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The best albums of 2010

Kings of Leon, Come Around Sundown

Compiled by Jack Foley

THE time has come for the annual round-up of the year’s best albums – but while there are plenty to choose from (such as new releases from Robert Plant, Kanye West and Kings of Leon), we’ve decided to mix in some of the hidden gems that you may have missed out on buying.

Hence, while the likes of Kings of Leon, Russell Watson and Katie Melua undoubtedly (and deservedly) get a mention, what of lesser known gems such as Bonobo, Lotte Mullan and AM?

Keep an eye out, too, for outstanding albums from the likes of I Am Arrows, Caro Emerald, Elizabeth Cook and Thea Gilmore. We’ve picked just over 40 long-players to lead your life by… they’re not listed in any particular order of preference, though – just all good listens in their own right!

AM, Future Sons & Daughters

AM – Future Sons & Daughters
What we said: A collection of future pop songs that nod to pop, rock, steamy soul, ’60s Bay Area psychedelia and West Coast sunshine melodies, it’s a really great listen that showcases the [belated] arrival of a major US talent. The lead single, Self Preservation, was an instant IndieLondon single of the week upon hearing it… a swinging, ‘60s pop-infused collection of classic riffs, handclap beats and slinky melodies.

Best tracks: A Complete Unknown, The Other Side, Self Preservation, Grand Opinion, Endings Are Beginnings

Album review l Buy it l AM interview

Andreya Triana, Lost Where I Belong

Andreya Triana – Lost Where I Belong

What we said: Anyone who thought the mix of Andreya Triana and Bonobo (aka Simon Green) was a match made in heaven after hearing their work on the latter’s Black Sands LP had best rush out and buy Triana’s new album… This is an album that enthrals even during its less spectacular moments, of which there are few. It’s a trendy, high quality introduction to a British soul singer who lets set to become a massive talent.

Best tracks: Draw The Stars, Lost Where I Belong, A Town Called Obsolete, Daydreamers, Something In The Silence

Album review l Buy it

Aqualung, Magnetic North

Aqualung – Magnetic North

What we said: Matt Hales – aka Aqualung – almost quit in 2007, having had enough of the music industry. Thank goodness, then, he didn’t… as new album Magnetic North proves. Having dazzled us with albums such as Memory Man and Still Life, the singer has already served notice of his immense talents as a songwriter, singer and musician. Magnetic North serves as a beautiful reminder.

Best tracks: New Friend, Reel Me In, Fingertip, Time Moves Slow, Hummingbird, 36 Hours

Album review l Buy it

Arcade Fire, Suburbs

Arcade Fire – The Suburbs

What we said: Admittedly, the album requires a certain amount of patience at times (especially given that it clocks in at over an hour!), while the epic scope is underlined by several tracks that are broken down into two parts (really?). And some songs, such as The Sprawl, invite accusations of lofty pretentiousness. But in the main The Suburbs ticks all the right boxes for Arcade Fire fans as well as boasting a potentially wider appeal. It is the sound of a band that continues to progress, which benefits from a lighter touch too. It’s a welcome return.

Best tracks: The Suburbs, Modern Man, Ready To Start, We Used To Wait, Wasted Hours, City With no Children

Album review l Buy it

Band of Horses, Infinite Arms

Band of Horses – Infinite Arms

What we said: Band of Horses have long been acclaimed, but with third studio album Infinite Arms they may just have created their masterpiece. A rich, vivid collection of 12 tracks that take in a wide array of Americana songwriters, from Nick Drake to The Beach Boys, the album is one of the most satisfyingly expansive records you’re likely to hear all year.

Best tracks: Factory, Laredo, On My Way Back Home, For Annabelle, NW Apt, Neighbor

Album review l Buy it

Blockhead, The Music Scene

Blockhead – The Music Scene

What we said: For The Music Scene hip hop producer and New York DJ Tony Simon – aka Blockhead – has expanded his horizons by adopting the Ableton – which means that rather than working from “one basic beat and building off it” (the standard hip hop model), he has begun stringing together multiple beats and weaving them together into increasingly complex, surprising and generally satisfying pieces of music. As such, the tracks are even more richly cinematic, while comparisons abound with the likes of fellow Ninja label-mate Bonobo and even DJ Shadow.

Best tracks: It’s Raining Clouds, The Music Scene, Attack The Doctor, The Daily Routine, Tricky Turtle, Hell Camp, Farewell Spaceman

Album review l Buy it

Bombay Bicycle Club, Flaws

Bombay Bicycle Club – Flaws

What we said: For this reviewer, his heart was captured by the warmer likes of Rinse Me Down and Ivy & Gold, as well as the brooding intimacy of Fairytale Lullaby, the melancholy, banjo-infused Word By Word and the boy-girl duet that is Flaws… Bombay Bicycle Club seldom put a foot wrong, in truth… serving notice of their diversity en route to creating a masterful folk-based album.

Best tracks: Rinse Me Down, Ivy & Gold, Fairytale Lullaby, Word By Word, Flaws, Swansea

Album review l Buy it

Bonobo, Black Sands

Bonobo – Black Sands

What we said: Bonobo’s fourth album Black Sands is, to all intents and purposes, something of a masterpiece. And that’s saying something for a collection of work that doesn’t entirely satisfy either! At its finest, the LP showcases Simon Green’s masterful understanding of composition, frequently unfolding on a cinematic scale of jaw-dropping beauty… Black Sands marks another career-defining achievement for Green that still rates as one of the albums of the year, even in spite of its minor blips.

Best tracks: Black Sands, Kiara Prelude, Kiara, El Toro, We Could Forever, Animals

Album review l Buy it

Broken Bells, Broken Bells

Broken Bells – Broken Bells

What we said: A mouthwatering prospect from the outset, Broken Bells is everything you could have hoped for from them, successfully pairing Danger Mouse’s sonic brilliance with the winsome vocals of Mercer to create a happy hybrid of Gorillaz meets psychedelia and the West Coast sound of The Shins. The feelgood nature of the listen is evident from the outset with the brilliant former single The High Road putting you in a blissful state of mind thanks to a rich mix of gentle acoustic strumming, delicate electronic swathes and hypnotic drums… not to mention Mercer’s distinct vocals.

Best tracks: The High Road, Your Head Is One Fire, Citizen, Trap Doors, The Mall & Misery, October

Album review l Buy it

Bruce Springsteen, The Promise

Bruce Springsteen – The Promise

What we said: All good things come to those who wait… it’s an often used phrase, but in the case of Bruce Springsteen’s latest album, The Promise, it’s one that seems perfectly appropriate. The album is comprised of two discs containing a total of 21 previously-unreleased songs from the Darkness on the Edge of Town recording sessions… which, in Springsteen’s own words, “perhaps could have/should have been released after Born To Run and before the collection of songs that Darkness on the Edge of Town became”. Springsteen’s long-time manager/producer Jon Landau says of the album: “There isn’t a weak card in this deck. The Promise is simply a great listening experience.” It’s a fine way to sum up what to expect.

Best tracks: Racing In The Street, Gotta Get That Feeling, Someday (We’ll Be Together), One Way Street, Because The Night, The Brokenhearted, The Promise, Save My Love, Fire

Album review l Buy it

Caitlin Rose, Own Side Now

Caitlin Rose – Own Side Now

What we said: Although steeped in country traditions, Caitlin’s style is so laidback and beautifully delivered that her reach should be universal. She has a keen ear for a melody, a gift for emotive song-writing and a classic quality that looks set to put her up there with the greats she has previously sought to emulate on song. Own Side Now offers the listener a sumptuous journey, steeped in memorable numbers, from the breezy acoustic country opening of Learnin’ To Ride to the harmonica soaked finale Comin’ Up.

Best tracks: For The Rabbits, Shanghai Cigarettes, Own Side, New York City, Comin’ Up, Sinful Wishing Well

Album review l Buy it l Caitlin Rose interview

Caro Emerald, Songs From The Cutting Room Floor

Caro Emerald – Deleted Scenes From The Cutting Room Floor

What we said: Once heard, Caro Emerald is impossible to ignore. A smart, infectious singer of immense talent, her debut album Deleted Scenes From The Cutting Room Floor is one of the year’s very best. Inspired by her love of ‘40s and ‘50s film, and boasting production values that would make Mark Ronson envious, it’s a rich and deeply appealing listen that defies easy pigeon-holing. But that’s just the way Caro likes it!

Best tracks: Riviera Life, The Lipstick On His Collar, Back It Up, A Night Like This, The Other Woman, Dr Wanna Do, You Don’t Love Me, I Know That He’s Mine, That Man

Album review l Buy it l Caitlin Rose interview

Darker My Love, Alive As You Are

Darker My Love – Alive As You Are

What we said: Question: Do we really need another psychedelic rock outfit with obvious nods to The Beatles and Oasis? Answer: If they’re as good as Darker My Love then hell yes! The follow up to the Los Angeles-based band’s breakthrough sophomore album 2, which received across-the-map critical acclaim for its mind-bending neo-psychedelic grooves and hazily anthemic hooks, Alive As You Are is a near faultless collection of songs that revel in their retro vibe and laidback rockin’ tendencies.

Best tracks: Split Minute, Dear Author, 18th Street Shuffle, New America, A Lovely Game

Album review l Buy it

Dead Confederate, Sugar

Dead Confederate – Sugar

What we said: Dead Confederate look set to join the ranks of Green Day, Arcade Fire and Kings of Leon as great contemporary American bands of the moment with the release of sophomore album, Sugar. Liberally sprinkled with some truly great moments, the Athens, Georgia-based outfit’s follow-up to Wrecking Ball is a resounding success that marries classic Smashing Pumpkins elements with those of classic melody and composition.

Best tracks: Run From The Gun, Father Figure, Quiet Kid, Mob Scene, Giving It All Away

Album review l Buy it l Interview

Elizabeth Cook, Welder

Elizabeth Cook – Welder

What we said: Florida-born country singer Elizabeth Cook has delivered a deeply personal, yet amazingly ecelctic, fifth studio album in Welder… a must for anyone who digs the country scene. Featuring guest appearances from Dwight Yoakam, Rodney Crowell and Buddy Miller, Cook sings about a wide range of issues, from her mama’s funeral, to other tales of the harshness and delicacies of romantic and familial love… In short, Cook has crafted something of a country masterpiece… a searing, memorable and diverse collection of songs that even boast a much broader listening appeal and emotional sweep.

Best tracks: All The Time, El Camino, Not California, Heroin Addict Sister, Girlfriend Tonight, Rock N Roll Man, I’ll Never Know, Mama’s Funeral

Album review l Buy it l Album review

fun., Aim & Ignite

fun. – Aim & Ignite

What we said: New York based three-piece fun. live up to their names with debut album, Aim & Ignite, a deliriously good fun pop trip. Meddling with a diverse range of inspirations – spanning Broadway to The Beach Boys via ELO, The All-American Rejects and Queen – fun. have delivered the sort of album that just doesn’t know how to sit still. fun. have put the fun into listening to pop-based music. Aim & Ignite is a blast… and chock full of the type of offerings that should make it onto the Glee cast cover list some time real soon!

Best tracks: Be Calm, All The Pretty Girls, Walking The Dog, Take Your Time (Coming Home), At Least I’m Not As Sad (As I Used To Be)

Album review l Buy it

Fyfe Dangerfield, Fly Yellow Moon

Fyfe Dangerfield – Fly Yellow Moon

What we said: Influences abound, from Lennon and McCartney through to Simon & Garfunkel and even Jeff Buckley. But there’s a very definite sense of Dangerfield’s own identity, as well as his passion for sweeping string movements married to shimmering pop moments, and even stripped down acoustic ones… Dangerfield has created an absolute classic that’s guaranteed to brighten your life.

Best tracks: When You Walk In The Room, Barricades, Faster Than The Setting Sun, Livewire, She Needs Me, Don’t Be Shy, Any Direction

Album review l Buy it l Fyfe Dangerfield interview

Grace Potter & The Nocturnals

Grace Potter & The Nocturnals – Grace Potter & The Nocturnals

What we said: Grace Potter & The Nocturnals are tearing up a strip States-side. Named as one of Rolling Stone‘s Best New Bands of 2010, the band then rocketed into the Billboard Top 20 upon releasing their eponymous debut album, and now look set to emulate that success in the UK. Essentially a collection of blues-based rock tracks that channel the classic song-writing of Janis Joplin, Creedence Clearwater Revival and Fleetwood Mac, the album is brimming with quality.

Best tracks: Paris (Ooh La La), Goodbye Kiss, Tiny Light, Colors, Hot Summer Night, Money, Low Road

Album review l Buy it l Grace Potter interview

Haight Ashbury, Here In The Golden Days

Haight Ashbury – Here In The Golden Rays

What we said: The full length album, Here In The Golden Rays, seems to have taken an age in arriving but, thankfully, it doesn’t disappoint. Rather, it enforces the belief that this band is one of Scotland’s best kept secrets. Admittedly, you have to dig the psychedelic folk scene to truly get them, while their formula for success is such that songs don’t deviate too much from a tried and tested formula. The 12 songs that comprise the LP are also quite lengthy, leading to the odd moment when they threaten to overstay their welcome. But in the main, this is a brilliant collection of songs that more than fulfil the early promise shown in the singles.

Best tracks: Freeman Town, Favourite Song, Sympathetic Strings, Mothers Ruin, Alpalpha, Don’t Let Your Music Die, 3 Little Birds

Album review l Buy it

I Am Arrows, Sum Comes Up Again

I Am Arrows – Sun Comes Up Again

What we said: I Am Arrows is the new incarnation of former Razorlight man Andy Burrows and, quite simply, his debut LP Sun Comes Up Again is one of the debut albums of the year. Chock full of beautiful pop songs that fuse Seventies soul with modern beats and blips, as well as timeless melodies that channel the memory of everyone from McCartney to Crowded House to Badly Drawn Boy, it’s a masterpiece of easy listening… Let it enrich your life.

Best tracks: Far Enough Away, The Us, Hurricane, Another Picture of You, You’ve Found Love, Bruises, No Wonder, Nice Try

Album review l Buy it

James, The Morning After

James – The Morning After

What we said: The Morning After is James’ most sobering effort to date. A poignant, sometimes heart-breaking and often life questioning collection of eight songs that really should drag you down, but which somehow offer hope and a life affirming beauty as well. The instrumental arrangements, while low-key compared to some of the band’s bolder flourishes, are as intricately and cleverly composed as ever, while Booth’s distinct vocals provide a firm bedding that only adds to the power of the emotive lyrics.

Best tracks: Got The Shakes, Tell Her I Said So, Kaleidoscope, Fear, Lookaway

Album review l Buy it

K-Os, Yes!

K-OS – Yes!

What we said: Trinidad-born, Toronto raised artist K-OS remains one of hip-hop’s best kept secrets. Four albums in and he continues to be under-appreciated and yet the way in which he plays within the genre he represents is evidence of one of its richest talents. Yes! marks the fourth album from the musician, emcee and producer and is spearheaded by the deliriously feel-good single, I Wish I Knew Natalie Portman – the sound of the LP at its most mainstream. But the mix of genres and styles that make up this listen serve to create an LP that constantly keeps you on your toes and seldom does what’s expected.

Best tracks: Zambony, Uptown Girl, 4, 3, 2, 1, I Wish I Knew Natalie Portman, WhipCREAM, Mr Telephone Man, FUN!

Album review l Buy it

Kah, More Than Dawn

Kah – More Than Dawn

What we said: If there’s any justice, it won’t be long before London-based electronica singer Kah becomes a huge star. Her debut album, More Than Dawn is a truly spellbinding listen that showcases a pretty major talent. Beautifully composed, it features a stunning voice and some truly lush instrumentation that belies its somewhat DIY approach. To best appreciate Kah’s achievement then consider this. The singer-songwriter is in charge of the entire creative process on the album, from inception to delivery.

Best tracks: Fugitive, Kite, Goose Girl, Dragonfly Boy, July Song, Architect, November Song, Sweet Jeremiah

Album review l Kah interview

Kanye West, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

Kanye West – My Dark Twisted Fantasy

What we said: Kanye West returns to his provocative hip-hop best with epic fifth album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, which arguably represents his best work since 2005’s Late Registration. Featuring a who’s who of guest talent, which draws from the worlds of pop, indie and rap, the album is a monster in every sense… and one that delivers on a lot of levels… On this LP, you have Sir Elton John rubbing shoulders with the likes of Jay-Z, Bon Iver, Fergie and Rihanna with John Legend, Rick Ross, Nicki Minaj and Raekwon also featuring prominently (and that’s not all).

Best tracks: Dark Fantasy, Power, All Of The Lights, Monster, Runaway, Hell Of A Life, Blame Game, Lost In The World

Album review l Buy it

Katie Melua, The House

Katie Melua – The House

What we said: Think you know Katie Melua? Think again… Britain’s most successful female singer has shaken things up for her fourth album, The House, which marks her most ambitious undertaking yet. Comprised of 12 tracks, the LP comes complete with creative collaborations between Katie and Guy Chambers, Polly Scattergood and William Orbit. There are also some far more upbeat, pop moments than usually associated with the singer, as well as a darker more edgy approach to the song-writing.

Best tracks: The Flood, Twisted, The House, Plague of Love, God on Drums, Devil on The Bass, Tiny Alien, Red Balloons

Album review l Buy it l Katie Melua interview

Keane, Night Train EP

Keane – Night Train EP

What we said: Keane frontman Tom Chaplin claims that the songs that comprise their one-off Night Train EP will enable fans and non-fans to see the band in a different light. It’s tribute to the quality of these songs that he’s right. A collection of eight tracks that were recorded in various studios during the Perfect Symmetry world tour, they cleverly embrace old-school Keane values with a more varied sound. This is marked by genre-busting collaborations with Somali/Canadian rapper K’Naan, who crops up on EP highlights Stop For A Minute and the Rocky-inspired Looking Back, as well as with Japanese baile funk MC Tigarah.

Best tracks: Back In Time, Stop For A Minute, My Shadow, Looking Back

Album review l Buy it

Kings of Leon, Come Around Sundown

Kings of Leon – Come Around Sundown

What we said: Come Around Sundown, the fifth studio album from Kings of Leon, is an epic in every sense of the word, packed with great songs that both embody the now familiar trademark sound, while expanding the format into ever ambitious areas. The End, for instance, strikes a fine balance between those moody vocals of Caleb Followill and the mid-tempo style of tracks like Revelry, while forcing you to sit up and take notice courtesy of its striking central guitar riff – a siren like call to break your heart… The album is a wonderful return from them that deservedly looks set to become one of the year’s biggest sellers.

Best tracks: The End, Radioactive, Mary, Back Down South, Pony Up, Pickup Truck

Album review l Buy it

Linkin Park, A Thousand Suns

Linkin Park – A Thousand Suns

What we said: A Thousand Suns continues Linkin Park’s journey into the mature years by taking their sound into ever more interesting areas. It’s not without flaws (and we’ll come to those), but fans may be surprised at the mix of industrial synth sounds with trademark guitars, as well as the way in which it switches tempos. Highlights tend to pick themselves, but they fly thick and fast. Burning In The Skies combines a stirring electronic pulse with some smart riffs and a properly sung set of lyrics that find Bennington at his angsty best. And Waiting For The End flirts with a 99 Problems stop-start guitar riff and hip hop back-beat, before finding its own identity and assuming an almost cinematic quality.

Best tracks: Burning In The Skies, When They Come For Me, Waiting For The End, Iridescent, The Messenger

Album review l Buy it


Lissie – Catching A Tiger

What we said: Catching A Tiger is a great debut LP from a terrific new star. Yes, it embraces easygoing country-folk-pop vibes, and channels the memories of both Fleetwood Mac and Sheryl Crow at its laidback best. But it also mixes these radio friendly elements up with some steps away from the mainstream, where Lissie gets to sculpt her own identity and prove she’s diverse, ambitious, mature and properly brilliant.

Best tracks: In Sleep, Stranger, Oh Mississippi, Look Away, Loosen The Knot, Everywhere I Go

Album review l Buy it

Lotte Mullan, Plain Jane

Lotte Mullan – Plain Jane

What we said: Lotte Mullan is a rich talent just waiting to be found. An acoustic-based UK singer-songwriter, Lotte releases a cracking debut album, in the form of Plain Jane, which enthrals and entertains with its pleasing mix of styles. Comparisons to the style of artists such as Katie Melua, Sarah Blasko and Caitlin Rose are obvious, but appropriate, while it’s no small compliment to say that several songs on the LP are tailor-made for supplementing the soundtrack of top US shows such as Grey’s AnatomyPlain Jane is an excellent debut (one of the year’s best, even) that really out to win her an army of fans. It’s a beautiful listen.

Best tracks: Wicked Way, Alright With Me, La La Love You, Would You Be So Kind, Valentine Song, The Last Time I Got High

Album review l Lotte Mullan interview

Lucinda Belle Orchestra, My Voice & 45 Strings

Lucinda Bella Orchestra – My Voice & 45 Strings

What we said:The Lucinda Belle Orchestra is the sum of one harp, a harmonium, the melodica, some strings, horns, an upright bass, drums, the ukulele, a clarinet, guitar and an exceptionally talented singer and songwriter… Guided by a voice that could sometimes melt butter, and which seems destined to garner comparisons with all the classic singers (as well as contemporaries such as Norah Jones and co), it’s a charming collection of songs that display a number of styles. It is another of the debut albums of the year.

Best tracks: Dodo Blues, Keep On Looking, Rose Marie & Bobby McGee, Northern Lights, Unlucky In Love, Jimmy Choo’s, I’ll Get By

Album review l Buy it

Mark Ronson & The Business Intl, Record Collection

Mark Ronson & The Business Intl – Record Collection

What we said: Hard to believe but Mark Ronson has his critics and suffered a bit of a backlash post Amy Winehouse and Lily Allen career-making success. But if any proof were needed that he is one of the most fearlessly inventive and downright coolest music-makers currently working in the business, then third album Record Collection provides it in emphatic fashion. Pop collides with hip-hop, and ‘80s icons jostle for position with new cool cats. It’s a mixture of songs and styles that gives rise to countless pleasant surprises, and which gets better and better with each listen.

Best tracks: Bang Bang Bang, The Bike Song, Somebody To Love Me, Glass Mountain, Circuit Breaker, Introducing The Business, Record Collection, The Night Last Night

Album review l Buy it

Matt Costa, Mobile Chateau

Matt Costa – Mobile Chateau

What we said: Matt Costa reinvents himself with the release of his third album, Mobile Chateau, which draws successfully on his long-time love for ’60s psychedelic heroes such as Donovan and The Zombies. The ensuing collection of songs is a real retro blast that delights from start to finish, and which firmly establishes Costa as a fearless and hugely talented performer… Costa has therefore created an ode to a classic sound that is an instant classic all of its own. It’s a brilliant return from one of the most interesting artists of the moment, which – at a little over 30 minutes in running time – doesn’t last long enough!

Best tracks: The Season, Drive, Mobile Chateau, Witchcraft, Painted Face, Strings of Change, Next Time

Album review l Buy it l Matt Costa interview

Mother Mother, Oh My Heart

Mother Mother – Oh My Heart

What we said: Vancouver quintet Mother Mother finally arrive in the UK with a chorus of approval ringing in their ears from their exploits on the other side of the Atlantic. It’s fully deserved. Revered for their original approach to modern pop/rock music, which seems them mixing appealing vocal harmonies with clever, offbeat lyricism and dynamic instrumentation, they are already developing a following thanks to the success of singles like Hay Loft and its infectious “Daddy’s got a gun” chorus.

Best tracks: Burning Pile, Body of Years, Hay Loft, Wrecking Ball, Ghosting, Wisdom, Sleep Awake

Album review l Buy it

Petter & The Pix, Good As Gold

Petter & The Pix – Good As Gold

What we said: Petter & The Pix are a super-group of sorts and they’re really rather wonderful! Comprised of Swedish brothers Petter and Pontus, as well as band members from Mum, Gusgus and Lykke Li, Petter & The Pix exist to deliver sonically and emotionally layered music that embraces everything from Smile-era Brian Wilson to Mumford & Sons inspired folk, with a little American sun and Afrobeat bounce thrown in. Hence, debut album Good As Gold is a veritable treasure trove of musical styles that offers sonic satisfaction of the highest order.

Best tracks: Never Never, In The End Of The Day, Last Time, Good As Gold, Stuck In Between, Backyard

Album review l Buy it

Plain White T's, Wonders of the Younger

Plain White T’s – Wonders Of The Younger

What we said: Plain White T’s latest studio album Wonders of The Younger is further proof that they continue to be one of the most under-rated US bands over here in the UK. Packed with great pop-rock songs, the album also offers more of the diversity shown on Big Bad World, while demonstrating the appeal of their big breakthrough moment, Hey There Delilah… In short, then, Plain White T’s have delivered another masterful collection of songs that make for an absorbing, inspiring and enriching listen.

Best tracks: Boomerang, Welcome To Mystery, Rhythm of Love, Killer, Our Song, Airplane, Cirque dans la rue, Wonders of the Younger

Album review l Buy it

Robert Plant, Band of Joy

Robert Plant – Band of Joy

What we said: Robert Plant likes to confound expectation as much as he enjoys stretching himself. Hence, anyone who enters into his latest solo album, Band of Joy anticipating what to expect is in for a big surprise… and a mightily pleasant one at that! Plant has delivered an eclectic, often thrilling and sometimes beguiling masterpiece – another album to sit comfortably alongside (and possibly even surpass) many of the classics that already reside in his own personal record collection.

Best tracks: Angel Dance, You Can’t Buy Me Love, Harm’s Way Swift, Satan, Your Kingdom Must Come Down, Central Two-O-Nine, House of Cards, Monkey, Even This Shall Pass Away

Album review l Buy it

Russell Watson, La Voce

Russell Watson – La Voce

What we said: Russell Watson emphatically underlines his position as Britain’s finest tenor with the release of La Voce (or ‘the voice’), which is as celebratory as it is to be celebrated. The album marks Watson’s first since the Salford born tenor finished radiotherapy for the pituitary tumor that saw him undergoing emergency surgery… the second he suffered in a short space of time… La Voce is as much a celebration of Watson’s immense talents as it is the music he has chosen which is, in every way possible, to be cherished and celebrated by those lucky enough to own it.

Best tracks: Parla Piu Piano, E Sara Cosi, Arriverderci Roma, Io Che Non Vivo (Senza Te), La Vita Senza Te, Intermezzo, Adagio

Album review l Buy it

Sarah Blasko, As Day Follows Night

Sarah Blasko – As Day Follows Night

What we said: Australian artist Sarah Blasko is a huge hit in her own country, where her popularity enabled her to perform at the closing ceremony of Sydney’s Commonwealth Games. Thus far, UK audiences probably haven’t heard that much of her… but that’s about to change – and deservedly so. The pop star boasts a fiercely independent spirit, populates her songs with clever references, has a voice to savour and a sensibility that’s not that far removed from the likes of trendy European artists such as Lykke Li.

Best tracks: All I Want, Hold On My Heart, We Won’t Run, Sleeper Awake, Lost & Defeated, I Never Knew, Over & Over

Album review l Buy it

Seth Lakeman, Hearts & Minds

Seth Lakeman – Hearts + Minds

What we said: Seth Lakeman has long been considered one of the UK folk scene’s most influential contemporary artists and with fourth album, Hearts and Minds, he seeks to cement that position, while broadening his own sound. Hence, the LP moves Lakeman into new sonic territory with the studio work of Tchad Blake, the producer and engineer internationally known for his work with the likes of Tom Wait, Crowded House, Black Keys and Elvis Costello… It is another major step forward for him and – like we said – another string in the folk movement’s ever-impressive bow.

Best tracks: Hearts and Minds, Tiny World, Spinning Days Changes, Tender Traveller, The Circle Grows

Album review l Buy it l Seth Lakeman interview

The Drums, The Drums LP

The Drums – The Drums

What we said: Hip New Yorkers The Drums are the new name in indie-cool thanks to the effortless appeal of their ’60s influenced surf rock and British new wave inspired records. Buoyed by the success of Let’s Go Surfing, which was released as part of last year’s Summertime EP, The Drums have continued to win friends and influence trends on both sides of the Atlantic with hits including Best Friend, Down By The Water and – more recently – Forever And Ever Amen… You can’t fail to be addicted.
Best tracks: I’ll Never Drop My Sword, We Tried, Let’s Go Surfing, Down By The Water, Forever And Ever Amen, Book of Stories, Best Friend

Album review l Buy it

The Gaslight Anthem, American Slang

The Gaslight Anthem – American Slang

What we said: Bucking expectation, the new LP from New Jersey’s favourite sons is a barnstorming rock album that’s brimming with great numbers. Having stepped up into the big leagues with that last album, and shared stage time with The Boss, The Gaslight Anthem appear more confident in their ability to continue to fill stadiums and have delivered some suitably majestic anthems to match their status. The songs on American Slang – produced with the help of Ted Hutt once again – combine classic American songwriting values with elements of soul and radio-friendly pop rock.

Best tracks: American Slang, Bring It On, The Queen of Lower Chelsea, The Diamond Church Street Choir, Boxer, We Did It When We Were Young

Album review l Buy it

Thea Gilmore, Murphy's Heart

Thea Gilmore – Murphy’s Heart

What we said: Thea Gilmore has variously been described as “the best British songwriter of the past 10 years” and “the best wordsmith of her generation”. She can also count Bruce Springsteen and Martha Wainwright among her fans. Alas, acclaim has not so far helped Gilmore to enjoy the type of prolific record sales her work deserves. But that looks set to change with her tenth album, Murphy’s Heart… a sure-fire contender for one of the albums of the year. Smart, honest, playful and diverse, the album is a pleasure to listen to from start to finish, encompassing folk, breezy pop, balladry, South American influences and more.

Best tracks: Just about every song!

Album review l Buy it l Thea Gilmore interview