Best Albums of 2014

edited November 2014 in General
The season is certainly here now. Today the Guardian publish 40-31 of their top 40. I'm pleased to see I actually own one so far.


  • Greg, I have 2 off the list, the Damon Alban release is really worth a listen
  • I think I've only heard of 5 from the 20 they have posted so far.
  • I only own one of them, but I've listened to 13.

  • edited November 2014
    Yes, looking at the 40-21 list I've heard of about 8 I think, and it will be of no surprise to know that the only one I own is the Toumani Diabate and Sidiki Diabate album. I probably ought to try to listen to the Damon Albarn release, Lowlife
  • I have four, two of which will make my Favourites list.
  • Not a list but it's time for the Dacapo Christmaz Quiz 2014:
    - I actually won last year.
  • It's starting in earnest:

    Stereogum (Own 21, and I actually think I'll have the top 2 in the same order.)

    Paste (Own 17, including the one that came out in 2013.)

  • edited December 2014
    Stereogum: I am confident I'll have none in the same order because I have heard none of these, and I think I have heard of less than ten of them. Actually I think I have heard one track from War on Drugs that was a free daily download.
    Paste: More of these are known names to me, but again I have zero.
    Why do these lists keep picking such obscure albums?

    Having a real hard time sequencing my own top 5.
  • Stereogum: I have heard of many of those albums, thought I might like to hear 6 or 7 of them, actually listened to 0.

    I do actually own a previous album from 1 of these bands! (The Men) And I have heard and like St Vincent.

    Oh well. I will be coming out with my list of favorite albums by middle-aged to elderly jazz artists later this month :D
  • Gp, I apologize in advance for asking, but:
    Why do these lists keep picking such obscure albums?
    This is a joke right? Because surely your own list will as obscure as Stereogum's by any objective (say, sales + press) measure, won't it?
  • Yeah, I'm pretty sure GP was being sarcastic.

  • edited December 2014
    A joke, yes. My own list will include albums that maybe sold a few hundred, if that.

    I was also nodding wryly to the reality that "well-known-ness" and "best-ness" are so relative to particular groups and media streams. I was kind of surprised this year as to how many of the names in the lists so far I have just never heard of. I feel sure I was more hip last year :-). It's possible to be really famous and still obscure in any given circle. I think that may actually be a good thing - it's unclear what the benefits of ubiquity are (as U2 perhaps learned recently).
  • edited December 2014
    GP; I like the way that smile worked out :-
    ) (although maybe it only looks that way on my phone)

    Stereogum, I have 6, including the top 3. #47, Thou, is great if you like doomy metal or are curious and is NYOP. One of the few NYOP things I actually paid for.
  • ... And Paste I have three, which are the same as the stereogum top 3.
  • edited December 2014
    The 28 best jazz albums of 2014 according to the Daily Telegraph (UK). I was amused to see that the same publication gave one of the albums on the list, by Arve Henriksen, a two star review, saying "after a while you notice how limp the repeating patterns are, and how nothing ever takes on any real rhythmic life, or rises above a murmur. It’s music for a very groovy, spiritually inclined rest home."
  • edited December 2014
    Stereogum: I own 1: Aphex Twin.
    On wishlist: 1 - Swans
    - and heard of about 20 of them (eg. Flying Lotus)

    Paste: 0

    The Guardian: 1 on wishlist: Scott Walker and Sunn 0)))
  • That's more like it. I have 6 or 7 albums on that jazz list, and several others saved for later. That Eric Harland album, as far as I can tell, can only be ordered from the artist or DL'd on iTunes
  • edited December 2014
    The Telegraph Jazz list is best for me with 6, and I'm likely to follow up some more from that list. Stereogum, only two but they are 2 and 3, and Paste three including Number 1 - the addition being my local band The Temples. Probably about par for me.
  • Rolling Stone

    Rolling Stone is nothing if not predictable. Their #1 album is U2 and #2 is Bruce Springsteen.

    I have 13 of their 50.

  • edited December 2014
    Ted Gioia has posted his Top 100 of 2014...

    I'm stunned by many of the jazz inclusions. There are some very mediocre albums listed there. That said, they are consistent in many ways with past picks he's made (in the characteristics of the music, not the quality), and he's as as entitled to have his point of view/preferences as the next person. Besides, for me, the value of his list has always been the non-jazz selections. As immersed as I am in the jazz section, I've completely lost touch with everything else. His list has already clued me in that favorite artists have new albums out in 2014, like Hauschka and Beck and, hm, there were a couple others. But you get the point.

    That Telegraph list is strange. It's like the staff reviewers were left out of the Best Of list selection process. Several of their inclusions got very tepid reviews. And what the fuck is that Bennett/Gaga thing doing up there? Talk about an album that's the antithesis of jazz... dull, uninspired and predictable. It's not a bad album, but it's the sonic equivalent of the cheap brand of vanilla ice cream at your grocery. Vanilla ice cream can be so delicious if made well. Bennett/Gaga take the cheap approach of "well, it's white and it's cold, so good enough." I feel like there were a couple other albums on that Telegraph list that I found outrageous inclusions but I've already forgotten them and don't really want to even look at their list again. I like that they had the Alexander Hawkins Step Wide up there, but considering their obvious UK/hometown voting, I wonder if they would have included that album were Hawkins based instead, say, in Seattle.

  • edited December 2014
    Yes, even from a position of less expertise than you, I thought the Telegraph list was weird.

    Two lists is a small sample, but I am curious to see no mention yet on the jazz-leaning lists of my favorite jazz release of the year (also from among a smaller sample of what I heard/bought): Trilogy by the Chick Corea Trio. Three CDs' worth of virtuouso musicians having a ton of fun, excellent reviews. I see no way that the Fred Hersch album that Ted Gioia has at #2, pleasant as it is, is a better piano jazz album, but I'll give it another listen.

    There's a couple I want on the Rolling Stone list, including the Tinariwen, which I found out about from it!

    Looking forward to the Fluid Radio list - that's usually where I learn about things closest to home for me.
  • edited December 2014
    Rolling Stone - four including 1 and 2, but the only reason I have U2 is because it was free on iTunes. No way would it be anywhere near my list of the year, never mind Number 1.
  • edited December 2014
    As far as the Ted Gioia is concerned I have 2 jazz and 2 West African from the main list plus another 2 on the next 100. I was expecting more as I have downloaded a lot of really good contemporary jazz this year. Perhaps I will have more when the Bird is the Worm list is out!! I did follow up the Daily Telegraph list but none of the ones I thought I might be interested in are available on emusic. Again a handful on this list to follow up. One of the benefits of such lists is that they do direct you to music you may have missed.
  • edited December 2014
    Ted Gioia - 2; #10 and #69, although #69, Eric Reed Smoke Session, I got with a glut of stuff this weekend, and I haven't actually listened to it yet...

    Also, his number 70, Jamestown Revival, was free from the Microsoft deal yesterday; if it's still there, I'll get it.

    Telegraph - 0.

    And Guardian's gotten as high as number 8; still 0.
  • Smoke Sessions in general is my favorite thing this year. Even adjusting for my love for big live jazz sets, they are high-quality recordings of interesting groups of players, each offering a distinct point of view. Great sense of immediacy in each of these recordings individually, and of the scene collectively. Orrin Evans and Louis Hayes have been my favorites, but Eric Reed is coming up fast on the outside.
  • Gioia list:
    #1 : John Luther Adams
    #25: Michael Gordon
    #38: Nels Cline & Julian Lage
    #80: David Lang (with the Anonymous 4)

    - Soon to be grabbed:
    #76: Harry Partch: Plectra and Percussion Dances

    - On wishlist:
    #64: Steve Reich
  • Smoke Sessions Records may very well get the slot for my Label of the Year.

    It's also very likely they'll get shut out of my Best of 2014 list. Every album they put out was excellent, but it's looking like individually, each album is falling a bit short of the top thirty slots. Though Hayes, Mabern and Reed are still in contention.

    I've got my list down to 80(ish), which really isn't that many. After a couple final listens to some albums, I'll sit down with a bottle of bourbon and figure out who makes the final cut.

    I believe my first Best Of 2014 post goes up on Dec. 21st. I'm hoping to have posts for Label, Non-Jazz (which will be strictly a favorites thing), Artist of the Year, and then beginning Jan 25th, the Top 30 albums of the year, with #1 getting announced on Dec.31st.

  • Wow, I actually have 7 of Gioia's list.

    1 - JL Adams 'Become Ocean'
    25 - Gordon 'Rushes'
    39 - RR Parry 'Music for Heart and Breath'
    46 - Ensemble Villancico 'Tambalagumba'
    48 - Danish String Quartet 'Wood Works'
    55 - Dessner/Greenwood
    84 - Brodsky Quartet 'New World Quartets'

    Some but not all of these will make my own year's best.
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