It's that time of year again when every music magazine and website publishes their list of the year's best albums (stayed tuned for the Music Times list in a few weeks), and for the most part, each list tends to shuffle around the same 50–100 albums in different orders. However, there are a ton of great albums released every year that unfortunately fly under the radar and don't get as much attention. Here are eight great albums from 2014 that you probably haven't heard (not to be presumptuous or anything).
1. Tacocat — NVM
Even though their hyper-melodic surf-pop sound is reminiscent of Southern California bands such as Wavves and Best Coast, Tacocat somehow conjures this sunshine from up north in Seattle. If you like your indie rock songs to be short, catchy, and funny (or wish that Best Coast had better lyrics), you should check out Tacocat's NVM.
2. Flagland — Love Hard
Ty Segall and Thee Oh Sees may be the kings of American garage rock at the moment, but their albums rarely have the sort of freewheeling, anything goes attitude that Flagland displays on their latest album Love Hard. The album is totally stuffed with riffs and ideas, running through 20 songs in about 44 minutes, so it's pretty much guaranteed that you won't get bored.
3. Radiator Hospital — Torch Song
Though a lot of indie bands these days are described as "fuzz-pop," it would be more accurate to describe Philadelphia's Radiator Hospital as "crunch-pop." Their latest album Torch Song is simply non-stop crunch-pop, as if Flagland (you know, the guys from the previous entry) were more influenced by indie pop than garage rock.
4. Joyce Manor — Never Hungover Again
Based solely on Facebook likes, Joyce Manor is by far the most popular band on this list, but they're still far from being household names (if household names even exist anymore in rock music). Their latest album Never Hungover Again channels incredibly impassioned emo through the melodic efficiency pop punk, resulting in an emotionally satisfying work that never tests your patience, since the whole thing flies by in just 19 minutes.
5. Car Seat Headrest — How To Leave Town
How To Leave Town is described as an EP on the Car Seat Headrest Bandcamp page, but let's get real: a 62-minute release with nine tracks is very much a full-length album. Inspired by bandleader Will Toledo's move from Virginia to Seattle, the album is a tremendous lo-fi journey that takes Guided By Voices and Deerhunter-inspired psychedelic garage pop and combines it with the scope and ambition of Hüsker Dü's Zen Arcade.
6. Frankie Cosmos — Zentropy
One of the year's saddest and most emotionally bare albums comes from New York's Frankie Cosmos (a.k.a. Greta Kline, a.k.a. Kevin Kline's daughter, don't tell anyone), whose album Zentropy closes out with a love letter to her deceased dog Joejoe. The album's highly autobiographical and confessional nature makes it a sort of twee pop counterpart to Sun Kil Moon's Benji (only it's not nearly as long).
7. Rasputin's Secret Police — Then
Working within the confines of a guitar/drums duo can make it pretty difficult to come up with unique, innovative music, but Rasputin's Secret Police managed to create an album that sounds bigger and more expansive than most rock bands with a standard line-up. Sadly, following the release of their latest album Then, the band split up (at least that's how we're interpreting the "R.I.P" and "2001-2014" on their Facebook page).
8. Literature — Chorus
Though most of the other artists on this list have roots in punk rock, Literature takes on dreamy, C86-style jangle pop, a genre woefully underrepresented in the modern indie scene. The Philadelphia quartet's latest album Chorus has a bright, shimmering quality running through every song, though the gorgeous atmospherics are held closely together with incredibly tight rhythms and song structures.