So here we are. November already. Time flies etc. This is the first of our end of year lists, but not the definitive one, mind you (you can still vote for them here or here). No, this is just the top ten of your humble editor. Feel free to submit your top ten lists to us if you want to see them posted up here. Well, without further ado…
Just when I thought he couldn’t better the flawless untitled EP from earlier this year, Donald Glover serves up the hip-hop album of the year and, hell, the overall album of the year. Ambitious, moving, hilarious and brilliant in equal parts, Camp is a rare deeply personal rap album in a similar standing to Kanye’s “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” and even manages to match it in quality. Gambino can do no wrong.
It’s always a good thing to see a band given time to grow, develop and change at their own pace. LC! have been afforded that chance, evolving from their chirpy indie-pop roots to become one of the best loved and consistently brilliant bands in the country. Hello Sadness far outstrips their past records and solidifies their position and something special.
A superb return to form for the unlikely BRIT Award winner. Injecting some heart and soul into her mature folk ways after the drab I Speak Because I Can, Marling created a beautiful, heart-wrenching affair that demands repeat listens and can be considered her first classic album of what’s sure to be many.
Once in a while, an artist comes out of nowhere startlingly fully formed, with a perfect debut album. Trevor Powers is that artist. The Year Of Hibernation is an astonishing achievement, especially when you consider Powers’ age and the fact that this is his first album. Tender and sweet, the lo-fi ballads of Youth Lagoon are sure to worm their way into the heart of many a teenager.
Pretty sure Alex Turner has the Midas touch. The man just keeps churning out the successes. Expectations were low for the Monkeys’ fourth LP after the lukewarm reception towards Humbug (an underrated classic). Doubters were silenced with a record that flitted between lovelorn crooning, the jangly genius of The Smiths and The Stone Roses and the heavy rock power that the band have always had hiding in them. It also provides us with their best song yet, in the title track.
The country’s in the shitter and we’re stuck with James Blake for a soundtrack. ”Where are all the pissed-off, angry young bands?” you may ask. Well judging on this evidence, Stockton-On-Tees. The Chapman Family took their time with this debut LP, waiting a few years to get it just right, instead of cashing in on their 2009 hype. The result is a seething, barely-contained gem of a record. It should rightly become a future classic, documenting the current climate. But for now, it’s the best British debut in a long, long time.
Not happy with going all on “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” last year, Kanye teamed with fellow hip-hop monolith Jay-Z to concoct the most extravagant rap album probably ever. From its glistening artwork to the star studded guests, Watch The Throne screams THIS IS A BIG ALBUM. With so much hype and money thrown at it, the album could well have been a massive flop. Instead we get two heavyweights sparring with each other for fun, crafting a landmark for the genre.
AKA, the first post-fame Elbow album. 2008’s The Seldom Seen Kid propelled the Bury band into the spotlight like never before in their decades long career, and Build A Rocket Boys! is just as good as its predecessor. Yes, it may follow an eerily similar formula (big long opener, rocky first single, penultimate singalong anthem, tender restrained closer) but the genius of Guy Garvey is enough to see it through. Seriously, someone give the man a knighthood.
AKA the album responsible for me no longer buying the NME. Probably the biggest cult band in the country right now (tying with Los Campesinos!) Birmingham’s JoFo prove that there is indie music still worth getting passionate about. …Vs Everything sees an expansion of the usual palette, adding sythns, prominent acoustic guitars and subtle horns into the mix, leaving us with a career-best record from the threesome.
Dubstep is a dirty word around these parts, but somehow SBTRKT makes it immensely listenable. The exact definition of what the dubstep sound is will rage on long after the genre has died a death, but in a world where Skrillex and James Blake are the faces of the scene, I’d take whatever SBTRKT is selling every day. Sparse, soulful and at times haunting, the London producer’s debut is also really quite wonderful and hopefully a sign of good things to come for UK dance.