Top 15 Albums of the Year

Ravedeaf’s Top 15 Albums of the Year Not being too sure how high profile music review sites compile end of the year lists, we at Ravedeaf decided to combine all of our contributor’s individual top tens in order to come up with a list that best represented all of our tastes fairly. So our first step was to each submit our own top ten, and then each album was assigned a point representation with ten going to everyone’s number one, nine to everyone’s second and so forth.

Of the seven contributors that submitted lists we had 59 different albums, so obviously there was some overlap, but not a whole lot and the first list we had was mostly just everybody’s number one and two’s. To make sure we had a list that there was a little bit more agreement on, we then took that first list of 18 albums, added 11 “petitions” or suggestions (one from each of us and then four general petitions that everyone was a fan of) from everybody that were thought to fit well with other tastes on the staff. We then re-voted and each of us made a top 15 out of that list of 29 albums. Again everyone’s top vote got 15 points then their second got 14 and so forth. Now we had much more of an agreement on each album instead of just all of our own personal number one’s tying for placement on the list. Forcing everyone to vote on a certain amount of albums guaranteed us to have agreement and by making the list of things to have our final vote on by looking at what we all liked individually seemed like the fairest way to get everyone’s taste represented.

Obviously the most extreme of tastes would not have a spot, but common ground was easier to find this way. The downside to doing it this way is that our number one overall album, You’re Dead by Flying Lotus was in fact none of our personal number ones, it just happened to gather the most points when we all re-voted, making it simply the best common point in all of our tastes of music which vary greatly. So even though none of us can defend You’re Dead like an album of the year, to give a nod to all of the different tastes of music that our site embodies, this album is our common ground. It appeared high enough on people’s lists when it came down to it and we as a site stand by it simply because from the beginning we have made it a goal to always honor the different tastes we all have and to try and find common ground rather than just isolating our own stances. So here they are, Ravedeaf’s top 15 albums of the year beginning with number 15.

5929a193 15) tUnE- yArDs – Nikki Nack A mixture of afro pop and electronic sounds, the kind of music tUnE-yArDs are putting out truly can be classified as anything from freak folk to experimental pop. Merrill Garbus plays ukulele, sings and when having to re create her music live uses an extensive looping system while Nate Brenner adds his talents with the electric bass. The term “danceable” has never felt so appropriate and Nikki Nack truly can be placed into any number of genre categories as long as there is dancing involved.

– Joe DeBonis

5021392871196 14) Young Fathers – Dead It took much longer than it should have for Young Fathers to get the recognition they deserve, but following their third release and their technical “début” album, the Scottish trio received the Mercury Prize album of the year in 2014.  After talking to them earlier this year, I got some powerful insight on their thought process and why they really hate to be pigeon holed into a certain genre.  One thing can be said for sure, Dead is the pinnacle of the sound that Young Fathers have been crafting for years.

– Patrick DeBonis

freddie-gibbs-madlib-pinata 13) Freddie Gibbs & Madlib – Piñata Is Piñata Madvillainy reincarnated ten years later? Probably not, but it sure is the closest thing to it.  Piñata did not help define a style of hip-hop like its ten-year-old predecessor.  What it did do was show that Madlib is still very relevant and dash every doubt from the mind whether or not Freddie Gibbs is actually “Thuggin‘”.  Gibbs offers the interesting contrast of real life intelligence with a depiction of street life that is refreshingly not glamorized, but rather a raw snapshot.

– Patrick DeBonis

d9f36f89 12) Real Estate- Atlas  While previously Real Estate have been known for their sunny day guitar pop, Atlas adds an oncoming storm into the mix. Sonically, they’re just as buoyant as ever, with tightly produced, four minute songs that provide as much atmosphere as they do stable music. Lyrically, however, Atlas delves into nostalgia, and the inevitability and restlessness of settling down. Nearly half of the songs mention the word ‘horizon’, and deal with never-ending possibility, yet suggesting that sometimes it’s best to stay in place and take a look around. The ten songs effortlessly drift through melody after melody, staying in your head long after the last notes are played.

– Josh Hughes

homepage_large.8512d235 11) Sun Kil Moon- Benji On Benji, Mark Kozelek solemnly contemplates death over his acoustic guitar. His low, raspy voice recalls distant relatives dying in freak aerosol can fires, his father talking about waitresses at Panera Bread, and watching the film The Song Remains the Same. His completely matter of fact delivery leaves no room for metaphor, making Benji an emotional, confrontational listen. We may not be able to make sense out of it all, but there’s a grand scheme in Kozelek’s dreary wonderland that isn’t matched by any other combination of words or chords.

– Josh Hughes

homepage_large.b0b41001 10) Milo- Toothpaste Suburb One of the most emotional, intricate and above all unique rappers in the game right now, Milo touches on themes in his own, nerdy way that is sometimes in stark contrast with what most of rap is doing. Things like the death of his brother and how to deal with the idea of believing in God or not are just the tip of the iceberg of the depth of Milo’s materiel. The density of his lyrics take multiple listens to fully understand, but his gentle and inviting voice make it easier to be drawn in.

– Joe DeBonis

homepage_large.8c20479e 9) Joyce Manor- Never Hungover Again Pop punk is alive and well thanks to bands like Joyce Manor. A new take on the genre, their album came in at around 20 minutes long, but hit on all the emotion, angst and musical ability needed to create a masterpiece. It is quick, but powerful, and as fast as it is, listening to the album back to back to back is quite a normal occurrence. Emotion is necessary to make an album that people can connect with and this may be one of the most emotional albums of the year and is leading the way for genres like emo revival and anything in that vein.

– Joe DeBonis

homepage_large.48a48155 8) FKA Twigs- LP1 Combining both a producer of Arca’s caliber and a singer full of mystique and haunting beauty like Tahliah Barnett can only lead to one thing, and that is the most hyped, talked about and striking album of the year, LP1. FKA Twigs had released an EP the year before, but with this release she finally has released her first full length and the masses salivated having a full album of her material at their fingertips. The trap influenced beats, the sultry emotion and the power of the two together truly reaches a new level of electronic emotion that the musical world was not quite ready for, but more than welcomed.

– Joe DeBonis

III_(BadBadNotGood_album) 7) BADBADNOTGOOD- III Three teens in a Canadian music institute decided to infuse their love of hip hop and contemporary electronica into their own brand of modern jazz. Their third album, and first on a major label, strips away their trademark covers and instead goes for groovy, minimal jams. “Triangle” boasts the delicate attention to detail of impressive musicianship, and lets loose with keyboard and bass solos. “Hedron” finds a solemn bass line and slowly crescendos into complete oblivion without losing any of its intricate geometry. Then there’s everything in between, all tightly wound into an argument for the future of jazz music.

– Josh Hughes 

clipping-CLPPNG-review 6) clipping. – CLPPNG William Hutson and Jonathan Snipes crafted some of the most refreshing instrumentals of the year if they were a stand-alone project and Daveed Diggs was the most intelligent and versatile lyricists in the past two years.  Together, clipping. was my favorite rap release of the year.  They are part of the sparse group that is pushing the boundaries of rap; keeping it the innovative and revolutionary genre that people tend to forget it once was.

– Patrick DeBonis

arca-xen-artwork 5) Arca – Xen Mr. Yeezus boy seems to be the top thing people want to give Alejandro Ghersi credit for, but his individual work is quite a bit more formidable.  An enigmatic producer, Ghersi’s unique sound knows no peers but the visual artist Jesse Kanda.  The album format provides unnecessary pathways for Ghersi but it also gave him the opportunity to show his mastery of sound and composition in any setting.  Another artist that was not given the proper respect until this year is finally able to be commended for his own work because of the accessibility an official release provides.

– Patrick DeBonis

maxresdefault 4) Cloud Nothings- Here and Nowhere Else Even though Dylan Baldi of Cloud Nothings writes sludgy, abrasive punk music, his heart lies in melody. Here And Nowhere Else, the band’s first release since 2012’s also excellent Attack On Memory, and coming in at only eight tracks, gives a robust idea of Baldi’s song craft. Drums suddenly switch to double time, guitars aggressively churn away in their distortion, Baldi screams his heart and lungs out, and nearly every song gets stuck in your head. The record transcends ‘teen angst’ music, or any other barriers with quality songwriting and the necessary balance of bleakness and hopefulness. Paraphrasing Baldi, if someone only writes happy songs, they’re not gonna be that interesting.

– Josh Hughes 

homepage_large.41cf09c1 3) Mac Demarco- Salad Days In 2014, Mac Demarco’s music finally out-rivaled his massive persona. On Salad Days, his take on succinct psych rock found a comfortable blend of carefree vibes and personal, relatable lyrics. At thirty minutes, Demarco wastes no time getting into spacey, reverb drenched pop songs with enough gusto and stability that they require multiple listens. Salad Days isn’t a ‘change your life’ record, but the musical prowess required to breezily float through eleven songs of melodic perfection is much more difficult than it sounds here.

– Josh Hughes 

homepage_large.e0491b02 2) Run The Jewels- Run The Jewels 2 Arguably the most high profile rap collaboration of this year, El-P and Killer Mike together make up Run the Jewels, both bringing their own special skill set to the group. With El-P’s progressively aggressive sound and Killer Mike’s aggressively powerful lyrics, the two made a rap album that both pushed boundaries lyrically, but also sonically. Each song offers something of a commentary on society, America and some of the more controversial things going on in the country like police brutality. Every song also brings home a new kind of organic beat selection and the use of live musicians during performances set them apart from their contemporaries.

– Joe DeBonis

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1) Flying Lotus – You’re Dead Not actually reviewed by anyone during the year from Ravedeaf, You’re Dead serves as a compromise and accurate representation of the sites musical appetite from 2014.  Steven Ellison is the face of contemporary jazz, making innovative and personal advances that defy classification.  Calling on Herbie Hancock and Kendrick Lamar for help, Ellison creates a union in the form of an accessible album that can only be consumed as a solid, living and breathing being solely because each track supports the next.  An artist’s work tends to reach its full potential when the personal meaning is fully expressed, and Ellison’s record is a perfect example of this. – Patrick DeBonis   Each contributor’s top lists will be released within the coming week as well!

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