10 Best Albums of 2014 (So Far)

The year’s half over and we’ve already had an onslaught of fantastic new music with much more coming for fall and winter! Rock On Philly takes a look back at both new and familiar artists who’ve made an impression this year so far. In no particular order, we’ve got…

Run River NorthRun River North

Los Angeles’ Korean-American folk sextet are slowly getting the acknowledgment they deserve. Their debut LP Run River North is a compilation of stirring and nostalgic folk-tinted songs that make for a strong and unforgettable first album. We’ve written about them before on Rock On Philly for their song “Foxbeard“, but single “Fight to Keep” keeps the spirit lively and cheeky.

PharrellG I R L

Pharrell takes some time to shine on his own with G I R L, a glitzy yet subtle pop success that combines all of Pharrell’s tricks he’s learned over the years. Hit single “Happy” is just one of the many highlights on the album. Rest assured every song is just as infectious.

Lana Del ReyUltraviolence

Lana took a huge step forward with Ultraviolence, a continuation of the melancholic summer pop she made her debut with in 2012. It’s a palatable, beautifully-written, and nicely produced album that doesn’t go too over the top. Single “West Coast” is a wonderful turn for Lana, dark and mysterious yet accessible.

PhantogramVoices

Synthpop feat #1 of 2014. Phantogram have been a relatively under-the-radar duo until Voices dropped along with astonishing single “Fall In Love”. The song plays unanticipated tricks on the listener and the rhythmic structure is stunning. Voices maintains this surprise through every track.

Magic ManBefore the Waves

It’s no secret that Rock On Philly loves Magic Man. Their debut LP Before the Waves takes synthrock to the next level. These guys are poised to blow up, so stay tuned. Before the Waves is a well-designed, fresh take on synthpop that holds on to much-loved tracks like “Paris” and moves forward with powerful songs like “It All Starts Here”.

Bombay Bicycle ClubSo Long, See You Tomorrow

We’re still in awe that Bombay Bicycle Club got so good between A Different Kind of Fix (2011) and So Long, See You Tomorrow. Their live show is polished and explosive and the album is equally exciting. They picked up some new sounds for this latest album and created a beautiful, adventurous product. Single “Luna” is by far the most stunning song Bombay Bicycle Club have ever recorded.

St. Vincent St. Vincent

Annie Clark, also known as St. Vincent, is a boss. No arguments. Her latest self-titled is another off-kilter peek into the world of Clark. It’s a step up for her songwriting abilities and covers an astonishing range of emotions and styles all with an electronic twist. Single “Digital Witness” gives you a good idea of this funky fun, off-color album. A total winner.

Sam SmithIn the Lonely Hour

In a world where great voices come a dime a dozen, there’s Sam Smith. Listeners were already in love with him after his guest features on songs like Dispatch‘s “Latch” (pure gold, right?), but his debut In The Lonely Hour really proves his chops — both as a singer and a songwriter. It’s a raw debut, something we can’t get enough of.

Jack WhiteLazaretto

Jack White comes blazing back with Lazaretto, a soulful, kinky, sassy rock album that takes White’s work to a new level. He’s reaching rock legend status after all of his work and his enigmatic character. Give “High Ball Stepper” a listen because White really proves his rock/blues skills with this instrumental track.

BeckMorning Phase

The ever-changing Beck took a turn toward folk with Morning Phase and proved he can work in just about any genre. Morning Phase is a gauzy, beautiful, contemplative album that shows Beck’s growth over the years. “Blue Moon” is a complex, masterfully structured song that keeps folk and excitement running side-by-side.

5 Comments

  1. Kyle V. Hiller

    July 30, 2014 at 4:18 pm

    I can’t get enough of Phantogram’s album, and St. Vincent is at her peak! Being obsessed with Lana, though, I thought Ultraviolence was a bit underwhelming. Maybe cuz I just need to give it time.

    And is that Diedrich Bader in the Run River North video???

  2. Wakana

    July 31, 2014 at 4:36 pm

    Glad Jack White is still making music

  3. Devon O' Connor

    July 31, 2014 at 5:46 pm

    I love that Bombay Bicycle Club made the list! So Long, See You Tomorrow is rarely given a shout-out, but it’s such a good album!

  4. Ruby Mora

    July 31, 2014 at 8:48 pm

    I’ve been really getting into St. Vincent. She’s amazing! Glad she made it to the list!

  5. Lauren S

    August 1, 2014 at 12:11 pm

    2014 has been a great year for music so far! Beck never ceases to disappoint me. I do agree that Ultraviolence was a bit underwhelming, although I’m obsessed with the track “Brooklyn Baby.”

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