Thursday, December 25, 2014

The Musical Advent Calendar - Overall Top 10

Merry Christmas everybody!

Welcome to the final door of the 2014 Musical Advent Calendar...the overall top 10. Using our patented, mutli-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 below.

Some facts and figures: This year we nominated, all told, 165 different albums, eight shy of last year's tally and 11 short of the overall record. Such convergence surely means that Guy is coming of age. But really...It seemed as though, after spending the first three weeks going off in all directions, everyone got back together in the final five days, with a number of albums coming up again and again - and duly being rewarded with top 10 slots below. 

Our winner garnered 126 points, which would have left it in second place to Laura Marling's 136 last year, but it's another impressive tally in the overall history of the Advent Calendar, so I think we can agree it's a worthy winner - even if it's one nobody guessed before the event. Popular pick The War On Drugs had to settle for second place. 

Towards the other end, it's worth noting that Caribou's Our Love got only two nominations and yet missed out on the place in the top 10 by a single point. 

Splitting the vote left them off the pace for the top 10, but special mention too for Neil Young and Ryan Adams, who each had two different records nominated in the same year - something Neil also achieved in 2012. Clearly the old git still knows how to turn out decent records...

Enough rambling...

1. Beck  - Morning Phase (EMI) - 126 points

What they said...

Andrew: Sea Change mined a similar seam of heartache and this is every bit as shimmering yet world weary as that 2002 release. It’s a glorious listen, tinged with heartbreak yet hopeful.

Rory: Sonically, Beck can do virtually anything, a musical polymath with experimental leanings verging on the ADD spectrum. He's basically a walking Ipod shuffle of styles and sounds. Yet this album is resolutely coherent, a series of statements made in one voice and demands to be heard start-to-finish.

Pranam: ...for me some good albums appeal to the head, while others touch the heart, and truly great one is one that manages to do both.

Ian: Sea Change was always my favourite Beck album. At least until February, when a record billed as the sequel, Morning Phase, came along 12 years later and surpassed it.

Matt: Morning Phase is a reflective piece, all gently strummed slow acoustic guitars and wistful soundscapes. And being Beck, great songs start to finish. 

Dom: ...the strength of Morning Phase is in songs that are so sublime and so beautifully played and arranged that further, immersive repeat listens feel at least as necessary as rifling through your collection for its decade-old companion album. Everything here unfolds in a contemplative golden haze of sunlight and sunset. A simple gorgeous record.

2. The War On Drugs - Lost In The Dream (Secretly Canadian) - 105 points

Rory: They meander better than any band I know at the moment, Adam Granduciel's acid-fuzz grooves forming and reforming like a blissed out kaleidoscope. It's mostly a triumph of sound over songwriting but a triumph all the same.

Dom: Music is at its most powerful when it can confront extremes of human emotion. The beauty of Lost In The Dream is that it manages to chime on both ends of the spectrum at the same time.

Andrew: This is not just the album of the year, it may prove to be among the albums of this decade, maybe of any decade.

Andy: It sounds like Springsteen if he got into yacht rock, Billy Joel if he was slightly less middle-of-the-road and a thousand other comparisons that almost nail what's so brilliant about The War On Drugs' latest album. I can't think of an album I've listened to more this year, and I love it. 

Ian: Lost In The Dream is their best work yet, echoing Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen and other greats of American blue collar rock. Its hooks are subtle but sink deep. FM radio rock has rarely sounded so good. 

Steve: At times, I’m not even sure if this isn’t the same track rewritten 10 times at varying lengths. Still... What a song.

3. Sharon Van Etten - Are We There (Jagjaguwar) - 104 points 

Gwilym: The really special stuff is the song that stops you in your tracks, that makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end and then leaves you to ponder a moment in splendid isolation. Sharon Van Etten’s fourth album Are We There has two of those moments in the opening three tracks, and it doesn’t stop there.

Ian: Van Etten has taken a huge step forward from 2012's Tramp, delivering in full on her promise of combining powerful songwriting and inventive stylings. Brilliant stuff.

Matt: Sharon van Etten is the darkest singer songwriter around, mostly eschewing the acoustic for electric guitar (and on this album, increasingly electronic textures). And Are We There is a typical SvE outing, full of bitterness, regret and super clever harmonies

Skillers: There was little to catch the seasoned Van Etten listener off guard on album number four from the New York resident: familiar themes of heartbreak, oppression, regret and desire streaked through pared-back musical arrangements. Yet there was plenty to exalt, from an increasingly remarkable artist.

Andy: To my mind, there are few records released this year that start quite as strongly as Sharon Van Etten's. For emotional intensity, the 1-2-3 of 'Afraid Of Nothing', 'Taking Chances' and 'Your Love Is Killing Me' are unparalleled.

4. Elbow - The Take Off And Landing Of Everything (Fiction) - 88 points

Steve: If you can name me a more heartwarming, honest, witty, emotional, uplifting or reassuring album released in 2014, I’d love to hear it.

Dom: The coda to 'Fly Boy Blue/Lunette' might be the finest thing they’ve ever committed to record. It’s preposterously good. When 'My Sad Captains' references “the corner boys” from “Lippy Kids” - the previous album’s high point - Garvey uses the old Springsteen trick of reflecting mistily on romantic ideals that agonisingly and inevitably fall short. Much like a lot of his work on Elbow’s sixth record, he absolutely nails it.

Rory: Guy Garvey is a wonderfully humanist writer - big on the small things and light of touch with the heavy stuff - and you could build a house on the foundations of those flat vowels of his.

Matt: Not their best ever but the glorious dark edge remains with the pop leanings.

Andrew: Getting older will be just fine, don’t you worry about that. A few beers followed and I ended the day in a more celebratory mood than I had started it in. Guy and co, I thank you for ending my 20s on the right note.

Ian: They get better and better with age, so it makes perfect sense that on an album where Guy Garvey tells us all that it's okay to be feeling a little older, they've hit the sweet spot once again.

5. Jack White - Lazaretto (Third Man Records) - 74 points

Andrew: God bless Jack White. God bless dear old brilliantly bonkers Jack White. We need to find ways to cryogenically freeze or clone this man, the world needs him.

Rory: I'm sure of two things: 1) when Jack White's yelling and hollering and riffing his way through his 2014 blues-rock reboot tongue is lodged semi-permanently in cheek. 2) regardless of that, nobody believes in this stuff more than him. It's a bit of paradox but once you've reconciled with it the whole Jack White pictures falls rather neatly into focus.

Andy: Maybe divorce has put a spring back in ol' Jack's step? Or maybe he's just feeling more comfortable not being in a band? Whatever, it really, really works. 

Dom: The blistering, paint-stripping, brain rattling guitar that Jack White splatters across the first half of Lazaretto is the sort of music that can make the heart pound and the pulse race.

Ian: The result is certainly a less coherent entity than its predecessor Blunderbuss, but it has too many good songs to be ignored for long.

6. St Vincent - St Vincent (Loma Vista) - 71 points

Rory: She understands the pop game as well as anyone since Madonna, she relishes the presentation as much as David Bowie, she's the funkiest guitarist in the business and she's filthier than Rihanna. Sold, sold, sold and sold.

Dom: Building on the excellent foundations laid by 2011’s Strange Mercy, Annie Clark might well have delivered her masterpiece. From the infectious synth riff that introduces “Rattlesnake”, everything about St Vincent bulges with brash confidence and brilliance.

Andy: To use some horrible terminology, I'm more fascinated by her music rather than able to feel it. It seems otherworldly, I have no idea how she'd start writing a song like 'Birth In Reverse' or 'I Prefer Your Love', and none of it really speaks to me. But that's not to say I haven't listened to St Vincent all year and been dazzled by it, finding something new to admire each time.

Gwilym: This is without doubt Clark’s most accessible work, but it retains its share of jagged edges, from the burbling electronica at the start of ‘Rattlesnake’, the scattergun guitar of ‘Birth in Reverse’ or the off-kilter intro to ‘Digital Witness’. A brilliant piece of work.

Ian: What is there that Annie Clark can't do? That the fourth album under the St Vincent name becomes the eponymous one seems fitting given that it is the best realisation yet of her sprawling vision. The music is razor-sharp, full of killer hooks, while the lyrics take the edge off as Clark gives you a wink and a nod while deconstructing the digital age.

Matt: More kooky female led pop tunes, with these lot being massively danceable rather than Lykke Li dreamy. 'Digital Witness' has the most insistent brass riff since 'Crazy in Love' too.

7. The Black Keys - Turn Blue (Nonesuch) - 56 points

Gwilym: After the rampaging blues/soul of El Camino, Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney went for something more spacious and hazy. There is nothing here to rival the immediacy of ‘Lonely Boy’ or ‘Gold on the Ceiling’, but a bit of patience and Turn Blue reveals itself to be up there with their best work.

Ian: After writing their pensions with the stadium-filling El Camino, the Black Keys have followed it up with a far better record which was always destined to be less successful. 

Dom: Yeah, so we all hate Black Keys now, right? Bloody arena rock sell-outs - it was better when they travelled from toilet to toilet in a battered van. Booooooooo! No, of course not, that would be idiotic.

Andy: I especially love the opener 'Weight Of Love', with its face-melting guitar soloing, the slow burn of 'Bullet In The Brain' and 'Waiting On Words', and '10 Lovers', which even on first listen sounds like you've known it forever. I love the swirling sleeve, too.

8. Spoon - They Want My Soul (Loma Vista) - 55 points

Dom: They had me within the first minute of opener “Rent I Pay” - They Want My Soul’s chugging, stomping opening track - as the grinding guitars panned from left to right and back again. There are countless more little bits of magic like this to delight the musical nerd within and yet the album as a whole hangs together nicely, never quite becoming overly smart-arsed.

Gwilym: The Austin five-piece have been churning out consistently excellent albums for the better part of 20 years. They should be huge, but widespread acclaim as so far failed to come their way. Hopefully They Want My Soul, another brilliant, consistent record, might finally right that wrong.

Steve: I'd previously always pegged them as one of those overly literary bands, beloved of former Word readers, that prize arch lyrics over genuine emotion, to be filed alongside Elvis Costello, Felt or Magnetic Fields. On the dancefloor of that bizarre wedding in the woods, I realised how much I had underestimated them. Back in the UK, I tracked down the Spoon back catalogue and snapped up this, a distillation of everything that is great about their past four or so albums.

Ian: Spoon have always made technically brilliant albums - pure rock 'n' roll which is so clinical you can easily dissect it into its component parts, and yet never short on real soul and passion. But never has that vision been so well executed as on their eighth studio album.

Andy: They're not the most highly acclaimed band 2000-2010 on Metacritic for nothing, if you care for ratings on review aggregation websites. Despite that quality, there's a step up on this eighth album, full of ready made radio-friendly classics, if radio still played music like this. Melodically brilliant, musically exciting and lyrically biting, I think it's got everything you could want.

9. Real Estate - Atlas (Domino) - 49 points

Dom: The year's most jangly album? Gloriously so. These guitar lines weave an irresistible, shimmering pattern throughout. The sound of a hazy, lazy, cocktail-soaked beach party far from home, accompanied by lyrical reminders that you've lost your wallet, phone and keys and probably should have headed home back ago.

Matt: They might well be a walking talking Portland cliche, with the jangly indie guitars a very familiar tone. But Real Estate have an incredible knack for a tune that the distant reverby vocals don’t completely smudge into oblivion. An alternative treat.

Steve: The haunting harmonies and minor chord progressions often recall early REM or my old cassettes of forgotten Creation Records bands (18 Wheeler, Velvet Crush, BMX Bandits), but there is something pure and honest and true about the way in which they have been refashioned here. 

Andy: the band sounding more confident and comfortable than ever, their songs bolder than before. And while the nostalgia is mildly heartbreaking – Courtney longs for the suburban safety of his youth but knows he can never get back there – it at least feels real, and not the rosy version of the endless summer we’re sold so often. It's a great record.  

10. Angel Olsen - Burn Your Fire For No Witness (Jagjaguwar) - 47 points

Andrew: Angel Olsen, once of Bonny Prince Billy’s backing band, struck out on her own with Half Way Home in 2012, a roots based pondering on the ways of the heart. That was good, this is stunning. Olsen’s voice is absolutely captivating, it leaves you hanging on her every word.

Ian: It's raw and emotional, with not a lick of polish in sight and more than a little debt to PJ Harvey along the way.

Steve: Like the rest of the album, 'High 5' is life-affirming and nostalgic, slacker-ish yet purposeful. At times you can hear touches of Cat Power, Mazzy Star, Leonard Cohen and Juliana Hatfield in her quavering Missouri voice, but in the main she has truly begun to find a very powerful voice all of her own.

Andy: The album veers from barely there acoustic songs to much bigger full arrangements, but Olsen sounds just as comfortable and just as brilliant with all of it.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Musical Advent Calendar - Door Number Twenty-Four

Here it is - Door 24 of the Musical Advent Calendar, behind which we choose our actual, genuine No. 1 albums of the year, rather than records by artists with whom we've got an upcoming cover feature to promote or who have offered us an exclusive bonus disc to sell. Away we go!

PS - Don't forget to check back for our overall top 10 tomorrow (while waiting for that turkey to cook). Merry Christmas. 

Andy Welch
The Horrors – Luminous (XL)

It didn't really dawn on my how much I loved Luminous until I saw The Horrors play at The Troxy in October. But there I was, transfixed by the most punishing, thrilling light show I'd seen in years, Rhys Webb, who may or may not have been wearing a cape, energetically dancing around and frontman Faris seemingly lost amid the waves of synths and naggingly melodic basslines, and it hit me that it was one of the most exciting things I'd ever seen. I think their supposed sonic leaps between albums have been overplayed, as has the fact they might sound a little like Simple Minds in places, but Luminous is a sound all of their own, and for that reason, and many others, it's my album of the year.

Rory Dollard

Adult Jazz - Gist Is (Spare Thought)

It was touch and go between this and St Vincent for my top spot, but these kids from Leeds nicked it on surprise factor. While Annie Clark has been blowing minds for the best part of a decade, 10 years ago these kids were probably getting used to life at big school. This is not a rookie calling card, though, it's a fully-fledged panorama. There's a couple of choruses but blink and you miss them, because this is all about the joyful little moments - 90 of them crammed into nine songs. A punchy a discordant guitar solo, a soaring double-tracked vocal, a technical flourish from the production desk or some seriously sexy drum patterns. Sometimes they pull the rug out just as you've settled down for your picnic but they've already laid out a new one before you even have a chance to get mad.

Matt Collins
Alvvays - Alvvays (Transgressive)

Ignore the terrible name (or at least terrible spelling) - Canadian band Alvvays have just put out my album of the year, passing the ridiculously repeated listening test with ease. Mostly upbeat twee indie rock tunes, with the brilliant 'Party Police' sandwiched in the middle and ode to meeting strangers from the internet closer 'Red Planet' providing the contrast. Brilliant.

Dom Farrell
The War on Drugs - Lost In The Dream (Secretly Canadian)

Unless anyone else pulls the same stroke today, I think Lost In The Dream makes me the first Ragged Glories panelist to give my number one spot to the same band twice. Sorry for being such a boring bastard, I’ll try to do better in future, but this really is a very special record. The ingredients that made Slave Ambient such a triumph  - Adam Granduciel’s monstrous and beautiful guitar work, his fragile Dylan-esque vocals and a towering alliance between Americana and Krautrock -  remain but personal strife endured by its creator during a typically lengthy gestation period lend Lost In The Dream far greater emotional depth. Granduciel’s struggles with anxiety attacks and a relationship collapse are documented on the record’s numerous, skyscraping highlights. This is an album for the best of times and worst of times, scraping up the writer and listener when at rock bottom and sonically high-fiving them on the crest of a wave. Music is at its most powerful when it can confront extremes of human emotion. The beauty of Lost In The Dream is that it manages to chime on both ends of the spectrum at the same time.

Andrew Gwilym
The War on Drugs – Lost In The Dream (Secretly Canadian)

So here it is, number one on the list and, if I am totally honest, this has been top of the pile with since its release in March and there has not been one moment where I have doubted it. Slave Ambient had shown Adam Granduciel was capable of great things, but this is a truly exceptional, relentless album that will go down as a stone cold classic. There are elements of early 80’s Dylan, Dire Straits, Tom Petty and Born in the USA-era Springsteen here. It shouldn’t work. Yet the Dylanesque vocal delivery, the Mark Knopfler guitar lines and driving beats suggestive of the likes of Neu! add up to an utterly compelling mix. There are no three-minute singles here but the album absolutely flies by. This is not just the album of the year, it may prove to be among the albums of this decade, maybe of any decade.

John Skilbeck
Kate Tempest - Everybody Down (Big Dada)

Kate Tempest, a 29-year-old poet from south-east London, calls hip hop "the love of my life”, and the influence that "taught me the importance of being genuine and heavenly”. A captivating spoken-word artist, her dynamic rhymes, rhythms and flows (check this from 2013) were bound to translate across from poetry slams. Duly, Everybody Down was as gripping as the award nominations that would soon follow told a wider audience it was. I was gripped from the start of the summer, with Everybody Down soundtracking my fortnight as a London commuter. Sharing tube journeys delving into the world of Becky, Harry and Pete, the central characters in a deeply murky narrative that spans the album, made complete sense. I was in a city of Beckys, Harrys and Petes, their kin bleeding from the troubled underbelly of the capital, making their way against the odds, on the fringes of society, rewriting the rules in order to survive. Tempest might have missed out on that Mercury prize but Everybody Down, with its lyrical drama, its cynicism, its innate wisdom and its gloomy whirr and propulsive beats, knocked down all-comers for me this year.

Pranam Mavahalli
Beck - Morning Phase (EMI)

Rene Descartes said that the mind and body are entirely separate. Well, when it comes to judging records, I think I agree because for me some good albums appeal to the head, while others touch the heart, and truly great one is one that manages to do both. This year, I don’t think I came across much music that really ticked both Cartesian boxes, but Morning Phase is my top choice for being so affecting and heartfelt. There were several moments where I got the shivers when listening to this record, 'Wave' being one of them. A beautifully crafted album, from a musician who continues to inspire.

Ian Parker
Benjamin Booker - Benjamin Booker (Rough Trade)

So on the last day of this year's Musical Advent Calendar, let's take it back to the start. As explained on December 1, this year, more than any other, I struggled to put my 24 picks in any kind of order. Usually there's a stand-out No. 1, a number of candidates for the top 10, a clear mid-table and a bunch of wild-cards for the lower order. This year, I felt as if I had 24 four-star albums and few ways to tell them apart. So how did Benjamin Booker end up on top? It's not the most obvious pick - a rather fuzzy mess with dubious technical merit. So am I making some sort of apology for this pick here? No. Because by God is it exciting. This, more than the 23 records listed before, is the one that made hairs stand up on end. There's an attitude, an edge, but also a vulnerability about Booker. In this way he reminds me of troubled troubadour Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson - interviews such as this (the one Dom referred to on Day 12 and which we've only just relocated the link for [thanks Pranam]) might explain why - and we can only hope he proves a more sustainable proposition. Listen to his debut and you feel like Booker is an incendiary device that could go off at any minute. Go see him live and you might just witness the explosion.

Guy Atkinson
Cloud Nothings - Here and Nowhere Else (Wichita)

I used to regularly image what life would be like if Kurt Cobain and J Mascis had defied biology and reared a child together. However, thanks to this utterly perfect scuzz-pop record, I don't need to imagine anymore. It happened and his name is Dylan Baldi.

Steve Pill

Elbow – The Take Off and Landing of Everything (Fiction)

It's a sad truth that heartbreak always produces the greatest lyrics. When Elbow's Guy Garvey elected to make a fresh start with his partner in New York, it proved to be the end of the relationship and also put fathom-deep distance between himself and his other three loves: his band, his home and his drinking buddies. In doing so, he has written the best lyrics of his career, a collection that finds poetry in unlikely subjects: from getting drunk in young hipster bars ('Charge') to paeans to his new home city ('New York Morning'). After the insipid 'Open Arms' from last album Build A Rocket Boys, a dishonest attempt to replicate 'One Day Like This'' stadium-filling triumphalism, he has managed to double-down on the details to find universal emotions. Of course, this isn't a solo album. It is easy to focus on Garvey's everyman charm and underestimate the skill, beauty and restraint of the band behind him. Whereas many musicians slap down obvious thick strokes of colour, they add subtle washes that layer and build. Having each band member write the basic music for each song in isolation for TTOALOE has only further enhanced the individual flavours they contribute and avoided the slide into democratic mediocrity. I've probably revealed my Elbow bias in the past because I do have a habit of telling everyone I DJed for them on two short tours and the launch of Leaders of the Free World, but I genuinely would have placed this album at number 1 regardless. If you can name me a more heartwarming, honest, witty, emotional, uplifting or reassuring album released in 2014, I’d love to hear it.

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. The Horrors – Luminous (XL)
2. Wild Beasts – Present Tense (Domino)
3. The War On Drugs – Lost In The Dream (Secretly Canadian)
4. Damon Albarn – Everyday Robots (Parlophone)
5. Ryan Adams – Ryan Adams (Pax Am)
6. Beck – Morning Phase (EMI)
7. Slow Club – Complete Surrender (Caroline)
8. Warpaint – Warpaint (Rough Trade)
9. Gruff Rhys – American Interior (Turnstile)
10. Childhood – Lacuna (House Anxiety)
11. Sharon Van Etten – Are We There? (Jagjaguwar)
12. St Vincent – St Vincent (Loma Vista)
13. Johnny Marr – Playland (New Voodoo)
14. Jack White – Lazaretto (Third Man Records)
15. Ben Watt – Hendra (Unmade Road)
16. The Black Keys – Turn Blue (Nonesuch)
17. Bombay Bicycle Club – So Long, See You Tomorrow (Island)
18. Metronomy – Love Letters (Because)
19. Manic Street Preachers – Futurology (Sony)
20. Temples - Sun Structures (Heavenly)
21. Spoon – They Want My Soul (Loma Vista)
22. Angel Olsen – Burn Your Fire With No Witness (Jagjaguwar)
23. The Lost Brothers – New Songs Of Dawn And Dust (Lojinx)
24. Real Estate – Atlas (Domino)

Rory Dollard

This is actually how Rory submitted his list this year (Memo to rest of the panel - this is NOT encouraged). A more legible version is below.

1. Adult Jazz - Gist Is (Spare Thought)
2. St Vincent - St Vincent (Loma Vista)
3. Glass Animals - Zaba (Wolf Tone)
4. Jack White - Lazaretto (Third Man Records)
5. Elbow - The Taking Off And Landing of Everything (Fiction)
6. Beck - Morning Phase (EMI)
7. The War on Drugs - Lost In The Dream (Secretly Canadian)
8. Nothing - Guilty of Everything (Relapse)
9. Larkin Poe - Kin (RH Music)
10. Alice Boman - EP II (Happy Death)
11. Stephen Malkmus &The Jicks - Wigout At Jagbags (Domino)
12. Ambrose Akinmusire - The Imagined Saviour (Decca)
13. The Wytches - Annabiel Dream Reader (Wichita)
14. Tuneyards - Nikki Nack (4AD)
15. Sun Kil Moon - Benji (Caldo Verde)
16. Neneh Cherry - Blank Project (Smalltown Supersound)
17. Tony Allen - Film of Life (Jazz Village)
18. The Antlers - Familiars (Transgressive)
19. St Paul &The Broken Bones - Half The City (Single Lock)
20. Ryan Adams - 1984 (Pax Am)
21. Bruce Springsteen - High Hopes (Columbia)
22. King Creosote - From Scotland With Love (Domino)
23. Curtis Harding - Soul Power (Burger Records)
24. Tim Wheeler - Lost Domain (Atomic Heart)

Matt Collins

1. Alvvays - Alvvays (Transgressive)
2. Horse Thief - Fear in Bliss (Bella Union)
3. Sharon Van Etten - Are We There (Jagjaguwar)
4. First Aid Kit - Stay Gold (Columbia)
5. Teleman - Breakfast (Moshi Moshi)
6. Embrace - Embrace (Cooking Vinyl)
7. Elbow - The Take Off and Landing of Everything (Fiction)
8. Baxter Drury - It’s a Pleasure (PIAS)
9. Beck - Morning Phase (EMI)
10. Real Estate - Atlas (Domino)
11. Jesca Hoop - Undress (Last Laugh)
12. Cherry Ghost - Herd Runners (Heavenly)
13. alt-J - This Is All Yours (Infectious)
14. Honeyblood - Honeyblood (Fat Cat)
15. Lily &Madeleine - Fumes (Asthmatic Kitty)
16. Martin Carr - The Breaks (Tapete)
17. Mo - No Mythologies to Follow (RCA)
18. Ought - More Than Any Other Day (Constellation)
19. Owen Pallett - In Conflict (Domino)
20. Olof Arnalds - Palme (One Little Indian)
21. The Antlers - Familiars (Transgressive)
22. St Vincent - St Vincent (Loma Vista)
23. Let’s Wrestle - Let’s Wrestle (Fortuna Pop)
24. Mutual Benefit - Love's Crushing Diamond (Other Music)

Dom Farrell

1. The War On Drugs - Lost In The Dream (Secretly Canadian)
2. St Vincent - St Vincent (Loma Vista)
3. Elbow - The Take Off And Landing Of Everything (Fiction)
4. Spoon - They Want My Soul (Loma Vista)
5. Beck - Morning Phase (EMI)
6. Wild Beasts - Present Tense (Domino)
7. Real Estate - Atlas (Domino)
8. The Antlers - Familiars (Transgressive)
9. Amazing Snakeheads - Amphetamine Ballads (Domino)
10. Damien Rice - My Favourite Faded Fantasy (Warner Bros)
11. The Black Keys - Turn Blue (Nonesuch)
12. Childhood - Lacuna (Marathon Artists)
13. Benjamin Booker - Benjamin Booker (Rough Trade)
14. First Aid Kit - Stay Gold (Columbia)
15. Jack White - Lazaretto (Third Man)
16. Eels - The Cautionary Tales of Mark Oliver Everett (Vagrant)
17. Slow Club - Complete Surrender (Caroline)
18. Ryan Adams - Ryan Adams (PAX AM)
19. Manic Street Preachers - Futurology (Columbia)
20. New Pornographers - Brill Bruisers (Matador)
21. Jimi Goodwin - Odludek (Heavenly)
22. Wye Oak - Shriek (City Slang)
23. Neil Young - Storytone (Reprise)
24. Broken Bells - After The Disco (Columbia)

Andrew Gwilym

1. The War on Drugs – Lost in the Dream (Secretly Canadian)
2. Sharon Van Etten – Are We There (Jagjaguwar)
3. Jack White – Lazaretto (Third Man Records)
4. Angel Olsen – Burn Your Fire for No Witness (Jagjaguwar)
5. Manic Street Preachers – Futurology (Columbia)
6. Leonard Cohen – Popular Problems (Columbia)
7. Sun Kil Moon – Benji (Caldo Verde)
8. The Black Keys – Turn Blue (Nonesuch)
9. Wilko Johnson & Roger Daltrey – Going Back Home (Chess)
10. Spoon – They Want My Soul (Loma Vista)
11. Lucinda Williams – Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone (Highway 20 Records)
12. Ryan Adams – Ryan Adams (Pax AM)
13. Mary Gauthier – Trouble and Love (Proper Records)
14. Drive-By Truckers – English Oceans (ATO)
15. Tweedy – Sukierae (DPBM)
16. Neil Young – A Letter Home (Third Man Records)
17. The Hold Steady – Teeth Dreams (Razor & Tie)
18. Beck – Morning Phase (EMI)
19. Bruce Springsteen – High Hopes (Columbia)
20. Interpol – El Pintor (Matador)
21. St Vincent – St Vincent (Loma Vista)
22. The Antlers – Familiars (Transgressive)
23. Elbow – The Take Off and Landing of Everything (Fiction)
24. Billy Joe Armstrong & Norah Jones – Foreverly (Reprise)

John Skilbeck

1. Kate Tempest - Everybody Down (Big Dada)
2. Ought - More Than Any Other Day (Constellation)
3. Sharon Van Etten - Are We There (Jagjaguwar)
4. Marissa Nadler - July (Bella Union)
5. Perfect Pussy - Say Yes To Love (Captured Tracks)
6. Katy B - Little Red (Columbia)
7. Childbirth - It's A Girl (Self-released)
8. Protomartyr - Under Color Of Official Right (Hardly Art)
9. Remember Remember - Forgetting The Present (Rock Action)
10. Alvvays - Alvvays (Transgressive)
11. Hurray For The Riff Raff - Small Town Heroes (ATO)
12. Ex Hex - Rips (Merge)
13. Virginia Wing - Measures Of Joy (Fire)
14. Hookworms - The Hum (Weird World)
15. Snowbird - Moon (Bella Union)
16. La Roux - Trouble In Paradise (Polydor)
17. Nun - Nun (Avant!)
18. Blank Realm - Grassed Inn (Fire)
19. The Delines - Colfax (Decor)
20. EMA - The Future’s Void (City Slang)
21. Comet Gain - Paperback Ghosts (Fortuna Pop)
22. Jessie Ware - Tough Love (PMR)
23. Jennifer Castle - Pink City (No Quarter)
24. White Lung - Deep Fantasy (Domino)

Pranam Mavahalli

1. Beck - Morning Phase (EMI)
2. Caribou - Our Love (City Slang)
3. Flying Lotus - You're Dead (Warp)
4. Clark - Clark (Warp)
5. Lone - Reality Testing (R&S)
6. Todd Terje - It's Album Time (Olsen)
7. Cate Le Bon - Mug Museum (Turnstile)
8. Deerhoof - La Isla Bonita (Upset The Rhythm)
9. Shabazz Palaces - Lese Majesty (Sub Pop)
10. Ought – More Than Any Other Day (Constellation)
11. Steve Gunn - Way Out Weather (Paradise of Bachelors)
12. Thurston Moore - The Best Day (Matador)
13. Aphex Twin - Syro (Warp)
14. Kassem Mosse - Workshop 19 (Workshop)
15. Leon Vynehall - Music For The Uninvited (3024)
16. Martyn - The Air Between Words (Ninja Tune)
17. Young Fathers – Dead (Big Dada)
18. Chassol - Indiamore (Tricatel)
19. Arca - Xen (Mute)
20. FKA Twigs - LP1 (Young Turks)
21. Melanie De Biasio - No Deal (PIAS)
22. Rustie - Green Language (Warp)
23. Plank - Hivemind (Akoustik Anarkhy)
24. Douga – The Silent Well (Do Make Merge)

Ian Parker

1. Benjamin Booker - Benjamin Booker (Rough Trade)
2. Sharon Van Etten - Are We There? (Jagjaguwar)
3. Temples - Sun Structures (Heavenly)
4. Beck - Morning Phase (EMI)
5. Drive-By Truckers - English Oceans (ATO)
6. Frazey Ford - Indian Oceans (Nettwerk)
7. Melanie De Biasio - No Deal (PIAS)
8. Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires - Dereconstruction (Sub Pop)
9. The Black Keys - Turn Blue (Nonesuch)
10. Sturgill Simpson - Metamodern Sounds In Country Music (Loose)
11. The War On Drugs - Lost In The Dream (Secretly Canadian)
12. Angel Olsen - Burn Your Fire For No Witness (Jagjaguwar)
13. Steve Gunn - Way Out Weather (Paradise of Bachelors)
14. Delfines - Colfax (Decor)
15. Jack White - Lazaretto (Third Man Records)
16. Lucinda Williams - Down Where The Spirit Meets The Bone (Highway 20)
17. Merchandise - After The End (4AD)
18. Spoon - They Want My Soul (Loma Vista)
19. Twilight Sad - Nobody Wants To Be Here And Nobody Wants To Leave (Fat Cat)
20. St Vincent - St Vincent (Loma Vista)
21. GoGo Penguin - v2.0 (Gondwana Records)
22. Felice Brothers - Favourite Waitress (Dualtone)
23. Elbow - The Take Off And Landing Of Everything (Fiction)
24. St Paul & The Broken Bones - Half The City (Single Lock)

Guy Atkinson

1.Cloud Nothings - Here and Nowhere Else (Wichita)
2. Against Me! - Transgender Dysphoria Blues (Xtra Mile)
3. White Lung - Deep Fantasy (Domino)
4. The Twilight Sad - Nobody Wants to be Here and Nobody Wants to Leave (Fat Cat Records)
5. Joyce Manor - Never Hungover Again (Epitaph)
6. Pianos Become the Teeth - Keep You (Epitaph)
7. Gates - Bloom and Breathe (Pure Noise Records)
8. Makthaverskan - Makthaverskan II (Run for Cover Records)
9. Prawn - Kingfisher (Topshelf Records)
10. Banner Pilot - Souvenir (Fat Wreck Chords)
11. The Hotelier - Home, Like Noplace Is There (Tiny Engines)
12. The Menzingers - Rented World (Epitaph Records)
13. You Blew It! - Keep Doing What You're Doing (Topshelf Records)
14. Eagulls - Eagulls (Partisan)
15. Cheatahs - Cheatahs (Wichita)
16. Somos - Temple of Plenty (Tiny Engines)
17. Crosses - Crosses (Sumerian)
18. Alcest - Shelter (Prophecy Productions)
19. Nothing - Guilty of Everything (Relapse)
20. Brave Bird - T-Minus Grand Gesture (Count Your Lucky Stars)
21. Modern Baseball - You're Gonna Miss It All (Run for Cover Records)
22. Run the Jewels - Run the Jewels 2 (Mass Appeal)
23. Whirr - Sway (Graveface)
24. The Lawrence Arms - Metropole (Epitaph Records)

Steve Pill

1. Elbow – The Take Off and Landing of Everything (Fiction)
2. Caribou – Our Love (City Slang)
3. Jolie Holland – Wine Dark Sea (Anti-)
4. Lone – Reality Testing (R&S)
5. Frazey Ford – Indian Ocean (Nettwerk)
6. Plaid – Reachy Prints (Warp)
7. Brian Reitzell – Auto Music (Smalltown Supersound)
8. Paul White – Shaker Notes (R&S)
9. Hundred Waters – The Moon Rang Like a Bell (OWSLA)
10. Real Estate – Atlas (Domino)
11. Ian William Craig – A Turn of Breath (Recital)
12. James Vincent McMorrow – Post Tropical (Vagrant)
13. Melanie de Biasio – No Deal (PIAS)
14. Gogo Penguin – v2.0 (Gondwana Records)
15. Angel Olsen – Burn Your Fire For No Witness (Jagjaguwar)
16. Taylor McFerrin – Early Riser (Brainfeeder)
17. Spoon – They Want My Soul (Loma Vista)
18. Nick Mulvey – First Mind (Fiction)
19. Flying Lotus – You’re Dead! (Warp)
20 Adrian Crowley – Some Blue Morning (Chemikal Underground)
21. Amen Dunes – Love (Sacred Bones)
22. The War on Drugs – Lost in the Dream (Secretly Canadian)
23. Thom Yorke – Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes (self-released)
24. Mac DeMarco – Salad Days (Captured Tracks)