Sunday, 28 December 2014

2014: The Albums Of The Year - 50-41

So yet another music site publishes yet another Albums Of The Year list. Except this one is quite a different 'end of year list', since it has been put together at the end of the year as opposed to in October/November like many music websites hurriedly opted to. Some people forget that the world of music doesn't simply come to a complete stop during the last two months of the year. This way everything that has reached my ears in 2014 has a chance to feature in the end-of-year list. My tracks of the year can be heard on a two-part Best Of 2014 mixtape, which you can find HERE. Here are the 50 albums that rocked RW/FF's world over the last 12 months...

50. Tapes Waves - 'Let You Go' (Bleeding Gold Records)
A sun kissed swoon of an album all the way from the calm beaches of South Carolina, 'Let You Go' is the debut from dream pop duo Tape Waves. At 32 minutes long, it features ten chilled out, melodic moments which charm the listener while bathing them in sunshine. Tape Waves are a duo consisting of husband and wife Jarod Weldin and Kim Weldin, who have been releasing music since 2013. Following on from the debut 'Tape Waves' EP, they issued a lovely 7" single in May 2014, which features 'Stay All Night' and the sensational 'Looking At The Sun', which is (in my opinion) their finest track, yet not included here. Whether you're looking for a bright, calming soundtrack for the beach or something to relax with on a summer's night, it's well worth immersing yourself within the mixture of gentle drums, hazy harmonies and beautiful guitars that can be heard across this debut LP. Read the full review and listen to the album HERE.

49. i! - 'i!' (Gothedelic Records)
The self-titled debut album by an artist by the name of i! is an experimental yet accessible piece of work that needs to be heard by all those with an ear for the interesting and unique. 'i!' is the first release on the Bath-based Gothedelic Records, and is described as "a dubhoptriprock flashback through an... afterglow of nostalgic psychosis and hallucinatory dreams". 

All tracks were written and performed by Rod Brakes and co-produced alongside Nine Volt Leap studios' Dominic Bailey. It's available now on Bandcamp, Spotify, iTunes and Amazon, as well as on good old fashioned CD, which is limited to 500 copies. Listen to the album HERE.

48. Neville Skelly - 'Carousel' (Skeleton Key Records)
The second album from Liverpool singer songwriter Neville Skelly is a warming collection of songs highlighting his gift for graceful balladeering and hushed moods. Featuring a couple of relatives from The Coral and partly inspired by his experiences of being a father, 'Carousel' is an intimate, heartfelt record which has an atmosphere that could partly be attributed to it being recorded in the kitchen of a terraced house. It's probably a bit too laid back to hold the attention of certain listeners, but it's definitely suitable for those looking for something warm, tender and sumptuous. Hardly original or groundbreaking, but a pleasant listen all the same. Read the full review and listen to the album HERE.

47. Aphex Twin - 'Syro' (Warp Records)
Aphex Twin's first album in 13 years, and as you'd expect, the word "bizarre" springs to mind. 'minipops 67 [120.2] (source field mix)' is notable for the lack of capital letters in its title, as are all the other tracks on 'Syro'. The previous Aphex Twin album, 'Drukqs, came out in 2001, but Richard D James has still been making and releasing music since. In 2005, he put out 11 EPs as part of his Analord series. And it's no secret that a couple of 2007 releases by an artist named the Tuss, on James' own Rephlex label, were in fact his work. Earlier this year, Aphex Twin's "lost" Caustic Window album finally saw the light of day after fans poured their money into a crowd-funding campaign. After realising that his music meant so much to people, James was inspired to release 'Syro', a collection of songs that he has been working on over a number of years. God Is In The TV said: "While this album may not be as much of a OhmyGodwhatthebloodyfuckwasthat as Drukqs was, it’s still a welcome return and for those who have not encountered his work before (tut tut), perhaps a good place to start." That full review can be found HERE.

46. First Aid Kit - 'Stay Gold' (Columbia Records)
'Stay Gold' reached number 9 in the UK album chart, making it their biggest success yet. Well deserved indeed. The album reached number 1 in their native Sweden, and the duo consider their third full-length to be about the sense that "one has to learn appreciate what is and that all flows, that nothing stays". It has a notably more full, accomplished sound than previous efforts, even taking in some beautiful strings. Mysterious, haunting and with a strong ability to get stuck in your head, 'My Silver Lining' is a blissful summer offering, while yawning pedal steel guitars, elegant acoustics and charming harmonies flow through the beautiful 'Cedar Lane'. Drunken Werewolf said: "this is surely to be an album heard by many and their fame and notoriety is set to continue increasing over the next few years at the least. Still standing out from the crowd and setting an example in the dark and cloudy world of alt-pop..." Read that full review HERE, and listen to the album on Spotify HERE.

45. The Juan MacLean - 'In A Dream' (DFA Records)
Back in the early 2000's, Maclean was guitarist in a post-hardcore band called Six Finger Satellite, who were eventually joined by sound engineer James Murphy. After the band's demise, Murphy founded the influential DFA Records and "urged MacLean to get back into music". I'm glad he did. With ex LCD Soundsystem vocalist Nancy Whang a permanent fixture, this LP turned out to be something of a treat. The Line Of Best Fit said: "In A Dream is a melting pot of pop, disco, house and funk with a punky anything goes attitude. It’s thirty five years of dance music history wrapped up in a glorious fifty minutes and with Whang at the helm, it’s encased with an icy sheen, impossible to resist." Read their full review HERE, and listen to the album via Spotify HERE.

44. La Roux - 'Trouble In Paradise'
Due to major record labels mainly releasing music by talentless fakes with no musical skills, mainstream pop is in the most shabby state it has ever been in, thank God we still have someone like the multi-talented Ellie Jackson, who is now running La Roux as a solo project following the departure of musical partner Ben Langmaid in 2011. Unlike the superb 2009 debut album, the long awaited follow-up 'Trouble In Paradise' drew more on acoustic sounds and instruments, including guitars, organs and percussion; however, analog and digital synthesizers still featured as part of the overall sound. Jackson played all instruments on the record, in addition to co-writing, co-producing and (of course) providing vocals. Just a shame she had to make some ill-informed comments regarding "underground music" that somewhat overshadowed the release of this LP. Listen to it on Spotify HERE.

43. Martin Carr - 'The Breaks' (Tapete Records)
Martin Carr was the songwriter behind the Boo Radleys, who built up an army of fans in the 90s putting out brilliantly experimental pop records and even cracked the mainstream with the eternal 1995 radio staple 'Wake Up Boo'. After the commercial failure of their final (and massively overlooked) album 'Kingsize', the group split in 1998 and Carr returned a couple of years later as Bravecaptain, before eventually deciding to release records under his own name. With many other 90s bands reforming, there has been no hint of the Boo Radleys returning to action, and very few people would expect them to anyway. It's a pleasure to find Carr returning with his first album in five years. In terms of his vocal performance, being without the Boo Radleys for so long has gradually enabled Carr to step further out of the shadows, and as a result now sings with more authority than on previous records. His gift for classic pop songwriting is as outstanding as ever during the best of what 'The Breaks' has to offer. There's more intimacy throughout this record, which allows the listener a deeper insight into Carr's life and a swim through his headspace. By the end of 'The Breaks', we've learned a lot more about this man and feel like we're finally a little bit closer to actually knowing him. And any album that features the line "If Jesus ran a chip shop all our fish would be free" has to be worth checking out doesn't it?  Flawed but charmingly understated, and occasionally wonderful, it's a welcome return from one of British music's unsung heroes. Read the full album review and listen to the album HERE.

42. Ziguri - 'K├Âlsch, Schickert, Erdenreich' (Bureau B Records)
Ziguri is a project formed by Krautrock legends Guenter Schickert, Udo Erdenreich and Dieter Koelsch. Active from 1987 to 1997, the trio reformed in 2011 and now present their first album, some 17 years after they broke up to be exact. The music is hypnotic, trance-psychic and rock-driven, with repetitive beats and bass lines, overlaid by floating patterns from Schickert's inimitable echo-drive guitar. said: "These guys have got to be in their sixties, or rapidly approaching them, but you would never guess that from their music. The five tracks were recorded in just three days and the result is a refreshing set of hypnotic trance/Motorik/psych/Krautrock..." Read their review HERE, and listen to the album in full HERE.

41. St. Vincent - 'St. Vincent' (Loma Vista/Republic Records)
St.Vincent's fourth full-length made number two on God Is In The TV's Albums Of 2014 list. Trevor Clark from the site said: “Annie Clark is a petite lady with a big talent. Better known as St Vincent, she was previously in The Polyphonic Spree and this year released her fourth solo studio album. If you ignore the dubious collaboration with David Byrne, her output has been progressively impressive, so this latest offering is her best yet in my book. It’s both quirky and moody, often very complex and with some cutting lyrics all wrapped up in exquisite musical arrangements, yet retaining a true pop sensibility throughout. One of the year’s best albums so far for me.” Listen to the album via Spotify HERE.

40-31 can be found HERE.
30-1 can be found HERE.

RW/FF's favourite tracks of 2014 can be heard on this mixtape HERE.

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