The Key’s Top 15 Albums of 2014

top 15 albums of 2014
This is the music that moved us this year.

Here at The Key, we’ve gone through four year-end best-of seasons since launching in August of 2010 without weighing in on top albums. Why did we change that this year? Simply put: music in 2014 was outstanding. On the local front, on the national front, from pop to rock to experimental and hip-hop, there was a tremendous offering of front-to-back solid records. Annie Clark got mind-bendy on St. Vincent; Tim Showalter got emotional on HEAL; Sylvan Esso caught us by surprise on their self-titled debut; Cayetana blew up in a big way on their debut Nervous Like Me, voted the best record of the year by our staff of contributors. To narrow it down to the top 15 albums of 2014 is to exclude hundreds of other worthy inclusion, so you can read our contributors’ individual top fives here. Then again, there is power in consensus, and these are the albums we collectively agreed were the best. Continue reading →


Free At Noon Flashback: Sylvan Esso bring their eclectic vibes to World Cafe Live

20141024_Kindness_FAN-5 - Brittany Salerno
Sylvan Esso | Photo by Brittany Salerno

The creative collaboration that is Sylvan Esso had today’s crowd movin’ and groovin’ to their electropop songs, kicking off today’s Free At Noon double-header with pizzazz. Playing material from their self-titled debut, producer Nick Sanborn gave us eloquent, chimey beats and wobbly synthesizer lines, singer Amelia Meath performed eclectic dance moves and delivered alluring vocals. Continue reading →


Download “H.S.K.T.” by Sylvan Esso

Sylvan Esso | Photo courtesy of the artist.
Sylvan Esso | Photo courtesy of the artist.

One of our favorite new bands of the year is Sylvan Esso, the duo of singer Amelia Meath & electronic musician Nick Sanborn, Their self-titled album on Partisan is undeniably seductive and filled with fresh sounding, intimate songs. What began as a one-song collaboration between Meath and Sanborn ultimately turned into a full blown recording project. Continue reading →


Tonight’s Concert Picks: Sylvan Esso at Union Transfer, Placeholder at The Fire, Skinny Lister at North Star Bar

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Durham, NC electro-folk duo Sylvan Esso join tUnE-yArDs tonight at Union Transfer for a fun, funky and alternative show.  Lead singer Amelia Meath has a smooth, haunting tone to her voice that manages to give more depth to the repetitive synths and beats.  She bends her vocals so they compliment the abstract rhythms and somehow it just works.  The single “Coffee” has a cool melody with lyrics that repeat “get up get down, get up get down.”  Very good music to listen to while walking down the street on a sunny day.  Doors open at 8 p.m., and make sure you arrive early to this sold out show!

Lancaster garage punks Placeholder will be at The Fire tonight to put on a high-energy show.  The band released a digital 12″ back in February called I Don’t Need Forgiveness which you can stream here. Unlike some punk groups who can sometimes be all over the place with their sound, the foursome maintains a steady control throughout the 12-track long LP.  Their live show will definitely guarantee gritty guitar solos along with commanding vocals.

Skinny Lister hail from the UK and if you listen closely, you can detect a slight bluegrass twang in their music.  Dual lead vocalists Dan Heptinstall and Lorna Thomas don’t outshine each other, but use each others voices to enhance the quality of the music.  I could picture these guys playing on a street corner in Dublin or London, captivating passersby.  You can find tickets and info for their 21+ show tonight at North Star Bar here.

Also playing…

Tweens at Underground Arts ($10, 21+, 8 p.m.)

Uncle/Father Oscar at Kung Fu Necktie ($5, 21+, 3 p.m.)

Indigenous at Sellersville Theater ($22, all ages, 7:30 p.m.)