My favourite albums of last year

Most people appreciate that I sell customers the albums I think they will like not the albums I think they should like. Obviously over time my own taste has influenced the shop but also our customers have influenced me ! I will as part of our 30th anniversary make up some compilations of my favourite songs (I have no idea why they get called mixtapes) but for now here is a rare personal review of the last year and at a later date the last 30 years.

For me what makes an album memorable is the gap between expectation and reality. Consequently it is often a band’s first album that has the greatest impact with expectation low or sometimes non-existent. Now with everything so much more up front that feeling of listening for the first time as a new release came out of the box has been lost and I doubted if ever again I’d be as astonished as I was when I put on the first Godspeed album. 

FRabbits - Pedestrian Verse banner


So what were my favourite albums of the year ? Well February contrived to have not only our two biggest sellers but two artists I really hoped would produce the goods for different reasons. Signing to a major is always a tricky path to negotiate so Frightened Rabbit could have been forgiven for taking time to bed in but as soon as songs started to emerge it was clear that Scott and the guys were on top form and it was with good reason it became our best selling album of the year.


Nick Cave - Push The Sky Away


Nick Cave I’d feared might just be on the cusp of going through the motions though he seemed revitalised after Glastonbury. Going down the “own label” let’s see how much money I can make with an expensive box set and announce it all on twitter route didn’t bode well but again he didn’t let us down and the album is one of his best which with his catalogue is really saying something.





Public Service Broadcasting were a band of whom I knew little except they were fans of the shop and had given us copies of their first 10″ to give away for free to people we thought might like them. The second I heard it I knew this would be an album we would play and people would buy. Old skool in the best possible way and a really pleasant surprise. 






For some reason I still can not explain I had for a long time thought the National were good but not as good as people made out. I was of course completely wrong and everything they have done has been consistently brilliant and the new album just continued the line.

“I should leave it alone but you’re not right




Quickbeam album cover


I’d been playing an advance copy of the Quickbeam album which I thought was very good. Customers were rushing to the counter and telling me it was brilliant. I got how “epic” the music was but gradually the odd lyric started to embed

“When this is all over and done we will remember them”.

Finally I met Monika and she told me she was a huge Conor Oberst fan and it all started to make sense. A stunning debut.




A slight lull in June and then came the Waxahatchee album. This was a tip off from a customer @edinburgh_man for those of you on twitter. It came with the first album which is also brilliant and as a double pack it is simply outstanding. A female Withered Hand and I can pay no higher compliment.




TWBF - DDBThen the long wait set in. There would definitely be a new There Will Be Fireworks album this year I had been promised. After four years I was happy to settle for it not being shit. If it was good it certainly could not have been worth the wait. In this case expectation had gone off the scale. I was sent a digtal download and it didn’t work. I took it as an omen. Then a CDR arrived and after only a few listens it was clear. They had achieved the impossible and made an album possibly even better than the first. This is maybe the best second album to follow a brilliant first album ever !



Dead Flowers - MidnightSo with the year virtually at an end who comes in the shop but Ed Jupp of 17 Seconds claiming he has heard an album I will love. He’s a lovely guy but claiming to have an album I haven’t heard of that could be one of my albums of the year ……… Anyway I went home that night and intrigued read his blog and listened to the stream he had made available. He was right ! A cross between The Savings and Loan and Star Wheel Press with a vocal part Leonard Cohen, part Tom Waits the back story with songwriter and vocalist Ian Williams starting writing in the winter of 2011 underneath Coney Island’s Wonderwheel and working his way up the east coast eventually reaching Montreal where he spent long nights at The Wheel Club “until the spring came and the snow melted” was the icing on the cake. It was indeed a “Godspeed” moment. 


So this year it starts all over again though where and how is yet to be decided. Is it possible Dan can get even close to his amazing first album, Avalanche’s biggest ever seller from a local artist and again four years in the making. Will we really need “New Gods” ? I think we will.

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