Tuesday, 30 December 2014

End Of Year Round Up

The famed Levenshulme murals
Welcome to my 2014 music round up!

Due to laptop problems, it very nearly didn't happen. But, where there's a will there's a way, as they say, and although the year is almost over I was still hellbent on sharing my favourite songs of the year with you.

Best Single: Peggy Sue - Idle

Coupled with a video largely comprised of vintage burlesque clips, this deceptively simple start of year release by Peggy Sue captured a sense of restlessness that felt very 2014, but at the same time also seemed timeless. A taster from their Choir of echoes album, 'Idle' should last and last.

In a particularly strong year for singles, it's inevitable that there were quite a few Runners up:

Salt Ashes - Somebody

Coming straight out of nowhere, 'Somebody' and its flipside 'Little Dove' made for a particularly stylish calling card. Whereas 'Little Dove' was brooding minimalist electro, 'Somebody' combines the best elements of recent years Swedish electro pop with the more shimmering, hypnotic aspects of handbag house, meaning that if you missed dancing to this in 2014, you missed a stunning pop moment.

Lose the ropes please though.

Ex Hex - Don't wanna lose

Technically a contender for 2015, as it's only just out as a single, this slice of reverb heavy punk attitude served time earlier this year as an excellent album teaser for the acclaimed Rips album. New York punk swagger, reverb'd guitars and lots of rock'n'roll attitude.

Andrea Balency - You've never been alone

Almost too vocally slight, this slice of R&B tinged pop shows slightly more muscle than her other more ethereal wanderings, and features a catchy refrain which is coupled with post FKA Twigs inspired musical experimentation. It works well, and once it's in your head, it's there to stay.

Best Album: Hollie Cook - Twice

A classic, and very classy, album of lovers rock from Cook. Twice followed a very strong debut album but manages to both complement and surpass it. You can read my full review of the album here.

Runners up: 

La Roux -  Trouble in Paradise

Whereas La Roux's debut saw Elly Jackson seeking inspiration in early '80s electro pop and, it was suspected, everything from Nightrider and Miami Vice to the Blitz club, Trouble in Paradise seeks its inspiration from the slower, more funk infused, rhythmically complex sounds of Grace Jones and the Tom Tom Club. The result is a series of slick, sophisticated pop songs in a mid '80s vein which when combined with Jackson's trademark sharply observational lyrics make for a pop classic.

Owlle - France

Released late in the year, Owlle's debut will probably have missed out on the majority of end of year listings but this subtle and sophisticated album of classy electro pop deserves to be listened to. It occasionally flirts with full on pop ('Ticky Ticky') and R&B ('Creed'), but the moody 'Fog' reveals Owlle as one to watch in the coming year, and France is a strong set of songs that should endure.

Ex Hex - Rips

An audience primed by Wild Flag, Corin Tucker's solo work and the reformation of Sleater-Kinney will have been more than ready to devour this latest project from Helium's Mary Timony. Newcomers will love Rips for what it is: Full on New York punk rawk in a late '70s vein. You can read my full review of the album here. 

Best came to it late album: Jessie Ware - Devotion

Stylish left of centre soul stylings from a singer/songwriter who seems to be going from strength to strength. "If you're never gonna move" is a lovely slice of dancefloor friendly pop, and 'Running' a fantastic brooding soul anthem. Well worth re-discovering.

If you'd like to listen to more of my tracks of 2014, you can also listen to my Spotify playlist.