Friday, February 6, 2015

The Knix Mix Top 20 Electronic Albums of 2014

In the world of electronic music, 2014 was a banner year for the ladies.  Kitten, Kimbra, Kiesza, Lindsey Stirling, Dev, Lana Del Rey and La Roux all released new music.  There were new releases by electronica/EDM staples like Tycho, David Guetta, Tiësto, Example, Skrillex and Deadmau5. House fans saw new releases by Simian Mobile Disco and Booka Shade.  Pioneers of the genre came out in force with Brian Eno & Karl Hyde, Bryan Ferry, Morrissey, Echo & the Bunnymen and Midge Ure releasing albums.  The LCD Soundsystem and Röyksopp said their goodbyes - at least in their current incarnations - in the form of farewell albums.  And I've discovered a few unsung treasures like Voxmirage, Faded Paper Figures, Flight Facilities and White Hex.
My Top 20 list includes a few albums that have achieved critical success.  You will surely recognize those picks if you're keeping up with these kinds of things.  Quite a few of the albums speak to my personal fondness for post punk, electro pop and disembodied robotic voices without consideration for acclaim.  Check it out!

Aphex Twin Syro
This album can be found on many a "Best of 2014" chart and with good reason.  This is UK based Richard D James' 6th studio album under the pseudonym Aphex Twin, and the first in 13 years.  It's contemporary and on point.

Arca Xen
Xen is the debut album of Venezuelan born producer Alejandro Ghersi who is best known for working with Björk and FKA Twigs.  All futuristic and stylistically interesting, this album is a critical darling.

Audit Division Audit Division EP
Maybe it's because they vaguely remind me of The Juan MacLean by featuring a male and a female vocalist with a retro synthpop sound that I like this little sleeper EP no one has heard of.

Banks Goddess
American Jillian Banks has pop appeal, but the soul laid bare lyrics and synthpop sound on her debut album garnered some positive attention among electronic music fans.

Broods Evergreen
This is New Zealand brother and sister duo Broods debut album, which is a follow up to their self titled EP.  They have a broader pop appeal that will eventually get them some Top 40 airplay.

Caribou Our Love
Another album that has made it's way onto many "Best of 2014" charts, Our Love by Canadian musician Caribou is a feelings album. There are moments of real loveliness on this album.

Diamond Version CI
Neil Tennant of Pet Shop Boys makes a vocal appearance on this album, but I am most taken with the deconstructed Orwellian vocal samples like on "Science for a Better Life."

Röyksopp & Robyn Do It Again EP

Norwegian duo Röyksopp and Swedish songstress Robyn can do no wrong in my eyes.  I especially like the cheeky "Sayit."

Gazelle Twin Unflesh
British producer Elizabeth Bernholz brings us her dark and chilling second album.  She was influenced by heavy subject matter like feral children and euthanasia, and the results sound a bit like the soundtrack to a nightmare.

Hundred Waters The Moon Rang Like a Bell
Hundred Waters hails from Florida and some of the members have been making music since middle school.  This album has an emotive electro folk sound,  Check out the single "Cavity."

The Juan MacLean In a Dream
There is a certain something that just works in the collaborative efforts of American house master Juan MacLean and former LCD Soundsystem member Nancy Whang. This album has been on repeat play for me since its release.

Liars Mess
Known for being experimental, Mess is the seventh studio album for the US band.  It's quirky and provocative and a bit of a style change from their previous albums.

Mr Little Jeans Pocketknife
Norwegian Monica Birkenes is Mr Little Jeans.  "Mercy" is the essential song on the album, although she does a cover of Arcade Fire's "The Suburbs."

Museum of Love Museum of Love
Like The Juan MacLean, this is another offering from the DFA label. Pat Mahoney of LCD Soundsystem pairs Dennis McNany for a retro synthpop sound.

Phantogram Voices
In another male and female pairing with some shared vocal duties, American duo Phantogram has pop appeal.

Starwalker Losers Can Win EP
French Jean-Benoit Dunckel and Icelandic Bardi Johannsson collaborate on this stylistically spare but intriguing EP.

St. Vincent St. Vincent
The eponymous 4th album by American St. Vincent has that irreverent and wry art rock style that she does so well.

Trust Joyland
Toronto based Robert Alfons was on his own for the second Trust album with Maya Postepski having returned to her duties with Austra. Alfons vocals are incredible and throwback influences like Kate Bush, Cocteau Twins and bygone video game soundtracks give it that synthpop flavor that I love.

Tying Tiffany Drop
Italian Tying Tiffany seems to fly under the radar in the US, but she has that art school dropout DIY style that deserves a listen.

Wild Beasts Present Tense
This is the 4th studio album for Wild Beasts.  Honestly, there is no other band who sounds quite like them, so it's best to just listen for yourself.

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