'm Livin'

Lee Ann Womack

The Way I'm Livin'

A warm, intimate, and resonant career reboot from the veteran country singer.

Mess

Liars

Mess

Following the introspective WIXIW, Liars deliver some of their most spontaneous and wickedly gleeful songs in years.

Nabuma Rubberband

Little Dragon

Nabuma Rubberband

The Swedish group's fourth, mostly self-produced album is highlighted by a handful of stormy ballads.

Salad Days

Mac DeMarco

Salad Days

Second full-length from Canadian songwriter offers a more mature reading on his cracked ideas of pop music.

Rameau: Pièces de Clavecin

Mahan Esfahani

Rameau: Pièces de Clavecin

To mark the 250th anniversary of Rameau's death, harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani presents the complete keyboard works on this Hyperion release.

No Image

Miranda Lambert

Platinum

Miranda tries to be everything to everyone on her fifth album and comes awfully close to succeeding.

Coisa Boa

Moreno Veloso

Coisa Boa

On his first record in 13 years, the Brazilian songwriter delivers an intimate, spacious, nearly perfect collection of simple yet elegant songs.

Guilty of Everything

Nothing

Guilty of Everything

Impressively dark and dramatic shoegaze/noise rock debut that takes the tropes of those styles and totally owns them.

Too Bright

Perfume Genius

Too Bright

Mike Hadreas' bold, terrifying, and heartbreaking third album features Portishead's Adrian Utley and PJ Harvey collaborator John Parish.

Under Color of Official Right

Protomartyr

Under Color of Official Right

Second album from Detroit post-punkers expands on their furious beginnings with more nuanced moods and production.

Atlas

Real Estate

Atlas

More sophisticated, straightforward, and confident, the third album from these indie rock golden boys is their most mature.

lullaby and... The Ceaseless Roar

Robert Plant / Robert Plant & the Sensational Space Shifters

lullaby and... The Ceaseless Roar

Plant returns to the mysticism of England without abandoning the shape-shifting, genre-bending sound of Band of Joy.

Run the Jewels 2

Run the Jewels

Run the Jewels 2

Growing into something serious, rappers El-P and Killer Mike stun once again with this excellent sequel.

Lese Majesty

Shabazz Palaces

Lese Majesty

Seattle's left-field hip-hop duo grow musically and up the art on their brilliant sophomore effort.

Toumani & Sidiki

Sidiki Diabaté / Toumani Diabaté

Toumani & Sidiki

The kora's modern master and his eldest son team up to deliver a mesmerizing set of unadorned duets on their debut together.

Divide and Exit

Sleaford Mods

Divide and Exit

The Nottingham duo's brilliantly crude breakthrough proves they're one of the most truly punk acts of the 2010s.

St. Vincent

St. Vincent

St. Vincent

A fascinating mix of directness and artifice, St. Vincent's fourth album is her most satisfying yet.

Wig Out at Jagbags

Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks

Wig Out at Jagbags

The Jicks get mellow, sunny, and mischievous on this, their first album since Malkmus reunited Pavement.

Metamodern Sounds in Country Music

Sturgill Simpson

Metamodern Sounds in Country Music

On his sophomore effort, the singer/songwriter expands his songwriting and sonic reach but stays country to the core.

Rising Son

Takuya Kuroda

Rising Son

The jazz trumpeter's funky, soul- and hip-hop infused Blue Note debut produced by vocalist Jose James.

Sun Structures

Temples

Sun Structures

Temples' debut is a thrilling introduction to their brand of backward-looking, forward-sounding psych pop.

VII

Teyana Taylor

VII

A stellar set of slow jams from a singer whose career was considered D.O.A. in 2008.

Angels & Devils

The Bug

Angels & Devils

A half-threatening, half-punishing collision of dub, ragga, grime, and other strands from Kevin Martin and crew.

Lost in the Dream

The War on Drugs

Lost in the Dream

Third album of dreamy, understated rock stands as this Philly group's finest hour so far.

Afro Physicist

Theo Croker

Afro Physicist

The trumpeter's vibrant, '70s jazz fusion-infused third album, with production and vocals from Dee Dee Bridgewater.

Notturno: Songs by Richard Strauss

Thomas Hampson / Wolfram Rieger

Notturno: Songs by Richard Strauss

To celebrate Richard Strauss' 150th anniversary, baritone Thomas Hampson and pianist Wolfram Rieger present a recital of 18 essential songs.

Nikki Nack

tUnE-yArDs

Nikki Nack

tUnE-yArDs' third album thrives on contradictions, delivering some of the duo's most challenging yet accessible music.