Who am I to say what the best albums of the year are. I’m totally unqualified, but I thought I stick up my five favourites of the year and if you haven’t listened to some of them and you already like the others perhaps you’ll enjoy them as much as I have. A few notable mentions that didn’t make the list Gizzly Bear’s Shields and AJ’s Awesome Wave, I get sick of the music press marketing regime of indie bands these are great albums without the need cool kid tags they are both mercilessly pushed to death and I’m sure they will make other peoples lists, will I be listening to either of them next year, I doubt it but they are both good albums. Both of these bands perform at the only festival I went to this year, Alt J I missed altogether as I was busy elsewhere and Grizzly suffered by having to follow Alabama Shakes, which is probably how the crowd felt when Elton John delivered his new album in full after the Beach Boys had performed for a solid two hours. Gabe Dixons One Spark is a well written if slightly over produced album the man is best with just a piano that’s all, the songs speak for themselves and Even the Rain is my favourite song of the year by far, unfortunately they smothered it with cheese and Alison Krauss on the album, it didn’t need it.
Mumford and Sons – Babel
First up obvious choice, this is a great album and in the same way Adele made a great album, don’t dismiss it as too mainstream, there are some really good songs at the heart of this. For me I connected with this second album more than I ever did with the first. Great tunes good pop songs, nice country feel (more of that later), have ran a lot to this album, I really like it, it may not be the trendiest thing, but its well made stuff plenty of banjo and simple chords.
Keane – Strangeleand
I must admit I can take or leave Keane, I thought they had been hovered up by Coldplay, let’s be honest they must be pretty fucked off that Coldplay are so huge. I did like Hope and Fears, great songs on that but I cannot remember anything of the two previous albums. If they had followed up Hopes and Fears with Strangeland they would be Coldplay. It’s a master class in catchy anthemic pop music. It reminds me of the Killers in places and certainly knocks The Killers new album into a cocked hat. If you are like me and have given up on Keane listen to this album and I guarantee you will change your minds.
Cody ChestnuTT – Landed on a Hundred
I cannot recall when I last enjoyed a classic Soul album as much of this, it was a long long time ago, 20 years or more before I heard anyone sing this fresh, he is getting on a bit, but my god his voice is utterly amazing, comparable to Marvin Gaye and that’s something I thought I wouldn’t say, where this scores over Cee Lo Green is it actually a proper soul record, you could put this out anytime over the last 30 years and it would have done well, no falling into the trap of having rap break downs or gimmicks, it’s a solid well made piece of art.
Tift Merritt –Travelling Alone
It’s no secret I like country music, when I say that people think I’m a bit mental, but if you explain it by getting people to listen to an album of this quality, then I think you’ll think less of me and a desperate cowboy doing line dancing. Sure there’s a fair bit of air bit of slide guitar but the title track and the beautiful duet with Andrew Bird on Drifted Apart worth the price of entry alone, please check this record out
Band of Horses – Mirage Rock
This list is in no particular order, but if it was on how many times I’ve listened to something new this year, this would be miles ahead. It has everything I like, firstly the production on it is simply fantastic, nobody records guitars like this anymore, there’s beautiful engineering on the shadow acoustic parts, really reminds me of Atlantic Crossing in places. Then the harmonies on this are simply beautiful, this West Coast indie, the stuff of Teenage Fanclub, Thrills etc, I love, this is far beyond that, for me it’s a total re-evaluation of Band of Horse, I never thought they could be this good and with fail, this album puts a smile of my face, every time I play it.