Friday, 12 December 2014

12 Albums of 2014. Pt. 2 (12/12/14)

This is the second (and final) part of '12 Albums of 2014. Pt. 2', however, this time round it's not just albums, there is a few EPs thrown in too... 2014 has been a good year for music releases, both from 'mainstream' artists and upcoming. (Download links for all albums can be found at the end of this blog!) 

So Long, See You Tomorrow - Bombay Bicycle Club

Release Date: 3rd February 2014
Genre: Indietronica / Indie Rock
Tracks: 10
Chart Performance: #1 (UK Albums Chart)
Singles: Carry Me/Luna/Feel/Come To/Home By Now

This would have been put into the previous blog, however it just missed out as I hadn't listened to it that much, however, over summer I had it on repeat and I have fallen for Bombay's concept. Their unique layers create a catchy and usually upbeat sound, although they also show a slower, chilled vibe scattered through the album too. 'It's Alright Now', is a catchy track and I especially like the beat through this song. 'Home By Now', stands out to me with the song growing, the vocals from Lucy Rose also accompany the song well. The vocals from Rae Morris on 'Luna' also makes that track stand out, but the track from Bombay Bicycle Club is also one of my favourites because of the layers of keys, drums and guitars with added bass for a little extra - definitely my all time favourite track of theirs. 


So Called Man - Robbie Boyd
Release Date: 26th May 2014
Genre: Folk/Pop
Tracks: 12
Singles: Under My Skin/I Won't Let You Go/Less Than Friends/Brave (soon...)

After seeing Robbie at Isle of Wight Festival in July, I've had his music on quite a bit. I also went to see him live earlier this week and he always puts on a good show! The first track on the album is 'Orion's Belt', it's a good introduction to his sound and paves the way for the rest of the album. Upbeat and catchy, but with slower sections, the keys stand out on this track as well as the vocals and lyrics. 'Spring Generation', each time I've seen Robbie live, he's played this one and it's a great singalong song that grows. Starting slow and building the layers into a true 'dance along' track. 'Brave' is another song that stands out to me, the guitars, keys, bass and everything else go so well together and the lyrics are really prominent in this one. 


Noah/Pilot/Spark EPs - Amber Run
Release Date: 14th February/18th April/19th September (2014)
Genre: Alternative Rock
Tracks: 12 | (4 to each EP)
Singles: Noah/Heaven/Spark/I Found

Amber Run stand out as the most atmospheric band I've seen live this year. They fully invest to the songs they play, which allows the audience to get sucked into the tone of their set too. 'Noah' comes to mind when I think of their live shows I've seen, lyrically and musically this song is amazing. It grows at the start into a catchy, drum filled party, but also shows off their vocals and stripped down music. If I haven't spoken about 'I Found' enough, here it is some more... When I saw this live the performance was so ethereal and definitely stands out as a favourite, on the Pilot EP there's an acoustic version which is amazing too and highlights their harmonies, but it's nice to have a stripped down track amongst their rockier stuff. On the Spark EP, there is a cover of 'Hide and Seek', originally by Imogen Heap and it's been covered, reworked and sampled many times but Amber Run's cover is the one for me. 


1000 Forms of Fear - Sia
Release Date: 4th July 2014
Genre: Pop
Tracks: 12
Chart Performance: #11 (UK Albums Chart) | #1 (US Billboard 200)
Singles: Chandelier/Big Girls Cry

The album starts with the very popular (and annoyingly overplayed) 'Chandelier', I still love this song, with the deep and emotive lyrics, catchy beat and melody and when especially when performed live, it really shows off Sia's vocals. 'Eye Of The Needle' and 'Straight For The Knife' are also great songs, both lyrically and musically. Sia has a serious talent for songwriting, her lyrics are honest and emotive and her tracks are layered well and catchy, all slightly different, creating a collective sound across the album. This was definitely my album of the summer. 

Meant To Be Kind EP - Hannah Grace
Release Date: 28th July 2014
Genre: 'Pop'
Tracks: 4
Chart: #8 (iTunes Singer/Songwriter Album Chart)
Singles: Broke

It's really refreshing to hear a soulful singer/songwriter like Hannah, I've seen her live a couple of times and her powerhouse yet delicate vocals always stand out. This EP showcases her sound really well, 'Meant To Be Kind', is a very powerful song, lyrically, musically and vocally, it starts slower and builds the layers into a great song. 'Broke' also stands out as a favourite of mine, it has a chilled, almost blues vibe to it, but again grows during the track. However, all the tracks on the EP work together as a great selection of songs, showing Hannah's musicality, this EP shows 2015 will be an even bigger year for Hannah.


Hard As Hello/This Is Me/Liar EPs - Kimberly Anne
Release Date: 21st March/18th July/22nd August (2014)
Genre: Alternative/Pop
Tracks: 12 | (4 to each)
Singles: Hard As Hello

It will surprise me if Kimberly Anne doesn't 'level up' in 2015, 2014 has been a good year for her, with three EP releases, and the likes of Bastille remixing her single 'Hard As Hello', which is a great track, highlighting Kimberly's vocals and guitars. 'Liar' is my favourite song from this group of EPs, honest lyrics coupled with a great drum beat and catchy melody - it's a winner. Both of these songs have brilliant music videos to accompany them too, which is always a plus. Another track worth noting is 'Almost On My Feet', from the Liar EP, the guitar and vocals are stunning and it's a very calming track, which has been on repeat the last couple of months. 

Hozier - Hozier
Release Date: 19th September 2014
Genre: Blues/Soul/Indie Rock
Tracks: 13 | 17 (Deluxe)
Chart Performance: #5 (UK Albums Chart) | #2 (US Billboard 200)
Singles: Take Me To Church/Arsonist's Lullaby/Sedated/From Eden

Well... I'd heard of Hozier, and then I HEARD Hozier. It seems Hozier has become the one to watch over the last year and if this album is anything to go by, there's a reason for it! Just his lyrics, vocals and guitar playing would be enough but add everything else from the album and I'm hooked. 'From Eden', 'Sedated' and 'Work Song' are the songs that stand out to me on this album, but it was hard to choose my 'favourites' as the whole album is brilliant and worth a listen to all the way through. 


Sweet Talker - Jessie J
Release Date: 10th October 2014
Genre: Pop/R&B
Tracks: 12 | 15 (Deluxe)
Chart Performance: #5 (UK Albums Chart) | #10 (US Billboard 200)
Singles: Bang Bang/Burnin' Up/Sweet Talker/Masterpiece

I was a big fan of Jessie J's debut album 'Who You Are', but I was put off a little by the overall sound of her second album 'Alive', however I had a listen to her new album after kind of liking 'Bang Bang'. Even though I really like the R&B/Pop chart toppers, I prefer the more honest ballad-style tracks. 'Personal' and 'You Don't Really Know Me' are favourite of mine, I think the lyrics are more focused around the 'Who You Are' concept, and even though I like she is experimenting with her sound - I do prefer that from Jessie. For similar reasons, I also like 'Masterpiece', with the Nobody's Perfect ideal, however the track is also great with production etc. There's only a couple of tracks, that I'm not too keen on from the album, but overall it's a good overall sound and I can listen to it all the way through and agree that Jessie J is back! 


Chapter One - Ella Henderson
Release Date: 10th October 2014
Genre: Pop
Tracks: 13 | 18 (Deluxe)
Chart Performance: #1 (UK Albums Chart)
Singles: Ghost/Glow/Yours

Back in 2012, I was gutted that Ella Henderson was voted out early on in the X Factor live shows, she showed massive potential, and that has now been shown in this album. The sound is a great mix of everything Ella can do, there's slower piano ballads and upbeat pop tracks, with a cross over somewhere in between too. 'Ghost' is a catchy track that I had stuck in my head for a long time, on the other end of Ella's spectrum of sound, is 'Missed', a pain-filled ballad. As well as this brilliantly written and crafted song, I really like '1996' (on a side note Lizzie McGuire was definitely one of the best TV programmes...) but it's another brilliant song from another one of my favourite albums of this year. 


I Forget Where We Were - Ben Howard
Release Date: 20th October 2014
Genre: Indie Folk
Tracks: 10
Chart Performance: #1 (UK Albums Chart)
Singles: I Forget Where We Were

I've listened to Ben Howard for a while now and I was excited to hear what his second album had to offer and I definitely wasn't disappointed, after hearing a couple of tracks played on the radio before the release, I knew it was going to be good! The ethereal and atmospheric sound of this album is what Ben is all about, unique sounds, great guitars and emotive lyrics and vocals. 'Rivers In Your Mouth', 'End Of The Affair' and 'All Is Now Harmed', are the stand-out songs from this album for me. I found this album is good for sunsets, walks and long drives. 


1989 - Taylor Swift
Release Date: 27th October 2014
Genre: Pop
Tracks: 13 | 19 (Deluxe)
Chart Performance: #1 (UK Albums Chart) | #1 (US Billboard 200)
Singles: Shake It Off/Blank Space

This was set to be the best album of the year, although for me, it missed the mark (only slightly), for the rest of the world, it went down really well. This time round Taylor went more pop and she's shown she can make it work. The catchy upbeat tunes on the album are chart-toppers and the slower tracks are still just as good. 'Blank Space' is the better single out of the two so far for me, maybe because it hasn't been played as much - yet! However, 'Out Of The Woods' seems to have the recipe for a 'top ten hit' too and I really like that song. 'Clean' is my other favourite from the album, the unique sounds and well pieced lyrics and melody work well together. 


Carry Me EP - Wayward Daughter
Release Date: 1st November 2014
Genre: Rock/Pop
Tracks: 4
Chart Performance: #4 (iTunes Rock Album Chart)
Singles: Carry Me

This EP has been on repeat the last month and a bit, I've been looking forward to this EP for longer than I had realised. They released a live acoustic EP in 2013, which was brilliant, but I've been excited about a recorded version of 'The Letter' probably one of my favourite tracks of theirs, it's a stripped back song with stunning guitar and vocals together. The title track (and single) from the EP is fantastic too, 'Carry Me' often gets stuck in my head, the guitar and drums stick out in this one, with great vocals and it's very strong lyrically too. 'Highway' and 'Gravity' are both immense too, creating a rock vibe throughout the EP, catchy melodies and honest lyrics add up to make my favourite EP of the year.  

iTunes Download Links:
So Long, See You Tomorrow - Bombay Bicycle Club: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/so-long-see-you-tomorrow/id768075566
Hard As Hello/This Is Me/Liar EPs - Kimberly Anne: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/artist/kimberly-anne/id519779111

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