Tag Archives: 2014 Albums and EPs of the Year

2014 Albums & EPs of the Year: 1

1 Jan

2014 Albums and EPs 1

1# Lyla Foy – Mirrors the Sky

That Lyla Foy’s debut album hasn’t appeared on, let alone atop, that many album of the year lists is something of a massive surprise to us and a fact that we struggle to comprehend. Each to their own and all that but to us, Mirrors The Sky is an album of exquisite beauty, deft and complex compositions and sublime melodies.

The more we listened to these 10 songs, the more enchanted we became. Her vocals are as pure and cool as fresh ice crystals, smooth and stunning within the sparse forest of muted basslines and electro harmonies. The songs are reflective and the arrangements offer an intimacy to the listener, a closeness brought from the instrumentation, the emotion and purity of the music and lyrics.

It’s elegant, intelligent and beautifully crafted. Strings and electronics are entwined as one while the sharp rat-a-tat of snare marches along beneath this organic dance above. The regimented beats perfectly juxtaposed with the liberated swirl and wisp of melody.

Mirrors The Sky was our most played album of 2014, it was the album we got lost in more than any other, following its magical trails like Alice down the rabbit hole, and it is the album we have loved more than any other in the last 12 months. It’s delicate, like the frayed edges of a heart whose thread could be pulled at any moment, and it’s utterly gorgeous.

2014 Albums & EPs of the Year: 2

1 Jan

2014 Albums and EPs 2

#2 Spring Offensive – Young Animal Hearts

The arrival of Spring Offensive’s debut album, Young Animal Hearts was the cause of much celebration here at Alphabet Bands as one of our favourite bands around was finally releasing a full-length record. Sadly, while this much awaited and fantastic album came early in the year, 2014 ended without Spring Offensive in the ranks of active bands. Thankfully they were able to leave us with a brilliant album woven with complex emotional narratives and evocative melodies.

Any album that starts with a song as remarkable as “Not Drowning But Waving” (our song of the year for 2012) is likely to be something special and Young Animal Hearts more than lives up to expectation. There’s deep, undulating darkness courtesy of “The River”, a sneering track of revenge that plays like the build up to combat. Intense and powerful like a lone warrior walking to a final showdown, going mano e mano with heartbreak in a battle that culminates with smiling retribution.

We could easily go through every track and effuse greatly on why each is magnificent in its own right but Young Animal Hearts is so much greater than the sum of its (high value) parts. There is neither a single bum note, not one misstep nor a single drop of oil in this ocean of melody, harmony and wonderfully visual, quick witted, and occasionally dry, lyrics. One of our favourites being from the sublime and swirling “Carrier” that just seems to encapsulate Spring Offensive perfectly, “This morning was spent at my window / It seems to help them in movies / but I hope that their views are less boring”.

There is melancholy, there is hope. There is heartbreak and love, violence and drama, sprawling cinematic narratives and simple day-to-day drudgery. You can sing along to the whole album or just sit back as it embeds itself in your bones, playing your emotions like a violin, rousing a beast within you and then singing it back down to sleep. They are master storytellers and masters of aural stimulation and evocation and creators of our second favourite album of 2014.

2014 Albums & EPs of the Year: 3

1 Jan

2014 Albums and EPs 3

#3 Yumi Zouma – Yumi Zouma

Unquestionably our most played EP of the year; Yumi Zouma’s eponymous debut is so dreamy and delightful that if it were a person, you’d be swooning over it. We just adore their blissful, laidback summery sounds that just drift and float like clouds on a tranquil August day.

It is music that evokes imagery of summer and inspires an inner peace and calmness. It’s an idyllic and heavenly break in glorious but not overwhelming sunshine. These four tracks are like swimming to the edge of an infinity pool and gazing out at the breathtaking vista of melody before you. There’s not another soul for miles but for your loved one resting beside you, pina colada in hand, drinking in the scenery and delightful sounds of muted beats, gentle breeze like vocals and delicate, refreshing vocals.

It is utterly gorgeous and we cannot help but get caught in its enthral.

2014 Albums & EPs of the Year: 4

1 Jan

2014 Albums and EPs 4

#4 The Night VI – DIY

We are simple folk here at Alphabet Bands and we like simple things. Cracking pop tunes, great hooks and dreamy vocals are just a few of the many many things that push our musical buttons, and they just happen to be a few of the things that The Night VI excel at.

Their DIY EP is, to put it bluntly, fucking great. Each of the tracks are just wonderful, laden with melted melodies and infectious rhythms. Sophie-Rose Harper’s voice is the kind you want to hear on your deathbed, so soft and soothing that even in your darkest hour she could make you feel safe and peaceful; even when she is singing about the one who got away. Which she does on “Sienna” and on which, incidentally, they manage to make the resentment of another for leading the life and love you expected to have sound like something delightful.

Ultimately we plumped for “Heroine” when it came to our list of tracks of the year but we could just have easily gone with “Sienna” or “Wonderlust” (which is exactly why we restrict ourselves to one track per artist).

As well as their infectiousness, the tracks on DIY are beautiful and elegant, dealing with pain, love, happiness and seduction. And they are perfect to sing along to really loudly when no one else is around.

2014 Albums & EPs of the Year: 5

1 Jan

2014 Albums and EPs 5

#5 Nicole Atkins – Slow Phaser

Our fifth favourite album of 2014 is one that contains our favourite song of 2013. “Red Ropes” features on Nicole Atkins third album, Slow Phaser and while it remains a standout, the rest of the record is still fantastic. Being the exact right length for our walk to work, Slow Phaser got a lot of repeat play earlier this year but it was more than just duration that kept bringing us back. There is so much on offer that you will want to pour over it, devour and savour each morsel of this musical feast.

There are styles aplenty, themes and emotions a go go but most of all, throughout the entire album there is an overwhelming sense of creativity, of imagination and of deep shadowy undercurrents. Woven within each aspect there is always sadness, heartache, melancholy and despair. Even on lead single “Girl You Look Amazing”, which is a disco fuelled dance floor filling lightshow of a song, there is the sadness of a wasted life laid bare for all to see.

There’s pop music, indie, folk, disco, a show tune and even a hymn of sorts; each one sounding as confident and as accomplished as the last. It’s quality songwriting, musicianship and storytelling. It’s dark and twisted, light and breezy and mesmeric. It’s Nicole at her best and is well worth listening to again and again and again.