Yellowcard - Lift a sail
Wiley - Snakes and Ladders
Caribou - Our Love
FKA Twigs - LP1
Murkage - Of Mystics & Misfits
Azealia Banks - Broke with expensive taste
I know right? A great single followed by tons of record company hype didn't provide much hope. A record company then not sure what to do with the recordings didn't help.
So Azealia stopped playing the system. Bought herself out of contract and released the album she wanted to make, announcing it suddenly with no forewarning.
Frankly she made the right decision. Musicially this is a mixed up bag, but that's what makes it so much better than many of her contemporaries. Idle Delilah starts you wondering what is coming next, and then the one two punch of the immensely funky and catchy Gimme a Chance and the fast wordplay of Desperado (a cover of a track by Manchester's talented Fallacy) delivers a big hit to any record exec who ever didn't see the value of this record.
Azealia Banks – Broke With Expensive Taste
Ariel Pink - Pom pom
Don't even try to make sense of Ariel Pink. Don't even try to make sense of this record. An album full of some ridiculously weird, silly and creepy songs, with unusual 1980's cassette tape production. But these are probably the best songs he's ever done, and at least one of them is guaranteed to get stuck in your head.
Seriously. All week. Singing "freckles, freckles, where'd you get those freckles?"
Ariel Pink – pom pom
Painted Palms - Forever
This is definitely an indie club, triple J kind of album. But in all of the good ways. Catchy and tuneful but with solid writing and an interesting 60's influenced sound to back it up.
Forever is probably the best Beatles song written since 1969. If the fab four had released it, it would be deemed as an all time classic. It probably still is, of all the songs I've heard this year, none has instantly and powerfully struck me as being magnificent. The rest of the album backs it up superbly, proving them not just to be a one trick pony.
Painted Palms – Forever
Gerard Way - Hesistant Alien
Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge by My Chemical Romance is still an amazing album. Maybe overtaken by what the concept of 'emo' ended up becoming, it was an alt-rock masterpiece. The band gradually seemed to lose their way though, becoming a pale shadow of what they were.
So I didn't come to this album with much expectation, and was very pleasantly surprised. It feels like what My Chemical Romance should have become, freed of the constraints of sounding like a punk style band, and exploring a range of sounds that still coherently make a whole. It also avoids many of the angsty cliche's that this kind of album could easily bump into.
Action Cat is one of the best pop singles I've heard in a long long time, but it keeps that edge that stops it being lightweight. Millions and Zero Zero are two further great tracks, and the excellent Drugstore Perfume is one of the saddest song stories I've heard in a long time. I can imagine this album being a seminal moment in the lives of many 16 year olds, it's powerful, energetic and tuneful, but with a sense of meaning and emotion that cannot be ignored.
Most artists who go solo do it for fame or money, this album suggests that Gerard Way did it for the music, and on this evidence at least, I can't fault that decision one bit.
Gerard Way – Hesitant Alien
Against Me! - Transgender Dysphoria Blues
If you'd asked any fan of Against Me! whether they were likely to remain successful in America after their lead singer came out as transexual and started living as a woman, you would have probably got a disappointed no. If you'd then discussed their new album being almost entirely about that coming out and transformation, most people would have expected a niche underground success of existing fans at most.
So for it to be their most successful album ever in terms of chart positions (US Rock No.6) tells you how good this album is, and just how well Laura Jane Grace (singer) and the band have dealt with and utilised something that would have killed bands with lesser spirit.
Not just a great album, with magnificent songs like True Trans Soul Rebel, this is an album that sets a new benchmark for transgender issues and artists - demonstrating that being who you truly are doesn't have to mean sacrificing a career,