The Best Albums of 2014 (So Far)

2014 has been an interesting year in albums, so far. Coming off of a year where the likes of Disclosure and Avicii could exist in similar dance music

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Complex Original

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2014 has been an interesting year in albums, so far. Coming off of a year where the likes of Disclosure and Avicii could exist in similar dance music realms with totally different albums, it's interesting to see where the album has progressed in the last six months. Oddly enough, some of the bigger projects (including albums from Tiesto and Afrojack) failed to make a dent on the overall EDM spectrum. That's not to say electronic music hasn't had it's fair share of dope albums–far from it. But with everyone from Porter Robinson to Dillon Francis expected to drop LPs in the second half of the year, it just reinforces the fact that this year is a) just getting started and b) definitely has more to offer. Let's dive into the longplayers that have impressed us, so far.

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Jay R Neutron - The Bey Mix

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Release Date: January 22, 2014
Label: self-released

Approximately 100 trillion people have remixed Beyonce and Jay Z's duet "Drunk in Love." Insofar as the rest of the album, if you add up the number of overall remixes of Beyonce in 2014 to-date, the number easily enters the quadrillions. That being said, the best of all of those remixes combined is best seen in the finality the audacious task of remixing Beyonce's latest album that is Baltimore-based producer Jay R. Neutron's "Bey Mix." There's something about the level of sass that Mrs. Carter has in these songs that gets amplified to the nth degree when handled by a vogue house producer. The remixes WERK. It's a true testament to the work of Neutron that already stron productions take on an even more vibrant style when in his hands. A must cop, of course you need to listen to what he did to "Drunk in Love." It's ridiculously great (as should be expected).–Marcus

Mr. Carmack - Dimebag

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Release Date: January 1, 2014
Label: self-released

It's hard not to include the LP that started the whole the year off with a bang. Mr. Carmack is a producer's producer and has basically given the entire industry a middle finger on how to drop records. Dimebag is more of a collection of tunes than a proper LP, and it definitely has its faults, but its Carmack and his "OK" tunes fade pretty much everyone. Assuming everything goes as planned, he's going to be in an upper echelon class of producers before it's all said and done.–Brent

Andrew Rayel - Find Your Harmony

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Release Date: May 30, 2014
Label: Armada Music

It's rare that we ever cover trance on DAD, but trance star Andrew Rayel's debut certainly did not miss our radar. Combining a classic trance and orchestral flair with modern production and big room size, Rayel certainly found his harmony over this hour and a half opus. Trance, tech trance, house, techno bits are all finessed into a cohesive package make for a captivating and nuanced listen through. There are vocal numbers on this, but the magic isn't in the singles, as it is in the entire project.–Jake

Atlantic Connection - You & Me

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Release Date: February 14, 2014
Label: Atlantic Connection Music Ltd.

We're definitely not sure what Atlantic Connection really expected with this collection of "future soul" he dropped on Valentine's Day earlier this year. It's loaded with uncleared samples and was given away for free. One would think it's more of a "here's some music to peep" before it would be like "here's an incredible album." Somehow this is the later and all 13 tunes are ace. In fact, this one has been on heavy repeat. –Brent

Above & Beyond - Acoustic

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Release Date: January 28, 2014
Label: Anjunabeats/Ultra

In having 15 years of experience and renown mainly for making trance, EDM dons Above & Beyond could have retained relevance at EDM's height by turning on to turning up. But rather, on Acoustic, the trio return to their organic musical roots and the result is brilliant. An orchestra and vocalists invigorate their classic works with new life, and it's difficult to truly find an album of any genre, anywhere that compares. Unexpectedly soulful, emotive and overwhelming, it's a worthwhile listen.–Marcus

Platinum Breakz 4

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Release Date: April 28, 2014
Label: Metalheadz

The 13 years in betwen the release of Platinum Breakz 3 and Platinum Breakz 4 saw the drum & bass scene go through a number of changes. The rise of Pendulum. The fall of most of the scene. The Autonomic phase. The reinvigoration via juke and other styles. And Metalheadz hitting 100 releases and resetting their catalogue number. It was the right time to drop a new Platinum Breakz release, and PB4 did a great job in keeping with the series. With the likes of Digital & Spirit, Loxy, and Calbre, we see the old guard still churning out quality material. The new guard (featuring the likes of Lenzman, SCAR, Jubei, Blocks & Escher, Dub Phizix, and others) have no problem regulating the future. Somewhere in the middle, we end up finding what makes Metalheadz tick: the ability to push the scene forward without catering to the demans of what people "want" to hear. Essentially, Metalheadz is doing what its always done, and the scene is better for it.–khal

Duck Sauce - Quack

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Release Date: April 15, 2014
Label: Fool's Gold Records

A-Trak and Armand van Helden didn't need to release Quack, their 2014-released album of modernized disco boogie cuts. But they did, and for EDM fanatics sad that they no longer could wonder about things being Until One or Until Now, there was now an answer to their question. In releasing Quack, that answer stopped just being "Barbra Streisand," and became much, much more. "NRG" is the discofied festival groover, while album cuts like "Goody Too Shoes" would've owned the room at Brooklyn's 2001 Odyssey. Staying true to standards while taking some calculated and well-executed progressive risks, Quack is a standout release and deserves mention on this list.–Marcus

Skrillex - Recess

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Release Date: March 18, 2014
Label: OWSLA/Big Beat/Atlantic

We can't help but continue to say it: the fact that Skrillex has won two "Best Dance/Electronic Album" Grammys when he only just now released his first official full length album this year is hilarious. That said, we're not sure what we expected from a full length Skrillex album. He gave us what critics might describe as the stereotypical Skrillex sound (aka the gnarly dubstep that's found on "All is Fair In Love and Brostep" or "Try It Out (Neon Mix)"), but he really just highlights what many of his true fans knew: Skrillex isn't one particular genre, but a proper vibe or sound that he dances within. Cuts like "Fuck That" dwell in more night bass/dirtybird zones, while "Coast Is Clear" turns Chance The Rapper's Social Experiment into a jazzy, fuzzy jungle outfit. Vibes-inducing anthems like "Stranger" and album closer "Fire Away" showcase that there's more to Skrillex than heavyweight riddims–he can bring the calm when he needs to.–khal

Lenzman - Looking At The Stars

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Release Date: June 16, 2014
Label: Metalheadz

I won't front: when Lenzman first started rocking with Metalheadz, I was kind of surprised. He'd been seen as a hip-hop lover who ended up in more liquid territories, not quite what one would think of Metalheadz at the time he got picked up. With Looking At The Stars, it's as if all of my questions about what Lenzman was doing on 'Headz were answered. It's definitely never about where you're from, but where you're at, and Lenzman is sitting in a dark field, watching shooting stars and quasars from a telescope...then writing timeless drum & bass tunes about them. While the project isn't heavy on vocal work, when he does get a vocalist, magic is made. Steo adds his heaven sent voice to "My Tearz," turning that dirty bassline into something full of sorrow. DRS drops sly bars on "Just Can't Take," which feels like a what the proper evolution of the Reprazent sound should've been. Deeper into the album, you get proper anthems like "Always" and "Burner," which rely on different elements (uplifting bass over the amen break and punishing bass hits underscoring moody vibes, respectively) to hit you in the core. This is definitely more of a late-night album, preferably spent pondering life, the cosmos, and your place in it.–khal

DJ Q - Ineffable

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Release Date: March 31, 2014
Label: Local Action Records

I wish I could say that the UK garage scene was returning in full force. It doesn't feel like it's there (yet), but if it is, DJ Q's Ineffable should be the force that kicks this scene into high gear. If you were looking for melodies you won't soon forget, infectious riddims, and soulful vocal work, this is truly the album you need to soak in to. DJ Q might not be purposefully trying to revitalize that scene; he's more than likely just doing him. Whatever the case may be, we win.–khal

deadmau5 - while(1<2)

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Release Date: June 17, 2014
Label: mau5trap

When deadmau5 said he was releasing "his first album," a lot of us scratched our heads. With that in mind, we visited this album with hesitation and curiousity, but it wasn't before long we knew what we had on our hands: a great deadmau5 record, better then we could have imagined. Channeling mau5's flair for cinematic soundscapes, fluid yet enveloping melodies, with unrelenting crisp beats, and artistic integrity, while(1<2) is the manifestation of a deadmau5's complicated but deeply passionate relationship with electronic music. There are moments of experimentation, aggression, progression, melancholy, and and more that I can't even touch on in such a short blurb. An album worth revisiting a million times over, deadmau5 might have his magnum opus.–Jake

Traxman - Da Mind of Traxman Vol. 2

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Release Date: May 8, 2014
Label: Planet Mu

While the loss of DJ Rashad is a huge blow to the burgeoning footwork scene, the show can and will indeed go on, especially with legends like Traxman still in the mix. For his second full length album on Planet Mu, Traxman takes us on a journey through his mind, which is full of dusty loops, throbbing subs, and skittering drums. He has a way of pairing found sounds together, bouncing what could be perceived as diverse ideas together like it's nothing (like the way he worked two obvious bits on "Let It Roll Geto"), or just crafting an intricate round of sound (like on the jazzy opener, "Time Slip"). His sources know no bounds, either; from soulful wails to heavy metal riffin', da mind of Traxman is expansive and excellent, and the footwork scene is in safe hands with producers like him willing to keep an experimental edge to their material.–khal

LAKIM - This Is Her

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Release Date: February 25, 2014
Label: Soulection

Turning down is necessary, and when we're back at mine, it's the music of the Soulection camp that most readily satisfies. It's interesting to see the gray area between how EDM reacted to trap (and instrumental hip-hop sounds in general) and the influence of electronic vibes in hip-hop-based producers. Guys like Ta-Ku, Mr. Carmack, and LAKIM have as many roots in hip-hop as they do in electronic music, and finding that happy medium is part of the beauty of discovery. On LAKIM's This Is Her, we're inundated with what happens when R&B-influenced sounds collide with instrumental, electronic-based jams. You could categorize this entire LP as #feels and I'd know exactly what you mean. LAKIM has a way with grooves, infusing his hypnotic soundscapes with immaculate sample choices. There's not much dancing to be done to This Is Her, at least in terms of the uptempo, spastic variety; this is a project to open up a few bottles of wine to, and take in the beauty of someone close. A real grower, too.–khal

Moody Good - Moody Good

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Release Date: June 3, 2014

As flawless as this debut LP is from Moody Good, it may also be the most important LP release on the EDM landscape in the first half of 2014. It's incredibly relevant because of how diverse it is and how much it follows the traditional LP format with it's flow and how it's tied together. It's important because it's got the OWSLA official co-sign. It's flawless in the fact that nobody is fucking with his sound design right now. As much as this album is so reminds us of a time long ago when long players in dance music stood a chance of getting a full listen. You're completely cheating yourself if you don't take this one in.–Brent

Wen - Signals

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Release Date: March 17, 2014
Label: Keysound

When you think of UK grime, you probably think of the hyper, pulsating riddims that someone like Spooky creates or Tempa T spits over. The "new" guard of the UK grime scene is all about trimming the beats down to their bare bones, then letting the space between those bones speak volumes. Keysound's been a huge proponent of that style, and on Wen's Signals, we get to see first hand how much of an impact these sparse productions can make.

That's not to say that we lose any rhythm or snappiness when we break these tunes down, but they're definitely on a different wavelength. Blackdown steps up to collaborate on "Lunar," which one could describe as being a 2014 soundtrack for the classic flick The Abyss. The "Devils mix" of "Nightcrawler" keeps things as intense as ever without the need for crushing drums. Pure synths and atmosphere to bring that feeling of creepy dread alive. Throughout the project, you get that feeling: without the predictable buildups and breakdowns, you're left with intricately-design worlds that quickly make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. It's a beautiful reset to the old guard, and judging by how people are reacting to the Boxed way of thinking, there's much more where this has come from.–khal

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