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14 for 14: The Records We're Most Excited About in 2014

14 for 14: The Records We're Most Excited About in 2014

02 January 2014, 15:19


Looking back on the best releases of 2013, it seems fair to say that 2014 has a lot to live up to, but as a new year dawns, so too do a whole host of new releases – some confirmed and ready for pre-order, others mere rumours spun through the mill. We bashed our heads together over the Christmas break and compiled fourteen albums that we think will help define the musical landscape of 2014.

Regretful omissions have been made and we of course wish to give a nod to our Ones To Watch list alumni as the likes of Empress of, Woman’s Hour, Thumpers, Banks, Jungle, SOHN and FKA Twigs all look set to release full lengths this year.

Notable mentions should also be given to the wonderfully bizarre CEO, our favourite Danish pop star in the making MØ, returning City Slang-ers The Notwist, the heartbreaking offerings of Perfume Genius, Young Turks star Sampha, Secretly Canadian lady Angel Olsen, dance floor animal Katy B and Icelandic man Ásgeir but we couldn’t possibly fit everyone in.

And so, full of nail biting returns and debut solo outings, here are fourteen records you’d be a fool not to sit up and take notice of in 2014.

14. Metronomy – Love Letters (10 March, Because)


Are Metronomy the only band allowed to do it this way these days? ‘This way’ meaning being a band who’ve found their feet over a series of increasingly great records rather than still mining good will from a flash in the pan debut and having subsequent output fall on deaf ears. If it’s a struggle to name another, it’s damn near impossible to point out a contemporary act who’ve matured quite so elegantly. With its minimal, unpolished techno feel, lead single “I’m Aquarius” points to Love Letters being another left turn for Joe Mount’s band of constant flux, something that’s wholly encouraging for a group who clearly thrive on keeping things moving. - Thomas Hannan

13. Wild Beasts – TBC (Expected Spring 2014, Domino)


Smother is going to be a tough act to follow. It had just about every body enamoured with its rich, emotive off kilter pop songs but we’ve got more than just a little bit of faith in this Kendal four-piece. Not least because we were lucky enough to witness the airing of new material live back in November but because over the course of three albums they’ve rarely steered us wrong. Speaking to NME they explained that their as yet untitled album (recorded between London and Bath) will be “more melodic and pop” than previous releases, suggesting that they came close to ditching guitars altogether but were worried about sounding too polished without them. Whatever comes, we expect it will be nothing short of enchanting.
- Lauren Down

12. Caribou – TBC (Expected 2014)


Dan Snaith is touring a lot this year. He’s always been busy man, touring side projects and DJ-ing but this time it feels different, he’s got real live Caribou performances coming up and we can’t help but feel like he’s gearing up towards something. Speaking to Exclaim in 2012, Snaith spoke tentatively about the follow up to 2010′s Swim being released in 2013. Obviously, it didn’t materialise last year but we know he’s been working on it. Nothing is confirmed at this point, we can only hope we’re going to get to enjoy new material this year.
- Lauren Down

11. Damon Albarn – TBC (Spring 2014)

The Blur and Gorillaz front man’s forthcoming solo album might not have been quite so highly anticipated as, say, m b v, but it’s been rumoured for about as long. What has tended to materialise from Albarn’s forays in to the studio over the last decade however has been anything but a solo record – one off singles with Blur, formations of entirely new supergroups whose members span the globe, even surprisingly well received dabbles in opera. And yet, a brief YouTube clip of Albarn in the studio with producer Richard Russell confirms that the thing does indeed exist, and will be arriving early in 2014. That prior list of recent achievements is precisely the reason our ears have pricked up at the thought of its arrival; it’s impossible to guess what form this thing is going to take, other than that it should be record from a man still on one of British music’s most enduring hot streaks.
- Thomas Hannan

10. Beck – Morning Phase (February 2014, Capitol Records)


Though the years since Modern Guilt haven’t yielded a new album from Beck, there can’t have been many spare days in his calendar. Be it producing albums for Charlotte Gainsbourg, creating expansive new arrangements of Bowie classics or quietly unleashing his own borderline-epic one off singles, the recent music emanating from chez Hansen has been of a quality that’s… well, a lot better than much of Modern Guilt, in truth. With Morning Phase being billed as a companion piece to his luscious acoustic classic Sea Change, there’s a feeling in the air that this could be the year we get the Beck we all love back, properly.
- Thomas Hannan


9. Flying Lotus – TBC (Expected 2014)


Flying Lotus is one hell of a prolific man. The experimental producer – real name Steven Ellison – spoke about being close to finishing his new album back in December, but in between producing Thundercat’s album and working on his rapping alter ego Captain Murphy, we’re not quite sure where he’s found the time. We’re sure glad he has though, 2012′s Until The Quite Comes was an incredible record. Wild, organic, formidable and demanding it was the perfect follow up to Cosmogramma in that it was utterly different. We’re not really sure what to expect from the next one either (though Ellison has spoken about it having a Jazz feel) but that’s why the prospect of his fifth full length as Flying Lotus is such an exciting one, he rarely does the same thing twice
- Lauren Down

8. Warpaint – Warpaint (20 January, Rough Trade)


It was 2010 when we first heard the free-flowing structures and dark ambience of Warpaint’s debut album, The Fool. Very few records at the time felt as organic, as unbounded – you merely the fly on the wall of their improvisational sounds. The LA quartet quickly became everyone’s favourite new band and that loyalty has puffed its chest for the last three years. In October, the band released a video album teaser featuring clips of new single “Love Is To Die”, directed by visionary photographer/filmmaker Chris Cunningham following two-years documenting the band’s every creative move. It was everything we wanted to hear and more; those familiar phaser-licked guitars and playful bass lines, superseded by abrupt key changes and deranged rhythms. The self-titled follow up strikes a healthy balance between the expected and the unexpected, this time weighed with more electronics. It will no doubt get repeated spins during 2014.
- Charlotte Krol

7. Frank Ocean – TBC (Expected 2014)

Frank Ocean with hands clasped together

For a while it seemed unclear as to the whether Frank Ocean would be creating a follow up to channel Orange at all but speaking to Zane Lowe on BBC Radio 1 back in February, he confirmed he was indeed working on new material. Certainly no one has quite as much to live up to in terms of expectation. A fascinating, infinitely rewarding album, 2012′s channel Orange had everyone frothing at the mouth, its deeply personal subject matter blending with the warmth of old school soul and the slickness of modern production in a manner that appealed to indie kids, hip hop fans and R&B lovers alike. It was nothing short of stunning, and we can’t wait to hear what he does next, unfortunately, we will have to, as no new material will be revealed until the summer.
- Lauren Down

6. Kanye West – TBC (Expected Summer 2014)


Another one for the summer, Kanye West is working on the follow up to Yeezus already and hopes to release it in the warmer months of this year. We’ve no idea what to expect but speaking to US radio station Power 99, Kanye said “I haven’t named my next album, but I have started on it. I always write down philosophies all the time, so I’ll just have some thoughts and every time I think of it I write, and I’m just collecting beats, I’m just constantly working.” Regardless of what you think of Kanye, he is anything but predictable, who knows what will happen this year, but that just makes the possibility of what will come next all the more intriguing.
- Lauren Down

5. Grimes – TBC (Expected 2014)


Let’s get this out of the way: Visions was nigh on the best album of 2012. Boundary-pushing, intoxicating and good fun. Claire Boucher invited you into her new age world of glitchy bleeps, ambient washes and sugared vocals, constantly treading the line between leftfield territory and upfront pop. Though her self-produced third album was well-received, she was criticised about the quality of the production and bit back any offers of guidance (“I’m tired of men who aren’t professional or even accomplished musicians continually offering to ‘help me out ‘ as if the fact that I’m a woman makes me incapable of using technology”). In April, she announced that her new, more “experimental” album was underway – “two fifths” done in fact – but has since gone quiet. Please don’t keep it away from us for too long.
- Charlotte Krol

4. Lykke Li – TBC (Expected 2014)

In an overly eager move we put Lykke Li in our anticipated release list last year, but damn it, that’s just how excited we are for the return of Stockholm’s finest. Comfortably perching on the edge of super-stardom Lykke Li emerged from the coy Swedish chanteuse of Youth Novels to the striking femme fatale of 2010′s “Get Some.” Having grown into her new songs and model/artist persona throughout 2012 and 2013 Lykke Li’s unique sensibilities no longer see her merely perching on the edge of pop stardom, but confidently and elegantly poised right in the centre of it. With nothing more than the odd, albeit incredible, track having emerged since 2011′s Wounded Rhymes we’re hoping, nay praying, that we’re not jumping the gun once more.
- Lauren Down

3. I Break Horses – Chiaroscuro (20 January, Bella Union)


Sweden’s I Break Horses have the pleasure of reaching many tastemakers’ ears whilst retaining a devoted, almost cult-like following. 2011′s Hearts, though shrouded in cloudy electrogaze, shone bright amongst the year’s memorably mediocre releases. It became a life-affirming soundtrack for long train journeys and late night strolls. So, what to do next? Aside from write one of the best songs of the year, the band’s latest work points towards more immediate electropop sound on singles like “Denial”. Chiaroscuro may well garner them the attention they deserve.
– Charlotte Krol

2. St. Vincent – St. Vincent (24 February, Loma Vista/Caroline International)


The follow up to her 4AD released 2011 album Strange Mercy, St. Vincent’s self-titled fourth album will be her first on a major label. Having spent 2012 working on her collaborative album with David Byrne, Annie Clark has clearly been exposed to some wonderfully experimental twists and turns, ones which had already begun to grow on her previous effort, but find themselves fully indulged on the new record. It’s a gripping, harsh journey through distortion and aggressive guitars that still has a relentless hook at the core – or in her own words “I knew the groove needed to be paramount.”

Arranged and demoed extensively in Austin before heading to a studio in Dallas to record it fully, Clark has enlisted Dap-Kings drummer Homer Steinweiss and frequent collaborator McKenzie Smith of Midlake to share percussion duties, while Strange Mercy producer John Congleton returns to the helm, tapping into the drama of its predecessor and pushing things even further still. It’s going to be one hell of a trip, everyone should take it.
- Lauren Down

1. The War On Drugs – Lost In The Dream (17 March, Secretly Canadian)


The record we’re most excited about, hands down, has to be Lost In The Dream - Adam Granduciel’s return as The War on Drugs. Having spent last year totally inside his own head as the touring of previous record Slave Ambient ground to a halt and the focus became creating new music, Granduciel revealed to us in an exclusive interview that a large portion of this new record came out of confusion, unhappiness, and depression as he suddenly had nothing but time to reflect on himself and his life.

Anyone familiar with The War on Drugs’ expansive Americana offerings will already be aware that their meandering blue collar narratives often find themselves imbued with a deeply personal thread but it seems like Lost In The Dream is going to give us a closer look at the frontman than we’ve ever had before. If the one song we’ve been exposed to so far, “Red Eyes”, is anything to go on it also seems like we can expect the same lightness of touch when it comes to production – droning synths and electronic textures subtly buried beneath broad sweeping traditional strokes, ones that seem to lean a little more heavily on pop structures than before, but are no less introverted.
- Lauren Down

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