Freshly Squeezed’s 20 Best Albums of 2014

20. St. Vincent: St. VincentSt_Vincent_artwork

Annie Clark’s self-titled fourth album as St. Vincent blended her unique post-punk sensibilities with her sharp-witted lyricism and edgy guitar playing. Eccentric, dynamic, and calculatedly cool, St. Vincent is a truly modern rock record.


19. SBTRKT: Wonder Where We LandWonder_Where_We_Land

The highly anticipated follow-up to 2011’s self-titled debut SBTRKT showed off a different side of Aaron Jerome’s production, highlighting the names it featured rather than the SBTRKT enigma itself. Wonder Where We Land attempts to redefine the role of the producer in 2014.

Read the full review here.


18. TV on the Radio: Seeds Tvotr_-_seeds

TV on the Radio’s first album in three years following the death of bassist Gerard Smith in 2011 found the band back on their feet and still creating some of the most anthemic art-rock around, even after all these years. A band that will define the 2000’s for millennials.

Read more about TV on the Radio here.


17. Phantogram: VoicesVoices_album_cover

Voices embodied a kind of dualism, exploring big themes of life and death, and pushing further into the separate territories of electronic and rock music, seamlessly combined here. A record for music lovers of all kinds.


16. Ryan Hemsworth: Alone for the First Timehomepage_large.ba499333

Ryan Hemsworth has undeniably changed the face of electronic music in the last few years, and on Alone for the First Time, he challenges its conventions further, blending swaddling, pillowy production with guest vocalists from his Secret Songs label.

Read the feature here.


15. Flying Lotus: You’re Dead!You're_Dead!

A jazzy, electronic tour de force, You’re Dead! is a psychedelic trip into the mind of Steven Ellison, and its collaborations with Kendrick Lamar, Snoop Dogg, and Thundercat are just the tip of the iceberg.


14. Chet Faker: Built on GlassBuilt_on_Glass_album_art 

Chet Faker’s hotly anticipated debut lived up to the high expectations from 2012’s Thinking in Textures EP. A spanning, double-sided album, Built on Glass features Faker’s easily recognizable croon and clever lyricism atop gorgeous electronic production.


13. Spoon: They Want My SoulThey_Want_My_Soul

Hands were clearly a common theme of album covers in 2014.

Spoon’s unique brand of indie rock lived on on They Want My Soul, which soundtracked the end of the summer for the discerning listener. One of the best albums of the year by one of the best bands of the last decade.


12. Glass Animals: ZabaGlass_animals_zaba

Glass Animals’ textured, tropical debut was one of the best breakout surprises of 2014, and one of the most under-appreciated albums of the year. A brilliantly poppy, catchy debut, Zaba combined jungle sounds and drum loops to create a multi-layered, captivating electronic production.


11. Tycho: AwakeTycho_-_Awake

The follow-up to 2011’s Dive, Awake features more of Scott Hansen’s stunning electronic instrumentation as Tycho. Awake is an album to get lost in; for planes and trains and long car rides. Its combination of electronic production with live instrumentation is what makes it a truly modern record, for listeners of all genres.


10. Sharon Van Etten: Are We ThereAreWeThere

Sharon Van Etten’s beautifully honest self-portrait on Are We There made for easily the best singer/songwriter record of 2014, showing off a lighter, more playful side of Etten, but whose sense of lyricism still carries the weight of the world. And it featured one of the best album covers of the year.


9. Alt-J: This Is All YoursAlt-J_-_This_is_all_yours

The hugely anticipated follow-up to 2012’s An Awesome WaveThis Is All Yours took listeners further into the parallel universe in which Alt-J exist, through Nara, its mythical and musical utopia. This Is All Yours is an album to do what you want with, and lose yourself in in the process.

Read the full review here.


8. Jungle: JungleAlbum_66_296_ff6

The self-titled debut from the mysterious London soul collective Jungle redefined the genre in 2014, with timeless tracks like “Time” and “Busy Earnin'” giving listeners just a taste of the funk that permeates Jungle. Dancy, groovy, and so so fresh, Jungle is what’s good in 2014.


7. The War on Drugs: Lost in the DreamLostinthedream

The War on Drugs’ third album chronicled Adam Granduciel’s battle with depression, exploring themes of death and loneliness. A true work of genius, Lost in the Dream channels the greats of 80s-era classic rock in its swirling, authentic production. A record stuck in the past and yet somehow so modern and relevant.


6. Little Dragon: Nabuma RubberbandLittle_Dragon_-_Nabuma_Rubberband

Little’s Dragon’s first album since 2011’s Ritual UnionNabuma Rubberband, was a complex, conceptual record that further cemented the Swedish band’s unique sound and style as one of the most consistently brilliant crossover electronic acts in the world.


5. Run the Jewels: Run the Jewels 2RunTheJewelsRTJ2

Darkly funny, politically timely, and underminingly brilliant, Run the Jewels 2 dropped a proverbial bomb on 2014’s otherwise lacking year of hip-hop. Killer Mike and El-P are “the jewels runners, top tag team for two summers” and have their sights firmly set on taking over the world.

Read the full review here.


4. Mac DeMarco: Salad DaysMac_DeMarco_Salad_Days

Mac DeMarco’s follow-up to 2011’s inspired a whole generation of youngsters to grow their hair out, quit their jobs, and chase their dreams. Well, not really, but listening to Salad Days sure feels like you’re doing everything just right.


3. Todd Terje: It’s Album TimeTodd_Terje_-_It's_Album_Time_album_cover

The Norwegian disco king Todd Terje released his debut album It’s Album Time this year to widespread critical acclaim. A jumpy, playful record that’s almost entirely instrumental, the album’s centrepiece, a cover of “Johnny and Mary” by Robert Palmer featuring Bryan Ferry cements It’s Album Time as an instant classic.


2. FKA twigs: LP1FKA_twigs_-_LP1

If you didn’t like FKA twigs’ debut, then you didn’t spend enough time with it. Cerebral, evocative, and boundary-pushing, LP1 represents an innovative approach to songwriting in 2014 and should be sticking around for years to come. A perfectly crafted pop record, FKA twigs’ debut shows us why we don’t need to listen to Nicki Minaj in 2014.


1. Caribou: Our LoveCaribou_Our_Love

Dan Snaith’s fourth album as Caribou, and the follow-up to 2010’s Swim, Our Love, explored pop music’s most universal theme in its inviting 42 minutes of euphoric dance music. “Can’t Do Without You” and “Our Love” are album highlights, but Snaith entreats you to enter his world on Our Love, and it’s hard to come back.

Read the full review here.

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Ryan Hemsworth in Vancouver (photos)

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Ryan Hemsworth played Vancouver’s Fortune Sound Club last weekend (November 29) in support of his new album Alone for the First Time, which came out on November 4. His career-spanning set featured many of the tracks from Alone for the First Time as well as 2013’s Guilt Trips and remixes from his various other projects.

Watch his set from the Boiler Room Pitchfork Festival after-party below:

Vancouver Producer Strikes Out On His Own

Ryan Hemsworth shares inspiration for his latest album

homepage_large.ba499333     Alone for the First Time is out now

Ryan Hemsworth released his critically acclaimed new album Alone for the First Time in Canada on November 4th ahead of a series of live dates across North America in November.

The follow-up to 2013’s Guilt Trips, which won the 2014 Juno Award for Electronic Album of the Year finds the young Canadian producer taking a risk that must feel like striking out on his own for the first time, as one of the most exciting electronic artists in the world right now.

Hemsworth describes the new album as an amalgamation of his experiences over the past year of travelling and playing shows. “[It’s] the feeling of moving from one place to another and missing people,” he said in a phone interview from his hotel room in Chicago last week.

His “Sucker for Punishment” tour kicked off on November 5th in Charleston, SC, and includes a stop at Vancouver’s Fortune Sound Club on November 29th.

“I’m used to playing clubs, and people coming out on a Friday night are expecting to dance,” he said about the relatively quieter new material. “It’s scary to play a show in those kinds of venues and not have people dancing.”

It seems to be working, though, and Hemsworth said he’s had a lot of good reactions from people who have been coming up and talking to him after the shows.

“I’ve had a lot of emails from people saying it meant a lot to them and even people who are going through breakups that email me saying it’s good music to get over that stuff to,” he said.

If the new record feels more personal, it’s because that’s what comes naturally to Hemsworth. “I grew up on Eliot Smith and Bright Eyes,” he said about his influences. “They wear their hearts on their sleeve.”

He describes the project as a smaller LP or a bigger EP. “I wanted to make something that people can put on and not have to devote an hour to,” he said. “It’s just kind of getting lost in it for a half-hour.”

Hemsworth is well known for his love of Japan, and is one of a few Canadian artists at the forefront of the recent crossover of Japanese music into Western culture in North America.

“I’ve been following music all around the world for a long time but Japan for some reason has been a huge interest of mine,” he said. “[There are] a huge number of amazing producers coming from there who I think because they’ve grown up on different music are this kind of melting pot of what they’re hearing coming from America and what they’re used to.”

He would argue that this fusion only makes it all the more interesting for North American listeners, and tries to replicate some of these ideas in his own work. “”Blemish” is filled to the brim with sounds and weird little things that I’ve picked up,” he said. “Musical artifacts.”

Hemsworth’s recent travels to Asia inspired the music video for “Snow in Newark,” the lead single from the new album, which was shot in Nepal.

“For my last album, the track “One for Me” we shot a video in Montreal and at the time we had sort of the plan to make a two-parter video, the second half I think what “Snow in Newark” ended up being,” he said.

If “One for Me” shows how Hemsworth used to function as a travelling musician, “Snow in Newark” imagines him “retiring from music and searching for something else in the world.”

“I’ve been going back and listening to a lot of Saddle Creek records,” he said. “The band Cursive is definitely one of the main ones I listened to in the past half-year while working on this.”

What’s next for the 24-year old producer?

“I’m hoping to make a side-project type thing with a producer, a buddy of mine named Lucas who I’ve put out on my Secret Songs label,” he said.

“I’m definitely going to keep collaborating a lot more, that was probably the most fun part of working on this album, was just reaching out to people with really different kinds of voices and production styles, so that’s what I’m really enjoying creating nowadays.”

Ryan Hemsworth plays Fortune Sound Club in Vancouver on November 29th

Ryan Hemsworth Shares Digital Box Set ‘Hemsworth Country’ Via BitTorrent

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Following suit from Thom Yorke, Canadian producer Ryan Hemsworth has shared a digital box set of his entire discography called Hemsworth Country as a BitTorrent Bundle. The compilation includes 2011’s Distorted with rapper Shady Blaze and 2013’s Still Awake EP, available as a free download here. That’s the album art above.

The release comes a week before Hemsworth’s Alone for the First Time, out November 4. Watch the video for the Dawn Golden-featuring “Snow in Newark” below: