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Steve Reynolds - A writer's best albums of 2014

by Steve Reynolds Rating: Release Date:

It's that time of year again, the ubiquitous mince pie, crap food at the local pub masquerading as 'Christmas dinner', horrendously crowded shops and an over-smug John Lewis advert. However, through all the yearly grind there is the shining light of trawling through all the glitz and glamour of the best albums of the year. Yes, I know it's a subjective thing but you can rest assured that the readers and reviewers who frequent this website will have impeccable taste, right?

Anyway, in no particular order here are my faves:

  1. Broken Arm - Life is Short (Gringo Records)

Four blokes from Leeds have made a debut to be proud of. Recalling the anger and hardcore malevolent ambition of Fugazi and Jesus Lizard with the drive and guts of Shellac, this is ballsy music. Recorded by MJ from Hookworms, this album is so edgy it seems like it might just teeter off the edge of a cliff taking the band with it. Broken Arm - Life is short 

      2.  Mogwai - Rave Tapes (Rock Action)

A nine album lifespan hasn't dampened the spirit and innovation of Mogwai. Rave Tapes continues their quest to challenge the rock norm and the mix of electronic and guitar sounds here is seamless. They are a band at the height of their career right now, completed by having an outstanding live show in their back pockets Mogwai - Remurdered

       3.  Afghan Whigs - Do to the Beast (Sub Pop)

T' Whigs made their first album in 1988 and over the last 26 years they've hardly been productive, having only recorded seven albums in that time. Do to the Beast is their first since 1998 and the time-span hasn't weakened Greg Dulli's black-hearted lyrics. Aided and abetted by an tightly wound band, this continues to push the dark buttons. Afghan Whigs - Algiers

       4.  Teleman - Breakfast (Moshi Moshi)

After Pete & The Pirates sadly disbanded, three of the four members regrouped and created Teleman. They continued making instantly loveable tunes but delivered with a much more minimalistic sound and outlook. Probably the best indie-pop album of 2014. Teleman - 23 floors up

        5.  Hookworms - The Hum (Domino)

It was only 18 months ago that Hookworms released their astonishing debut, Pearl Mystic, but they've hardly been dormant, producing an even better follow up in The Hum. Armed with unbridled confidence and added muscle, this takes the band to another level. Playing live will only fuel their burgeoning reputation further. Hookworms - On Leaving    

        6.  Unwound - No Energy (Numero)

This is the fourth compilation collecting the band's albums, this time Future of What? and Repetition from 1995/96 plus singles and live tracks. Steeped in melancholy, harrowing lyrics and complimented by a sinister, brooding mix of punk and hardcore, this is a challenging but rewarding listen. Unwound - New Energy

         7.  Twilight Sad - Nobody Wants to Be Here and Nobody Wants to Leave (FatCat)

Another album from Glasgow's favourite miserablists - their fourth, in fact. This is another release of uncompromising synths and walls of guitar, all sat around James Graham continually distressing and disturbing lyrics about the extended family and what goes on within four walls. It's a compelling masterpiece and one that should lift the band to a higher plain. The Twilight Sad - Last January

         8.  Earth - Primitive & Deadly (Southern Lord)

We all like a bit of drone in our lives and Earth deliver it impeccably. Reminiscent of a slowed-down Black Sabbath at times and assisted by the gravel of Mark Lanegan as ell as the crystalline of Rabia Shabeen, this is the eighth album by the band. With only original member Dylan Carlson at the helm, they continue to be as challenging and relevant as ever. Earth - Torn By the Fox of the Crescent Moon

         9.  The Wharves - At Bay (Gringo Records)

The Wharves are so new, they don't even have a Wiki page. An all-female three-piece, they embody the spirit of The Slits with the grace and charm of Pod-era Breeders. They've made a debut of such effortless soul, they don't even know it. Definitely ones to watch in 2015. The Wharves - The Grip 

         10. Goat - Commune (Sub Pop)

This, their second album, followed up their highly acclaimed debut, World Music, from 2012. Full of mystery, groove, and twists, their impeccable delivery of idiosyncratic psychedelia and African polyrhythms would move even the most danceless of people to shake a leg or two. Goat - Gathering Of Ancient Tribes

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