Reasons to shop with us » 0113 245 4399


Albums of the Year 2014

After the usual careful deliberation, here are our Albums of the Year.

Top 50 Albums Top 50 Reissues Top 50 Bestsellers 'Near Misses'

Album of the Year 2014

Bracken - 'Exist/resist'

Bracken - 'Exist/resist'

Earlier this autumn an unassuming little cassette arrived from Baro Records - an obscure, tape-only label out of Chicago. It contained an album by Chris Adams (he of Hood fame) under his Bracken moniker, his first outing in seven years. Absurdly limited to just 100 copies it was an instant office favourite, sold out within hours, and very quickly rose into the upper reaches of Phil's mind as he compiled this year's Top 50. It now sits prettily at the very pinnacle of our list, and so this year's coveted Norman Records 'Album Of The Year' goes to Exist/resist by Bracken.

Buy it now
2.

Ian William Craig
A Turn Of Breath

Ian William Craig makes choral drone music on this stunning ambient record with the most fitting title of the year: 'A Turn Of Breath'. Craig performs warm vocal harmonies and stretches them to their breaking point, backing them with crackling drones that feel both part of nature and decidedly bedroom pop. 'A Turn Of Breath' is the perfect ...view item »
3.

The Brian Jonestown Massacre
Revelation

Led by the infamous Anton Newcombe, Brian Jonestown Massacre recorded their 14th album, Revelation in Newcombe’s Berlin studio over 18 months between 2012 and 2014. Eastern influences had started to make their way into the band’s psychedelic groove. The band are a swirling collective helmed by Newcom...view item »
4.

Last Ex
Last Ex

Timber Timbre chaps Simon Trottier and Olivier Fairfield dip their toes into experimental instrumental rock with new project Last Ex, which takes its name from an abandoned film which Timber Timbre recorded a soundtrack for a couple of years ago, which started the pair down this particular avenue. Mixing sweeping cinematic strings and Morricone-...view item »
5.

SWANS
To Be Kind

I've spent my life a little afraid of Swans. They're pretty violent bastards. I saw one proper going for somebody's arse on a canal barge once. Serves them right for drunkenly hanging it off the edge. Michael Gira, the singer from the rock band Die Schwäne, doesn't so much peck your arse as kick it; metaphorically, cerebrally and ...view item »
6.

Virginia Wing
Measures Of Joy

South London four piece Virginia Wing's debut album promises some slinky and dream-like electronic pop which owes debts to early Krautrock, revered Brum legends Broadcast and the Radiophonic pioneers of wibbly otherworldly electronics. Also see the trance-like post-punk rhythmic drive of, say, This Heat. 'Measures of Joy' is certainly ...view item »
7.

Morgan Delt
Morgan Delt

Morgan Delt's debut 7" 'Barbarian Kings' was an absolute feast of broken-sounding psychedelic weirdness so it's exciting and daunting to finally have his debut full-length on my CD player to try to comprehend, digest and describe in bite-sized review form. Even aside from the aforementioned single, which appears early on in all its hazy east-mee...view item »
8.

Kate Tempest
Everybody Down

“English rapper - Brian to review” said the post-it. I could not correlate the picture of the sad Dickensian person on the sleeve with those ominous words. I thought it had fallen off something else. Kate Tempest is indeed an English rapper and a bloody good one at that. Street tough, personable and electric with a cheeky, homely Sou...view item »
9.

Ought
More Than Any Other Day

Politicised Montreal indie rockers Ought have a debut album out on the legendary Constellation rex this week and it's pretty ace. This is straight down the line '90s indie rock with a slightly lo-fi physical immediacy to it that brings to mind bands like Rodan and June of 44 crossed wi...view item »
10.

Memory Drawings
There Is No Perfect Place

The first 200 copies of the album comes with a bonus CD containing excellent remixes by The Sly and Unseen, Benoit Pioulard, William Ryan Fritch, Pausal, A New Line (Related), and Talvihorros. Memory Drawings consist of American hammered dulcimer player Joel Hanson who alongside Hood's Richard Adams and Lanterns on the L...view item »
11.

Neneh Cherry
Blank Project

Neneh Cherry's first solo album proper in 18 years, 'Blank Project' is a total blast from the word go. Ranging from the gorgeously stark 'Across the Water' to the intoxicating tribalisms of the title track, through to the the tough jazzy grooves of 'Cynical' there is not a weak track here. Many of us here at Auntie Norman reckon this is one hell...view item »
12.

Sleaford Mods
Divide And Exit

Regular customers of Norman Records will know all about Sleaford Mods already. Due in no small part to a tireless work ethic (kudos to band and label!) large swathes of the UK and beyond now seem to be catching on, to the point where 'Divide And Exit' feels really quite zeitgeist-y. ...view item »
13.

Scott Walker & Sunn O)))
Soused

Continuing their tireless campaign to work with every single artist and band threatening to be more bizarre and avant-garde than them, 'Soused' is the fifth collaborative record in Sunn O)))'s one-chord arsenal, following splits and records with Earth, Boris, Nurse With Wound and Ulver. This time around, they meet baritone pop singer -- gone cra...view item »
14.

Tape
Casino

Swedish post-rockers Tape recall bands like Jaga Jazzist and Bluebridge Quartet in making soft, patient compositions around clean guitar with very slight jazz influences. Their new record, 'Casino', is another down-tempo affair with placating riffs, dramatic keys and guitar abstractions that in places are reminiscent of Boris' 'Flood'. Post-rock...view item »
15.

Grouper
Ruins

'Ruins' is the newest record by drone folk artist Grouper. Recorded in a house near a lost, deserted village in Portugal, under the usual reclusive conditions that Liz Harris writes music, the record is the closest her project has gotten to capturing actual songs, each performed on a piano and recorded immediately to a 4-track. 'Ruins'...view item »
16.
17.

Mohammad
Lamnè Gastama

Mohammad make chamber drone, taking cellos and other traditional acoustic instruments and sustaining them, as if they're being sharpened like a knife. The result is a sound that's both unsettling and unprecedented. They've already released one record this year, 'Zo Rél Do', which they claim is part of a trilogy that "explores the sounds o...view item »
18.

Aphex Twin
Syro

Well we'll be blowed. The threats have actually finally come true. Aphex Twin's first proper new studio album for Warp since the divisive confused bulk of 2001's 'Drukqs' is due towards the end of September 2014. The artwork is quasi-cryptic and minimal as you can see. What the material will sound like is the stuff of many an "IDM" fanboy/g...view item »
19.

Timber Timbre
Hot Dreams

Canuck Kirk “Timber Timbre” Taylor (“Soldier Spy”) returns with a new album this week, and no sooner do I start writing about it than Kim comes over saying it’s like Nat King Cole and Roy Orbison and Leonard Cohen. “It’s like a big hotchpotch of things that are really ...view item »
20.
21.

Fennesz
Bécs

Christian "Fennesz" Fennesz isn't a lad who rushes himself. The last time he put out a full-length album was 2008 so you can bet he's put some thought and effort into the seven tracks here. I'm on my third go through it and still struggling to find words to describe the sumptuous listening experience this album provides. There's something quite ...view item »
22.

Perfect Pussy
Say Yes To Love

Just freaked the gaffer out by proclaiming I hated this. 'But Clint is tweeting this ASAP!' he barks back at me. Um sorry, I had confused it with something else on Captured Tracks which is still way better than most NY labels. Perfect Pussy, apart from having a great logo, a smirky name and a gutsy shouty girl for a singer are quite stun...view item »
23.

EIAFUAWN
Birds In The Ground

The joy….the utter joy of this job is picking up a record not having the faintest clue of what it might be then from the moment the needle hits the record just knowing that this was made especially for you. The harder bit is then trying to express that feeling in words so that other people can take advantage of these little moment...view item »
24.

Shellac
Dude Incredible

FACTS!This is Shellac’s fifth LP following Axtion Park, Terraform, 1000 Hurts and Excellent Italian Greyhound.  The recording took place sporadically over the past few years at Steve's ELECTRICAL AUDIO studios in Chicago. The record was mastered by Steve Rooke at ABBEY ROAD. There is no...view item »
25.

A New Line (Related)
A New Line (Related)

One thing that keeps the momentum of music interesting for me is when artists explore genres they don’t necessarily have roots in or are associated with (not counting fashion victim band wagon jumping sheep). For example techno has recently been invigorated by artists migrating from genres to create their vision of the sound. Cue A...view item »
26.

Real Estate
Atlas

There is something very reassuring about knowing that there are some things in life you can rely on. In a recent interview, Real Estate guitarist/singer Martin Courtney said ”I know the path that we’re going down and it’s not to say that we fear change or anything, it’s just I think I like this sound”. I do ...view item »
27.

Protomartyr
Under Color of Official Right

This is the second album from Detroit's post-punky indie rockers Protomartyr and their first on Hardly Art. A few friends of mine have already been making excited noises about this so my expectations are high. On my first listen I was struck by how conventional it was, I think I was expecting something more strikingly weird given the rabid early...view item »
28.

Ultimate Painting
Ultimate Painting

A collaboration between Jack Cooper & James Hoare of Mazes & Veronica Falls fame, respectively. Sharing the songwriting evenly between the pair, they craft some fine, Velvet Underground-esque indie rock ranging from the chilled to the pumping. A great combination of the lads intertwining vocals and jangling guitars....view item »
29.

Warm Widow
Childless

Warm Widow’s previous album ‘Widower’ was an absolute stone cold classic, one of those rare records that if it does leave my stereo, it doesn’t wait long before crawling back. Sounding something like Guided By Voices and The Fall circa ‘78 locked ...view item »
30.

Gareth Dickson
Invisible String

Gareth Dickson makes slow-moving acoustic songs and releases them as homespun records. He's performed guitar duties for Vashti Bunyan's live band now and then, suggesting a modest songwriter with a patient mind. There are also hints of an ambient influence in Dickson's work, as he brings in synthwork and manipulates his guitar not...view item »
31.

Death Blues
Ensemble

'Ensemble' offers up a suffocating collection of percussive, cacophonous compositions from art rock crew Death Blues. Jon Mueller is at the forefront, so of course this thing is fronted by an intense drum performance, while the violins and strings swell and tremble around him in fear. The record comes with supplementary essays about "presence an...view item »
32.

Horsebeach
Horsebeach

Written over the space of a year, but recorded in a fortnight, straight to tape, in Ryan's central Manchester flat, 'Horsebeach' is a gorgeous journey through Northern, jangly, dreamy guitar pop. From as far back as The Wake, through the now de rigeur C86, and of course via The Smiths, this is bedroom introspection gone widescreen. Gorge...view item »
33.

Ekoplekz
Unfidelity

The only box I want to put music in is my record box and yet my role as a writer here at Norman Towers in a sense dictates that I kinda have to, to some extent in order to attempt to articulate what a record sounds like to our readers. Genre references can be useful at times but so much is postmodern these days that it simply defies genre tags a...view item »
34.

Flying Lotus
You’re Dead!

Steve Ellison, the experimental wizard of instrumental hip-hop (who occasionally moonlights as the rapper Captain Murphy) is back with his first FlyLo release since 2012's 'Until The Quiet Comes'. Ever popular with the world of music around him, 'You're Dead!' has a whole new roster of features and contributors to its name, including jazz-funk l...view item »
35.

Alessandro Cortini
Sonno

Alessandro Cortini is the lead electronics performer in the Nine Inch Nails live outfit. If your interest in this record weighs on your tolerance of NIN then I ask you to dispense with that fact and approach this record with an open mind. I for one am no NIN fan a...view item »
36.

The Soundcarriers
Entropicalia

I miss Broadcast. I miss Broadcast a lot! Fortunately The Soundcarriers are (sound) carrying their torch and keeping that sound alive. It's only been on for 10 minutes before I ran across to the stock room to grab one as I'm taking o...view item »
37.

Alex G
DSU

Right, people. We've been listening to this in the office for what seems like the last 6 months and we think it's going to take you by storm. Think of all the '90's lo-fi greats (but particularly Pavement) rolled up into a one man slacker-pop songwriting machine and you are in the ballpark.  Get in on the ground floor. ...view item »
38.

A Winged Victory For The Sullen
Atomos

Adam Wiltzie and Dustin O’Halloran return with their second studio album inspired by contemporary dance and new instrumentation. After releasing a first glimpse in the form of the ‘Atomos VII’ EP earlier this year, A Winged Victory For The Sullen finally reveal their second full-length album entitled &lsq...view item »
39.

Ben Frost
A U R O R A

No wolves on this. 'By The Throat' scared the bejesus out of myself and many others but I totally, utterly loved it. This long awaited follow-up proper (after his relatively sedate but arresting 'Solaris' collaboration with Daniel Bjarnason) is another sonically brutal and head-cleansing expedition into the...view item »
40.

Dean Blunt
Black Metal

This probably isn't the new Bathory album. Dean Blunt, previously of Hype Williams fame, is becoming one of the most singular voices and visionaries in what we would probably call 'experimental' music. He makes records that traverse genre after genre until they all diminish (seriously, though -- 'The Redeemer' is voicemail-core, with plenty of d...view item »
41.

Ex-Easter Island Head
Large Electric Ensemble

Those who know me well, or indeed have just been reading our site closely over the past couple of years, will know that I have an incredible fondness for the large electric guitar ensemble. Be it Rhys Chatham (in whose orchestras I have played a couple of times), Glenn Branca ...view item »
42.

Temples
Sun Structures

Are you wanting an unrelenting hit album that you will sing all through the summer? If so then this could be it. Temples early singles impressed; variously recalling Teardrop Explodes, Love, T-Rex, Tame I...view item »
43.

Hookworms
The Hum

Third album from Leeds-based psychedelic noise band Hookworms. With a new drummer on board, this is a more confident, leaner and meaner offering from the band Julian Cope described as a "...sub-Zabriskie Point ambient road-movie heat haze-o...view item »
44.

Grumbling Fur
Preternaturals

I've got the new Grumbling Fur at the top of my review bucket this morning. "Gonna be huge", enthuses Phil. "Kinda Depeche Mode", says a somewhat more objective post-it note stuck to the promo. Both opinions are probably correct, but somewhat reductive. This lot are of course a sophisti-pop super...view item »
45.

The Bug
Angels & Devils

Plenty of big-name collaborators on The Bug's latest, 'Angels & Devils'. Billed as a "battle between utopian and dystopian" (but definitely not a "concept album", oh no) you get Liz Harris (Grouper), Warrior Queen, Gonjasufi, Miss Red, Death Grips, Manga (Roll Deep), Copeland and Flowdan for your money. Pulling together "the fringes ...view item »
46.

Dalglish
Dorcha Aigeann

Here's something that will sell out quickly. Chris Douglas's Dalglish project has long been a go to for visionary future thinking electronics and as our Ant says in a previous review "Just reading the words Dalglish and vinyl in the same sentence is enough to make hardcore electronic music fans salivate". The label describes this release as &nbs...view item »
47.

Kogumaza
Kолокол

Nottingham’s hypno-stoner rock troupe Kogumaza return this week with a head-nodding follow-up to their excellent self-titled 2011 debut, and this time they’ve got Lungfish Nathan Bell helping out throughout, and Enabler Pete Simonelli pitches ...view item »
48.

Wildbirds & Peacedrums
Rhythm

An office favourite and the promo has only been in the place a week. It has since disappeared into various homes for night listening which is as good a recommendation as you can get. Therefore I'm the wrong person to write the press blurb as I was the only one to spit the words "experimental Winehouse" in it's direction. It certainly s...view item »
49.

Wand
Ganglion Reef

Pyschedelic fuzzmongers Wand release their debut album 'Ganglion Reef' on GOD? records ahead of a US tour with Ty Segall. Sun drenched '60s garage pop with a heavy fuzz haze, this LA 4-piece provide a shimmering laid-back soundtrack to a chilled out summer driving along Route 66 in a soft top Chevrolet. Or even just a trip to B&Q. ...view item »
50.

Napolian
Incursio

LA based youth genius Napolian (a.k.a Ian Evans) follows his killer debut EP ‘Rejoice’ (still in stock slow lads) with an epic full length LP for Daniel Lopatin’s Software label and, to be honest, I’m fucking stoked. Napolian’ p...view item »