45 Best Albums of 2014 So Far

The best rock, hip-hop, EDM and country of this year's first half

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Eric Church, 'The Outsiders'
Courtesy of EMI Nashville.42/45

Eric Church, 'The Outsiders'

Eric Church branded himself a country-music outlaw of consequence on 2011's platinum-selling Chief. On his fourth studio album, the North Carolina singer-songwriter made a record that's weirder, louder and even more badass. The title track broadcasts Church's intent: "They're the in crowd, we're the other ones/It's a different kind of cloth that we're cut from." Subtle, it ain't: a roughneck-misfit anthem, delivered in a menacing drawl that triangulates singing, speaking and rapping – until the whole thing dives into a prog-metal coda that should remind you Mastodon are a Southern band, too.

Read our full review.

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