1. Jason Isbell – Something More Than Free
The new king of alt.country? Former Drive By Trucker releases a LP that is full of great songs that much like the Courtney Barnett record spins the mundane into pure song writing gold. An emotional record that wears its hard won smarts front and centre. A joy to listen to.
2. King Midas Sound/Fennesz – Edition 1
Dread and Jah, bass heavy KMS working with Austrian electronic artist Fennesz is a musical marriage made in some sort of smoke filled heaven. Like Massive Attack drowning in claustrophobic reverb and dub. Eerie, grainy, creeping and infectious.
3. Courtney Barnett – Sometimes I Sit and Think Sometimes I Just Sit
Debut LP proper from Courtney Barnett after a series of great EPs. The ability to turn snapshots of the mundane (buying a house, the daily commute, driving) into a series of little musical epiphanies is amazing.
4. Roots Manuva – Bleeds
The return of Roots Manuva. UK hip-hip/grime with the advantage of hard won experience, doubt, fear, religious rebirth not the usual subjects for grime. Dark, bruised and wonderful.
5. Jam City –Dream A Garden
A cross pollination of club music signifiers and mid 80s dream pop indie. Like a dubbed out Cocteau Twins. A rain streaked faded Polaroid of effected guitars, beats, floating vocals and a deep rooted sense of ennui.
6. Darkstar – Foam Island
A huge shift for Darkstar from retro synth pop of their early releases to austerity electronica. The sound of social contract collapsing via interviews and electronic soundscapes. Calypso beats, dub, soft focus electronica. Protest music of a different hue.
7. Torres –Sprinter
New York born living in Nashville her second LP with shades of early PJ Harvey (it’s produced by Rob Ellis). Despair, rage, loss. Brutally honest and hook heavy. From a whisper to a scream.
8. Holly Herndon – Platform
Dense modern laptop electronica. The sound of modern technology, dance floor moves, digital sludge, post modernism and a haunting vocals. The sound of the Future?
9. JLin – Black Ballet
A do love a bit of Footwork but most of that comes in single sized chunks. Jlin takes those frantic machine rhythms of footwork and she bends them into new shapes. Dam funky.
10. Jenny Hval - Apocalypse Girl
Feminism, melody, electronics, noise, American cultural imperialism, gender politics. That makes it sound really dry but its rude, explicit, funny, quite “pop” and very catchy.
11. Sherwood and Pinch – Late Night Endless
Old School dub master meets new school electronica. A beast of a record full of BASS, reverb and big dry echoes. Much more than the sum of its talented parts.
12. Grasscut – Everyone Was A Bird
More organic less electronic than the first two LPs but still a delight. Fan submitted spoken word piece, nature based lyrical themes and soaring strings.
13. Public Service Broadcasting – The Race for Space
Working with the British Film Institute PSB splice film and news clips with post rock and electronic backing. Funkier than it sounds on paper.
14. Lonelady – Hinterland
This is like a lost factory record release. Shades of ACR, Section 25, and early New Order. Fragile guitar melodies, industrial murk, Brit funk but a modern twist in the production.
15. Sleater-Kinney – No Cities to Love
Fantastic return after 10 years away. Snaps, snarls, the guitars bite yet it is joyful at the same time. Knocks the New Order and Prodigy come backs out of ring with a series of beautiful jabs.
16. The Unthanks – Mount The Air
Folk detour that was started when I picked up a copy of the first Unthanks LP second hand. A lovely mixture of dark folk themes and solid gold harmonies and melodies.
17. The Band of Holy Joy – The Land of Holy Joy
One of my favourite bands of the late 1980s this is their 19th LP! Johnny Brown is a lyricist with a sharp eye for detail. Bittersweet stories of those living on the fringes of society set to a romantic spring laden ramshackle indie racket.
18. Floating Points – Elaenia
Late period Talk Talk refracted through an electronic and post rock prism without the god fearing lyrics. Might be higher up the list if I had longer to listen to it.
19. Romare – Projections
Smoky vocal samples, African drums, garage, house, jump cuts. A lovely collage of various dance forms into a fun, funky and clever record.
20. Bill Ryder Jones – West Kirby County Primary
Former member of the Coral and Artic Monkeys tour guitarist BRJ’s solo LP is a bleak and beauty collection mainly recorded at home. Strong songs with clever little lyric touches, a fragile voice and a sense of loss. One to get lost in.