Best Albums Of 2014

Date

A bit of a vintage year for albums was this here 2014. We gave more 9's than ever (six!). As usual, some of these records have grown on us since we originally reviewed them, bumping them up to Crackle chart glory. This year the list has been compiled by our regular writers Adam Millard, Adam Taylor, Carey Kramer, John Wilson, Alex Redpath and Emma Slack. It was tough to choose between our top two but Allo Darlin' just about pipped it after ample repeated listening. Biggest "grower" of the year has to go to Flamingods who's weirdness has burrowed its way into our hearts. So here it is, our top 30 albums of 2014. nb - No other lists were consulted in the making of this list. nbnb - We forgot two albums, so there's now a 31 and 32 in our "top 30"...

1

Allo Darlin' - We Come From The Same Place

AM said: "It's not that the band have grown up, their songs still ooze with a kind of naive youthful vigor, it's what makes them so refreshing, but this album sees them up the stakes both emotionally and musically"
2

The Twilight Sad - Nobody Wants To Be Here And Nobody Wants To Leave

AM said: "the sound of a band on a creative ascent, blasting through darker moments and always revealing something joyful in the process. At a time when certain press are throwing around worrying phrases like "make or break", The Twilight Sad have come up with their best album yet"
3

Music Go Music - Impressions

AM said: "The choruses are relentlessly life-affirming, just when you think every corner of the pop landscape has been mined for ear worms, they throw in another one for good measure, it seems so easy (but judging by the 5 years it took to release this follow up we can probably assume that this was not the case)"
4

Hookworms - The Hum

CK says: "Krautrock grooves, psychedelic swirls, noise bursts are a plenty in the Leeds based group’s second full length album. In an age of MP3’s and singles, Hookworms are bringing the album back to the forefront" AM said: "A ballsy and, most importantly, progressive second album from one of Britain's great new hopes"

5

Flamingods - Hyperborea

AM said: "Mixed up would-be percussion samples loop around and around to form a tribal bedding for some mantra-like vocals. This is world music, it's just hard to pin down which planet it's coming from"
6

Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra - Fuck Off Get Free We Pour Light on Everything

AT said: "This is music which not only blows away the cobwebs, the flabby, the indulgent and the unnecessary, it fully blasts you into another stratosphere – the difference being that it doesn't float up there, it’s anchored to earth by the weight of concerns, by everyday consciousness, and the awareness of darkness"
7

Detective Instinct - Black Floral

AM said: "Each guest puts their own spin on Heffernan's compositions which vary between contemplative, meandering, psychotic, but always atmospheric, never dull. Black Floral is another fine accomplishment and hopefully not the last we'll see from Detective Instinct"
8

Mazes - Wooden Aquarium

AM said: "The overall sound is lofi-poppy, with neat hooks like backwards solos ("Astigmatism"), ghostly guitar feedback that sounds like synths ("It Is What It Is") and psychedelic pulsing rhythm ("Letters Between U and V"). Mazes seem to have found their feet at last."
9

Benjamin Shaw - Goodbye, Cagoule World

AM said: "Benjamin Shaw seems like a broken man, with a voice that sounds on the brink of tears throughout these 7 mopey tracks. This is good news for those of us who enjoy capitalising on other people's misery, but when you scrape the surface there's plenty here to uplift everyone but the fella singing the songs"
10

Remember Remember - Forgetting The Present

AM said: "there's a certain confidence in the song-writing that was maybe missing in the early days. There's no rule book here, the songs don't need to go anywhere and there are no big climaxes, sometimes they just float around and then go away. And that's just fine"
11

Sleaford Mods - Divide and Exit

JW said: "Utilising an often breathless torrent of bile and humour, chief ranter Jason Williamson is able to make you both and think and laugh, aided by basic (but highly effective) bass lines and old school beats"
12

Mogwai - Rave Tapes

AT said: "it’s distinctively the sound of Mogwai, it’s unmistakably of their tonal palette, it’s the music they collectively conjure with such definitive authority – to my ear, and to my mind, no-one does what Mogwai do quite as well as they do it themselves"

13

Scott Walker and Sunn O))) - Soused

JW said: "Unsettling and even at times verging into the realms of the absurd, Soused is probably Walker’s most accessible album since 1995’s Tilt (although I realise these things are relative). What is undeniable is that once again Walker has proved that he is a master of his art and continues to dance to his own twisted and abstract tune"
14

The War On Drugs - Lost In The Dream

CK says: "One of the up and coming bands come out with their magnum opus. Lost in the Dream contains incredible heartfelt lyrics, but make no mistake about it, this is a guitar lovers album. A fresh sound in today’s Indie rock world that melds Americana and Shoegaze elements"
15

Gold-Bears - Dalliance

AM said: "The influences are lovingly borrowed from, rather than aped and the pace is kept to an invigorating high for most of the record, only occasionally relaxing into some more slumbering, but equally accomplished ballads. Nearly every track has some sort of hook/key change/middle 8 that grabs you and shakes you about a bit"
16

Let's Wrestle - Let's Wrestle

AM said: "Let's Wrestle are one of the very few current bands who can get away with making pure, no-strings (apart from the occasional actual strings) indie-pop, and its a joy to behold. The songs on this self titled third record are played totally straight with no particular quirks or gimmicks, its just a load of astonishingly catchy tunes"
17

Wand - Ganglion Reef

CK says: "The debut album from the LA garage rockers is a relentless onslaught of guitar riffs and distortion. What separates Ganglion Reef from any other garage rock album is the incredible musicianship and song development over the course of its 10 songs"
18

The Vacant Lots - Departure

AM said: "Departure is Route-1 psychedelic Rock n Roll, rarely taking its foot off the gas/overdrive, but its best moments come when the band move away from traditional song structure into more confrontational areas, almost asking the audience 'how much more of this can you take?'"
19

tUnE-YaRdS - Nikki Nack

AM said: "The keyboards and beats are cleaner and more precise making for a more danceable record, and one which distances itself from what came before. Its different enough to keep the project interesting, but sensibly, not too distant to alienate the growing fanbase"
20

Beck - Morning Phase

CK says: "Beck slows it down with another melancholy and sincere LP, much like his fantastic 2002 album, Sea Change. Just like the title suggests, Morning Phase is perfect listening for those laid back and relaxing weekend mornings"
21

Lorelle Meets The Obsolete - Chambers

AM said: "Lorelle Meets The Obsolete have managed to tap into Thee Oh Sees DIY abandon and Charlotte Gainsbourg's cool, atmospheric vocals and synthy persuasions to make an album that's instantly gratifying. Chambers is a sexy-pulsing-swirling ball of psych from start to finish, polished up with a gorgeous laid back delivery from singer Lorena Quintanilla"
22

Teleman - Breakfast

AM said: "This may be a calculated rebranding for the band, but as long as they keep writing swathes of pristine pop songs none of that really matters" PR says: "one of the year's greatest growers, these songs keep coming back to tap you on the shoulder, months after you first heard them"
23

We Were Promised Jetpacks - Unravelling

AM said: "essentially it's the sound of a band content with their lot, knowing that there's still a healthy flow of ideas to be mined from the patch that they've successfully established"
24

Paws - Youth Culture Forever

AT said: "there’s an unabashed, unadulterated way about the music they make, no cynicism, just that sense of freedom which comes before cynicism kicks-in – for anyone of a certain age, it’ll instantly transport you back to the teenage you"
25

The Horrors - Luminous

PR says: "Their last three albums have been pretty indistinguishable but they've all been chock full of bona fide gothic anthems. Their latest is no exception, "So Now You Know" and "Falling Star" could sit comfortably with their very best (and most commercial) work. It remains to be seen how long The Horrors can keep this up, but for now we're all happy.
26

Jim Noir - Finnish Line

AM said: "This one starts off as a "no strings" whimsical jaunt but gradually builds up melancholy on its journey...along the way, Noir flexes his typically retro songwriting muscles to write some of the best material of his career, haunting and welcoming in equal measure"
27

School of Language - Old Fears

AM said: "Old Fears is a mixed bag in terms of styles, but the mood is almost consistently bleak. It won't be an instantly gratifying album for most listeners, but there are numerous moments here where Brewis shows why he, creatively, needed to get this album out"
28

White Fence - For The Recently Found Innocent

AM said: "One of the most surprising things about this record is its clarity, you can really hear every note, thud and blemish that the players offer up...if you like your psych with a sun bleached 60's glow then White Fence are probably the band for you"
29

The Phantom Band - Strange Friend

CK says: "One of the great surprises of the year. This album came out of nowhere and blew me off my feet combining elements of psychedelia, folk, prog, and krautrock. Also, the single “Clapshot” is my frontrunner for song of the year"
30

Papernut Cambridge - There's No Underground

AM said: "The majority though is a cosy, smoky, rhythm and boozey batch of tunes with a very British, very 70's charm. The unlikely Death In Vegas/Hefner combo is actually a huge red herring because this album sound like neither of those bands. It's the sound of its players unchained and free to make whatever they want to, without fear of reprisals"
31

Keaton Henson-Romantic Works

AR & ES said: "Keaton Henson has undoubtedly been one of our favourite artists over the last couple of years. His previous albums 2010’s “Dear” and 2013’s “Birthdays” often frequenting the record player. His most recent album “Romantic Works” is very different to its predecessors providing a moment of instrumental calm and tranquility. Even without the emotional lyrics present in his previous albums, Henson still manages to be poetic, somehow making sadness seep out of every note. “Romantic works” is perfectly executed, truly beautiful and well worth a listen!"
32

Sun Kil Moon - Benji

AR & ES said: "There are albums that deal with death and loss, then there is Benji. Mark Kozelek tells story after story of loss, death, pain and despair but don’t let this put you off. Each song invites you deep into Mark’s poetry and storytelling. Benji is a beautifully crafted and rewarding album, perfect for those quiet moments, with a set of headphones and a glass of Whisky."