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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.

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Ian William Craig
A Turn Of Breath

Can only see one other thing we've got in stock on this great little label and that was something by Sean McCann that blew our Ant right away. Recital only release a handful of things a year from what I can see and this here baby is their latest squeeze. It's not hard to hear w...view item »

The Brian Jonestown Massacre

I spent the best part of eight years or so listening almost exclusively to The BJM. But following the largely disappointing (to me) 'Sgt Peppers' and 'Aufheben', things changed. Both those albums, and the various singles from around the same time, had their merits but the spell had been broken. 'Revelation', however, is currently dominating...view item »

Last Ex
Last Ex

You know. The psychedelic rock. That o-l-d psychedelic rock they have these days. It's new, but it's as old as the hills. Then you got yrrr desert rock, yr cosmic wig-out mad granddad rock. Then Ma baked a big kosmische pie. Granny knitted a synthesizer. The rest is on Julian Cope's website. Then you got Last Ex. Like, who the fuck are these guy...view item »

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 »

Virginia Wing
Measures Of Joy

A prime example of a band getting gradually better, stronger and more defined to the point that they deliver that "stunning debut album" is found in the career thus far of Camberwell, London outfit Virginia Wing. I'm unsure whether they actually number three or four currently but that is beside the point as a couple of minutes into 'Measures of ...view item »

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 »

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 »

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 »

Memory Drawings
There Is No Perfect Place

I’ve been lured out of my imposed review abstinence by the new Memory Drawings album. Every so often I just get the urge to write about something when confronted with something special and this is one of those special things. Even the office musical pixie ‘Kim’ piped up this was beautiful w...view item »

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 »

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 »

Scott Walker & Sunn O)))

I really hoped this was going to be a load of shite. There was something so predictably laudable about the fallen angel of easy-listening pop teaming up with the group who’d helped drag underground metal into the light of critical approval that I couldn’t help willing the venture to fail miserably. The fact that the usual channels of...view item »


It was while scouting the charity shops of Headingley in Leeds that I happened upon Swedish boys Tape and their amazing album ‘Luminarium’, it was probably the best £2.99 I’d ever spent and I was immediately hooked. Here is their latest for the Hapna label ‘Casino’ and It has cheered me up no end after a harro...view item »


Beginning with a solemn slow tattoo of muffled bass drum and field recordings called 'Made of Metal', Grouper's mooted final album under this piscine moniker is a stark and intimate affair. The majority of Liz Harris's followers are now aware that 'Ruins' is, largely, a piano-based album recorded three years...view item »

Ty Segall

Happy Days! Ty Segall is back! Back with a mammoth 17-song album which sees him return from his patchy recent acoustic diversions to the fuzzy garage pop of albums like 'Melted' and 'Twins'. One thing that's quickly notable this time around is that he seems to be really letting loose and having fun, with the ope...view item »

Lamnè Gastama

Everyone’s favourite chamber doom band (are there any other chamber doom bands?) are back with the second instalment in their “trilogy that explores the sounds of the geographical area between 34°Ν - 42°Ν & 19°Ε - 29°Ε”. If you find all those coordinates confusing, googling them will on...view item »

Aphex Twin

Well to say this has been on the cards for a wee while is an understatement. Landing right bang on the knife edge of the most bizarre time in British politics anybody alive today has ever seen comes Aphex Twin's official follow up to the divisive, sprawling Drukqs. I personally don't like that previous mess of an album all that much. It was a pr...view item »

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 »


Finally, Goat's "difficult" second album is upon us. Their debut 'World Music' catapulted the mysterious Swedish voodoo-psych outfit onto the world stage with its mixture of wah-fuzz riffing, energetically chanted vocals and mystical polyrhythms, with colourful and hyper-kinetic live rituals to match. The pressure is on, then, for 'Commune' to b...view item »


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 »

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 »

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 »

Dude Incredible

Now then, new Shellac album. Alright! Bob, Todd and Steve are still releasing records in an archaic yet highly enjoyable fuck you music industry/fuck you internet fashion, proving time and time again that it's possible to sell records in a saturated and totally fucked marketplace as long you're savvy enoug...view item »

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 »

Real Estate

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 »

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 »

Ultimate Painting
Ultimate Painting

I think someone has stolen the promo for this, I thought I'd pinched it but apparently not so. That is always the sign of a good record. Promo theft by eager ears. Two dudes build these ditties, one from Veronica Falls and the other from Mazes and they is baking a K...view item »

Warm Widow

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 »

Gareth Dickson
Invisible String

“This is beautiful. I want YOU to do it” was the flattering instruction I got from master Phil this morning. He’s right, it is very beautiful indeed. It's an unconventional record in that it was recorded during the midst of various tours Dickson did in Europe in 2012. Most of the tracks were recorded in an apartment lobby in Fr...view item »

Death Blues

'Ensemble' is the kind of record that reminds you we're all going to die and leave nothing behind, so let's just make something ridiculous, loud, and impossible -- something that, even if it's just for an hour, is bigger than the world itself. I've heard that huge, monolithic sound once already this year, in another post-rock driven record ...view item »


Horsebeach first came to my attention via the superb ‘Faded Eyes’ 7” earlier this year. Its lovely melancholic faded polaroid beauty caught me right in the middle of my post Real Estate ‘Atlas’ comedown. In fact, the band is best summed up as a rainier overcast answer to ...view item »


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 »

Flying Lotus
You’re Dead!

Steve Ellison returns with his fifth outing under the FlyLo guise and finally, I'm sold. Other FlyLo outings have certainly pricked the ear and last years 'Duality' under the captain Murphy alter-ego absolutely owned but it's 'You're Dead' that's finally made me part with my hard earned greenbacks, and with good'a a f...view item »

Alessandro Cortini

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 »

The Soundcarriers

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 »

Alex G

At least three of us here absolutely love this record to bits, It's become much like an old friend in the last couple of months since Lucky Number sent us the promo. It's a hard one to wax lyrical about mainly due to the fact it feels so familiar yet oddly fresh to our older ears. To us folk who grew up with the eccentric off-kilter lo-fi s...view item »

A Winged Victory For The Sullen

A Winged Victory For The Sullen's euphoric debut was a beacon of hope. Pianist Dustin O'Hallaran, with his dramatic and forthright compositions, took Adam Witzie's calming ambient soundscapes as foundations, making them sound aspirational. Witzie's old band, Stars of th...view item »

Ben Frost

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 »

Dean Blunt
Black Metal

A truly singular and unique voice, my interest in Dean Blunt was first piqued with his first solo album ‘The Narcissist II’ with its smoky oddball grooves and spoken word monologues. The fragmented ‘The Redeemer’ was possibly a curveball too far and didn’t quite hit the mark but ‘Black Metal’ is surely t...view item »

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 »

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 »

The Hum

It was only three short years ago that Hookworms' debut EP kick-started the band's inexorable rise to prominence; first a limited cassette on Sun Ark and then the 12" on Gringo, causing Norman dictator Phil to proclaim that if he still put out records, he'd want to put out theirs. He's clearly not the only one because since then they've had a pr...view item »

Grumbling Fur

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 »

The Bug
Angels & Devils

‘Angels & Devils’ is the fourth album from Kevin Martin as The Bug. Once again he’s assembled a stellar cast of vocalists to contribute to, and complete his vision. It could be said that this record is sorta split into two halves. An Angels half a...view item »

Dorcha Aigeann

The latest piece in the Dalglish puzzle emerges as the ‘Dorcha Aigeann’ 6 track EP on new San Francisco label Ge-stell. Pressed on clear vinyl in a PVC screen-printed sleeve in an edition of 300 copies. My great admiration for the work of ...view item »


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 »

Wildbirds & Peacedrums

This promo's been causing waves all around the office, to the point where I'm already being hassled to return the promo I'm reviewing so that other people can listen to it. It's been four years since Wildbirds & Peacedrums have released an album so you can be forgiven for not knowing who they are - which is the husband-and-wife duo of percus...view item »

Ganglion Reef

LA psych-poppers Wand drop their debut LP this week on Ty Segall’s God? imprint ahead of a US tour with the floppy-haired psych king himself and it’s quite a treat. This lot have a great summery psych-pop sound that’s drenched with fuzz and often a dense cloud o...view item »


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 »

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