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Andy Brown - A writer's best albums of 2014

by Andy Brown Rating: Release Date:

Making lists is pretty fun, right? OK, well perhaps making a shopping list isn’t that much fun but compiling your favourite albums of the year is markedly different from detailing the bread, milk and butter you need to restock. 2014 has been a pretty awesome year musically and it’s reassuring to know that so much great music is out there if you’re just willing to dig that little deeper.

So no matter if you’ve had a crap year, take comfort in the fact that there’s always exciting new music out there; ready to pick you up, turn you around and generally make everything seem just that little bit better. It’s been difficult trying to compile a top 10 but the albums below have all blown me away and are certainly worthy of your time. So many other releases deserve a mention alongside these chosen few with albums by Half Japanese, Melvins, Thee Silver Mt Zion and Eagulls just missing out.,

So without further ado, here are my favourite musical moments of 2014:

1 Earth - Primitive & Deadly (Southern Lord)

Dylan Carlson’s drone-rock project continued to deliver the goods with aplomb. Following on from the Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light albums, Primitive & Deadly took the band’s sound back to its heavy, riff-oriented roots. The presence of vocalists Mark Lanegan and Rabia Shaheen Qazi added some extra magic to Carlson and Adrianna Davies’ typically spellbinding instrumentation.


2 Comet Gain - Paperback Ghosts (Fortuna Pop!)

The consistently brilliant Comet Gain returned with yet another effortless slice of indie-pop. Paperback Ghosts saw frontman David Feck unveil what felt like a particularly personal collection of lovelorn and heartbroken odes to “the lost loves you remember”. The graceful, autumnal melancholy perhaps reached its peak with the superb ‘Wait ‘Til December’.


3 Hookworms - The Hum (Weird World)

The Hum saw Hookworms translate the power of their live performances into 37 minutes of pure exhilaration. While Pearl Mystic is undoubtedly one of the finest debut albums of recent years, The Hum stands as a perfect snapshot of an incredibly exciting band. The anger, passion and euphoria of that distinctive Hookworms sound have perhaps never been captured better.


4 The Wind Up Birds - Poor Music (Sturdy Records)

Leeds has more than its fair share of fantastic bands yet you may be unaware of one of the cities finest; The Wind-Up Birds could be your most rewarding discovery of 2014. Singer Paul Ackroyd (Kroyd), is undoubtedly one of the best lyricists around, displaying a knack for storytelling and characters that keeps you firmly hooked. Poor Music saw the band develop a more ambitious sound, while retaining the raw, emotive energy that sets them apart.


5 Ides of Gemini - Old World New Wave (Neurot Recordings)

With Old World New Wave, Ides of Gemini delivered one of the year's finest, heavy moments. At times coming across like a more riff-orientated Siouxsie & the Banshees, the band's mixture of  propulsive riffs and Serra Timm’s shamanistic vocals proved utterly hypnotic. You’ll be punching the air and striking your finest rock pose within the first few minutes.


6 Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks  - Wig Out at Jagbags (Domino)

It’s sometimes hard to believe that The Jicks have been going for around 14 years. Malkmus’ post-Pavement band deserve just as much love as the idolised indie gods, releasing consistently brilliant albums while honing their skills as one of the best live acts you could hope to see. Wig Out at Jagbags kept the quality high with a fine selection of psych-pop tunes, brim full with surreal humour, hooks galore and some first-class musicianship.


7 Current 93 - I am the Last of All, the Field that Fell: a Channel (The Spheres)

Formed in 1982, Current 93 have a devoted following yet remain a distinctly cult concern. The band has connections to the likes of Throbbing Gristle and Nurse with Wound while their music has moved from industrial drones to dark, folk storytelling courtesy of singer/lyricist David Tibet. This year’s release saw them employ frosty piano ballads with help from the likes of Nick Cave, Antony Hegarty and avant-garde composer John Zorn.


8 Mogwai - Rave Tapes (Rock Action)

When it comes to brooding post-rock, you can always rely on Mogwai to deliver the goods. Rave Tapes was yet another collection of those spine tingling moments that seem to come so naturally to Scotland’s best band. Tracks such as ‘Heard about You Last Night’ and ‘The Lord is Out of Control’ saw the band unveil some of their most beautifully glacial compositions to date. Pure magic.


9 The Skull Defekts - Dances in Dreams of the Known Unknown (Thrill Jockey) 

Sweden’s Skull Defekts gave us a muscular album of cerebral rock thrills with the impressive Dances in Dreams of the Known Unknown. Former Lungfish vocalist Daniel Higgs worked his shaman-like magic while the band released a wall of post-punk rhythms, QOTSA riffs and raw, primal energy. An elemental force to be reckoned with, The Skull Defekts sounded unstoppable.


10 Swans - To Be Kind (Mute)

Michael Gira’s reinvigorated Swans continued to impress with the sprawling, brutal magic of To Be Kind. I distinctly remember that excited, taken aback ‘what the fuck!’ when I first heard the superbly insane ‘Oxygen’, while the album itself was so immense it took a few listens before it all started to sink in. Impressive stuff. 


So what do you think? Agree? Disagree? What albums have I missed that I really shouldn’t have? Get making those lists people 

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