The ever insightful Johnny Feeney pops up every now and then to share his musical musings with us, always adding an extra flavour to the blog and always a welcome one at that.
Ahead of my own albums of the year list, Johnny has kindly compiled his top ten albums from 2014 but before I leave you in Johnny’s very capable hands, I’d like to thank him for this, and all the other posts during the year, and of course the site’s renovation too. So, without further ado, here are Johnny’s top ten albums of the year.
10. Sleaford Mods – ‘Divide and Exit’
2014 was certainly the year that Nottingham’s Sleaford Mods shot to prominence after years in the underground. Primitive programmed beats and Andrew Fearn’s menacing basslines provide the platform from which vocalist Jason Williamson volleys tirade upon aggressive tirade. Foul-mouthed, venom-spitting Williamson is the star turn here – a poet of the disenchanted lower classes in the UK. Powerful.
09. Miss Kenichi – ‘The Trail’
The third album from Berlin-based Miss Kenichi is a haunting, gloomy slow-paced affair reminiscent in parts to White Chalk-era PJ Harvey. Although sparse and dark on first listen, this album slowly reveals itself on repeat listens and is stunningly beautiful in places.
08. Benjamin Booker – ‘Benjamin Booker’
New Orleans-based Booker’s self-titled debut album is a treat of stomping, soulful blues rock. Sounding older than his 25 years, Booker’s voice is a magnetic presence throughout this record. The rollicking, rousing tunes are such good fun but Booker is equally as effective when he slows things down on tracks such as ‘Slow Coming’. Big things lie ahead for Booker, one imagines.
07. Brody Dalle – ‘Diploid Love’
Well-connected former Distillers frontwoman Dalle’s first solo album features guest appearances from the likes of the Strokes’ Nick Valensi and Garbage’s Shirley Manson but never for a moment is the spiky Dalle outshone on this fine rock record full of snarling vocals and thundering hooks.
06. Ultimate Painting – ‘Ultimate Painting’
Ultimate Painting are the very interesting side project from Jack Cooper of Mazes and James Hoare of Veronica Falls. Packed full of breezy, dreamy indie rock, lovely harmonies and incredibly infectious tunes are prevalent throughout. The easiest of easy listening.
05. Alt-J – ‘This Is All Yours’
Alt-J’s first record since their Mercury Prize-winning debut An Awesome Wave. The swooning, shimmering layers of vocals and numerous instruments are all still present but this is a much more subtle affair. Everything works perfectly here from the sexually suggestive lyrics on ‘Every Other Freckle’ to the Miley Cyrus-sampling on ‘Hunger of the Pine’ to the jaw-dropping, hidden track – a cover of Bill Withers’ ‘Lovely Day’. Almost impossibly beautiful in places. Brilliant.
04. Caribou – ‘Our Love’
Prior to the release of this wonderful electronic album from Dan Snaith, we were treated to a preview of a couple of tracks off it over the summer. Both ‘Can’t Do Without You’ and ‘Our Love’ proved to be certifiable bangers – anyone lucky enough to catch Caribou live over the past few months will testify to that – and thankfully the rest of this album follows suit. The synth lines as ‘Silver’ explodes into life are euphoric while ‘All I Ever Need’ is another example of a track, like the two aforementioned hits, that is just as easily listened to at home with the headphones on as on a packed dancefloor with the crowd going nuts.
03. Timber Timbre – ‘Hot Dreams’
The fifth album from this Canadian group is a rather dark affair – twisted, cinematic country/Americana accompanied by vocalist Taylor Kirk’s dulcet tones, baritone guitars, snapping percussion and luscious string arrangements. Disparate, morbid, eccentric but utterly compelling.
02. Total Control – ‘Typical System’
The Australian alt-rockers second album effortlessly covers a wide range from psychedelic rock to punk to garage to synth-rock with barely a pause for breath. A really strong set of songs that keeps the listener guessing at every turn and a truly exceptional record.
01. St Vincent – ‘St Vincent’
Annie Clark, aka St Vincent, continues to go from strength to strength with her fourth studio solo album – a collection of tight, muscular, finely wrought art-rock/pop songs brimming with intent. While this album is endlessly inventive and Clark is constantly trying new things, it is also probably her most accessible to date and an unbridled joy to listen to from start to finish. An outstanding album from an artist at the very top of her game.