1. Kate Tempest- Everybody Down
Pretty much a universally critically acclaimed record this one, and in my view still the one that should have got the mercury. Right from the first note This album drags you in. KT has an incredible ability to write from many different points of view. Whether that person be male or female, a small time drug dealer, or a full time gangster. Dan Carey's production doesn't so much provide a back drop for KT's storytelling as tell the story itself. In Marshall Law both KT and the music itself, changes points of view, the harsh club electronica reflecting Becky's detachment and unease, and the soft melodic trance-ier sounds reflecting Harry's sense of wonder and naivety. Everybody Down ties itself together better than any other concept album I've ever heard, and the music is always thrilling. Much of what KT has to say about society is hidden as she is only narrating the story, but her anger at the state of Britain is clear in several verses and in her fast and versatile flow. UK Hip Hop rarely produces acts with talent such as this, Everybody Down is an album to be treasured.
2. Run The Jewels - RTJ2
With this album Killer Mike and EL-P achieved the seemingly impossible, making an album better than their self titled début. Right from the opening rant it's obvious that RTJ2 is far more focused, dark and political. The ludicrous boasting and vivid, raps about sex and drugs have mostly gone, in favour of political sloganeering. So much so that Even Zach De La Rocha seems out of his depth on his guest verse. The plus side is that it's packed full of absolute bangers, from the room-shaking bass on 'Oh My Darling' to the Travis Barker assisted, 'All Due Respect', each track is bigger, better and heavier than the last. Both El-P and Killer Mike are prodigiously talented rappers, their flows compliment each other perfectly and frankly make the likes of A$ap Rocky or Rick Ross seem amateurish by comparison. Despite EL-P producing some of dopest beats this century, Killer Mike emerges as the real star, his anger at police brutality, and religion have inspired some of the best rapping I've ever heard. Put simply, this album was released for free, if you like Hip Hop you have no excuse to not have heard it.
3. The War On Drugs- Lost in the Dream
many this was the early favourite album of the year and its not hard
to see why. On the surface there is not much to differentiate these
songs from what Bruce Springsteen or Neil Young has already written,
but they didn't write these songs, Adam Granduciel did. The tinny
production of many 80's album has been given a very modern reworking. Vintage synths, electric drums and the modern yet retro production give lost in the dream, a very dream like quality, and these are songs you really can get lost in. These are very heartfelt, personal songs about overcoming depression and other such problems, but ultimately it's just about great songs.
4. Sleaford Mods- Divide and Exit - http://tinyurl.com/nlaodfg
5. Azealia Banks- Broke With Expensive Taste. Being a fan of Azealia Banks has been tough for a while. What with her twitter feuds, cancelled tours, and the seemingly endless wait for this album, and then one day it just appears! BWET has plenty of variety, whether that be afrobeat, funk, soul, trip-hop, surf-rock. After a while it sticks to a formula of either harsh rave or house, yet she still excels on both. It's a shame that many of these tracks have been lying around the internet for some time. Yet New tracks such as 'Chasing Time' 'JFK' and 'Desperado' have made it worth the wait.
6. Eagulls - Eagulls Amber Veins (drug addiction) Tough Luck (physical deformities) Nerve Endings (paranoia). Each of the tracks on Eagulls Debut album is bleak, but my god is it an amazing listen, taking the atmospherics of Joy Division and adding it to their own punk sound, Eagulls have made an album that is loud and gnarly as hell, yet inspiring for all it's nihilism. Despite this some of these songs are surprisingly catchy, their singer genuinely sounds angry rather than just pretending to be. Basically, you'll be singing 'Amber Veins, Amber Veins! AMBER VEEEINNNS!!' over and over after hearing that song, or the intro to 'Soulless Youth' may put a shiver down your spine. Nihilism never sounded so good.
7. King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard - Oddments The first of Two records this year by the 7 strong Aussie collective. Having listened to their back catalogue so far, I can say that this is where it all came together. Sounding like Tame impala on Happy Pills, Oddments is an absolute joy from start to finish, full of brain melting sounds as well as songs that are funny, sad, or just plain weird in equal measure.
8. Aphex Twin - Syro This album is almost impossible to describe with words.
9. Peaking Lights - Cosmic Logic This was a complete gamble that I bought from Left For Dead. It's a big grower though. A lot of it sounds like The Ting Tings jamming with Kraftwerk. Cosmic Logic is half psychedelic odyssey, half bubblegum pop record. It improves with each listen.
10. Cymbals- The Age of Fracture. Easily one of the most underrated releases of 2014. Cymbals take on 80's synth pop is complex and arty, yet always enough fun to avoid coming across as pretentious.
11. Slaves-Sugar Coated Bitter Truth,
12. Vertical Scratchers- Daughter of Everything, http://tinyurl.com/orobc6u
13. Kasabian- 48:13, 14. The Wytches - Annabell Dream Reader, 15. Jungle - S/T, 16. Alt-J -This is All yours, 17, Metronomy -Love Letters, 18. Temples - Sun Structures, 19. Bombay Bicycle Club - So Long See you Tomorrow, 20. Merchandise- After The End, 21. Julian CasaBlancas + The Voidz - Tyranny, 22. S.Carey -Range Of Light, 23. Thom Yorke, Tomorrow's Modern Boxes, 24. Royal Blood-s/t, 25. Childhood, Lacuna.
And a cheeky number 26. Eyedress- Hearing Colours
Note: this list is by no means conclusive, any amazing records left out are left out because I haven't bothered to listen to them yet. I reserve the right to change my mind.