Albums Of The Year 2014
Albums Of The Year 2014
After the success of last years Albums Of The Year post I have decided to run it again and I have asked some friends in the industry to vote for their top 5 albums. I think people found it a lot harder to pick a definitive top 5 this year. This is definitely shown in the range of albums across the board.
To find the ultimate top 5 the scoring is as follows
- 1st – 25 Points
- 2nd – 18 Points
- 3rd – 15 Points
- 4th – 12 Points
- 5th – 10 Points
Craig Gornall – Alive & Amplified
1. Honeyblood – Honeyblood
I love this. Catchy lyrics and guitar hooks. I can put it on from beginning to end without touching it. Laden with radio friendly hits such as “Super Rat”, “Biro” and “Killer Bangs” If you haven’t heard it yet. Get on with it.
2. Young Fathers – DEAD
The Mercury prize-winning album. What a year the Leith trio had. Not only winning the Mercury Prize but also the Scottish Album Of The Year Award for another album. I saw them live at Glastonbury and this made this album sound even better. Brilliant year and hope 2015 looks to be the same with a UK tour announced.
3. Alt-J – This Is All Yours
Alt-J’s debut album “An Awesome Wave” was my Album Of The Year when it came out in 2012. It also scooped the Mercury Music Prize that year. The follow-up was always going to be difficult but “This Is All Yours” is a cracking album with my track of the year “Every Other Freckle”
4. Loki & Becci Wallace – G.I.M.P – Government Issue Music Protest
I was recommended to listen to this by Dave Hook from Stanley Odd. 2 Mins into track 1 I was transfixed. I have always loved a concept album. So a concept album set in the worlds first Mega-City “New Glasgow” was always going to appeal to me. Think George Orwell rapping!!!
5. Coldplay – Ghost Stories
Love them or hate them this album is great. I love Coldplay and think they are one of the best live bands Britain has ever produced. This album see’s them take a step back from the stadium anthems (except “Sky Full Of Stars”) and reminds me of their debut album “Parachutes”
Michael Lambert – A Modern Way/Born To Be Wide
1. St Vincent – St Vincent
As most of my pals know, I became pretty obsessive about lead single ‘Digital Witness’ earlier this year. That’s because it’s ace, as is the rest of the album – an absolute masterpiece of quirky pop.
2. Bombay Bicycle Club – So Long See You Tomorrow
I’ve probably listened to this record most of all this year, and I haven’t tired of it one bit. It’s flows perfectly as an entire album while also managing to cram in bags of hit singles.
3. Honeyblood – Honeyblood
Having signed to Fat Cat Records off the back of their performance at Wide Days in 2012, I was delighted to see Honeyblood release such a brilliant debut. ‘Super Rat’ and ‘Choker’ are stand-out tracks.
4. Sharon Van Etten – Are We There
‘Are We There’ is an emotional catalogue of an ending relationship. The lyrical content is beautifully crafted, as is instrumentation and production – especially on opening track ‘Afraid of Nothing’.
5. Kate Tempest – Everybody Down
I arrived pretty late to the party with this one, but ‘Everybody Down’ shot straight into my top 5 albums of the year. It’s an enthralling story, and I love Tempest’s descriptive delivery.
Nicky Carder – Electric Circus
1. Samaris – Silkidrangar (One Little Indian)
I love Icelandic artists and was very fortunate to be able to go to the Iceland Airwaves music festival this year to see some of my favourite artists in the flesh. Samaris have become one of my all time favourites, their ability to convey emotion so beautifully in their tracks makes it near impossible for listeners not to lose themselves in their beats and echoing clarinet melodies.
2. Gogo Penguin – v2.0 (Gondwana Records)
Gogo Penguin’s pioneering jazz and electronic style landed them a nomination for the 2014 Mercury Prize. It’s not often you hear white noise in jazz build ups, but the band brings the style boldly into the 21st century. I’m particularly excited that Electric Circus is hosting Gogo Penguin’s Edinburgh show in their 2015 tour. I would highly recommend the album for those seeking the heart racing, intricate performance from some of the UK’s most phenomenal musicians – it also makes great late night driving music!
3. Bombay Bicycle Club – So Long, See You Tomorrow (Island Records)
This is a brilliant album. Bombay Bicycle Club have really matured their sound over their past few albums, playing with interesting time signatures, key changes and mixing influences in a really unusual but accessible way. I love all the tracks on this album, in particular, the Carry Me single, it has such a genius rhythm and unique sound, along with its groundbreaking online animated video, there is no denying it got stuck in the nation’s head. The Rae Morris collaboration on Luna really helped seal this album in my top 5 too.
4. Asgeir – In the Silence (One Little Indian)
Asgeir released the English version of his number one Icelandic album Dýrð í dauðaþögn in January with the help of the brilliant songwriter John Grant. At only 21 years old, he writes such profound, heart wrenching songs, full of outdoor imagery and thoughtful lyrics. This album is well worth a listen and Asgeir is definitely an artist to watch out for.
5. St Vincent – self-titled album (Loma Vista/Republic)
Everyone loves this album or they should. St Vincent has worked as a musician with the likes of Sufjan Stevens before releasing her own albums. She has years of experience experimenting with a wealth of different sounds and instruments to make unique and multi-layered tracks, never simple or samey yet they work seamlessly and along with her super cool image and bold artwork, St Vincent has become a bit of an icon.
Jonny Tait – Academy Of Music & Sound
1. Paolo Nutini – Caustic Love
Funky, inspiring, tender, soulful, sexy, bitter, deep, elated…..a veritable smorgasbord of emotions on this delightful delivery from one of Scotland’s greatest. I cannot wait to see what this amazing artist comes up with next.
2. Royal Blood – Royal Blood
Tracks catchier than syphilis, more hooks than a pirate convention….what an offering from this Brighton duo…first caught these guys at Liverpool Sound City and was deaf for a fortnight…..assuming they stay away from after show Whisky bars these guys will be around for a long time!
3. Judas Priest – Redeemer of Souls
“Powerful, unflinching and bearing the eternal Force, the Metal Gods (sic) shall proclaim and assert metal’s deliverance” A true, return to form, Old School metal offering from the Metal Gods.
4. Clean Bandit – New Eyes
Another Liverpool Sound City break through artist who I was lucky enough to catch…what an act and what a live force they present. If you haven’t heard this…buy it, if you can’t buy it…………stea… sorry appropriate it……it’s that good!!
5. St Paul & The Broken Bones
First heard of these guys after being turned onto them by Regular Music, music soaked in the musical traditions of the deep south …blues, gospel, soul and a stunning frontman in the form of Paul “St Paul” Janeway…what more could you want?
1. Broken Records – Weights and Pulleys
Every part of this album just works for me. I’ve listened to it more than any other album this year, and know it will be played in my house for years to come. It’s also nice to be able to say without a doubt to my ears that the best album in the year of Scotland’s Homecoming was a Scottish one.
2. Cloud Nothings- Here and Nowhere else
This album has been on somewhere near me pretty much since it came out. I think it might have been a mostly distorted and shouty singer year for me. But when they are of this quality I think it would be hard to argue against that.
3. White Lung- Deep Fantasy
Punky. With a female lead singer. I don’t usually like that sort of thing, but this album got me on first listen and wouldn’t let go. The lyrics made me laugh and smile, whilst the sounds made me jump around like a loon whenever I listened (my wife likes it when I am doing my own silent disco whilst ironing…)
4. Cymbals Eat Guitars- LOSE
Loads of reference points from bands like the Cure and 90s Britrock in places but still sounding very much of the now. Pained throughout- and I like that. First of a few jangly guitars with tortured singers album choices…
5. Future Islands- Singles
I still can’t describe what you would call this album. Other than one that works for me. Love a band that chooses the hard route (self financed album) and then hits it big based on the strength of their own belief in themselves (with help from David Letterman). That and ‘Fall from Grace’ is one of the finest genre change mid songs I have ever heard. Probably worth a place in top 5 just for that song.
Vic Galloway – BBC Radio Scotland
1. Young Fathers – Dead (Big Dada / Anticon)
My favourite album of 2014, I think it stands out as a truly original, exceptional piece of work. It’s not part of a scene or particular peer-group and its countless influences are taken from far and wide, ensuring an eclectic, inspired and invigorating listen. It’s both experimental and pop, avant-garde and potentially commercial, highly rhythmic and yet full of melody – all in all, it’s an album crammed full of thought-provoking ideas… and for that it should be highly praised. ‘Mon the Young Leith Team!
2. King Creosote – From Scotland with Love (Domino)
Although KC is a good friend, an ex-band mate and one of the subjects of my first book, that hasn’t clouded my judgement here. ‘FSWL’ grabbed hold of all who experienced it in 2014, and the nation really took the project to its heart. The soundtrack of great songs is astonishing, moving and heartbreaking in its own right; but combined with the archive film footage, it seemed even more poignant. This is a truly remarkable album and deserves all the attention its had.
3. Honeyblood – Honeyblood (Fatcat)
Having tipped them at the start of the year, and supported them on air and in print for a good while before, I was fully expecting the debut album to be a quality listen. But when it was released and I fully immersed myself in it, it exceeded all expectations. From start to finish, there isn’t a bad song on there. In fact, almost anything could be released as a single – usually a good sign for a debut album. With bold vocal melodies, lush guitar sounds and barbed lyrics, the album managed to simultaneously be a snotty pop-punk blast one minute and a deeper, reflective, mature listen the next. I kept returning to it all year.
4. The Twilight Sad – Nobody wants to be here and Nobody wants to leave (Fatcat)
One of Scotland’s consistently brilliant bands and something of a National treasure for those in the know, this 4th album cemented their reputation at home and won new fans way beyond. Slightly less experimental than their last, and returning to the more straight-forward song structures of the first and second albums, NWTBHNWTL was powerful, emotive and catchy throughout. Its strength lay in the songs themselves, with James’ increasingly confident vocals soaring across woozy, soundscape guitars, eerie keyboards and visceral rhythms. It was a total triumph, and maybe their most concise work to date – being miserable never sounded so much fun!
5. The Phantom Band – Strange Friend (Chemikal Underground)
Having elected their first 2 long-players as my ‘Albums of the Year’ in 2009 and 2010, this too would have made the grade had it not had such stiff competition in 2014. Their most focused and melodic work yet, ‘Strange Friend’ didn’t lack in experimentation or ambition one bit either. It saw the band extend their sonic palette, and once more prove they are one of the most inventive bands, not only in the UK, but anywhere in the world. With the accompanying ‘Fears Trending’ album to be unleashed in early 2015, they are more prolific than ever and seem to be really hitting their stride… an astonishing band and another great album.
Sandy McGhie – 7 Ahead Music
1. The Jellyman’s Daughter – The Jellyman’s Daughter
Yes, live they are wonderful but this album more than proves what talented musicians they are. “Rarely off my car CD player” – Sandy
2. King Eider – The Deeper The Water
Having been at the launch listening to powerful songs like Breathe Easier & Sinking Stones we just knew King Eider would have a great future.
3. Young Fathers – Dead
Anything that wins the Mercury Prize deserves to be on every ‘best of’ list. At last, recognition!
4. Bastard Mountain – Farewell, Bastard Mountain
An atmospheric journey from this indie folk supergroup. Another great project involving Song, By Toad & Neil Pennycook.
5. Adam Holmes – Heirs & Graces
If ever you need to chill out completely just put on this album, find a comfy chair & head off to a mellow place.
Jim Gellatly – XFM Scotland
1. Fatherson – I Am An Island
It’s been brilliant to see them go from strength to strength, and their T In The Park and Electric Fields performances were among my festival highlights this year.
2. Twin Atlantic – Great Divide
Not a difficult choice. A band I’ve supported pretty much from day one, and proving they are no flash in the pan.
3. The Twilight Sad – Nobody Wants To be Here And Nobody Wants To Leave
Their dark brooding songs really come of age on what I reckon is their finest album yet.
4. We Were Promised Jetpacks – Unravelling
Certainly one of the finest live bands we have, they yet again show they can replicate that on record,.
5. Young Fathers – Dead
It was a real surprise for me when they won the Mercury Prize, but well deserved. I love the direction they’ve gone in since first emerging as more of a pop act. A truly wonderful record.
Sarah Cuthbert-Kerr – Morningside Young Team/Wozniak
This is a beautiful record and is definitely my most-listened to album of 2014. It’s full of glorious sounds and it has lots space in it too. I don’t think Warpaint sound like anyone else. I especially love the guitar sounds on this – they’re really layered and luscious.
2. Mogwai – Rave Tapes
I first saw Mogwai in Dundee in the mid 90s and have loved them ever since. They are my most seen band of 2014 – four times! Rave Tapes is a total monster. The analogue synths and crunchy guitars, oh so many pedals, the Fender 12s. I am nerding out here. Clearly Remurdered is a total banger but I love, love, love This Lord is Out of Control. Outstanding.
3. The Horrors – Luminous
This is an unexpected appearance, but I’ve really liked this album. I started off thinking it was a bit Simple Minds but it really isn’t! Again there are tonnes of good sounds on here and I know the recording process took a long time. I think that paid off.
4. Nothing – Guilty of Everything
Shoegaze is on a bit of a comeback in 2014, which is good! Obviously Slowdive and Ride’s return is supercool, but there are loads of current gaze bands too. Nothing are interesting, not fey indie boys but full on, aggressive, out of control, this is an amazing album full of desolate fuzz and heart break. I had hoped Wozniak might get to support them when they were in Glasgow this year, but alas it was not destined. They were probably too mental to meet in person anyway.
5. Perfume Genius – Too Bright
I heard a Queen and that was it! This has had rave reviews, and deservedly so. It’s a really diverse collection of songs from torchy ballads to full on psychedelia. And the voice, it’s something else.
Tallah Brash – Electric Circus
1. Sylvan Esso – Sylvan Esso
2. Taylor Swift – 1989
3. Jonnie Common – Trapped In Amber
4. Sohn – Tremors
5. Todd Terje – It’s Album Time
Thom Williams – Sonic PR
1. La Roux – “Trouble In Paradise”
After 5 years out of the game with little explanation for her disappearance, Ellie Jackson AKA La Roux shot back into the limelight in 2014 with an album that bared all. Hidden beneath a pop veneer that attempted to disguise the themes of the tormented relationship between her and the former other half of La Roux, Ben Langmaid, songs like “Tropical Chancer”, “Cruel Sexuality” and “Sexoteque” are all radiant pop smashes that make this record tower above all of 2014’s others.
2. Wild Beasts – “Present Tense”
Fastening the retro-fit 80s synths of Erasure and Talk Talk to their typically gloomy folk sounds Wild Beasts returned with an utterly beguiling record. With sinister and sometimes obliquely depraved lyrics, the Kendal band provided 2014 with an intelligent, shady and flirtatious masterpiece that you wouldn’t trust to be left alone with your girlfriend.
3. Damon Albarn – “Everday Robots”
The sound of Albarn putting his autobiography to the music that matters to him most. Each song feels like dog-eared page corner in a timeless classic that you’ll never be able to stop returning to. Arguably the 21st century polymath of pop’s finest collection of tracks since Blur’s 13 .
4. Sharon Van Etten – “Are We There”
Taking the decision to go it completely alone for her fourth record, Sharon Van Etten’s follow-up to the star-studded Tramp is a record of refined and restrained magnificence. Imbued with a crisp electronic gloss, Van Etten delivered a record of often complete desolation with overawing passion.
5. The Acid – “Liminal”
A dense and often difficult record, The Acid’s Liminal blended James Blake’s atmospherics with SBTRKTS subdued melodies. The album peak “Fame” is an incandescent spark that burns bright amid the abyss of the record’s darker moments, but balances out what is a striking debut from the trio.
Alan Lamb – Buzz Stop Blog
1. Augustines – Augustines
An incredible return to form from the Brooklyn trio and easily my favourite album of the year. From the spine-tingling crescendos of Cruel City and the anthemic Nothing to Lose but Your Head, Augustine’s self-titled offering is a modern rock classic which manages to be hugely powerful without any trace of self-importance. Just awesome.
Track of the Album: Cruel City
2. Ryan Adams – Ryan Adams
Ryan Adam’s 2014 offering is one that is just pipped into second place for me. Since its release in September it has hardly been off my CD player. Ryan Adam’s is quite rightly one of the world’s most celebrated artists and his output is always of such a high quality that it becomes difficult to heap more praise on the man. However, since taking a hiatus Adam’s has returned with an exceptional album that is possibly his best ever. Ryan has let down his guard a bit, and we are all better because of it.
Track of the Album: Kim
3. James Vincent McMorrow – Post-Tropical
I’ll probably get pelters for including McMorrow’s album due to its somewhat “poppy” nature (not to mention the oh so famous rendition of Higher Love). However for me, Post-Tropical is one of the best vocal performances of the year. McMorrow has such a clever ear for arrangement that it’s very difficult not to get sucked into this record. Cavalier, the lead single from the album, is one of my favourite ballads of the year and it is nigh impossible not to melt when you hear that voice. Stunning.
Track of the Album: Cavalier
4. The War on Drugs – Lost in the Dream
I admit this album completely passed me by until about a month ago when my father in law introduced me to it. I’m glad he did! Lost in the Dream is as impressive as it is astounding and profound. It’s melancholy is there for all to see just by the song titles – Under the Pressure, Suffering and Disappearing give more than just a nod to that fact. However the album dares to take the listener of a journey which is at times uplifting, at times soothing and at others saddening but always one you dearly want to take.
Track of the Album: An Ocean Between the Waves
5. Beck – Morning Phase
With this being his 12th studio album, Beck may be well past delivering earth shattering albums such as Odelay and The Information but what is utterly refreshing is that Morning Phase doesn’t try to be like its more famous predecessors. Instead, Beck proves that he has the ability to write thought provoking and intimate songs which are just as accomplished as some of his previous alternative offerings. It is this versatility that keeps Beck firmly in the gaze of music lovers. Beck with his latest offering, proves you don’t have to be “genre-bending” (Pitchfork) with every release but sometimes all you need is a pinch of optimism for one to forget the sometimes unpleasantness of the world.
Track of the Album: Blue Moon
John-Paul Mason – DF Concerts
1. Wye Oak – Shriek
They are from Baltimore and most folk probably haven’t heard of them. Just a 2 piece, Jenn on vocals and bass and Andy on drums and samples/keys. They played Tuts in July and it was my favourite gig of the year there. They pretty much played the whole of the album which is way more electronic than there previous output, I first saw them supporting The National and it was much more folky. Now they sound somewhere between Kate Bush and Chromatics, the album is amazing and you should definitely own it. They very kindly gave me a copy on vinyl at the end of the night.
2. Alvvays – Alvvays
A band a first heard on radio as played by one Vic Galloway at the start of the year. After playing ‘Archie Marry Me’ I immediately looked them up to find out more about them. They have this fuzzy 90’s indie sound but also a 60’s girl group thing and its so great. I bought the album the day it came out (it has since been repressed) and it didn’t disappoint. They play their first show in Scotland on Jan 24th at Tuts and if you are quick you might still get a ticket.
3. Owl John -Owl John
Ok first of all I am not including this because Scott is a pal or because I am a massive FR fan. This album deserves to be looked at in its own right because its phenomenal. Its the album I have repeatedly gone back to when I am looking for something to listen to. The songs are up there with the best he has written and it was nice to hear how he was getting on over in LA, albeit through the medium of song. I don’t think its had the fanfare it deserved but I also don’t think thats something that bothers Scott, he knows its good enough to stand the test of time…and it will.
4. Ryan Adams – Ryan Adams
Having only properly listened to Ryan Adams in the last 3 years since 2011’s Ashes and Fire, this is the first time I have been a fan anticipating a new album and I have to be honest, I was worried he may not deliver…I shouldn’t have been. This is an outstanding record where you can hear his Marr influence more than ever (he loves The Smiths, if you didn’t know already) especially on ‘Am I safe’ I also listened to this album on the way to vote in the referendum so it will always remind me of that.
5. Taylor Swift – 1989
This is definitely a wildcard and one that I never thought would make it into any list I’d ever create but this is pure pop gold…and also so addictive! Its like opening a massive tub of sherbet flying saucers and you just can’t stop eating them. Its production is off the scale good, the writers (with a sprinkling of Taylor) have taken all that is popular and crystallised it, think Chvrches, Beyonce, M83 even! At the last Magic Nostalgic of 2014, I played ‘Blank Space’ ‘Out of the Woods’ and ‘Shake it Off’ and I don’t think I’ve ever done that with any one artist before. If you say you don’t like it…you are a LIAR!
Ian Schofield – Ian Schofield Photography/Shore Radio
1. Museum Of Love – Museum Of Love
2. Adrian Crowley – Some Blue Morning
3. Kathryn Joseph – Bones You Have Thrown Me and Blood I’ve Spilled
4. Honeyblood – Honeyblood
5. Baxter Dury – It’s a Pleasure
So the Top 5 Albums of 2014, after counting up all the votes are…
1. Young Fathers – Dead
2. Honeyblood – Honeyblood
3. St Vincent – St. Vincent