Did it all go according to plan? Well no, not at any rate. After reading back last years nominations and recommendations for the forthcoming year I can already see that Tangled Hair didn’t deliver anything and there was a bunch of stuff I didn’t even consider. Let’s fire up iTunes and remind myself what went on this year…
MY TOP 10 ALBUMS OF 2014.
10. christen fitness – i am scared of everything that isn’t me
Probably the first time I bought into a crowd funded thing. Not sure why I hadn’t before, and I didn’t really feel that helpful about the whole thing after. Nevertheless Falco aka Future Of The Left front man continued in his still-sounds-like-Mclusky post Mclusky slew of musical output. This time with a bang on form and witty self release under the title, christen fitness.
It still sounds like Mclusky no matter what he does. Is it in his raging voice, over driven guitars and bass or just the razor sharp lyrics?
9. Metronomy – Love Letters
Left field suggestion from me, as you’d just assume I’d only be picking from the underground and acts I have a passing connection with, but I go pick a top 10 electro-pop act. I pre-ordered the Metronomy album on CD, and immediately regretted not spending the extra for the vinyl. With this came the opportunity to pre-order tickets to an intimate début showing of the record in Brighton’s Old Market venue. I went, it was magical and I had breakfast with Chris T-T.
The record itself continued much in the vein as previous efforts. Electro indie-pop, with the song Reservoir being a particular stand out.
8. Adebisi Shank – This Is The Third Album Of A Band Called Adebisi Shank
I missed them at 2000 Trees in 2013, I didn’t get to see them live, but you just KNEW they were amazing. Then they split up. It’s solid fun, fun, FUN from ecstatic dramatic opener “World In Harmony”, which I guess is what they think the world would sound like, if it were in fact in harmony. The album never lets go of the throttle, every song an electro pop blitzkrieg – absolutely fabulous stuff.
7. Mongol Horde- Mongol horde
Mr Frank Turner got the opportunity to scream his guts out again, as much mooted hardcore / punk band, with well documented best pal, Ben Dawson surfaced. It featured 13 tracks and clocked in at 36 minutes. This years Devizes Festival meant I missed their performance an Bristol’s Fleece where, according to my Facebook and Twitter feed, everyone I knew was attending.
My professionalism paid off after a blistering motorway run to Portsmouth saw me arrive at the venue 2 hours early and get introduced to Reuben drummer, Guy Davis. Happy with that, I sneaked a Chinese in one of Southsea’s many public green spaces, watched the bands set, which wasn’t long enough for the headline billing and thus included no less than 4 covers. All of them heavy and I couldn’t make out a word… (Set list Here)
The album is ace, with Blistering Blue Barnacles being the obvious-addition-to-any-punk-playlist-since.
6. Emperor Yes! – An Island Called Earth
I had the pleasure of managing to sneak these Londoners onto a bill in Swindon as part of their album tour. A trio of keyboards, more keyboards, drums and a guitar (which is largely hidden away) gives you a clue to their sound. Lush and squelchy keys make songs all about space and aliens and such like. In an electro-power-pop kind of way. SO MUCH FUN, and brilliant live.
Their front man runs / owns a studio, where he has recorded the likes of Ash and Emmy The Great, is the live FOH sound engineer for post-rock / noise band Three Trapped Tigers and happened to be one of Tim Wheelers childhood friends. He manages all that and is a complete dude, who never once stopped smiling.
Oh and did I mention the album was only pressed onto Vinyl. Of which you could purchase a uber rare / expensive one which had an actual meteorite ground into the pressing? Too cool.
(Check out a great first pump photograph of Emperor Yes! from The Victoria on our Gallery, to your right. Or click here if you’re in the email)
5. Maybeshewill – Fair Youth
11 tracks of perfect post rock. Summing up a genre without watering it down or trading paths too well trodden before. Lush production, and excellent arrangement all condensed down into on average, 4 minute songs. Beautiful.
I managed to catch these for the first time at 2000 Trees this year, and they smashed it. Having previously not been able to quite manage a live show for them, they are probably too big for me now – alas, my memory will always be filling that festival’s main stage with some epic soundscapes which sounded even better after the terrible r’n’b DJ in between acts.
4. Gnarwolves – Gnarwolves
I predicted their album would be my number one this year, it isn’t, but it is on the list. Never have I been so happy to catch a band on their way up to being loved than these 3 lads from Brighton. I managed 2 shows for them this year, opening their second UK headline tour (after opening their first ever headline tour last year!) in Salisbury. That show has become local Salisbury folklore already, I then managed a Swindon show the day before they played 2000 Trees too.
That Swindon show also became the stuff of legend, a 4 band bill in the midweek? On paper it looked like it was doomed to fail, but we sold out the Victoria on a Wednesday. All the bands got paid, with Gnarwolves going home with more than they expected – Some lovely words from them followed and I, rather naively, believed we would be a shoe in for the Autumn tour. Alas we weren’t as they had outgrown us. However they did leave an absolute banger of a record in their wake.
10 tracks of 3 chord punk, with catchy choruses and trademark witty or poignant lyrics. Clocking in at 26 minutes, it’s on a par with Mongol Horde in packing a lot into a short space of time.
3. The Retrospective Soundtrack Players – It’s A Wonderful Christmas Carol
Only released on 24th November, this record makes it onto my list because, it’s utterly fantastic. But also because *humble brag* I’ve had the album for months. Listening to the various versions develop into a fully formed record has been a joy to unfold. I remember Chris T-T tweeting about his experience working with the band on the recording of their duet, he was a gush with superlatives and all of them justified. This is the sound of a band reaching their song writing peak, flexing their ability to weave songs as Kyle manages to weave 2 stone walled classics together in such a sublime manner as he has done.
Normally you’d keep well away from material such as 1940’s film It’s A Wonderful Life. You know if you mess it up it’s going to be pointed out, but attempting to weave that story into a Dickens novel as well? That takes some serious confidence. Managing to pull it off is something else entirely.
11 tracks that manage to tell both stories at the same time, whilst also being semi-autobiographical of front man and my-brother-from-another-mother Kyle Evans, skip by with some great lyrical jokes at the bands name, the ditching of the banjo and an exploration of wider instruments all delivers a thoroughly memorable, likeable, accessible and classic Christmas album.
At time of originally writing this, they are 6th in the iTunes Christmas chart, just behind Leona Lewis. Have some of that establishment. For one week at least!
I managed to give them 2 gigs this year, and catch them in Camden for their album release show. With many many friends and associates we saw the band bash out the album, have 3 guest vocals to fill the 3 ghosts of Xmas, and I managed to shift their entire stock of the album manning their merch desk. Brilliant.
2. Mooseblood – I’ll Keep You In Mind From Time To Time
2014 was a year for retrospective Emo releases, as American Football and Mineral were both treated to re-releases and probably more if I dug into it. So it was fitting that a British band should release their début album and beat the yanks at their own game.
A heartfelt record about love, loss and regret, it’s clear the band have been through some stuff. If I had to single out lyrics, I’d be re-writing the sleeve notes here for you. Whether it’s losing his father on the song Pups “It doesn’t matter that we can’t get drunk Dad, it doesn’t mean we can’t fun. We can go out for a couple or maybe a few, it wasn’t getting drunk and low, it was being with you” makes my hair stand on end and my eyes well up. Nearly losing my Dad last year has made me susceptible to such emotional heart tugging.
This album has more besides and with every listen I commit another line to heart and imagine a warm summer, wearing only t-shirts with the blissful ignorance of youth in our steps and Instagram filters on my eyes.
It’s also an album which doesn’t let up, just absolute cracker after cracker. I want to see them live so bad, I want to stand at the front and sing along to every word and get lost in the moment. Good job they’re announcing a spring tour then isn’t it?
JoFo – You Can Do Better
1. Johnny Foreigner – You Can Do Better
Earlier in the year Jack Alcopop quipped about releasing two records with rather negative titles, this being one of them. JoFo’s 4th studio album, and their belting best. 10 tracks of immediate, urgent indie rock.
I managed to rescue their Bath gig from Moles, after it burnt down, and moved it to The Nest. It was an average night, and I won’t point fingers, as it could have done better, but getting to help one of my favourite bands with a show, getting to watch that show will always stay with me. Fucking super professional people, super fucking cool band, super ace songs.
It was an album I spent most of this year listening to, it’s still on regular rotation now. It was released so early, I can’t believe it was 2014! It is where I go to remind myself what I have and everything I should be grateful for. Again lyrically it kills me, I’ve made my own observations and parallels and invested my emotions into this record and it has paid back in spades.
I follow a guy on Twitter called MIKE DIVER who tweeted this earlier in the year;
I completely disagree. Surely it’s down to your own interpretation of greatness? I mean Emperor Yes! was a truly GREAT record. Kyle’s wording and intertwining of those two stories? Incredible. There were lots of great records this year, there’ll be plenty more in other peoples lists that I’ll read and think, I’m going to listen to that – Some of which I will love and think are great. Maybe I’m easily pleased, maybe he’s hard to please or maybe greatness is just in the eye of the beholder.
TOP EP’s (evidently all very punk…)
Brawlers – I’m A Worthless Piece Of Shit
Solemn Sun – §
Woahnows – Life In Reverse
Nai Harvest – Hold Open My Head
Bloody Knees Vs. Birdskulls – Split 7″
And due in 2015…..?
We’ll I’ve previewed the B-Sydes record, and think that’s ACE. Frank Turner will have his post-breadkup record, record out which I hope will be a happier listen. Every year brings a new Beans On Toast record, so that’s a cert’. Ash have announce the pre-order of their album, and Nai Harvest I understand have one in the bag. All those above in the EP’s list in fact have got to be quids in for LP’s? AND rather excitedly I saw ASIWYFA’s tweet of the masters of their new record. That list alone is enough to get me excited, and that’s before I discover anything new.
ANYWAY, there you have it. I’ve pinned my colours to the mast, and no mention of my favourite Scot’ Mark McCabe – Well his album was great too, but wayyy to sad to make it into my top 10. Not that I didn’t love it, I really did and I love him equally.
Tune into The Colour Of Vinyl, tonight from 8pm to listen to Rob’s top ten and some honourable mentions of the list above.