Since the music industry stopped making money from physical media and started relying much more heavily on touring and royalties, the quality of music now available to the public seems better than at any point I can remember. It’s almost as if, as the rewards for musical success become harder to come by, the quality of music being made gets higher and higher.
This list is a rough approximation of the the albums I’ve played most this year from the scrobbling I’ve been doing to last.fm, so not all have been released this year, they are just what I’ve listened to most.
These are all albums that I’ve loved so much, as soon as the last song has finished, I end up putting them straight back on again.
Run The Jewels – Run The Jewels 2
This is highly sexually graphic, aggressive, poetic and often ridiculous. It has some rich, intense and almost filmic scenery and gets me as excited about rap as I was the first time I listened to NWA’s Niggaz4Life. The vibes are skittish and constantly surprising and it’s frankly astonishing how much they pack into it.
Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks – Wig Out at Jagbags
This is just as catchy and jangly and angular as anything that Pavement ever did. The trumpet on J Smoov is so bouncy and playful and never ever plays on the beat, like it’s drunk or it’s played by someone entirely new to the instrument.
Mac DeMarco – Salad Days
The first time I heard Mac Demarco’s guitar, it made me cringe. I thought, “why don’t you just tuuuuune it?!”. But it quickly grew on me and you can hear how madly in love he was when he wrote the album. Every song on here is simple and honest and unashamedly pop.
Tweedy – Sukierae
Jeff Tweedy from Wilco made an album with his son Spencer. This is it and it’s absolutely wonderful and weird and jittery and smooth in places and there’s 20 tracks on it. Amazing.
Angel Olsen – Burn Your Fire For No Witness
Agnel Olsen’s voice is sweet and shaky and rounded and seems utterly desolate at times. I love how stripped back and bare it is. Often, it feels like there should be more there, but I guess that’s what she’s trying to get across. For me she somehow occupies the same psychic space as Roy Orbison, Leonard Cohen and Freda Payne.
Parquet Courts – Light Up Gold +Tally All The Things That You Broke
I mostly love it because it reminds me of being young and it has the finest snare drum sound on anything I’ve ever heard. I think it was recorded inside a shoe box.
The War on Drugs – Lost in the Dream
I feel that at times The War on Drugs is working towards a chorus that never comes, that they never quite want to give you everything they’ve got. There’s a sort of adult-oriented rock aspect to them which makes them super-safe. But I still have it on repeat. They seems to have nicked loads of the swirly bits that Nick McCabe of The Verve used to be superb at.
Patti Smith – Horses
Yes, obviously this didn’t come out in 2014, it came out in 1975. But sometimes you just come to something late in life and then love it, the vitriol and the despair at modern life, even in the mid-70s is still relevant.
Mdou Moctar – Afelan
One of the few shows I managed to see this year was Mdou Moctar at Café Oto. He was epic and uplifting. Sahel Sounds appear to be doing great things and I can’t wait to see what else they put out in 2015. The above is just a video from the filming of the recording. This was one of the few vinyl only releases I fell in love with this year.