Gareth’s Top Ten Albums of 2014

As we slip into 2015 and before we look forward to all the great music the new year will give us, I wanted to take one last look back at the year that was and share with you what I felt were my favourite albums of 2014.

It was a good year for music, but like many of the rest of the Scramble Team have said, it wasn’t a blinder, however there were still way more than ten albums contending for a spot on this breakdown.

Slipknot-5-Gray-Chapter-album-cover10. Slipknot – .5 The Gray Chapter
What we have here is the first Slipknot album in four years, and the first since the death of Number 2, Paul Gray. It just so happens it’s the first without founding member Joey Jordison who, depending on who you ask, left or was fired for undisclosed reasons.

What the album brings is, I believe, the most coherent venomously angry and accomplished album the band have written. The raw emotion which pours out of the lyrics with some of their heaviest sounds as found on the likes of ‘Sarcastrophe’, ‘Skeptic’ and ‘Nomadic’ are all superb slices of Slipknot.

9. Jessie Ware – Tough Love
Jessie started off as a backing singer for friend Jack Penate before singing vocals for a SBTRKT collaboration. Tough Love is her second album and it is rather brilliant. Walking the fine line of dance music, diva vocal ballads and all the while maintaining indie credibility, Jessie’s album has some songs which should definitely be on your regular playlist, including the Ed Sheeran penned ‘Say You Love Me’ and title track ‘Tough Love’.

the-gaslight-anthem-get-hurt-album-cover8. Gaslight Anthem – Get Hurt
The Gaslight Anthem deserve to be more popular than they are. They have some great albums, and also some “OK” albums, which is perhaps the reason they’ve never made that leap to super-stardom.

However with Get Hurt they’ve happened upon what is probably their best album to date. Take this with a hard-working, constant touring ethic and they just might, maybe, could well get the accolades they deserve.

u2-songs-of-innocence-itunes-cover7. U2 – Songs of Innocence
So here’s the thing, U2 gave their new album away on iTunes in September this year. What happened next was a furore which overshadowed the content of the album entirely – the song was automatically downloaded to all iPod and iPhone owners devices whether they asked for it or not! Oh. The. Horror!

The truth is, Songs of Innocence is a great U2 album and deserves the time to be listened to and not complaining about free music. Ironically if they hadn’t given it away the same complainers would likely have attempted to download it illegally to listen to it for free!

slash-world-on-fire-album-cover6. Slash – World On Fire
Slash has been out of Guns N’ Roses for longer than he was in it, in that time he has released two Snakepit albums, two with Velvet Revolver and now three solo albums.

World on Fire continues the relationship with Myles Kennedy on vocals and The Conspirators as his backing band. Unlike their first full album together, Apocalyptic Love, the album World On Fire is almost perfect. It has the classic Slash sound reminiscent of Gn’R, some brilliant lyrics and very catchy songs. My only criticism is one I can level at many albums released this year – it’s simply too long!

Hoenyblood-Album-Cover5. Honeyblood – Honeyblood
Acerbic lyrics, indie cool, and pop sensibilities make this Glasgow duo’s debut album one you really need to hear.

There are a few good two-piece bands around at the moment, and Honeyblood deserve to be included in that list. With songs like ‘Super Rat, ‘Biro’ and ‘Choker’ you’ll find yourself coming back to this album again and again.

counting-crows-somewhere-under-wonderland-album-cover4. Counting Crows – Somewhere Under Wonderland
I have loved Counting Crows since they released August and Everything After back when I was in University.

At first I didn’t like anything they released afterward, though it was simply that I didn’t give the progressive nature of their sound time, and now I get excited at the prospect of a new album from the band. Somewhere Under Wonderland has nine tracks, and at 41 minutes in length doesn’t over stay its welcome.

However with the amount of genius on show such as during opener ‘Palisades Park’ or the sublime ‘Elvis Went To Hollywood’ why take longer to lay claim to being one of the best songwriting bands we have today?

coldplay-ghost-stories-album-cover3. Coldplay – Ghost Stories
Coldplay get a lot of stick. Hell, even among the Scramble writers we are opposed in our view of them. I find myself defending them often, and maybe I should learn something from that. However I feel a lot of the stick is unjustified, and when you strip back the wrapping of “Coldplay the image” there is some superb songwriting to be discovered.

No more is this the case than in this year’s Ghost Stories. I reviewed the album upon its release and new then it would likely feature on this list. It takes a few listens to get its hooks in you, but then again didn’t all the best albums in your collection?

manic-street-preachers-futurology-album-cover2. Manic Street Preachers – Futurology
The Manic Street Preachers have released 13 albums. This, their most recent, may well sound like it comes from an accomplished band but equally sounds like that band still have desire, anger, and hunger. After last year’s largely acoustic Show Me The Wonder, Futurology couldn’t sound more different.

Echoing the sounds of 80s European electronica the album is a fantastic statement of intent from a band who issued their first statement of intent 22 years ago with Generation Terrorists.

There are instrumentals which sound like Simple Minds, German-language choruses and more included in this slice Manics goodness. This year also saw the band revisit their opus The Holy Bible, and back to back these albums clearly come from the same place. Sure, they sound different, but they feel the same! An impressive offering which has left me wondering what’s next from these Welsh heroes?



1. Twin Atlantic – Great Divide
Especially north of the border in the UK, these local heroes have bubbled away on the scene for many years. A few years back their second album Free took the number one spot on an end of year list, and now with Great Divide they have done it again.

‘Heart and Soul’, ‘Brothers and Sisters’, ‘Hold In’, ‘I Am An Animal’ and more are all single-worthy. All have that certain something which raises them above songs which have featured on their earlier albums. Sure there has been glimpses before, but Great Divide is the first full package, and their rise in popularity continues on the back of it.

Headlining the Edinburgh Hogmanay Street Party 2014 into 2015 is a perfect way to end a phenomenal year for the band, but with four shows in May including their biggest headline to date at Glasgow’s 13,000 capacity SSE Hydro recently announced the band are not planning on resting on their laurels.

Gareth Fraser
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