I have a bit of a confession to make. There are some albums released in 2014 that have completely passed me by. I’m not sure how it happened but it did, and I am in no doubt that if I had heard all those I intended to the list that follows would be completely different. But I didn’t and it isn’t.
Throughout the past 12 months I have discovered some quite frankly extraordinary albums. Some came from artists I have been following for years, others appeared almost out of nowhere and took me off guard. Regardless of where they came from, these are the records that soundtracked my year…
1. Moulettes - Constellations
I can’t quite remember how I came to be in possession of a copy of Constellations. I certainly had no idea who Moulettes were when I popped the CD into my stereo and hit play, but after just one track I knew that I was listening to something special. Moulettes’s sound is pure pop genius, built upon folk, indie and even vaguely hip-hop foundations. Strings and guitars tussle for prominence under some delectable vocals. I can’t quite put my finger on what makes this such an incredible album; it’s just one of those records that hits upon that magic formula.
2. The Twilight Sad - Nobody Wants To Be Here And Nobody Wants To Leave
If I’m being completely honest, I wasn’t a huge fan of The Twilight Sad’s last album. Nobody Wants…, their fourth studio effort, however has become a firm favourite. Having heard a number of the tracks live before the album’s release, I knew that the Kilsyth three-piece were onto a winner and I readily devoured the bleak, raw emotion I have come to expect from one of my favourite bands. From uptempo lead single Last January to piano-led closer Sometimes I Wished I Could Fall Asleep, it’s a cracking listen.
3. Pink Floyd - The Endless River
Until July 2014, I never thought I would get to experience the joy of purchasing a new Pink Floyd album on release day. I was too young when The Division Bell came out to care, and only got into the band in my mid-teens. So I’m as surprised as anyone to be able to include The Endless River in my list of favourite albums of the last year. While it’s far from classic Floyd, there’s a lot to like. Mainly instrumental, it’s carried by some meaty riffs and emotive noodling from David Gilmour alongside brilliant keys work from the late, great Richard Wright.
4. Mogwai - Rave Tapes
In my eyes, Mogwai can do no wrong. Ever since I first heard Glasgow Mega-Snake I was hooked. I have enjoyed hearing the band’s sound evolve over the years, and Rave Tapes – I think – expands upon those themes. Opening with the atmospheric Heard About You Last Night, there are echoes of the group’s stellar work on the soundtrack to French TV series Les Revenants, while at other times there are the quiet moments and big crescendos that all Mogwai fans have come to love. The dark and brooding Remurdered is a definite highlight.
5. Owl John - Owl John
With a vocal style as distinctive as Scott Hutchison’s, it’s impossible to avoid comparisons to the music of his band Frightened Rabbit. And while there are hints of the latter’s folky sound in his first solo outing under the banner of Owl John, there is enough of a difference to show that Hutchison is a talented songwriter and musician in his own right. Augmented by post-rocky undertones, the Owl John album is at times euphoric and at others melancholic. It does what all the best albums do, and makes you really listen.
6. The Jellyman's Daughter - The Jellyman's Daughter
Often hailed as Scotland’s answer to The Civil Wars (without the incessant infighting), The Jellyman’s Daughter are an incredibly talented two-piece. Cellist Graham Coe produces a range of sounds I didn’t know possible with a cello while Emily Kelly’s silky smooth voice floats above the music with pure grace.
7. Poor Things - Poor Things
I’ve been a fan of Poor Things’ brand of indie-surf for years, so it was with open arms that I welcomed their self-titled debut LP into my home. Featuring many songs I have come to love during their charismatic live performances, it is both instantly recognisable and refreshing.
8. Das McManus - Department Of Homeland Obscurity
Audio samples. Brilliantly obscure song titles. It’s everything I expected from Das McManus and more. This is a cracking power-pop album, chock full of catchy earworms and a well-considered cover of Ryan Adams’ Angelina. A fittingly raw recording, Department of Homeland Obscurity perfectly captures the band’s energy.
9. Paolo Nutini - Caustic Love
When Paolo Nutini first appeared on the scene with that New Shoes song back in 2006, I wasn’t really a fan but over the years he’s slowly won me over. With an ever-evolving sound, his latest album is soulful and funky, boasting some of his best songwriting to date.
10. Jenny Sturgeon - Source To Sea
The only EP to appear on my 2014 list, I’ll admit that this one was purchased out of curiosity based on the singer’s fishy name. It’s a deliciously folky affair, many of the songs are arrangements of traditional tunes that allow Sturgeon’s rich vocals to soar.
Wilko Johnson & Roger Daltrey – Going Back Home
Various - Guardians of the Galaxy: Awesome Mix 1
IndianRedLopez – Commit
Alt-J – This Is All Yours
Seas, Starry - Tyto Alba