1) Royal Blood – Royal Blood
There’s a very straightforward reason that I have this at the top of my pile – there are no skip tracks. At only half an hour long, it avoids any self indulgence or the temptation to go on a bit. Mike Kerr and Ben Thatcher have had a monumental year, and as well as baffling listeners with the “bigger than two” sound, they come across as surprisingly posh boys in interviews. It helps that my Other Half said the album was “A bit heavy” for him. That makes me feel like I’m five per cent Rock Chick. *proud*
Favourite tracks: Blood Hands, Out Of The Black, Little Monster.
2) Kasabian – 48:13
This has been my default CD since June – the one in the car for journeys long and short, the one I listen to for comfort when I really don’t feel like listening to something new and possibly challenging. The Pizzorno-Meighan bromance is the axis of power for the Sabes, somehow thoughtful and brutish at the same time. An eye burning shade of pink has been the theme of the year, but these boys are certainly not going soft and getting in touch with their feminine side. They are as blokey as ever, thank heavens.
Favourite tracks: Treat, Clouds, Bumblebeee.
3) Ben Howard – I Forget Where We Were
Sticking to my “least skip tracks possible” theme, this is a rich, if sombre, listening experience. The album cover tells you that this is not an artist who spends too much time fretting about the services of a stylist, hairdresser or other titivator that so many members of the music community seem to require. He’s a serious and rather intense young man who’s all about the music. Which suits me just fine.
Favourite tracks: The End Of The Affair, Time Is Dancing, Small Things.
4) Paolo Nutini – Caustic Love
It’s been a fantastic year for Paolo. After a five year gap since Sunny Side Up, first single Scream (Funk My Life Up) made ears prick up, as it looked like the Glasgow guy could be on to something. There were no disappointments as the album went straight to Number One and was the fastest selling album of the year at the time. Since then he’s been working his socks off playing a ton of live shows to tour this album. It is jammed with a string of hard-to-fault songs, with thoughtful lyrics and a passionate delivery. Molto Buono Paolo, Molto Buono.
Favourite tracks: Iron Sky, Numpty, Looking For Someone.
5) U2 – Songs Of Innocence
I’m going to leave aside the thorny issue of the freeness of this album, which does bother me somewhat, but not to the extent that it does others. You would honestly rank it alongside being force fed Brussels sprouts as a child, the way some people have gone on about it. In truth, I’m full of admiration that U2 have managed to come up with songs which are still true to themselves, yet relevant so many years down their track. It’s nice to know that a part of my sonic upbringing is still contributing bricks to my musical framework.
Favourite tracks: Raised By Wolves, The Miracle Of Joey Ramone, Cedarwood Road.