In an interview with Pitchfork last week, Oneohtrix Point Never explained how he needs weird breakages and colliding contrasts to happen for music to feel truthful, and how this also applies to all good film scores. After listening to his soundtrack for Good Time, a new film by the Safdie brothers, reading this passage felt like a tiny lightbulb flickering on.
It’s the rough, distinctive patina surrounding everything he’s ever recorded, the philosophy underpinning the very reason his music is so often astonishing. It’s something he’s expressing most clearly on this, a movie score that basically functions as a proper new album.
Boards of Canada are one of the most unique groups in modern music. Even a casual fan could spot their sound in a matter of seconds. Since their first album, they’ve called Warp Records home, but they’ve never been comfortable in any of the genres that legendary label is known for.
Weaving between neon-drenched hip-hop and menacing techno throb, they’ve charted a singular sound that is utterly approachable from any angle. It’s weird electronic music that your mom, your little brother, anyone can instantly nod along to. With that in mind, I present their best early track, Seeya Later, with a beguiling fan-made video:
I’ve been a fan of Boards of Canada for almost 20 years now. Ever since being introduced to much of the Warp catalogue by coworkers at Circuit City in high school, I’ve considered this mysterious duo to be one of those bedrock favorites, the kind of group that I’m always happy to hear.
While I consider 2002’s Geogaddi to be their true masterpiece, beating out landmark debut Music Has The Right To Children by an avant-garde hair, it wasn’t until much later that they had any sort of official visual accompaniment to their music. When they dropped The Campfire Headphase in 2005, Boards of Canada finally released their first music video.
This week I finally got on the literal saddle and biked every single day. It’s done wonders for my outlook. The days bloomed with a bright sense of openness, movement, and growth.
I find that optimism leads me to seek out new things with more enthusiasm. I ended up listening to a whole cavalcade of albums both brand new and new-to-me. I couldn’t fit them all so I’ll discuss the three that had the biggest impact on me.
This sounds like towering columns of shattered light, the kind of futuristic timbres that I associate with crystalline sky cathedrals in some imagined Final Fantasy game.
Welcome to Part 1 of the Best Of 2014. Part 2, the very best albums of the year, can be found here: The Best Music of 2014
For my official Best Of 2014 list, I wanted to be concise and honest, brutally direct. I trimmed the full list to just 14 albums that affected me in some grand fashion. This did not leave much room for the most of the amazing music I heard last year, became addicted to, and still listen to today. So, instead of making some sprawling list, I’ve crafted a full breakdown of my “Honorable Mention” albums of 2014. The music here is astounding, through and through. I just happened to love a handful of music even more than this. That list is coming soon.
I’ve included one song from each album, choosing a music video when available, and audio-only tracks for the rest. Click play and listen to these, especially if you’re totally unfamiliar. This is how new favorites are born!
Please let me know in the comments what albums you feel I may have missed, or share how you feel about what is here. I’d love the feedback.
Albums are listed by artist and title, with the record label below.