Aphex Twin / Syro
Aphex Twin’s long overdue return for the wilderness (ok… he did the Analord series and Tuss) is a perfect summation of his career to date. He didn’t reinvent electronica (again), but did he really need to? The weight of expectation made this album seem almost an anti-climax, but it was Aphex’s most solid, listenable album in nearly two decades.
FKA twigs / LP1
FKA twigs is one of the many women artists to breakthrough and make far more interesting music than mere labels can define. On an initial listen, this may seem very sparse music, but it isn’t, it’s very dense. It’s also hugely sexy, but very much from a strong female point of view – this is the polar opposite of teenage pop starlets twerking for the satisfaction of men.
Jack White / Lazaretto
Jack White’s defiantly analogue take on music sees him team up with a great body of musicians to produce music that is funky, rocking and soulful. The varied album brings in White’s many influences, including sweet country flavoured ballads. It may not break any new ground, but it is a great collection of songs from mainstream rock music’s most important modern voice.
Ian William Craig / A Turn of Breath
An album of ambient drones, largely composed from the remarkable voice of Ian William Craig and fed through a variety of distortion and filter circuits. This album is by turns haunting, fragile, ancient, modern, quiet, noisy and always brilliant.
St. Vincent / St. Vincent
Possibly the most exciting performer, song writer and guitar player of 2014, St. Vincent really struck gold this year. A perfect combination of off-kilter pop music, choreographed performances and a strong public image all combined to make St. Vincent a distinctive, original voice in contemporary pop music.
Goat / Commune
Goat is a group of anonymous, masked Swedish psychedelic rock musicians. They’ve taken every single element that makes late 60s spaced out jams great, building simple, repetitive mantras into jams, laced with fuzz. I’m guessing they have also probably taken a shit load of drugs in the process, but (at this stage) this is a positive, rather than a negative.
Warpaint / Warpaint
This is, without doubt, my album of the year, indeed the track above is the song of the year. The album was released in the UK in January, and it has not left me since. An album of brooding, stoned jams that invites the listener in to their headspace, wreathed in smoke, sultry vocals and sweat. This album sounds not like people competing for the spotlight, more as if each member of the band is trying to hide behind each other, locked in their own tight, intimate groove.