Summing up a year of music into a list may seem arbitrary and meaningless, but there's always something inexplicably exciting when we pit albums alongside each other and reevaluate each record's qualities. Of course, it's all in good fun and it's been an amazing year for music anyway. Before we reveal Bandwagon's official picks, we roped in some of our friends in the industry to name the records that were most special to them all year long.
Willy Tan (Aging Youth)
Kimbra | The Golden Echo
Cuz I'm a huge fan and she's cute. And she has an interesting way of arranging her pop tunes into weird space jazz jams. <3
Banks | Goddess
The triple threat of her singles 'Goddess', 'Waiting Game' and 'Brain' is so good that I just keep listening to them. The rest of her album is pretty cool. But those 3 tunes are my jams for 2014.
Lana del Rey | Ultraviolence
She's so fake that she's real. The production and songs off her sophomore are top-notch. After she has dumped the hip-hop lite beats, this new organic sounding direction and work with Black Key's Dan Auerbach are fuckin' ace. Love it!
Benjamin Kheng (The Sam Willows)
FKA Twigs | LP1
I've been a huge, not-so-closetted R&B fan and this album is everything that happened when Trip Hop past and future set down for a meal. You know how the quietest people say the most profound things? This album doesn't yell at your face, but it hits you where it hurts.
The War On Drugs | Lost In The Dream
I mean, these guys took classic rock and put it through the modern time machine. The result is a dreamy, mystical canopy of simple but undeniably catchy riffs and hooks, with a strong narrative undertone. Rock music is back.
Coldplay | Ghost Stories (or Gwyneth Stories)
Before I get fruit thrown at me, I'll admit that Coldplay has been my favourite Top 40s band for years. This album harks back to the band's simpler times - heartfelt songs of heartbreak, blatant hooks that catch you from the start, but coupled with wonderful sounds from the brilliant sonic artist Jon Hopkins. Also, it's definitely a break-up album.
Hong (Zouk's Resident DJ)
Flying Lotus | You're Dead!
Aphex Twin | Syro
Hot Since 82 | Knee Deep in Sound
Danny Loong (Timbre)
Gary Clark Jr. | Gary Clark Jr. Live
A young bluesman pushing his music at prominent music festivals and performing great live. A bright spark for blues and roots music.
The Black Keys | Turn Blue
Great album with material influenced from the Seventies, funk, disco to guitar grooves, the innovative album of 2014!
Prince | Art Official Age
I am huge fan of Prince and he’s a modern day legend always exploring new grooves and pushing the boundaries, while still infusing his funk, soul and blues roots respectfully.
Danny Rogers (Co-Founder of Laneway Festival)
Run the Jewels | Run The Jewels 2
Probably my fave hip hop act of the past 10 years. Followed up years of consistently great work with a speechless album that to me defines a period in music. Genuine, humble, hilarious and mega talented.
Mac DeMarco | Salad Days
Just love his ability to move you through so many emotions. Another individual and genuine talent.
Caribou | Our Love
Stunning album by a man who clearly knows himself. One of the great contemporary artists seemingly at his absolute prime.
Daniaal Adam Arumugam (Pleasantry, Universal Music Singapore)
Flying Lotus | You’re Dead!
Aside from it being quite a masterpiece of sound engineering, I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity to go for one of his big shows in New York. Hands down, the best live show experience ever.
FKA Twigs | LP1
Currently the most streamed album on my Spotify. I think Tahliah really nailed it with her futuristic vision of R&B. She sounds like nothing in the world right now and has really gotten me musically inspired.
D’Angelo and The Vanguard | Black Messiah
This just got released this week and I’m still getting around to absorbing the whole album but I know it’s going to be a mainstay in my playlist for a long time. So much feels and good vibes.
Rahul Kukreja (Future Music Festival Asia)
Jack White | Lazaretto
It's always a pleasant surprise to see what Jack White would do in an album. Such a unique vibe to this and I can't wait to see him live or work with him one day. Super inspiring.
Foo Fighters | Sonic Highways
These champions keep going for gold, although I personally think Wasting Light was a better album. The concept and just idea of making this happen is pure genius. When I grow up, I want to be Dave Grohl.
Royal Blood | s/t
Saw these guys at an NME showcase in Brighton and was BLOWN away, been a fan ever since and their album is currently on repeat.
Dan Gordon (Now/Live & Secret Sounds Asia)
Tycho | Awake
Beautifully crafted, this record is a blissful eargasm. The perfect travel companion. Tycho's debut Singapore show next month is going to be a sold out affair and I'm excited to watch him completely captivate the audience.
Glass Animals | Zaba
What a record and definitely one of my favourite new acts. Very surprised they haven't blown up yet but they are on the rise. Imagine their sound as alt-J lost in the jungle - go check them out!
alt-J | This Is All Yours
Speaking of alt-J and not trying to just plug our own shows, this was a highlight of 2014 for me. It's not as instant as 'An Awesome Wave' but give it time and you will be rewarded!
Song of the Year: Wet | Don't Wanna Be Your Girl
This is actually a late 2013 release but I'm throwing it in. Another of my favourite new acts. These guys are incredible both on record and live. Like a cross between The xx and London Grammar. Stream their EP here.
Vanessa Fernandez (Assistant Programme Director, Lush 99.5 & 987fm)
FKA Twigs | LP1
Sexy without sexualizing. Her voice is haunting. Fragile yet strong... what an accomplishment.
D'Angelo and The Vanguard | Black Messiah
The wait is over, the king is back and the world of soul is restored.
Michaela Therese | My Name Is Meekellah
Excellent lyrics, complex songwriting, amazing musicianship. Talent like hers should be far more celebrated than it is.
Ilyas Sholihyn | Coconuts Singapore
Sharon Van Etten - Are We There
Wasn't really a fan of Ms Etten until this sad behemoth of a record. Sadder and tragic-er than anything else I've heard this year, Are We There just stands out with a majestic roar of a heartbroken lioness, cutting deep like a sonic switchblade with her lyrical prowess and soaring musical arrangements. 'Your Love is Killing Me', 'Tarifa', 'Nothing Will Change' are probably the best things Etten has ever done, but I kinda feel bad for liking them. Her finest work are her at her saddest.
The War on Drugs - Lost in the Dream
Exactly what the album title promises — slow-burning, ruminative and really, really spellbinding. Just watch them perform 'Red Eyes' on Letterman, they're just so fucking chill man. My 2014 go to album if I can't think of anything else to listen to.
Have A Nice Life - The Unnatural World
Have A Nice Life return six years after their positively soul-crushing debut Deathconsciousness, and they return as bleak as ever with The Unnatural World. Though not as staggeringly macerating as their first, this one still fucking bludgeons you to submission with darkly fragile ambience, gorgeous noise and layers upon layers of hauntingly absorbing soundscapes. Not advisable for those who have a nice life.