Best of 2014


Best 40 Albums of 2014


bestof2014-banner
We racked our collective brains to pluck out a top album list for 2014 and couldn’t pick less than what you are about to read. 2014 has been an exceptional year for new music and many fan funded efforts have crept in ahead of general commercial release. Treat this as the basis for your wishlists and thank us later …

Contributions from: Nix Cooper (NC), Tom Mimnagh (TM), Steve Brixey (SB), Dan Stent (DS), Andy Close (AC), Mark Granger (MG) and Karl Eisenhauer (KA).

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Best 40 Albums of 2014: 10 – 1


bestof2014-banner
We racked our collective brains to pluck out a top album list for 2014 and couldn’t pick less than what you are about to read. 2014 has been an exceptional year for new music and many fan funded efforts have crept in ahead of general commercial release. Treat this as the basis for your wishlists and thank us later …

Contributions from: Nix Cooper (NC), Tom Mimnagh (TM), Steve Brixey (SB), Dan Stent (DS), Andy Close (AC), Mark Granger (MG) and Karl Eisenhauer (KA).

10. Manic Street Preachers – “Futurology”

Twelve albums into their career and Manic Street Preachers continue to do whatever the hell they like. Consequently with each album they run the risk of alienating at least some of their audience and ‘Futurology’ has probably done just that. Influenced by the band’s sojourns around Europe, the album is powered with a musical and lyrical theme that reflects their travels. Throwing up nods to the Manics beloved post punk, euro pop and perhaps most prominently Krautrock. At points they rage (‘Let’s Go To War’, ‘Sex, Power, Love And Money’) but underneath the bristling powerchords and stark drums lies a very reflective band. Whether it be the self critical ‘The Next Jet To Leave Moscow’ (“So you played in Cuba did you like it brother? I bet you felt proud you silly little fucker.”) or ‘The View From Stow Hill’ with it’s damning yet resigned lyrical theme. ‘Futurology’ boasts some of their catchiest and most challenging work in years and is the sound of a band getting a second wind. A classic pure and simple. (MG)

9. Tony Wright – “Thoughts ‘N’ All”

Terrorvision and LaikaDog frontman, Tony Wright released his first ‘solo’ effort this year via a PledgeMusic campaign. Wright’s talents over the years have been extensively complimented with a full on live band so it was difficult to guess this would be hit or miss. Thankfully it was a sure hit. It’s packed with the catchy hooks of Terrorvision tunes with a more serious undertone a la LaikaDog (TerrorDog or LaikaVision if you will). Tony Wright isn’t entirely alone on this record – he’s got the vocal and strumming talents of Milly Evans (Terrorvision et al). Standout tunes are “Love Hold On”, “Great Horton” and “Self Portrait (Rock A Boogie Merchant)”. A fine album. More please, Mr Wright! (NC)

8. The Quireboys – “Black Eyed Sons”

Rapidly following up last year’s “Beautiful Curse”, the Quireboys’ seventh album saw them very much in business as usual territory but when business is this good, why the hell would you want to change that? Ten tracks of whiskey-soaked bar room blues that will get your toe tapping and a smile on your face from the Stonesy “Lullaby of London Town” to the lovely closing ballad “Monte Cassino”. And they even threw a free acoustic CD and live DVD in with it – talk about value package of the year! (AC)

7. The Urban Voodoo Machine – “Love, Drink & Death”

If you had told me at the start of 2014 that one of my albums of the year would be by a seven to ten piece band with soul, burlesque, and rock tendencies, I’d probably have looked at you with confusion and derision. However, that is very much the case, and The Urban Voodoo Machine have crafted one of the most uniquely brilliant albums I’ve had the privilege of listening to. Every second of Love, Drink & Death feels like a journey into the heart of New Orleans, with a bluesy creole quality that is like nothing I’ve ever heard from a UK based band. There is an effortlessness in the way UVM are able to shift seamlessly between melancholic drinking songs like Drinking My Life away, or Pipe & Slippers Man, to more upbeat numbers like Your Hour of Darkness, and the samba infused Jimmy Cuba (a personal highlight for me). UVM have a huge sound, distinctive, original and utterly bonkers, but undoubtedly phenomenal, and Love, Drink & Death deserves to be recognised as something very special and certainly one of the standout albums of 2014. (TM)

6. Foo Fighters – “Sonic Highways”

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. In truth, for all the press around the Foos eighth studio album being recorded in eight different cities around the United States, the influence of these musical landmarks isn’t really evident on Sonic Highways. Not that it matters in the slightest .What is evident is that Grohl & Co have delivered another album packed with the sort of gigantic rock anthems that helped transform them into one of the biggest bands in the world. Something From Nothing is a fantastic opening track, slowly building from a hushed intro to a full-tilt rock monster, with some Zepplin-esque Hammond and QOTSA style guitar thrown in for good measure. The Feast And The Famine sees the Foos at their frantic best, while Congregation boasts an awesome southern guitar lick. After an all too brief seven tracks, I Am A River brings the album to an epic and emotional climax. Festivals and stadiums beckon, and if Sonic Highways is anything to go by, Foo Fighters have earned it. (SB)

5. The Dowling Poole – “Bleak Strategies”

In stark contrast to the rather gloomy title, “Bleak Strategies” is a psychedelic power-pop delight. Rich in melodies and full of catchy choruses, this really is a fine summer’s day in album form (albeit one with a few dark clouds adding an extra element of suspense to proceedings). It’s clear to see both Willie Dowling (Jackdaw4, Honeycrack) and Jon Poole (The Wildhearts, Cardiacs, Lifesigns) have some serious talent. Upon meeting during the recording of Ginger’s “555%” album, they made the decision to work together; writing and recording at Willie’s studio over in France. Good job they did, because this is seriously good. With influences drawn from the likes of 10CC, The Kinks and Sgt. Pepper’s era Beatles; “Bleak Strategies” is a member of that select group of albums without a bad song. There’s chilled-out, harmony-filled opener ‘The Sun Is Mine’, Jackdaw4-esque ‘Empires, Buildings and Acquisitions’, the slow psychedelia of ‘Twilight Subplot’ and even a heartfelt tribute to Cardiacs leader and musical genius Tim Smith – ‘Hey Stranger’. (DS)

4. Electric River – “The Faith And Patience”

Electric River have been a band on our radar for a good couple of years now. Their sound has evolved over the past few years and “The Faith & Patience” is a wonderful collection of ‘singles’ worthy tracks charting their journey on the road, love, loss and fighting to make it. It was recorded live and put together in just under one week with the production assistance of Peter Miles (We Are the Ocean, The King Blues, Dry the River). Tracks such as “Chorus of Fire”, “Keep the Engine Burning” and live favourites such as “In Your Name” and “Happy” make you feel alive. It’s the most honest song writing I’ve heard in years. Get in touch with your soul again and make sure you have this album. File under “Essential”. (NC)

3. Ginger Wildheart – “Albion”

With his seventh album in two years (yes, you heard me right), You’d be forgiven for thinking “Albion” might be a little patchy in terms of quality. But then you need to consider who we’re talking about. Ginger Wildheart has always been prolific, with the uncanny ability to not only write a great song, but to consistently do so. With both an extended Pledge Music version (16 songs) and a commercial release (10 songs), “Albion” is a cracking album regardless of which one you own. Opening track ‘Drive’ sums up the musical ethos on display here nicely. It starts off like a standard mid-pace rock number, before BOOM – it accelerates away into a super-charged chorus. This is an album which is a little unhinged. Songs can go in unexpected directions, and you’ll be left scratching your head. From distorted, thrash verses (‘Cambria’) and power-pop (‘Grow A Pair’) to chilled out (After All You Said About Cowboys) and more progressive, experimental numbers (‘Albion’); the sheer variety and depth of music on display here is exceptional. (DS)

2. CJ Wildheart – “Mable”

Wildhearts guitarist CJ’s first foray into the world of Pledge has been, without question, a resounding success. Mable features all the elements that we have come to know and love from Mr Jadghar’s previous work and glorious melodies, crunching guitars and infectious pop hooks are there in abundance on tracks like “Better Late Than Never”, “Kentucky Fried” and “Devil”. But there is something special about Mable that sets this album apart from his other solo works . On this record, CJ has managed to craft something with more focus, conviction and passion than anything he has produced previously, making Mable arguably the finest thing he has put his name to outside of The Wildhearts and undoubtedly one of the albums of the year. All this, and the guy makes a damn fine hot sauce too. (SB)

1. Evil Scarecrow – “Galactic Hunt”

Evil Scarecrow have stolen the coveted number one spot this year by a mile with their black metal operatics. The best thing about Evil Scarecrow is that it doesn’t matter what genre you’re into. Their wicked, sharp and daft sense of humour shines through what is also a technically brilliant album. The band have dealt with the themes of robot overlords, giant spiders, vampire trousers and hell dogs in the past … so the next logical direction is to take it in to space (of course).

They’ve even managed to get Treguard of Dunshelm (Hugo Myatt of 80’s-90’s kids TV show, “Knightmare” fame) to provide voiceovers on parts of the album – notably “Enter the Knightmare” and the War of the Worlds style epic, “Space Dementia”. A very smart move to widen their already growing army of followers.

So many standout tracks – you just need to buy the bloody thing. They have sent the little crabuloids out to take over the world. It is only a matter of time before we all have pincer hands and are opting for a side strafe gait. (NC)

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Best 40 Albums of 2014: 20 – 11


bestof2014-banner
We racked our collective brains to pluck out a top album list for 2014 and couldn’t pick less than what you are about to read. 2014 has been an exceptional year for new music and many fan funded efforts have crept in ahead of general commercial release. Treat this as the basis for your wishlists and thank us later …

Contributions from: Nix Cooper (NC), Tom Mimnagh (TM), Steve Brixey (SB), Dan Stent (DS), Andy Close (AC), Mark Granger (MG) and Karl Eisenhauer (KA).

20. The Peckham Cowboys – “10 Tales From The Gin Palace”

Now, here’s a band that know how to play rock and roll the way it should be played – straight from the crotch, with their tounges planted firmly in their cheeks. 10 Tales From The Gin Palace features a collection of filthy, bluesy rockers full of South Lahhhhndaan charm that can’t fail to bring a smile to the face. Honestly, how can you not like a band with song titles like Bromley Girls?? That’s not to say the Cowboys don’t mean business when it comes to their tunes though. The musicianship on display across the ten tracks on this, their second album, is breathtaking. Tracks like The Debt Collector and Don’t Damn The Hypnotist throw elements of reggae and ska into the mix alongside sleazy rock classics like Quarantined and She Was Sweet On Me, while album closer Knocked Senseless features the kind of colossal riff that Angus Young would probably trade his school uniform for. Nice one, guv’nor. (SB)

19. Weezer – “Everything Will Be Alright In The End”

After a run of shockingly bad albums (that’s right Hurley and Raditude, I’m looking at you), Weezer must have thought it would make a nice change of pace to pull an absolute classic out of the bag. “We belong in the rock world” sings Rivers Cuomo on lead single Back To The Shack, and it’s in remembering what they do best that Everything Will Be Alright In The End succeeds so spectacularly; really, there are few bands that do the pop punk thing as well as Weezer when they are on form. There’s a hint of classic album Pinkerton about EWBAITE’s discordant guitars, irresistible choruses and deceptively simple lyrics that can be heard on track like Ain’t Got Nobody, The British Are Coming and I’ve Had It Up To Here. In places, this album feels like a thank you to the fans who still believed Weezer could still make an album this good. Boys, we never doubted you. (SB)

18. The Bermondsey Joyriders – “Flamboyant Thugs”

The Bermondsey Joyriders’ third album was everything you’d want from them at this stage – a good reminder of what they’re capable of with some cracking tunes into the bargain. Veering from the spit ‘n’ sawdust rock ‘n’ roll of opener “Sonic Underground” through the sly humour of “It’s Nice To Be Important” to the epic political closer of “The Message”, this was proof positive that the Bermondsey Joyriders were still out there and with plenty to say in 2014. (AC)

17. The Hip Priests – “Black Denim Blitz”

Filthier than a night on the town with Frank Bough, the Hip Priests’ third album saw them cement their position as the most catchily debauched rock ‘n’ roll band in Britain today. One part Stooges, one part Motorhead, one part Turbonegro, the ferocious likes of “Motherfucker Superior” and the awesome “Jesus Died So We Can Ride” are the sort of songs that are the best kind of bad fun. By all means check this one out but don’t blame us for the strange place you wake up the next morning … (AC)

16. Supersuckers – “Get The Hell”

The Eddie Spaghetti fronted juggernaut known as Supersuckers made a triumphant return in 2014 with the album Get the Hell. Despite a turbulent history, the band seem to have landed on solid ground with their current line-up, and have produced a record that truly epitomises the dirty rock’n’roll sound that Supersuckers are known for. Standout tracks include the title track Get the Hell, Fuck up, and the gloriously named Disaster Bastard. Get The Hell is an album oozing with swagger and panache, and while I don’t know if I would entirely agree with the band’s self-proclaimed status as ‘the greatest rock’n’roll band in the world’, on the evidence of this album alone that sort of self-belief doesn’t exactly seem misplaced. (TM)

15. Zombina & The Skeletones – “Charnel House Rock”

Back after an extended break, the Skeletones’ fourth album it’s a pleasure to report that they’re just as wonderfully warped as ever and not afraid to throw everything including the kitchen sink into making an album. “Charnel House Rock” saw them putting demented hellbilly hoedowns, ferocious Misfits style horror punk and tribal drum chantalongs all alongside each other with no regards given to conformity. A true treasure of a band and an album and one you really should check out if you’ve not already. (AC)

14. Mongol Horde – “Mongol Horde”

Make way for the Mongol Horde. The eponymous debut album from folk songster and former Million Dead frontman Frank Turner’s newest musical venture. Mongol Horde captures much of the spirit and vitriol of the first Million Dead album, but with a more sneering cynical edge that only comes with age. Turner is joined by Matt Nasir of his backing band, The Sleeping Souls, and Ben Dawson who featured prominently in Million Dead. Much like his former band, you have to expect that this is not going to be a long term proposition, but hopefully there will be a second album, as this is one of the most raw, brutal, and frankly brilliant albums of 2014. No one is exempt from the cutting lyrics (Communists, Hollywood, people who talk too much) with surrealism also on the menu (Stillborn Unicorn is especially bizarre), and a riveting sound that most hardcore bands would kill for. (TM)

13. Knifeworld – “The Unravelling”

Progressive and dense without ever becoming inaccessible, “The Unravelling” is a triumph of modern psychedelic rock. Led by the irrepressible Kavus Torabi, this octet take you on a journey into a realm of sonic majesty, where stabbing metal riffs sit alongside swirling bassoons, twinkling keyboards and honking saxophones. “The Unravelling” twists and turns, the beautiful keyboards of ‘I Can Teach You How To Lose A Fight’ draw you in before the whole song mutates into something much more sinister. The 90-second trip ‘The Orphanage’ is followed by the sprawling, bassoon led ‘Send Him Seaworthy’; then the epic psychedelic prog pop of ‘Don’t Land On Me’. The underlying sense of unease comes to a head with the tense ‘The Skulls We Buried Have Regrown Their Eyes’ and final track ‘I’m Hiding Behind My Eyes’ feels like the sunrise after a rather harrowing night. Atmospheric and intense, this is an album which to fully unravel you’ll need to give multiple listens. Believe me, it’s worth it. (DS)

12. Mastodon – “Once More Round The Sun”

Some bands just don’t know how to stop making top quality albums, and Mastodon are very much a band in that category. Following on from the critically acclaimed, and commercially successful 2011 album, The Hunter, the Stoner rock quartet have produced a truly rme4arkable record, which hammers on from opening track ‘Tread Lightly’ to the album closer ‘Diamond in the Witch House’, unrelenting from start to finish. Aside from the two excellent singles, ‘High Road’, and ‘The Motherload’ (which hit headlines earlier this year due to a slightly controversial video), standout tracks include Ember City, Asleep in the Deep, and of course the album’s title track. Mastodon once again prove themselves to be a force to be reckoned with, and continuing to mix big chunky riffs with psychedelic lyrics and an intangible chemistry that makes them a truly unique proposition. (TM)

11. The Bluefields – “Under High Cotton”

‘Under High Cotton’ is the third album from Nashville rock n’ rollers The Bluefields, a band that are – for want of a better word – a supergroup. Boasting powerhouse frontman Joe Blanton of cult rockers The Royal Court of China, ex-The Cardinals drummer Brad Pemberton and two bona fide legends in Warner E. Hodges (Jason and the Scorchers) and Dan Baird (Georgia Satellites). An intoxicating blend of Scorchers/Satellites country rock and harder sounds of early RCOC, ‘Under High Cotton’ is eleven tracks of pure southern fried rock and roll designed to shake your arse to. If you don’t find yourself dancing uncontrollably to the grooves of ‘Shake ‘Em On Down’ and the title track, the son, you’re already dead. (MG)

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Best 40 Albums of 2014: 40 – 31


bestof2014-banner
We racked our collective brains to pluck out a top album list for 2014 and couldn’t pick less than what you are about to read. 2014 has been an exceptional year for new music and many fan funded efforts have crept in ahead of general commercial release. Treat this as the basis for your wishlists and thank us later …

Contributions from: Nix Cooper (NC), Tom Mimnagh (TM), Steve Brixey (SB), Dan Stent (DS), Andy Close (AC), Mark Granger (MG) and Karl Eisenhauer (KA).

40. Sworn To Oath – “Pillars”

Sworn To Oath have always dabbled in the hard and heavy but “Pillars” is an album that has gone to the next level. If you’re familiar with S2O from their “Don’t F*ck About” / “Leave You For Dead” EP and not heard their latest stuff – expect a completely different band. “Pillars” is their debut album and also their first release on rock and metal mammoths, Transcend Records. They’ve naturally evolved into a more intense, heavier version which could be borderline doomy in places which is no bad thing. Standout tracks are the brutal “Outcast”, the chugging assault of “Let The Rain Pour” and the intense “Gave In To God”. There’s a lot of different stuff on here but it works. “Pillars” is the start of something big for the Stoke trio. (NC)

39. Death From Above 1979 – “The Physical World”

In 2004 Toronto’s Death From Above 1979 released the seminal album, You’re a Woman, I’m a Machine. However, after a long hiatus, they returned this year with their long awaited follow up The Physical World, and it did not disappoint. While DFA 1979 have retained their trademark sound, there is a certain maturity to this album which marks it out as a completely different animal to their debut. In particular on the tracks Right on, Frankenstein, and White is Red, there seems to be a renewed focus and a more refined approach when compared to their more anarchic sound on You’re a Woman, I’m a Machine, and it really helps make this an excellent listen. Big riffs, catchy hooks, and a distinctive style make this a landmark record in 2014. (TM)

38. Royal Blood – “Royal Blood”

With the release of their eponymous debut album, Royal Blood have managed to do something that has become increasingly rare in this day and age – namely, create an album that has both achieved mainstream popularity and is really bloody good. There have been White Stripes comparisons, but they really fail to do justice to the majestic noise on Royal Blood. There are elements of blues and grunge here, but the key to Royal Blood’s success is their appreciation and understanding of the almighty RIFF. And that’s something we can never get enough of here at Pure Rawk. Long may they reign. (SB)

37. Ooozing Wound – “Earth Suck”

Following up their debut record after just one year Oozing Wound aren’t ones to mess about, something that’s all the more evident when you learn that ‘Earth Suck’ was recorded in just three days. Taking the thrash riffs and rock and roll abandon of their debut and piling on a whole heap of weird, the bands second album is a seven track onslaught of heavy. ‘Bury Me With Money’ crashes in out of your ears in just over one minute thirty all tremolo riffs and speed fuelled drums, and ‘When The Walls Fell’ conjures up eerie sounds that wouldn’t be out of place on a black metal record before pulling some downtuned and downright grungey riffs out of it’s arse. Challenging, fun, and just plain wierd, Oozing Wound are one of the most unique bands around right now. Accept them into your lives. (MG)

36. Limb – “Limb”

If you’re a doom band with a penchant for Slade and a comedian for a singer, surely your opening yourselves up for ridicule? Well, as Limb’s self titled debut shows, the answers no, actually. Full of bludgeonly heavy riffs, powerful grooves and dark lyrics delivered in frontman Rob Hoey’s powerful roar and you have a band that are far from being anything near a joke. The hooks of ‘Eternal Psalm Pt I’ and its brother ‘Eternal Psalm Part II’ certainly reveal that their glam influences are more than just passive ones but they are also swathed in dirty guitars and screams. Not afraid to get a bit progressive Limb stretch their songwriting wings on album closer ‘Vathek’ pointing towards what should be a interesting future for the London doom merchants. (MG)

35. The Dollyrots – “Barefoot and Pregnant”

Following a successful Kickstarter campaign for their self-titled fourth album in 2012, Los Angeles pop punkers The Dollyrots joined the hordes of musicians who went the PledgeMusic route for album number five. ‘Barefoot and Pregnant’ – while not exactly full of surprises – is 13 tracks of pure, smile from ear to ear, spring in your step pop punk. The band seem to be unable to write anything but catchy tunes as proved by such gems as ‘Get Weird’, ‘Puppy Dog Eyes’ and ‘Come Get It’, each full to bursting with a hooks and earworms. Brighten up your life and get you some Dollyrots. (MG)

34. Moral Dilemma – “Is Anyone Alive Out There?”

Punk as fuck and mad as hell. That seven word sentence pretty much sums up ‘Is Anyone Alive Out There?’, the third album from the now sadly defunct Moral Dilemma. From the hundred miles and hour opener ‘Scare Tactics’ to the rumbling bass and industrial doom sounds of closing track ‘Plague Pits’ the band don’t waste a second of their swansong with filler. ‘Spare The Vote, Spoil The Ballot’ gallops along on a country beat and ‘Building Gallows’ sees them take the folk-punk route travelled most famously by kings of the genre Rancid. Exhilarating from start to finish ‘Is Anyone Alive Out There?’ shows a band that had reached the kind of songwriting maturity that could have taken them anywhere. Here’s hoping for a reunion in 2015. (MG)

33. Kory Clarke – “Payback’s A Bitch”

Quite simply, no-one was expecting this. Although lyrically “Payback’s A Bitch” was just as sharp as anything Kory’s done with Warrior Soul, musically it saw him turning his hand to every genre from lonesome country rock through Quireboys style bar room blues to the epic closer “Meet Me In Las Vegas” and carry it all off with style and panache. You really need to add this one to your CD/mp3 collection now if you’ve not done so already. (AC)

32. The Len Price 3 – “Nobody Knows”

The best kept secret in Britrock today? Quite possibly. Now on their fourth album, “Nobody Knows” saw the LP3 remind us all exactly why they’re such a damn good band. Tight and focused garage rock (with the odd ’60s psychedelic moment thrown in) this is retro rock with power, enthusiasm and some damn fine tunes and riffs. The anti-Black Stone Cherry if you like and, really, what more a recommendation do you need? (AC)

31. Deadcuts – “Dark Is The Night”

Take various reprobates from the Senseless Things, the Wonder Stuff and the Skuzzies and put them together and you’d maybe be expecting some spit ‘n’ sawdust indie punk, right? Wrong. “Dark Is The Night” was a throwback to when goth rock really was majestic, swooping and fascinating by equal turns instead of the horrible whining of emo. Credit to the Deadcuts for pulling off such an accomplished record at the first time of asking. (AC)

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2014-10


Best 40 Albums of 2014: 30 – 21


bestof2014-banner
We racked our collective brains to pluck out a top album list for 2014 and couldn’t pick less than what you are about to read. 2014 has been an exceptional year for new music and many fan funded efforts have crept in ahead of general commercial release. Treat this as the basis for your wishlists and thank us later …

Contributions from: Nix Cooper (NC), Tom Mimnagh (TM), Steve Brixey (SB), Dan Stent (DS), Andy Close (AC), Mark Granger (MG) and Karl Eisenhauer (KA).

30. Trojan Horse – “World Turned Upside Down”

After an excellent self-titled debut in 2010, Mancunian weird-rock progsters Trojan Horse have nailed the follow-up. Opening track ‘Jurapsyche Park’ (other than having a brilliant title) twists and turns, going from groovy riffs and vocal harmonies to a crazy keyboard solo, before switching it up again as the song reaches it’s noisy conclusion. And that’s just the first song. Throughout the rest of the album you’ll experience full-on psychedelia (‘Sesame’), a dub-reggae breakdown (‘Scuttle’), a musical acid trip, (‘Hypocrite’s Hymn’) and even the odd pop moment (‘Paper Bells’). This is a mind-bending journey into the rabbit hole of modern progressive weird-rock and it’s bloody great. (DS)

29. Matt Stevens – “Lucid”

Three years in the making, “Lucid” sees Matt Stevens take us on an instrumental adventure, which is not as straightforward as the title may perhaps imply. Musically diverse and featuring members of Chrome Hoof, King Crimson, Frost* and Knifeworld, Different styles sit alongside one another. Take the start/stop madness of ‘The Ascent’, the riff heavy ‘Oxymoron’, uplifting acoustic number ‘The Other Side’ or the atmospheric ‘Coulrophobia’ (fear of clowns in case you were wondering). Suffice to say, “Lucid” is varied, deep and well worth checking out. (DS)

28. Gong – “I See You”

Time is a meaningless human construct, or at least so it would appear on Planet Gong as the avant-garde rock legends return with a psychedelic multi-dimensional treat in the form of their latest album “I See You”. Front-man Daevid Allen has struggled with his health as of late, though fingers crossed this will not be his final Gong outing, as here aged 76 he proves to be as uncompromising and non-conformist as ever. From exploratory jazz (‘I See You’, ‘Occupy’) and schizophrenic psychedelia (‘The Eternal Wheel Spins’, ‘When God Shakes Hands With The Devil’) to trippy spoken word (‘This Revolution’) and whimsical pixie silliness (‘Pixielation’). Gong have crafted a unique soundscape which is a spectacular return to form. (DS)

27. Dirt Box Disco – “Bloonz”

Fired up on a diet of wrestling masks, face paint and cheap ‘n’ nasty beer, this was a catchy-as-hell third effort from these Midlands madmen. While powered up Ramones/Buzzcocks indebted thrills were in plentiful supply, elsewhere they conjured up memories of the late ’80s Soho glam scene and bands like the Soho Roses and the Babysitters. The next album’s already being recorded apparently, if it’s anything like as good as this it should be near the top of your things to watch out for next year. (AC)

26. Edguy – “Space Police: Defenders of The Crown”

The best British heavy metal band in the world are German. Accept it. Deal with it. Move along. Fast becoming legends in their own lifetime, Edguy continue their ascent to the pinnacle of rock hierarchy with stylish aplomb. Space Police – Defenders of the Crown is a grin-on-your-face, fist-in-the-air coronation of humour, heavy riffs and rousing choruses. Rock me, Amadeus! (KA)

25. Shear – “Katharsis”

Proving there’s more to female-fronted Finnish metal than Nightwish, Shear’s sophomore album Katharsis knocks one out of the park, makes the run, receives the touchdown pass and shoves it down our throats for good measure. From Last Warning to Turmoil this is non-stop anthemia. A power-house of progressive, melodic metal and vocal dexterity. (KA)

24. Feed the Rhino – “The Sorrow & the Sound”

The third studio album from the Kent based noisesters, The Sorrow & the Sound is a tour de force from start to finish. From the jangling opening riff of New Wave, an apt name, the album does not relent, taking you on a thrill ride from a to b. There are a number of standout tracks, including set sail to treason, and behind the pride, before the album signs off in style with Another Requiem. Lee Tobin’s vocals are on point throughout ranging from ferocious to melodic at a moment’s notice, while James and Sam Colley bring the riffs with precision, backed up by a metronomic rhythm section. A fantastic album from one of the most promising bands on the circuit today. (TM)

23. Brody Dalle – “Diploid Love”

Dalle released her debut solo effort this year after a five-year music making hiatus. The product is something more developed and mature … and more importantly, something more happy. Distillers era Dalle was a woman who battled with addiction and abusive relationships. Solo Dalle in 2014 is more settled, loved (more importantly loving herself) and motherhood. She teams up with Garbage’s Shirley Manson for a wonderful dark, emotionally charged tune that goes rather riot grrrl at the end for “Meet the Foetus/Oh the Joy”. “Diploid Love” has wonderfully sharp rock tunes you’d expect but also heavier, complex layer tracks such as “Dressed in Dreams”. If you enjoyed the short lived Spinnerette then Diploid Love should still be enjoyable for you. If you were hoping for another Distillers record, you’d be barking up the wrong tree here. So much more than a punk rock record. (NC)

22. Andy Cairns – “Fuck You Johnny Camo”

Initially available at Therapy? frontman Andy Cairns’ recent solo performances (and subsequently through their webstore), this album is a must for any self respecting fan of the band. Fuck You Johnny Camo features live in the studio acoustic renditions of both Therapy? favourites and previously unheard songs, with random noise experiments and asides from Mr Cairns interspersing the tracks. The Therapy? tracks manage to take on an even more sinister, claustrophobic tone on these solo performances, while the new songs have a melodic, punky feeling reminiscent of Troublegum or High Anxiety. A Therapy? fan’s wet dream. (SB)

21. Servers – “Leave With Us”

Former members of GU Medicine and Disarm joined forces a couple of years ago to form a cult-inspired hard monster. The product of this was Servers. For debut albums, the band is off to the best of starts with their hard rock pedigree showing through each track. “Leave With Us” is a good mix of the slower, heavier tunes mixed with faster and more aggressive anthems. Frontman Lee Storrar takes it to the next level with his gritty, powerful vocals. There is something else extremely special about it, so much so that Undergroove Records actually resurrected themselves to release this album – how often does that happen? Do what the title says – just leave with them now. Join the bandwagon before cult member numbers explode. Standout tracks – “Run With The Foxes”, “Claustrophobia” and “Universes and Supernovas (The Ride)”. (NC)

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