Antonia Acott – Entertainment Editor
Yeezus is exactly why Kanye West is at the top of the world right now. The prolific hip hop star’s sixth album belts out of the gate with the intense On Sight and I am a God. But the pinnacle of the album is the dark sample of Nina Simone’s phenomenal Strange Fruit on Blood on the Trees.
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Arcade Fire has got the indie-pop-rock formula down to an art. Reflektor will make you want to dance and that seems to be what this magical Canadian outfit had planned.
There has been so much written about this 17-year-old’s debut album that it’s hard to know where to start. In short, Pure Heroine is brilliant and tracks like Royals and White Teeth Teens make Lorde queen of the kids.
Michael Harry – Life Editor
The drum-tight sixth studio album from alt-rockers The National is a brooding, addictive rush. Matt Berninger’s honey baritone is tonic for the soul in these post-GFC, globally-warmed, melancholic times.
Fire up the engine and hit the highway with this cruisy, sunny record on full blast. The long, winding tunes float on the breeze and make you realise that everything is going to be just fine, actually.
The Glaswegian pop-electro outfit presents an impressive raft of dirty, compulsive hooks that should be at the top of the charts. Singer Lauren Mayberry shows Miley how it’s done.
One of those albums that you feel like you’ve heard 100 times on the first listen. It’s a little bit hippy dip, a little bit The Kinks, with a twist of Belle and Sebastian, and one of the most underrated acts of the year.
What The Presets should be doing, this Sydney trio’s first album is a grower not a shower. Dark, hard, sleek, cool and thoroughly understated electro tunes are the soundtrack to summer, or a break up.
Felicity Marshall – Money Editor
Scottish electronic duo Mike Sanderson and Marcus Eoin have produced another album of atmospheric mood music with their latest release. Tomorrow’s Harvest is characterised by their signature sampling of 1970s film and TV soundtracks woven together with live percussion and haunting electronic melodies. The album received rave reviews.
If you haven’t yet heard the French electronic duo’s collaboration with Pharrell Williams, you must be on Mars. Get Lucky is hands-down the song of the year – and an instant classic that will be played for decades to come. Any album that includes a pop song as perfect as this one deserves automatic inclusion on the annual best-of list. Who cares about the other tracks?
Susannah Guthrie – Reporter
The trio of young sisters has created an entire album of hits that are a little bit 80s throwback and a whole lot of unique. The riffs are addictive and lead singer Danielle Sari has a deep, effortless voice that delivers sassy lyrics with a healthy dose of attitude.
The Australian singer-songwriter writes beautiful lyrics. His songs are sweet and sincere and offer a different take on the “man with an acoustic guitar” breed of musicians. Lead track Bug Eyed Beauty, with its unpredictable melody and powerful harmonising, will send shivers down your spine.
Mayer has gone all country and it sure suits him. His husky, lilting voice exhibits some twang as he sings of past lovers, settling down and, of course, his new romance with Katy Perry.
Thomas Hunter – Deputy Editor
Any year that Fat Freddy’s Drop releases a new album is a good year, and this year’s offering is a welcome addition to the canon. True to the band’s dub-reggae roots, Blackbird is heavy and slow but sweet-as-pie thanks to Joe Dukie’s glittering vocals. Another irresistible workout from one of New Zealand’s greatest musical exports.
Marling’s fourth long player was quieter and more fluid than previous albums (apart from the raucous, clattering Master Hunter), but no less angry or personal. This is another breathy and disconcerting batch of songs from one of the most honest performers going around. And to think, she’s still only 23 years old.
These 11 songs feel like they could fall apart at any moment, yet that’s when Kieran Hebden’s music is at its best. This album combines sounds that have no right being put together and then applies the glue of a house or jungle beat to create something mechanical and rough, but beautiful. Ba Teaches Yoga and Unicorn are perfect.
Greig Johnston – Deputy Sports Editor
This is a stunning follow-up to her 2010 debut Philharmonics, which put the Danish songstress on the map. Sparse instrumentation, with piano and cello most prominent, and lyrically abstract, highlights are Dorian and the brilliant The Curse. An album of simple, haunting beauty that warms and chills at the same time.
Patrick Smithers – Sports Editor
Missing Eddy Current Suppression Ring? Check out the ultra-raw, stripped back sound of New York punks Parquet Courts. Eccentric lyrics, quirkily delivered, with mesmerising hooks. Sort of Jonathan Richman meets Television with the energy of Eddy Current. Wind down the car window on a hot day and share Stoned and Starving with everyone else fighting for a car park at the beach.
Two of the more distinctive sounds in Australian rock – Ron Peno’s soaring, high-risk vocals (Died Pretty/Darling Downs) and Cam Butler’s luscious guitar (Silver Ray, among others) combine to superb effect on this second album from Peno’s latest outfit, the Superstitions. Rich, warm melodies that work a treat.