10 best albums of 2014 (so far): Future Islands, Beck and more - Reverb

10 best albums of 2014 (so far): Future Islands, Beck and more

So far, 2014 has been somewhat underwhelming as far as new music goes. Maybe last year spoiled us: by this time then, we had stand-out albums from long-loved acts like Daft Punk and Vampire Weekend to fawn over. This year, we’ve had an album from Beck and the Black Keys as well as a few releases from up-and-coming bands like Mac DeMarco and Real Estate, but it’s a far cry from last year.

That doesn’t mean there hasn’t been music released that’s worth your ears this year. The top three albums here would fit seamlessly into the top ten of 2013, no problem. The rest were harder to parse out. But we’re only in June; looking forward, we might still get albums from Kanye West, Frank Ocean and Kendrick Lamar—all much needed in what’s been a lackluster year for hip-hop so far.

Until our end of the year wrap-up, check out Reverb’s favorite albums of 2014 (so far), and as always, let us know what you think in the comments.

10. Temples, “Sun Structures”

Temples are classic psychedelic revivalists, and that’s exactly what we get from “Sun Shrines.” Comparisons are inevitable with this sort of homage music, so let’s get the two big ones out of the way: Thirteenth Floor Elevators and Buffalo Springfield. But the fruit of “Sun Shrines” is more than the sum of its influences. “Shelter Song” is as good as any psych rock song in the last six months, and worth checking out even if you have a weak stomach for lysergic-laced riffs and circular logic: “A question isn’t answered if an answer isn’t questioned / an answer has a meaning when a meaning has a truth.” Totally!

9. Mac DeMarco, “Salad Days”

Mac DeMarco is in his “Salad Days” and he knows it. For his new album, the slack-rocker sings a darker tune than listeners expect from him. DeMarco warbles about depression in “Blue Boy,” nihilist tendencies in “Salad Days” and love lost all over in his unabashedly cheesy way. Only 24, the singer/songwriter has run suicides across the mile between mature and goof-off since his last album, but “Salad Days” suggests he’s getting close to settling. That’s bad news for fans of DeMarconian antics on display in his earlier work. But his music has always been more mature than his on-stage persona let on.

More of the best albums of 2014 (so far)>>
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  • Julie Dahl

    I can think of lots of great albums that have been released in 2014 that are far from “underwhelming”. Pharrell Williams, Paulo Nutini, Iggy Azalea, Lykke Li, Coldplay, Jack White and Lana Del Ray are just a few.

    • Matt Pusatory

      But then, Jack White and LDR haven’t released their albums yet.

      • dylan d.o.

        “Lazaretto” has its moments, as does “I Never Learn.” The rest…no comment.

  • krazykarl

    Temples is Sun Structures, not Sun Shrines

    • dylan d.o.

      Right O! Thanks — fixed.

  • Valentina

    What about Sharon Van Etten’s Are We There? Definitely in my top 3 of 2014 so far.