Albums - 2014 / by E

Damned to be one of the most underrated albums of the year, Stargroves' self-titled debut reads like a retrospective scrapbook of a life just truly beginning with an impossible air of maturity to it that's utterly infectious. "Hats In The Air" bares all without a care, "Half Awake in Reykjavik" shows off the impressively addictive piano riffs and heavy rhythms the band so easily intermingles with fluid melodies and sultry vocals, and "Within Me A Lunatic Sings" (featuring Abigail Breslin) shows off the fun and lighthearted side of the album. Grab Stargroves from iTunes for impressive lyrics and well-rounded productions you won't mind having stuck in your head. 

The Griswolds' debut full-length Be Impressive has all the qualities of a debut album - with the songs about not being able to wait for fame, losing yourself, and feeling that this is all happening just oh so quickly - but with none of the lackluster sound of a debut that too often leaves you wanting. The album's full with an authentic feel to the mature and balanced tracks and the gritty feel and always unapologetic lines stay true to the band's sound. Grab the aptly named Be Impressive from iTunes now and start listening to "16 Years", "Down and Out" and crowd favorite "Beware the Dog". 

An impressive year for debut albums as Sir Sly's You Haunt Me continues to round out the 'best of best' list. Full melodies mesh with unrelenting beats and every layered chromatic inflection speaks of someone who knows exactly what they're doing as they easily manipulate the music and twist it into its own genre, the music holding as much emotion as the lyrics itself. Throw in some break your heart lyrics, thoughtful choruses, and inspired hooks and Sir Sly's debut album offers up something that, with the help of favored singles "Gold" and "You Haunt Me" and all impressive "Nowhere / Bloodlines, Pt. I", "Leave You", "Too Far Gone", "Found You Out", won't fall to obscurity; get You Haunt Me now.

Watsky's achingly honest All You Can Do offers up a gorgeous mix of joy and sadness as the album simultaneously jokes about your twenties while facing depression and making social stands: "Whoa Whoa Whoa", "Tears To Diamonds", and "The One" offer up a well rounded, tongue in cheek overview of the album's sound. Catch the simply stated "Cannonball" (featuring Stephen Stills), always entrancing "Sarajevo" (featuring Dia Frampton), and the easy to fall for snapshot of a life "Right Now" (featuring Lisa Vitale) and wallow in the greatness of the cruelly put "they credit the pharmaceuticals for slaying the demons that they're running from... you get a prescription and you're thinking that it's pure, but baby maybe it's a problem when you got a problem and you get addicted to the cure". Grab All You Can Do from iTunes now.

Michael Schulte's The Arising offers up slow builds and sweet lyrics with that ever present acoustic guitar and Schulte's pure vocals giving each track a sense of authenticity that's impossible to ignore. "Frozen Over", "Dear Doubt" and "The Maze" offer up a quick view of the album with its effortlessly catchy hooks and easy to fall into melodies, all while seemingly flawless vocals remain impressively unaltered. Catch a live show to fall for Schulte's pure talent and head to iTunes to get your copy of The Arising.

Sleeperstar dropped their first full-length since 2010 this year with a full story line running through the album, from the opening "Apocalypse" to the last "Live Forever" while tracks "Lost Without You", "Restart", and "Forget You Now" run through the middle, tying up all the loose ends. The band's ever addictive melodies are built off a solid rhythm and ever present piano riffs while less than polished vocals wrap it up in a perfectly put 'alternative rock' package. Grab Lost Machines from iTunes.

Milky Chance's Sadnecessary stands out if only because the band seems utterly unaware of their greatness. The duo effortlessly takes what should be lost in translation and turns into something that's entrancing and gorgeous. The harmonies are playful, with an innocence to their warped sound and the lyric lines come out as straight alternative, leaving all interpretation to you, and the entire album comes across as something hypnotic that'll grab your attention and not let go till you're done. Republic signed Milky Chance put forth a stunning album with the ease of their productions and the straight-forward lines so get your copy of Sadnecessary from iTunes now.