10. Popstrangers - 'Fortuna'
'Fortuna' is a fantastically ambitious, graceful record, with the band’s pop sensibilities coming through to the fore to create their most engaging album to date. The album's hazy atmosphere provides the perfect backdrop to their romantic tales.
9. Asgeir - 'In The Silence'
There must be something in the water in Iceland as Asgeir is yet another supremely talented artist to add to the country’s already rich legacy. Enlisting the talents of John Grant to support with the lyrics, the sparse, folky arrangements help Asgeir’s stunning vocals to soar, making the album all the more beautiful.
8. Future Islands - 'Singles'
You could argue that their mix of new-wave and 'Scary Monsters'–era Bowie atmospherics isn’t particularly innovative but the captivating pathos of frontman Samuel T Herring takes them to a different level. With 'Singles', Future Islands are finally getting the attention they richly deserve.
7. Nick Mulvey - 'First Mind'
Such a switch in styles can be a huge gamble, but in (Portico Quartet co-founder) Mulvey’s hands, there was never any doubt - 'First Mind' is a lovely piece of folk rock backed by impressive rhythms that reflect an intimate knowledge of different musical cultures.
6. St Vincent - 'St Vincent'
While her previous albums have included great moments, this is her first LP which can be truly considered excellent, consistently impressing throughout and showcasing an artist with supreme confidence.
5. Sharon Von Etten - 'Are We There'
You won’t find a more affecting. emotive record released in 2014. For someone to bear their feelings and experiences so honestly on record, and back it with such impactful arrangements is stunning. I still remember being floored when I heard 'Are We There' and that’s what you listen to music for - those moments where you become engrossed in someone else’s stories and it changes you in a better way.
4. Ty Segall - 'Manipulator'
To label Ty Segall as prolific would almost feel like a disservice - the guy can’t stop releasing records, and importantly, interesting albums. It would be wrong to say there is quality throughout everything he does but there is invariably something that attracts the attention. 'Manipulator' is his most ambitious record yet, coming in at 17 tracks and clocking in at just under an hour. Inspired by 70s rock n roll, 'Manipulator' is a brilliantly diverse album that showcases Segall’s songwriting talents, never outstaying its welcome.
3. Spoon - 'They Want My Soul'
Bands rarely deliver the same quality time and time again over such a length of time - around 20 years into their career, Spoon might even have delivered their best album yet. The addition of new member Alex Fischel helps the group to broaden their sound and you can hear the excitement of the band when recording come through the songs. With such a rich, melodic and infectious record, Spoon have shown they’ve still got it.
2. The Horrors - 'Luminous'
While 'Luminous' doesn’t have the same degree of progression as previous records, especially when you compare it to the leap between their debut to 'Primary Colours', it’s a stunning record from a band who know they have perfected their sound. Seeing them live was an incredible experience, unveiling even more subtleties to this superb collection of songs - as soon as I heard the motorik drive and almost Stone Roses-like groove of 'In And Out Of Sight', I was hooked. The attention to detail is remarkable and it’s exciting to wonder where they will go next.
1. The War on Drugs - 'Lost In The Dream'
'Lost In The Dream' has made the summit of many a critic's end-of-year list and rightly so. Imbuing not only the influence but the soul of the great American songwriters – Dylan and Springsteen – primary songwriter Adam Granduciel delivers one great song after another. There is definitely also the mark of Dire Straits on the record with its intricate guitar solos, and all the aforementioned artists would be proud to call 'Lost In The Dream' their own.