Wednesday, 31 December 2014

2014 Scene Awards - Album of the Year

And here we have it... our final Scene Award of the Year. Oh and it's our final post for the year as well. So we're going to wish you a most excellent New Year's Eve and an even more excellent 2015.  If you've been hanging around here in 2014, thanks for reading and we'll see you real soon.


#20. Sheezus
by Lily Allen

What we said: "Did Lily Allen fall off the Lily Allen bandwagon this year? Some say yes, some say no, I say who fookin' cares (say that with a west London accent and sorry, bit of Lily inspiration there) ‘cause she’s still releasing good pop and that’s what she’s always done. So what if she was accused of sounding like M.I.A? M.I.A is awesome and so was that song ('Air Balloon'); there are a lot worse people to be compared to. It’s four minutes of pop perfection and was co-written with someone who has written for ol’ Swifty and P!nk, so what were people expecting? Nothing too earth shattering, one would hope."

#19. Angus and Julia Stone
by Angus and Julia Stone

What we said: "It's fitting that the Stones went the self-titled route with studio album number three. Angus and Julia Stone sees the brother-sister duo collaborating as co-writers for the first time, making these songs a true representation of what Angus AND Julia Stone can deliver together as music makers. What they can deliver is pretty much awesome as, for the most part, they're proving that old saying that's like, alone they are pretty great, but together they're totally awesome. Which might have been an old X-Men tagline (better worded of course), but let's go with it. Angus and Julia Stone is our first truly cohesive collection of tracks from the pair and combined with Rubin's (the guy that worked with Sir Mix-A-Lot) production skills, the family Stone have never sounded better. For my beautiful friends that have mislabeled the wonderful music these two make as 'Aussie bore-folk' (you loveable jerks), I hope you'll be reconsidering your stance after giving this one a go."

#18. Sonic Highways
by Foo Fighters

What we said: "My love for Dave Grohl is no secret, on this here blog and in the real world. It’s as strong as my love for Jack White (oh Jack, oh sigh) and dare I say it, possibly even stronger. That’s probably because of Dave’s lack of ‘wanker’ factor. I mean, seriously, he took his band around America to record in classic studios all over the country (this one ['Something From Nothing'] recorded in Steve Albini’s studio in Chicago) but he did all of this because of his passion for music, without a sense of "look at me I'm so cool", just a sense of wonder and awe. Of course, there’s more to the Foo Fighters than just Dave and it’s the other members who also deserve a round of applause (those playing at home please join in now) for their unbelievable skills on ‘Something From Nothing’, with its guitar worship and various feelings of rock. So much rock. The Foo Fighters? They can do no wrong in my eyes so add this to the list of things I love about them. It’s a long, long list."

#17. Puddinghead
by Ball Park Music

What we said: "The band doesn't shy away from showing off some new sides. I'm not saying they've changed like Gwen Stefani changed by going solo, but take a track like 'Trippin' The Light Fantastic'. It has all the ingredients needed to have reviewers calling Ball Park Music the heir to Powderfinger's vacated throne. And if you don't stop yourself to question whether Cromack is actually 'ole Bernard once or twice, more power to you, but there's a distinct Fanning-esque Aussie howl in the vocals on one of the brightest moments on Puddinghead. 'Cocaine Lion' is one of those exercises in light and shade that grunge lovers will be drawn to. The verses are subdued and suitably moody, while the choruses let loose with the rips and the roars. It's over far too quickly for my liking. Much like the 90s, the lyrics make little to no sense, but I'm sure someone will find a way to explain to me the point that's been missed. "I met a girl in space, the universe was flipping aces on the table, like a cocaine lion." Do your best, but it's drugs. It's definitely about drugs."

#16. Obsidian
by Jessie Frye

What we said: "Obsidian shows an artist unafraid of taking a risk or two by dipping into different genres and styles. Frye has a remarkable way of not just wearing many hats on the album, but wearing them and owning them. To take this metaphor a step further, let's say that Frye would be able to pull off that hat Pharrell Williams wore to the Grammy Awards. 'Dear' has all the attitude you could want in a bonafide rock star and then some. It's got the big hooks, loud guitars and heavy drums that will get you ready for a rowdy night on the town. Contrast that with the track that immediately follows, the piano ballad 'Sabotage'. The simple tune, combined with some emotive and moody vocal work, tugs at your heartstrings. The one-two punch of 'Dear' and 'Sabotage' is the best example of how talented and versatile Jessie Frye is, both as a vocalist and songwriter. They're polar opposites, yet they sit so comfortably next to each other on the album."

#15. Any Old Love
by Halfway

What we said: "There's that magical thing that you can't quite define in 'Dropout'; a feeling, an emotion and it's something that not all bands manage to find. It's the slight smile from behind the microphone, the subtle nod between guitarists and the look of admiration between band members...all of that and a damn catchy chorus that make 'Dropout' and it's clip another reminder that while some bands become the darlings of the media, the radio, the blogosphere; there's other bands that are just doing their thing. Doing it not for the fame, not for the fortune, but for the love of music."

#14. In The Silence
by Asgeir

What we said: "You'll be drawn to the lyrics just as much as Ásgeir's voice, like these from the title track 'In The Silence' - "Come, take my hand, let's undo the knots of the past, from the night where phantoms toss and turn, go further, deeper as the day is closing." John Grant, who worked on translating the songs from Icelandic to English reportedly did the best he could to maintain the original meanings of the songs, which were mostly written by Ásgeir's dad. His dad just so happens to be one of Iceland's most popular and respected poets, so yes, it's cool to have your dad write your lyrics when your dad is Ásgeir's."

#13. Present Tense
by Wild Beasts

What we said: "I'm not sure I could pick a fave track yet however some tracks immediately burn bright (‘Wanderlust’, ‘Mecca’, ‘Sweet Spot’, ‘A Simple Beautiful Truth’, ‘Past Perfect’) while others smoulder, slowly smoking one out of their comfort zone and into a blubbering mess (‘Nature Boy’, ‘Daughters’, ‘A Dogs Life’) but there are no dogs and I hesitate to label any of them fillers. In its entirety Present Tense has more in common with Smother than either of their previous albums, though with a new tone and feel that will certainly (hopefully, they deserve to be embraced in their full glory) appeal to the broader audience these practitioners of perfect left of centre pop are aiming for."

#12. Lights Out
by Ingrid Michaelson

What we said: "Returning with her sixth studio album, Ingrid Michaelson shows us on Lights Out exactly why she's regarded as one of the best singer-songwriters making music today. I'm going to throw this out early... after many a repeated listen, this is definitely Michaelson's most engaging, ambitious and best album yet. Special guest stars pop in and out and new genres are explored (without departing completely from what we know and love) on an album comprising fourteen individual pop gems. And you totally know you're going to hear half of them on your favourite TV show over the next year or two. As someone who watches a lot of TV (please don't tell anyone how I live), this makes me very happy."

#11. Ultraviolence
by Lana Del Rey

What we said: "If there's one thing Lana Del Rey proved with her sophomore album, Ultraviolence, it's that she's got staying power. I hate to admit it, given my now crazy-fan level adoration of my floral headpiece adorned princess, that even I thought the success of Born To Die would be a one time thing. But I think she went out of her way to mix it up (at least a little) from what we had already heard and she stepped down a way more alternative track with songs like 'West Coast'. Thematically it might not be stepping outside its comfort zone, but the music and the more restrained vocals keep things interesting. Apparently what hasn't changed is her need to be all over some creepy, old dude in her music video. Perhaps she'll move away from that for album number 3. Perhaps not. As a final note, remember that time I got to go to Glastonbury this year? Well I did. And Del Rey's performance of 'West Coast' was a highlight, even if she was sort of just zombie walking around the stage with a durrie in her hand and no shoes on."

#10. Food
by Kelis

What we said: "Overall this feels really tight, well put together whereas in the past I’ve thought some Kelis albums to be often a little disjointed or inconsistent. Food is the real deal and an album I can see myself growing into more and more despite its immediate appeal. You want a dance? Food can help. You want to chill? Food can help. You want to cry? Read the lyrics while emotionally eating half a cake and a pack of potato chips…" 

#9. Silent Treatment
by Highasakite

What we said: "There’s a not so underlying darkness on Silent Treatment that I adore. All the instruments, all the voice, all the words celebrating the secrets, the dark, the things in cupboards that we all hide away, rejoicing the nightfall of heartache in simple indie pop and all of it with a sweet little Norwegian accent.  Perhaps it is singer Ingrid’s subtle accent that makes it seem this way, but there is somehow a little mystery to the sound which is what makes this album such an enjoyable journey, each track its own story and each band member understanding the importance of their place in an album that will continue to be played at mine right through 2015."

#8. The Thieves Are Babes
by Dear Plastic

What we said: "While you can throw out a lot of comparative or similar artists, Dear Plastic establish their own identity over the course of The Thieves Are Babes. A song like 'Antimatter' perfectly represents their quirky yet engaging style of storytelling. "And in that dark matter, no one could see it happen. Ah, but ever since then, I seem to have lost my nerve. My antimatter, my counterpart, do you think we'll ever fall in love." Fantastic sci-fi tale presented in the form of dark avant garde pop. Yes. A million times yes. Current single, 'Epic Delay', is one of the best songs of the year. Baccini's vocal performance is heartbreaking in the absolute defeat that's present throughout. The simple guitar line in the verses against the explosion of sound for the chorus when Baccini lets loose provides an outstanding contrast that sells the pain. "Where do we go? I won't fall asleep because there's no way to know." triple J... why y'all not all over this? 'Buck Up And The Reaper' steers Dear Plastic towards a more grungey alt-rock sound and there's a whole lot of spite and rage, both reserved and not-so-much-reserved. If there's a track that establishes who Scarlette Baccini is as a vocalist, this is it. We get to see her high and lows, guttural grows, wails and towards the end, an unrestrained force of nature. Not once do I find myself thinking... she sound so much like (insert random name to compare artist to here). Brilliant." 

#7. There There
by Megan Washington

What we said: "Establishing her identity from the start, 'Yellow and Blue' separates Washington from the local contemporaries she could be lumped in with. In this field you could be a Higgins, a Blasko, a Julia Stone or even an Emma Louise. Megan Washington is simply a Megan Washington and she's exquisite in her loneliness. Even that 'bounce' in 'My Heart Is A Wheel', all Preatures-y in the infectiousness of the music can't completely hide away the thought that our leading lady is falling apart at the seams. The 'lonely' factor is compressed into the much more relatable track, 'Limitless'. Let's be honest... there really is, "a certain kind of lonely where you sleep in your jeans." It's one of those Debbie Downer facts that becomes much more digestible in the form of a delicious song like this. Those final oooh's that emerge as everything winds up are the icing on the cake. I think I'm hungry? Enough with the digestive talk. Moving along, 'Begin Again' is a stunning album highlight and our first ballad and a true testament to Washington's songwriting talents. And it's not even the best ballad on the album. That's right, kiddies... more than one ballad on an album in 2014! Hallelujah, praise Yeezus."

#6. Himalayan
by Band of Skulls

What we said: "I love watching the development of a band and while I'm not going to go all hipster on you and say I've known Band Of Skulls since their very beginning, it has been a fascinating journey watching them grow from their first album Baby Darling Doll Face Honey five years ago to Himalayan this year. It's a more mature Band Of Skulls that take us from the pure rock of 'Asleep At The Wheel' to the blues of 'Hoochie Coochie' to the tragically beautiful guitar driven tale of 'You Are All That I Am Not'. Each release of theirs has grown a teeny but more than the last and in Himalayan, Matt, Russell and Emma have released a timeless album, one that will be just as impressive ten years from now as it would it been had it been released ten years ago and it takes some special talent to write and record music like that."

#5. In Tongues
by Ella Hooper

What we said: "It's been a long time coming, but In Tongues is ready to get out there into the world. Safe to say, the wait was well worth it. You can already tell that this is an album that will stand the test of time and have you coming back for more years from now. While it fits in today's music landscape, there's so many elements of it that are timeless. Long time fans will not be disappointed and with any luck, new fans will find their way to Ella Hooper too. She's confidently stepped out on her own, proving her music can be not only as good as what's come before, but better. While this is Ella Hooper's first solo album, I can only hope it's the first of many, because In Tongues is a knockout record from one of the hardest working artists in music today. Go give it a listen!"

#4. 1989
by Taylor Swift

What we said: "I don't think any artist has ever moved as spectacularly away from their previous genre to a new one like Taylor Swift has with 1989. We throw this out every now and then, but the album is actually pop perfection. From the mammoth hook of 'Style' to the self-deprecating and incredibly catchy 'Blank Space' and... did we just say catchy? Because nothing in this world is as catchy as 'Shake It Off'. You won't be able to shake the damn thing off. Well played, Swift. With 1989, Taylor Swift went from that country crossover girl to officially claiming the title of biggest pop star in the planet. The music on the album is worthy of her being called that." 

#3. Lazaretto
by Jack White

What we said: "I could talk about all the tracks one by one, how 'Entitlement' has such a beautiful arrangement, how 'Just One Drink' tackles a complex topic and turns it into a nursery rhyme swing, I could write a thousand words, I could say a thousand things and explain the thousand ways I consider myself a fan, but ultimately, what we have here is a Jack White album. It's an album that oozes confidence and so it should, Jack White is a man that knows the industry he is involved in, knows how to play it and knows how to write the rules his way, but he's also an artist that backs up all of those things with some incredible talent, someone who understands what he loves, who knows how to pay tribute to the American rock style without sounding old, who smothers his blues music in meaning and indulges his love of country in a way that nurtures and delights it."

#2. I Never Learn
by Lykke Li

What we said: "I've read that Lykke was attempting to move away from any 'pop star' labels and make her mark as a singer-songwriter with I Never Learn. But that doesn't mean she can't bust out crazy-good hooks like what we get on 'Never Gonna Love Again'. As far as hooks go, it's at like... 80s power ballad levels of amazing. Even the imagery she's creating is just that little bit 80s. 'Every time the rain falls think of me, on a lonely highway, how can we turn around the heartache, oh I, I'm alone tonight babe, and I'm never gonna love again." Heck yes. 80s. 'Sleeping Alone' works in all the right ways as a closing track, just like the opening one did. Showing that she really does never learn, the song and album end with a promise that one of our favourite Swedes will one day be with her former love again. Even though she's just spent half an hour telling you why they shouldn't be together and how hurt she was when it all ended. Where are her friends at? Obviously she doesn't have some Sex and the City circle that gathers on Fridays to get hammered and compare war stories. But if she did... she'd totally be a Charlotte. What?"

#1. The Golden Echo
by Kimbra

What we said: "How do you avoid the sophomore slump? You release an album like The Golden Echo. You push forward with an uncompromising vision of your work. You build on what your fans have come to expect of you and then you invite them to take a journey on which you find yourself realising your full potential. And that's what Kimbra lives up to on The Golden Echo; her potential. With Vows, an album that's still one of the best debuts around, we knew it was only a taste of the amazing career that Kimbra Johnson would have. On her second album, Kimbra steps out with all the confidence in the world, exceeding all the expectations placed upon her in the process. Vows was the statement that made us take notice. The Golden Echo is all the reason in the world for us to keep our well-placed faith in Kimbra as strong as it's ever been. When I said it's the best pop album of the year, I really meant it's the best album of the year. What else has to be said?"

2013 Winner:
Janelle Monae - The Electric Lady
Runner Up: Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Mosquito

2012 Winner:
Amanda Palmer and The Grand Theft Orchestra - Theatre Is Evil
Runner-Up: Jack White - Blunderbuss

2011 Winner:
Seeker Lover Keeper - Seeker Lover Keeper
Runner Up: Kimbra - Vows

2010 Winner:
Arcade Fire - The Suburbs      

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