Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The Musical Advent Calendar - The Overall Top 10

Merry Christmas!

And welcome to the final door of the 2012 Musical Advent Calendar...the overall top 10. Using our patented, multi-layered and highly sophisticated rating system (one point for a No. 24 nomination, 24 for a No. 1, and everything else in between), we've calculated what the panel rated as the best 10 albums of the year. You can see just how many points each one got under the album name.

Before we dive in, some facts and figures of note. This, the fourth Musical Advent Calendar, has set another new record for the total number of different albums nominated with 176. Given that the maximum possible number is 240, we're not sure how much further this can realistically go...Last year, Laura Marling claimed the overall number one with 82 points, barely half the 150 The National needed in 2010, but still (slightly) more than this year's winner. However, the numbers might have been very different were it not for the special case of the Black Keys. El Camino came out in December last year, making it eligible for this year's Advent Calendar (our cut off date is November 15th). However, Steve admitted he forgot, while Dollard declared it ineligible under his own mysterious by-laws. If those two had put it roughly where we might imagine they would have in their lists, it may very well have taken top spot. 

Anyway, enough hypotheticals. Here are the results: 

1. Richard Hawley - Standing At The Sky's Edge (Parlaphone)

80 points

If Laura Marling won last year by common consensus, hoovering up points from seven nominations, Hawley has taken the fast track. All four of his selections came at the upper end, and two second-place picks catapulted him to the top. 

"If Hawley's music had been sepia-tinged in the past – and it had, in almost every review – …Sky's Edge is every bit as bright and colourful as its sleeve" - Andy Welch

"Hawley clearly enjoys unleashing his full armoury of effects pedals but the songwriting underneath is as strong as ever" - Rory Dollard

"There really is nothing like the thrill of an artist you've already grown to love exhilarating you all over again" - Dom Farrell

"Sheffield’s humble workaholic is no longer happy to stand back in the shadows – he sounds angry and he wants you to know it" - Ian Parker

2. Grizzly Bear - Shields (Warp)

64 points

Following the Hawley model, Grizzly Bear got only three selections, but all three were in the top six, and one was a No. 1.

"Everything that made 2009’s Veckatimest so wonderful is still largely in place – intricate arrangements played with a vivid and precise beauty. However, there is a sense of urgency and toughness about Shields that drips down from the fractured, modulated guitar riff that kicks off ‘Sleeping Ute’ and infuses everything thereafter" - Dom Farrell 

"Harmonies – check. Gorgeous melodies – check. Jazz-influenced rhythms and chord voicings - check. Interesting arrangements, dynamic song structures, and meticulous production – check, check and check again" - Pranam Mahavalli

"The soaring harmonies that marked so much of Grizzly Bear’s work to date are also noticeable if not for their absence then for their greatly reduced role. The result is an album that sounds like the battered and bruised cousin of its immaculate forerunner, raw and immediate" - Ian Parker 

3. Alt-J - An Awesome Wave (Infectious)

63 points

"The about-turn performed by a certain section of music lovers when Alt-J won the Mercury Music Prize was something to behold. An album previously described with words like “enthralling”, “utterly compelling”, “vibrant”, “exciting” and “mature” was all of a sudden dismissed as bland rubbish. Well, everyone, get a grip. It’s clearly a triumphant album" - Ali Mason

"Sort of a Gregorian chant, hip hop-inspired Radiohead, this is a gently brooding yet delightfully wistful debut, all swirling guitars, soundscapes and singalongs, not to mention one of the few Mercury Prize winners most people could agree on" - Matt Collins

"If anyone can take Radiohead's rhythmic mentalness and craft a song as deliciously catchy and downright perverse as 'Tesselate', they're alright in my book" - Steve Pill

4. Jack White - Blunderbuss (XL)

61 points

"Having operated diligently under the self-imposed aesthetic constraints of the White Stripes, we find an artist liberated – seemingly trying to pile elements of all the records he’s ever loved into 13 tracks" - Dom Farrell

"It’s like he dialled down the Whiteisms – only slightly, mind – and let the wonderful assembled musicians and guest vocalists share the spotlight. It’s unmistakeably Jack White, but subtlety suits him" - Andy Welch

"There are all kinds of physiological pressure points being pushed and prodded to manipulate you and make you feel a certain way. But, man, does it hit the spot. What a thrill. Can we go again please???" - Rory Dollard

"Blunderbuss is not the eighth White Stripes album under a different name, but it somehow feels closer to that idea than anything he's done in the meantime" - Ian Parker

5. Spiritualized - Sweet Heart Sweet Light (Domino)

60 points

"Continuing his run of poor health, Sweet Heart Sweet Light was written and recorded while he underwent intense treatment for Hepatitis C. Hoping he could offset the misery of the medication, he set out to write a pop album. Pierce has since admitted it didn't work for him, and feels removed from the album because of the gruelling time he was having during its making, but whether he realises it or not, it's Spiritualized's most focused-sounding album since Ladies And Gentlemen, with a new groove underneath it all" - Andy Welch

"I’m a fully paid up member of the Jason Pierce fan club, willing to pursue him to the very ends of whatever free-jazz, psychedelic, droner, stoner, white-noise, space-rock journey he deems fit at the time. But on SHSL, he’s more open than ever to the casual listener. His lyrical pre-occupations with drugs, deities and death remain in place but there’s a more poppy, melodic vibe than ever before" - Rory Dollard

"Spirtualized have spent much of the last decade fulfilling the prophecy of their almost forgotten classic album, Ladies and Gentleman We Are Floating in Space. But this right here is a return to form. Like all bands who go back to what they do they best after a few years poncing about with new directions, you will find little new but plenty to delight" - Matt Collins

"Pierce has assumed the familiar role of the strung-out last survivor being soothingly carried by a choir of angels to meet a maker his doesn’t believe in but can’t stop singing about. As always, you’re with him all the way" - Dom Farrell

6. The Black Keys - El Camino (Nonesuch)

58 points

"Following their breakthrough sixth record, Brothers, an uninspiring effort by their own high standards, Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney decided to up the tempo, up the volume, pile on the guitar fuzz, go a bit glam and take over the world. Sure, El Camino lacks the homespun charm of Rubber Factory and Magic Potion, but if you're thinking even that much about this monster of a record you simply aren't playing it loud enough" - Dom Farrell

"I love El Camino. It’s the sound of a band who started off rough and raucous gradually refining their sound over six albums to come up with a distilled version of themselves" - Andy Welch

"After toying with their sound since working on 2008's Attack & Release with Danger Mouse, they now seem to have settled on the perfect formula, a more rounded version of the original garage blues they made their name with, and another set of kick-ass tunes" - Ian Parker

7. Beth Orton - Sugaring Season (Anti-)

55 points

"She's dropped the 'tronica' from her the 'folktronica' of her previous albums, a canny move for an album that I've enjoyed listening to both attentively and also while doing the chores" - Pranam Mahavalli

"Still wrongly viewed in some quarters through the prism of her early collaborations with William Orbit, Orton has for some time been an authentically wonderful folk voice. Six years since her last album have nudged her ever more towards a traditional sound to match her distinctive vocal and fans of Laura Marling or Alela Diane should appreciate her craft and easy touch" - Rory Dollard

"Sugaring Season is one of her best records yet. Rarely has she sounded so passionate, so full of life, so capable of writing delicate folk classics like 'Call Me The Breeze' or 'Magpie'. She's still got it" - Matt Collins

"Orton doesn’t always wow you, but she brings an unquestionable quality to everything she touches" - Ian Parker

"It’s the sound of someone finally achieving happiness that fascinates me most" - Andy Welch

8. Cold Specks - I Predict A Graceful Explosion (Mute)

54 points

"One of 2012's outstanding debuts and, in Al Spx, one of the year's outstanding voices. I Predict A Graceful Expulsion is funeral-march soul that reveals further battered and bruised beauty on each listen" - Dom Farrell

"There are few set-piece fireworks or unforgettable choruses here, with the emphasis instead on a slow build of mood and tone. But once that is under your skin it is hard not to fall pretty hard for it" - Rory Dollard

"Etobicoke, Canada is a long way from the Deep South but it is clear that is where native Al Spx, now a resident of the even more distant London, finds her inspiration. Her homespun blues are built on the old slave songs of the region, but lifted out of the cotton fields and on to grander plains by her quite wonderful voice" - Ian Parker

"The 24-year-old has a phenomenally soulful and world-weary voice for someone so young, and it is complimented here by carefully crafted songs that swell slowly, like the National at their most poised" - Steve Pill

9. Dirty Projectors - Swing Lo Magellan (Domino)

48 points

"I spent the whole year looking for music that would make feel like this and finding it is the reason I'll do the same in 2013" - Rory Dollard

"The band have always been original, but their wilful abstraction has been replaced by warmth here, which makes these songs easy to embrace and despite moving and turning in surprising directions. Beautiful songs, beautifully recorded, and expressing a range of sounds and emotions, I've liked a lot of records this year, but Swing Lo Magellan is the only album I can say I've loved" - Pranam Mahavalli

10. Bobby Womack - The Bravest Man In The Universe (XL)

44 points

"Bobby Womack worked successfully with Damon Albarn on the last Gorillaz album and, with the latter manning the controls alongside Richard Russell, the great man sounds on fine form here. Clipped, minimal production provides the best resting place for Womack’s brilliantly bruised soul. Some more intrusive electronics see the album fade down the stretch but, frankly, I’d happily listen to this bloke recite the Yellow Pages" - Dom Farrell

"It’d be easy to be cynical about this now almost formulaic kind of record, but it’s just too good for that. Womack manages to pack in all that wisdom and experience on the album, it’s more a lesson from an old uncle than a collection of songs, which mostly lets his voice and some well-chosen duets to take centre stage rather than swamping with big arrangements. His story is fascinating, but his voice will always be the star" - Andy Welch

"It is undoubtedly a 21st century Albarn album (stellar guests, piano ballads, futuristic production squelches) but the burnished mahogany voice and irrepressible funk undoubtedly belongs to Womack" - Steve Pill

"Damon Albarn can be a dry and dislikeable old stick at times but his feel for unlikely musical fusions serves his latest collaborator unfathomably well" - Rory Dollard

Monday, December 24, 2012

The Musical Advent Calendar - Door Number Twenty-Four

And here they are. After 23 days of pre-amble, we've finally made it. Here are our favourite albums of the year.

Andy Welch

Bat For Lashes  - The Haunted Man

I'm a sucker for a backstory, and they don't get more endearing than the one behind The Haunted Man. There was heartbreak, tour-induced exhaustion, writers' block, soul-searching and a new beginning. To overcome the obstacles in her way, Natasha Khan threw herself into writing and recording the album in a way she, even by her own immersive standards, had never done before. Everything about the album feels like a statement, whether it's the bold cover image, the minor-key beauty of 'Laura', or the elaborate theatre of 'All Your Gold'. In the same way PJ Harvey's Let England Shake was, The Haunted Man is brilliant not just because of the strong ideas, but because they were realised so completely. It's a sensational record, and the most imaginative and enjoyable I've heard all year. 

Matt Collins

First Aid Kit - The Lion's Roar (Wichita) 

The second album proper from ridiculously young Swedish sisters First Aid Kit only came out in February. After listening to it once, I tweeted it as my album of the year already. Ten months of music later, I've been proven right. They mine a classic folk country vein that artists 40 years their seniors have yet to master, and write superb story based songs of heartbreak that they surely haven't even had time to experience themselves. Standout single 'Emmylou' is probably song of the year, the harmonies are absolutely perfect, and there just isn't a duff track to be found. A worthy album of the year.

Pranam Mavahalli

Dirty Projectors – Swing Lo Magellan (Domino)

I like to think that my choice of album of the year signifies...something. In previous years, Bjork's Biophilia opened my mind to how ambitious music can still be, Caribou's Swim renewed my love for electronic music, and Grizzly Bear's Veckatimest just blew me away through sheer beauty. But this year, the reason I've chosen Dirty Projectors is perhaps less lofty. It's simply the album of all in my list that I would recommend to anyone with any kind of interest in songs. The band have always been original, but their wilful abstraction has been replaced by warmth here, which makes these songs easy to embrace and despite moving and turning in surprising directions. Beautiful songs, beautifully recorded, and expressing a range of sounds and emotions, I've liked a lot of records this year, but Swing Lo Magellan is the only album I can say I've loved.

Ali Mason

Anais Mitchell – Young Man In America (Wilderland Records)

Let’s get one thing straight from the start: Anais Mitchell is the best lyricist out there right now. Trying to pick out some of my favourite lines from Young Man In America, I realised what I was actually doing, more or less, was writing out every song word for word. I study her lyrics like I haven’t done with anyone since I was a 14-year-old dreaming of being Jarvis Cocker. My absolute favourite, from He Did, is: “Your daddy didn’t leave a will/ he left a shovel and a hole to fill/ and it how it feels to be a child of his.” It’s so good because it sums up the emptiness of bereavement, and also encapsulates one of the major themes of the album: how one generation is influenced by the last. This is as much a state-of-the-nation album as a personal one, political as much as emotional. Mostly, though, it’s blue-collar folk stories sung powerfully and tenderly by perhaps the most precious artist around.

Guy Atkinson

The Menzingers - On The Impossible Past (Epitaph)

"I've been having a horrible time..." is the line that introduces this album but never has an opening been so far removed from the feeling I experience at the end. This collection of melancholic punk anthems is destined to last for an age and will long be held up as a high watermark for what melodic punk bands should be be striving for. This is genuinely an album I think I will still love as much when I'm 50 as I did when I first heard it.

Dom Farrell

Grizzly Bear – Shields (Warp)

Almost every review I’ve ever read on Grizzly Bear has referred to “chamber pop”. Now I won’t be doing that, not only because I don’t have the foggiest idea what it means (I just Googled it), but because Shields is far too brilliant an album to plaster a silly genre label onto. Everything that made 2009’s Veckatimest so wonderful is still largely in place – intricate arrangements played with a vivid and precise beauty. However, there is a sense of urgency and toughness about Shields that drips down from the fractured, modulated guitar riff that kicks off ‘Sleeping Ute’ and infuses everything thereafter. Grizzly Bear have rarely been accused of sounding like they’re having fun, but when ‘Yet Again’ – a euphoric pop song without a chamber in sight – descends into a euphoric outro, distorted Flaming Lips drums and all, they sound like they’re having a ball. Penultimate track ‘Half Gate’ seems a certain high watermark – all bruised, aching introspection pitched expertly – until closer ‘Sun In Your Eyes’ brings the house down. The climb from stately piano ballad to skyscraping epic is implausibly good, touching perfection. It feels a fitting place for this magnificent band to sign off until next time.

Ian Parker

Neil Young & Crazy Horse - Psychedelic Pill (Reprise)

Predictable, right? Well, yes and no, not least as I wouldn’t have predicted it until I was finalising the list and it kept creeping towards the top. Psychedelic Pill is not perfect. So far from perfect it probably has more wrong with it than any other album in my top 10 (and yet, here we are). Too many of Neil’s more recent albums have been hurt by some lazy lyrics, and the 27 minute opener ‘Driftin’ Back’ would have been considerably more awesome without his all-too-predictable rant about mp3s 20 minutes in. But Neil, being the stubborn old git that he is, has always demanded that we accept him warts and all or not at all, and I pretty much always have. I rank him as the Greatest Musician In the History of Ever, and this, bootlegs and reissues aside, is the best thing he’s released since 2005’s Prairie Wind. Winner.

:: I thought about using the four minute edit for Walk Like A Giant. But not for long. Here are all 16 glorious minutes of it.

Rory Dollard

Dirty Projectors - Swing Lo Magellan (Domino)

If you managed to wade through the gushing Ode to Springsteen that constituted my number two pick yesterday, you'll know I must have some pretty mad love for any album I place ahead of the Boss' latest. Step forward Swing Lo Magellan, my offering for the most outstanding artistic statement of 2012. Dave Longstreth's songs are, without fail, remarkable constructions - shape-shifting and tetchy, prickly as hedgehogs and sweet as honey. They are blasts of smooth harmony and gasps of teeth-jarring discord. This mad scientist's brew was present to some degree on previous offering Bitte Orca, but here it has been distilled into its most irresistible form yet. I spent the whole year looking for music that would make feel like this and finding it is the reason I'll do the same in 2013.

Steve Pill

Christian Scott – Christian aTunde Adjuah (Concord Music)

I’m willing to bet we've made it this far without this album cropping up on anyone else's list, but if the most recent jazz album you own dates from the 1960s, you'd do well to pick things up here. The first three tracks here act as a statement of intent. From the Sketches of Spain squall of 'Fatima Aisha Rokero 400', through the marching band roll of 'New New Orleans (King Adjuah Stomp)' and on to the tinkling Oriental pianos of 'Kuro Shinobi', this is the sound of an artist flexing his muscles in new and inventive ways. As with all double albums, you could argue that a judicious edit might have made this a really hard-hitting single CD but that would miss the point. In a year packed with plenty truly listenable albums but few landmarks, this deserves recognition for aiming higher, further and weirder than anything else.

John Skilbeck 

Frida Hyvonen - To The Soul (RMV Grammofon)
Frida Hyvonen was described this year - or at least she was according to Google Translate - as a “lady from space in rubber boots” by Benny Andersson of Abba. And if that doesn’t sell her to you, I’m sorry. Maybe these offerings might:
- Andersson volunteered his services to play ukulele for Frida on a Swedish TV show over the summer, and you can see that performance here.
- She also sang for Paul Simon in August when he was celebrated at the lavish Polar Music Prize award ceremony in Stockholm, attended by King Carl XVI Gustaf. You can see her take on The Sound of Silence here.
Both of those videos mislead the viewer a little though.
When I saw Frida play her only UK show of the year on Halloween, in a London concert hall (downstairs in the Guardian’s swish building), it was effectively a solo show: Frida and a grand piano - plus a friend who appeared to be on stage more for the company she offered than the occasional backing vocal. She nailed that show, owned that piano. One minute she’d be throwing her head back and writhing in an acted-out orgasm; the next (the one-song encore) she’d have jaws dropping with that song from album two about that abortion she had that time. Frida’s like that, puckering up one minute and booting you in the gut the next.
To The Soul proved right up there with her mighty second album, Until Death Comes, which topped my advent chart three years ago. A key segment of To The Soul is dedicated to her late grandmother, including a beautifully recounted telling of the funeral on Farmor (Swedish for grandmother). But it’s 'Saying Goodbye' that was the standout song, the one that really brought the goose bumps out. Here’s a live version that builds from a slow start to a full-paced climax, or here, should you prefer, is how it sounded on the album.

The Musical Advent Calendar - A Quick Recap

In order that you might more easily be able to mock panel members for the more glaring omissions from their lists, here's an easy at-a-glance look at their complete top 24s.

Andy Welch

1. Bat for Lashes - The Haunted Man (Parlaphone)
2. Richard Hawley - Standing At The Sky’s Edge (Parlaphone)
3. The Maccabees - Given To The Wild (Fiction)
4. The Black Keys - El Camino (Nonesuch)
5. Spiritualized - Sweet Heart Sweet Light (Domino)
6. Jessie Ware - Devotion (Island)
7. Beth Orton - Sugaring Season (Anti-)
8. Colorama - Good Music (AED Records)
9. Diiv - Oshin (Captured Tracks)
10. Wild Nothing - Nocturne (Bella Union)
11. Graham Coxon - A+E (Parlaphone)
12. Cat Power - Sun (Matador)
13. Sharon Van Etten - Tramp (Jagjaguwar)
14. Lianne La Havas - Is Your Love Big Enough? (Warner) 
15. Bobby Womack - Bravest Man In The Universe (XL)
16. Tame Impala - Lonerism (Modular)
17. Father John Misty - Fear Fun (Bella Union)
18. Jack White - Blunderbuss (XL)
19. The 2 Bears - Be Strong (Mercury)
20. Gaz Coombes Presents - Here Come The Bombs (Hot Fruit Records)
21. Tamara Schlesinger - The Procession (Tantrum)
22. The Pond – The Pond (One Little Indian)
23. Stealing Sheep - Into The Diamond Sun (Heavenly)
24. The Beach Boys - That’s Why God Made The Radio (EMI) 

Matt Collins

1. First Aid Kit - The Lion's Roar (Wichita)
2. Rufus Wainwright - Out of the Game (Decca)
3. Alt-J - An Awesome Wave (Infectious)
4. Pet Shop Boys - Elysium (Parlaphone)
5. Sharon Van Etten - Tramp (Jagjaguwar)
6. Sigur Ros - Valtari (Parlaphone)
7. Django Django - Django Django (Because)
8. Evans The Death - Evans The Death (Self-released)
9. Beth Orton - Sugaring Season (Anti-)
10. The Shins - Port of Morrow (Columbia)
11. Beach House - Bloom (Bella Union)
12. Spiritualized - Sweet Heart Sweet Light (Domino)
13. Dark Dark Dark - Who Needs Who (Melodic)
14. Rosie Taylor Project - Twin Beds (Odd Box)
15. Lucy Rose - Like I Used To (Columbia)
16. Father John Misty - Fear Fun (Bella Union)
17. Islands - A Sleep And A Forgetting (Anti-)
18. Dry The River - Shallow Bed (RCA)
19. Fanfarlo - Rooms Filled With Light (Warner)
20. Animal Collective - Centipede Hz (Domino)
21. Band of Horses - Mirage Rock (Columbia)
22. It Hugs Back - Laughing Party (Safe and Sound)
23. Shrag - Canines (Fortuna Pop)
24. Efterklang - Piramida (4AD)

Pranam Mavahalli

1. Dirty Projectors – Swing Lo Magellan (Domino)
2. Four Tet – Pink (Text)
3. Flying Lotus – Until the Quiet Comes (Warp)
4. Grizzly Bear – Shields (Warp)
5. Peaking Lights – Lucifer (Weird World)
6. Frank Ocean – Channel Orange (Def Jam)
7. Liars – WIXIW (Mute)
8. The Weeknd – Trilogy (XO, Universal Republic)
9. Neil Young – Psychedelic pill (Reprise)
10. Micachu – Never (Rough Trade)
11. Actress – R.I.P. (Honest Jons)
12. Kendrick Lamaar – good kid, m.A.A.d. City (Top Dawg, Aftermath, Interscope)
13. Django Django – Django Django (Because)
14. Easter – Innocence Man (White Box)
15. Plank! - Animalism (Akoustik Anarkhy)
16. Chromatics – Kill for Love (Italians do it better)
17. Minotaur Shock – Orchard (Melodic)
18. Mark van Hoen – The Revenant Diary (Editions Mego)
19. Tame Impala – Lonerism (Modular)
20. Jonny Greenwood – The Master OST (Nonesuch Records)
21. Crystal Castles – (III) (Fictrion)
22. Kindness – World you Need a Change of Mind (Female Energy/Polydor)
23. Beth Orton – Sugaring Season (ANTI-)
24. Alt J – An Awesome Wave (Infectious)

Ali Mason

1. Anais Mitchell – Young Man In America (Wilderland Records)
2. The Staves – Dead & Born & Grown (Atlantic)
3. Rachel Sermanni – Under Mountains (Townsend Music)
4. The Maccabees – Given To The Wild (Fiction)
5. Carolina Chocolate Drops – Leaving Eden (Nonesuch)
6. Ellen & the Escapades – All The Crooked Scenes (Branch Out Records)
7. Alt-J – An Awesome Wave (Infectious)
8. Me and My Friends – Beneath A Level Head (Split Shift)
9. Laura J Martin – The Hangman Tree (Static Caravan) 
10. Of Monsters and Men – My Head Is An Animal (Island)
11. The Magnetic North – Orkney: Symphony of the Magnetic North (Full Time Hobby)
12. Julia Stone – By The Horns (Picture Show Records)
13. James Yorkston – I Was A Cat From A Book (Domino Records)
14. Beth Jeans Houghton & The Hooves Of Destiny – Yours Truly, Cellophane Nose (Mute) 
15. Jesca Hoop – The House That Jack Built (Curuja) 
16. Dark Dark Dark – Who Needs Who (Melodic) 
17. Friend of All the World – The Wild (Friend Of All The World) 
18. Michael Kiwanuka – Home Again (Polydor)
19. Bard – The Springtime Fool (Woodburner Records) 
20. Big Eyes Family Players – Folk Songs II (Static Caravan)
21. Correatown – Pleiades (Highline Records)
22. Liz Green – O, Devotion! (Play It Again Sam)
23. Joyce The Librarian – They May Put Land Between Us (Folkwit Records)
24. Best Coast – The Only Place (Wichita Recordings)

Guy Atkinson

1. The Menzingers - On The Impossible Past (Epitaph) 
2. Title Fight - Floral Green (Side One Dummy) 
3. White Lung - Sorry (Deranged) 
4. Deftones - Koi No Yokan (Reprise) 
5. Dikembe - Broad Shoulders (Tiny Engines) 
6. Japandroids - Celebration Rock (Polyvinyl Record Co.) 
7. Joyce Manor - Of All Things I Will Soon Grow Tired (Asian Man) 
8. Daytrader - Twelve Years (Rise Records) 
9. Basement - colourmeinkindness (Run For Cover Records)
10. Ceremony - Zoo (Matador Records) 
11. You Blew It! - Grow Up, Dude (Topshelf Records)
12. Xerxes - Our Home is a Deathbed (No Sleep Records) 
13. Dinosaur Jr. - I Bet on Sky (Jagjaguwar)
14. The Twilight Sad - No Oner Can Ever Know (Fat Cat)
15. Converge - All We Love We Leave Behind (Epitaph) 
16. Trash Talk - 119 (Trash Talk Collective) 
17. Everyone Everywhere - Everyone Everywhere (Self Released) 
18. Classics of Love - Classics of Love (Asian Man) 
19. Circa Survive - Violent Waves (Self released)
20. Mixtapes - Even on the Worst Nights (No Sleep Records) 
21. Apart - Gray Light (Mayfly Records)
22. Pulled Apart by Horses - Tough Love (Transgressive)
23. Such Gold - Misadventures (Razor & Tie) 
24. No Trigger - Tycoon (No Sleep Records) 

Dominic Farrell

1. Grizzly Bear – Shields (Warp)
2. The Shins – Port of Morrow (Columbia)
3. Alabama Shakes – Boys and Girls (Rough Trade)
4. Beach House – Bloom (Bella Union)
5. Peaking Lights – Lucifer (Mexican Summer)
6. The Black Keys – El Camino (Nonesuch)
7. Bruce Springsteen – Wrecking Ball (Columbia)
8. Richard Hawley – Standing at the Sky’s Edge (Parlophone)
9. Tallest Man On Earth – There’s No Leaving Now (Dead Oceans)
10. Cold Specks – I Predict a Graceful Expulsion (Mute)
11. School of Seven Bells – Ghostory (Full Time Hobby)
12. Lambchop – Mr M (Merge)
13. The xx –  Coexist (Young Turks)
14. Spiritualized – Sweet Heart Sweet Light (Double Six)
15. Jack White – Blunderbuss (XL)
16. Field Music – Plumb (Memphis Industries)
17. Smoke Fairies – The Three of Us (V2)
18. Django Django  – Django Django (Because Music)
19. Chromatics – Kill for Love (Italians Do It Better)
20. Tim Burgess – Oh No I Love You (OGenisis)
21. First Aid Kit – The Lion’s Roar (Redeye)
22. Bobby Womack – The Bravest Man in the Universe (XL)
23. Neil Young & Crazy Horse – Psychedelic Pill (Reprise)
24. Team Me – To the Treetops! (Propeller Recordings)

Ian Parker

1. Neil Young & Crazy Horse - Psychedelic Pill (Reprise)
2. Richard Hawley - Standing At The Sky's Edge (Parlophone)
3. Jack White - Blunderbuss (XL)
4. Admiral Fallow - Tree Bursts In Snow (Nettwerk)
5. Ellen & The Escapades - All The Crooked Scenes (Branch Out Records)
6. Grizzly Bear - Shields (Warp)
7. Black Keys - El Camino (Nonesuch)
8. Smoke Fairies - Blood Speaks (V2)
9. Alabama Shakes - Boys & Girls (Rough Trade)
10. First Aid Kit - Lion's Roar (Wichita)
11. Bhi Bhiman - Bhiman (Tummy Touch)
12. Beth Orton - Sugaring Season (Anti-)
13. Cold Specks - I Predict A Graceful Explosion (Mute)
14. Michael Kiwanuka - Home Again (Polydor)
15. Dark Dark Dark - Who Needs Who (Melodic)
16. Mynabirds - Generals (Saddle Creek)
17. Dr John - Locked Down (Nonesuch)
18. Beach House - Bloom (Bella Union)
19. Ray Stinnett - A Fire Somewhere (Light In The Attic)
20. The Hot 8 Brass Band - The Life and Times of (Tru Thoughts)
21. The Staves - Dead & Born & Grown (Atlantic)
22. Gabriel & The Hounds - Kiss Full of Teeth (Communion)
23. Jo Mango - Murmuration (Olive Grove Records)
24. Neil Young & Crazy Horse - Americana (Reprise)

Rory Dollard

1. Dirty Projectors - Swing Lo Magellan (Domino) 
2. Bruce Springsteen - Wrecking Ball (Columbia)
3. Fiona Apple - The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do (Columbia)
4. Jack White - Blunderbuss (XL) 
5. Bobby Womack - The Bravest Man in the Universe (XL) 
6. Anais Mitchell - Young Man In America (Wilderland Records)
7. Mynabirds - Generals (Saddle Creek) 
8. Richard Hawley - Standing at Sky's Edge (Parlophone)
9. Spiritualized - Sweet Heart, Sweet Light (Domino) 
10. Cody ChesnuTT - Landing on a Hundred (One Little Indian)
11. Easy Star All-Stars - Thrillah (Easy Star)
12. Larkin Poe - Thick as Thieves (DefPig Records) 
13. Tennis - Young and Old (Fat Possum) 
14. Japandroids - Celebration Rock (Polyvinyl Records) 
15. Cold Specks -I Predict a Graceful Expulsion (Mute) 
16. Jay Farrar, Will Johnson, Anders Parker & Jim James - New Multitudes (Decca)
17. Perfume Genius - Put Your Back N 2 It (Organs) 
18. Polica - Give You the Ghost (Memphis Industries)
19. Beth Orton - Sugaring Season (Epitaph) 
20. Alabama Shakes - Boys and Girls (Rough Trade)
21. Dan Deacon - America (Domino)
22. The xx - Coexist (Young Turks)
23. Lianne La Havas - Is Your Love Big Enough (Warner)
24. The 2 Bears - Be Strong (Southern Fried)

Steve Pill

1. Christian Scott – Christian aTunde Adjuah (Concord Music)
2. Beat Connection – The Palace Garden (Tender Age)   
3. Alt-J – An Awesome Wave (Infectious)   
4. Young Magic – Melt (Carpark)
5. Nite Jewel – One Second of Love (Secretly Canadian)   
6. Tanlines – Mixed Emotions (True Panther Sounds)
7. Dan Deacon – America (Domino)
8. Cold Specks – I Predict A Graceful Expulsion (Mute)
9. Lower Dens – Nootropics (Ribbon Music)
10. Porcelain Raft – Strange Weekend (Secretly Canadian)
11. Efterklang – Piramida (4AD)
12. Chromatics – Kill For Love (Italians Do It Better)
13. How to Dress Well – Total Loss (Acephale/Weird World)
14. Bobby Womack – The Bravest Man In The Universe
15. Wild Nothing – Nocturne (Bella Union)
16. Flying Lotus – Until The Quiet Comes (Warp)
17. Errors – Have Some Faith In Magic (Rock Action)
18. Dr John – Locked Down (Nonesuch)
19. Daphni – JIAOLONG (Dan Snaith)
20. John Talabot – Fin (Permanent Vacation)
21. Toy – Toy (Heavenly)
22. Calexico – Algiers (Anti)
23. Willis Earl Beal – Acousmatic Sorcery (XL)
24. Jack White – Blunderbuss (XL)

John Skilbeck

1. Frida Hyvonen - To The Soul (RMV Grammofon)
2. Escort - Escort (Tirk)
3. Jens Lekman - I Know What Love Isn't (Secretly Canadian)
4. Jessie Ware - Devotion (Island)
5. The Men - Open Your Heart (Sacred Bones)
6. Purity Ring - Shrines (4AD)
7. The Cribs - In The Belly of the Brazen Bull (Wichita)
8. Twin Shadow - Confess (4AD)
9. Divorce - Divorce (Night School)
10. Agent Ribbons - Let Them Talk (Antenna Farm)
11. Laura Gibson - La Grande (City Slang)
12. Shrag - Canines (Fortuna Pop!)
13. Green Thrift Grocery - Buy It Back! (Gumball Machine Records)
14. Corin Tucker Band - Kill My Blues (Kill Rock Stars)
15. Lightning Love - Blonde Album (Quite Scientific)
16. Sharon Van Etten - Tramp (Jagjaguwar)
17. Cloud Nothings - Attack On Memory (Wichita)
18. Tame Impala - Lonerism (Modular)
19. Ital - Hive Mind (Planet Mu)
20. Metz - Metz (Sub Pop)
21. Screaming Females - Ugly (Don Giovanni)
22. Cornershop - Urban Turban (Ample Play)
23. Death Grips - The Money Store (Columbia)
24. Julia Holter - Ekstasis (Domino)