10: Pink Mountaintops - 'Get Back'
We reviewed this one in springtime and it has remained a firm favourite all year. Stephen McBean’s side project exudes freedom and this loose format conveys a wonderful sense of friends together making the kind of music they really like to hear. Borrowing from a host of influences it’s just so, well, unpretentious. Best cover art of the year too.
Buy only one track: 'The Second Summer Of Love'
9: Earth - 'Primitive And Deadly'
No pun intended but Dylan Carlson has ploughed this particular furrow for a long time now, with seemingly no less enthusiasm. Lengthy, slow moving, pulsating drones form the core of the songs with meandering lead guitar and guest vocalists carrying the melodies. Nice job by Mark Lanegan. May be Earth’s quintessential album.
Buy only one track: 'Rooks Across the Gate'
8: Swans - 'To Be Kind'
We’ve remarked more than once on the genius of Michael Gira, leader of Swans and his creativity continues to expand in an effort to fill the universe. So much great music here with more than two hours from start to finish. Great lyrics and immense love songs from a true master.
Buy only one track: 'To Be Kind'
7: Electric Wizard - 'Time To Die'
With a 20 year career and several changes of line-up, Electric Wizard appear to have gained, not lost, momentum. The UK’s original doom metal band show they still have more than enough chops to see off the young pretenders. It ain’t easy to become expert in this genre – time and a dedication to occult practice would seem to be essential.
Buy only one track: 'Lucifer’s Slaves'
6: Melvins - 'Hold It In'
More on the theme of prolific veterans but with 'Hold It In', the Melvins really have excelled themselves. The masterstroke seems to have been to have teamed up with the Butthole Surfers’ Paul Leary and J.D. Pinkus. The result is an album full of surprises, in equal parts poptastic and weird.
Buy only one track: 'You Can Make Me Wait'
5: Trap Them - 'Blissfucker'
Hardcore can certainly be a bit hit and miss but this is a compelling listen from beginning to end. The music is powerfully delivered and the songs peppered with good ideas. Massive.
Buy only one track: 'Gift And Gift Unsteady'
4: YOB - 'Clearing The Path To Ascend'
YOB are another long term project, led by Mike Scheidt and given a new lease of life on signing to Neurosis’ Neurot Recordings for whom this is their debut album. It is impeccably put together – four long tracks that weave a complex and at times bleak sonic landscape. Christmas Day afternoon sorted.
Buy only one track: 'In Our Blood'
3: Gum Takes Tooth - 'Mirrors Fold'
Two guys, synths, drums, body suits and some really neat and original programming adds up to the best British album of the year – shimmering, percussive electro meets dance beats but with a nasty underbelly. Sensational live too.
Buy only one track: 'Bone Weapon'
2: Old Man Gloom - 'The Ape Of God I & II'
Two albums with the same name and a third spoof digital release just for the reviewers. Old Man Gloom is a side project for most of its members but their output is terrifically good ('No' and 'Christmas' both outstanding albums) even if they like a joke. 'Ape Of God I' is a mess of white noise and static from which 8 songs emerge with the air of not being entirely finished. 'Ape Of God II' is an altogether weightier affair with 4 long, heavy-as-fuck tracks that stand with the very best.
Buy only one album: 'Ape Of God II'
1: The Austerity Program - 'Beyond Calculation'
As far as bands of two go, The Austerity Program are right at the top of the tree. The twist is that the drummer is a machine so their sonic palette is much wider than you would expect. This, their 4th release, is the most fully realised yet and though they call themselves a punk band it’s much more muscular than that implies. Songs are numbered but listen hard – they all have subjects worth singing about. The column’s album of the year.
Buy only one track: 'Song 39'
Read part one of Simon Opie's top albums of the year here.