As 2014 comes to a close our music critics take a look at their Top Ten Albums of the Year. Click here for more end of the year roundups.
10. Sinead O’Connor – I’m Not Bossy, I’m The Boss
Her voice still has the emotional power that made Nothing Compares 2 You a classic and her message is as determined as ever; Sinead O’Connor has not softened with age. Breathtakingly honest lyrics, and no end of pop hooks ensure that I’m Not Bossy will sit comfortably within O’Connor’s celebrated back catalogue.
9. The Preatures – Blue Planet Eyes
A splendid debut from the Australian newcomers. Instant pop hits combine with blissed out mood pieces, all delivered with plenty of retro charm. There’s enough variety here to keep you engaged, without ever feeling that the band have overstretched themselves. Expect to hear much more from The Preatures in the future.
8. Mobb Deep – The Infamous Mobb Deep
Stark, haunting production provides the perfect backdrop for Mobb Deep’s bleak brand of rap. His detached vocal and troubled lyrics are full of gnawing intensity and create visions of smoke choked, backroom freestyle sessions. This double album includes a brand new LP and a reissued version of 1995’s Infamous. The contemporary material stands up to comparison with the historic recordings and proves that Mobb Deep still has much to offer.
7. Blues Pills – Blues Pills
A salute to The Hendrix Spirit, this self-titled debut is an impressive feat. Intense psychedelia and bold blues rock reference the ‘60s revival and the magic that swirled around that golden age. Vocalist Elin Larsson hits lung busting heights and the virtuosic players around her create a brilliant, vintage sound.
6. Me First & The Gimme Gimmes – Are We Not Men? We Are Diva!
The world’s finest covers band, Me First continue to completely reshape our favourite pop songs. Believe, Beautiful, Karma Chameleon, The Way We Were… All are given a heavy reworking with thrashing guitars and driving rhythms, whilst being treated with the respect they deserve. Another excellent LP that will provide fresh ammo for the band’s legendary live shows.
5. Diagrams – Chromatics
Emeritus Tunng frontman Sam Genders presents his second solo effort under his nom de plum, Diagrams. Existential crises, paranoia, social meltdown: all are tackled with withering wit and electro pop brilliance. At first listen this is an enormously enjoyable album, yet closer inspection revels that there is incredible depth and a hard hitting message lurking beneath the surface.
4. Roller Trio – Fracture
The 2012 Mercury Prize nominees return with an album packed with hard hitting jazz. Astonishingly tight, the trio’s rhythms are utterly unpredictable, changing pace and direction without warning. More than willing to abandon themselves to fate, Fracture is driven by a frenzy of rocking improvisation. An instrumental masterclass.
3. Robert Plant – Lullaby And… The Ceaseless Roar
One of the greatest vocalists of all time, Plant is still without rival. On Lullaby… his voice is soaked with vulnerability and sorrow, yet he can still produce the incredible force that defined his work with Led Zeppelin. His magnificent band, The Sensational Space Shifters, seamlessly blend West African, folk and country music with a healthy dose of Bristolian beats. Remarkable that an artist who has achieved so much continues to be driven by a need to create and to explore. If this is anything to go by, that Zeppelin reunion looks some way off.
2. War On Drugs – Lost In the Dream
Complex, intricate and brimming with swagger. At one moment, the perfect driving album, at the next, an ambient classic. Stunning musicianship and back to back belters define Lost In The Dream, it’s an album that proves that rock is alive and very, very well.
1. Lagwagon – Hang
Driving punk rock from the Californian veterans. Social commentary dominates Joey Cape’s lyrics and he has lost none of his bite. The band continue to push the boundaries of their genre with brilliant playing and Hang offers no end of breathless twists and turns. Sensational.
Did we miss your favourite? Comment below! And check out our other end of the year Roundups here (Including films, songs and more albums).
Header Image Rights; Crusher Records, Nuclear Blast