Top 10 Indie Pop Albums of 2014 [Brian Clifton's Picks]
10 Tough Love by Jessie Ware. Jessie Ware’s Tough Love is full of reverbed instruments and powerful vocals. Stradling the live between dreampop and RnB, Tough Love keeps the focus on Ware’s crystalline vocals while shifting the instrumentals from pop to a more RnB feel. The self-titled track is tell-tale of the album as a whole.
9 Range of Light by S. Carey. S. Carey glances off the Bon Iver somber folk vibe that brought Jagjaguwar to the limelight. Range of Light is wispy and mellow. The third song of the album, “Crown the Pines,” is as fresh at its 100th listen as it is its first.
8 Still Life by Dawn Golden. Dawn Golden stirs its thick soup of sound into something more than the sum of its parts. Mixing electronic and acoustic elements, Still Life wavers between worlds. Half folk elegy and half electric experiment, the album defies simple categorization. “Bee Keeper” hums and crackles under the strain Dawn Golden puts it through.
7 Lighght by Kishi Bashi. This album explodes from its beginning until its end. A good mix of vibrant loops, tonal changes, and wide ranging tempos, Lighght keeps its listeners on their toes. The second track and first single of the album, “Philosophize In It! Chemicalize With It!,” is unmistakably a summer staple.
6 Ruins by Grouper. Grouper’s ambient soundscapes have become sort of legendary–albums that have no center or margin, aural spheres that wash over the listener. Ruins takes these best qualities of Grouper’s previous releases and adds a more concrete structure. While definitely still an album of accretion, Ruins hits a stride with the third track “Call Across Rooms.”
5 Nausea by Craft Spells. Craft Spells is an odd mix of synthy textures and danceable rhythms. On one side, they have songs that are playful and energetic, but on the other their songs have a deep melancholy. Nausea takes these two extremes and blends them together perfectly. “Breaking The Angle Against The Tide” does well to exhibit how uniquely this band blends opposites.
4 Dunes by Gardens & Villa. I’ve had Dunes on repeat since its release earlier this year. The album keeps the best aspects of the band’s debut while tightening and honing the overall sound. Dunes stays sleek and bright throughout. “Echosassy” shows just how much the band has matured between their self-titled and Dunes–while demonstrating the album’s total aesthetic.
3 Warpaint by Warpaint. Warpaint can do basically no wrong in my book. The band makes some of the best brooding indie out there today. Their songs are enigmatic and shifting. Warpaint continues their trend of writing brilliant and ultra-catchy songs. Over the past year, I’ve made my way up and down the album trying to pick my favorite song. Currently, “CC” holds that title, though with an album this strong any track could be someone’s favorite.
2 Cosmos by Yellow Ostrich. Yellow Ostrich makes songs that are playful without losing their visceral qualities. Simultaneously fun and gut-wrenching, Cosmos runs through a universe of tones. Each song builds on the previous, deepening the album as it unfurls. One of my favorite tracks of 2014, “My Moons” bubbles with a child-like intensity and an adult self-awareness.
1 Salad Days by Mac Demarco. Mac Demarco has made some of the best slacker indie I’ve heard in a minute. Salad Days is no exception. Each track lazes away while remaining catchy as ever. There’s something stripped down to Demarco’s sound–a genuineness that transcends his goofy antics and hazed out lyrics.