Brighton Music Blog End of Year Top Twenty, part one 20-11

End of year lists are a funny old business. Should they be a measure of the success of the artists on the list you’re compiling? If that were the case then Royal Blood would be the top of any Brighton based list by the longest of margins (and they have been voted album of the year by NME readers). The alternative is that they’re based on personal preference instead, which is incredibly subjective but does give us the chance to enthuse about the things we’ve loved the most over the past twelve months. Being just a list of twenty acts is incredibly restricting too. The past couple of years we’ve put together out best of list as an Advent Calendar instead, which gave us another five acts we could include, but would have meant us getting our act together in November which was never going to happen this year. So here’s the first half of our top twenty – we’ll count down our top ten counting down as we get closer to Christmas.

20. Yumi & The Weather – All We Can EP

Technically All We Can came out in December 2013, but end of year lists had all been agreed by that point and tracks on the EP are easily as good if not better than most of the new music we’ve heard in 2014. The Vondelpark rework of the EPs title track is pure bliss.

19. Anushka – Mansions

Anushka’s Mansions, the lead single from their album Broken Circuit which came out on Gilles Peterson’s Brownswood Recordings was one of our tunes of the summer.

18. Curxes – Valkyrie

To keep us interested while the Brighton / Portsmouth duo inch forward to completion of their debut long player (which has a provision title of Verxes), this year the band put out PreCurxor – a compilation of their early work – and this single, a noisy, frantic affair that’s guaranteed to wake you up.

17. Michael A Grammar – The Day I Come Alive

We fell in love with Michael A Grammar’s The Day I Came Alive on the very first listen, probably because it sounded like early Blur and reminded us of our first trips to indie discos many years ago.

16. Dog in the Snow – Factory

Dog in the Snow put out a couple of singles this year, with Factory being the more electronic of the two. The video was a fantastic match for the song, initially about mundane daily repetition before morphing into something magical.

15. The New Union – Now

The New Union continue apace with their melodic indie rock. Now was the first of their two singles of 2014, which was followed up later in the year by the equally great Believe in Nothing.

14. Winston & Goldstein – Ode to a Massive Obsession

Jacqueline Collyer used to be in Kins, but this year she went solo, ditched the guitars (mostly), and embraced electronica in all it’s forms on her album In The Eyes of the Other from ambient to dance tracks like Ode to a Massive Obsession which is our pick.

13. The Fiction Aisle – Blue

The Fiction Aisle have only played three gigs, and have only put one track on the internet so far. The man behind the band is an industry veteran though, with over ten years experience under his belt. This year, Electric Soft Parade hung up their hats (except for the odd one off), but Tom White has formed a brilliant new band, recruiting brother Alex on drums, and a cast of thousands. Well, about a dozen.

12. Blood Red Shoes – Blood Red Shoes

Blood Red Shoes eponymous fourth album was heralded from all quarters as a return to form. Their gig in April at the Concorde was the loudest thing we heard this year.

11. Adolescent – Golden Halls part II

There’s been an incredible amount of electronica produced in Brighton this year, most of it coming out through the wonderful Physics House Band affiliated KLDSCP records. Pick of the bunch for us was Adolescent’s Golden Halls EP, and it’s utterly beautiful and unhurried lead track Golden Halls Part II

April Top Ten

April was another great month for Brighton music with some fantastic albums being released as well as some lovely one offs for Record Store Day. May’s already shaping up nicely too but until then, here are our favourite tracks from last month:

1. Eagles for HandsHandprints

Handprints is the sound of the party starting – lots of cowbell, housey piano and uplifting vocals. Eagles for hands are top of our list of bands to catch at the Great Escape next week – they’re at Coalition on Saturday night at 2.30am, and also at KLDSCP’s party alongside Caveman Genius and Foreign Skin and a whole host of other acts.

2. Fujiya & Miyagi – Flaws

Fujiya & Miyagi’s new album Artificial Sweeteners is out on Monday, although if you get down to Resident today they’re already selling signed copies. Flaws is the first single and is a great indicator of what to expect from the rest of the record – classic Fujiya & Miyagi with more electronics thrown into the mix. There’s still a few tickets left for their gig at the Haunt on 6th June but it will sell out, so I’d get a ticket sooner rather than later.

3. Fear of Men – Luna

LunaLuna is the first single from Fear of Men’s brilliant new album Loom. If we didn’t love the track (which we do), it might have warranted a place in our top ten just on the basis of the utterly beautiful packaging – a fanzine written by the band and a clear flexidisc (along with download codes).

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4. AK/DK – Maxwell’s Waves

AK/DK’s new album Synth + Drums + Noise + Space was one of our highlights this month. The lead track is the bleepy Maxwell’s Waves, and electronic krautrock rush. AK/DK are the support at Fujiya & Miyagi’s gig at The Haunt that we mentioned earlier.

5. Curxes – Jaws

In April, Curxes put out Precurxor – a roundup of of old tracks and demos to keep our interest while they get on with the business of recording their proper debut album. It’s definitely working for us. Our highlight is Jaws, which captures the urgency and power of their live shows.

6. Winston & Goldstein – Ode to a Massive Obsession

When we heard that Jacqueline from Kins had a new project, we didn’t envisage Winston & Goldstein, whose main influence seems to be mid-nineties alternative dance music from what we’ve heard so far. There’s a heavy hint of Leftfield in Ode to a Massive Obsession, which can only be a good thing in our book. Oh, and the video is all kinds of brilliant too.

7. Blood Red Shoes – Speech Coma

Speech Coma is the new Blood Red Shoes single. The the chorus goes “I can’t get the words out / I can’t get the words out / It’s like someone cut out my tongue”. And so does the video. Quite literally. Not for the faint hearted.

8. Cate Ferris – Gotta Do Better

We haven’t got a media link for Gotta Do Better, the latest offering from Cate Ferris. The only way to hear it is to sign up to her page on PledgeMusic, where she’s currently raising money for her new EP.

9. Cleff – Restart

Restart is on Cleff’s new Listen In EP, a lovely blend of electronic and classical music. We posted open the EP’s opening track Big Ideas earlier this month, but it was Restart which got under our skin.

10. Fickle Friends – Play

Fickle Friends have got a real knack for a catchy pop song. We loved Swim earlier this year, and they’ve done it again with Play. Fickle Friends are another band who are on our list for the Great Escape, playing at the Green Door Store on Saturday night, and at the Mesmerist on Saturday afternoon.