Spend Matters Albums of the Year: Number 30 – 21

When it came down to it, I just could not get my list of favourites down to just a top 30 Albums of 2014. So I’m cheating, with several joint number 30s! Or just look at it as a top 35!

= 30 Beck   Morning Phase

Harking back to the slower, more reflective style of his 2002 album Sea Change (probably my favorite of his many works), the super-talented Beck has produced another laid-back but beautiful classic here.

= 30 The Kooks   Listen

One of the year’s pleasant surprises – lightweight indie pop first time round, but on their comeback this year a set of slightly heavier, blues / soul / rock tracks, still tuneful and lots of fun but with welcome maturity – a huge hit at Reading Festival too!

 

=30 Jenny Lewis   The Voyager

Ah, Jenny (sighs)! Front-woman (and a great voice) for the late lamented Rilo Kiley, now creating her own solo work, still in the smart indie-pop mode, with lyrical stings in the tale. Loved this video, I’ve never really “got” Anne Hathaway before this but... wow.

 

=30 Gemma Hayes Bones + Longing

Another of the year’s big comebacks, Irish singer songwriter with a crowdfunded fifth album, adding a touch of electronica on top of her core folk-pop sound. Charming, atmospheric, works on several levels from “easy listening” to something much deeper.

 

=30 Temples Sun Structures

Young band from Kettering re-creating early eras (The Byrds, The Move, Traffic) with youthful energy. Trippy psychedelic pop - and Shelter Song was one of the tracks of the year.

 

= 30 Band of Skulls Himalayan

My wife wouldn’t forgive me if I left out this riffy, bluesy rocking trio, with another collection of strong mainstream rock songs. Their mix of male / female vocals adds variation to the mix too.

 

29 Dry the River Alarms in the Heart

Folk- rock (with a little less folk this time round) - the band also has an admirable liking for songs that build to a loud guitar climax. Maybe not quite as instant as their tremendous debut, but a grower and well worth investigating.

 

28. Sky Ferriera  Night Time, My Time

The wild child reputation, topless album cover, arguments with her record label – so I wasn’t expecting a very impressive album from Ferreira with classic electronic pop-rock songs underpinned by both catchy tunes and a hint of something darker (the lyrics to some tracks touch on abuse and similar issues).

27 Elbow  The Take Off and Landing of Everything

Their consistency over the years is getting pretty amazing, with another collection of songs that are original yet unmistakably Elbow, combining wit, emotion, clever tunes and lyrics.

 

26 Hurray for the Riff Raff  Small Town Heroes

And the American girls just keep on coming! Hurray for the Riff Raff is basically Alynda Lee, a Bronx-raised, Puerto Rican singer songwriter who left home at 17 to “ride the rails”. Still only in her mid 20s, she writes and plays old-style country-folk-blues songs, yet covers contemporary issues, and somehow brings a modern energy and attitude to the work, as well as a beautiful honey-smooth voice.

25 Wild Beasts  Present Tense

I still rate their second album, Two Dancers, as their best, but this is another impressive work, with a somewhat more contemporary yet restrained, less visceral sound (and lyrics) than before, but they have made their unique indie-dance sound very distinctively theirs.

 

24 Future Islands   Singles

A big breakthrough this year for the US synth-indie-pop band following an impassioned performance on the Letterman Show with Seasons (Waiting for You) - one of the tracks of the year. Samuel Herring’s mannered vocals aren’t to everyone’s taste, but the tunes are strong too.

 

23 Sharon van Etten  Are We There

Indie-folk with some harder edges and varied backing (acoustic to full rock and orchestral ) from the brilliant US singer songwriter with a penchant for confessional lyrics . A follow up to her breakthrough album “Tramp” this is right up there with that excellent work.

22 EMA The Future’s Void

EMA is Erika Anderson, a tall, young blonde singer-songwriter from South Dakota who sounds nothing like you might expect from that description, and makes Angel Olsson look totally mainstream. Strange, often weird songs from which moments of more conventional beauty appear. One of those albums you’re not sure that you actually like, but can’t stop playing.

 

21 Angel Olsen Burn Your Fire For No Witness

US singer songwriter who can sound like Roy Orbison one minute, Patti Smith the next, then a country diva. Hard to categorise her, indie-Americana-garage-folk maybe? But one of the most interesting albums of the year, and an artist who makes you really want to see what she does next.

 

We will be back tomorrow with numbers 20 to 11!

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