Albums of the Year: Number 30-21

Today, we start our top 30 countdown of Albums of the Year.



30.   Hold On To Your Heart    The Xcerts
Young Scots, heavily influenced by Springsteen / Petty “US heartland rock”.  Great tunes, big songs, not particularly original but very enjoyable, and they sound ready for stadiums already.

29.   Cool Like You     Blossoms
They’ve been labelled “landfill indie” by indie music detractors, but if you listen to the acoustic version of this album you’ll see they basically write classical, tuneful pop songs. A bit more variation compared to their debut, more use of keyboards, and they cemented their position as one of the top UK bands in their genre.

28.   Be More Kind    Frank Turner
Rock rather than folk in Mr Turner’s latest incarnation – the usual blend of big choruses and meaningful lyrics. Not his absolute best but still very admirable.

27   Tell Me How You Really Feel    Courtney Barnett
Loved her debut, and this was good too, a somewhat more “rock” feel to it, with grungy guitars and her whip-smart lyrics. Perhaps nothing quite as memorable as Depreston from that brilliant first album though - but maybe I just haven't listened to this enough!

26   Ruins    First Aid Kit
The Swedish sisters still do their usual country-pop sweet harmonies, but with this album, there is more variation in the song styles, like the example below and others that could almost be from Rumours period Fleetwood Mac. There is more musical and lyrical “toughness”, but it is still high quality and well-produced, with strong timeless songs and beautiful vocals.

25.  Kindness is the New Rock and Roll     Peace
Album three for the Birmingham band, and a small step back in the right direction after album number 2 fell short of their excellent debut. Catchy indie-pop, not really pushing the genre forward but some anthemic songs which will play well live.

24.  Lump     Lump
The wonderful Laura Marking took a rest from her solo work and teamed up with the innovative Mike Lindsay of experimental folk-rock band Tungg to make this slightly odd but generally great short album, encompassing chilled rock, electronic folk and various other off-beat genres.

23.  The American Dream   Trophy Eyes
Nothing wrong with some straight down the middle rock-pop-punk, with big guitars and big sing-along choruses. Only surprise was that Trophy Eyes come from Newcastle, Australia, not San Francisco. Singer John Floreani has a much better (and deeper) voice than most in this sort of band, and at times it is up there with the best of Hold Steady or Gaslight Anthem as much as it references Blink 182 or Good Charlotte. 10/10 in NME.

22.  Someone Out There     Rae Morris
Second album from Blackpool-born songstress. She’s a fine pop songwriter and singer; there’s a bit more complexity and confidence here than on her debut, with dance-pop songs that often sound just a bit different.

21.  Moonday Dream     Ben Howard
Hard to categorise Howard, an enigma amongst UK singer-songwriters, with a fanatical fan base but little interest in being a “personality”. This is a dreamy, chilled album – think John Martyn meets Bon Iver - less commercial than his debut but less electronic and experimental than his second. Very enjoyable but it maybe lacks a few big tunes.


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