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ATP! 2014: Albums Of The Year

2014 has been an especially good year for music. From newcomers to long-established artists, independent releases to massive commercial hits, the last twelve months has been a relentless torrent of incredible albums. It hasn’t been easy trying to pick our favorites, which means the ones that made it are extra special.

So, without further ado, here are our top ten albums of 2014:

10. You+Me - rose ave. (RCA)
Words: Lauren Jones

rose ave. is quite possibly the most beautiful album ever made, and not just in 2014 either. The folk/pop duo of Alecia Moore, better known as P!nk, and Dallas Green of City and Colour is one of the most perfect vocal pairings ever. Their harmonies intertwine gorgeously throughout the entire album, constantly delighting the ears through subjects like the up and downs of relationships and life. It’s a truly magical album that has the duo pushing out of the comfort zones of the music they normally make and blooming into something awesome. Though the sound is much different than what they normally do separately, you can’t help but hope they keep making music this beautiful together. Until then, rose ave. will be on repeat.

9. LIGHTS - Little Machines (Warner Bros.)
Words: Laurel Weber

Canadian-born Valerie Poxleitner, more popularly known as artist LIGHTS, somehow managed to release her highly anticipated third full-length only months after giving birth to a beautiful baby girl with husband Beau Bokan. The finished product, titled Little Machines, is a remarkably catchy, emotional journey that beautifully combines the innocence of 2009’s The Listening with the advanced musical artistry in 2011’s Siberia. Little Machines is so well crafted that it exceeds even the most ardent LIGHTS fans’ expectations, while still being accessible enough to attract [and thoroughly please] first-time listeners.

The album’s bookends “Portal” and “Don’t Go Home Without Me” are stunning mini-masterpieces, hugging the upbeat synthpop anthems taking root in Little Machines’ center. “Up We Go” is the perfect first single, featuring arguably the most infectious electro-riff and chorus of the singer’s career. LIGHTS continues to make feel good, tiny works of art that grant the listener a sort of unique liberation track after track. Little Machines is an ambient, melodic, maturely playful success story, worthy of a listen or two… or three… or four.

8. Bleachers - Strange Desire (RCA)
Words: Caroline Hall

Bleachers' debut album Strange Desire has something for everyone and just feels very universal but intimate at the same time. When we talked to Antonoff this summer, he stressed how growing up in the suburbs of New Jersey inspired the album and that’s exactly what Strange Desire expresses. It gives off a typical teenage summer in the suburbs in the ‘80s vibe, which is really specific, but the perfect description of every song.

If you haven’t listened to Strange Desire yet, stop reading and do it right now. You seriously won’t regret it.

7. Candy Hearts - All The Ways You Let Me Down (Violently Happy/B9 Records)
Words: Laurel Weber

All The Ways You Let Me Down, the 2014 full-length from New Jersey’s own Candy Hearts, catapulted the band into quite possibly the best year of their career thus far. Which makes sense, because the album is an invigorating positive progression from 2012’s breakout EP The Best Ways to Disappear. With first single “I Miss You” loading the bases, All The Ways You Let Me Down undoubtedly hit a home run.

The record isn’t successful only on vocalist Mariel Loveland’s relatable writing or master-producer Chad Gilbert’s expert input, but the universality of Candy Hearts as a whole. Their refreshing brand of pop/rock is able to attract fans of all shapes, sizes and ages – from young girls to grown bearded men to Paramore’s Hayley Williams and back again. All The Ways You Let Me Down exists as one of the few elusive albums that takes no misstep, has no lull, and makes no mistake.

Simply put, All The Ways You Let Me Down didn’t let us down. In fact, the release gives us hope for a new generation of bands to come. Loveland steps forward as a singer/songwriter unafraid to let in the world, sharing her stories and singing her emotions. All The Ways You Let Me Down will stand the test of time as a quintessential summer soundtrack, draped in distorted nostalgia, forever relevant.

6. PVRIS - White Noise (Rise Records)
Words: Tamsyn Wilce

There aren’t many debut albums that can leave lasting impressions on us, but White Noise, the debut record from PVRIS is something of a masterpiece.

As soon as "Smoke" kicks in, it’s apparent that this band mean business. They’ve taken a genre and bended the rules, mixing snappy drum patterns with echoing electronic elements and it’s all pieced together with Lynn Gunn’s astonishing vocal. Though clean and powerful, her words are dark and menacing and there’s a little added bite in the way she sings, making the whole record even more enticing.

"Fire" and "Let Them In" are by far the most standout tracks within the record, with huge, feisty choruses that prove why PVRIS deserve their spotlight in the Rock world. The pummelling drum patterns add intensity while the vocal harmonies layer a haunting vibe over the music.

Anyone that listens to this record will be blown away and having just come off a huge tour with Tonight Alive and heading out with the giants in Sleeping With Sirens and Pierce The Veil in the new year, it looks like PVRIS have an exciting year ahead of them, White Noise is only just the beginning.

5. One Direction - FOUR (Columbia)
Words: Victoria Patneude

Let’s face it, One Direction isn’t going anywhere. Many people would like to think that the hype would have died down by now, but the fact that they hit No. 1 in 146 countries with their fourth studio album seems to indicate that that won’t be happening anytime soon.

The 16 track release-- yes, 16 because we just assume you’re rockin’ that deluxe edition like us-- showcased the quintet’s talents wonderfully with the help of stadium ready anthems with an air more rock than boyband. With the help of the fellow Top 10 artist, Ed Sheeran amongst several others-- Teddy Geiger, Jamie Scott and Julian Bunetta to name a few-- the five singers actually cowrote 12 of the 16 tracks showing that they hadn’t just grown in vocal talent, but songwriting abilities as well. It isn’t just a perfect album for fans that have been following the band for the past four years of their existence, but also for new fans finally ready to shed their preconceived notions that boybands can’t possibly be good.

We’d be lying if we said that FOUR wasn’t played at least once a day for the entirety of the month of November, and will probably find itself constantly visited until we A) Grow tired of it-- highly unlikely-- B) Catch them on the On the Road Again Tour where we will have our love for the band quenched with the live versions of the songs and/ or C) Have their next release in our hands. Even then, FOUR has a staying power that is missing from previous One Direction releases. Say what you will about them, or our love for them, but it is hard to deny this album isn’t one of the best pop albums of the year.

4. Ed Sheeran - x (Atlantic Records)
Words: Victoria Patneaude

As one of our favorite Brits-- and favorite artists in general-- Ed Sheeran had a lot to live up to with his second full-length album, x.

Of course, our slight trepidation was for nought as the 23- year-old gave us an album that we loved so much that it found itself at no. 4 on our Top 10 of 2014. His unique mix of pop, acoustic and R&B culminated in 50 minutes of pure bliss that not only struck the fancy of the Suffolk native’s old fans, but gained him a slew of new ones as well as it thrust him further into commercial success. Working alongside the likes of Benny Blanco (Jessie J, Katy Perry, Wiz Khalifa), Jake Gosling (One Direction, Paloma Faith, Christina Perri) and Pharrell Williams, Sheeran found himself on top of numerous charts around the world with five platinum certifications and most importantly, a permanent spot in the hearts of us here at Alter The Press.Not only were the songs on the release spectacular, but if we may say so ourselves, the music videos that accompanied the singles were some of the best of the year as well-- most notably the video for “Thinking Out Loud”. The already perfect song found its match when Sheeran learned a routine and danced alongside So You Think You Can Dance alum Brittany Cherry. It was beautiful, amazing, and made us wish we were coordinated enough to dance. (Alright, maybe our lack of coordination still didn’t stop us from trying to recreate it.) The singer/songwriter is currently on his x tour which continues through the end of 2014 and well into July 2015. We aren’t saying you have to go catch him, but we are definitely highly suggesting you do.

3. We Are The In Crowd - Weird Kids (Hopeless)
Words: Lauren Jones

We Are The In Crowd has had a pretty awesome year. They’ve had a relentless touring schedule, most recently with New Found Glory on the Glamour Kills tour, had their first-ever headlining tour (and are doing another small headliner of Christmas shows), and somehow through all the craziness managed to release their best album yet.

Weird Kids somehow has their brand of pop/rock become even catchier while also showing how they’re growing up and dealing with life. They still have catchy kiss offs like "The Best Thing (That Never Happened)," but they're alongside songs like "Windows In Heaven," that deal with more serious issues. It's an album with a positive message that music lovers of any age can get into and find something that speaks to them.

2. 5 Seconds Of Summer - S/T (Capitol)
Words: Tamsyn Wilce

Where do we even begin with describing the monumental debut record to come from Australian pop-rockers 5 Seconds Of Summer?

Taking influences from bands that include Blink-182, Green Day and Imagine Dragons, these four teenagers have crafted a record that is full of undeniably catchy pop-rock anthems. Having co-written a handful of the tracks with Alex Gaskarth of All Time Low, The Madden Brothers and John Feldmann it’s easy to see why the record came out the way it did.

Singles "Don’t Stop" and "Good Girls" have had us singing along all summer, while the upbeat, punchy guitars have cemented their melodies into our brains. A strong percentage of the record is straight up, full-throttle pop music, with tracks such as "Kiss Me Kiss Me," "Heartbreak Girl" and "18". Delivering the sweetest of lyrics, the happiest beats and the biggest choruses that we could possibly offer. This is something nobody should be ashamed of enjoying either, these tracks are contagious and we’ve certainly hit the repeat button more than once, whilst perfecting our best “woah-oh” chants.

The album has everything you could possibly need from a pop-rock band. It has its special acoustic moments in "Amnesia" and "Beside You" and it’s possibly the most fun and enjoyable record to come out of 2014. They may have faced a lot of criticism since "She Looks So Perfect" threw them into the spotlight, but love them or hate them – 5 Seconds Of Summer are four teenagers that are living out their dream whilst they tour the world and you have to respect them for that.

1. Taylor Swift - 1989 (Big Machine)
Words: Victoria Mier

Taylor Swift’s 1989 will appear on a good deal of year-end lists, no doubt; the album has topped charts, sold an incredible amount of copies, and generally been the buzz of the music world.

1989 is delightful, excellently produced and filled to the brim with noteworthy lyrics and collaborations, as well as a slick, 80’s pop sound Swift has utilized so well. But above all else, 1989 is on our list because it shows the incredible growth Swift has undergone as an artist. The album has undoubtedly proved exactly what Swift is capable of – just in case a foolish few were still left questioning. 1989, it seems, is the blithely and unapologetically authentic album Swift has always wanted to create. The artist that made 1989 – a talented, wickedly clever individual with a vast knowledge of music – is a whole different Taylor Swift. But perhaps she’s been there all along, hiding in plain sight, a nightmare dressed like a daydream.

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