#SRCZEssential2014 // Albums of the Year

And so it’s December again. As is now traditional, ‘tis the season when we pick our albums of the year. 2014 was a tough year for music, there was, as ever, so much of it about and still we found it difficult to compile this list. But as with all gigs, the show must go on and we finally whittled down the many albums we listened to over the past year and came up with ten records that really rocked our world this year. Let the countdown begin…

X // Ani DiFranco – ‘Allergic To Water’

We’ve said it before; it’s always a pleasure to listen to Ani DiFranco. Allergic To Water is as ever a lyrical and poetic delight with a smattering of topical politics and spirituality thrown in. Possibly DiFranco’s best album of her recently more prosaic releases, the album is a close to the speakers listening experience, rich in sound as well as in thought provoking words.

IX // Owlle – ‘France’

Dream pop is a genre of many intentions and when we heard the fusion of dance and dream pop on France we were hooked. With a huge number of tracks that are genuinely warming and sophisticated, Owlle is certainly on our watch list for future releases. Highlights include the addictive Ticky Ticky (with a very beautifully choreographed video to match) and recent single Creed.

VIII // Marianne Faithfull – ‘Give My Love To London’

We’ve really warmed to Marianne Faithfull’s catalogue following this acerbically poetic yet quietly beautiful record.  With a semi –polished sheen reminiscent of the titular city’s bittersweet taste, there is much to love here. Nick Cave contributes the beautiful Late Victorian Holocaust, whilst the title track is a bitter sweet ode to the city that many call their home either spiritually or residentially. But it’s the wonderfully nonchalant blow of cigarette smoke on the album cover that sums this up best. That is, essential.  

VII // Tom Vek – ‘Luck’

A record from Tom Vek is something to be treasured. They don’t come often and when they do you sit up and notice. The eye catching visuals for the artwork are works of art in themselves, but the album shows just why time out between records is a good thing. Our highlights include Sherman (Animals In The Jungle) with its undeniably catchy chorus and the electronic, urgent groove of Ton Of Bricks.

VI // Die Antwoord – ‘Donker Mag’

The third offering from South African Rap Rave Crew Die Antwoord was much anticipated by many, including us. When the record didn’t quite gel on first listen it should have been no surprise. Their penchants for strong visuals and songs that either hit the mark straight away or make the listener think ‘what the fuck’ is a noted one and on Donker Mag there are admittedly a few weak moments. But they are easily forgiven when tracks such as the earworms that are ‘Cookie Thumper’ and ‘Pitbull Terrier’ come along. Add in a strong single in the form of Ugly Boy and it’s another off kilter winner.

V // 2:54 –‘The Other I’

The sheer urgency and melodic melancholia of ‘The Other I’ made us pay attention pretty quickly to band 2:54. Our listening made us appreciate tracks such as Blindfold with its bleak production and the gorgeous, Smoke Fairies like In The Mirror. This is music that calls like a siren from dark seas with an inner beauty that matches the darkness perfectly. One listen and you’ll be hooked.

IV // Meshell Ndegeocello – ‘Comet, Come To Me’

There is something uniquely comforting about a new record from Meshell Ndegeocello. On Comet, Come To Me we see a return to the spiritual yet down to earth soul imbued sound that marks her best work. There is much to love here, from the title track’s ethereal soul vibe to the warm initial single Conviction to the sensitive production of the record that renders it a beautiful, life affirming listen.

III // Mark Lanegan Band – ‘Phantom Radio’

There is much to be said for being prolific in the world of music. No matter how many albums he releases, Mark Lanegan makes the case for being a genuine inspiration. Phantom Radio is an instant listen, filled with words that echo long after listening and songs that are powerful proof of his genius. Floor of the Ocean and Killing season are favourites chez #SRCZ but the whole album has that classic quality that means you’ll find love easily in it’s dark deed filled stories.

II // Neneh Cherry –‘Blank Project’

It’s a lie to call Blank Project a comeback. It’s merely the first record credited to Neheh Cherry in recent years and it’s a good one. Sparse production from Rocket Number Nine brings it right up to the now yet in its themes there is a timeless quality about Blank Project. The highlight of the album is Everything, a near eight minute closer that affirms with great ease just how forward thinking Cherry still is. See also Spit Three Times for that raw song writing quality that so defines her work. Next album please!

I // Kelis – ‘Food’

If there’s one album we just couldn’t get enough of in 2014, then it’s Kelis’ seventh and most recent album Food. Like the best meal in our favourite restaurant, ‘Food’ has that quality of production, writing and playing that commands your attention. It has to be said that we’ve never really connected with her work before but the sheer warmth and classic soul modernity of songs such as the addictive Jerk Ribs or the call out funk of Friday Fish Fry stand out as things of real beauty. This is one style we hope Kelis will be keeping for a good while! True soul food has never been so skilfully done as on Food. 

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