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Tony Breed writesCHIRP Radio Best of 2014: Tony Breed

CHIRP Radio Best of 2014

Throughout December, CHIRP Radio presents its volunteers’ top albums of 2014. Our next list is from DJ and Board Member Tony Breed.

I try to base my top 10 on the albums that will stay with me the most—the ones I will listen to and love for years to come. Here's how it shook out in 2014.

Song of the year:Baths – Ocean DeathAfter last year's moody and intimate album Obsidian, Baths released this joyful, throbbing dance track as a teaser in advance of his new EP. The darkness is still there—"bury your body in my graveyard"—but this time it sounds like a celebration.

#1Broke with Expensive Taste by Azealia Banks (Prospect Park)
Azealia Banks Broke with Expensive TasteBUY: Reckless / Permanent / iTunes / Insound / Amazon

I can't get enough of this one. 1991, Azealia Banks's debut EP, showed great promise, but not a lot of versatility. This long-awaited followup blows her first effort out of the water. She runs through a number of dance music styles, equally comfortable in all of them, rapping and singing in English and Spanish—and then, near the end, she pulls out the 50's-kitsch track Nude Beach A-Go-Go, as if to say, "Don't put me in a box." I hope she keep pushing boundaries and surprising us.

#2Food by Kelis (Ninja Tune)
Kelis FoodBUY: Reckless / Permanent / iTunes / Insound / Amazon

This album kept me company almost every day in August. Kelis touches a wide range of emotions, from the sexy, defiant Friday Fish Fry, to the hopeful new romance of Breakfast, to the loving Bless the Telephone. On Rumble, when she sings, "Baby, don't go," while at the same time singing, "I'm so glad you gave back your keys," she gives us the truth and ambivalence of human emotion.

#3Blank Project by Neneh Cherry (Smalltown Supersound)
Neneh Cherry Blank ProjectBUY: Reckless / Permanent / iTunes / Insound / Amazon

The last we heard from Neneh Cherry was the complicated experimental jazz of The Cherry Thing; it was a great distance from the pop/soul of her early albums. In this new solo album, she reins in the experimental jazz to make it more approachable, more tuneful, without losing its edge. Most of the album is just her voice, a drum kit, and a fuzzy bass line; it's a testament to her talent that this is enough.

#4This Is My Hand by My Brightest Diamond (Asthmatic Kitty)
My Brightest Diamond This Is My HandBUY: Reckless / Permanent / iTunes / Insound / Amazon

I admit I'm a sucker for what Shara Worden does—complex pop music by a classically trained musician—but it doesn't always come together well. This Is My Hand may be her best album yet; it's just lovely.

#5Everyday Robots by Damon Albarn (XL)
Damon Albarn Everyday RobotsBUY: Reckless / Permanent / iTunes / Insound / Amazon

This is Albarn's first solo album; its clearest antecedent is his opera, Dr. Dee, but there are elements of Blur and Gorillaz as well. It's a masterful album; the work of a skilled and confident artist.

#6Fuel Yer Delusion vol. 4 by Mutts (Self-released)
Mutts Fuel Yer Delusion vol. 4BUY: Reckless / Permanent / iTunes / Insound / Amazon

This fourth full-length from Chicago's growly piano rock trio is a tribute to anyone trying to make a go of being an artist—Mike Maimone comes back several times to the refrain "I'm gonna be America's next top something." Rocking party tunes flow into power ballads and back again, all masterfully sequenced into a cohesive whole.

#7Tyranny by Julian Casablancas + the Voidz (Cult)
Julian Casablancas + the Voidz TyrannyBUY: Reckless / Permanent / iTunes / Insound / Amazon

Somewhere along the line we wrote off the Strokes as hopelessly 90's, and they only really had that one great song, didn't they? And then Julian Casablancas had a solo album, and appeared on the Daft Punk album, and the Strokes came back last year with a new album and a new sound, and now here's Casablancas's new project, The Voidz, and it's dense and complicated and it rocks.

#8Ocean Death by Baths (Anticon)
Baths Ocean DeathBUY: Reckless / Permanent / iTunes / Insound / Amazon

Aside from the joyful title track, the rest of the EP continues the moody, atmospheric style Will Weisenfeld produced in last year's Obsidian.

#9Galore by Thumpers (Sub Pop)
Thumpers GaloreBUY: Reckless / Permanent / iTunes / Insound / Amazon

Fun alt pop in the vein of Yeasayer. Not revolutionary, sure, but great stuff start to finish.

#10Transgender Dysphoria Blues by Against Me! (Total Treble)
Against Me! Transgender Dysphoria BluesBUY: Reckless / Permanent / iTunes / Insound / Amazon

I'll be honest: Against Me!'s style of music isn't one of my favorites. But Transgender Dysphoria Blues is an excellent album; it's powerful and honest and one of the most important albums of the year.

Honorable Mention:

ENO • HYDE – Someday World

TV on the Radio – Seeds

Leonard Cohen – Popular Problems

The Mast – Pleasure Island

Wussy – Attica!

I do my best to pick the albums that I love and will love when I make this list, but every year there's something I'll change my mind about—something I'll get really into the next year, and wish I had put on my top ten. So in the spirit of that, I offer...

Should-have-been-top-ten of 2013...Daughn Gibson – Me Moan.This was on my short list last year, but for some reason didn't quite make the top ten. This spring it caught my ear again, and I listened to it heavily all summer. It's a great album; I'm glad I gave it another chance. You should too.


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Categorized: Best Albums of the Year

Topics: best of 2014

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