Scott’s favorite albums of 2014

By Scott Swanson

As the year winds down, some people really get into the holiday spirit. Me? I get into the year-end list spirit.

Being a certified music junkie, I always look forward to the annual countdowns of the year’s best albums – particularly from my favorite sites, like Stereogum, Pretty Much Amazing and Pitchfork.

Usually I put my own list together too, but for whatever reason I just didn’t listen to as much new music this year. I still haven’t checked out the new St. Vincent album, and for months I’ve been meaning to dig into Sun Kil Moon’s universally acclaimed Benji. Maybe there will be time to remedy this over the holidays!

In the meantime, there were two 2014 releases that I can recommend whole-heartedly.

The first is Run the Jewels 2, the second gonzo collaboration between veteran rappers El-P and Killer Mike. RTJ2 is just plain fun – it’s like overhearing the two funniest guys you know come up with creative new ways to insult each other. It’s also one of the best-sounding albums of the year – the bass-heavy, dystopian production from El-P is as good as it gets.

My other recommendation is also the work of an ace producer – Syro, the comeback album from the legendary Aphex Twin. But while RTJ2 feels like it’s perpetually on the brink of collapsing (or exploding), Syro is beautiful, measured and cerebral – a long way AFX’s most famous tracks like “Come to Daddy” and “Didgeridoo.” Syro is a composer’s album – you get the impression that each loop, each sound was meticulously chosen and placed. It makes for a remarkable listen.

What were your favorite albums in 2014 – or for that matter, your favorite movies, TV shows or books?