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Readers’ Poll: The 10 Best Albums of 2014

Tom Petty, Lana Del Rey, U2 and more: see how our readers’ ranked the year’s greatest music

Weekend Rock

As D'Angelo just taught us with the surprise release of his astoundingly great LP Black Messiah, the year in music ain't over until it's over. For all we know, Madonna, Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar and Adele are going to drop surprise albums sometime before the ball drops. (They probably won't.) But back in those pre-Black Messiah days of last week we asked our readers to vote for their favorite albums of the year. Here are the results. 

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U2, ‘Songs of Innocence’

U2 went through four years and five producers until they had 11 songs they deemed worthy of release. "We had great fun getting lost in the creative process," Bono told Rolling Stone. "The thing that propelled us to reach deeper and aim higher was a new appreciation of the craft of songwriting. . .We found ourselves bored with material that just felt good or unique."

In order to find the energy and passion that fueled him to become a singer in the first place, Bono began writing a series of tunes about his turbulent teenage years in Ireland. "I went back and started listening to all the music that made us start a rock band," he said. "It gave us a reason to exist again. That’s how this album started."

The tracks on Songs of Innocence deal with the death of Bono's mother, falling in love with his future wife Ali and first hearing the Ramones. They're more stripped down than the material on U2's last few albums. "We wanted the album to have songs that would stand up when played on acoustic guitars or piano," Bono said, "not relying on Edge, Adam and Larry’s atmospheres or dynamic playing."

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Foo Fighters, ‘Sonic Highways’

About a year after creating a documentary about legendary Los Angeles studio Sound City, Dave Grohl decided to broaden the project considerably. Picking eight studios in cities across America, Grohl and the rest of the Foo Fighters traveled the country and cut one song in each place. Along the way, he interviewed rock stars from each city and shot the acclaimed HBO series Foo Fighters: Sonic Highways.

It was an extremely ambitious project, featuring guest appearances from Joe Walsh, Zac Brown, Ben Gibbard and many others, but it all flowed together quite nicely. It was also a very clever cross-promotional effort since the album fueled interest in the TV series, and vice versa. The Foo Fighters promoted each episode with a club show, but this summer they're hitting the road for a massive stadium tour. Back in 1993, who would have guessed the drummer in Nirvana would be in this position?

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