In 2014, Bay Area artists released a wealth of great records, with highlights coming in an array of genres: garage pop, indie rock, electronic pop, and hip hop. The year brought new acclaim to ascendant locals like tUnE-yArDs and Tycho, the latter of whom just released a deluxe version of his stellar 2014 album, Awake. Also on the rise are The Family Crest, who grabbed well-deserved NPR attention for their sophomore LP, Beneath the Brine.
It was also a year of impressive debuts. Cathedrals built a strong following with the release of several singles culminating in the group's debut EP. Happy Diving offered up both an EP and an LP this year; the group's noisy, energetic indie rock make them one to watch in the year to come. Other new bands we loved this year? The fuzzy indie rock of Couches' debut EP and the addictive "slop pop" of Cocktails.
2014 also brought some long-awaited follow-ups from locals we've long dug. K.Flay suffered in major label limbo for what seemed like forever before breaking free this year. Her crowdfunded LP Life as a Dog is both a strong record and yet another good reason to question the judgment of major labels. The She's returned this year with their first new set of songs in almost three years. On the Dreamers EP, the band's delightful vocal harmonies remain, but the new songs feel like a clear step forward. Speaking of moving forward, Painted Palms' Forever took the group's electronic pop to new, wonderfully psychedelic heights.
A number of other great albums caught our ears this year, from Doe Eye's John Vanderslice-produced album, T E L E V I S I O N to Kool A.D.'s most recent offering, Word O.K. and the intense post-punk of Creative Adult.
This mixtape collects fourteen songs from albums released in 2014 by San Francisco Bay Area artists. It isn't meant to be the comprehensive list of the great Bay Area records offered this year, and, all told, there's no easy way to pigeonhole this year, or any year in local music. The Bay Area's independent music scene is simply too big, too prolific, and too diverse, which, ultimately, is a very good thing.