20. #1 DADS – ABOUT FACE
19. THE PREATURES – BLUE PLANET EYES
18. STICKY FINGERS – LAND OF PLEASURE
17. SAM SMITH – IN THE LONELY HOUR
16. REAL ESTATE – ATLAS
15. TOVE LO – QUEEN OF THE CLOUDS
14. SCHOOLBOY Q – OXYMORON
13. ODESZA – IN RETURN
12. SUN KIL MOON – BENJI
11. MAC DEMARCO – SALAD DAYS

10. CHET FAKER – BUILT ON GLASS
built_on_glass
After tearing through the blogosphere overnight with his soul-infused cover of Blackstreet’s “No Diggity” (a cut that graduated to the coveted ranks of Super Bowl Halftime advert), Nick James Murphy, under the moniker Chet Faker, dropped his debut album ‘Built on Glass’. Split into two, the LP is a sonically riveting response to personal heartbreak by the dozen; the first six songs thrusting you into lyrical tension pinning you in the conflict, and the latter six seeing mojo restored (#EMOTIONALROLLERCOASTERVIBES). Faker’s velvety voice whisks you through skittery drums, bold chords and playful synth lines, the Kilo Kush-feature “Melt” proving a sultry little addition on the record. Complete with dashes of sexy sax, and American gospel influences scattered throughout, the self-mixed, mastered and produced LP is very much a trailblazing effort, grounded in the pioneering spirit of Faker’s namesake, American jazz legend Chet Baker. And we’re pretty fucking impressed. – Mina Kitsos

9. THEOPHILUS LONDON – VIBES!
Theophilus London - Vibes“…I get more people excited that one of the highest brow artists and one of the lowest brow artists meet up. People are excited about that, that’s dope for me…that Kanye would work with a kid like me, that’s a great message.” Trinidadian-born American rapper Theophilus Musa London labels himself as ‘low brow’ but London’s sophomore LP ‘Vibes’ is essentially anything but that. With the mighty Yeezus himself in the Executive Producer chair, London and co. craft a sophisticated, diverse set of hip-hop injected with soul, ’80s disco and funk influences. London is deliberate in collaborations with man-of-the-moment Devonte Hynes (Blood Orange) and French electronic producer Brodinski – the man has his finger firmly planted on the pulse of the music scene. Kanye’s influence and penchant for a quality hook is sealed with stand-out track “Can’t Stop”, and leading radio single “Tribe” boasts a thumping Brodinskian beat layered with a smooth vocal hook courtesy of rising soul star Jesse Boykins III. ‘Vibes!’ is a runaway success, combining perfect pacing, purposeful collaborations and a consistent, super effective sound. – Jordan Munns

8. FKA TWIGS – LP1
FKA-twigs-LP1FKA Twigs is a spiked R&B beverage, soaking sonic ground with her fierce re-imagining of typical trip-hop conventions and basically everything that should be on mainstream radio. Britain’s Tahlia Barnett has crafted a persona on surrealist imagery, a perfect depiction of her chimerical dealings with sound. ‘LP1′ comes after two EPs, the second having finally turned a few heads. While minimal in sound, the album boasts a repertoire of measured sounds plotted against stillness, beats pushing their way around brash lyrics and a rhythmic cavalcade of drum machines and sample sounds – why even the good ol’ car alarm found its way onto the album on “Lights On”. “Video Girl” tosses darts at FKA Twigs’ spotlighted past as a back-up dancer for Jessie J, while “Pendulum” is electronic ballad finesse, pedalling experimental predilection. ‘LP1’ is a powerfully vulnerable banner of good things to come. – Mina Kitsos

 7. SZA – Z 
Z-ep-by-SZA“Gravity is a state of mind”,  SZA croons on the opening track “UR” off her debut album ‘Z’. Such a statement defines the standpoint taken by SZA throughout the album. It’s a mind bending and futuristic collection of songs that focus less on structure but rather emotions and sounds. The production here, handled by Mac Miller and Toro y Moi, is perfect, from the jarring electronic horn breakdown in “UR” to the late switch up of tempo and pace in “Green Mile”. The features here are outstanding, with Chance providing that famous offbeat spitting on “Child’s Play” and Kendrick displaying a more laid back flow on the slow burner “Babylon”. The album really comes into its own with the standout track “Warm Winds”, featuring Isaiah Rashad, highlighting what makes this album and SZA incredible. The influences here are visceral. There’s a slight Frank Ocean appeal laced with a Lorde or Polica soundscape. She whispers “Dear God, make me a bird so I can fly far far away”, and the track picks up pace and transforms into something dreamy and purposeful while you become transported into a world run and governed by this majestic songstress. SZA may have dropped one of the most mature and confident debut albums we have ever come across. – Alexander Kelly

6. FLIGHT FACILITIES – DOWN TO EARTH
708e55e340365856c95461013099365c
Flight Facilities took the “highly anticipated” label to the next level with their debut LP ‘Down to Earth’. Think. Four. Long. Years. But boy, have Sydney duo Hugo Gruzman and James Lyell brewed it well. Staggering releases over the past couple of years with months of silences in between chart-crushing cuts, ‘Down To Earth’ is as much a sigh of relief as it is ALL SYSTEMS GO. The record is a mixed bag of grooves and beats, with stellar collabs ranging from local pop royalty Emma Louise and Owl Eyes to New Yorkan rapper Bishop Nehru adding some hip-hop to the mix. The intro sets the scene – you’re boarding a plane and ready to let FF take hold with their pop-EDM mastery. En route is the well-loved “Crave You” with an a cappella reprise from Australia’s darling Kylie Minogue, the glittering “Stand Still”, and the soul-searching “Two Bodies”; a blend of ’80s nostalgia with loopy cinematic soundscapes and top-shelf sampling a common denominator to it all. ‘Down to Earth’ is both a journey and a daydream that you’re sad to see end. – Mina Kitsos

5. BEN HOWARD – I FORGET WHERE WE WERE
BritishBen Howard - I Forgot Where We Were surfer-turned-musician Ben Howard’s sophomore effort is a slight (and welcome) diversion from the accessible, folk-pop sound of debut LP ‘Every Kingdom’. ‘I Forget Where We Were’ is introverted, brooding and spacious; an air of pessimism hangs in the air as Howard croons over distorted guitar hooks and ambient slow builds drenched in reverb. Tracks stretch out up to seven or eight minutes long as Ben and his drummer and co-producer Chris Bond paint musical landscapes that are easy to get lost in. This is just under an hour of essential listening that should be enjoyed from start to finish. Howard’s latest is sophisticated, bold, thoughtful and impressive, acting as an outlet for his darker musings without erring anywhere near the slippery slope of self-indulgence. – Jordan Munns

4. FLYING LOTUS – YOU’RE DEAD!
You're_Dead!
Flying Lotus is one hell of an interesting character. He has never quite fit into any genre, claiming to be a jazz musician whilst all the while blurring the lines between fusion jazz, rap, electronica, soul and pretty much anything else. So it comes as no surprise that he has dropped the most interesting and just straight out weirdest album of the year. ‘You’re Dead!’ is his fifth studio album and quite possibly his greatest. It’s a barrage of sound, crossing every genre imaginable but in the most calculated way possible that, really, only Flylo is capable of. The album is highly thematic as death is explored in every track. He tackles one of the hardest issues to comprehend, not with morbidity but almost humorously and inquisitively. This is on full display in “Never Catch Me” as Kendrick Lamar antagonises and attempts to out run the inevitable, death. The features are incredible, from Thundercat having a hand in almost every track to Snoop Dog dropping a very slick verse on “Dead Man’s Tetris”. The production is to be noted as the majority of the tracks clock in under 1:30 and comprise of just instruments, but are somehow able to portray death thematically and hold interest in the listener. Death is a mystery and often associated with morbidity, but here Flying Lotus has proposed a naïveté and childlike wonderment to this, in many ways, final frontier. It may never be deciphered but it’s one hell of a ride attempting to. – Alexander Kelly

3. J. COLE – 2014 FOREST HILLS DRIVE
J Cole - 2014 Forest Hills DriveJ. Cole is a modern day storyteller, painting vivid pictures in his raps that are raw and, at times, almost uncomfortable (“Wet Dreamz) but nothing less than real. Cole raps, “Look, the real is back, the ville is back…” to open up the second track of his best-selling album, an insight into whats to come. ‘2014 Forest Hills Drive’ comes as a product of Cole’s introspective findings and revelations of fame and the life that ensues. Cole opens the album posing a question to his audience, “Do you wanna…be happy?” and closes it with his answer on to how to achieve happiness on “Love Yourz. The album was released with no singles, no marketing campaigns and contains no features. In this regard, its holistically consistent with the themes Cole attempts to communicate. His flow is natural, with close to no gimmicks that his earlier albums and much of the hip hop albums of this year have encompassed. Cole’s work on ‘2014 Forest Hills Drive’ is superb, admirable and second to none of his genre this year. – Edmond Wiafe

2. JAMES VINCENT MCMORROW – POST TROPICAL
James Vincent McMorrow - Post Tropical‘Post Tropical’ is the sophomore effort of Irish singer and songwriter James Vincent McMorrow. Released in January this year, it’s an album of growth, progression and self-awareness, in a sense applying seasonal transition to one’s own life journey. McMorrow is able to extract the darkest elements of his inner being to communicate with his audience on a level that is highly relatable for anyone engaging in a season of personal change. This is notably highlighted on “Glacier” when McMorrow belts out the lyrics “…And I was someone else, I was something good…” over melodic backing vocals. On this record McMorrow is able to achieve a more eclectic sound, combining elements, instruments and production characteristics of an array of different genres. From beginning to end, the listener is taken on a journey, entering the mind of McMorrow before somehow exiting their own. ‘Post Tropical’ is a testament of McMorrow’s musical maturity and deserves nothing short of the critical acclaim it has received. – Edmond Wiafe

 

1. BOMBAY BICYCLE CLUB – SO LONG, SEE YOU TOMORROW
bombay-bicycle-club-so-long-album-500x500The juxtaposition of the album’s title ‘So Long, See You Tomorrow’, is highly indicative of our number one album of the year’s intention. It’s one of the first truly ‘new age’ love albums. The lyrics suggest a close intimacy whilst the spacey and brilliant sonic landscapes imply a distance. It’s the unwanted release of love and the sudden grasp of what you had. Jack Steadman’s vocals strain over numerous electronic samples and RnB hooks, such as the jarring piano hook in “Home By Now” and the horn samples in “Carry Me”. It’s an album that lends itself to all spectrums of the musical field, so much so that the crooning love song of “Eyes Off You” does not feel out of place, but is rather a standout. Not to mention the album does contain the astonishing “Luna” which best exemplifies all of BBC’s growth and firmly places them at the front of a gigantic following pack. Like love, this album can be appreciated from a distance due to its accessibility but on further investment, it opens up and blossoms into something incredible and something that we believe has left an undeniable mark. – Alexander Kelly