Exclaim!'s Best of 2014: Top 20 Pop & Rock Albums, Part Two

10. Tanya Tagaq
(Six Shooter)

Tanya Tagaq exceeded all expectations with Animism. Produced by Drip Audio boss Jesse Zubot, who also added strings and electronics, the album resonated with music fans from all walks of life, eventually claiming the 2014 Polaris Music Prize. This wide reach seemed remarkable given the dramatically experimental nature of its sound, going off the free jazz deep end in the clicks and sighs of "Rabbit" and the operatic "Flight." Yet, listeners were propelled through the untethered moments by the likes of Jean Martin's teased drums on "Tulugak," the gnarly bass and ticking clock in "Uja" and the almost drum & bass devastation of "Umingmak." As far out as it got, it was always driving toward something.

Though a cover of "Caribou" by the Pixies eased the listener into her style and proved she can sing gorgeously when she wants to, she expressed most of the themes via her inimitable grunts, groans, and screams. Those seeking a verbal explanation of Tagaq's causes could find that in the interviews she gave surrounding the album, but those who found their way into this record on their own did so by feel — and indeed, it's impossible not to feel something listening to Animism. (Alan Ranta)