Favourite albums of 2014: January

James-Vincent-McMorrow-Post-TropicalTHE FIRST month of the year is often seen as a grind, with post-Christmas blues, returning to real life and ridiculously cold weather. These six albums have helped invigorate the New Year, banishing the last echoes of Wham, Slade and Wizzard into their frozen exile for another eleven months.

Snowbird – Moon

Filled with delicate, whimsical beauty, this album transports you to a safe haven filled with crisp snow and flurried landscapes. It is impossible not to relax when this is on. Songs such as ‘I Heard the Owl Call My Name’ build intricately but smoothly into gorgeous choruses. The vocals (by Stephanie Dosen) are superb throughout. It is a wonderful ethereal pop record, embodied best by the stand out song ‘Porcelain’.

James Vincent McMorrow – Post Tropical

McMorrow has delved into R’n’B territories for his second album. Pairing his incredible voice with a few beats and lavish background arrangements is a stroke of genius. Listening to ‘Post Tropical’ is like standing in a warm exotic sea on the best drugs with a dolphin choir serenading you, eating a fresh mango and marvelling at how wonderful this world can be.

Black Knights – Medieval Chamber

Layers of dense, exciting sound and bass pave the path for rappers Rugged Monk and Crisis, aka: the Black Knights, to beguile the listener with waves of brilliant bars and rhythms. A poetic association between modern day struggles and medieval quests is carried throughout (the song ‘Sword in Stone’ is about achieving riches and prestige). It’s a Wu Tang affiliated rap album produced by Peppers legend John Frusciante. It’s awesome.

Warpaint – Warpaint

Easily the most polished album on this list, the unfailingly precise production can sometimes detract from the character of the LA bands second effort. On some songs though, the unerring perfectionism clicks everything into place. ‘Disco//very’ is a great example of this, and also the magnificently brooding ‘Love Is To Die’, with its shimmering chorus. Occasionally lacking in that intangible ‘soul’, the quality of individual songs creates an overall very strong album.

Drowners -Drowners

An energetic, jangling album, which above all causes happiness. Its classic indie rock, with suitably angst lyrics and nifty riffs. Fans will be familiar with ‘Long Hair’ and the songs ‘Let Me Finish’ and ‘Luv Hold Me Down’ among others will be hits among fans of The Strokes, The Libertines et al. Yes they sound like those bands (as well as other indie stalwarts such as The Cribs and Smiths), but the breathless pace of the album means that by the time you notice, it’s finished.