Under the Radar’s Top 140 Albums of 2014
St. Vincent Fights a War on Drugs Over Real Estate in a Future East India Island, Someone Ought to Get a First Aid Kit
2014, the year that U2 invaded the privacy of half a million Apple users and Mark Kozelek fought The War on Drugs. Ariel Pink also went to battle with Madonna and Grimes. And Taylor Swift shook it off all the way to the best first week U.S. album sales in 12 years, but U.S. album sales also hit a record low (best illustrated by Paula, Robin Thicke's big flop of an attempt to win back his estranged wife, Paula Patton).
Chris Walla left Death Cab for Cutie, Neutral Milk Hotel announced their final shows, Vivian Girls called it quits, and Guided By Voices broke up again (but don't worry, Robert Pollard probably has five new solo albums already in the works). On TV we said goodbye to Sons of Anarchy, The Newsroom, Boardwalk Empire, The Colbert Report, Psych, True Blood, and, in one of the most disappointing series finales this side of Lost, How I Met Your Mother (spoiler alert: the mom dies).
But then Slowdive, Sleater-Kinney, OutKast, Ride, and Pink Floyd all returned. And we got TV series premieres for Fargo, True Detective, Missing, The Flash, The Leftovers, Gotham, and Garfunkel & Oates. Richard Linklater's 12-years-in-the-making opus Boyhood was finally released and we checked into Wes Anderson's Grand Budapest Hotel. We helped Benedict Cumberbatch play The Imitation Game and Chris Pratt guard the galaxy.Plus David Lynch and Mark Frost announced that they were taking another twisted trip to Twin Peaks in 2016. "Weird Al" Yankovic was also back in a big way, getting "handy" and "tacky" with a bunch of viral videos and his first ever #1 album.
But it wasn't all fun and games. We may have just landed a probe on a comet for the first time ever, but 2014 was a tumultuous year for world events, both in America and internationally. One passenger jet disappeared without a trace and another was shot down in Ukraine, while a Virgin Galactic test flight also fatally crashed. The Ebola Virus ravaged Africa. The police shooting of unarmed suspect Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO, sparked massive protests and renewed the dialogue on police shootings and racism in America. ISIS' reign of terror and beheadings continued unabated and the Israeli/Palestinian conflict also worsened. Robin Williams and Philip Seymour Hoffman both died under tragic circumstances and we also lost Bobby Womack, Gravenhurt's Nick Talbot, Harold Ramis, Bob Hoskins, Rik Mayall, Lauren Bacall, and music photographer David Redfern. The 44% of Scottish people who voted for independence were left disillusioned. The U.S. midterm elections were either disastrous or victorious, depending on your party affiliation. And, spoiler alert, Beth died on The Walking Dead!
Despite all the disease and terror and protests and zombies, we'll always have the music of 2014 to look back fondly on. And what a year it was for tunes. Other music magazines and websites might present you a Top 50 albums of 2014, a Top 100 at most, but we couldn't leave it at that-too many great albums would be left out. So here we have the Top 140 Albums of 2014. It's a slight, but helpful, coincidence that "14" appears in both numbers.
Here's how it went down. Twenty-four of our writers and editors (including our two publishers) each submitted their personal Top 45 albums of 2013 lists and then those were all combined and calculated together to form this master list. For an album to make the list it had to be picked by at least three writers and when all the calculating was done we came up with 140 titles and just went with it. Our #1 album was the runaway winner, with all but four of those who voted having it on their list somewhere (many at #1, most in their Top 10). But our #2 album also made a very strong showing.
So now that you've finally dried off and warmed up from that ice bucket challenge you did back in the summer and have survived another Black Friday (and up to a record seven feet of snow in late November if you live in Upstate New York), sit back and peruse our choices for the best that music had to offer in 2014.
Click here to read the full list and let us know in the comments if we somehow left out anything you loved or you have any other thoughts on the list.
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