Sufjan Stevens – Carrie & Lowell

Hands down the most beautiful album of the year. Sufjan’s first album since the bombast of Age of Adz is a rumination on the death of his mother, and it’s one of the most moving collection of songs I’ve ever heard. I struggled to get through it without crying for the first ten listens or so, and whilst the subject matter is heavy, it’s actually weirdly uplifting too. By the time you get to the sheer weight of the line ‘fuck me I’m falling apart’ line in ‘No Shade In The Shadow Of The Cross’, you’ll be a blubbering wreck. Outstanding.

Should Have Known Better

Girl Band – Holding Hands With Jamie

This album is absolutely thrilling; clattering, visceral noise combines with the yelp and bizarre lyrics (‘NUTELLA, NUTELLA, NUTELLA!’) of lead singer Dara Kiely to stunning effect. Honestly, it sometimes sounds like a chainsaw attacking a metal post, in the best possible way.

Pears Fro Lunch

Father John Misty – I Love You, Honeybear

Josh Tillman left Fleet Foxes and turned himself into an incredible showman and lothario, making this stunner in the process. The confidence the man exudes is something to behold when he’s in his FJM persona, and the songs that come out of it are the most witty ones you’ll hear this side of Jarvis Cocker. Sumptuous, hilarious, brilliant.

Chateau Lobby #4 (in C for two virgins)

Panda Bear – Panda Bear Meets The Grim Reaper

I hope this isn’t forgotten about in end of year lists because it was released in January. Animal Collective’s Panda Bear has made the spiritual follow up to Merriweather Post Pavillion and created his best songs since his Person Pitch days. ‘Selfish Gene’ is probably my most listened to song of the year, it’s refrain of ‘you’ll get up again’ providing the most uplifting moment of the year.

Acid Wash

Vince Staples – Summertime ’06

L.A.’s Vince Staples follows through on the promise of his mixtape and EPs by making the best hip hop album of the year (soz Kendrick). It’s dark, the production from the incredible Clams Casino is woozy and entrancing, and the way he tells us about his life growing up in the harsh environs of downtown LA is intoxicating and starling.


Titus Andronicus – The Most Lamentable Tragedy

The most fun, raucous and down right brilliant 90 min rock opera about depression you’re ever likely to hear. After the misstep of Local Business TA return with a sprawling album that pretty much has the kitchen sink in it, from Pogues covers to Auld Lang Syne, 9 min epics to perfect 3 min punk songs, this really has it all and the passion Patrick Stickles delivers it all with is unrivalled.

Lonely Boy

Lonelady – Hinterland

Manchester’s Lonelady is all post-punk-new-wave awesomeness, imbuing her second album with more funk than anyone else has managed this year. It’s impossible to listen to this without getting down and feeling the rhythm, despite the lyrics which are often about isolation. She’s a local treasure who deserves a wider audience.


Jamie xx – In Colour

I know some people found this to be a bit dull, a bit coffee table dance music with nothing new to say, but I don’t care, I love it. Find me a better cry-disco song than ‘Loud Places’ this year and I’ll give you a high five. And if you don’t burst into a cheshire cat grin when those synths kick in during ‘Gosh’, then you’re a bit dead inside.


Lower Dens – Escape From Evil

At last, Lower Dens release the album we all knew they were capable of. Lead singer Jana Hunter said she was sick of singing about being sad, so made Escape From Evil there most uptempo and enjoyable album so far. From the shimmering opening of ‘Suckers Shangri-La’ to the epic balladering of ‘I Am The Earth’, this is a little heard stunner.

To Die in LA

Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly

There’s not that much to write any more about TBAB that hasn’t already been said in a million think pieces across the web. This will prove to be an important work of art in years to come, and will become a standard to which other something-to-say hip hop albums are measured against in the future. The anger, the passion, the fury, the cleverness of Kendrick is unparalleled in hip hop at the moment – I just wish he’d have a bit more fun sometimes.

The Blacker The Berry



Drake – Hotline Bling

Video. No more words needed.

Sufjan Stevens – John My Beloved

‘I love you more than the world can contain in it’s lonely and ramshackle head. There’s only a shadow of me, in a matter of speaking I’m dead’ :'(

Jamie xx – Loud Places

The sound of loneliness in a room full of people

Jamie Woon – Sharpness

The best slice of slick RnB made this year – if only he could sustain it over a whole album

The Weeknd – Tell Your Friends

Kanye produced stunner from everyone’s favourite coke-fuelled sleaze bag

Father John Misty – Bored in the USA

Complete with laughing track, this ode to the rotting core of America is the sharpest song of the year

Chromatics – I Can Never Be Myself When You’re Around

Perfect synth pop. Can’t believe they said their album would be out in February and it’s still not here

Panda Bear – Selfish Gene

I just love this so much, but I may have over listened to it.

Kelela – A Message

Kelela and fka twigs should take over the world and have done with it

fka twigs – In Time

fka twigs and Kelela should take over the world and have done with it



Antony & the Johnsons at Primavera Sound

With a full orchestra in tow, from the very first strings I wept like a baby for the first 45 mins. It wasn’t until the banging cover of Hercules & Love Affair’s ‘Blind’ that I managed to stop the tears from flowing, and then promptly started again afterwards. Absolutely, break-takingly stunning, and at a festival! Who’d have thought.

Sufjan Stevens at Manchester Apollo

With his Carrie & Lowell album in tow this could have been the heaviest of gigs, but Stevens made it an uplifting, wonderful evening. It was so intimate that sometimes you felt like you shouldn’t be listening, but hearing these songs with a beautiful backdrop was a highlight of the year. Guess what? I cried.

Titus Andronicus at Deaf Institute

The most fun I’ve had a gig this side of Run The Jewels. The finest rock and roll punk band going, I grinned from start to finish like a little boy on Christmas day. Guess what? I didn’t cry!

Joanna Newsom at Albert Hall

Her album Divers would be my number 11 album of the year. She’s the most talented person in mainstream (if you can call a woman who plays the harp and sings about medieval stuff ‘mainstream’) music I’ve had the pleasure of seeing live. I have never witnessed a welcome like it, and I’ve certainly never seen a standing ovation after each song. Absolutely mesmerising. Guess what? I welled up several times.

Flying Lotus at Manchester Academy

This was all about the visuals. FlyLo played in an incredible box of light that had these incredible constantly changing projections all over it, as he stood and presided over one of the maddest mixes of hip hop, jazz and funk you’ll ever hear. It was almost overwhelming to behold, but fuck me it was impressive. Guess what? My eyes were too busy to cry but they did feel like they were melting.