Our Favorite Albums of 2014 & A Playlist for the New Year

2014 was an amazing year for music.  The year produced some of my favorite albums in a while, some from old favorites, and some from new artists that have quickly worked their way into my everyday rotation. I love looking back at the albums released in a given year, because with them come so many amazing memories, music can bring you back to such a specific place and time, unconsciously triggering senses and emotions you may have otherwise forgotten. This past year was one of my favorites to date. As a team we had the opportunity to travel to so many incredible places, near and far: Austin, Atlanta, Chicago, Nashville, Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York City to name a few… and music was such a big part of it all.

So here they are, 10 of our favorite albums to come out in 2014 – in no particular order, because how can you really compare such variety? I’m listing a couple recommended songs for each album, but really all of them should be enjoyed from start to finish. Please chime in and share your favorites in the comments!

Allah-Lahs, Worship the Sun

Sunshine, summer, and sixties surf vibes in record form. It never fails to put me in a good mood, and brings to mind late summer car rides at dusk with the windows down and the sunset casting a glow over everything. Listen to: “Had It All, “Artifact.”

Perfume Genius, Too Bright

This was a late discovery for me, and I have a feeling it’s one I’ll be listening to quite often this winter.  There is something so intriguing and different about this album from Seattle-based Mike Hadreas. There’s a darkness to it, and it seeps under your skin. This is a hard one to shake. Listen to: “Fool,” “Queen.”

Sylvan Esso, Sylvan Esso

From the moment I heard those addicting opening notes of “Coffee” by Sylvan Esso I was completely hooked – I couldn’t stop listening, and I couldn’t wait to hear more from the duo of Amelia Meath and Nick Sanborn. Their combination of electronics, unique instruments, and hypnotic lyrics is unlike anything I’ve heard. Listen to: “Coffee,” “Hey Mami.”

Courtney Barnett, The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas

It’s hard to believe this is Courtney Barnett’s debut album. She seems to have such an ease about her, from her songwriting ability to her lyrical delivery. I also had the pleasure of seeing her live, and she seemed to be enjoying herself so much, it was impossible not to fall in love with her. I can’t wait to hear more of what she can do. Listen to: “History Eraser,” “Avant Gardener.”

Caribou, Our Love

I’m a fan of everything Dan Snaith does. He sets himself apart from all the other electronic artists by constantly experimenting and taking his music in new, uncharted directions.  It’s always such a treat when he releases new music, and this year’s Our Love became one of my go-to albums when at work, writing, doing yoga, or just chilling at home. Listen to: “Can’t Do Without You,” “Silver.”

Angel Olsen, Burn Your Fire For No Witness

When I listen to this album, it takes me back those cold winter months in the beginning of the year, keeping warm behind frosty windowpanes and waiting for spring. Despite those chilly memories, there’s a warmth to Angel Olsen’s sound; a fire to her lyrics. She’s incredibly talented and I can’t wait to hear what she does next. Listen to: “Unf*cktheworld,” “Hi-Five.”

Spoon, They Want My Soul

This was probably one of my most-listened to albums of the year. And since I saw them perform a lot of the songs from it at Outside Lands, it brings back memories of that trip and the weeks that followed – drives to the beach, hot summer sun, and good friends. I hope Spoon never stops making music, because they’re so damn good at it. Listen to: “Inside Out,” “Let Me Be Mine.”

Future Islands, Singles

Future Islands are responsible for one of my absolute favorite songs of the year, “Seasons (Waiting on You).” There is something about that song that just gets me…it gives me chills, especially when you see frontman Samuel T. Herring perform it live. He’s magnetic – he puts so much passion into his vocals, you can’t take your eyes off of him. Listen to: “Seasons (Waiting on You),” “Doves.”

Foxygen, …And Star Power

I already raved about the second album from Sam France and Jonathan Rado in this post, so I won’t repeat myself here. Just do yourself a favor and listen to it loud from start to finish; let it take you on its wonderful and wild trip. Listen to: “How Can You Really,” “Cosmic Vibrations.”

The War On Drugs, Lost in the Dream

This album is stunning from start to finish.  Most people from Philly have known about this band for a while now, but it makes me so happy that with this album they really seem to be getting the attention they deserve.  This was often playing in my car this year as I drove to work, to the beach, and from Philly to Austin, and listening to it now conjures up imagery of the road ahead of me… endless possibility, and the freedom of being in control of your own destiny. If I had to choose an album that defines the past year for me, it would be this one.  Listen to: “Under the Pressure,” “Burning.”

And here’s a playlist to help you ring in the new year!

+If you missed any of our Backyard Sessions, be sure to watch them here, and our most recent documentary with the phenomenal Zella Day.

Follow Julia on Instagram and Twitter.

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9 years ago

Love Caribou! But it looks like you’re missing The Voyager by Jenny Lewis! It’s brilliant.

Warm Regards,

9 years ago

I’ve discovered loads of artists thanks to this post. I’ll check them out next year though hahaha

Best wishes,
xx Cecil

9 years ago

Thank you for this! Just discovered SO much amazing new music that’s right up my alley. What a great way to spend the last day of 2014!

xoxo Sara

9 years ago

I need to check some of these out! My favorites included Upside Down Mountain (Conor Oberst), Lazaretto (Jack White), and The Voyager (Jenny Lewis). To be fair, First Aid Kit’s Stay Gold was not bad either, though I do like The Lion’s Roar a little better. Oh! And I discovered St. Vincent this year. That album was killer. Spoon is always good and I am off to listen to Perfume Genius right now. Thanks!


War On Drugs and Future Islands were on repeat alllll year for me! Can’t wait to check out the other artists while getting ready for New Years Eve festivities tonight.

9 years ago

Really good list! I always love the music you pick out.

9 years ago

Wow, I am so into Courtney Barnett, She is just like a female bob dylan! :)


9 years ago

can’t wait to check all of these out!!