As mentioned in my last post, it’s The West Review’s first birthday, and today I’ll be compiling a list of the best albums I’ve reviewed since the site’s inception. As you may know already, I’ve reviewed a wide range of music old and new so it’s ultimately my favourite albums, although there are a few absentees that I simply can’t do justice in reviewing such as Illmatic or Massive Attack’s Blue Lines. However, there’s a difference in the way I’m ranking the albums, as I’ll be here for months otherwise- I’ve decided to rank them in tiers, the legendary albums at the top of the pile, where as simply ‘good’ releases rank in the lower tiers. So here you have it, the best albums I’ve reviewed from the past year. Under the image of the album artworks, the text below it is linked to each album respectively, just click on the required name and it will take you to the full review.
Clockwise, top-left to bottom-left: BADBADNOTGOOD – BBNG2, Action Bronson – Saaab Stories, Skrillex-Recess, Ellie Goulding – Halcyon Days, Tinashe – Aquarius, Woodkid – The Golden Age, KOAN Sound – Dynasty, Jake Bugg – Jake Bugg, Pharrell – G I R L, Twenty One Pilots – Vessel
Tier 7 is home to a lot of impressive debuts, Jake Bugg brought a degree of originality and character to a bleak genre with his self-titled release, Skrillex’s long awaited debut cemented himself as the duke of dubstep, while Tinashe also impressed with her major label release. Other albums worth noting is Pharrell’s jazzed-up G I R L, Twenty One Pilots’ experimental Vessel, and BADBADNOTGOOD’s modern jazz revamp.
Clockwise, top-left to bottom-left: Jamie T – Carry On The Grudge, Temples – Sun Structures, J. Cole – 2014 Forest Hills Drive, Charli XCX – Sucker, Kid Cudi – Man On The Moon: End Of Day, Ariana Grande – My Everything, London Grammar – If You Wait, Chase & Status – No More Idols, Arctic Monkeys – AM,
Vic Mensa – INNANETAPE
In tier 6 are some incredible albums, many of which reached my Best Albums of 2014 list. Indie lovers look no further than some outstanding LPs from Temples and London Grammar, INNANETAPE, 2014 Forest Hills Drive and Man On The Moon: End of Day are particularly strong rap releases, while the more mainstream among you should really check out Ariana Grande’s somewhat surprisingly good release- My Everything, as well as AM from British rock-group Arctic Monkeys.
Royal Blood – Royal Blood, Earl Sweatshirt – Doris, George Ezra – Wanted On Voyage, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis – The Heist, Drake – Nothing Was The Same, FKA Twigs – LP1, Jungle – Jungle, HAIM – Days Are Gone, CHVRCHES – Bones of What You Believe, A$AP Rocky – Long, Live, A$AP
Tier 5 sees the list seriously hotting up, albums like Drake’s Nothing Was The Same, FKA Twigs’ LP1 and maybe too Earl Sweatshirt’s Doris are possibly among the most disputed within this list, while excellent albums, there fell just short of the next tier, which I feel is slightly stronger. Either way, Tier 5 is home to some outstanding pieces of music including the aforementioned, as well as more incredible debuts from CHVRCHES, Royal Blood, George Ezra HAIM and Jungle.
Domo Genesis – Under The Influence 2, Jessie Ware – Devotion, Run The Jewels – RTJ2, Kids These Days – Traphouse Rock, Tyler, The Creator – Wolf, Childish Gambino – Camp, Octave Minds – Octave Minds, Green Day – 21st Century Breakdown
Tier 4 is home to some particularly notable rap releases from the past couple of years, Tyler, The Creator, Childish Gambino and more recently Domo Genesis demanded that people took them as serious stars of rap, while Octave Minds and Kids These Days released their respective experimental LPs. Jessie Ware’s soulful sexy debut what massively received critically, and Green Day’s follow up the timeless American Idiot- 21st Century Breakdown, carried on their world domination.
With all of the above albums coming out this year, it shows just how strong the year’s output as been musically. Flying Lotus’ You’re Dead blew me away with its deranged composition and crazed production, The Black Keys delivered once more with their eight studio album, and PRhyme released the all-out rap record I’ve been salivating for. As well as this, Joey Bada$$ and Sam Smith released their respective much-anticpated debuts, to widespread acclaim.
Tier 2- Modern Day Classics
The albums above are my favourite albums, period. Acid Rap and Settle refused to conform to what was going on in Chance and the Disclosure brothers’ respective genres, while More Than Alot and Watch The Throne paved the way to everything we hear in the genre nowadays- they are pioneering, genre-defining LPs. I’m probably the only person on the planet who thinks so, but Asher Roth’s Asleep In The Bread Aisle is one of the most underrated albums in recent years, however in contrast, nostalgia, ULTRA is raved the world over.
Kendrick Lamar’s Good Kid, MAAd City and JAY Z’ The Blueprint
Tier 1 – Just missed out
If it wasn’t for the quality of my number one album, these two would have probably come joint top. Kendrick Lamar’s Good Kid, MAAd City is an undisputed modern-day classic, an example of rap done right. Where as JAY Z’ The Blueprint is a classic- in my opinion his greatest album, easily surpassing Reasonable Doubt and The Black Album. While The Blueprint shaped rap for years to come, Good Kid, MAAd City is doing that right now.
The Best Album I’ve Reviewed in the Past Year?
Full review here.