(This post was originally published on 24/12/2014 on a previous blog.)
2014 is coming to a close, and it was a pretty good year for music, so these are my 5 top albums of the year.
George Ezra – Wanted On Voyage
Ben Cooper and Rickolus – Clone
Foo Fighters – Sonic Highways
5: The Madden Brothers: Greetings From California
On first listen Greetings From California sounds a bit bland, in fact, it could even be labelled as a collection of elevator muzak rather than the spin off album from Good Charlotte. But it’s the subsequent listens that really bring it to life. Joel and Benji madden demonstrate here a very clear and impressive musical knowledge and capability. The record is full of beautiful harmonies, catchy riffs and experimentation. But it all comes together to form a fairly succinct package which is easy to hear and stayed with me a lot more than I thought it would. Yes, it’s arguably over-produced but The Madden Brothers have diversified into a whole new genre, and they’ve made a damn good first attempt in doing so.
4: Charlie Simpson: Long Road Home
As years go, Charlie Simpson has had a pretty good one, a marriage, the successful comeback of his band Fightstar and then to top it all off, a well regarded solo album. Long Road Home is Simpson’s second solo album and is just as good, if not better than his first. Simpson really seems to have found his voice on this album, his vocal ability is just as consistent as ever but he seems far more confident with it. The album strays from fairly typical folk to much simpler, stripped back melodic ballads and is consistently a pleasure to listen to. Whether it’s, the almost elton john sounding, title track of the album to the much slower, more distant closing track “another year”, the album is through and through a joy to listen and relax to.
3: Royal Blood: Royal Blood
This time a year ago, Royal Blood we’re barely known, now, only twelve months later, they have one of the years biggest albums, an even bigger fanbase and an upcoming tour with Foo Fighters. This meteoric rise in fame is made even more incredible when you consider that Royal Blood is just two people with two instruments and vocals, yet they make the sound of much more. Their debut, self titled, album is a somewhat short, but always lively riot of guitar like bass riffs, underpinned by extremely strong rhythms. It’s a testament to the talent on show here that this album sounds better than some of the big name rock records from this year and is made by half the amount of band members. Considering this is the first effort from a band with no previous name, this is an extremely strong album by a band who look set to have an equally strong career.
2: Slipknot: .5 The Grey Chapter
This album was preceded by a long, tense wait, and a fair amount of bad news. The 9 members of Slipknot had now become just 7, and two integral parts of the band were no longer part of the line up. Thank goodness, then, that it turned out as good as it did. This album is more than just a good record, it’s a real sign of progression for the band. The lyrics are a lot more personal and much more honest. The songs, still have their trademark drive and rage behind them but the album sounds like a more mature metal record. It’s clear that we are listening to a different band then we might have a few years ago The new sub-members fit in very nicely and really help to pull the record together. But most of all it’s a sense of familiarity that makes this record as good as it is. This is above all else a Slipknot album, and after the twists and turns of the past few years, it’s good to be able to say that.
1: Mongol Horde: Mongol Horde
Mongol Horde will mostly be known as the side project of famous Folk rock singer Frank Turner, they released their debut album earlier this year in may and it is one of the most imaginative and clever hardcore albums I have heard in years. Frank Turner’s awesome way with words is easily recognisable here and is used to great effect, whether it’s telling stories about premature unicorn birth or a 60’s rock time travel epic, Turners excellent lyrics and incredibly screamed vocals make his mark on this album almost instantly. But the album has much more to deliver than that, whether it be incredible drum work, awesome guitar riffs and catchy hooks or just the general mix and styling of the album. It’s raw and gritty, but it’s instantly likeable and, for a hardcore record, extremely catchy to boot.