Favourite Albums of 2014: February

download (12)THE SHORTEST month of the year was not short on musical quality, with a wonderful array of albums being released. These six are my pick of the bunch:

Bombay Bicycle Club – So Long See You Tomorrow

Luscious melodies? Check. Lucy Rose guest vocals? Check. New musical direction? Check. Another album, another step forward for Crouch End’s (only?) finest prodigal sons. Jack Steadman has reportedly spent quite some time frittering around Asia, and brings a fine selection of sounds from that continent into the band’s burgeoning repertoire. It works fantastically with the classic Bombay sound, which as ever is comfortingly recognisable. Like all BBC albums, you wish there was more, and it leaves you wondering just what will they do next.

Augustines – Augustines

Tough guy American rock. Not tough as in downing blue WKD and Guinness and having your stomach pumped #LAD tough, but bear-wrestling, whiskey-swigging tough. The band’s second album has a bigger, more arena aimed sound than its predecessor. ‘Nothing to Lose but Your Head’ is a fine example and could easily fill the biggest venues. Augustines have been widely compared to the Boss himself Bruce Springsteen, and it’s easy to see why.

Russian Red – Agent Cooper

I once saw Lourdes Hernandez (aka Russian Red) at a festival in Spain, and they really love her out there. Men (and women) were going weak at the knees when she smiled at the crowd. This album has a similar sense of beauty and mischief to its folky indie veneer. Each song title is a man’s name, and the only drawback of Agent Cooper is the jealousy when you realise your name is not featured. I’m off to try and change my name to Casper, chicken out then sulk for a while.

Young Fathers – DEAD

A wonderful hip-hop album filled with concise, cutting bars and exciting bass lines. Chunky beats and electrifying rhythms are used to great effect to create a varied, mysterious sound. It is the variety that makes DEAD so good; the group’s lo-fi template is imbued with many different styles throughout including dreampop, RNB and electro.

Breton – War Room Stories

Another band who spend much of their time on the experimental end of the spectrum, Breton produce dense layers of sound with punchy vocals. In War Room Stories this has been polished into a more danceable and anthemic beast. ‘Got Well Soon’ is particularly good, with massive beats partnered with a sing along chorus.

Xiu Xiu – Angels Guts: Red Classroom

Probably the most fragrantly weird album I have ever heard. From the opening ‘Angels Guts’, most of which is devoted to a crackling diminuendo, it ricochets from one crazy tangent to another. Imagine wandering around a deserted asylum in the company of a wildly drunk circus crew and you may be close. Experimental yet not pretentious (listen to the ridiculous ‘Black Dick’), this is perhaps not one to take home to your Nan, but if you ever feel like screwing your head around for half an hour or so, throw it on.