Well in reflecting on 2014, I must consider on the main thing I have chosen to consume over 2014, which has been music. 2014 has had lot of good music (as demonstrated by the long list which I spoke of here The Long List – Best Album of 2014), here I am going to pick the best 10 albums that I heard last year.
10. Sondre Lerche – Please
This album contains much pop goodness from Norwegian Sondre Lerche.
I first heard of Sondre in 2004 and since then he has consistently produced interesting and quality pop music. This is a really good, pop album.
09.Clap Your Hands Say Yeah – Only Run
There was a time where the music blogs ruled the hipsters. Brooklyn Vegan, Gorilla vs Bear, and others were the key tastemakers. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah were propelled into the hipster radar due to the support of these blogs. The formula of many guitars and a distinctive, (weird nasally), singing voice was pleasing and challenging. They have had a break for a while and after some line up changes this the first album with the slimmed down, synth and drum based version of the band. It took a few listens but I really like the new sound.
08. Jad Fair and Danielson – Solid Gold Heart
Well what can you say. Jad Fair of the Art Punk legends Half Japanese and Danielson creating a joint musical project. What an album its pretty much got everything you would expect from these two, including a fragile slightly out of tune beauty warmth and much joy.
07. Ibibio Sound Machine – Ibibio Sound Machine
I hadn’t heart of Ibibio Sound Machine or the album until the beginning of December. The band is seven strong and have created songs with African guitars, crazy good percussion, drums and base from house music, brass rhythms from soul music all topped by songs sung in the Nigerian regional dialect ibibio. With songs based on folk tales spoke in this language. it could all have went a bit M people, instead it is a joyful beautiful noise.
06. At The Close Of Every Day – Darkness Travels Light
At The Close Of Every Day are a lovely wee band with a sadness in their hearts. Their 2004 album the Silja Symphony is a series of songs based on a ferry disaster, it’s not happy party music. It is deep, it is tender, it seeks to tell stories and find a beautiful story within the despair. Darkness travels light has a lightness of touch which brings a deft to the songs. it is a beautiful album.
05. Steve Taylor and the Perfect Foil – Goliath.
This is the only straight rock record in the top ten and it is a corker.
Steve Taylor has always been within christian Music yet able to provoke and question from within. His Squint Entertainment record label managed to get a number one with Sixpence None The Richer’s Kiss Me, and open up a route to bring bands through in a liminal or ambiguous state. Anyway it seemed he had forgotten about rocking out and given himself to his first role which is movie making. but what an album he has made on his return. It is dense, packed, and great music. Lyrically his words are as per his pervious high standards, universally great and the band rocks.
(n.b. I know I haven’t put in it in the top three but I would guess now that in 10 years time this album will be one that stays with me. Its great.)
04. Meaghan Smith – Have A Heart.
Meaghan Smith has produced an album of absolute beauty and pop loveliness. with the occasional it sucks to be you thrown in over the years I have enjoyed Canadian pop and this album continues the that pop tradition of delicious lush production and a beautiful voice on top with catch pop hooks all over it, (see Hey Ocean’s album “Is” last year). As shiny straight pop goes this is brilliant.
03 – Fanfarlo – Lets Go Extinct.
It wasn’t easy to get to number three, but Fanfarlo got there just ahead of Meaghan Smith and Steve Taylor. Why? Well,as they describe themselves “The passion, the obsession, the dissolution of intellectual rigour; heart and longing colliding with mind and matter; these are the recurrent themes of Fanfarlo.” And they’re indie pop type music has influences from Belle & Sebastian and Sufjan Stevens would seem to point them into an area I can get musically, and I do. (This is the second time Fanfarlo have ended up on one of my best of lists!) It’s Just beautiful music, with clever, funny and impenetrable lyrics sung by a guy with a slight swedish accent. Its very good stuff.
02 – Beck – Morning Phase.
What can you say about Beck? 6 years since his last record, Beck returns with an album which provides fantastic music, an album of darkness and light. The album is lush, its languid, its immersing. the a musical motif providing a cycle type nature to the songs. It’s a great album that rewards repeated listens.
01. Damien Jurado – Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Son The third return trip to the fictional “Maraqopa” for Damien Jurado and producer Richard Swift has produced an album of beauty, variety and story. An album which seems to be religious and dangerous within itself. I haven’t heard to first two albums which are set in this alternative reality but this album stands on its own as a gorgeous set of songs. First of it sound right. The slightly indie singer songwriter production basis for the songs works brilliantly.The songs have a fragility about them which reveals the story they are involved in. The press reviews use words like Baroque, folk and etherial brilliance to describe the album, they are right. Initially I struggled to get it. I thought it was good but nothing special. Where these songs change from good to brilliant is in the bonus tracks. (As a Download I didn’t notice we had changed from the main album to the bonus material!) On the bonus disc, nine songs from the album are stripped down to just a voice and guitar, augmented by a female voice choir who provide all other parts. It turns a great album into a phenomenal album. given the run time of the album is just over the 35 minutes the deluxe edition’s extra songs just elevates the first half, creating a song cycle feel to the work.
It is very awesome.
try a small sampler of the above albums!