If I were more disciplined about my writing, I'd have written this three months ago when people were thinking about holiday gift lists rather than, well, now. The advantage is that, rather than giving you a "hot take" about music that I might regret later, I can let a few weeks or months go by and make sure I'm not forgetting (or including) something time has given me more perspective on.
Given that it is approaching the end of February, I think I'll skip the think pieces, the "what does it all mean" text and jump right into the list. As always, my year-end best-of list matches the Fids and Kamily year -- that is to say, from October 1, 2013 through September 30, 2014. So some good albums from the last 3 months [waves at Lori Henriques] will just have to wait for next year's list.
One final comment: I originally titled this the "Top 25 Albums" but when I went over my reviews, I realized that limiting it to 25 was going to a difficult proposition. So I've bumped it up to 30. That's a good problem to have.
Edit: A couple days later, I was going through my spreadsheet and realized that I totally forgot to add Key Wilde & Mr. Clarke's Animal Tales. Can't leave that album off the list. So now it's a Top 31 Album list.
#5 (tie) The Okee Dokee Brothers - Through the Woods
Review - 'The title track, featuring a lovely descending bass line, is the spiritual successor to the last album's title track, but most of the songs are more content to celebrate tiny moments -- dancing with neighbors in "Jamboree," the gentle love song "Evergreen," the ode to keeping things loose "Out of Tune."'
#5 (tie) Recess Monkey - Desert Island Disc
Review - "If the songs hold together in any particular way, it's more in their sound. In the orchestrations (from Jherek Bischoff, brother of drummer Korum Bischoff), toned-down retro-rock, and love songs, this is easily their most Beatles-esque album since their little-heard debut Welcome to Monkey Town."
#7 (tie) The Short Films - Kingdom Animalia
Review - "The entire album has a dream-like effect -- "Pegafox" is about a make-believe animal, for example, the body of a red fox with the wings of a red-tailed hawk. "The Mysterious Okapi" is the kids song we never knew Portishead had written about an animal almost none of us know."
#9 (tie) Sólrún Sumarliðadóttir - Skýjaflétta
Review - "This is a thoroughly charming album and while I'm sure I will never get a chance to see the dance pieces these were composed for, I'm glad the album has a chance to cross the ocean for families with adventurous listening habits."
After the top ten, which I can give you because it matches my Fids and Kamily ballot, distinguishing between the rest of my list becomes a little more difficult. So I'm taking the easy way out - alphabetical order for albums 11 through 31.