Every year the music press falls over itself to bet on 'ones to watch', they're either safe bets with an album that's already been bandied around and guaranteed Q1 marketing spend, or they are an artist that has been mutually decided through peer group consensus, formed by an overwhelming 'fear of missing out' on the insecure writers guild of social media. These lists are basically homogeneous, and a complete waste of time to everyone apart from PR staff, who can pin the tag onto their act and use it as further leverage for content.

I decided instead to focus on a bunch of albums that came out this year, albums that I think deserve more love than they actually got from dickhead writers like myself. I wasn't trying to pick out the most obscure bands in the world - I just picked the albums that I really loved that didn't get the attention they deserved. No agenda, just a filter that is based on artistic merit. After all, the music industry is fickle and based on nepotism, so it is perfectly reasonable to expect some of the best music to slip through its net, especially when you consider that nearly all publications are focused exclusively on bands currently working a PR cycle. With that in mind, I'll be starting a column in the new year dedicated to music that has already been released that needs more attention. No cycle, just a filter that is based on artistic merit. Until then, you'll have to make do with these thirteen albums that in my opinion, need more love.


Mermonte - Audiorama

Mermonte are an eleven piece 'orchestral pop band' from France, they released Audiorama back in May and honestly, it's a fucking delight. A whirlwind of different influences colliding, an intelligent blend of conflicting styles that somehow work together, and the best bit is that it never ends up feeling like a chore - it’s never tiring in its urgency. Mermonte are effortlessly breathing life into guitar pop music, a genre that was beginning to feel flaccid and pointless, until albums like this one remind you what all the fuss was about.



Foxes In Fiction - Ontario Gothic

Warren Hildebrand is a busy guy, between recording and touring as Foxes In Fiction he runs the label Orchid Tapes - who have released some incredible albums this year - it just happens that Ontario Gothic is the best of that bunch. Hildebrand has synesthesia, which means he experiences sounds as tones, colours and textures, which if you've heard the album will make perfect sense to you. It's an album with zero conflicts, a beautiful technicolour lens to view the world with; you could call it dream pop, but that's a genre tag to often assigned with a sarcastic curled lip, and what Hildebrand has created, with orchestration from Owen Pallett, deserves so much more than that.



Hail Mary Mallon - Bestiary

I'll say this right away - I have no idea why more people aren't talking about this album. Rob Sonic and Aesop Rock make up Hail Mary Mallon, and Bestiary is possibly the best thing either have been involved in, it's not hyperbole if it's the truth. It's intelligent, actual IRL LOL funny at times, and most importantly, it doesn't fuck around. Their tendency to beat around the bush and occasionally miss the point has been ironed out and replaced by hooks and beats that beat you around the face instead.



Thee Silver Mt Zion - Fuck Off Get Free We Pour Light On Everything

You can guess within a small margin for error what you'll get from a Silver Mt Zion album, so why listen at all, right? Typecast to the point that they managed to release a massive massive rock album, and nearly everyone in the mainstream press missed it. The band have completely changed their style over the course of the last two albums and Fuck Off Get Free... is the pinnacle of that change, so far at least. As far as invigorating alternatives to corporate rock bands go, I don't know why you'd listen to anything else.



Absolutely Free - Absolutely Free

Drawing on all kinds of fun '60s and '90s influences, and sounding like that recent baggy revival but interesting and enjoyable to dance to, I assumed Absolutely Free were guaranteed something resembling popularity with this collection of songs, but it has yet to be forthcoming. The kind of closed eyed bliss out that you’d expect from guys that play guitars and talk in "we's" and not "I's"- which in 2014, is a fucking revolution in itself.



Wildbirds and Peacedrums - Rhythm

Talking of freedom, Mariam Wallentin and Andreas Werliin have provided us with plenty of it over the last few years. As Mariam the Believer, as part of Fire Orchestra and with three albums as Wildbirds and Peacedrums, my favourite married couple in music (Kim and Thurston RIP) are so in tune with each other and the human condition that they can create wonderful roller coasters with just voice and drums. Only on this album, they’ve incorporated more, and the results are startling.



Highasakite - Silent Treatment

A few awkward lyrics aside, Silent Treatment is a triumphant and exciting collection of pop songs, and I don't mean pop in the patronising and derogatory manner that writers refer to 'manufactured pop' acts. I sneer at the artificial music, and I heap praise upon this, the real pop music, made with real life resonating instruments etc etc… Genre slurs and bullshit aside, Highasakite have mastered the art and they should have a lot more love.



Black Polygons - Silence

I listen to Black Polygons a lot. Hailing from France, they make music that sounds like the soundtrack to a film that I wouldn't want to watch. It's atmospheric, dense, and at times unrelentingly bleak, but I can't express how much I enjoy it soundtracking my life. If the track below isn't enough to sell you on them, imagine if Beach House didn't have a singer and instead they chose to slow down their songs until it framed the perception of everyone who listened to them, that's essentially what Black Polygons have done.



The Rural Alberta Advantage - Mended With Gold

Mended With Gold is the third album by The Rural Alberta Advantage, and by this point they are being taken for granted because they what they do isn't sexy - it's just indie rock, but by this point they are doing it so well it's a crime to ignore them for it, and there are enough interesting textures and drum patterns to make you revisit it. It's an album about love, of course it is, and if you were in need of an album that just gives you some escapist adrenaline to get you home - or get you out of the door without looking back - this is an album you should hear.



Busdriver - Perfect Hair

In the run up towards releasing Perfect Hair Busdriver shared a collaboration with Aesop Rock and Danny Brown, he more than holds his own over the Jeremiah Jae beat and I began to think that maybe this was the album that would break him into the mainstream, but the truth is he's just too weird for mass appeal - thank god. Don't take that wrong, he deserves success, but it's the weirdness that I find the most appealing. Perfect Hair is just another one of a number of his albums that has the hooks, but also has his lyrical quirks, and his overindulgent flaws. 'Ego Death' does overshadow the rest of the album somewhat but there are enough highlights to justify further listening.



Dad Rocks - Year Of The Flesh

In their short career Dad Rocks have expanded from a solo acoustic project to a full band, increasing the scale of the music to fit their growth in numbers, each release building upon the one that preceded it. That seems like an obvious statement, but if you listen to their EP and two albums back to back you'll hear that growth, like all those flowing ideas are finally starting to be realised rather than eluded to. It's that ambition, coupled with a confidence born from the fruition of incredible thoughts to reality, that makes Year of the Flesh such a rewarding listen. I can't help but wonder if Dad Rocks were based in America, rather than Denmark, if we wouldn't be celebrating them as one of the best bands around.



Mitski - Bury Me At Makeout Creek

I guess it's a little strange, the idea that a musician from Brooklyn could be underloved or under hyped, but here we are. Mitski released this, her third album, in November and it received one of those placeholder mid 7/10 reviews from pitchfork that says 'we called it' if people do actually buy into her music, but doesn't hype so much that they look bad for backing a dud. Which is fine but has nothing to do with the music, which is pretty great. It's indie rock to the point where you'll recognise certain chord progressions, but it is buried under enough melancholy to make it interesting, especially when that message is combined with Mitski's surprisingly powerful voice. Here's the point, eventually you have to forgive artists for referencing the things that you love too, you have to simply enjoy them for what they are, and in this case, allow yourself to get carried away by it all.



Arrange - Their Bodies In The Fog

Much like last year's Deptford Goth album 'Life After Defo', Their Bodies In The Fog is uncomfortably intimate in places, the monochrome veneer almost stifles your breath. There are triumphant moments however, such as the end of 'Home', which sets it apart - but mostly it drifts, provoking cinematic daydreams as it goes. A collaboration with Ricky Eat Acid for 'Alumni' is as good as anything from his Three Love Songs album and it is worthy of as much if not even more amounts of praise than that album has received.

Feel free to comment with albums I've missed out - but please link to the music so we can all listen to it, thank you.