AOTY Tournament: Recap and Individual Lists


When WRVU announced the winner of 2014’s edition of our annual AOTY (Album of the Year) tournament, hardcore rap duo Run the Jewels emerged on top. Run the Jewels joined the ranks of Vampire Weekend and Tame Impala, who won the tournament in 2013 and 2012, respectively.

The tournament isn’t the whole story though. While its an exciting way to narrow down an overall winner, it doesn’t completely explain why we liked what we did. Additionally, there’s a worry that popular voting is biased against niche releases; it’s certainly not required that voters listen to each and every one of the 32 contenders to better inform their decision.

In the interest of calling out as much great 2014 music as possible, this post compiles the individual top 10 lists from our DJs. But first, a few tournament-related consolation prizes.

The Alternate Universe WRVU-AOTY Award

Mac DeMarco – Salad Days


Seeding during the AOTY tournament was determined by all the WRVU DJs who submitted rankings of their top 10 albums of 2014. #1 votes were worth 10 points, #2 votes 9, and so on. Voters could also designate a “Least Favorite Album” and “Most Overrated Album”, which counted -3 and -1, respectively.

The top 5 albums based on this seeding were

  1. Mac DeMarco – Salad Days – 71 points
  2. Run the Jewels – Run the Jewels 2 – 62 points
  3. Flying Lotus – You’re Dead! – 53 points
  4. Swans – To Be Kind – 33 points
  5. Sun Kil Moon – Benji – 31 points

Arguably, this list is the best snapshot of what our DJs liked most in 2014. Albums from FKA twigs and St. Vincent, while widely popular enough to advance far into the tournament, were not so highly regarded that anyone ranked them above 5th on their individual list.

The Most Polarizing Award

Sun Kil Moon – Benji


Benji received the #5 seed based on DJs’ individual lists, including multiple #1 votes. However, it also received four negative votes — for comparison, the only other album with this many negative votes came from Iggy Azalea. Benji‘s polarizing nature proved unsuited for a run in our tournament, as it lost in the first round against FKA twigs.

The Shouldn’t Have Been In the Tournament But We’re Glad it Was Award

Neil Cicierga – Mouth Sounds


Neil Cicierga’s Mouth Sounds is a mashup album where almost every song prominently features Smash Mouth’s “All Star”. The first in a two-part mashup series from Cicierga in 2014, the only thing funnier than the concept is how bizarrely well-executed it is.

This album shouldn’t have been in the tournament for two reasons. First, it only got enough points to make it in because one DJ listed it as both their #1 and #2 album. Second, it was actually Mouth Silence, Cicierga’s other 2014 release, that the DJ voted for twice. Admittedly, when developing the tournament we were so enamored by the absurd “All Star” mashups that we didn’t double-check which Cicierga album our DJ listed.

Interpol’s El Pintor would have been next up had Mouth Sounds not been included.

Individual Lists

Logan Wilke, General Manager
  1. Sun Kil Moon – Benji 
  2. Swans – To Be Kind
  3. Kero Kero Bonito – Intro Bonito
  4. Caribou – Our Love
  5. Alvvays – Alvvays
  6. Karen O – Crush Songs
  7. Cloud Nothings – Here and Nowhere Else
  8. Aphex Twin – Syro
  9. Iceage – Plowing into the Field of Love

Favorite Songs: Alvvays – “Archie, Marry Me”; Holly Herndon – “Chorus”; Future Islands – “Seasons (Waiting on You)”; Real Estate – “Talking Backwards”

Most Overrated Album: Mac DeMarco – Salad Days

Nick Kline, Music Director
  1. Run The Jewels – Run The Jewels 2
  2. Future Islands – Singles
  3. Swans – To Be Kind
  4. Iceage – Plowing Into The Field of Love
  5. Sun Kil Moon – Benji
  6. St. Vincent – St. Vincent
  7. La Dispute – Rooms of the House
  8. Caribou – Our Love
  9. FKA Twigs – LP1
  10. tune-yards – Nikki Nack

Honorable Mentions: Neil Cicierega – Mouth Sounds/Mouth Silence, Cold Specks – Neuroplasticity, Ratking – So It Goes, Taylor Swift – 1989, The War On Drugs – Lost in the Dream, Wild Beasts – Present Tense

Favorite Song: Iceage – “How Many” or Future Islands – “A Song for Our Grandfathers” or QT – “Hey QT”, iLoveMakonnen – “Tuesday”… too many to choose!

[On Rooms of the House:] “A heart-wrenching, loud masterpiece of the emo-revival.”

[On St. Vincent:] “Her most confident and ambitious yet.”

[On Benji:] “Sometimes too personal, always brilliant.”

Jillian Stein, Outreach Coordinator
  1. Jack White – Lazaretto
  2. The New Basement Tapes – Lost on the River
  3. Ray Lamontagne – Supernova
  4. Conor Oberst – Upside Down Mountain
  5. Beck – Morning Phase
  6. First Aid Kit – Stay Gold
  7. Lake Street Dive – Bad Self Portraits
  8. Jackson Browne – Standing in the Breach
  9. Arctic Monkeys – AM
  10. Bruce Springsteen – High Hopes

Favorite Song: “Kansas City” – Marcus Mumford and the New Basement Tapes

Most Overrated Album: Coldplay – Ghost Stories

Austin Lyons, Online Director
  1. Taylor Swift – 1989
  2. Sam Smith – In The Lonely Hour
  4. Nickel Creek – A Dotted Line
  5. Death Grips – Government Plates
  6. Jukebox The Ghost – Jukebox The Ghost
  7. Prince – ART OFFICIAL AGE
  8. alt-J – This Is All Yours
  9. Jason Mraz – YES!
  10. Schoolboy Q – Oxymoron

Favorite Song: “Tuesday” – ILOVEMAKONNEN ft. Drake

Most Overrated Album: Coldplay – Ghost Stories

Brandon Bout, Staff Writer
  1. Foxygen – …And Star Power
  2. Umphrey’s McGee – Similar Skin
  3. Mac DeMarco – Salad Days
  4. Brian Eno and Karl Hyde – Someday World
  5. Mastodon – Once More ‘Round the Sun
  6. Opeth – Pale Communion
  7. Real Estate – Atlas
  8. Mogwai – Rave Tapes
  9. Swans – To Be Kind
Jamie Stoike, Staff Writer
  1. Spoon – They Want My Soul
  2. Interpol – El Pintor
  3. Pink Floyd – The Endless River
  4. Beck – Morning Phase
  5. Tweedy – Sukierae
  6. The War on Drugs – Lost in the Dream

Favorite Song: Spoon – “Inside Out”

Most Overrated Album: Sun Kil Moon – Benji

They Want My Soul
They Want My Soul

“Spoon’s They Want My Soul was my favorite album this year by a country mile. They Want My Soul is the most complete representation of a band imaginable. It is at once deeply rooted in Spoon’s prior work — 2007’s ‘Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga’ is the obvious touchstone — yet also strikingly far afield of their wheelhouse. It is an album which is at turns nostalgic, romantic, comical, and philosophical, with impeccable pace and an intoxicatingly inescapable sense of danger and urgency. They Want My Soul is simply the best album of one of the best artists of our age. Key Tracks: ‘Outlier’, ‘New York Kiss’, and the phenomenal ‘Inside Out'”

Joanna, DJ
  1. Mac DeMarco – Salad Days
  2. Real Estate – Atlas
  3. Todd Terje – It’s Album Time
  4. Glass Animals – ZABA
  5. St. Vincent – St. Vincent
  6. Alt-J – This Is All Yours
  7. Flying Lotus – You’re Dead!
  8. Thom Yorke – Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes
  9. Banks – Goddess
  10. Sun Kil Moon – Benji

Favorite Song: “Brother” – Mac DeMarco

Most Overrated Album: Swans – To Be Kind

Bo Kennedy, DJ
  1. Mac Demarco – Salad Days
  2. Run the Jewels – Run the Jewels 2
  3. The Underachievers – Cellar Door: Terminus Ut Exordium
  4. Schoolboy Q – Oxymoron
  5. St. Vincent – St. Vincent
  6. Freddie Gibbs & Madlib – Piñata
  7. Flying Lotus – You’re Dead!
  8. Fly Golden Eagle – Quartz Bijou
  9. Jack White – Lazaretto
  10. Interpol – El Pintor

Honorable Mentions: Cilvia Demo – Isaiah Rashad, Benji – Sun Kil Moon, Morning Phase – Beck, Lightning at the Door – All Them Witches, Into the Wide – Delta Spirit, Unravelling – We Were Promised Jetpacks, Faces – Mac Miller

Favorite Song: Run the Jewels – “Oh My Darling Don’t Cry”

Most Overrated Album: Alt-J – This is All Yours

Margee Howell, DJ
  1. Hozier – Hozier
  2. Alt-J – This Is All Yours
  3. Spoon – They Want My Soul
  4. Vance Joy – Dream Your Life Away
  5. Broken Bells – After the Disco
  6. The War On Drugs – Lost in the Dream
  7. St. Vincent – St. Vincent
  8. Jack White – Lazaretto
  9. Ryan Adams – Ryan Adams
  10. Young the Giant – Mind Over Matter

Favorite Song: “Blank Space” – Taylor Swift

Most Overrated Album: Iggy Azalea – The New Classic

Rachel Sapp, DJ
  1. BANKS – Goddess
  2. Gorgon City – Sirens
  3. Broods – Evergreen
  4. MØ – No Mythologies To Follow
  5. Sam Smith – In The Lonely Hour
  6. SBTRKT – Wonder Where We Land
  7. ZHU – The Nightday EP
  8. Odesza – In Return
  9. Flying Lotus – You’re Dead!
  10. Caribou – Our Love

Favorite Song: “Supernatural” – Alunageorge

Most Overrated Album: Taylor Swift – 1989

Travis Villatoro, DJ
  1. Mac DeMarco – Salad Days
  2. Future Islands – Singles
  3. Spoon – They Want My Soul
  4. Twin Peaks – Wild Onion
  5. Timber Timbre – Hot Dreams
  6. Margot and the Nuclear So & So’s – Slingshot to Heaven
  7. Landlady – Upright Behavior
  8. St. Vincent – St. Vincent
  9. Alt J – This Is All Yours
  10. Beck – Morning Phase

Favorite Song: Timber Timbre – “Hot Dreams”

Zach Shealy, Program Director
  1. Todd Terje – It’s Album Time
  2. How to Dress Well – What is this Heart?
  3. Aphex Twin – Syro
  4. Freddie Gibbs & Madlib – Piñata
  5. Cloud Nothings – Here and Nowhere Else
  6. Lockah – Some Velvet Evening
  7. FKA twigs – LP1
  8. CEO – Wonderland
  9. Future – Honest
  10. Sun Kil Moon – Benji

Honorable Mentions: Owen Pallett – In Conflict, Eno/Hyde – Someday World/High LifeCaribou – Our Love, Taylor Swift – 1989Azealia Banks – Broke With Expensive Taste

Favorite Song: Caribou – “Can’t Do Without You”

Most Overrated Album: Mac DeMarco – Salad Days

Mandy Godwin, Music Director
  1. Owen Pallett – In Conflict
  2. Perfume Genius – Too Bright
  3. Future Islands – Singles
  4. Grouper – Ruins
  5. Caribou – Our Love
  6. Xiu Xiu – Unclouded Sky
  7. Alex G – DSU
  8. Sharon Van Etten – Are We There
  9. The Antlers – Familiars
  10. The Juan Maclean – In A Dream

Favorite Song: The Barr Brothers – “Even the Darkness Has Arms”

Most Overrated Album: alt-J – This Is All Yours

In Conflict
In Conflict

[On Owen Pallett – In Conflict:] “The density of Pallett’s lyrics and the expansive violin soundscapes underlying In Conflict give it incredible depth. I gave the top slot to Pallett because of his ability to create an entire surrealist world within an hour of music.”

[On Perfume Genius – Too Bright:] “Whereas In Conflict puts some distance between artist and listener, Too Bright uses minimalistic instrumentation to drive intimacy with vocalist Mike Hadreas. The result is a modern confessional centered on Hadreas’ encounters with homophobia. Not something to listen to in the car with friends on the way to a party, but important and emotionally resonant.”

Will “Classic Willy D” Doran, Graphic Art Director
  1. Flying Lotus – You’re Dead!
  2. Caribou – Our Love
  3. Death Grips – Niggas on the Moon
  4. Aphex Twin – Syro
  5. Todd Terje – It’s Album Time
  6. Mac Demarco – Salad Days

Favorite Song: Flying Lotus – “Never Catch Me”

Most Overrated Album: Jenny Lewis – The Voyager

“[Flying Lotus’ You’re Dead!] blew my brain. Verses from Kendrick, lots of Thundercat, feature from Herbie Hancock mind-expanding riffs, nothing else like this came out this year. It’s Ellison’s biggest release yet.”

Brett Tregoning, Staff Writer
  1. Swans – To Be Kind
  2. clipping. – CLPPNG
  3. CYMBALS – The Age of Fracture
  4. Run the Jewels – Run the Jewels 2
  5. Have a Nice Life – The Unnatural World
  6. Tangled Hair – Two EP’s
  7. Mick Jenkins – The Water[s]
  8. Flying Lotus – You’re Dead!
  9. Real Estate – Atlas
  10. Aphex Twin – SYRO

Favorite Song: “Oh My Darling Don’t Cry” – Run the Jewels

Most Overrated Album: Cloud Nothings – Here and Nowhere Else

“Tangled Hair — Two EPs is a great indie math rock release in a year that seemed sparse for that genre.”

“Mick Jenkins — The Water[s] features themes of water, how it is essential for life and how we go about getting it. The production itself sounds submerged and bass-heavy.”

Roshan Poudel, Staff Writer
  1. Sun Kil Moon – Benji
  2. Alvvays – Alvvays
  3. Run the Jewels – Run the Jewels 2
  4. Mac Demacro – Salad Days
  5. Swans – To Be Kind
  6. Frankie Cosmos – Zentropy
  7. Aphex Twin – Syro
  8. Schoolboy Q – Oxymoron
  9. War on Drugs – Lost in the Dream
  10. FKA Twigs – LP1

Favorite Song: Sun Kil Moon – “Ben’s My Friend”

Most Overrated Album: Iggy Azalea – The New Classic

DJ Grant “The Grant” Weekley
  1. tUnE-yArDs – Nikki Nack
  2. Run the Jewels – Run the Jewels 2
  3. Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra – Fuck Off Get Free We Pour Light on Everything
  4. Flying Lotus – You’re Dead!
  5. FKA Twigs – LP1
  6. Damon Albarn – Everyday Robots
  7. Open Mike Eagle – Dark Comedy
  8. Sylvan Esso – Sylvan Esso
  9. Hundred Waters – The Moon Rang Like a Bell
  10. Mac DeMarco – Salad Days

Honorable Mentions: Angel Olsen – Burn Your Fire For No Witness, Aphex Twin – Syro, Ariel Pink – pom pom, Death Grips – Niggas on the Moon, Parquet Courts – Sunbathing Animal, Sun Kil Moon – Benji, Vince Staples – Hell Can Wait

Favorite Song: QT – “Hey QT”

Most Overrated Album: Broken Bells – After the Disco

Bradley Kovanda, DJ
  1. Run The Jewels – Run The Jewels 2
  2. tUnE-yArDs – Nikki Nack
  3. Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra – Fuck Off Get Free We Pour Light On Everything
  4. Mac DeMarco – Salad Days
  5. Flying Lotus – You’re Dead!
  6. Tobacco – Ultima II Massage
  7. Sylvan Esso – Sylvan Esso
  8. Lykke Li – I Never Learn
  9. Liars – Mess
  10. Pharmakon – Bestial Burden

Honorable Mentions: Perfume Genius – Too Bright, Open Mike Eagle – Dark Comedy, Olga Bell – Krai, Hundred Waters – The Moon Rang Like A Bell, FKA Twigs – LP1, Ariel Pink – Pom Pom

Favorite Song: Sun Kil Moon – “War On Drugs: Suck My Cock”

Most Overrated Album: The War On Drugs – Lost In The Dream

Megan McGuire, DJ
  1. Jukebox the Ghost – Jukebox the Ghost
  2. Walk the Moon – Talking Is Hard
  3. Alt-J – This Is All Yours
  4. Misterwives – Reflections
  5. Sylvan Esso – Sylvan Esso
  6. Bad Suns – Language and Perspective
  7. Bleachers – Strange Desire
  8. Cold War Kids – Hold My Home
  9. Porter Robinson – Worlds
  10. Ryn Weaver – Promises

Favorite Song: “Hollywood” – Jukebox the Ghost

Most Overrated Album: In The Lonely Hour – Sam Smith

Jukebox the Ghost
Jukebox the Ghost

“The new Jukebox the Ghost album somehow topped their last album, Safe Travels, and has my favorite song of the year, ‘Hollywood.’ It’s catchy and hilarious and wonderful. Walk the Moon’s album Talking is Hard sounds straight out of the 80’s.  The Misterwives EP proves they are just as good as they sounded at Rites.The alt-J album was slightly over-hyped, but that just shows how hyped it was cause it’s still really good. Sylvan Esso? Yes. Just yes.”

Nick Markman, DJ
  1. Real Estate – Atlas
  2. Parquet Courts – Sunbathing Animal
  3. Ty Segall – Manipulator
  4. Mac DeMarco – Salad Days
  5. Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks – Wig Out at Jagbags
  6. The New Pornographers – Brill Bruisers
  7. Aphex Twin – Syro
  8. Foxygen – …And Star Power
  9. Quilt – Held in Splendor
  10. Thurston Moore – The Best Day
Josiah Williams, DJ
  1. St. Paul & The Broken Bones – Half the City
  2. Lake Street Dive – Bad Self Portraits
  3. Weezer – Everything Will Be Alright In The End
  4. Elbow – The Take Off and Landing of Everything

Favorite Song: “Dixie Rothko” – St. Paul & The Broken Bones


A huge thank you to Will Doran for handling all of the graphic design for the tournament, and to Brett Tregoning for writing many of the blog posts. Finally, thanks to everyone who submitted lists and/or voted in the tournament.

See y’all in 2015.