2014 Top Ten List Spotlight: The Best in Free

2014 Countdown, Album Reviews
12/11/2014
Gerrit Feenstra
Poolside // photo by Victoria Holt

As another year of declining CD sales hits us, music distribution continues to move in a progressively liberal direction. Sure, vinyl might be making a temporary comeback in sales, but for the most part, what little is left of the intake for small artists in terms of direct music sales is taken from streaming services and third-party royalties. For the rest of them, the benefit of exposure supersedes the need for an attached dollar sign. Thus, it only makes sense that in 2014 we saw a lot of great free stuff come our way. With this list, we hope to get the best of it all in your hands at no cost to celebrate as the year comes to a close.

Poolside - Stir It Up mixtape

The LA daytime disco duo Poolside have brought us some incredible stuff in the past couple years. Between their debut LP Pacific Standard Time and a handful of great live appearances in Seattle, Poolside are growing into the market they deserve, and their latest DJ mix Stir It Up sure isn't deterring us at all. A full hour of positive vibes, fresh Poolside disco edits, and world music eclecticism, Stir It Up is exactly what you need to keep the winter nights warm.

Run The Jewels
photo by Dave Lichterman

Run The Jewels - Run The Jewels 2 (link)

Though it hardly needs to be said again this year, if you haven't downloaded Run The Jewels 2 yet, what underwater cave have you been living in for the last couple months? El-P and Killer Mike, "the top tag team for two summers", are back with another round of blow your face off rap obliteration. Last time, Run The Jewels was an out of nowhere surprise that left no one in wanting. This time, Jaime and Mike outdo the original with an album better than even the biggest fans couldn't have anticipated. There's a reason this one is topping so many year-end lists, and though it deserves all your money, it doesn't cost a dime.

Cashmere Cat
Run The Jewels // photo by Dave Lichterman

Cashmere Cat - Pitchfork MoMA PS1 Warm Up Mix

While himself a freakishly talented producer and pioneer of the new electronic wave, Cashmere Cat's DJ sets throughout the 2014 summer took his presence on the scene as a connoisseur of party magic to an unfathomable level. In fact, I'd go as far to say that after seeing him places like Pemberton Music Festival, then dropping the above mix at his MoMA PS1 appearance, Cashmere Cat curated the best party set of the year. Thankfully, that accomplishment can warm your hard drive with the click of a button.

Shlohmo
Cashmere Cat // photo by Victoria Holt

Shlohmo & Jeremih - No More (link)

LA experimental hip-hop producer Shlohmo teamed up with the indubitable vocal talents of Jeremih for "Bo Peep" last year, a track that seemed to shake you more with every listen. After a bit of time and one hell of a response to the track, the two decided to collaborate for a full EP. Originally slated for a Def Jam release, politics kept pushing the EP back further and further until Shlohmo just decided to give it to fans for free. The rest is history - also, Def Jam's loss.

Gardens & Villa
Gardens & Villa // photo by Brittany Brassell

Gardens & Villa - Televisor (link)

Santa Barbara psych pop group Gardens & Villa graced us early this year with their fantastic second LP Dunes, making a marked shift from the laid back, drifting indie rock vibes of their self-titled debut, to a darker, more sensual and danceable sound. Cleaning out the closets before kicking off work on the next project, Gardens dropped an EP of leftovers from the last couple years, giving us a handful of fiery new demos like "Love Affair" above, as well as (very) alternate takes on "Bullet Train" and "Minnesota" from Dunes. All in all, it's another great shade from a great band that continually has more to show off.

Body Language - Infinite Sunshine

Brooklyn indie pop band Body Language are only getting easier to love with time. Last year's Grammar LP saw the band coming into their own in much fresher, more vibrant ways. But the Jackson 5 throwback disco vibes of Infinite Sunshine are absolutely impossible to ignore, especially at the low (as in zero) price point.

Related News & Reviews

Album Reviews

Album Review: James Murphy - Remixes made with Tennis Data

Since he broke his band up in the most grandiose way possible, James Murphy has stayed incredibly busy - maybe busier than he was when he was in LCD Soundsystem. It seems like every couple months, there's word of a new project from James, though not necessarily musical in nature. Sure, James has ...


Read More
2014 Countdown

2014 Top Ten List Spotlight: DJ Alex

For the rest of the year, we'll be spotlighting our KEXP DJs Top Albums of 2014, leading up to our 2014 90.3 Top Album Countdown! Voting ends on Tuesday, December 16th at 6:00 PM PT, so let us know your favorites now, and tune in on Friday, December 19th to hear if your picks made the list!


Read More
2014 Countdown Swingin' Doors

2014 Top Ten List Spotlight: Don Slack

For the rest of the year, we'll be spotlighting our KEXP DJs Top Albums of 2014, leading up to our 2014 90.3 Top Album Countdown! Voting ends on Tuesday, December 16th at 6:00 PM PT, so let us know your favorites now, and tune in on Friday, December 19th to hear if your picks made the list!


Read More
Album Reviews

Album Review: Smashing Pumpkins - Monuments to an Elegy

Love him or hate him, you simply cannot call the Billy Corgan of 2014 predictable. For the dedicated Smashing Pumpkins out there, this fact is a wonderful, rewarding thing. Sure, Billy is currently rolling out an extensive set of rereleases and remasters of the classic Pumpkins years, each comple...


Read More
Click anywhere to return to the site