2014 was the year Taylor Swift changed the music industry because she removed her music from Spotify. Funnily enough, it seems bigger artists can now earn more money licensing their songs through Build-A-Bear toys than streaming services.
Here’s what albums over the last twelve months I feel should be inside cuddly bears around the world:
Sam-Cook Parrot and the gang squeeze more drops of fun with new album Torch Song. Anyone already acquainted with the Radiator Hospital frontmans pipes (like on this acoustic rendition of Our Song) will realise the guy possesses a voice unlike no other, especially when accompanied by his band mate Cynthia Schemmer on their second, i say, properly released full-length. Each song is short, sharp, to the point. Hopefully they’ll come over here at some point. Ahem.
King of Cats is the startling music project from Ealing-stroke-Brighton chap Max Levy. Now taking form by way of a full band, with flutes, organs and all important more shrieks and cries from other people is Working Out, his most professional release to date through Art Reeks, a collaboration between Art is Hard and Reeks of Effort. Speaking to the NME rag, Max says these songs came about through “…the fear of being trapped in a feeble body, dreams of a muscular form and the relationship between one’s environment, one’s body and one’s being an idiot. I don’t work out a lot, but I think about it often.”
8. playlounge – pilot
playlounge make it a thing that whatever show gets offered to them, they play it, which is pretty incomparable to a lot of bands based around the capital who choose NOT to play for fear of becoming one of the furniture. Balls to that. pilot (lowercase remember) is the debut from playlounge and undoubtedly their bestest to date. If you’re looking for a favourite, look no further than Sick Kid.
7. KITTYHAWK – HELLO, AGAIN
The Anniversary were a band who existed between 1997 – 2004. Like with most of these snazzy, college rock bands I was too young to be in with a chance of getting it. Thankfully it’s 2014 now and there’s bands like Kittyhawk who don’t want to play with a bass guitarist either. Over the Autumn, I had the great fortune of organising a tour for this bunch with Dowsing and it was sure as hell sweet to hang out with them for a few days. Cracking knack for melodies, as this debut proves.
6. HAPPYNESS – WEIRD LITTLE BIRTHDAYS
Considering a relatively short-existence (they formed only in September 2013), Happyness have released a fair amount of music. From their EP earlier this year, which didn’t phase me all this much to Weird Little Birthdays, their hotly disputed album. It’s simple, melodic and lovely on the ears, astute fans might say there’s comparisons to be made with Eels Beautiful Freak or Broken Social Scene You Forget It In People. Both albums that plod on solemnly till they reach their graceful end, and like with Happyness leave you with an elated, fuzzy feeling.
5. PRAWN – KINGFISHER
After a few swap arounds that included a departing guitarist, a graduating bassist and the introduction of a new one on the four-string, New Jerseys Prawn released Kingfisher, an album as beautiful sounding as it is held in your hands. The real churner on here is “Glass, Irony” around 2:10. You’ll know it when you hear it.
4. FUCKED UP – GLASS BOYS
The Toronto punks has some serious work to do if they were going to bring an album that punched as high as 2012 David Comes To Life, which although stood it’s great in the first half, did leave you pondering over the idea where it was best to shave things down a bit. Coming it a more digestible 10 tracks is Glass Boys, which for the true fans also includes an alternate “Slow Version” with half-time drums. Either way, you’ll have little chance to listen to the latter as you’ll be stuck looping the first.
3. DELAY – CIRCLE CHANGES
If you’re not familiar with Salinas Records, please stop what you’re doing and go and check them out now. The Detroit label has help release records for the likes of P.S. Eliot, Radiator Hospital, All Dogs, joyride! and you guessed it, Delay.
Like with 2012’s Rushing Ceremony, Circle Change sees the Ohio 3-piece delve more and more into moodier, indie-rock territory that hits hard on the lyrical front “I need to trust my own guts again instead of getting fucking high”.
Safe to say, these were the best band at The Fest this year.
2. HUMAN HANDS – S/T EP
Human Hands from Birmingham released their first ever full-length in January and remain one of the few crops from the UK emo heyday (Kids Return, Your Neighbour The Liar, Bird Calls etc)
Even though guitarist Clyde now lives in Iceland, the three still cart on making music – and these 6 songs proves it’s all the more worthwhile. Drawing influence from bands like Yaphett Kotto or Indian Summer, the weary cries and drawn-out build-ups may leave you feeling a little agitated, like the world is falling around you or something perhaps less dramatic. Be sure to take this one one step at a time.
1. BATON ROUGE – TOTEM
Containing all but one of DIY screamo Parisian legends Daïtro are Lyon’s Baton Rouge. Hearing the news of album numero deux cast serious doubts in my mind that the French four-piece would top 2011’s Fragments D’Eux-Mêmes – a post-punk showstopper from start to finish.
Yet packaged in beautiful patterned black, red and white comes their triumphant return Totem, why if you’re not whistling to the meandering slow songs, you’ll be screaming along in French in what may be considered your best accent. Pretty unbeatable.
OTHER REALLY GREAT ALBUMS
Papayér – Boo
Martha – Courting Strong
Cymbals Eat Guitars – Lose
Luke Abbott – Wysing Forest
Plaids – Plaids S/T (RIP – boo!)
Empire! Empire! (I Was A Lonely Estate) – You Will Eventually Be Forgotten
Perfect Pussy – Say Yes To Love
Literature – Chorus
Young Fathers – Dead
How To Dress Well – “What Is This Heart?”
Cloud Nothings – Here and Nowhere Else
Joyce Manor – Never Hungover Again
Future Islands – Singles
Ought – More Than Any Other Day
Adebisi Shank – This Is The Third Album of a Band Called Adebisi Shank
The Hotelier – Home, Like Noplace Is There
Hookworms – The Impasse