Louder Than War Albums of the Year 2014 Part Three: 50 – 1

Continuing our run down with the final 50 in our Albums of the Year 2014 list.

If you missed the first two parts – because we picked 200 amazing albums from the last 12 months – you can catch up with 200 – 101 here and 100 – 51 here.

Our choices come from the Louder Than War writers and the picks of our editors John Robb, Guy Manchester, Sarah Lay and Phil Newall.

Let us know what you think the best albums of the year have been by leaving a comment below, on Facebook, or tweeting us using the hashtag #ltwaoty.

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50. The Bug – Angels & Devils (Ninja Tune)

Six years after the release of his incredible landmark album London Zoo, which this year placed in MOJO’s “The 50 Greatest Reggae Albums” of all time ever at all list, the Ninja Tune recording star returned with this highly anticipated kaleidoscopic work of collaborative genius which stretches the producer to run the gamut from moody, beatless, dub inflected tunes to intense firebomby bangers. Breathtaking and audacious. In his review Simon Tucker said:

“Kevin Martin, under his The Bug moniker, returns with his first full-length LP release in six years with an album that not only invites and seduces but also shakes and terrifies in equal measures.”

 

49. Dubkasm – Dubkasm Ft. Lidj Xylon (Peng Sound)

OK, so this is a bit of a cheat as it should probably be categorised as an EP not an album but it’s longer than some of the releases in this list and it’s so good we can’t really ignore it. Built around backing tracks the late Lidj Xylon laid down in the late 90’s the Dubkasm duo Stryda and Digistep lovingly create seven tracks of reggae and dub of an astoundingly high quality skitter and throb guaranteed to blow the cobwebs off those woofers! Steppers unite! Braap!

 

48. Sheepy – Sheepy (Blang)

Sheepy have crafted a melodic, hook laden classic in this eponymous album which proves to be a kaleidoscopic mix of pops finest reference points, blended with humour and self-deprecation. Phil Newall’s review said:

“Sheepy are singularly focussed on their own sound, clearly they have an ear for a great pop hook; they are determined to forge their own path, and on the evidence of this debut album release the first few stones have been set.”

 

47. The Skull Defekts – Dances In The Dreams Of The Known Unknown (Thrill Jockey)

The Swedish experimental rockers, who marry the coarse vitality of punk and the ritualism of folk dances, returned this year with their most accessible, and we think best, album to date. Music that is addictive, wondrously discordant, and rooted in a belief in the overwhelming power of pure sound. Paul Scott-Bates gave the album a perfect 10 /10 in his review, which told it like it was:

“This has to be one of the most incredible albums I’ve ever heard, of that there can be no mistake.”

 

46. Ekoplekz – Unfidelity (Planet Mu Records)

Label hopping and highly prolific Nick Edwards, who emerged from the Bristol bass scene back in 2010, returned with an album that had a dreamy, nocturnal feel, created with his trademark all-analogue set-up and four-track recorders.

This album demonstrated Eko’s lighness of touch in an album bubbling with inventiveness and deviating from any pre-defined template of what electronic music should be. Sleng zen indeed.

 

45. Afghan Whigs – Do The Beast (Sub Pop)

The Afghan Whigs’ first album in 16 years and Greg Dulli and his cohorts were on fine form in an album mixing slinky beats and stately menace to result in one of the most intense, cathartic records of the band’s career. So, is it a career defining record? Quite possibly. Adrian Bloxham’s review said:

“The songs? You want to know about the songs? The songs are unstoppable … sixteen years is a long long time to wait, and to release a collection as instantly vital as this takes my breath away. What an album.”

(Also check out Willow Colios’ interview with Greg Dulli.)

 

44. The Body – I Shall Die Here (RVGL Intl)

When news leaked that the Providence, Rhode Island two-piece sludge metal band were getting together with Bobby “The Haxan Cloak” Krlic we could barely contain our excitement. Just imagining the idea of The Body’s heavy, low riffs and high-pitched, screamed vocals being worked on by the man who’s arguably the king of dark ambiance and industrial metal had us smiling. And the end result did not disappoint. Boundary pushing stuff. We said:

“I can recommend this not just to the metal and noise heads out there, but to anyone who wants to feel a bit more from their music, anyone who has a spark of darkness hidden away, all of you really. A grinding classic dripping with bleakness.”

 

43. Alvvays – Alvvays (Transgressive Records)

The eponymous debut album from Canadian indie band Alvvays (don’t be fooled, you just pronounce it as Always) is full of C86-sounding jangles and emotional hooks. In his live review Lee Hammond said:

“With a particularly poppy and energetic sound, they’re the perfect antidote to the miserable weather outside. There’s a real air of Camera Obscura and to some extent She & Him about Alvvays and there’s no doubt in my mind that these guys will soon emerge from the underground.”

 

42. The Furrow Collective – At Our Next Meeting (Cadiz)

It’s been a great year for folk music. End of. And the fact that Bellowhead didn’t make it into this list is proof very positive of that. The Furrow Collective produced what, in our opinion, was the stand out folk album of the year; an album which delves into an obscure world of balladry at its darkest and quirkiest. This is traditional folk at its best; beautiful, simply, fragile, unaffected vocals standing out amidst the harp, guitar, viola, concertina, banjo, fiddle and musical saws surrounding them. The titles of the songs alone should get you scurrying off to get a copy –  “Handsome Molly”, “Skippin’ Barfit Through The Hill” and “I’d Rather Be Tending My Sheep” – and we promise you you won’t be disappointed.

 

41. Azealia Banks – Broke With Expensive Taste (Prospect Park)

Is it really three years since Azealia Banks released “212”, her confrontationally shocking lead single? Indeed so, and two years later than originally promised, Azealia Banks this year finally released her debut album proper. Her trademark, sibilant-heavy form of rapping is exhilarating as we join Azealia luxuriating in sound and language on an album she made, importantly, on her own terms. Harley Cassidy’s review said:

“Broke With Expensive Taste is an exciting listen filled with unexplainably wonderful moments. There’s nothing out there to compare it to. Azealia Banks knows her own sound and has ploughed straight forward into her very own genre-bending lane with it creating the best female rap debut in a hell of a long time.”

 

40. Echo and The Bunnymen – Meteorites (Caroline International)

Returning with their first studio album for four years, Ian McCulloch adopted a ‘whole new approach’ for Echo and the Bunnymen’s eleventh album. Meteorites ultimately turned out to be a key addition to their repertoire and saw them solidify their position as one of the most seminal British rock acts in modern history. Said Phil Newall:

“It’s the Bunnymen … that’s it.”

Check out John Robb’s live review from June here.

 

39. Christina Vantzou – No.2 (Kranky)

Developed over a four year period No.2 was composed using synthesizers and a variety of unidentified samples, manipulated beyond recognition. Highly emotional and absolutely gorgeous this is one of those rare albums, one that has the power to reinvigorate, enthrall, excite, and beguile in equal measure. Simon Tucker reviewed it for us and said:

“Put simply, No.2 is art in its purest sense. It may seem brittle and pure, but it demands interactivity and should not be held at arms length just to admire. You will be most rewarded if you connect to its emotional core, twisting it to bring up whatever emotions you desire or whatever memories you want to conjure. No.2 is an essential buy.”

 

38. Flying Lotus – You’re Dead! (

The fifth studio album by American electronic producer Flying Lotus is another collaborative work of towering genius. A sonic, visual and metaphysical fusion of technological innovation and technical virtuosity, You’re Dead! is ascendant and haunting and one suspects that, given the chance, it would achieve its stated aim of impressing Miles Davis. In our review we said:

“You’re Dead! takes all the best pieces of FlyLo’s oeuvre and creates an album that is a psychotropic delight, a journey into the unknown which starts in chaos but ends gently sending us off into the forever. A defining statement by one of the most exciting producers in modern music.”

 

37. Ruts DC – Live On Stage

Two separate albums greeted the return of Louder Than War favourites Ruts DC this year. One, live recordings from 2013 / 14 and the other a reissue of the 1982 album recorded with the Mad Professor. Granted, Rhythm Collision Vol 1 is a great album but it was the live album that really blew us away. From its opening of the Misty-in-Roots Live at the Counter-Eurovision intro to the very end it was a reminder of what an exceptional live band Ruts DC are. Ged Babey, reviewing it for us, said:

“I’m not exaggerating when I say that Ruts DC Live On Stage is one of the best live albums I’ve ever heard. (I’ve had it for nearly a month now and it just gets better and better … it really is up there with It’s Alive and Play by Magazine…the perfect encapsulation and souvenir of a gig, whether you were actually there or not.”

 

36. Perc  – The Power And The Glory (Perc Trax)

Perc’s (AKA London-based Ali Wells) 2011 release Wicker and Steel pushed his sound to a wider audience than ever before and in the process was generally considered to be ‘a soundtrack for our times’. The album crossed into areas rarely reached by techno albums in the past and 2014’s follow-up continued the good work it started, taking the sound and expanding it outwards in every direction. There were throbbing, rhythmic tracks pulsing with more energy and bite side-by-side with more open, freeform efforts. Paul Scott-Bates said in his review:

“The Power And The Glory shows that Wells is a true visionary, unafraid to try something different. True skill and cleverness shine through.”

 

35. Voices – London (Candlelight Records)

Voices are an extreme black death metal band currently pushing the boundaries of wrongness and unacceptability into previously unknown dark territories. Released on the highly respected Candlelight record label, London was the follow up to their debut, Voices From The Human Forest Create A Fuge Of Imaginary Rain. During its journey it takes us from a “genuinely sinister, haunting, threatening and quite beautiful” opening track to its “crushingly heavy” conclusion. Uber fan Andy Santiago reviewed it for us, saying:

‘London’ is a startling take on the extreme metal genre and a completely unique work. It is most certainly the sound of a band breaking free of their previous incarnation and taking their own depraved identity to incredible levels of originality. Voices are indeed the real ‘Future Sound of London’.

 

34. Freddie Gibbs and Madlib – Piñata (Stones Throw)

Piñata was the collaborative studio album by Indiana rapper Freddie Gibbs and California hip-hop musician Madlib. A bold, enervating collaboration in which the two give us some of the most memorable verses of the past few years. Uncompromising and avowedly independent-as-fuck, this was something all hardcore hip-hop heads could get behind and laud. Oh, and it also came with the bold promise that it was “featuring every mother fucker in the rap game worth fucking with.” Amen to that.

 

33. East India Youth – Total Strife Forever (Stolen Recordings)

Total Strife Forever‏ is the perfect album for ears that like a bit of electronica weird buzzing with vocals of beauty overlapping the dancy tempo changing drum patterns that keep all of this interesting enough to wonder what the following track will dish up. It could be easilly compared to Bowie’s album Heroes. A few cool instrumentals and a few ace songs with the voice of the composer pushing the electronics towards the back resulting in glorious pieces of music we’ll remember for years. In his review Keith Goldhanger said:

“This is a fab album that doesn’t dissapoint and one we’ll be listening to for years to come whilst waiting patinetly for whatever William Doyle gives us as a follow up one day. Totally ace (forever).”

 

32. Allo Darlin’ – We Come From the Same Place (Fortuna POP!)With their third long player Allo Darlin’ continue to explore their sense of place with gentle and warm songs about their surroundings; their connections to both people and wherever they are calling home. This is in the most part a tender album with confident, quirky lyrics that shows that indiepop doesn’t have to be soft-of-sound, but is just as sweet with beefed up riffs as it is with the twang of ukulele. In his live review Willow Colios said:

“The band end with a flourish, with a slightly unexpected run through Darren, a single but not a well known hit as such. But it’s all they need to do as its actually a little gem amongst their set of so many almost perfect pop songs. They are on top form and can’t really put a foot wrong tonight.”

 

31. Acollective – Pangaea (Alcopop!)

Mixing genres and melodies this confident, creative album from Tel Aviv band ACollective more than earns it place amongst the best of 2014. Layers of instruments and an unwillingness to be constrained Pangaea explores the world around the band, with a healthy sense of tradition and history and an excited ear to the future this is a record which manages to fit perfectly with the musical moment.

 

30. Popcaan – Where We Come From (Mixpak)

The sole dancehall album in the list (check out Sizzla’s Born a King also if curious about the genre) and my, what a dancehall album! Where We Come From is a remarkable, exceptional and unique album from a genre swollen with considerably more chaff than wheat. Mixing both singing and deejaying whatever the topic, Popcaan’s infectious positivity comes through. We’re expecting even greater things from this man now he’s well and truly let go of the coat tails of mentor Vybz Kartel.

 

29. Get The Blessing – Lope and Antilope (Naim Label).

Jazz is another genre that had an astonishing year in 2014, the start of the year in particular. But despite releases by former Mercury Prize nominees Led Bib and Polar Bear it was Bristol’s Get The Blessing whose Lope and Antilope wins the spoils of being dubbed our favourite jazz album of the year. Made over four days it’s like no other (jazz) album you’ll have heard, being rich in experimentation with acoustic and electric sound effects, to which grooves, tunes and solo’s were added. And album to be lived with, Lope and Antilope will probably be an album we’ll still be listening to in our dotage. Philip Allen reviewed it for us and concluded:

“This album is an incredible achievement in which there is not one bad aspect. A masterpiece of temperance and understatement, a career defining moment in which we all fall in love with ‘The Blessing’. ”

 

28. Perfume Genius – Too Bright (Turnstile Records)

Part of the grace of the album is the shifting style. There’s a pop feeling that waves cheerily first and then slaps you every time you listen to ‘Fool’, ‘Grid’ and ‘Longpig’. These tracks play on, as pop with hooks and teeth, in your head even when you’re not actually listening: pop synth, pop rhythms, pop words and voice. No mistake, they’re all different from each other though. In her review Rebecca Sowray said:

“I’m going to sign up now as a lunatic fan because I want to see where this man goes.  Because it’s going to be bloody dazzling.”

 

27. Mica Levi – Under the Skin (Warners)

Mica Levi (of Micachu and The Shapes fame) was commissioned to create the score for Jonathan Glazer’s latest film Under The Skin, which starred Scarlet Johnson as an extra terrestrial. The choice of Ms Levi literally could not have been more perfect as she produced something gorgeously freaky, unnerving, scratchy and did I say seductive? Yes. Bafflingly it was largely created using physical instruments Mica said at a Q&A at Bristol’s Watershed, confirming what some of us have known for a long time – that Mica Levi is an utter genius. We said:

“It’s a soundtrack album that is spooky and bloody atmospheric. Listen to it on your own and you need to keep looking over your shoulder. God knows how frightening it makes the film. Excellent and understated.”

 

26. Noura Mint Seymali – Tzenni (Glitterbeat Records)

You’ll not be surprised to learn this album is the highest place Mauritanian album in the list. Or maybe not if you’re aware said country neglects most contemporary music. Over the sounds of the ardine, a traditional ensemble of tidnit and electric guitar which make a gripping, transcendental, transportive sound, Noura’s impassioned commanding vocals stand out. Noura is an artist profoundly steeped in the history of Moorish griot music – and it shows. In his review Paul Scott-Bates said:

“The music on Tzenni is a fascinating mix of traditional music fused with Western influences such as blues and funk to create a sound which is unique. Speaking of unique, Noura’s voice is one which you won’t hear every day. The power and changes of scale are remarkable and almost an instrument in itself.”

 

25. Richard Dawson – Nothing Important (Weird World/Domino) 

Nothing Important is a heady brew, defying categorisation. Rising out of the experimental music scene in Newcastle back in 2012 with his latest album Richard Dawson has further enhanced his agent-garde reputation. If you’re new to him then there’s no better place to explore the untrammelled wildness of his universe than the four crazed odysseys that make up this record, an album full to bursting point with all sorts of details and delights. Paul Margree’s review for us said:

“The merging of memory and imagination in the two vocal cuts, combined with the intricate clang of Dawson’s guitar, means that each listen can render up only small part of the bigger picture. As soon as a song finishes, you want race back to the beginning to hear it again. Each subsequent listen yields up new details, as if you’re hearing something almost entirely new and different each time.”

 

24. The War On Drugs – Lost In The Dream

Philly rockers The War on Drugs released their follow-up to 2011’s Slave Ambient. Universally lauded it served to wrest the mantle of best indie-folk-rock artist away from Kurt Vile, who of course is himself in The War On Drugs. We said:

“Mark Kozelek (Sun Kil Moon) has called them “the whitest band I’ve ever heard” but with their third album The War on Drugs have created a slow-burning record of brooding and grandiose introspection.”

 

23. Lakefield – Swan Songs (Self-Released)

Lakefield were a band at their end when they released Swan Songs; a hybrid of gentle indiepop and a scrubbed clean big hardcore sound. It has the witty intelligence of Belle and Sebastian lyrics with the brute of Far; the sound of a band not just accepting the end but taking it on their own terms, and blazing more brightly for it. In our review of Lakefield’s goodbye album we said:

“As a farewell this is a beautiful and bittersweet decline. Swan Songs has you fall in love with this band in their dying moments; awed by the bright flash of goodbye, their incandescence burnt into your memory.”

 

22. Zombina and The Skeletones – Charnel House Rock (Ectoplastic Records)

The long awaited follow up to the 2008’s ‘Out Of The Crypt and Into Your Heart’ album came out this year. Now onto their fourth album and it was great to find Zambina and The Skeletones as warped and tuneful as ever. Our review said:

“A gorgeous Day-Glo rock ‘n’ roll pantomime, full of sexual innuendo backed with banshee vocals; one of the finest pop records I’ve heard in long time, a kaleidoscope of mayhem mummified in blood spattered bandages.”

 

21. Mogwai – Rave Tapes (Rock Action/Sub Pop)

The eighth studio album by post-rock band Mogwai came out all the way back on 20 January 2014 and saw them hailed as rock ‘n’ roll “national treasures”. Track titles that make you smile for one reason and music that makes you smile for another. We’ll never get tired of their complex, layered, mainly instrumental and always emotional music. Our review commented that:

“Oh yes, those guitar riffs. No one makes a guitar sound like Mogwai. They have a way of making the instruments soar that no other band can touch and they speak far more to the emotional core of a person than any soppy indie my-girlfriend’s-gone chart hit posers.”

 

20. Taylor Swift – 1989 (Big Machine Label Group)

We’ve always made no bones about the fact that Louder Than War doesn’t shy away from any music genre and that very much includes pop. Anyone who argues with you when you say that Taylor’s first album to shed the “country-pop” tag and embrace the “eighties-pop” tag is a stone cold classic is probably a closet fan. Either that or a blithering idiot. We say:

“With 1989 former Nashville sweetheart Taylor Swift completes her move from country star to pop perfection. Self-referencing relationship lyrics are all over this electro-pop album with big tunes to match the bold move of jumping genres.”

 

19. Let’s Wrestle – Let’s Wrestle (Fortuna POP!)

Great tunes with rough edges and pained lyrics is what Let’s Wrestle specialise in and that’s never more so the case than in this album which saw them enter a new phase of maturity and sophistication and gave frontman Wesley Patrick Gonzalez a forum to showcase his songwriting talents and love of classic pop. We say:

“Let’s Wrestle have released their greatest collection of songs yet. Introspective, poignant and eloquently honest lyrics and generous strings around the indie sound show that this is a band maturing very well indeed.”

 

18. Ibibio Sound Machine – Ibibio Sound Machine

Winners of this year’s Dead Albatross Prize, Ibibio Sound Machine are fronted by London-born Nigerian singer Eno Williams and are a clash of African and electronic elements inspired in equal measure by West African highlife, disco, post-punk and psychedelic electro soul, resulting in a unique sound born out of the mixed up nature of London today. The eight-piece live band are a sight to behold. Or they would be if there wasnt sweat in your eyes from all that dancing you’re doing. They have a handful of gigs lined up in the new year – do yourself a favour and go to at least a couple. We said:

“This leads with African rhythms alongside electronic overtones, at times it’s almost seventies funk a la Curtis Mayfield. But mostly it’s a fresh sound from somewhere I haven’t been and I like a lot.”

 

17. Perfect Pussy – Say Yes to Love (Soundly Records)

Quoting from P4k: “Syracuse five-piece Perfect Pussy sound like a hardcore band fronted by Joan of Arc: A swirling maelstrom of fire engulfs a singer who shouts with the ecstatic conviction of someone who would rather die than apologize.” I couldn’t think of any better way to describe this album. A feminist punk-pop missile aimed at the heart of the alt-rock mainstream. Paul Margree’s review said:

“The thing that sets this record apart from your common or garden hardcore mosh fodder are the shards of melodic light that gleam out from the murk. In particular Sutkus’ keyboard tones ping out beatifically from tunes like Big Star and Work, reminiscent of Yvonne Pawlett’s nursery rhyme style lines in The Fall’s Live At The Witch Trials. Ray McAndrew’s scratchy guitar is often as tuneful as it is abrasive. ”

 

16. Ty Segall – Manipulator

Ty’s latest release is an album at once both contemporary enough in feel to please the forward looking people and yet nostalgic enough to please those who like their bands to reference the past. It was also a huge hit with our writer. Ben Tansey said:

“Manipulator is an exquisitely well written and well recorded album. We might be back here next week talking about the triple album Segall wrote and recorded during his lunch breaks whilst making this one, but for now it leaves me to say California’s busiest songwriter has done it again.”

 

15. Kate Tempest – Everybody Down

Everybody Down is a story within a world where the tiresome gangsta self-obsession and the cynical braggadocio normally associated with hip-hop and rap is replaced by an extraordinarily literate vernacular of South London linguistic guile and dexterity. In his recent live review of Kate Tempest’s Deaf Institute gig Robert Pegg said:

“With an enviable body of work going back a good dozen years and being the first person under the age of 40 to win the Ted Hughes Award for innovation in poetry, you could forgive Kate Tempest if she decided to rest on her accomplished laurels and leave it at that.”

 

14. Manic Street Preachers – Futurology

Never lazy the Manics explore their underground side with an ambum that is more European than cranked guitar anthems with surprisingly successful results. Krautrock and dirty disco are embedded in the album’s brilliant songs that underline their genius for genuine diversity.

Our review by John Robb is here.

 

13. Aphex Twin – Syro (Warp)

Aphex Twin made his return on Warp with new album Syro in 2014. An album which is replete with his innovative, warped and challenging take on ‘intelligent dance music’ whilst also being beautiful, accessible and, of course, twisty turny. Most impressively though it didn’t sound dated at all and after a 20 year career in possibly the fastest moving genre of them all, that is almost beyond belief. Simon Tucker reviewed it for us, saying:

“Syro is not Aphex Twin’s most innovative work (why should it be?) but it is one of his warmest, sexiest, and inclusive releases making it an essential addition to one of the greatest catalogues of modern music. It feels so good to have him back and with talks of six or seven albums all ready to go, maybe we won’t have to wait so long for another one.”

 

12. FKA Twigs – LP1 (Young Turks)

From here on in – numbers 11 to one – it’s pretty much wall-to-wall hoary old men, so lets rejoice in LP1, FKA Twigs debut studio album released by Young Turks and quite simply a singular piece of work. This is experimental art-pop with a genuinely strong and unique vision and to say it comes as a breath of fresh air is an understatement.

 

11. Sun Kil Moon – Benji (Caldo Verde Records)

Benji is the sixth full-length release for Mark Kozelek as Sun Kil Moon and it was received with almost universal acclaim when it came out in February. It’s an understated work of American indie-folk genius and it may well make you cry if you’re the sensitive type. In his review for us Sean Smith said:

“It is a truly unforgettable journey through the life, loves and losses of an artist completely comfortable in his abilities; a brave and fascinating storyteller, unafraid to embellish his work with the woes, relationship breakdowns and interpersonal intricacies that we all encounter in our own lives.”

 

10. Vamos – More Songs About Circles (Antipop Records)

More Songs About Circles is the second full-length album by Vamos and with it they assembled a collection of fully realized dangerously catchy songs brimming with relentless energy. We said:

“The music instantly grabs you, it delivers in a simple sucker punch; you get it first time, there is no need for second listens, for deep thought – Vamos are a spark of absolutely live energy and utterly compelling.”

 

9. Scott Walker + Sunn O))) – Soused

So brillianlty unexpected that it had to make sense. Drone rock genius of the Sunn O))) team – the band that stripped rock back to its elemental drone – married to the swooping melodrama of Scott Walker creates a stunningly original work but the Scott was always capable of throwing the odd and very odd curveball himself.

Paul Margree’s review is here.

 

8. Morrissey – World Peace Is None Of Your Business

Moz’s 2014 was a combination between cancer scares, gig cancellations, non-stop verbal controversy, breathtakingly brilliant gigs and success very much on his own terms, as 25 years into a solo career he still sauntered back to his natural lair at the top of the charts with an album of swooning emtotion and lyrical brilliance that made getting older sound effortless.

Our review by Fergal Kinney is here.

 

7. Temples – Sun Structures

Sun Structures delivers strong melody after strong melody, with not a single parody to be found. The band boast an unusual gift, and that’s the ability to create the essence of the mid-to-late ’60’s psychedelia, without ripping anybody off in the process. No clichés, just strong material. The sound may be familiar, but the tunes are all theirs. Our review by Arash Torabi said:

“And these classic qualities are all over just about every song here, particularly Move with the Season. And so Sun Structures is the perfect album, with reference points aplenty, but no daylight robbery.”

 

6. Simone Felice – Strangers

A beautiful album of raw honesty and intimate, poetic storytelling. Sarah Lay’s review said:

“A collection of songs at once so fierce and so gentle; turns of phrase at once unheard and yet familiar too. Simone Felice is a modern poet and a fine story teller with the sort of voice that makes for the rawest straight-to-the-heart songs. Strangers is a fine addition to the Americana and alt-country genre, and one which beautifully leads us through the human condition.”

 

5. Winterfylleth – Divination of Antiquity

2014 has, quite simply, been an astonishing year for UK black metal. But you don’t need to take our word for that – check out this article in Kerrang! for confirmation therein. But in our opinion the album that stands high and mighty above them all is Manchester band Winterfylleth’s Divination of Antiquity, an album of heritage obsessed wonderment. It saddens us that some people immediately dismiss black metal out of hand, so go make us happy by finding yourself a stream of Divination of Antiquity and rinse it bloody hard. And if that hasn’t convinced you to check it out try this quote cut from Andy Santiago’s review:

“Winterflleth have delivered a masterful album that is assured, accessible and visionary. This is the sound of a band who have their own identity and the confidence to progress and take it to previously unseen heights. I have no doubt that this is a future classic that will be spoken of alongside such genre-defining albums as ‘In The Nightside Eclipse’ such is it’s magnificence.”

 

4. Sleaford Mods – Divide and Exit

Everyone took their time to catch up with the duo who were spitting back the poetic bile at the stinking mess of real life UK whilst the mainstream was in full chattering class chunder about music with a social concious etc being a thing of the past. Sleaford Mods tell it like it is with that genius street humour and twisted reality that underscores all our best gutter poets with a dark humour and a thrillingly convincing anger.

Our review by Carl Stanley is here.

 

3. Swans – To Be Kind

The Seer felt like the ultimate statement – long songs and rock stretched taut and naked for high vis emotion and intensity to be sprawled over but this year Swans topped it with their greatest work. It somehow combined the grinding juggernaut of their roots with the tripped out transcendental hive mind of the Doors at their genius best – like if Mr Mojo Rising had gone beyond the End and started the real trip. In a year of psychedelic records this one is the real masterpiece.

Our review by John Robb is here.

 

2. Shellac – Dude Incredible

We waited a long time for the return of Shellac. Steve Albini was too busy making everyone else sound good and when he finally returned to work with the ultimate power trio, with bassist Bob Weston and drummer Todd Trainor, he found the unit as tight and taut as ever. With their masterful timings and perfect sound Shellac are the best hard rock band on the planet – they genuinely kick ass but with an introspection and lyrical intelligence that places them in their orbit. The highest compliment could be is that they sound like the band that Steve’s collection of 40 plus brilliant and rare mics was invented for and Dude Incredible is a thrilling album of songs that are as heavy as their debut album but worshiping at the alter of space and perfect delivery.

Our review by John Robb is here.

 

1. Einstürzende Neubauten – Lament

On Louder Than War’s Album of the Year editor John Robb said: “2014 has been one of the greatest ever years for albums and musical diversity. I can remember few other musical years with an albums collection that stretched the boundaries and fabric this far and still all sounded brilliant.

“In this context it seems fitting that an album like Lament ends up as our number one. Loosely built around the theme of the First World War and a document of the live show that stormed Europe in Nov/Dec, Lament is a staggeringly diverse collection of songs that were researched in the war archives and deal in the topics of the so-called Great War.

“An intellectual yet touching and mentally diverse collection of songs and sounds that veer from metal percussion to neo-jazz to melancholic ballads to almost techno pulses from the band whose whole career has been about confounding expectations and making brilliant music from the scrapyard of instruments and ideas in the Cold War Berlin of their birth to the scrapyards of contemporary culture, and deals in ideas that are so brilliant that they leave you gasping with a raw emotional edge that genuinly moves your soul.

“A genius record.”

Our review by John Robb is here.

~

We think 2014 has been yet another amazing year for music across all genres as this list of 200 amazing albums shows. And we could have gone on – there were a number of albums which just missed out on being in the final list with some tough choices being made.

If you missed the first two parts you can catch up with 200 – 101 here and 100 – 51 here.

But we’re already looking forward to what the new year will bring and over the festive period we’ll be bringing you our list of new bands we think you should be checking out over the next 12 months as well as our list of albums to look forward to hearing in 2015.

In the meantime let us know what you think the best albums of 2014 have been by leaving a comment below, on Facebook, or tweeting us using the hashtag #ltwaoty.

 

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5 comments on “Louder Than War Albums of the Year 2014 Part Three: 50 – 1”

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  1. The Dangers of Evil Blizzard!!!!

  2. Pretty good list, but what the heck happened to Joe Whyte’s “album of the year contender” The Sea Kings – Woke In The Devil’s Arms??? It’s amazing, made my top 10, and I thought it would at least make your top 50 let alone 200! http://louderthanwar.com/the-sea-kings-woke-in-the-devils-arms-album-review/

  3. come on john…no mention of the excellent new Buzzcocks album? shame on you

  4. Hi John – I agree with Mogwai and Aohex Twin but you missed my favourite album of the year CLARK by Berlin DJ clark – listen to it – from the opening which goes off like a bomb then rhe amazing Winter Linn – – the whole album is amazing! Nigel

  5. 52 left-leaning albums from 2014. https://www.greenleft.org.au/node/57980

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