It's been a funny old year for albums, I knew of a few that were coming along, but there has (have) been some major surprises along the way. The fact that Damon Albarn is on this list being one of the major ones for me. Also, the amount of bands I have only heard through recommendations from people on here is quite refreshing as well. This list below is my own personal Top 20.. 40... ok 50, (and I promise this is the highest I will go) for the blog, not the collectives album of the year poll. That is starting to be compiled and if you want to your in on the voting, drop an email to address at the top and we will be in touch. I have linked each album to a review that has been done (seriously, I am that sad....) So, without any ado being furthered.....
50 - Prince - ArtOfficialAge
One of two albums dropped by his purple bad-ass this year.
Top track - Breakdown
49 - The War On Drugs - Lost In The Dream
Dream pop from Philadelphia, wrote before his ongoing feud with Sun Kil Moon.
Top track - Red Eyes
48 - Anathema - Distant Satellites
From their metal beginning they have wondered far, for some people this is the album that Pink Floyd should have released. Even on this album, they are changing into something else once more.
Top track - Distant Satellites
47 - Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Live At KCRW
Live radio session from the new man in black.
Top track - Push The Sky Away
46 - Toxic Melons - Bus Therapy
Crowd sourced album which brings together the joys of early 60's pop and has many contributions.
Top track - Change The World
45 - Beck - Morning Phase
First of two promised albums from Beck, this is a very laid back and heart breaking album.
Top track - Blue Moon
44 - Ivy League TX - Transparency
A blast of punk energy who are slowly gaining a good reputation for themselves.
Top track - History Repeats
43 - Mastodon - Once More 'Round The Sun
Another gem from the Atlanta mob, moving into a more prog direction once again mixed with the metal sound that has been their calling card.
Top track - The Motherload
42 - Mark Lanegan Band - Phantom Radio
The musical travelling man releases his most promising album for years, showcasing his talent once again as one of the best vocalists of his generation.
Top track - Death Trip To Tulsa
41 - Imogen Heap - Sparks
Over a year in the making and with some audience helping, this slice of dream pop & electronica is Ms Heap's best release to date.
Top track - Telemiscomminications
40 - CJ Wildheart - Mable
When originally releases, you could also purchase his own made hot sauce with the album. But the record itself is plenty spicy enough, showing that (as most fans will know anyway) there was more than one great song writer in the Wildhearts.
Top track - D.C.
39 - Cavorts - Got Your Brass
From the ashes of GU Medicine arises this new metal monster, harsh grooves and all out attack.
Top track - Look After The Pack
38 - Agalloch - The Serpent & The Sphere
From Portland in America, you have this slice of dark metal that is still harrowing for the listener.
Top track - Dark Matter Gods
37 - Sunn 0))) + Ulver - Terresrials
First of two contribution efforts from Sunn 0))), this one is with Norwegian Ulver. A perfect mixture of both elements from each group combine to created this slice of ambient drone.
Top track - Let There Be Light
36 - Damon Albarn - Everyday Robots
Hell has indeed frozen over, Damon albarn has made my top albums of the year list. The first solo release from the Blur front man is a brilliant and dark album, a million miles away from his previous groups efforts.
Top track - You & Me
35 - Jonah's onelinedrawing - Me And You Are Two
The charismatic singer of Far and other projects finally gets round to part two of Visitor, the art work is one of my favourite of the year.
Top track - Bye Bye, Best Friend
34 - Withered Hand - New Gods
Scottish based solo working from Dan Wilson, this album is a true grower for 2014. Songs sung from the heart and will live on in your memory for years to come.
Top track - Horseshoe
33 - YOB - Clearing The Path To Ascend
Four tracks of Doom from the American giants who should be bigger than they currently are, this is an epic release which is both challenging and mesmerising.
Top track - Unmask The Spectre
32 - Hookworms - The Hum
Psychedelica from Leeds which are currently on the rise, this album will raise that profile even further.
Top track - The Impasse
31 - Ryan Adams - 1984
11 songs in 14 minutes, this was only released on a 7" vinyl and it still sounded better than his new album. For fans who wish the Replacements were still in their prime.
Top track - Bones & Ash
30 - Death From Above 1979 - The Physical World
Hipster rock that is actually amazing, showing that my initial impression of the band was very harsh indeed.
Top track - Cheap Track
29 - Elbow - The Take Off & Landing Of Everything
Following up the disappoint 'Build A Rocket Boys!' with a great tale of sorrow and self discovery in a foreign land.
Top track - Change
28 - Weezer - Everything Will Be Alright In The End
Has a midlife crisis ever sound more pop? With some fans saying it is a return to form, for me it is just continuing the great work they have done since 'The Red Album'... albeit it from someone who is sensing that they might not be Peter Pan any more.
Top track - iii. Return To Ithaka
27 - Whores - Clean
Six tracks of alternative rock that show that the guitar music is not dead, in fact it is still as pissed off as ever.
Top track - Last Look
26 - Pixies - Indie Cindy
Whilst it might just be a compilation of there recent three EP's and it might not be with Kim Deal, but this is still a very strong release.
Top track - Another Toe In The Ocean
25 - Polar Bear - In Each & Everyone
Recently nominated for the Mercury Music prize and one of the most interesting jazz releases I have heard in 2014.
Top track - Be Free
24 - Voices - London
From the ashes of Akercocke, this second album from the London metal unit is a brilliant look at the seedy underbelly of the capital of England.
Top track - The Ultimate Narcissist
23 - Mogwai - Rave Tapes
Post-rock mavericks Mogwai released this early on in 2014; whilst it was not an instant hit, it was a true grower. Also, the art work is truly stunning (and changeable as well).
Top track - No Medicine For Regret
22 - Alkaline Trio - My Shame Is True
Top track - The Torture Doctor
21 - Scott Walker + Scott Walker - Soused
More art than record, this second collaborative effort from Sunn 0))) sees them team up with form heart throb and Avante-garde artist Scott Walker to release on of the most darkest records of 2014. The only way it could have been darker was if it was released in the blood of their enemies.
Top track - Herod 2014
20 - Various Artist - Guardians Of The Galaxy: Awesome Mix Volume 1
The soundtrack to the film of 2014. This represents a compilation tape that was made for the main character of the film (aka Starlord aka Peter Quill) by his mother. It is one of those mix tape selections that actually transcend the movie itself and has some fantastic pop moments from the past.
Top track - Blue Swede - Hooked On A Feeling
19 - Swans - To Be Kind
I am still trying to work this album out. Even now, some six months afterwards I am still trying to digest Over two discs (or vinyls) the band take the listener on another dark journey of the soul. I reckon it will take another two years for it to make much sense. All I do know is that I like it.
Top track - Screen Shot
18 - Sky Ferreria - Night Time, My Time
Controversial cover aside, this is one of the finest alternative pop records of 2014. Mixing punk rock attitude with keyboards and clever song writing, this should be reaching higher up the charts that it did. It is much better than anything by Lady Gaga and Co.
Top track - Nobody Asked Me (If I Was Okay)
17 - Robert Plant - Lullaby....And The Ceaseless Roar
For some people, this is not the album they want from Robert Plant....balls to them. This is the most solid solo album that Mr Plant has released in years. Sounding like a travelling man who is growing tired of his wanderlust, this album is worthy of all the praise it is currently receiving. Also, it makes the point that his decision not to revisit his supposed glory years in Led Zeppelin was the right one.
Top track - Little Maggie
16 - AC/DC - Rock Or Bust
An album recorded in a bit of turmoil due to personal events surrounding the band, this album is the shortest of their career and one of the most entertaining as well. For a band who does not like the soap opera side of their lives, it is a welcome distraction to their problems. Also, it rocks like a mo-fo!
Top track - Rock The House
15 - Maxïmo Park - Too Much Information
The fifth album from these North East English natives reveals that the band have not lost any of their charm or abilities to write an album that makes them stand out from the field.
Top track - Drinking Martinis
14 - Morrissey - World Peace Is None Of Your Business
The side show for this man is always distracting, but nothing changes the fact that this is his strongest release since 'Vauxhall & I' released some 20 years previously. The fact it was deleted from sale after a few weeks due to problems with his record label and the vitriol that is being shown by both sides should not take away from how good this record is.
Top track - World Peace Is None Of Your Business
13 - Benjamin Booker - Benjamin Booker
This debut from Benjamin Booker is one of the biggest debut album of 2014. This man has been wooing audience around the globe and his album is a fantastic ball of energy which will have any room rocking within minutes.
Top track - Violent Shiver
12 - Lana Del Rey - Ultraviolence
Part pop, part fem-fatal, part genius is the best way to describe the third album from Lana Del Rey. With some production work from Dan Auerbach from The Black Keys, this cemented her place in 2014 with a slice of pop that shows she is not just a one trick pony.
Top track - Sad Girl
11 - Royal Blood - Royal Blood
This is the most hype debut of 2014 - it entered at number one in the UK charts, sold out tours, chaotic shows and the music to back it up. Whilst a little bit too clean compared to their shows, it is still a brilliant debut which shows that rock is not dead.
Top track - Better Strangers
10 - The Smashing Pumpkins - Monuments Of An Elegy
Billy Corgan is back down to himself and Jeff Schroeder. With a little help from drummer Tommy Lee (from Motley Crue), they have created a new piece of work that shines like a bright light with its December release. The first of two albums to come from Mr Corgan and Co, this is a reminder that the Pumpkins are still a force to be reckoned with.
Top track - Drum + Fife
09 - Waheela - HX Pop
This is a true diversion from the noise group usual releases; three tracks with distinctive styles and a bonus live recording from Leeds at the end, this was released as a pink cassette with a download code as well. Waheela has grown with each release and this one is another example of their talent. Also, it is the best distraction for people who are scared of flying.
Top track - Hoffman
08 - Interpol - El Pintor
For me, this is such a strong return to form that it is staggering that this is the same band who released that self titled fourth album that disappointed me so much. Starting with the energy and sound of their original debut, the three piece from New York have taken the world by storm again.
Top track - All The Rage Back Home
07 - The Afghan Whigs - Do To The Beast
Sixteen years between album releases is a long time, no matter who you are. Coming back with the swagger that defined their previous time together, it is a fine return to form. The fact that the Afgham Whigs sound as if they have never been away, just makes it even more delicious.
Top track - Algiers
06 - Aphex Twin - SYRO
Another artist who has waited an awful long time to release another album, this time it has been thirteen years since his last release. It came out with a strange promotional campaign, it even had a weather blimp over London for Christ sake! But this would have been for nought if the music had not have been so a pile of shit.
Top track - 180db_
05 - Corrosion Of Conformity - IX
Stoner - Check: Sludge - Check: Trash - Check: Metal - Check. To say this album ticks all the right boxes for me is an understatement. Since reforming in 2010, these guys have been going from strength to strength.
Top track - On Your Way
04 - Slipknot - 5:The Gray Chapter
Losing two of the main members of your band would derail most bands, for Slipknot the loss of their rhythm section almost ended them. However, what they have done is make their best album - seriously, this record is stronger than anything that they have released and it is a fitting tribute to Paul Gray.
Top track - Lech
03 - Sleaford Mods - Divide & Exit
Two men, a drum machine and a chip as big as England on their shoulders shouting at the world. After reading a review of this album in Mojo, I had to find out if the hype was justified. Be deity it is, they have recently been scaring crowds supporting The Specials and have playing in America and all over Europe. This album is full of anger at modern Britain and all that it entails to be here; liveable shit - YOU PUT UP WITH IT!!!!
Top track - Liveable Shit
02 - The Bug - Angels & Devils
Out of darkness came this slice of electronica that can shake the soul; with a sound like a nuclear war going off, The Bug show that you don't need to have guitars to sound like bombs exploding. With pulsing bass and loops (as well as a raft of guest vocalists), this was so close to being my album of the year. And to paraphrase myself from the review - There is a feeling of anticipation running through this album; the danger in the music is not just part of your imagination - basically, your fucked.
Top track - Fuck You (Featuring Warrior Queen)
01 - Mantar - Death By Burning
In the end, there was only going to be one winner. From the moment I saw the cover, I was intrigued by this release; once the music started I was sold. It is a perfect metal record that does not have a weak link, the North Germany duo have made a stunning record which is something that should be owned by any blessed with the gift of hearing (but maybe not for too long after hearing it).
Top track - White Nights
So that is it! 2014 is soon to be in history books and then we have all of 2015's album to look forward to. If it is only half as good as this year, it will still be a fine year for albums.