Jordan Dowling's top albums of 2014
10) Royksopp – The Inevitable End
Royksopp's final full-length is a worthy farewell to the traditional album format for the Norwegian duo. Backed by a range of guest vocalists, most notably The Irrepressibles' Jamie McDermott, it is the kind of perfectly-presented electro-pop you expect from them, with 'Sordid Affair' and 'You Know I Have To Go' standing up with the best of their impressive back-catalogue.
9) Ian William Craig – A Turn Of Breath
Ian William Craig's “A Turn Of Breath” is William Basinksi's ambitious 'Disintegration Loops' project re-imagined for dusty, decaying pubs and desolate bedrooms. A single voice stretches and fragments as it repeats, sometimes accompanied by guitar or some other secondary noise but more often than not entirely alone. Its hard to say exactly what makes it so entrancing and unsettling, but it certainly is.
8) Future Islands – Singles
2014 was a breakout year for Baltimore quartet Future Islands, as vocalist Gerrit Wilmers silly danced his way into the public conscience with the band's performance on The Letterman Show. Behind it, “Singles” is a very strong collection of indie-rock nuggets that is worthy of its moniker.
7) Martha - Courting Strong
Martha's hearts-on-sleeves, unwaveringly catchy shout-along indie-pop has seen them gain a reputation as one of the best live bands in the country, and whilst there is no substitute for seeing the Martha quartet live their debút full-length “Courting Strong” is a more than acceptable second best.
6) Joyce Manor - Never Hungover Again
At ten tracks and around twenty minutes long “Never Hungover Again” is as short and sharp as modern pop-punk gets. It is also as stomach-able as it gets. Hardcore fans of the band may have been turned off by their foray into more mainstream-friendly realms, but the Californians' third album is far more fun and far better than that which preceded it.
5) Sun Kil Moon – Benji
Whilst Mark Kozelek seems to be better known for drumming up petty feuds with trad-rock bands nowadays, “Benji” is his best record in over a decade. Witty, honest, self-depreciating and pefectly structured, it is everything a modern singer-songwriter album should be.
4) A Winged Victory For The Sullen – Atomos
It was hard to see how A Winged Victory For The Sullen could top their debut, but they just about managed it. “Atomos” is a stunning work of cinematic ambient (but far from minimalist) music that almost puts the work of Stars Of The Lid, of whom one half of AWVFTS is also a member, in its shadow.
3) Moonface - City Wrecker
Being only five tracks long, “City Wrecker” may not even qualify as being an album, but its final track 'Daughter Of A Dove' is worth its inclusion alone. It’s hard to put into words the scope of the song and how much it achieves despite its basic palette of (occasionally off-key) vocals, piano and the slightest slithers of synthesisers, it is better to simply witness .
2) A Sunny Day In Glasgow - Sea When Absent
“Sea When Absent” is a huge step up for a band that have always promised so much but spent too much time throwing curveballs to hit the target. It is a dizzying rush of art-pop that gives nods to highly unfashionable bands like Flying Saucer Attack and Disco Inferno whilst still sounding entirely modern and 'hip'.
1) Lewis – L'Amour
Choosing a release that pre-dates the year in question for the best album of 2014 might seem obtuse, but Light In The Attic's re-issue of the shadowy full-length from the reclusive Randy Wulff is truly the first exposure “L'Amour” or its creator has had. It sounds neither modern nor thirty years old; it is an utterly timeless, otherworldly paean to true love, and whilst there are elements in the album that will appeal to fans of The Blue Nile and latter-day Talk Talk there is truly nothing else that sounds like “L'amour”.