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15 Great Albums You Didn’t Hear in 2014

A power-pop supergroup, a Nigerian rap star, a prog Hall of Famer, gamelan rock, noise-dance and more you may have missed

15 Great Albums You Didn't Hear in 2014

These albums may not have burned through your playlists in 2014, but at least one Rolling Stone editor or contributor thinks it should've. 

Ben Watt

Ben Watt, ‘Hendra’

Ben Watt has been making intimate, sophisticated pop music for three decades, most prominently with his wife Tracy Thorne in Everything But the Girl. Though he's primarily been a dance music DJ since EBTG ended in 2000, his first solo album since 1983 is all about subtle guitar elegance and detailed lyrical explorations. Watt collaborated with guitarist Bernard Butler of Suede and even got an unlikely hand from Pink Floyd's David Gilmour to create richly detailed songs that deal with muted revelation and shaky unburdenings. In "Young Man's Game" a 49-year-old comes to terms with feeling to old to go clubbing, and in "The Levels" a man converses with a wife who's no longer with him. The music can evoke anything from Stereolab to country to mellow Seventies rock and the lyrics can touch on subjects from gun control to Romantic poetry, always with a subtlety that matches the music's slanted beauty. By Jon Dolan


Wizkid, ‘Ayo’

After releasing his breakthrough Superstar LP in 2011, Nigerian rapper Wizkid prepped its follow-up with three years of irresistible features and unstoppable club bangers. Arriving in September, Ayo placed the biggest of the latter alongside new tracks that grab slang from Jamaica and salute women with a "bum bum bigger than Bombay." Throughout, the 24-year-old uses deft, nimble flows to glide over complex beats and he writes hooks that will keep you humming for weeks. As British-Ghanaian rapper Fuse ODG says in the title of his debut LP, another excellent 2014 release, T.I.N.A: This is new Africa.

Youth Code

Youth Code, ‘A Place to Stand’ EP

What happens when a former hardcore singer meets a heavy metal roadie? They form an industrial band, of course —but one with a punk-rock heart. Black Flag-inspired bass lines slither through mechanized Wax Trax! clatter; a pissed, pogoing riot grrrl spits boiling blood on chilly synths. Youth Code's 2013 debut full-length was a promising, if primitive, introduction; A Place to Stand, the coed duo's eight-track follow-up (four original songs, four remixes of older ones) sees the L.A. band beginning to harness its potential, reeling out both its most hardcore-infused tantrum (the floor-punching "To Burn Your World") and its most melodic cut yet (the glitchy, Crystal Castles-esque "For I Am Cursed"). "A Litany (A Place to Stand)," meanwhile, is Youth Code's manifesto, a spoken-word diatribe against discrimination, animal cruelty, hate and apathy set to a piston-pumping noisescape. The crash of collapsing new buildings rarely sounds so constructive. By Brandon Geist

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