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Best Albums of 2014

31 min read

From Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran, Tori Amos, Rumer and Cheryl to Beck, Alt-J, Tim McGraw and Blake Shelton. Or perhaps it’s bands like Haerts, Manic Street Preachers, Slipknot or The Black Keys that have ticked your boxes this year?

2014 has proved to be another fantastic year for music whether it be from artists that have been around for years or from the latest and greatest new bands to emerge throughout the year. The team at Renowned For Sound have been kept very busy throughout 2014 covering all of these releases and to deliver our opinion on what’s hot and what’s not in the music world.

With the year drawing to a close it’s time for us to look back at some of the releases that scored favorably and stood out from the hundreds of albums released in 2014. Here is our list of what we thought were the finest releases of 2014 (in alphabetical order)…

Artist: Alt-J    Album: This Is All Yours

alt j this is all yours album coverIn an album we described as the music equivalent to a box of brightly colored, expertly made macaroons how could this not make the list? The musical genius of Alt-J is only highlighted again in their second studio album, This Is All Yours, where no two songs sound the same but everything is oddly familiar. This Is All Yours is completely mesmerizing and we can’t wait to see what this UK trio do next. (Chosen by Kirsten)

Top 3 tracks: Hunger Of The Pine; Left Hand Free; Every Other Freckle

Click here to read our review of This Is All Yours.

Artist: Anastacia    Album: Resurrection

Anastacia ResurrectionThere is something so right about Anastacia’s comeback album Resurrection, and her unique voice chimes in as if she had never been gone. I really loved where this album was going in terms of its theme, which was the singer bouncing back after her second bout of breast cancer and the break-up of her marriage; sonically Resurrection hits all the right notes, especially with the emotional ballads, and Anastacia is notorious for successfully delivering spitting lines with attitude. This album is one of the best comebacks of the year. (Chosen by Marcus)

Top 3 tracks: Stupid Little Things; Staring At The Sun; Dark White Girl

Click here to read our review of Resurrection.

Artist: Andy Bull    Album: Sea Of Approval

Andy Bull - Sea Of ApprovalSea of Approval is an uninhibited exploration of very personal experiences, including anxiety, identity and self-worth. Bull’s sophisticated lyrics, crystalline synths, buoyant beats, impeccable melodic writing and pop sensibilities are tied together by flawless, layered production and that indescribable voice. (Chosen by Meggie)

Top 3 tracks: Just One Expression, Just One Line; Keep on Running; So That I Can Feel Better

Click here to read our review of Sea of Approval.

Artist: Annie Lennox    Album: Nostalgia

Annie Lennox NostalgiaIf there’s a covers album that you should go by, it would be worth your while giving Annie Lennox’s Nostalgia a listen. It consists of many songs that influenced her from early childhood, that in itself is inspiring as she digs up tracks from artists like Billie Holiday and genres ranging from jazz to soul music. Listening to Nostalgia would not leave you with the impression of a voice showing signs of aging, Annie is nearing 60 and you just wouldn’t believe it when going by her powerful voice we all know and love. (Chosen by Marcus)

Top 3 tracks: I Put A Spell On You; Summertime; Strange Fruit

Click here to read our review of Nostalgia.

Artist: Antemasque   Album: Antemasque

ANTEMASQUE Self TitledAntemasque is the flawless amalgamation of The Mars Volta veterans, Cedric Bixler Zavala, Omar Rodrigues-Lopez and David Elitch, and Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea. Released earlier this year, their self-titled debut boasts high-intensity rock energy throughout, driven by the perfect pairing of Elitch’s drums and Flea’s distinctive bass playing. With a balanced mixture of progressive and classic rock tracks, Antimasque is the successful result of the coming together of four incredible musicians, and is fully deserving of its place in this year’s list of best albums. (Chosen by Naomi)

Top 3 tracks: Ride Like The Devil’s Son; In The Lurch; Providence

Click here to read our review of Antemasque.

Artist: Beck    Album: Morning Phase

Beck Morning PhaseMr. Hansen has always been one of those precious few artists capable of successfully reinventing their own wheel every few years. Whenever he drops an album, even the most diehard fans aren’t entirely sure if they’re getting a lo-fi blues collection, some hip-hop served with a healthy side of self-awareness or, as is the case on March’s Morning Phase, a refreshingly earnest record of heartbreaking alt-country. Billed by critics and devotees alike as a worthy counterpart to 2002’s modern classic Sea ChangeMorning Phase is a nod to the sounds of the late-‘70s Laurel Canyon folk explosion with a raw yet beguiling sense melancholy throughout. Immediate and honest, Beck’s 12th album signals he’s off to a flying start with new label Capitol and despite his perennial and iconic status as music’s most successful “Loser”, Morning Phase earns him a place at the table among the greats. (Chosen by Angus)

Top 3 tracks: Blue Moon; Blackbird Chain; Waking Light

Click here to read our review of Morning Phase.

Artist: Betty Who    Album: Take Me When You Go

Betty Who Take Me When You GoTake Me When You Go from Australia’s next big thing in Pop music was a debut album well worth the wait. Jessica Newham, aka Betty Who met all our expectations with this adorable, flirty electro pop record that was near perfect. Full of retro beats, cheeky lyrics and sing a long melodies, and with comparisons to Robyn, Katy Perry and P!nk, it was almost a sure thing this one would be a hit. (Chosen by Kirsten)

Top 3 tracks: Just Like Me; High Society; Dreaming About You

Click here to read our review of Take Me When You Go.

Artist: Bleachers    Album: Strange Desire

Bleachers - Strange DesireJack Antonoff – one of the three members of 2012’s breakout phenomenon fun. – had been sporadically chipping away at a set of solo material in hotel rooms and tour buses for a couple of years until July when he released his debut Strange Desires under the moniker of Bleachers. It’s an anthemic collection of meticulously crafted, ‘80s inspired indie pop full of irresistible hooks and stadium-sized, Springsteen-esque songwriting. On all fronts and largely single-handedly, Antonoff (better known to some as Mr. Lena Dunham) has assembled a truly impressive and fresh sounding debut for 2014 informed by all of pop’s finest moments of the last 40 years. (Chosen by Angus)

Top 3 tracks: I Wanna Get Better; Rollercoaster; Take Me Away (Feat. Grimes)

Click here to read our review of Strange Desire.

Artist: Brantley Gilbert    Album: Just As I Am

BrantleyGilbert-JustAsIAmWhat grabbed me about this record was just how deep and personal Brantley went to make this album. At times it can be hard to relate to or feel involved with a recording artist, but Just As I Am is such an intimate album; it was also another record of proof that there is plenty of room for a decent Country album to take its place in a world of mainstream and popular music. (Chosen by Marcus)

Top 3 tracks: If You Want A Bad Boy; Bottoms Up; One Hell Of An Amen

Click here to read our review of Just As I Am.

Artist: Cheryl    Album: Only Human

Cheryl Only Human StandardCheryl’s latest album came at very vibrant time in the singers career. It had been two years since Cheryl last released an album and having recently rejoined the judging panel on X Factor UK 2014 is certainly proving to be the former Girls Aloud stars year as both of its two single releases, Crazy Stupid Love and I Don’t Care landed at the top of the charts ahead of the release of Only Human, making the history books in the process. the record is quite conceptual with an unapologetic and carefree theme. (Chosen by Brendon)

Top 3 tracks: I Don’t Care; Crazy Stupid Love; Waiting For Lightening

Click here to read our review of Only Human.

Artist: Counting Crows    Album: Somewhere Under Wonderland

Somewhere Under Wonderland23 years into their career, San Francisco’s Counting Crows still know how to craft timeless pop music with intelligence, heart and precision. Somewhere Under Wonderland encompasses everything from ‘70s radio rock to country-tinged powerpop and everything in between. Famous for their openness with their fans, the latest chapter in their ever-evolving career showcases a rare band who are truly capable of delivering something for everyone. Capped off by frontman Adam Duritz’s unique ability in shaping the traditional pop format to fit his lyrical works of literary flash-fiction, Somewhere Under Wonderland is truly a return to form and proof they were always going to be more than a ‘90s flash in the pan. (Chosen by Angus)

Top 3 tracks: Palisades Park; God of Ocean Tides; Elvis Went to Hollywood

Click here to read our review of Somewhere Under Wonderland.

Artist: Damien Rice    Album: My Favourite Faded Fantasy

Damien Rice My Favourite Faded FantasyThere was an agonizing eight-year stretch there where we feared we might never hear from Irish troubadour Damien Rice ever again. Virtually silent since his impeccable 2006 sophomore LP 9, Rice resurfaced in early November with a gorgeous collection that completely justifies such a long absence. Under the tutelage of the one and only Rick Rubin, My Favourite Faded Fantasy not only shares the unguarded romanticism of its predecessors and 9, but presents an artist capable of taking a step back from himself purely for the benefit of his music. A dynamic and soaring return to the limelight, Rice’s third album is one of the most anticipated releases of the last decade and utterly delivers start to finish. (Chosen by Angus)

Top 3 tracks: My Favourite Faded Fantasy; I Don’t Want to Change You; The Box

Click here to read our review of My Favourite Faded Fantasy.

Artist: Damon Albarn    Album: Everyday Robots

Damon-Albarn-Everyday-Robots-AlbumWith so many projects (Blur, Gorillaz and The Good, The Bad and the Queen to name a few), listeners may wonder who Damon Albarn is. Everyday Robots is a mellow effort showcasing the multi-talented Englishman’s more subtle musical capabilities. Britpop, gaudy synths, rock frontman belts and cartoonish characters are replaced with gentle guitar picking, real instruments and more subdued performances. The unnerving title track effectively juxtaposes samples of comedian Lord Richard Buckley and emotionally detached performances including a creepy violin riff to hammer down the album’s message about the decline in human interaction. You & Me is a two-part epic whose desolate first half is a stark contrast to the breathy, brighter second half. If you’re stuck in boring suburbia, then the subdued yet poignant Hollow Ponds is the escape for you to drift away to. Listeners may be no closer to answering that earlier question after hearing this album, but should appreciate the heart and soul poured into this tender work. (Chosen by Andrew)

Top 3 tracks: Everyday Robots; You & Me; Hollow Ponds

Click here to read our review of Everyday Robots.

Artist: Dirty South    Album: With You

With You-Dirty South

What I really enjoyed about Dirty South’s With You was that it was electronic/dance music that wasn’t produced purely to be a hit in the clubs; there are too many made-for-clubs dance releases out there, it’s great to hear a producer of Dirty’s calibre to experiment with sound the way he has with this release. With You is packed with ambiance, a warm atmosphere and collaborations that really make it flow. (Chosen by Marcus)

Top 3 tracks: In The Shadow; Freefallin’; Tunnel Vision

Click here to read our review of With You.

Artist: Dry The River    Album: Alarms In The Heart

Dry The River - Alarms In The HeartAlarms In The Heart is a spine-tingling effort which transforms the pastoral soundscapes of Dry The River’s debut into cinematic expanses. Peter Liddle, Matthew Taylor Scott Miller and Jon Warren combine stunning vocal harmonies, haunting string arrangements, atmospheric guitars and incredibly tight ensemble work with the beautiful imagery of biblical narratives to explore very human experiences with an ethereal air of myth and spirituality. (Chosen by Meggie)

Top 3 tracks: Hidden Land; Gesthemane; Vessel

Click here to read our review of Alarms In The Heart.

Artist: Ed Sheeran    Album: X

Ed Sheeran - XEveryone’s favourite ginger Ed Sheeran returned with his sophomore album X (or Multiply)  mid-2014. Its first single Sing shot to the top of the charts, suprising old and new fans alike with the new mainstream pop sound of Sheeran’s music. But X has something for everybody; Sheeran’s renowned swoon-worthy ballads are interspersed with free-flowing raps and upbeat grooves, and proves that he didn’t shuffle into the spotlight by accident with +. With his impeccable songwriting skills and musical talent, it is easy to see why Ed Sheeran’s X is one of 2014’s best albums. (Chosen by Melissa)

Top 3 tracks: Don’t; Thinking Out Loud; Afire Love

Click here to read our review of X.

Artist: Elbow    Album: The Take Off And Landing Of Everything

Elbow-TheTakeOffAndLandingOfEverythingAs this latest record’s title might suggest, Manchester quintet Elbow are all too familiar with life’s swings and roundabouts. After languishing in relative obscurity for the first 20 years of their career and finally gaining the respect they always deserved with 2008’s The Seldom Seen Kid, 2014 sees the same five high-school friends grappling with the challenges of impending middle age. The band are as interconnected and inspired as ever and Guy Garvey’s poetry is, as always, second to none. Like most of the five records that came before it, The Take Off and Landing of Everything is a self-produced affair that so expertly captures the band’s texturally nuanced sound and evocative songwriting in a way, it would make even the most big-name producers squirm. (Chosen by Angus)

Top 3 tracks: Fly Boy Blue/Lunette; New York Morning; The Blanket of Night

Click here to read our review of The Take Off And Landing Of Everything.

Artist: Ella Henderson    Album: Chapter One

Ella Henderson-Chapter OneWhat really intrigued me about Ella’s story was that she finished up at sixth place on X Factor UK’s ninth season, but was clearly the reigning favourite; celebs such as Adele and Lily Allen were rooting for her, and the likes of Ryan Tedder were in a rush to work with her on some new material. From the upbeat lead single Ghost right down to the closing ballad Missed, her debut album Chapter One is an exciting start to what will hopefully be a fruitful career for Ella. (Chosen by Marcus)

Top 3 tracks: Ghost; Empire; Mirror Man

Click here to read our review of Chapter One.

Artist: George Michael    Album: Symphonica

GeorgeFollowing his hugely successful orchestral tour in 2011/2012, George Michael released this collection of tracks from the spectacular Symphonica Tour set list. The record boasts several incredible covers and reimagined versions of some of the pop icons biggest hits form a career that has seen his at the top of his game for over 30 years as both a solo artist and a member of 80’s superduo Wham! (Chosen by Brendon)

Top 3 tracks: A Different Corner; Let Her Down Easy; Cowboys & Angels

Click here to read our review of Symphonica.

Artist: Haerts    Album: Haerts


The self-titled release from Haerts stood out because the group clearly worked hard to tap into their own unique sound, it’s pop music with a difference as it doesn’t consist of generically written tracks and strays from the  mainstream. It’s captivating, uplifting and enchanting and it definitely deserves a spin if you haven’t boarded the Haerts train already. (Chosen by Marcus)

Top 3 tracks: Wings; No One Needs To Know; Giving Up

Click here to read our review of Haerts.

Artist: Imogen Heap    Album: Sparks

Imogen Heap - SparksAfter being cleverly drip-fed to the Internet as a series of music videos from November 2012 onwards, this August finally saw the release of Imogen’s long awaited third LP Sparks. It’s honestly one of the finest releases in recent years. Never one to rest on her laurels, the album’s recording process took her to some of the furthest reaches of the globe and the results are astonishing. With one foot firmly planted in the tradition of deeply personal songwriting and the other deftly exploring the endless possibilities afforded by modern recording technology, Sparks cements Heap as one of this generation’s most impressive musical multi-taskers and certainly one of its most intriguing and important artistic voices. (Chosen by Angus) 

Top 3 tracks: The Listening Chair; Telemiscommunications; Propeller Seeds

Click here to read our review of Sparks.

Artist: Janet Devlin    Album: Running with Scissors

JanetDevlin-RunningWithScissorsI’d be happy to go as far as saying this is the best album I’ve heard to come out of a talent show. Janet shows a maturity to her music, a strong willed presence, and her ability to listen and be guided by helping hands has built a strong case for debut of the year. Sweet and innocent and times, poppy and beautiful in others, Running With Scissors will leave you happy and begging for more. (Chosen by Jamie)

Top 3 tracks: House of Cards; Hide and Seek; When You Were Mine

Click here to read our review of Running with Scissors.

Artist: Jennifer Hudson    Album: JHUD

Jennifer-Hudson-What really stood out about Jennifer Hudson’s latest offering JHUD was that it was deeply inspired by RnB and dance music from the 70’s. In an instant she’ll have you dancing, nodding your head and hanging on her every word, and that’s a wonderful quality to have in a singer; it’s very clear that she’s come far since American Idol, and she keeps getting better and better. (Chosen by Marcus)

Top 3 tracks: Dangerous; He Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere; Bring Back The Music

Click here to read our review of JHUD.

Artist: Jim Kroft    Album: Lunatic Lullabies

JimKroft-LunaticLullabiesAfter a label takeover threatened the promotion of his album- let alone his career in the music industry- Jim Kroft’s persistence in getting his beloved reissued has paid off. See How The Darkness Grows is a feel-good testament to the Berlin-based Scottish singer-songwriter’s knack for hooky melodies, especially in its insistent chorus that sticks well after just one listen. Listeners should also gladly be swept away by the lush, Dark Side of the Moon-like chorus of Bye Bye The Elbe and the lovely, poignant Memory Lane, whose tender melody should tug a few heartstrings. There is also variety on this album, with a nice mix of both the acoustic and electronic to shake things up. (Chosen by Andrew)

Top 3 tracks: See How The Darkness Grows; Bye Bye The Elbe; Memory Lane

Click here to read our review of Lunatic Lullabies.

Artist: Lana Del Rey    Album: Ultraviolence

Lana Del Rey - UltraviolenceA lot of hype surrounded the release of Untraviolence ahead of its unveiling this year and for good reason. Lana’s previous release studio album, Born To Die catapulted the Americana-influenced singer into the international spotlight and made her an instant superstar thanks to hits like the records title track and Video Games. Sophomore albums are vary rarely mastered but Lana delivered a solid collection with Ultraviolence. (Chosen by Brendon)

Top 3 tracks: West Coast; Ultraviolence; Fucked My Way Up To The Top

Click here to read our review of Ultraviolence.

Artist: Lights    Album: Little Machines

Lights Little MachinesLights is one of our favourite pop artists of the past decade. She seems to go from strenth to strength and that is evident on this record which was released in the laster half of the year. There are tracks all through this album that scream with single potential. Its a synth-driven, fun and optimistic LP from the Canadian popstar. (Chosen by Brendon)

Top 3 tracks: Up We Go; Speeding; From All Sides

Click here to read our review of Little Machines.

Artist: Lily Allen    Album: Sheezus

Lily Allen SheezusSheezus, where has Lily been? A five year break from recording music and starting a family may have taken Lily Allen temporarily out of the spotlight, but that didn’t stop the controversial songstress from making a comeback this year. Sheezus is the album Lily was supposed to make, it has her written all over it and has that trademark ‘not giving a s***’ attitude sparkling through the release; we also get an insight into ‘Lily Allen the Mother’, not just ‘Lily Allen the Pop Singer’, making it a diverse release. She managed to combine the two sounds we can hear on her first two records and make Sheezus, which represents her sound to a tee. (Chosen by Marcus)

Top 3 tracks: Sheezus; Our Time; Hard Out Here

Click here to read our review of Sheezus.

Artist: Lolawolf    Album: Calm Down

Lolawolf_Calm_DownCalm Down is the unparalleled debut from electronic pop trio Lolawolf. Fronted by actress Zoe Kravitz, it is a forward thinking and surprising release, which throws all expectations of her riding on her father’s coattails out the window. Flawlessly produced by Jimmy Giannopoulos of Reputante, the album features tribal and hip-hop elements that playfully compliment Kravitz’s unpredictable but impressive vocals. The uninhibited attitude these young musicians have taken in creating this album has lead to a gutsily experimental, but powerful debut for the young band. (Chosen by Naomi)

Top 3 tracks: Calm Down; Jimmy Franco; Bitch

Click here to read our review of Calm Down.

Artist: Manic Street Preachers    Album: Futurology

Manic Street Preachers - FutorologyWhat makes Futurology stand out amongst the Manics’ solid album catalogue is the level of critical and commercial acclaim, twelve albums in. In this turbulent world, the music and lyrics on Futurology brim with much-welcomed light, vitality and hope. The band manages to sound fresh, even with influences like Krautrock on the arrangements. The industrial, chant-worthy stomp of Europa Geht Durch Mich is a stirring call for Europeans all over to unite. The ambiguous yet triumphant Walk Me to the Bridge is a career highlight. The euphoric instrumental Dreaming a City takes on even greater significance today, as its subtitle of Hugheskova- now known as Donetsk- is currently embroiled in the bitter battle between Ukraine and Pro-Russian separatists. Futurology has made the Manics relevant again and therefore deserves to play a big role in the setlist for the band’s hotly anticipated The Holy Bible 20th anniversary shows. (Chosen by Andrew)

Top 3 tracks: Walk Me To The Bridge; Europa Geht Durch Mich; Dreaming a City (Hugheskova)

Click here to read our review of Futurology.

Artist: Matt Goss    Album: Life You Imagine

MattGoss-LifeYouImagineMatt Goss delivered an impressive album this year with Life You Imagine, you can definitely hear why he’s an award-winning performer just by listening to his music. I really enjoyed how he somehow managed to make this album sound as if he were performing it in the same room, sometimes it’s hard to create a sound that connects with your audience in that kind of way, but Matt nailed it. Mainstream radio leans towards the overly poppy content, but I can imagine Goss being right up there with the jazz greats. (Chosen by Marcus)

Top 3 tracks: Mustang; When Will I Be Famous; Strong

Click here to read our review of Life You Imagine.

Artist: Megan Washington    Album: There There

There There-Megan WashingtonThere There is a beautiful album! Megan Washington managed to outdo herself yet again with the first album since the release of her debut I Believe You, Liar in 2010. Megan delved deeper into the world of catchy pop, moving ballads, emotive lyrical writing and delivery; the album’s producer Sam Dixon managed to help bring out some of the best of Megan, insisting she approached writing There There more personally. In our interview with Megan, she said “With There There it’s straight up pop and the challenge for me was not to go from left to right but to go from up to down, I was exploring meaning a lot more”, which explains why the album is one of our favourites released this year. (Chosen by Marcus)

Top 3 tracks: My Heart Is A Wheel; Limitless; Begin Again

Click here to read our review of There There.

Artist: Molotov Jukebox    Album: Carnival Flower

Molotov Jukebox Carnival FlowerMost people would best know Molotov Jukebox frontwoman Natalia Tena from her acting roles in blockbuster franchises such as Harry Potter and Game of Thrones. However, her voice and Molotov Jukebox’s debut album Carnival Flower is not to be missed. Offering up exotic and cultural flair, Carnival Flower is a lesson for all musicians on how to create not just an album, but a masterpiece. Tena’s unique sultry vocals glide effortlessly over the band’s ‘gypstep’ creations to give Molotov Jukebox their distinctive sound. Exotic, seductive and lively, Carnival Flower is a 2014 debut not to be missed. (Chosen by Melissa)

Top 3 tracks: Travel Softly; No Lady; Housefire Smile

Click here to read our review of Carnival Flower.

Artist: Passenger    Album: Whispers

Passenger - WhispersPassenger has a poetic knack for telling stories, and that is what folk music is about. He obviously first found fame with his international hit Let Her Go, but alas we were yet to enter the territory that were yet to know about Passenger; Whispers is an album that consists of many journey’s, each track differs from the other and that’s what I appreciated about the record, it’s not easy finding an album these days that have songs that differentiate entirely from each other. Passenger also made sure this album was delivered with a burning energy, as well as the caress of his lovable vocal. (Chosen by Marcus)

Top 3 tracks: Coins In A Fountain; Heart’s On Fire; Whispers

Click here to read our review of Whispers.

Artist: Per Gessle    Album: The Per Gessle Archives: A Lifetime of Songwriting (Box Set)

The Per Gessle ArchivesAs one half of Roxette, one fifth of Swedish band Gyllene Tider and a solo superstar throughout Europe, Per Gessle has achieved more in his lifetime as one of the worlds most iconic songwriters than most could dream of and all of those achievements are showcased in this boxset….in demo form. The biggest arrangements and the most classic of mainstream pop is stripped back to its barest state with a collection that captures some of the worlds most iconic hits from the very beginning. (Chosen by Brendon)

Top 3 tracks: Far too many to chose from

Click here to read our review of The Per Gessle Archives: A Lifetime of Songwriting.

Artist: Prince    Album: Art Official Age

Prince Art Official AgeHands down one of the most ambitious artists of this, or indeed any generation, His Royal Purpleness returned in late September with both a gritty rock record fuelled by the raw feminine energy of his latest backing band 3RDEYEGIRL and Art Official Age – a long-awaited return to his funkiest prime. Clearly he’s always possessed some kind of superpower that most artists will never know and his skills as writer, performer, producer and arranger are all out in full force on AOA – undoubtedly one of the sexiest records ever made by a 56-year-old. By far his best record in a decade, Art Official Age reminds you that there’s definitely a method to his historically well-documented madness. (Chosen by Angus)

Top 3 tracks: Clouds; Breakfast Can Wait; Funknroll

Click here to read our review of Art Official Age.

Artist: Rumer    Album: Into Colour

Rumer Into ColourEasy listening songbird Rumer returned after 2 years with her third studio album this year and her 2nd featuring original material in the shape of Into Colour. The record was teased by the lead single Dangerous and touches on the joys and heartaches of life for one of musics most sentimental storytellers. The collection boasts 11 brand new songs and is the first original release for Rumer since the singers 2010 debut, Seasons of my Soul. (Chosen by Brendon)

Top 3 tracks: Dangerous; Play Your Guitar; Butterfly

Click here to read our review of Into Colour.

Artist: Ryan Adams    Album: Ryan Adams

Ryan Adams AlbumRyan Adams’ self-titled album is replete with the ageless Rock N Roll, Americana sound at which he excels. There are hints of Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen, as well as guitar-fuelled anthems that have the muscles of arena rock juxtaposed against sensitive, minimalist arrangements that allow Adams’ idiosyncratic, poignant poetry to shine. The album is teeming with timeless, enduring Rock N Roll that will never lose its integrity and appeal. (Chosen by Meggie)

Top 3 tracks: Gimme Something Good; Kim; Let Go

Click here to read our review of Ryan Adams.

Artist: Sia    Album: 1000 Forms of Fear

Sia - 1000 Forms Of Fear2014 was the Year of Sia, her return to releasing her own music was anticipated, but I don’t even think she could have predicted how  amazingly well 1000 Forms of Fear has done since its release; the album has since won four ARIA’s, and its lead single Chandelier’s video clip has reached over 340 million views on YouTube. I have been a dedicated fan of Sia long before she tasted international success with Titanium, and I for one am overwhelmed with gladness that she is being recognised on a global scale for her talent and her art; she has always been a pop artist, but she has proven with her trusty pen and vocal capabilities that she deserves to be renowned as a top notch songwriter as well as a stellar vocalist, 1000 Forms of Fear is pop but it’s still left of centre, and that’s how we love our Sia. (Chosen by Marcus)

Top 3 tracks: Chandelier; Eye of the Needle; Elastic Heart

Click here to read our review of 1000 Forms of Fear.

Artist: Slipknot    Album: .5: The Gray Chapter

SLIPKNOT .5 The Gray Chapter.5: The Gray Chapter is Slipknot’s first release since the death of bassist and founding member Paul Gray. Following his passing the band were hesitant to continue creating music, but thankfully, after a six year break they returned to the studios to produce this moving and monumental tribute. Experimental and ever transforming, this album once again proves that Slipknot is a band made up of raw talent and passion who, over the past two decades, have developed a seamless way of creating and playing music. The Gray Chapter will surely appeal to Slipknot’s loyal fans but is also a great starting place for those unfamiliar with heavy metal but looking for a reliable introduction to the genre. (Chosen by Naomi)

Top 3 tracks: The Devil In I; Killpop; Goodbye

Click here to read our review of .5: The Gray Chapter.

Artist: Sophie Delila    Album: My Life Could Use A Remix

Sophie Delila My Life Could Use A RemixMy Life Could Use A Remix was a surprising album to us when we first dove into it because of the singers change in direction but we adore this collection because it shows off Sophie’s musical diversity. While her debut Hooked found its feet in the cool sounds of Motown, My Life Could Use A Remix sounds much more pop-oriented than previous material and is a real treat of a record. (Chosen by Brendon)

Top 3 tracks: Where Does The Love Go; Me You Right Now; Nothing Hurts

Click here to read our review of My Life Could Use A Remix.

Artist: St. Vincent    Album: St. Vincent

St.Vincent-AlbumMost artists don’t go to a place like Texas with the intention of making their most electronic record to date, but then again, Annie “St. Vincent” Clark decidedly isn’t like “most artists”. Her self-titled fourth album ties together the trademark inventive grit of her infamous guitar work with a newfound, technologically inspired sheen. Her keen sense of humour (Clark is friends with numerous comedians and has appeared on multiple cult TV shows) balances perfectly with her raw and honest songwriting. Truly the Jill-of-all-Trades in the modern music scene, her seemingly endless talents flourish on St. Vincent in ways that signal even more great things to come from Ms. Clark. (Chosen by Angus)

Top 3 tracks: Rattlesnake; Birth In Reverse; Digital Witness

Click here to read our review of St Vincent.

Artist: Steve Smyth   Album: Exits

Steve Smyth Exits AlbumSteve Smyth is a bit of a contradiction – seemingly rough-as-guts on the outside, but simultaneously heartrendingly tender, his sophomore album Exits explored this dichotomy beautifully. The itinerant troubadour created a sprawling, honest and versatile soundtrack that is as rambling, rowdy, and raucous, as it is affecting, intimate and sensitive. (Chosen by Meggie)

Top 3 tracks: Written or Spoken; Paris; Desolation Point

Click here to read our review of Exits.

Artist: Streets Of Laredo    Album: Volume I & II

Streets of LaredoVolume 1 & 2 is quite simply beautiful. Drawing heavily on 70s folk influences but with a current twist, it flits and flutters its way through pleasing harmonies, insightful lyrics and awe-inspiring melodies. This is an album for the dreamers, the wanderers and the ones that see life in a different way. (Chosen by Jamie)

Top 3 tracks: Homeless; Hey Rose; Everything to Everyone

Click here to read our review of Volume I & II.

Artist: Suzanne Vega    Album: Tales From the Realm of the Queen of Pentacles

SuzanneVega-TalesFromTheRealmOfTheQueenOfPentaclesThis album is one which must not be overlooked. I think people forget how much Suzanne’s sound influenced the music industry and this album reminds us of that fact. With a far reaching sound that borrows from other musicians, Vega manages to improve on the quality of others and shows she still has an ear for a groundbreaking tune. Well worth a listen to see just where so many artists got their ideas from. (Chosen by Jamie)

Top 3 tracks: Silver Bridge; Don’t Uncork What You Can’t Contain; Crack In The Wall

Click here to read our review of Tales from the Realm of the Queen of Pentacles.

Artist: Taylor Swift   Album: 1989

Taylor Swift 1989

1989 is testament to a singer who puts her heart and soul into everything she does. To be honest, whatever Taylor touches seems to turn to gold, and with 1989 being her first proper pop album you’d think she’s need some time to settle. This isn’t the case however and its up there for one of the pop records of the year. Fun and frivolous at times, heartfelt and deep in others, it has everything you’d want from an album and more. (Chosen by Jamie)

Top 3 tracks: Shake It Off; Bad Blood; Blank Space

Click here to read our review of 1989.

Artist: The Black Keys    Album: Turn Blue

TheBlackKeys-TurnBlueThe thing that makes The Black Keys stand out from others is their ability to adapt, change, and not stand still for one moment. Turn Blue sees Dan and Pat on psychedelic form, shying away from there safety zone whilst pulling off a master class in how to evolve. With a gentle not to progressive rock and bands like Pink Floyd, Turn Blue is one that will be on your mind for a long time. (Chosen by Jamie)

Top 3 tracks: Weight of Love; In Our Prime; Waiting on Words

Click here to read our review of Turn Blue.

Artist: The Jezabels    Album: The Brink

The Jezabels - The Brink2014 saw the four piece alternative rock, indie and disco pop quartet The Jezabels release and exhilarating and sight-soaring new album, The Brink. The record sky rocketed the band to new heights with hypnotically charming synths, riff-raving electric guitar solos and seld-attuned, beautiful vocals by the lovely Hayley Mary. The Brink provides listeners an enticing and appeasing album and firmly plants The Jezabels as being one of the most “intensindie” bands ever. (Chosen by Kirsten)

Top 3 tracks: The Brink; Look Of Love; Beat To Beat

Click here to read our review of The Brink.

Artist: The Rural Alberta Advantage    Album: Mended With Gold

The Rural Alberta Advantage-Mended With GoldThe stand out point for The Rural Alberta Advantage’s Mended With Gold is that the record just flowed track to track so vibrantly, the group found a way to really make you feel like you’re a part of the journey into making the album. As mentioned in my review, there’s not one track that sounds like it shouldn’t be there, which is what makes this album so listenable and likable; there are too many albums out there that are more filler than killer, Mended With Gold is not one of them. The back-stories of some of the songs’ origins were really intriguing, particularly for the chilling To Be Scared, which was written during a remote and lonely stay in a cottage whilst feeling distant and helpless. (Chosen by Marcus)

Top 3 tracks: Our Love; To Be Scared; Not Love Or Death

Click here to read our review of Mended With Gold.

Artist: The Tea Party    Album: The Ocean At The End

The Tea Party - The Ocean at the EndThe latest effort by Canadian band The Tea Party is an effortless yet powerful collection, despite the band’s hiatus over several years. The Eastern sounds are merely just a complement to the already strong musicianship, as apparent in tracks like the bellowing, winding waltz of The Black Sea. The sinister church bells, catchy chorus and merciless synths on Submission bring listeners to hellish highs. The epic eight-minute title track builds up the momentum for a almost painfully long time, before setting the album ablaze with its evocative synths and ferocious guitars that can be appreciated on headphones. It’s hard for listeners to come down after those peaks on this emotional musical journey. (Chosen by Andrew)

Top 3 tracks: The Black Sea; Submission; The Ocean at the End

Click here to read our review of The Ocean at the End.

Artist: The Veronicas    Album: The Veronicas

The VeronicasOur favourite twins are back this year and their smashing album is a reminder of what we’ve been missing. Brimming with angst, hellfire and pop goodness, Jess and Lisa prove they’re still in the game and ready to conquer. Each track is executed with detail, featuring plenty of catchy hooks and irresistible choruses that’ll having you shouting along. The lyrics, you’ll find too, are beautifully written and can personally connect with the listener. It seems that The Veronicas are well and truly back, and whether you like it or not, they’re kicking ass. (Chosen by Helena)

Top 3 tracks: Cruel; You Ruin Me; Cold

Click here to read our review of The Veronicas.

Artist: Thom Yorke    Album: Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes

Thom Yorke Tomorrow's Modern BoxesOnce again, Radiohead’s enigmatic frontman teams up with longtime producer Nigel Godrich for a completely unprecedented follow-up to 2006’s solo debut The Eraser. An outspoken critic of the ever-collapsing old model of music distribution, on September 26th Yorke released Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes through controversial peer-to-peer software BitTorrent with absolutely no hype or promotional fanfare. It’s characteristically bleak but has a unique soulfulness that is often eschewed for rabid experimentalism in Radiohead. The glitchy beats, lo-fi sampling and that one-of-a-kind voice of his all coalesce on Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes into one of the best surprise releases of the last decade. (Chosen by Angus)

Top 3 tracks: A Brain in a Bottle; Interference; The Mother Lode

Click here to read our review of Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes.

Artist: Tim McGraw    Album: Sundown Heaven Town

Tim McGraw Sundown Heaven TownTim McGraw’s 13th studio album was a huge hit this year, but is anyone surprised? A delightful balance of old-school McGraw that fans will find comfortingly familiar, perfectly complimented with sounds that feel fresh, push boundaries and bring the country superstar seamlessly into 2014. (Chosen by Kirsten)

Top 3 tracks: Meanwhile Back At Mama’s; Diamond Rings and Old Barstools; The View

Click here to read our review of Sundown Heaven Town.

Artist: Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga    Album: Cheek to Cheek

Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga Cheek to CheekI know what you’re thinking, ‘what an odd collaboration, right?’. Wrong! Tony and GaGa have a chemistry for jazz, they compliment each other so well in terms of shared melodies and harmonies. It’s great to hear somebody as contemporary as Lady GaGa go back to their singing roots, she has been singing jazz music since she was a young girl, and teaming up with Tony Bennett is a great way to introduce the genre to her fanbase, this way the modern world can sit back and admire the classics of jazz. (Chosen by Marcus)

Top 3 tracks: Anything Goes; Lush; Sophisticated Lady

Click here to read our review of Cheek to Cheek.

Artist: Tori Amos    Album: Unrepentant Geraldines

Tori-Amos-Unrepentant-Geraldines-CoverTori released album #14 of her hugely successful career earlier in the year and it proved to be a return to the musicians early nineties style with a rich Americana vein and a beautiful acoustic quality to it. The record’s lead single, Troubles Lament provides a haunting introduction to Unrepentant Geraldines while follow up single, Promises offered Tori and fans a sweet mother/daughter moment with the singers daughter, Natashya. This is a true standout record for 2014 and a reminder of Tori’s legendary status in the music history books. (Chosen by Brendon)

Top 3 tracks: Troubles Lament; Promise; Oysters

Click here to read our review of Unrepentant Geraldines.

Artist: Tove Lo    Album: Queen Of The Clouds

QueenOfTheCloudsToveLoQueen Of The Clouds marks a triumphant debut from Swedish sensation Tove Lo. Following a story-line framework, the album moves from themes of sex, love and pain – all in that very order. Through a symphony of synths and poppy electro beats, Tove Lo captures the complications that arise with falling in and out of love, as well as tidbits of her own hedonistic lifestyle. Each track is delivered with spunk, attitude and painfully authentic emotion – and will no doubt have you laughing then crying with her in a matter of moments. (Chosen by Helena)

Top 3 tracks: Timebomb; Not On Drugs; Habits

Click here to read our review of Queen of the Clouds.

Artist: Train    Album: Bulletproof Picasso

Train-Bulletproof PicassoTrain have been enjoying some mainstream success of late, and why not continue it with their third album in five years? Bulletproof Picasso was intended to be written on a more personal level, and they achieved that with a collection of relatable tracks. It doesn’t have anything overly poppy like their hit Hey, Soul Sister but that doesn’t matter; all that mattered was that the group released a solid album that kept you interested. (Chosen by Marcus) 

Top 3 tracks: Angel In Blue Jeans; The Bridge; Don’t Grow Up So Fast

Click here to read our review of Bulletproof Picasso.

Artist: U2    Album: Songs of Innocence

U2 - Songs Of InnocenceLike it or not, U2 made perhaps the biggest splash this year, dropping their latest record Songs Of Innocence in spectacular fashion, causing a mixed reaction to say the least. Amongst all the controversy about how the album was made available, the music got a little lost. And it’s actually really good. With nods to The Ramones and Clash, lyrics full of childhood memories, addictive rock tracks and poignant ballads, it’s what you’d want from a U2 album and also the bands most personal body of work to date. (Chosen by Kirsten)

Top 3 tracks: The Miracle (Of Joey Ramone); California (There Is No End To Love); The Troubles

Click here to read our review of Songs of Innocence.

Artist: Weezer    Album: Everything Will Be Alright In The End

Weezer- Everything Will Be Alright In the EndThe mindless, drunken fun returns for Weezer on the band’s ninth album, produced by The Cars’ Ric Ocasek: the man behind its Blue Album debut. Mellow moments are far and few between, but this album is meant to be played at intelligent, boozy college parties. Frontman Rivers Cuomo excels in his songwriting, both on his own (e.g. the ridiculously catchy, mood-setting opener Ain’t Got Nobody) and with collaborators like The Darkness’ Justin Hawkins (as evident on the jolly, groovy good time of I’ve Had It Up to Here). The British Are Coming is a particularly fine example of tight guitar licks and glorious melodies. So what if the band members are in their forties? They’ve still got some spunk left. And does Rivers Cuomo even age? (Chosen by Andrew)

Top 3 tracks: Ain’t Got Nobody; I’ve Had It Up to Here; The British Are Coming

Click here to read our review of Everything Will Be Alright In The End.

Artist: Within Temptation    Album: Hydra

Within Temptation - HydraWithin Temptation’s sixth album release is a whopper of symphonic metal tracks. Filled with bewitching vocals by Shanon den Adel and killer guitar licks by Robert Westerholt, the band’s fusion of two completely opposing genres of music create hauntingly beautiful gothic rock that’s sure to turn ‘nay-sayers’ into fans. It’s been almost 20 years since the Dutch band formed, but they’re still going strong. Hydra shows that Within Temptation has evolved, releasing the monster within with solid singles like Paradise (What About Us?) and Whole World Is Watching. If this still doesn’t seem like your cup of tea, then maybe Xzibit rapping in And We Run accompanied by distorted guitars and heavy drums will intrigue you enough. (Chosen by Stephanie)

Top 3 tracks: Edge Of The World; Dangerous; And We Run

Click here to read our review of Hydra.

Artist: You + Me    Album: rose ave.

YouplusMe You and MeThe collaboration between City and Colour’s Dallas Green and Pop Superstar P!nk, or Alecia Moore, has been one of the most surprising collaborations this year, and just as impressive.  We were swept away in their uniquely sensitive sound and excruciatingly beautiful harmonies, in an effort that feels utterly different from anything they’ve delivered as individuals. It’s not P!nk ft. Green nor Green ft. P!nk, but a place as much in the middle as it is separate all together, and has made for one of the most exciting albums of the year. (Chosen by Kirsten)

Top 3 tracks: Capsized; You and Me; Break The Cycle

Click here to read our review of rose ave.

Want to know what Renowned For Sound’s editor considers the best singles of 2014? Click here to find out!