Every year we do this, it's interesting because we get an eclectic mix of people from across the diaspora of the industry who all come with different perspectives, musical interests and so, what's more interesting isn't so much seeing where we diverge, but where our interests actually match up. Because if you can get more than two people in this group to agree on an album, trust me, it must be the goods.
Word of advice. If you are ever putting together a list of musical albums that involves Excel and a nerd who is an amateur sabermetrician in charge of compiling rankings because you'll get a lot more than you bargained for. Because there were so many ties within certain rankings, I was able to create an album "batting average" which each album is ranked against the total number of points possible to score (650 this year or 50 x 13 participants) to give us a better glimpse than the pure ranking points could. If that's not enough, ties were broken based on the number of ballots an album was featured on, as there were some albums that showed up quite a bit for a bunch of us.
Six years after starting this little experiment, we're still at it and glad to have you join us.
Many of the members of the band have listed their own individual albums with reviews that you can read from this year. Others (like me) will follow later.
Check out reviews from Eric, Laura, Joel, Andy and Georgy.
With that, here's the top albums of 2014 list based on the entire team's rankings.
The Top 20 albums are pretty clear cut. (Top 10 in orange)
|Ryan Adams - Ryan Adams||356|
|The War on Drugs - Lost In The Dream||278|
|Beck - Morning Phase||230|
|Sturgill Simpson - Metamodern Sounds in Country Music||213|
|Spoon - They Want My Soul||205|
|St. Paul & The Broken Bones - Half The City||182|
|Sharon Van Etten - Are We There||181|
|Jenny Lewis - The Voyager||180|
|Run The Jewels - Run The Jewels 2||176|
|St. Vincent - St. Vincent||158|
|Jack White - Lazaretto||155|
|Real Estate - Atlas||152|
|The Both - The Both||137|
|The Rural Alberta Advantage - Mended with Gold||131|
|Ben Howard - I Forgot Where We Were||127|
|The New Pornographers - Brill Bruisers||124|
|Counting Crows - Somewhere Under Wonderland||119|
|Benjamin Booker - Benjamin Booker||115|
|Parquet Courts - Sunbathing Animal||114|
|Bahamas - Bahamas Is Alfie||105|
Once you get out of the Top 20, things get dicier. So many people, so much diversity means lots of ties. Again, a late calculation adjusted our rankings a bit, so Top 50 took many forms before it looked like it does below.
|Phantogram - Voices||103|
|Dawn Golden - Still Life||99|
|Blondfire - Young Heart||95|
|Haerts - Haerts||92|
|Shovels & Rope - Swimmin' Time||92|
|Swans - To Be Kind||88|
|First Aid Kit - Stay Gold||88|
|Wild Cub - Youth||86|
|Grouper - Ruins||85|
|Wye Oak - Shriek||85|
|Mac Demarco - Salad Days||84|
|Damien Jurado - Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Son||84|
|The Colourist - The Colourist||84|
|Afghan Whigs - Do To The Beast||83|
|Bleachers - Strange Desire||82|
|Andy Stott - Faith in Strangers||81|
|Strands of Oak - Heal||81|
|Conor Oberst - Upside Down Mountain||81|
|Tokyo Police Club - Forcefield||81|
|Angel Olson - Burn Your Fire for No Witness||80|
|Future Islands - Singles||80|
|RAC - Strangers||78|
|Ben Frost - A U R O R A||74|
|U2 - Songs of Innocence||74|
|Bad Suns - Language & Perspective||72|
|Alvvays - Alvvays||69|
|Justin Townes Earle - Single Mothers||67|
|Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings - Give The People What They Want||64|
|Bombay Bicycle Club - So Long, See You Tomorrow||64|
|FKA twigs - LP1||64|
Spoon came in second with seven ballots.
Beck came in second with six ballots.
The War on Drugs, Sturgill Simpson, Run The Jewels, St. Paul & The Broken Bones, Jenny Lewis, Real Estate and Parquet Courts came in second with five ballots.
Sharon Van Etten, St. Vincent, The Both and The New Pornographers latest releases logged four ballots.
There were 15 other albums that had at least 3 ballots.
Real Estate - Atlas (LP) For a brief moment, it appeared this album which appeared on five lists, would end up in the Top 10. But it was not to be. Instead, it came in 12th but using an adjusted metric, it actually ranked 10th.
In that same class was Still Life (LP) by Dawn Golden which both Eric and Stephen rated highly, raising it to the 22nd spot on the rankings, when it initially looked like it wouldn't be rated at all.
Most overrated album
This category is a bit of a misnomer. But for the purposes of this exercise, we're talking about an album that appeared on a number of ballots (which means it can't be that bad, right?) but has a lot of scoring variance. The album in this category? Bahamas - Bahamas Is Alfie (LP) which cracked the Top 20 at #20 overall on the big board this year, but had a median score of just 21.5 which is lower than any album in Top 45 or so albums. If nothing else, it means the people who liked it, liked it a lot, but there wasn't a consensus about whether it was truly one of the elite albums of the year, given how many people left it off their list.
Critic with most Top 50 selections
In these parts, we've taken to appreciating our musical diversity. We wear it like a badge of honor. Still, it's fun when a few of us overlap. This year I've noticed more of that than normal, especially when you look at the top list and notice how many people had Top 50 albums on their lists.
After crunching the numbers, Dylan had 24 of the top 50 on his list.