By Eric Davidson and Lizzie Plaugic
You remember albums. A collection of songs from one act with a sense of flow and purpose. Some think the concept has seen its best days, as single-tune downloads and EP streams have become the tune-traipsing preference. And yet, like that Godfather line, they keep pulling us back in. When done with panache and a sense of fully-formed artistic identity, 10+ songs thrown at you all at once still holds an innate import and attraction that those two tunes you just streamed while reading this can’t match. A good song quenches quickly sure, but a great album sticks in your gut like a buffet visit. And so far, 2014 has offered up a number of them, 15 being that number for us. In alphabetical order:

Mac DeMarcoSalad Days (Captured Tracks)

It’s appropriate that one of the most recognized signifiers of Mac DeMarco is his gap-toothed grin, because the overall vibe of Salad Days is that of the smiley goofball, drunk on the sun and maybe a couple Genesee Cream Ales. – Lizzie Plaugic

Future IslandsSingles (4AD)

By giving their album a name that suggests Greatest Hits, Future Islands effectively pre-solidified their standing in this list. Plus, Samuel T. Herring’s crushed-heart vocals are just weird enough to keep the band’s Baltimore pop-bounce from feeling stale. And there’s a very, very good chance that, for a certain sect of slightly sad synth-pop adorers, Seasons will be the song of the summer. – LP

Alex GDSU (Orchid Tapes)
Philly boy-wonder Alex G dropped his official debut LP for Orchid Tapes this month, and it took approximately ten seconds for everyone who listened to it to remember their sweet, nervous pubescent time spent in parking lots and behind stadium bleachers hoping the girl/boy of their dreams would come and make out with them. – LP

La SeraHour Of The Dawn (Hardly Art)

Wherein Katy Goodman continues to inch away from her spacier days in Vivian Girls to become a punchy, sunspots power pop purveyor, with mucho kudos to Todd Wisenbaker and his tastefully frenzied guitar churning. – Eric Davidson

Lykke LiI Never Learn (Atlantic)

For her third LP, Lykke Li moved thousands of miles away from her native Sweden to Los Angeles after a painful break-up. The result was this collection of sad, dark, mournful torch songs. And even though the album boasts titles like Heart Of Steel and Never Gonna Love Again, it’s been making us swoon for weeks. – LP

Angel OlsenBurn Your Fire For No Witness (Jagjaguwar)

For those who wish Cat Power would’ve been able to extend her more forceful moods, Ms. Olsen has come along to make relevant, emotionally-charged fuzzy folk, this being her best yet. – ED

Perfect PussySay Yes To Love (Captured Tracks)

House show post-punk from Syracuse, NY, dished up with swirling musicianship and leader Meredith Graves’ unhinged word-slinging. But an artful jangle somewhere in there and a surefire live show mean you’ll have a few dates open to fill in that house show schedule. – ED

PUJOLKludge (Saddle Creek)

Crazy good, hook-weaving glam-pop with a homemade production style, if walking out the front door, not looking back. While Daniel Pujol has only recently brought his crack combo to venues bigger than a one-car garage, one could imagine these kaleidoscopic tunes soaring over heads in much larger arenas. Think Andrew W.K. as a humble indie-pop tunesmith juggling mirrorballs. – ED

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