Jim Pusey's Top Albums of 2014
I'm still unsure what this decade will be seen as in years to come with regard to music, 2014 despite offering up some seriously great records has done little to cement a trend that will define the musical landscape in the public consciousness. Yes, artists continued to experiment with how to release their material, but there doesn't seem to be an alternative model that has been entirely successful. Thom Yorke's second solo album Life's Modern Boxes employed an innovative BitTorrent release three months ago, but for the most part failed to make a real impact. It's an ok record, nothing more, but suffers mainly because it doesn't feel like it's pushing the sonic envelope in the same way as the Atoms For Peace record did. Meanwhile U2 decided to drop an album out of nowhere to everybody with an Apple account. Self-aggrandising or an altruistic gesture to fans? Whatever your view the column inches it generated won't have hurt the band, even if Songs Of Innocence wasn't quite the re-invention that many were hoping for. To my ear it's a record with some redeeming qualities and some good song writing, but the handful of tracks that may be a welcome addition to the quartets body of work are outnumbered by filler.
Elsewhere it's been a strong year for Pop, Lily Allen and Katy B continued to produce interesting albums. However Taylor Swift's 1989 was a particular highlight, although in the same way as recent offerings from TV On The Radio (Seeds) and The Smashing Pumpkins (Monuments To An Elegy), I haven't lived with those records long enough for them to make my top ten of the year. I'd also have liked to have seen mainstream Hip Hop recover from a lull in 2013, but aside from Run The Jewels second record (Run The Jewels 2) and The Roots concept album (.And Then They Shoot Your Cousin), nothing really jumped out at me.
Continue reading: Jim Pusey's Top Albums Of 2014
Many consider Mariah Carey's 'All I Want For Christmas Is You' the last true Christmas song to be released; it's hard to believe that was back in 1994! Since then, there's been a sputtering of jovial Christmas releases, but nothing that seems to stand the test of time. 2012 has actually delivered a handful of relatively acceptable additions - both cover of classic tracks and original tracks. Here are a few of the tracks you might be hearing more of over Christmas.
Continue reading: Stocking Fillers: Best Christmas Songs Of 2012
Albums of Note... That 'difficult second album' phase is probably even more difficult when - in between your first and second album - you have performed at the Royal wedding, had your songs splashed all over the TV, dumped one of the UK's best-known radio DJs (Greg James) and started dating one of the United States' best-known producers (Skrillex). Ellie Goulding seems to have done a solid job of navigating the pressures of retaining her identity, whilst no doubt being squeezed by her record label. Overall though, Halcyonis not quite the blast of personality that we expected from Goulding: "The most disappointing thing is that they've not even really allowed Goulding's voice to flourish. She has a vocal that's pleasant if not exactly stand out, but all life in it's been stamped out through auto-tuning and correction, the singer sounding as though she's being possessed by the spirit of nothing at all."
Tall Ships are beginning to gather serious momentum on the live circuit in the UK and their debut album, Everything Touching cements that reputation. It's by no means a perfect debut but Tall Ships are already breaking free of the 'math rock' parameters that have been loosely placed about them. "The majority of the ten tracks are instrumentally intense with sounds overlapping and complimenting each other. An intriguing debut from Tall Ships, but there's just a spark missing. They should cut down on the instrumentals and replace with some words because, when they're used, the science and instrumental beauty are amplified perfectly."