spotlight-studios
12th December 2014

Feature: Top 10 Albums of the Year

A countdown of the best of 2014

10. Morrissey – World Peace Is None Of Your Business
Morrissey’s tenth solo album saw the former Smiths man back on form in typically disgruntled fashion, taking aim at… well, basically everyone. World Peace is his most eclectic album to date, giving his signature indie rock a make-over on many of the tracks, with flamenco guitar and accordion on ‘The Bullfighter Dies’ and the showtune-esque title track. It’s a worthy addition to his canon – and after five years, it feels good to have him back. Dan Whiteley

9. St. Vincent – St. Vincent
Harnessing expression through the use of sound palettes, melodic composition and dramatisation, St Vincent has created an album which soars as much as it dances through intriguing digital and analogue soundscapes. It’s an album which shows emotional progression for the innovative musician, and further stretches her skills at song writing and producing. Samuel Ward

8. Todd Terje – It’s Album Time
With every passing year, electronic music gets more and more serious. Luckily, Todd Terje hath emerged from distant Viking lands to quell this trend. His debut album It’s Album Time, made dance music fun again by injecting some much needed humanity into the robotic electronic scene. Be it ‘Svensk Sås’s vocoded scat singing, the Bryan Ferry collaboration or the incessantly catchy ‘Inspector Norse’, this is the new and updated definition of ecstasy on the dance floor. Lowell Clarke

7. Aphex Twin – Syro
The cult of Aphex Twin was fortified with the monster hype campaign prior to the release of Syro, building the release up to mythical proportions. Pressing play for the first time however all this was forgotten, as the true brilliance of the music spoke for itself. The amount of layers present throughout the album is staggering, the sheer number of influences at play astounding. James has not created an entirely new sound or genre, but he has managed to weave sounds together in a way no other could. He’s human, but he’s like no other human. Patrick Hinton

6. The War On Drugs – Lost in the Dream
2014 has been quite a year for The War on Drugs. Their third studio album, Lost in the Dream was the catalyst that saw them reach new heights, and finally saw them step out of the shadow of former band member, Kurt Vile. The album explores an emotional time for lead singer Adam Granduciel: after breaking up with his long-term girlfriend, he became somewhat stagnated and isolated in life. The desperation in the lyrics paired with the dreamlike extended guitar solos on songs like ‘Ocean Between the Waves’ and ‘Under the Pressure’ wonderfully captures this mood, and easily makes this one of the best albums of the year. Ali Pearson 

5. Angel Olsen – Burn Your Fire For No Witness
Burn Your Fire For No Witness may not seem like an obvious contender for one of our albums of the year, but Angel Olsen’s second album will certainly grow on you. Beautifully introspective songs such as ‘Lights Out’ and ‘White Fire’ demonstrate Olsen’s ability to produce irresistibly haunting vocals that almost sound like they have come out of a time warp from the 1950s. However Olsen expands from her traditionally folky sound with the garage fuzz of ‘Forgiven/Forgotten’ and the electric schmaltz of ‘Hi-Five’. Give Burn Your Fire… a listen, and you’re sure to be blown away. Matthew Staite

4. Mac DeMarco – Salad Days
Mac Demarco’s unique sound – to which he dubs ‘Jizz Jazz’ – is immediately recognisable in his latest album Salad Days. The offbeat style runs through every track, and Demarco sticks to guitar riffs that have become iconic in his music. The title track ‘Salad Days’ is typical of the style of the album: old style, laidback rock. Each song on Demarco’s new album embodies this retro-rock vibe; one that has arguably become less and less prevalent in today’s music scene. The album is easy-listening, but infused with innovation and bursting with musical substance. Natalie Proctor

3. Gesloten Cirkel – Submit X
Due to his reclusion from the public eye and anonymity you could classify Gesloten Cirkel as a reserved producer. However, the productions he creates are anything but. Submit X is 12 tracks of no-holds-barred electro-infused- techno. It’s dark and relentless, yet also multidimensional and nuanced. ‘Zombie Machine’ is a straight up club wrecker; ‘Arrested Development’ features a guitar solo reminiscent of classic arena rock; ‘Stakan’ is a dizzy, shoegazey number. Submit X compounds and confounds with these styles and influences, resulting in a deliriously exciting album. Patrick Hinton

2. Bombay Bicycle Club – So Long, See You Tomorrow
Rewind back to the heyday of noughties indie, when Bombay Bicycle Club hype train first entered the station. The excitement wasn’t just over their brilliant yet meek first album, but the potential the band had to become a major force in British music. So Long, See You Tomorrow is the album that stands up taller than the shadow they once casted, blending guitar sensibilities with the best of avant-garde pop. Just one play through reveals that BBC are still one of our most promising bands and that this album is their manifesto of the great things we still expect to come. Lowell Clarke

1. Flying Lotus – You’re Dead!
With Alice Coltrane for an aunt, it was inevitable that Flying Lotus, aka Steve Ellison, would attempt a jazz venture at some point, but the outcome, You’re Dead! is anything but inevitable. The exploration of death mutated from a jazz project into a collaboration of jazz, electronic, hip hop and even prog rock that is ambitious and unlikely but, crucially, extraordinary. Ellison is the master of carefully produced controlled chaos. You’re Dead! is 38 minutes, 19 tracks long and stuffed full of genres. Yet while the style veers manically across the musical spectrum from track to track, the album is somehow measured and fluid. The journey through death begins with the experimental confusion of jazz intro ‘Theme’ which continues through to ‘Tesla’, featuring piano courtesy of the legendary Herbie Hancock. Lamar, Ellison’s rap alter ego ‘Captain Murphy’ and Snoop Dogg rap as dead men in denial through to acceptance on ‘Never Catch Me’ and ‘Dead Man’s Tetris’. You’re Dead! then descends into a mishmash of otherworldliness suggestive of the afterlife. You’re Dead! is never melancholic, rather Ellison has managed to make death relevant for an audience of 20 somethings cocksure of their own immortality. And if that doesn’t make a great album I don’t know what does. Rachel Connolly 


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