Best Albums of 2014 (So Far) by Anne Litt

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Editor’s Note: If you have time over the holiday weekend to catch up on some jams, here is where you should start!

These are in no particular order. 

Curtis Harding – “Soul Power

The first time I heard the funky soul of “Keep On Shining” my eyes and ears widened. As I dug deeper into the “Soul Power”, the sounds of rock, surf and psychedelics made my head explode. This is the new “California Soul.” Don’t sleep on this one.

Elbow – “The Take Off And Landing Of Everything

When I heard Guy Garvey’s interview with NPR about the evolution of their 25 year relationship as a band, writing with strings + the inspiration they found in New York while making the new album, the shimmer and meditation in the sound of it all made beautiful sense.

Damon Albarn – “Everyday Robots

Damon Albarn has spent his career following his passions and reinventing himself seemingly unintentionally with every musical project he attacks. It may sound like he’s just deliberately taking a left, but I think his muted but poignant take on technology and humanity is from the heart.

The War On Drugs — “Lost in the Dream

It’s about time we had some “heartland rock” that like the heartland is full of atmosphere, beauty, shimmer and a get-lost-driving-on-an-open-highway feeling.

Takuya Kuroda – “Rising Son

There’s an ease, effortlessness and confidence on the Jose James-produced album, “Rising Son.

Born in Japan and now based in New York jazz trumpeter, Takuya Kuroda’s warmth and soul are up front. Don’t miss a gorgeous version of Roy Ayers’ “Everybody Loves The Sunshine” with vocals by Jose James – breathtakingly beautiful.

Warpaint – “Warpaint

Warpaint always haunts me and my dreams. Full of dark layers and deep colors are what this band looks and sounds like to me these days. This album feels experimental and wildly cohesive among it’s many different sounds and shades.

Temples –”Sun Structures

I have to thank KCRW DJ Travis Holcombe for sharing “Shelter Song” with me in early 2013. I was hooked and probably listened to it 20 times in a row instantly.

Temples are rooted in 60’s UK and are unashamed. Indeed their modern twist on a classic sound celebrates minor chords and sunlight, but always with an edge.

De Lux – “Voyage

I hate bands that sound derivative, but if you take the best of what someone did and use it in an original way, it lives on with a fresh perspective. Imagine old-school disco mixed with New Wave, late-’70s grit, and a shimmering edge.

Metronomy – “Love Letters

Every time the song “Love Letters” breaks out of the intro, I instantly feel better. This has been my summer jam. The combination of pop songwriting and electronics with an oh so light touch that doesn’t take itself to seriously is perfect on “The Upsetter”.

Dan Croll -“Sweet Disarray

UK artist Dan Croll took me by surprise when I had the chance to meet him. His earnest, bookish demeanor completely belied the shimmering, synth-heavy pop that came out of the speakers. Keyboards with a hint of African rhythms and heavily effervescent vocals add to the sound and “Sweet Disarray” of his debut.

WHAT?! – William Onyeabor Remixed
Ray Lamontagne —Supernova
Jose James – “While You Were Sleeping”
Badbadnotgood “III”
Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks – “Wig Out at Jagbags
Fink“Hard Believer”
Damien Jurado“Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Son”
Beck“Morning Phase”
St. Vincent“St. Vincent”

Albums to look out for in the coming months:

Liam Bailey
Benjamin Booker
The Acid