Albums of the Year – numbers 30 to 21

So as we go hurtling into the top 30 (see yesterday for 40-31), the competition gets fiercer, and we have more albums where everyone says, “what? Only number 20 something?”

30.          Half Moon Run - Dark Eyes

The linkage between different media was shown when this band went viral with Full Circle when it was used in a trailer for the game Assassin’s Creed 4:Black Flag. There are a few stand out tracks like the aforementioned  and Call me in the Afternoon.  But it is a strong album generally of atmospheric, Band of Horses or Fleet Foxes type not-too-noisy US rock with folk influences, although they’re actually Canadian.

29.          Frank Turner  – Tape Deck Heart

Frank Turner, national treasure – not bad for a boy from the wrong side of the tracks as far as rock music is concerned (Eton College). Probably his most personal work yet, a post break-up collection with lyrics that are often seriously heartfelt – but put to uplifting tunes that stop it being depressing. Also one of his more ‘rock’ and less ‘folk’ albums on the Smith folk-rock scale.

28.          Jagwar Ma  – Howlin’

Dance music on the Spend Matters list! Yes, but with some gorgeous Beach Boys tunes and harmonies on tracks like Come Save Me. A couple of tracks are almost unlistenable unless you are in a club / out of your head, but 80% of the album is 99% brilliant!

27.          Stornaway  - Tales from Terra Firma

We love Stornaway, the antithesis of your clichéd rock band. Degrees and PhD abound amongst their members, and they write interesting songs about the weather, animals, public transport...  There is enough meat in the music to avid folk-rock whimsy, and we’re hopeful that the next album will get them the breakthrough they really deserve.

26.          Haim  – Days are Gone

OK, the hype got a bit much (“three sisters – wow! And they’ve got long hair but they can really play their instruments well! Gosh!”) But actually a really good album, more varied than we expected. Yes, there is obvious Fleetwood Mac styling at times, but also R n’ B, dance and heavier rock influences too. Also contains some of the best ‘singles’ of the year in Don’t Save Me, Falling and The Wire ( I love that song, even if the intro is a bit Eagles “Heartbreak Tonight”)!


25.          Villagers – Awayland

On his second album – and this is more of a genuine band effort perhaps than his first -  Conor O’Brien  makes music that is quite unlike anyone else. Weird, uplifting, tuneful, sensitive, disturbing, profound, all of these at once... it’s not ‘folk’,  as I saw it described somewhere, but it certainly is (and I don’t use the word lightly) genius.

24.          F*** Buttons – Slow Focus

The only instrumental, electro-rock-dance masterpiece in our list. The Buttons got a huge boost from their work being featured in the Olympic ceremonies last year and they followed that with this collection of driving, hypnotic, industrial tracks, leaved by the occasional flash of melody, like the sun breaking through the storm clouds. Warning – not easy listening, although strangely I find it very easy to work to.


23.          Milo Greene – Milo Greene

Every time I put this on, Jane says “I like this. Who is it”? Excellent album, lousy band name for a Californian group (not a solo artist). It is very smooth, tuneful  stuff, CSN&Y and  Fleetwood Mac (Rumours period) being obvious influences. ‘Cinematic pop’ with harmonies and boy / girl vocals, and perfect summer listening.

22.          Bastille – Bad Blood

Another resolutely non-hip choice. I really wasn’t sure at first, too much hype and a number one album / single, not my thing but really. But on repeated listening, you realise this is an album full of classically strong pop songs, with massive tunes and just enough grit (dance and rock influences) to be interesting.  A great set at Reading Festival too.

21.          Neko Case – The Worse Things Get...

Neko Case is a hero (heroine?) of mine, as good a female singer of ‘popular music’ as you will find on the planet and a quirky, talented songwriter. A favourite of the late John Peel, writer/ singer of possibly the sexiest song in history (Twist the Knife), this latest album blends rock, country, soul, blues and folk and is another very good album from her.

See you tomorrow for numbers 20 to 11...!

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Voices (2)

  1. Ed Cross:

    Have to say Peter that I assume you are saving Black Sabbath’s 13 and Alter Bridge’s Fortress as well as The Answer’s New Horizon for the top 20.

    Happy christmas

  2. Nick @ Market Dojo:

    Some cracking choices there. I’m a recent owner of Jagwar Ma but loving their sound. Stornaway also pretty good. Massive fan of Frank Turner though pretty biased in that I was at school with him. The Olympic opening ceremony certainly did him no harm!

    Hope I’m not jumping the gun but my current #1 is London Grammar, a kind of Florence & the Machines meets The XX.

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