Top 10 Albums of 2014 Pt. 2

7. Reighnbeau - Hands
(May 2014 Bridgetown)

Migrating from capacious slowcore to a pummeling brand of fuzzed-out shoegaze, New Mexico's Reighnbeau turned his signature sound inside-out on his most recent full-length effort, Hands. The sound of the album is simultaneously atmospheric and crowded, rushes of airy guitar coursing through primal rhythms like white water rapids. All that attempts to raft atop the swift flow of trebly noise, (breathy vocals and the occasional synth tone), is pulled under. Reighnbeau's approach to songwriting is a study in minimal maximalism: cramming as many textures and as much beauty into what is nearly a unified drone.

RIYL: Cocteau Twins, Slowdive, Airiel

6. Death Grips - Niggas On The Moon
(June 2014 Harvest)

A sensory feast for the ears, Death Grips' Niggas on the Moon is the hip-hop trio's most puzzling effort, much less linear than previous outings like the punk rock influenced mixtape Exmilitary or the sinewy industrial assault of No Love Deep Web. Niggas on the Moon finds the trio eschewing the distorted, fat synths that so defined their work for a more brittle sound built up from sliced-up Bjork vocal samples and warbly percussion. Stefan Burnett's lyrics, though delivered with the same ferocity as always, veer from the unhinged violence they conveyed in previous efforts, instead bordering on dadaist absurdity. From the jarring beat drop at the beginning of "Up My Sleeves" to the samply freakout that concludes "Big Dipper", Niggas on the Moon has become my favorite Death Grips album since its release date.

RIYL: Clipping, Wolf Eyes, Swans

5. Barlow - Four Castles
(July 2014 Self-Released)

Four Castles is a brief, but powerful dose of old-school lo-fi pop, borrowing influence from Sebadoh's noisy brand of proto-emo as well as the catchy fuzz-pop peddled by Robert Pollard's Guided By Voices. It's not merely an act of revivalism, though; the Pennsylvanian trio uses the sound of its influencers as a benchmark for building upon, injecting a healthy measure of shoegaziness into their gritty sound and incorporating elements of Captured Tracks surf pop into the mix. Highlights of the album include the sludgy, yet ethereal, opener "Missionary" and the muscly punk assault of "Visor".

RILY: Guided By Voices, Early My Bloody Valentine, Beach Fossils