via Rubyworks Records

Year-End Mania is the Key’s survey of the things below the surface that made 2014 awesome. In this installment, XPN’midday host Helen Leicht shares her favorite records of the year.

How can I possibly pick only five favorite albums of 2014?? But I must, so if you or your friends are looking to explore some new music from this past year, here is what I would suggest….

Hozier’s self titled album. A perfect album for this time of year. If someone you know enjoys Sting and still doesn’t know XPN Artist to Watch Hozier (even though he’s been played on XPN for almost a year and has now been a musical guest on SNL and every other TV show) then this is a great album for them.

Need a suggestion for a rock album or two?
The War on Drugs’ Lost in the Dream
Strand of Oaks’ HEAL
two local favorites happening nationally.

Are you an electronic music lover? I would check out…
Sylvan Esso’s self titled album
They are an amazing live band.

For everyone else, I recommend…
Lost on the River: The New Basement Tapes
For fans of Bob Dylan’s lyrics, an album produced by T Bone Burnett with performances from Elvis Costello, Jim James(My Morning Jacket) Taylor Goldsmith(Dawes), Marcus Mumford (Mumford & Sons), Rhiannon Giddens (Carolina Chocolate Drops).
A great record!