D'Angelo - Black MessiahI know, I know. List season is over. We’ve moved on to a new year. Ok, so I didn’t get it done in time for some hypothetical deadline. At least I got it done, right? One thing I have to say right up front is that these are not the best albums of the year. Alright, maybe some of them are the best albums of the year, but given how many albums are released these days, and despite the availability of Spotify and other streaming services, it’s nearly impossible to hear even a fraction of them. So these are my favorite albums of 2014, chosen from those that I heard. Speaking of Spotify, nearly all of these albums are available there for you (come on Lucinda, get on board). I suppose I could write about each album, but I’m a lazy man, it’s late already, and why do that when you can just listen to it for yourself? I’ve created a playlist with a song from (almost) every album to get you started.

These days a lot of writers race to be first. I’m glad I waited because December brought my favorite album of the year on very short notice. Black Messiah is D’Angelo’s first album in 14 years and it’s quite possibly worth a wait of even that duration. If Black Messiah was the latecomer, Rosanne Cash’s career-topping The River & The Thread was the early bird, released at about this time last year, and instantly finding a secure spot on my list. There was plenty of good music out there in between those two releases. Sometimes you had to dig to find it, and other times it just showed up in your iTunes library.

Here then are my favorite albums of 2014.

1. D’Angelo and the VanguardBlack Messiah

2. BeckMorning Phase

3. The War on DrugsLost in the Dream

4. Billy ChildsMap to the Treasure: Reimagining Laura Nyro

5. Rosanne CashThe River & The Thread

6. The Felice BrothersFavorite Waitress

7. St. VincentSt. Vincent

8. Scott Walker + Sunn O)))Soused

9. Ryan AdamsRyan Adams

10. Lucinda WilliamsDown Where the Spirit Meets the Bone

11. Leonard CohenPopular Problems

12. Robin Gibb50 St. Catherine’s Drive

13. Bryan FerryAvonmore

14. Naomi Shelton & the Gospel QueensCold World

15. Matthew RyanBoxers

16. Cymbals Eat GuitarsLOSE

17. The Hold SteadyTeeth Dreams

18. PrinceArt Official Age

19. Ray LaMontagneSupernova

20. Gedeon Luke & the PeopleLive Free & Love

21. TV On The RadioSeeds

22. Tom Petty & the HeartbreakersHypnotic Eye

23. U2Songs of Innocence