Atlanta’s 10 best albums of 2014

From Run the Jewels to Faun and a Pan Flute, it was a stellar year in music

Welcome to Creative Loafing’s list of the 10 best Atlanta album releases of 2014, as voted on by our team of dedicated music scribes.

10. Faun and a Pan Flute: Self-titled (Mission Trips)
Faun and a Pan Flute honed its sprawling and intense cacophony down to four bold and intensely focused pieces that highlight the band’s refined mix of psych, math, prog, and jazz sounds. The end result is a dark and jubilant mix that demands to be heard. — Bobby Power

9. GG King: Unending Darkness (Scavenger of Death)
Scene veteran Greg King (Carbonas, Predator) was already known for making music inspired in part by death metal and the outer limits of classic punk immortalized via the Killed By Death compilation series. The dark, experimental path his second album treads is a powerful next step into deeper, darker cracked territory. — Bobby Moore

8. Saira Raza: First Flight (self-released)
Saira Raza’s debut EP exists in its own universe. In just five songs, the cellist and multi-instrumentalist seamlessly blends elements of Bollywood, jazz, folk, and classical music, and wraps them all up in a psychedelic package that transcends classification. — Paul DeMerritt

7. Red Sea: In the Salon (self-released)
The jazz-influenced, post-punk polyrhythms of Red Sea’s most evolved release captivate with seven complex, synthed-up songs that pull at the ears with alternating silence and satisfying chaos. Keep an eye out for a cassette release via Bayonet Records this year. — Sonam Vashi

6. Small Reactions: Similar Phantoms (self-released)
Rife with distortion, alluring intensity, and disarmingly catchy choruses, Small Reactions’ Similar Phantoms rides a raucous groove that speaks to the finest points of indie rock. It’s a fascinating and promising debut by a still-young quartet. — BP

5. Mastodon: Once More ‘Round the Sun (Warner Bros.)
Mastodon’s latest album is as pop-accessible and riff-heavy as its predecessor, 2011’s The Hunter. The album also embraces the group’s reputation as a Southern sludge and prog-loving behemoth mixing past and present influences that gives hits such as “The Motherload” a slick, stadium-sized punch. — BM

4. Curtis Harding: Soul Power (Burger Records)
Finding the perfect balance between classic soul and garage rock, this Burger Records signee’s smoldering voice rests easily atop impressive guitar work and blazing horns from the backing band in a record that shows off some of the most forward-looking R&B this year. — SV

3. Father: Young Hot Ebony (Awful Records)
In a collective of 15 artists it can be damn near impossible to stand out, but it was Father’s nasally voice, matter-of-fact delivery, and self-produced project that helped put the Awful Records name on the map. — Gavin Godfrey

2. Warehouse: Tesseract (self-released)
On the Fourth of July, with next to zero fanfare, Warehouse unveiled one of the most exciting pieces of angular post-punk in years. On first listen, Tesseract is a tightly wound collection of solid songwriting. The real pleasure comes with multiple listens, when your ears pick up the dueling complexities of guitarists Ben Jackson and Alex Bailey, Josh Hughes’ melody-anchoring basslines, and, of course, the gravelly warbling of Elaine Edenfield’s unmistakable voice. — PD

1. Run the Jewels: Run the Jewels II (Mass Appeal)
They just don’t make rap groups like they used to. Well, that was the thought in hip-hop until Killer Mike and El-P’s latest offering reminded us that despite the genre’s current obsession with self-centered braggadocio, success comes when egos are left outside the studio and willing collaboration takes over. — GG