Schoolboy Q

Schoolboy Q (Brock Brake for RedEye / June 23, 2014)

According to our calculations, 42 bajillion albums are released between January and June of any given year. So there’s no reason to wait until December to discuss our favorites. With that, the albums and songs we’ve most enjoyed to this point in 2014. – Dana Moran, Matt Pais, Ernest Wilkins

Dana Moran, @redeyedana

Albums

Phantogram, “Voices”
My favorite album of the year so far is far from uplifting; in my February review I called it, “alternately ethereal and dance-y but rarely optimistic.” Thoughtful and haunting.

Schoolboy Q, “Oxymoron”
With guests like Kendrick Lamar, 2 Chainz, BJ the Chicago Kid and Tyler, The Creator paying attention, it’s time for the rest of the world to get a clue about this West Coast rapper and his snappy, socially conscious flow. Looks like he’s on the precipice of mega-stardom: Q was nominated for a BET Award for best new artist.

Jack White, “Lazaretto”
While it doesn’t burn down the house in the same way as “Blunderbuss,” White’s lyrical genius never ceases to amaze.

Against Me!, “Transgender Dysphoria Blues”
Hey, look, it’s the legitimately good version of the crummy punk I loved in high school. “TDG” would’ve been a good album if it hadn’t explored singer Laura Jane Grace’s coming out as a transgender woman. Instead, it’s a great one.

Songs

Iggy Azalea, “Fancy”

Nicki Minaj, “Lookin’ Ass [Bleeps]”

The Black Keys, “Turn Blue”

Broken Bells, “After the Disco”

 

Matt Pais, @mattpais

Albums

Lucy Hale, “Road Between”
Don’t think about this as the debut country album from a “Pretty Little Liars” actress. Process it for how it should be remembered: a terrific collection of well-written songs you’ll want to listen to on repeat this summer.

Pup
Rowdy and exciting, the Toronto rockers’ debut kinda smashes into your ears and through your bad mood.

LP, “Forever For Now”
If there were any justice in pop music (which, usually, there isn’t), this singer-songwriter would be the next big thing. So many potential hits here.

The War on Drugs, “Lost in the Dream”
The group’s Springsteen-y songs always ramble along, slowly or with momentum, imitating the lyrics’ ongoing challenges and washing over you. On the dense “LITD,” Adam Granduciel makes you gather some patience and return to ride his groove and understand his struggle with identity and separation, from himself and others.

Songs

Pup, “Reservoir”

St. Vincent, “Digital Witness”

The War on Drugs, “Red Eyes”

Fireworks, “Flies on Tape”

La Roux, “Uptight Downtown”


 

Ernest Wilkins, @ernestwilkins

Albums

Against Me!, “Transgender Dysphoria Blues”
The whole project is good, but Laura Jane Grace’s brutally honest look at her experience coming out as a transgender woman is a huge moment that should be celebrated. In an age when something as passive as using a hashtag can be considered “brave,” there needs to be a new word created for what Against Me! accomplishes on this album.

Todd Terje, “It’s Album Time”
The Norwegian producer/DJ has stepped back from remixing artists like Michael Jackson to hone his own blend of disco-dipped, funky elevator music. Tunes like “Delorean Dynamite” immediately transport you to the sexiest night of your life. This is the kind of album that makes me feel like I should put on a nice suit and hit the town.

YG, “My Krazy Life”
The best major label rap debut since Kendrick Lamar’s “good kid, m.A.A.d City.”

Schoolboy Q, “Oxymoron”
The OTHER big West Coast rap release of 2014 effortlessly weaves tales of grim reality with carefree party jams. 

Songs

Future featuring Andre 3000, “Benz Friendz”

Chris Brown, “Loyal”

Future featuring Pharrell, Pusha T and Casino, “Move That Dope”

Mac DeMarco, “Salad Days”

Young Thug featuring IAMSU!, “Stoner (Remix)”

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