As thoughts of trying to seat ten people at a table which normally only accommodates five and tactics to avoid dad as he realises he’s forgotten the roast potatoes, sprouts or stuffing begin to formalise, you know this can only mean one thing; the end of year lists are upon us. And here at LSRadio it is no different. Our trusty team of music reviewers and all-round experts have sent in their suggestions, and after tedious points-counting and a lovely, multi-coloured table, it is finally here: the official LSRadio top 10 albums of 2014. So sit back, munch on a mince pie, and enjoy what is without question the only list you should be taking any serious heed of as we round off what has been, as always, a wonderful year for music.
10) The Crookes-Soapbox
Two years after the release of their second record Hold Fast, Sheffield four-piece The Crookes’ Soapbox kicks off our list in unabashed indie fashion. With more hooks and catchy choruses than you could shake a stick at, Soapbox was an album which won us over from the start and never let us go. And with song as good as ‘Play Dumb’ and the title track, why would you want it to?
Check out the LSRadio review of The Crookes at EVAC here
9) The Wytches-Annabel Dream Reader
Having played most of the UK major festivals, engaging in a headline tour and signing to Heavenly Records in the last 12 months, it’s safe to say that 2014 has been a good year for Brighton-based three-piece The Wytches. Having already garnered a reputation for their distorted, feral live shows, Annabel Dream Reader dropped in August of this year, and proved what everyone already knew; The Wytches are a band to watch out for. With grungy, psych-infused riffs and vocals stretched way past breaking point, tracks such as ‘Digsaw’ and ‘Gravedweller’ took the music scene by storm, and marked out The Wytches as something special.
Check out the LSRadio review of The Wytches at The Shipping Forecast here and at The Kazimier here
8) Sharon Van Etten-Are We There
Arguably the record which lugs with it the most emotional baggage in our list, Sharon Van Etten’s Are We There is an album replete with notions of heartbreak and loss, performed in the most exquisite of manners. Backed by a cast which includes both David Hartley and Adam Granduciel of The War On Drugs, this is an album made for total indulgence, with highlights such as ‘Tarifa’ shaping some of the most beautiful moments of 2014.
7) Mac DeMarco-Salad Days
Cheeky-chappy and an all-round figure of entertainment, Mac DeMarco delivered a record of upbeat, reflective joy back in April with his second album, Salad Days. From the opener of the same name to the spoken farewell at the end of closer ‘Jonny’s Odyssey’, DeMarco juggles humour, wit and a sense of sincerity in a showing which reflects he is much more than low-brow humour and sugary melodies. His intelligence and compositional strengths are what make the record so good, resulting in Salad Days’ entry into the list a certainty.
6) Catfish And The Bottlemen-The Balcony
Welsh upstarts Catfish And The Bottlemen’s The Balcony has been voted sixth by the LSRadio team, and with tracks like ‘Rango’ and ‘Kathleen’ to boast, it isn’t hard to see why. Single ‘Cocoon’ even managed to grab a place on recently released Fifa 2015, and with a healthy festival period and packed tour dates, including a recent gig in our own beloved city, the boys have been a loud and much-needed addition to the sound of 2014.
Check out the LSRadio review of Catfish And The Bottlement at The Korova Club from 2013 here
5) Bombay Bicycle Club-So Long, See You Tomorrow
Long gone are the days of Bombay’s forays into the more raucous side of indie on their debut, though this year’s So Long, See You Tomorrow, their fourth record, shows just how far the band have come in those five years. With inspiration arriving in the form of lead singer/guitarist Jack Steadman’s travels through India, Japan and Turkey, the album sees Bombay adopting a sound which leans away from their guitars and closer to a wider array of instrumentation. Thankfully, none of the quality was sacrificed, and So Long, See You Tomorrow is another healthy step forward for one of Britain’s most exciting acts.
Check out the LSRadio review of Bombay Bicycle Club at the O2 here and our interview with them from 2012 here
4) Dan Croll-Sweet Disarray
Former LIPA student Dan Croll is another who has truly made 2014 his year. His debut record Sweet Disarray, released in March of this year, promoted him from local hero to having his tracks featured on both Fifa 14 and GTA V, a mean feat by anybody’s standards. Marrying a mix of afrobeats with gorgeous, layered synth-pop, Sweet Disarray proved to be a favourite among the LSRadio contingents, as we wait in earnest to see what this young artist will do next.
Check out the LSRadio review of Dan Croll at The Kazimier here
3) Jamie T-Carry On The Grudge
Returning from a four-year hiatus following the success of his second album Kings and Queens, London-based Jamie T proved he has lost none of his suburban charm with Septembers Carry On The Grudge. Crammed with the sort of witty, insightful lyricism we have come to know and love, the record also reflected a darker, grittier side to Jamie T, with the haunting, punk-inflected sing-along ‘Peter’ a particular highlight.
Check out the LSRadio review of Jamie T at the Liverpool Guild of Students here
2) The War On Drugs-Lost In The Dream
Turning his struggles with depression and loneliness following the end of tour into an album worthy of the upper-echelons of our list, The War On Drugs’ Adam Grandcuiel ensured 2014 saw his band go from Kurt Vile’s old group to an act on the tips of everyone’s tongues. Lost In The Dream is an album full of loss, dislocation, though ultimately hope, and against a vivid backdrop of woozy reverb and driving beats, the result is nothing short of stunning.
1) Royal Blood-Royal Blood
Few successes can quite compare to the meteoric rise of Brighton duo Royal Blood, and so it comes as little surprise that their self-titled debut tops the list here. From filling the tents of Reading & Leeds to having their October/November tour sell out in under two minutes, as well as their record becoming the fastest-selling rock debut since Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds in 2011 with sales of 66,000 in their first week, 2014 has seen bassist/singer Mike Kerr and drummer Ben Thatcher go from unknowns to contemporary British rock heroes. And with all that in a year, here at LSRadio there is a strong sense of anticipation to see what the boys can do in 2015.
Check out the LSRadio interview with them here
Words: Ben Lynch