The Best Albums of 2014 So Far

  • Comments: ↓ 13 user comments
  • Publish Date: July 3, 2014

The 25 best-reviewed albums of 2014 so far (min. 15 reviews)

With the first half of the year now in the books, here are the best-reviewed major albums released from January through June, ranked by Metascore. EPs, compilations, and reissues are excluded, as are any albums receiving fewer than 15 reviews from critics (though some of those are included in their own separate lists further below).

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#1 Album of the Year (So Far)
St. Vincent 89 (Universal)
by St. Vincent

STREAM IT: Spotify | BUY IT: iTunes Amazon

Produced by John Congleton, Annie Clark's fourth and best-reviewed solo album to date follows her stellar 2011 effort Strange Mercy and a one-off collaboration with David Byrne.

 

Absolute Punk

This is Clark's most daring, uncompromising, infectious, and adventurous release yet, as St. Vincent features a musician challenging the very idea of what it means to be an artist in 2014.

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Runner-Up
To Be Kind 89 (Young God)
by Swans

STREAM IT: Spotify | BUY IT: iTunes Amazon

How does Michael Gira's re-formed experimental rock project Swans follow The Seer, the band's great 2012 album? With a two-hour-long opus that is maybe even better. To Be Kind features appearances by St. Vincent (yes, her again), Ministry's Bill Rieflin, and Cold Specks, and production from John Congleton (yes, him again).

 

Paste

There is no end to the nuances and subtleties that lay within. Find your starting point and start exploring.

... and the rest:
Album/Artist Score Stream It Buy It
3 The River & The Thread
by Rosanne Cash
87 Spotify iTunes Amazon
4 Are We There
by Sharon Van Etten
87 Spotify iTunes Amazon
5 Present Tense
by Wild Beasts
86 Spotify iTunes Amazon
6 Lost In the Dream
by The War on Drugs
86 Spotify iTunes Amazon
7 Benji
by Sun Kil Moon
85 Spotify iTunes Amazon
8 Burn Your Fire for No Witness
by Angel Olsen
84 Spotify iTunes Amazon
9 In Conflict
by Owen Pallett
84 Spotify iTunes Amazon
10 A U R O R A
by Ben Frost
83 Spotify iTunes Amazon
11 July
by Marissa Nadler
83 Spotify iTunes Amazon
12 Salad Days
by Mac DeMarco
83 Spotify iTunes Amazon
13 Under Color of Official Right
by Protomartyr
83 Spotify iTunes Amazon
14 Loom
by Fear of Men
83 Spotify iTunes Amazon
15 Nikki Nack
by tUnE-yArDs
83 Spotify iTunes Amazon
16 Transgender Dysphoria Blues
by Against Me!
82 Spotify iTunes Amazon
17 Singles
by Future Islands
82 Spotify iTunes Amazon
18 Field of Reeds
by These New Puritans
82 Spotify iTunes Amazon
19 Piñata
by Madlib and Freddie Gibbs
82 Spotify iTunes Amazon
20 Familiars
by The Antlers
82 Spotify iTunes Amazon
21 Blank Project
by Neneh Cherry
82 Spotify iTunes Amazon
22 Total Strife Forever
by East India Youth
81 Spotify iTunes Amazon
23 Somewhere Else
by Lydia Loveless
81 Spotify iTunes Amazon
24 Deep Fantasy
by White Lung
81 Spotify iTunes Amazon
25 Morning Phase
by Beck
81 Spotify iTunes Amazon

Albums are ranked by Metascore prior to rounding. Only new studio albums released between January 1, 2014 and June 30, 2014 are eligible; EPs, live albums, box sets, reissues, and the like are not included. The first list above includes only those albums with at least 15 reviews from professional critics; all other lists on this page include albums with at least seven reviews. The Metascore is a weighted average of scores from top professional critics, on a scale from 0 (bad) to 100 (good). Scores are from July 2, 2014.

Good albums with fewer reviews

Here is a look at the albums that received extremely positive reviews, but not enough of them to qualify for our list above. (In other words, consider them the year's best under-the-radar releases.) Albums on this list received 7-14 critic reviews. (Titles with fewer than seven reviews are excluded from all high scores charts.)

Album / Artist Score Stream It Buy It
1 The Satanist
by Behemoth
92 Spotify iTunes Amazon
The Satanist is the 10th album from the Polish metal band.
2 Home, Like Noplace Is There
by The Hotelier
92 Spotify iTunes Amazon
3 Rooms of the House
by La Dispute
88 Spotify iTunes Amazon
4 Bécs
by Fennesz
87 Spotify iTunes Amazon
5 Platinum
by Miranda Lambert
86 Spotify iTunes Amazon
6 From All Purity
by Indian
86 Spotify iTunes Amazon
7 Heal
by Strand of Oaks
84 Spotify iTunes Amazon
8 The Serpent & The Sphere
by Agalloch
84 Spotify iTunes Amazon
9 Emma Jean
by Lee Fields & The Expressions
84 Spotify iTunes Amazon
10 More Than Any Other Day
by Ought
84 Spotify iTunes Amazon

More bests and worsts

If you read the small print under our list of high-scoring albums above, you noticed that reissues and other album types were excluded from our best-reviewed albums charts (which are intended to include only new albums with new material). Here are the highest-scoring "disqualified" albums of 2014 so far:

Best-Reviewed Reissues, EPs, Live Albums, and Compilations of 2014 So Far
Album/Artist Score Stream It Buy It
1 Led Zeppelin III reissue
by Led Zeppelin
100 Spotify iTunes Amazon
2 Spiderland reissue
by Slint
99 Spotify iTunes Amazon
  Led Zeppelin II reissue
by Led Zeppelin
99 Spotify iTunes Amazon
4 Led Zeppelin I reissue
by Led Zeppelin
97 Spotify iTunes Amazon
5 Lucinda Williams reissue
by Lucinda Williams
97   iTunes Amazon
6 Definitely Maybe reissue
by Oasis
95 Spotify iTunes Amazon
7 Nightclubbing reissue
by Grace Jones
93   iTunes Amazon
8 Miles at the Fillmore - Miles Davis 1970:
The Bootleg Series, Vol. 3
box set
by Miles Davis
92 Spotify iTunes Amazon
9 No Depression reissue
by Uncle Tupelo
92 Spotify iTunes Amazon
10 Goodbye Yellow Brick Road reissue
by Elton John
92 Spotify iTunes Amazon

Finally, here are the worst-reviewed albums (among those releases major enough to receive at least 7 reviews) released during the first half of the year. Keep in mind that hundreds of albums each year don't get reviewed at all, so the truly terrible releases will never get a Metascore.

The Lowest-Scoring Albums of 2014 So Far (Min. 7 Reviews)
Album/Artist Score Stream It
1 Louder
by Lea Michele
48 Spotify
2 A.K.A.
by Jennifer Lopez
48 Spotify
3 Animal Ambition: An Untamed Desire to Win
by 50 Cent
53 Spotify
4 Tranquilizers
by Dog Bite
56 Spotify
5 The Brink
by The Jezabels
56 Spotify

What do you think?

What are your favorite and least favorite albums of the year so far? Let us know in the comments section below.

Comments (13)

  • esegatosisirvio  

    What about Divisionary by Ages and Ages, great album for me. The best is MacDemarco´s Salad Days.

  • andreslopez  

    guys what about Lana Del Rey's 'Ultraviolence' ? to me it's one of the best Album out this year so far...

  • lesmartels  

    Spoon's They Want My Soul score is 81. It should be your #22. Shame on you !

  • Senay  

    Coldplay - Ghost Stories
    Very beautiful

  • hownattyyyydo  

    what about Illmatic XX

  • vicyamusicgreat  

    Owen Pallett's In Conflict is easily the best release of the year, for me. It may not have the emotional heft of Heartland, but it is most certainly more accessible and consistent than its ostensibly experimental predecessor. Beck's Morning Phases is quite good, but something tells me that it could at least have been as good as Modern Guilt if he weren't caught up with this odd Scientologist-inspired content he appears to be coming up with, which seems to be draining him of life force, and which he might well need for that billion years of praising L. Ron Hubbard.

  • leetaylor15202  

    You can't track down 15 reviews of Miranda Lambert's Platinum? For real?

  • twaddle  

    Toehider - What Kind Of Creature Am I?
    Wax Fang - The Astronaut
    Antemasque - Antemasque
    Band Of Skulls - Himalayan
    The Black Keys - Turn Blue
    The Presidents Of The U.S.A. - Kudos To You!

  • Italian10  

    I THINK THAT " ULTRAVIOLENCE CD " BY POP SUPERSTAR LANA DEL REY SHOULD BE INCLUDED IN THE " TOP 25 CD LIST ". IT IS A VERY " STYLIST AND CLASSICAL " CD-- LANA DEL REY IS A " SUPERIOR FEMALE POP SINGER, SONGWRITER , AND MUSICIAN "-- " ONE OF THE BEST OF OUR TIME " !!

  • RickFlairbombed  

    Yes OfficeYeezy, alt/indie is actually the best music ever. Look at the worst reviewed albums, all pop radio music. When 90% of critics agree that something is good, the 10% is an outlier. Pop albums are rated poorly because they often are poor quality musically. Metal and country tend to not get enough ratings to be on this list, otherwise Behemoth's album is the best of the year.
    In terms of being generous, look at Entertainment Weekly. They give high ratings to media darlings, they will be the highest score on otherwise garbage albums.

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