2014 saw another great year in music and I thought I might have a go at compiling my own list of the top 50 albums of the year, and most likely contrast many of the critics (especially NME’s relatively poor list, St Vincent top!?!?). Here goes…
50. Lana Del Rey – Ultraviolence
Lana Del Rey has been possibly one of the most influential female artists of recent times and 2014 saw her release her second album. Ultraviolence, produced by Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys, is an interesting follow up to Born to Die exploring a change in sound towards a more desert rock, dream pop vibe. It such experimentalism and her sharp lyricism that sees Del Rey earn a place in my top albums of 2014 list. Proving both critically and commercial success Ultraviolence in my opinion bettered the first album, proving Del Rey to be one of the best alternative female artists in music.
Best Track: West Coast
49. The Gaslight Anthem – Get Hurt
It was a very hard decision as to whether I should include The Gaslight Anthem’s latest offering into my top 50 albums of the year. Get Hurt wasn’t a patch on any of their previous albums, especially Handrwitten which was one of my favourite albums of 2012. Get Hurt saw Brian Fallon and co. enlist the help of producer Mike Crossey, who previously worked with indie pop act The 1975 (not my favourite band it has to be said…), leading to a change in the band’s trademark sound. The album was not the ‘landmark, game changing album’ that Fallon had promised (as he had previously made comparisons to Pearl Jam’s No Code), and the minimal changes made were largely under-whelming with the band abadoning their gritty rock n roll sound for something more airy. One of the band’s strongest assets though is Fallon’s way with words, and like much of their previous material the lyrics were top notch (Fallon reportedly took great inspiration from his divorce). However, overall Get Hurt contains enough quality songs, such as Rollin’ and Tumblin’ and Stay Vicious, to make it onto the list however it didn’t quite live up to the expectations I have for a Gaslight Anthem album…
Best Track: Rollin’ and Tumblin’
48. The Wytches – Annabel Dream Reader
The Wytches were one of the breakthrough acts of 2014, with Annabel Dream Reader proving that grunge music does still have a place in 2014. The dark, brooding sound of The Wytches has taken many festival by storm, namely the NME/Radio 1 tent at Reading and Leeds festival (of which I attended) which saw a large crowd gather to see one of the most hyped bands of the year. A very dark album (some even calling it Doom Surf apparently!?), it is clear to see the influences from acts such as Black Sabbath and Nirvana both lyrically and in the band’s heavy riffing. Annabel Dream Reader is an accomplished album from one of the brightest new bands of 2014 and is deserved of a place in my top 50 albums of the year.
Best Track: Wire Frame Mattress
47. Metronomy – Love Letters
2014 also saw the return of Metronomy after 3 years, following the success of their last album The English Riviera. In Love Letters Joe Mount managed to successfully craft an album of great pop tracks, specifically the catchy title song Love Letters, which was one of my favourite songs of the year. This album contributed a great deal to Metronomy’s rise in popularity in 2014, seeing them headline the hugely popular Field Day festival as well as headlining their own run of shows including a huge gig at London’s Alexandra Palace. A great year for Joe Mount and his band, comfortably earning a place in my top alums of 2014…
Best Track: Love Letters
46. Bombay Bicycle Club – So Long, See You Tomorrow
The ranking of So Long, See You Tomorrow may be a surprise to many music fans especially with Bombay Bicycle Club’s huge following, however personally I’m of the opinion they are slightly overrated. 2014 was huge for Bombay Bicycle Club, headlining the enormous Earl’s Court, as well as being very well received on the summer festival circuit (with performances at Reading and Leeds, Latitude, Glastonbury and T in the Park). The album also made the shortlist for the Mercury Prize, ultimately losing out to Young fathers, showing the level of critical acclaim the record relieved, however I’m just not sure I like them as much as I should. Maybe its because their brand of indie anthems is a bit too shiny and lacks the sort of grit that I like to see in acts or maybe its because I think there are other bands just as good that don’t get the levels of appraisal Bombay Bicycle Club. Don’t get me wrong I do still like the band and think So Long, See You Tomorrow is a very good album, I’m just not sure I love them…
Best Track: Luna
45. The Bots – Pink Palms
Unlike Bombay Bicycle Club, The Bots are a band with plenty of grit and their album Pink Palms proved that they were one of the year’s most exciting young prospects. This album by the two young brothers, shows potential signs of great things to come, showing that there is still life in the drums and guitar two-piece setup as made famous by the White Stripes. The album is full of punk tendencies, with stand out track All I Really Want’s spoken word verses showing the bands aggression and power. A very hot prospect!!!
Best Track: All I Really Want
44. First Aid Kit – Stay Gold
The latest effort from the Swedish indie folk act First Aid Kit is tinged with sadness and honesty in its lyricism and beauty in its well crafted melodies. The meteoric rise of these young siblings is due to their enormous talent and the way their audiences can relate to their songs. Stay Gold, released this year was both critically acclaimed and commercially successful (with lead single My Silver Lining earning well over 18 million plays on music streaming site Spotify) and saw them achieve their highest positions in both the UK and US album charts to date. At such a young age this is an act that still has great things yet to offer!
Best Track: My Silver Lining
43. Temples – Sun Structures
Another of the best newcomers in 2014, Temples also had an excellent year. With coverage on radio stations including XFM and the fact that they played almost every festival possible in 2014, Temples garnered a large fan base of the course of the year. Sun Structures has been widely cited as one of the albums of the year and rightly so, as Temples brand of psychedelic rock (which seem largely inspired by the likes of Tame Impala) sparkles brightly amongst the other top albums in 2014. There is a real retro sound to the album, tracks such as Shelter Song and Mesmerise could easily have fitted in to the psychedelia of the 1960s. A quality debut album from another of musics brightest future prospects that have emerged in 2014.
Best Track: Mesmerise
42. Interpol – El Pintor
Interpol had always been one of the big indie rock bands that I had never really listened to up until this year, I had always heard great things about them and obviously knew Slow Hands, but that was about it.. However, this year saw the band return with new album El Pintor (an anagram of the band’s name) and a lead single in the form of All the Rage Back Home, which really got me interested in the band. All the Rage Back Home is an impressive song, of anthemic scale, with sharp guitars and dark lyrics, setting the tone for a very strong album proving to be one of the very best of the year!
Best Track: All the Rage Back Home
41. Ryan Adams – Ryan Adams
2014 saw Ryan Adams release his fourteenth and also self-titled album, which again saw the American singer-songwriter meet great critical acclaim. Adams’ album (of which he also produced himself) was one of the truest rock albums of the year, with Adams taking inspiration from the likes of Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty in crafting his blue-collared tales of the US. The shimmering production value adds nicely to Adam’s sound bringing songs like the heartland ballad My Wrecking Ball to life. A true rock album, full of great, well crafted songs.
Best Track: Gimme Something Good