Albums We’ve Loved In 2014

We hope you didn’t take too much time to blink in 2014, or else you may have missed it. We’ve certainly had a busy one. As well as welcoming some very talented collaborators to our halls, we’ve also added a couple to the WMP team, so Pete (our inimitable intern) will be adding his two cents to our list of favourites this year. Kim, however, has decided to refrain from reviews for now as she’s been preoccupied with a jazz version of Amy Winehouse’s album ‘Frank’, which was sadly too old to qualify for the list. So on we go…

Paul Thomas Saunders Beautiful Desolation

Paul Thomas Saunders
Beautiful Desolation
Ben: “WMP are based in Leeds, we love Leeds and its music scene, and Paul Thomas Saunders’ debut is no exception. This album is simply spellbinding. His haunting vocals over his band’s clean and well-produced sound is fantastic and, to take it a step further, I think the order of the tracks is great too - really worth listening to the whole album from beginning to end.”

The Barr Brothers Sleeping Operator

The Barr Brothers
Sleeping Operator
Kamal: “Having first heard the single ‘Half Crazy’, I thought (and hoped) that this would be a blues album. It isn’t. But I wasn’t disappointed. At first glance, Sleeping Operator is essentially an indie-folk album (which is no bad thing), but the instrumentation is far broader than one would expect - instruments as diverse as ngoni, dulcimer and a fan-made instrument called a cardboardium all make appearances. Such endeavours can run the risk of sounding incongruous and mismatched, but here the sounds are blended to achieve a sound that is both subtle and coherent.”

Laura Mvula With Metropole Orkest

Laura Mvula
With Metropole Orkest
Ben: “Choosing this album may be cheating slightly as this is effectively a live orchestral version of the album “Sing To The Moon”, which came out last year. However, these arrangements are epic and Laura herself has mentioned a number of times that when she wrote the album, this is how she heard it. The fact that Laura studied composition at the Birmingham Conservatoire shines through this fresh interpretation of an album that was already amazing to start with.”

George Ezra Wanted On Voyage

George Ezra
Wanted On Voyage
Kamal: “I’m not sure even long-loyal George Ezra fans could have predicted the unbelievable commercial success he has achieved in such a short space of time. But then again, he has a great voice and this is a great album with just the right amount of popular appeal, so in some ways it’s unsurprising. There’s a sincerity and honesty to the whole thing that makes this record very likeable, particularly George’s soulful and bluesy edge, which I hope to hear even more of in the future.”

Taylor McFerrin Early Riser

Taylor McFerrin
Early Riser
Pete: “When I first heard this album, I couldn’t stop listening to it for weeks. Each song in its own right is so well crafted and the level of production is just astonishing. The stand out track for me and possibly my favourite of 2014 is Decisions featuring Emily King - it embodies everything great about this album. A real cracker!”

Jack White Lazaretto

Jack White
Ben: “We were sent “High Ball Stepper” as a reference for an ad pitch we did a little while ago… it was an interesting experience trying to work out how on earth they had come up with the distortion sound at 01:56 - it’s honestly like nothing else I’ve ever heard before. This album is (from beginning to end) honest, analogue and ultimately captures Jack White perfectly - it’s like he’s actually physically inside it.”

Kindness Otherness

Kamal: “This sounds like the work of an artist who is just doing what he feels like. And much respect is due to Kindness and the people around him who make that freedom a reality. The exploration of instrumentation and harmony feels very open, but with a subtle intention that leads the album fluidly from groovy to mellow, and it is beautifully tied together with strong performances from a variety of voices.”

Foo Fighters Sonic Highways

Foo Fighters
Sonic Highways
Ben: “This is almost like the perfect follow up to Dave Grohl’s documentary Sound City and album Real To Reel that we loved so much last year. The Sonic Highways documentaries (eight songs, recorded in eight cities across America) and the album itself have to sit along side each other in order to get the most out of each song, because of Grohl’s lyric writing and the band arrangements are awesome but also because the story behind each city is absolutely fascinating.”

The Roots And Then

The Roots
...And Then You Shoot Your Cousin
Kamal: “I wouldn’t argue with anyone who accused me of including this album in the list solely because of the fact that it was made by The Roots. But even so, this album feels important for numerous reasons, perhaps the most important of which is that it captures a band that is in its prime (perpetually), creating hip hop like nothing else out there, and doing so in a manner that seems to be totally unselfconscious. And I love that.”

Royal Blood Royal Blood

Royal Blood
Royal Blood
Pete: “These guys are tearin’ it up right now and their debut record was real testament to that. With a powerful and refreshing sound; it’s gutsy, ballsy, riffy and all the other words along those lines! It makes me want to drink beer and go a bit mental. I love it.”

Hans Zimmer Interstellar

Hans Zimmer
Ben: “I am completely blown away by Hans’ latest offering, firstly because it doesn’t sound like anything else I have ever heard that has his name on it, and also because of the story behind Zimmer and Nolan coming up with its direction… but mainly and most importantly because it’s phenomenally composed and arranged, let alone produced! As a slight side note too, using an organ as the main instrument is an absolute stroke of genius.”

D'Angelo And The Vanguard Black Messiah

D’Angelo And The Vanguard
Black Messiah
Kamal: “I got lucky and managed to buy a ticket to D’Angelo’s February tour just before this album was suddenly unleashed on the world. If this record doesn’t guarantee sell-out shows, I’m not sure what will. There’s such a mystique to the man and his music that even though his fans have waited almost fifteen years since his last album to see what he would do next, this one seems to raise more questions than it answers. But at the same time it also feels exactly like the album I hoped he’d make - grittier and angrier.”

Big love and a very happy new year to you.