Wednesday, December 25, 2013

The Musical Advent Calendar - The Overall Top 10

Merry Christmas everybody!

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.

Some facts and figures of note: This year, all told, we nominated a total of 173 albums, three shy of the record set last year. This year was billed as a straight fight between Advent Calendar favourites Laura Marling and The National for the top spot, and so it proved, but only to an extent as it swung fairly decisively one way behind Door 23. Such was the fervour for Once I Was An Eagle on Monday that a record points haul was predicted but in the end Ms Marling fell 14 shy of the mark set when we all lost it over The National's High Violet in 2010. That said, Once I Was An Eagle claimed 56 points more than Richard Hawley got to win it last year, and 54 points more than Laura herself won with in 2011. The National piled in with enough points to have comfortably won either of the past two years, and yet are left trailing in her wake. 

Further down, a late change to Dom's mid-table standings cost Nick Cave and his Bad Seeds fourth place, while Matthew E. White missed out on a top 10 placing by just three points, highlighting the significance of Andy Welch missing the outstanding Big Inner from his list. Valerie June would waltz off with the Best Newcomer award, if such a thing existed.

Enough rambling. 

1. Laura Marling - Once I Was An Eagle (Virgin)

136 points

"This is Marling’s most adventurous, challenging record, lyrically brilliant and musically ambitious. There are singer songwriters, and then there’s Laura Marling" - Andy Welch 

"Saying Laura Marling is the best British singer songwriter of her generation almost feels like a waste of breath by now. She stands comparisons with the all-time greats" - Dom Farrell

"It's John Barnes at the Maracana; it's Malcolm Tucker's best rant; it’s Daniel Day Lewis doing his "I DRINK YOUR MILKSHAKE" schtick inThere Will Be Blood. It's sensational. It is also proper X-rated, hardcore guitar porn for those of us who like to hear fingers brushing against strings" - Rory Dollard 

"On first listen, it struck me as technically brilliant but somehow a little cold. Of course, it's well established I can be an idiot, because on further reflection, Once I Was An Eagle is her best yet" - Ian Parker

"Ethan Johns does a masterful, Ryan Adams-esque production job and the first four-song suite has the beating of anything on my list" - Steve Pill

"This record is delightfully low key, almost a tapestry of stripped back riffs and motifs, thoughts and experiences. The melodies are subtle but infectious, hanging together in a great album" - Matt Collins

"Marling’s status as the queen of the British folk scene perhaps allows her space to be indulgent that other artists wouldn’t get – but then maybe other artists wouldn’t be able to use it to such effect anyway" - Ali Mason

2. The National - Trouble Will Find Me (4AD)
101 points

"Not as classic a National album as previous booming bassy voiced efforts, but that's still better than most records this year. Graceless in particular is irresistible" - Matt Collins

"The greatest songs are peerless, from the haunting peels of feedback in I Need My Girl to the way that Sea of Love builds like a wave of horses in that old Guinness advert" - Steve Pill

"Trouble Will Find Me is a particular triumph because it doesn’t feature any of the truly skyscraping highs of its predecessor, but the sum of the parts is marvellous" - Dom Farrell

"It took a while for me to shake off the feeling that this album was more of the same from indie rock's perennial grumps, but once I did the quietly addictive songs crept under my skin like a flesh-eating virus and refused to leave" - Guy Atkinson

"Most people I spoke to offered a variation on "It's really great and everything….but is that it?". Such is the peril of setting an impossibly high bar. Part of the problem seems to be these guys make it all sound so easy, like they could knock off stuff like this every couple of weeks if really pressed. But when you sit back and listen to something as fragile and wounded as Pink Rabbits, that's really quite remarkable" - Rory Dollard

"Such is the classy ease of this record, the effortless grace and sureness of touch that, while it does not quite reach the heights of their best work, it still beats most things released this year" - Ian Parker

3. Arctic Monkeys - AM (Domino)

71 points

"Turner and company’s thirst for reinvention might be their greatest quality of all. It will be thrilling to see where they go next" - Dom Farrell

"Alex Turner has finally found himself as a frontman – I won’t have a word said against the quiff, mid-Atlantic accent or spangly jackets. While always sharp as a tack lyrically, AM sees them bring back the sense of fun and danceability that has been lacking since Favourite Worst Nightmare, and bring in big beats and a newfound sexiness. What a cocktail" - Andy Welch 

"To me, it's seemed like they were striking around for an identity ever since their debut, and without success. But while, as Steve succinctly noted earlier in the calendar, they seemed to have finally found it a long, long way from Rotherham, I'm going to take the Arsene Wenger approach here - you don't look at the passport, just the quality" - Ian Parker

"While not quite as mature-sounding as one might expect, this is a brlliantly sleazy sort of record. 'Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High' is a particularly down dirty falsetto funk highlight" - Matt Collins

4. Anna Calvi - One Breath (Domino)

67 points

"The album was inspired by the death of a family member, as well as the breakdown of a relationship. Calvi wrote her way out of the blackness, and listening to her do so is mesmerising. The ethereal Sing To Me is the best track" - Andy Welch

"Where the brilliance of ‘Blackout’ teased among the more brooding sound of her first album, One Breathdoes not hold back, an entirely more urgent, aggressive and dramatic record. And it's glorious" - Ian Parker

"The dynamic range on this album is awe-inspiring. While there's some beautiful balladry on here, there's also the kind of six-string nastiness that I'm a sucker for. Please play 'Love of my Life' much louder than you really should. It features the kind of discordant wonkazoid guitar shredfuckery that makes me grin like a bloody idiot" - Pranam Mavahalli

"I imagine an evening on the town with Anna Calvi would be a trial. Slightly inclement weather would surely send her hair flying in every direction, make-up streaming down her cheeks and end in a full-force King Lear breakdown in the woods. The offer of a dance would probably lead her to clear the floor, crack out her flamenco frock and cut some serious rug until every eye in the place was trained on her wide eyes and heaving bosom. I'm nearly certain she's killed. All of which is to say, she is 100% bonkers. As a result every song's a wonderful melodrama - the impassioned singing, the emotive string sections, the unfettered horns. Thrilling, really" - Rory Dollard

5. Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds - Push The Sky Away (Bad Seed Ltd)

66 points

"It’s full of theatrical imagery, lusty scenery-chewing and broiling intensity, but it's also got levity, archness and visions of Miley Cyrus' untimely end (no, really). A pleasure, as always" - Rory Dollard

"Cave has described his 15th album with the Bad Seeds as a “ghost baby in the incubator”, a vulnerable child fighting for life, and while there is something delicate about this record on the surface, there is a power too in its brooding intensity" - Ian Parker

"Putting Grinderman's glorious smut back in its box, wandering around the Brighton sea front, recording an often gorgeous and delicate album in a 19th-century French mansion and sticking his wife on the cover - meet Nick Cave, renaissance man, moving gracefully into late middle age" - Dom Farrell

"Push The Sky Away is his band's most subtle and disquieting album since The Boatman's Call, but by now the Seeds have become the equivalents of master painters, being more economical with each stroke, choosing them so carefully as to create a deceptively simple composition that only really reveals its full impact when you step back and take in the bigger picture" - Steve Pill

"While it might not be as loud – some tracks are almost naked in their arrangements – it’s no less powerful. Fifteen albums in, still being able to surprise like this is nothing short of incredible" - Andy Welch

6. Valerie June - Pushin' Against A Stone (Sunday Best)

57 points

"With a touch of blues here, a splash of country there, as engaging a vocal as you could hope for and a particular type of intensity that demands your attention, I’ve yet to play it for anyone who didn’t love it" - Ali Mason 

"Opener ‘Workin’ Woman Blues’ is one of the finest songs you’ll hear on any record released this year and it doesn't end there. There are the ghosts of the Carter Family in ‘Trials, Troubles, Tribulations’, there’s something moving about the gospel-inflected ‘The Hour’, while the country-blues of closer ‘On My Way’ is just plain delicious" - Ian Parker

"As far as inventing your own genre name goes, Valerie June’s description of her music as “organic moonshine roots music” is a pretty decent punt. Unmistakably a product of her native Tennessee, folk, country, blues and soul ferment into a potent mix on Pushin’ Against a Stone" - Dom Farrell

7. Kurt Vile - Wakin' On A Pretty Daze (Matador)

45 points

"Vile’s latest, hazy, sprawling outing was a perfect soundtrack for long, scorched days. It also works well as a musical bridge from the previous night’s hangover to that afternoon’s two-for-one cocktail offer, you know, if you ever have need for such a thing" - Dom Farrell 

"Gone is the more hectic fuzzy pop of old, in favour of a warm and unhurried mood throughout. Songs stretch out like lazy cats in the sunshine. Even the quickstep of Was All Talk has a weird inertia to it. In 2013, listening to Wakin' On A Pretty Daze was the quickest way to make time standstill" - Steve Pill

"Granted, this isn't my usual bag but the woozy, sun-drenched and presumably weed-fuelled Americana on show sound tracked a lot of my summer and proved a welcome antidote from the sound of grown men vomiting down a microphone, which is what I spent the rest of my year listening to. Also, I really like his name" - Guy Atkinson

8 = Phosphorescent - Muchacho (Dead Oceans)

44 points

"Brilliantly written, wonderfully played songs are a staple and enough to waltz into a top 10 spot on their own. But everybody’s number one pick (apart from that year Ali didn’t like his) needs something more; something magical. Muchacho has ‘Song For Zula' - Dom Farrell

"Locking yourself away in a remote Mexican farming community and channelling ‘Oh Mercy’-era Dylan wouldn’t necessarily strike you as a sensible career path for a young singer-songwriter, but Matthew Houck followed it to great effect on album number six" - Steve Pill

= Daughter - If You Leave (4AD)

44 points

"Picking up for me where Sharon van Etten left off, Daughter have produced what’s called (but isn’t) an experimental folk album. In fact, it’s a beautiful record, with endlessly heartbreaking lyrics, shimmering electric guitars and twitchy rhythms throughout. I still play it at least once a day. Just brilliant" - Matt Collins

"It’s amazing how many times this year I’ve heard a song on the radio and thought “wow, that’s great, I wonder what that is” and it’s turned out to be a song off If You Leave. This says two things: one, If You Leave has got lots of great songs on it; two, my memory is abysmal because I bought the album when it came out and have listened to it regularly" Ali Mason

10. Foals - Holy Fire (Warner Bros)

40 points

"There's no sag in the middle of the record, although the opening five tracks are particularly good, My Number being one of the best songs of the year. Live, they sound even better. The drumming too, my god the drumming, so much more than a beat or even another instrument, it's almost the star of the show" - Andy Welch

"As epic an album as its name suggests. Foals have finally added some excellent songwriting and strong hooks to their now gargantuan sound. Big at festivals" - Matt Collins

"Holy Fire? Wholly unexpected, more like. After a debut of intricate math rock and a follow-up overflowing with raw emotion, Foals could have gone almost anywhere on album number 3. "Enlisting the producers of Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness and writing the catchiest indie pop song of the year" was not exactly odds-on favourite (and let's imagine, for a minute, a world in which we could walk into your local Ladbrokes and place a bet on the contents of the next Foals album without being murdered by drunks or laughed out the door)" - Steve Pill

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Musical Advent Calendar - Door Number Twenty-Four

Let's not waste time. These are our No. 1 albums of the year. 

Andy Welch

Steve Mason - Monkey Minds In The Devil's Time (Domino)

When I first heard Steve Mason was working on an album inspired by the London riots, I must admit I rolled my eyes a bit. With the notable exception of PJ Harvey’s Let England Shake, which on first listen sounded like she’d become obsessed with military history but was in fact a clever satire of British foreign policy, modern political albums are, well, quite rubbish. Steve Mason’s doesn’t use imagery in the same way, instead going for a more head on approach and the fact it doesn’t sound as embarrassing as anything by Frank Turner or The Levellers is testament to how well-judged it all is. There are interludes, spoken-word extracts and old poems between songs, gluing the whole thing together while the songs themselves, ranging from odes to loneliness to brutal instructions for standing up to the government, are equal parts grit and euphoria. When the country seems increasingly doomed, its music as good as this that makes you feel all isn’t lost.

Matt Collins

Daughter - If You Leave (4AD)

Picking up for me where Sharon van Etten left off, Daughter have produced what’s called (but isn’t) an experimental folk album. In fact, it’s a beautiful record, with endlessly heartbreaking lyrics, shimmering electric guitars and twitchy rhythms throughout. I still play it at least once a day. Just brilliant.

Pranam Mavahalli

Jai Paul - Demos (Unofficial release)

What do you get if you mix Prince funk with J Dilla synths, add some Bollywood samples and bundle in some impassioned falsetto vocals? A horrific mess? Not in Jai Paul's hands. Somehow he takes these disparate elements and fuses them together in a manner that renders all other music boring by comparison. And that's just the opening track. I'm not sure what this record is, after all it wasn't officially released, and the ensuing fallout quickly turned into a farce. But it's easily the boldest, most addictive music I've heard all year. Jai, whoever and wherever you are, I salute you.

Ali Mason

Nancy Elizabeth – Dancing (Leaf Label)

Perhaps it’s because Nancy Elizabeth is in her own unassuming way utterly radical that she has yet to find the recognition she deserves. Dancing, her third album, continued the path away from traditional folk and towards something hard to place. Take ‘Debt’, which starts builds from familiar folk territory through layers of sitars and synths to a climax of “come on”s and handclaps before dropping back down to earth again. Or ‘Death In A Sunny Room’, which flowers from a two-and-a-half-minute piano-and-harp intro. ‘Shimmering Song’ dissolves to leave a single voice singing about the restlessness of romance, while ‘All Mouth’ and ‘Early Sleep’ are hypnotic sound installations. Singles ‘Heart’ and ‘Simon Says Dance’ are built from pure melody. Throw in themes of solitude and the passing of time, and this is truly extraordinary stuff from a genuine musical artist.

Guy Atkinson

Iron Chic - The Constant One (Bridge Nine Records)

A late entry into the number one spot, but a drunken train journey with this as my sole companion sealed the deal. Melodic punk music has never sounded so urgent, thrilling and fuckin' tuneful.

Dom Farrell

Phosphorescent – Muchacho (Dead Oceans)

There is barely a duff note on Muchacho. Matthew Houck’s 2010 retreat to a remote Mexican village for rambling and swimming served to sow the seeds for an exemplary alt-country/Americana record, tinged with equal parts sunshine and regret. Brilliantly written, wonderfully played songs are a staple and enough to waltz into a top 10 spot on their own. But everybody’s number one pick (apart from that year Ali didn’t like his) needs something more; something magical. Muchacho has ‘Song For Zula’. Lyrically, it pulls few punches – a brutally honest account of a relationship breakdown that remains defiant against total collapse. But as the pulsing delay of the bass guitar and snare drum bounce off one another and synth lines elegantly swirl, a song of undeniably uplifting beauty is built – as if Houck has had his heart ripped out and thrown at him, only to chest it down and volley it into the top corner. Goal of the season! Album of the year! Merry Christmas!

(Here, AGAIN, is the video to Song For Zula. If, by chance, you've had enough of this song yet, you can mix it up by listening to an entire hour of Phosphorescent playing live here)

Ian Parker

Arctic Monkeys - AM (Domino)

So yeah, it surprised me more than anybody. Neither of the previous two Arctics albums even cracked my top 24. To me, it's seemed like they were striking around for an identity ever since their debut, and without success. But while, as Steve succinctly noted earlier in the calendar, they seemed to have finally found it a long, long way from Rotherham, I'm going to take the Arsene Wenger approach here - you don't look at the passport, just the quality.

Rory Dollard

San Fermin - San Fermin (Downtown)

I loved a lot of music this year and probably could have filled second spot several times over. Nevertheless, I was lacking a cherry for the cake until this dropped in November - perhaps too late to get the attention it richly deserves. The brainchild of former classical music student Ellis Ludwig-Leone, San Fermin is a concept album of sorts and one that is unashamed to sound grown up and weighty. The instrumentation is at once understated and grand, with plenty of taut strings and soothing brass, but the real magic is in the interplay between the two lead vocalists. I've included two videos here - Sonsick as a standout single with a neat video - but check the contraband live video for the majesty of Allen Tate's velvety voice.

Steve Pill

Darkside – Psychic (Matador)

As I mentioned on door 19, it’s been all about the electronica and I’ve got through the entire top 24 without even finding room for superb albums by Four Tet, Rocketnumbernine, Holden and Lapalux (I never manage to agree with my own top 24s when I look back at them anyway, so I’m willing to bet I’ve got this wrong again). The one album that I was perhaps most sure about throughout all the deliberation was Psychic, a collaboration between Brown Uni alumni Dave Harrington and Nicolas Jaar. Multi-instrumentalist Harrington helped Jaar recreate his equally excellent 2011 album Space Is Only Noise on tour and the pair subsequently headed into the studio together, chucking out an entire remix of Daft Punk’s last album alongside this. If you want to get your head around the sheer awesomeness of Psychic, just cue up the first track, Golden Arrow – 11 minutes of epic electronica that somehow manages to recall Pink Floyd’s Meddle, 1980s Balearic house music and Aphex Twin at various junctures, yet still emerge with something utterly unique.

John Skilbeck

The Pastels - Slow Summits (Domino)

It began with an allegorical wet-weather warning, but it was warmth that coursed through an album that for me stood head and shoulders above all others this year. Formed over 30 years ago, founder member Stephen McRobbie remains at the helm, with Katrina Mitchell his long-time foil, and on Slow Summits a stellar supporting cast including Teenage Fanclub's Gerard Love helped to create a sweet doozy of an album. Mitchell sings ever so softly, and portentously, on the opening Secret Music: "Rain is falling in and out of time, in slow design through neon signs/ I wish you were here, dark and unclear as the night time traffic looks to me." Yearning and romance abounded within the band's first release since Two Sunsets, their dreamy 2009 collaboration with the Japanese duo Tenniscoats. For all the delicate charm of Mitchell's voice, McRobbie's burr rather defines The Pastels, and it remains central. "How did the burn become a river?" he broods on Night Time Made Us, "I was somehow passing by forever." It's a fond lament to the passing of time, and when Mitchell implores "Don't forget boldness/ Never roll your eyes/ Energise/ Think/ Be kind" on the gorgeously reflective closer Come To The Dance, it's a sunshine manifesto that's hard to resist. Like an old winter coat, Slow Summits tugs in places you don't remember it doing years ago. That's The Pastels' great gift.

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. Steve Mason – Monkey Minds In The Devil's Time (Domino2. Laura Marling – Once I Was An Eagle (Virgin)3. Summer Camp – Summer Camp (Moshi Moshi)4. Anna Calvi - One Breath (Domino)5. Goldheart Assembly – Long Distance Song Effects (New Music Club)

6. Arctic Monkeys - AM (Domino)7. Night Beds – Country Sleep (Dead Oceans)
8. Foals – Holy Fire (Warner Bros)9. Younghusband – Dromes (Sonic Cathedral)10. Gambles – Trust (Gmbls)11. Charlie Boyer and The Voyeurs – Clarietta (Heavenly)12. Hookworms – Pear Mystic (Gringo)
13. Johnny Marr – The Messenger (Warner Bros)
14. Local Natives – Hummingbirds (Infectious)
15. Half Moon Run – Dark Eyes (Communion)16. HAIM – Days Are Gone (Polydor)17. I Am Kloot – Let It All In (Shepherd Moon)18. Disclosure - Settle (Island)
19. Ed Harcourt - Back Into The Woods (CCCLX)20. Charles Bradley – Victim Of Love (Daptone)

21. Camera Obsucra – Desire Lines (4AD)
22. John Murry – Graceless Age (Rubyworks)23. Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds – Push The Sky Away (Bad Seed Ltd)
24. CHRVCHES – The Bones Of What You Believe (Virgin)

Matt Collins

1. Daughter - If You Leave (4AD)
2. Sigur Ros - Kveikur (XL)
3. The National - Trouble Will Find Me (4AD)
4. Vampire Weekend - Modern Vampires of the City (XL)
5. Arcade Fire - Reflektor (Sonovox)
6. Pet Shop Boys - Electric (X2)
7. Okkervil River - The Silver Gymnasium (ATO)
8. Everything Everything - Arc (RCA)
9. Los Campesinos - No Blues (Turnstile)
10. Sky Larkin - Motto (Wichita)
11. Foals - Holy Fire (Warner Bros)
12. Besnard Lakes - Until in Excess (Jagjaguwar)
13. Treetop Flyers - The Mountain Moves (Loose)
14. Beady Eye - BE (Columbia)
15. Bored Nothing - Bored Nothing (Spunk Records)
16. Laura Marling - Once I Was An Eagle (Virgin)
17. Sweet Baboo - Ships (Republic of Music)
18. The Leisure Society - Alone Aboard the Ark (Full Time Hobby)
19. Arctic Monkeys - AM (Domino)
20. Atoms for Peace - Amok (XL)
21. Camera Obscura - Desire Lines (4AD)
22. Villagers - {Awayland} (Domino)
23. Fuck Buttons - Slow Focus (ATP)
24. Bell X1 - Chop Chop (Bellyup)

Pranam Mavahalli

1. Jai Paul - Demos (Unofficial release)
2. My Bloody Valentine - MBV (Pickpocket Records)
3. Clark – Feast/Beast (Warp)
4. Holden – The Inheritors (Border Community)
5. Daft Punk – Random Access Memories (Columbia)
6. Four Tet – Beautiful Rewind (Text)
7. Moderat – II (Monkeytown) 
8. Jon Hopkins - Immunity (Domino)
9. Disclosure - Settle (Island)
10. Jessica Pratt - Jessica Pratt (Birth Records)
11. Autechre - Exai (Warp)
12. Anna Calvi - One Breath (Domino)
13. Boards of Canada – Tomorrow’s Harvest (Warp)
14. Machinedrum – Vapor City (Ninja Tune)
15. Mount Kimbie - Sold Spring Fault Less Youth (Warp)
16. Laurel Halo - Chance of Rain (Hyperdub) 
17. DJ Rashad - Double Cup (Hyperdub)
18. Kanye West - Yeezus (Def Jam)
19. Forest Swords - Engravings (Tri Angle)
20. James Blake - Overgrown (Polydor)
21. Jimi Hendrix - People Hell and Angels (Sony)
22. Dawn of Midi - Dysnomia (Thirsty Ear)
23. Earl Sweatshirt - Doris (Columbia)
24. Omar Souleyman - Wenu Wenu (Ribbon Music)

Ali Mason

1. Nancy Elizabeth - Dancing (The Leaf Label)
2. Valerie June – Pushin’ Against A Stone (Sunday Best)
3. Volcano Choir – Repave (Jagjaguwar)
4. Veronica Falls - Waiting For Something To Happen (Bella Union)
5. Laura Marling – Once I Was An Eagle (Virgin)
6. Johnny Flynn – Country Mile (Transgressive)
7. Klak Tik – The Servants (Safety First)
8. The Leisure Society – Alone Aboard The Ark (Full Time Hobby)
9. Alessi’s Ark – The Still Life (Bella Union)
10. Anais Mitchell and Jefferson Hamer – Child Ballads (Wilderland Records)
11. Daughter – If You Leave (4AD)
12. Arcade Fire - Reflektor (Sonovox)
13. Sparrow and the Workshop - Murderopolis (Song)
14. Deptford Goth – Life After Defo (Merok)
15. Laish - Obituaries (Folkwit Records)
16. Silver Seas - Alaska (EMI)
17. Christopher Owens - Lysandre (Turnstile)
18. Heidi Talbot – Angel Without Wings (Navigator Records)
19. Lily and Madeleine – Lily and Madeleine (Asthmatic Kitty)
20. Unknown Mortal Orchestra - II (Jagjaguwar)
21. Dodos - Carrier (Polyvinyl)
22. Just Handshakes – Say It (Bleeding Gold)
23. Les Miserables Cast - Les Miserables OST (Polydor)
24. She and Him – Volume 3 (Domino)

Guy Atkinson

1. Iron Chic - The Constant One (Bridge Nine Records)
2. The Appleseed Cast - Illumination Ritual (Graveface Records)
3. Balance and Composure - The Things We Think We’re Missing (No Sleep Records)
4. Touche Amore - Is Survived By… (Deathwish Inc.)
5. The Wonder Years - The Greatest Generation (Hopeless)
6. Paramore - Paramore (Fueled by Ramen)
7. Drug Church - Paul Walker (No Sleep Records)
8. The Flatliners - Dead Language (Fat Wreck)
9. Transit - Young New England (Rise Records)
10. Lights and Motion - Reanimation (Deep Elm Records)
11. HAIM - Days Are Gone (Polydor)
12. Turnover - Magnolia (Run for Cover Records)
13. PRO ERA - P.E.E.P: The aPROcalypse (Self released)
14. Modern Life is War - Fever Hunting (Deathwish Inc.)
15. The National - Trouble Will Find Me (4AD)
16. Defeater - Letters Home (Bridge Nine Records)
17. State Faults - Resonate/Desperate (No Sleep Records)
18. RVIVR - The Beauty Between (YoYo Records)
19. Power Trip - Manifest Decimation (Southern Lord)
20. Captain, We’re Sinking - The Future is Cancelled (Run for Cover Records)
21. Dave Hause - Devour (Rise Records)
22. Citizen - Youth (Run for Cover Records)
23. Kurt Vile - Wakin' on a Pretty Daze (Matador)
24. Toxic Holocaust - Chemistry of Consciousness (Relapse Records)

Dom Farrell

1. Phospherescent – Muchacho (Dean Oceans)
2. Laura Marling – Once I Was An Eagle (Virgin)
3. Arctic Monkeys – AM (Domino)
4. Elvis Costello and The Roots – Wise Up Ghost (Blue Note)
5. Kurt Vile – Wakin' On A Pretty Daze (Matador)
6. The National – Trouble Will Find Me (4AD)
7. I Am Kloot – Let It All In (Shepherd Moon)
8. Matthew E. White – Big Inner (Domino)
9. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Push the Sky Away (Bad Seed Ltd)
10. Manic Street Preachers – Rewind the Film (Columbia)
11. Black Joe Lewis – Electric Slave (Vagrant)

12. Unknown Mortal Orchestra – II (Jagjaguwar)
13. David Bowie – The Next Day (Columbia)
14. Primal Scream – More Light (Ignition)
15. Janelle Monae – Electric Lady (Atlantic)
16. Black Angels – Indigo Meadow (Blue Horizon)
17. Deerhunter – Monomania (4AD)
18. Jimi Hendrix – People, Hell and Angels (Sony)
19. Valerie June – Pushin’ Against a Stone (Sunday Best)
20. Disclosure – Settle (Island)
21. Eels – Wonderful, Glorious (Vagrant)
22. Daft Punk – Random Access Memories (Columbia)
23. British Sea Power – Machineries of Joy (Rough Trade)
24. Youth Lagoon – Wondrous Bughouse (Fat Possum)

Ian Parker

1. Arctic Monkeys - AM (Domino)
2. Laura Marling - Once I Was An Eagle (Virgin)
3. Jimi Hendrix - People, Hell and Angels (Sony)
4. Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds - Push The Sky Away (Bad Seed Ltd)
5. Anna Calvi – One Breath (Domino)
6. John Murry - Graceless Age (Rubyworks)
7. Valerie June - Pushin Against A Stone (Sunday Best)
8. Matthew E White - Big Inner (Domino)
9. Of Montreal - Lousy with Sylvianbriar (Polyvinyl)
10. Charles Bradley - Victim of Love (Daptone)
11. Jonathan Wilson - Fanfare (Bella Union)
12. The National - Trouble Will Find Me (4AD)
13. Milk Carton Kids - The Ash & Clay (Epitaph)
14. Willis Earl Beal - Nobody Knows (XL)
15. David Bowie - The Next Day (ISO)
16. Kurt Vile - Walkin' on a Pretty Daze (Matador)
17. Jim James - Regions of Light and Sound (V2)
18. Phosphorescent - Muchacado (Dead Oceans)
19. Jason Isbell - Southeastern (Relativity)
20. Wooden Shjips - Back To Land (Thrill Jockey)
21. Portugal The Man - Evil Friends (Atlantic)
22. Luke Winslow-King - The Coming Tide (Bloodshot)
23. Alessi’s Ark - The Still Life (Bella Union)
24. Devon Sproule and Mike O’Neill - Colours (Tin Angel)

Rory Dolland
1. San Fermin - San Fermin (Downtown)
2. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds - Push the Sky Away (Bad Seed Ltd)
3. Laura Marling - Once I Was an Eagle (Virgin)
4. Son Lux - Lanterns (Joyful Noise)
5. Atoms For Peace - Amok (XL)
6. James Blake - Overgrown (Polydor)
7. Primal Scream - More Light (Ignition)
8. The National - Trouble Will Find Me (4AD)
9. Camera Obscura - Desire Lines (4AD)
10. Jenny Hval - Innocence Is Kinky (Rune Grammofon)
11. Bill Callahan - Dream River (Drag City)
12. Anna Calvi - One Breath (Domino)
14. Chance the Rapper - Acid Rap (Self-released)
15. She and Him - Volume 3 (Domino)
16. Typhoon - White Lighter (Rollcall Records)
17. My Bloody Valentine - MBV (Pickpocket Records)
18. Bombino - Nomad (Nonesuch)
19. Daughter - If You Leave (4AD)
20. Phosphorescent - Muchaco (Dead Oceans)
21. Neon Neon - Praxis Makes Perfect (Republic of Music)
22. Night Beds - Country Sleep (Dead Oceans)
23. Tricky - False Idols (!K7/False Idols)
24. Vampire Weekend - Modern Vampires of the City (XL)

Steve Pill

1. Darkside – Psychic (Matador)
2. Thundercat – Apocalypse (Brainfeeder)
3. Mount Kimbie – Cold Spring Fault Less Youth (Warp)
4. Tim Hecker - Virgins (Kranky)
5. The National – Trouble Will Find Me (4AD)
6. Forest Swords - Engravings (Tri Angle)
7. Dawn of Midi - Dysnomia (Thirsty Ear)
8. Bill Callahan – Dream River (Drag City)
9. Laura Marling – Once I Was An Eagle (Virgin)
10. Boards of Canada - Tomorrow's Harvest (Warp)
11. Kurt Vile – Wakin On A Pretty Daze (Matador)
12. Josephine Foster - I'm A Dreamer (Fire)
13. The Men – New Moon (Sacred Bones)
14. Willis Earl Beal - Nobody Knows (XL)
15. Atoms for Peace - Amok (XL)
16. Foals – Holy Fire (Warner Bros)
17. Phosphorescent - Muchacho (Dead Oceans)
18. Oneohtrix Point Never – R Plus Seven (Warp)
19. Queens of the Stone Age - …Like Clockwork (Matador)
20. Yo La Tengo - Fade (Matador)
21. Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds – Push The Sky Away (Bad Seed Ltd)
22. Matthew E White – Big Inner (Domino)
23. Deerhunter - Monomania (4AD)
24. Arcade Fire - Reflektor (Sonovox)

John Skilbeck

1. The Pastels - Slow Summit (Domino)
2. California X - California X (Don Giovanni)
3. Speedy Ortiz - Major Arcana (Carpark Records)
4. Foret - Foret (Simone Records)
5. Parquet Courts - Light Up Gold (What's Your Rupture)
6. Torres - Torres (Torres)
7. Tegan and Sara - Heartthrob (Warner Bros)
8. Hookworms - Pearl Mystic (Gringo)
9. Deafheaven - Sunbather (Deathwish Inc)
10. Las Kellies - Total Exposure (Fire)
11. Caitlin Rose - The Stand-In (Names Records) 
12. Throwing Muses - Purgatory/Paradise (The Friday Project)
13. Lightning Dust - Fantasy (Jagjaguwar)
14. Scott and Charlene's Wedding - Any Port In A Storm (Fire)
15. Waxahatchee - Cerulean Salt (Wichita Recordings)
16. Chastity Belt - No Regerts (Help Yourself Records)
17. Tanya Donelly - Swansong Series (Self-released)
18. Quasi - Mole City (Domino)
19. Boogarins - As Plantas Que Caram (Fat Possum)
20. Empty Pools - Saturn Reruns (Battle Music)
21. Laura Cantrell - No Way There From Here (Spit and Polish)
22. Jessy Lanza - Pull My Hair Back (Hyperdub)
23. Mazes - Ores and Minerals (Fatcat)
24. Janet Weiss, Matt Cameron and Zach Hill - Drumgasm (Jackpot Records)