2014's Biggest and most welcome musical surprise came in December.
D'Angelo ended more than a decade-and-a-half of silence with Black Messiah, a challenging and absorbing world unto itself. Loosely-timed, no-attack walking bass pushed and pulled against Questlove's deep-pocket drums, and it was gorgeous. Did the blush of new listening help vault it to the top of this list? Perhaps. But it's difficult to think of anything that sounded better this year. D'Angelo's honeyed, multi-tracked vocals, at times reminiscent of a Duke Ellington horn section, managed the tricky gambit of sounding fresh and comforting at once.
In a year filled with classic styles improved upon (New Pornos, Wussy, Angel Olsen, Chuck Prophet) and edgy innovations sharpened into their finest tools of expression (tUnE-yArDs, St. Vincent, MoeTar), it makes sense that the year's best album looked further back and further forward than any of the rest.
Please to enjoy, and here's to another great year of music in 2015!
For your listening pleasure, here's a handy Pandora mixtape out of these 25 albums: http://bit.ly/2014bestsongs
1. D'Angelo and the Vanguard, Black Messiah (RCA)
2. tUnE-yArDs, Nikki Nack (4AD)
3. Wussy, Attica! (Shake It)
4. MoeTar, Entropy of the Century (Magna Carta)
5. The New Pornographers, Brill Bruisers (Matador)
6. Mac DeMarco, Salad Days (Captured Tracks)
7. St. Vincent, St. Vincent (Loma Vista / Universal)
8. TV on the Radio, Seeds (Harvest)
9. The Burlies, EP (self-released)
10. The War on Drugs, Lost in the Dream (Secretly Canadian)
11. Angel Olsen, Burn Your Fire for No Witness (Jagjaguwar)
12. Chuck Prophet, Night Surfer (Yep Roc)
13. Ty Segall, Manipulator (Drag City)
14. Mike Sempert, Mid Dream (Burnt Toast)
15. Elbow, The Take Off and Landing of Everything (Concord)
16. Beyoncé, Beyoncé (Sony)
17. Deerhoof, La Isla Bonita (Polyvinyl)
18. Vertical Scratchers, Daughter of Everything (Merge)
19. Phish, 7/27/14 Merriweather Post Pavilion, set 2
20. Bear in Heaven, Time is Over One Day Old (Dead Oceans)
21. Wil Blades, Field Notes (Royal Potato Family)
22. Aphex Twin, Syro (Warp)
23. Wild Beasts, Present Tense (Domino)
24. Young Fathers, Dead (Anticon)
25. Azealia Banks, Broke With Expensive Taste (Prospect Park)
More in The Seal Sessions
More In The Seal Sessions