Thoughts on 2014 … extract from my end of year compilation sleevenotes

Throughout 2014 I had a sinking feeling that it was bound to be a somewhat underwhelming year for new music to the extent that by the end of August I could only
generally name 4-5 albums that I had any time for. This may have been due to my lack of time to investigate the ever increasing number of releases recommended on blogs, twitter, messageboards, apps, magazines (yes they still exist) and by friends due to other (more important?) things such as life, work and family or maybe it was just one of those
years (like 2008 or 1998) . . .

However the beauty of compiling annual end of year compilations and lists is that, despite a growing number of detractors, it is a fantastic way of discovering and rediscovering new music. Over the last 5-6 weeks I’ve been revisiting albums or listening to newly acquired CD’s ….(yes they also still exist as well and people do still buy them to answer the question the salesperson in Reading HMV asked me when I was making a regular purchase earlier this year) that peaked my interest having read through the exhaustive amount of end of year lists out there (which seem to being published so early that I wouldn’t be surprised if a record industry decision is taken to stop releasing records after August soon). In doing this I realised that 2014 wasn’t quite so underwhelming after all, what was lacking was probably 2 or 3 out and out great albums but that is still too early to call after only a maximum of 12 months of listening to these records. However, for what it’s worth, in my opinion 7-8 of the albums I’ve listed above work very well as “albums” (an art form we were told by the “Controller” of Radio 1 was irrelevant during 2014) and I can see myself coming back to rather than consigning to the neat box of 2014 which gathers cobwebs and is never listened to again once compiled and listed.

My favourite album was a close run thing between a what seems a very unfashionable record (not contained in any lists or even widely reviewed) and one which was universally loved by what remains of the music press. The new (We Are?) Augustines record just pipped The War on Drugs, the reason? … well I don’t really have one, ask me next Tuesday and I’ll probably prefer Lost In The Dream …. but as a soundtrack to a rather beautiful coach journey from Logrono in Rioja to San Sebastian as my wife and son slept next to me and then a triumphant end of year gig at the Roundhouse I’ve developed a rather special affection for the Augustines.

Ultimately this is the differentiator as to why some albums stay with us and become favourites, for the emotions and memories they elicit when we listen as well as the appreciation of the fantastic music. As I sit writing this (listening to Catherine Wheel and Charlatans albums from 1992) in 3 January 2015 I’m excited about sharing this list and the compilation CD’s that accompany it with you in the hope that you may discover something new and share my enthusiasm for some of these bands as much as I am excited about the next enthusiastic recommendation I receive from you, whether it’s new music released in 2015 or a random record from any other year.

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