Top 11 Albums of 2014 from Female Artists

-Troy Hatfield

It won’t be long before the “Best Of” lists will begin appearing.  Since Restoration Living is known as being ahead of the trends, it seems logical to put out one of these lists before we are all sick and tired of them. 

Here are my favorite albums of the year so far – the 11 best records by female artists / female-fronted acts, ordered by release dates.   (After all, Top Ten is so cliché!)

1)  Dum Dum Girls, Too True.  (1960s textures and echoes are all over this lo-fi pop record.  Half of the songs are under three minutes so you can listen to the entire thing in about 30 minutes.) 

2)  Phantogram,  Voices.  (This is an edgy electronic album, full of great synth sounds and programmed drum patterns.  This band is sort of like a less-mad Yeah Yeah Yeahs.)

3)  St. Vincent, St. Vincent.  (The Queen of Alt-Rock does it again – this record is full of daring musical decisions, strange sounds and obscure lyrics.  This might not be the easiest listen out of the bunch, but it certainly benefits from repeated listens.)

4)  Lily Allen, Sheezus.  (What a comeback!  I admit this entire record isn’t gold, but the snarky humor and quality pop production keeps me listening.  It might be worth it for the killer opening track alone.)

5)  Sylvan Esso, Sylvan Esso.  (This duo were the biggest surprise for me at SxSW this past year.  Vocal-heavy minimalistic songs, sort of like Lorde, but not as “crafted for mass consumption.”  One of my favorite records of the year, regardless of gender.)

6)  Little Dragon, Nabuma Rubberband.  (They are Swedish and funky and danceable and mellow and dreamy and irresistible.  This is an electronic R&B record that still surprises me after dozens of listens.)

7)  Jenny Lewis, The Voyager.  (I love the imperfection of her voice – and the lyrical content really fits her voice, for the first time since the best of the Rilo Kiley records.  The production is clean and organic and sounds like real people made the music.)

8)  Banks, Goddess.  (Banks’ voice is so smooth and effortless – couched inside of music that is at times atmospheric and other times sultry electro-soul.  It’s a little dark and moody overall, but rewarding, especially with a glass of red wine.)

9)  Karen O, Crush Songs.  (These are naked, “hissy” recordings that capture the power and raw quality of this Yeah Yeah Yeahs lead singer.  This a collection of short songs that are fun to listen to while also leaving one wondering how they would sound if the rest of the YYYs were involved.)

10)  Sinead O’Connor, I’m Not Bossy, I’m the Boss.  (I love this album almost as much as I love its title.  While the production sometimes feels a little heavy-handed, this collection of songs shows off Sinead’s uniqueness and courage as an artist.)

11)  Broods, Evergreen.  (This brother and sister duo created a great autumn album full of relaxing and mesmerizing songs.  It’s easy to get lost in the female vocals and the production doesn’t take center stage, but offers great support for the singing.)