Saturday, 3 January 2015

Albums Of The Year 2014

Yeah, I know, this is a film blog - but we have to drive to the cinema you know, and you can't do that without a stereo.

And we have to have music on to write our finely-honed words too. And we walk places. Can't do that without an iPod.

So, what the hell. We're gonna get flack for our film choices this year I'm sure, so let's go the whole hog and have some abuse for our taste in music too...

As always, there were those who didn't quite make the cut, so when you've finished reading this also take the time to check out the latest albums from Linkin Park (going back to their roots a smidge) Slash (his finest guitar work since Appetite), Suzanne Vega (her best in years) and Robert Plant (he just keeps getting better).

You're welcomes.

10) Rise Against - The Black Market
With every album, this lot seem to just grow and grow, and with The Black Market their music became as focused as their message. As always, politics and the state of America are the common themes, but here they carry more punch and weight as the music is given an extra bit of polish.

9) Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers - Hypnotic Eye
Described by Mr Petty as probably their heaviest album, while it's all relative it's probably true. But with the heavier guitars and lyrics also comes a groove and a swagger not heard from this lot in some time. And Petty himself has never sounded better.

8) Against Me! - Transgender Dysphoria Blues
If you've taken the life-changing decision to stop being the man you were and start being the woman you knew you should be, you're going to have some tales to tell. And so it is with Laura Jane Grace. Having first faced the rest of the band, then the world, Laura and the gang have produced their finest - and most angry - album to date (and a concept one to boot). Full of passion and heart, it needs to be heard by everyone. And played loud.

7) Meg Myers - Make A Shadow EP
At some point, this woman is going to create a full album and promptly take over the world. In the meantime she continues with this, her second EP. And it's another blinder. Desire and Go will rip your head off, while Heart Heart Head will get stuck in your brain for months.

6) The Gaslight Anthem - Get Hurt
Finally strolling out from the shadow of their friend Bruce, Brian Fallon and friends took us all by surprise when Get Hurt hit our ears. The thinner sound of yore now replaced with a fuller sound with added soul and swing, Get Hurt proved there are many layers to the new heroes of New Jersey. Also needs to be played bloody loud.

5) Half moon Run - Dark Eyes
Released in their native Canada in 2012, then America last year, it has taken far too long for this little gem to wash up on these shores. With lilting harmonies and choruses so catchy they should come with a health warning, this bunch of folky popsters are nothing short of wonderful. They also took Hyde Park by storm last summer. Which was nice.

4) Kaiser Chiefs - Education, Education, Education And War
After bursting on the scene more years ago than I care to remember (or can be bothered to look up), this little band from Leeds seem to get a little bit lost around their third album. An interesting project where fans could pick any 10 tracks and make their own album also floundered (mainly because it was a bitch to actually find 10 you wanted). Then they come back with this. It's everything you've always loved about the Chiefs (big songs, huge choruses, a big grin on your face as you sing along) - with added oomph and pizazz. Welcome back boys.

3) Sinead O'Connor - I'm Not Bossy, I'm The Boss.
Sinead comes in for some flack now and then, and sure she can come out with some weird shit - but strip that away, and she's one of the finest songwriters kicking about today. Now, having grown up a bit musically and taking a new approach, she has produced possibly her finest album to date. At times haunting, always passionate and with choruses to kill for, I'm Not Boss will be in charge of your stereo for months.

2) Ricky Warwick - When Patsy Cline Was Crazy (And Guy Mitchell Sang The Blues)/Hearts On Trees
Once upon a time, Mr Warwick was the frontman for one of Britain's finest rock acts (The Almighty - go explore), then he went solo and proved himself to be an even better songwriter when handling an acoustic. Now, in between Black Star Riders albums, he has spent a short time coming up with not one but two brilliant albums. Not available to the public 'til next year (but Pledgemusic fans have it now), Ricky has recorded some of the finest rootsy rock songs you'll hear for a while. Patsy Cline will stick in your head, If You're Not Gonna Leave Me simply rocks, while Way Too Cold For Snow showcases just how gentle his voice can be. If the mainstream press aren't all over this next year, they're idiots.

1) Pink Floyd - The Endless River.
It was a toss-up between Ricky and Floyd for the top spot, and Gilmour's gang edged it by a nose for the simple reason this album simply shouldn't exist. The band are pretty much no more, people don't buy albums any more and they sure as hell don't buy concept albums that are nine tenths instrumental. So what do Pink Floyd do? Exactly. And it's beautiful. It's the chill-out album you've been waiting for. If this had been produced 40 years ago, it would be hailed a classic. And it deserves that title now, as it lives up to the legacy rather than pissing on the past.

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