Music Features

No Ripcord's Guide to 2014

Turkey has been eaten, eggnog has been ignored and familial arguments have been left to simmer. Christmas is done and New Year's is upon us, so it's a perfect time to look back at the 365 days that historians are already calling 2014. Here's what the guys and gals of No Ripcord thought of the last twelve months.
Angel Aguilar
Sum up 2014 in music in just one word: Toothless
Artist of the year: St. Vincent
Album of the year: St. Vincent (self-titled)
Track of the year: Nothing To It – Jim James with lyrics by Bob Dylan
Live performance of the year: Arcade Fire at Coachella
Surprise of the year: The reformed Replacements playing on the Tonight Show
Disappointment of the year: U2’s Songs Of Innocence
Heroes of the year: Wilko Johnson and Sharon Jones, for their brave attitude while fighting with cancer
Villains of the year: Apple’s iTunes and Amazon throwing their weight around, too big for their britches in a market that needs broad competition. 
Film of the year: Boyhood
TV Show of the year: Fargo
Musical predictions for 2015: More exotic rhythms from people like tUnE-yArDs and FKA Twigs, the new dance music for a loose-jointed generation.
Favourite type of bread: Four-grain bread: fibre-rich and delicious
Ben Jones
Sum up 2014 in music in just one word: Ephemeral. Even hyped and milestone released disappeared into the rear-view mirror quickly.
Artist of the year: St. Vincent. The artist of the year with the album of the year.
Album of the year: St. Vincent
Track of the year: Sylvan EssoCoffee. Terrific and stunning debut for this group.
Live performance of the year: Bruno Mars’ Super Bowl halftime performance
Surprise of the year: Until Taylor Swift released 1989 on October 27, no 2014 album had reached platinum status in the US
Disappointment of the year: U2 shoving Songs of Innocence down 500 million innocent throats. The album wasn’t horrible, but the force-it-upon-you distribution method certainly was.
Hero of the year: Beyoncé
Villain of the year: Justin Bieber
Film of the year: Boyhood
TV show of the year: True Detective
Musical predictions for 2015: With the success and ubiquity of FKA Twigs’ debut, at least three 2015 albums will try to copycat and capitalise upon her sound.
Favourite type of bread: Banana, with a healthy amount of cream cheese slathered on top.
Carl Purvis
Sum up 2014 in music in just one word: Copacetic
Artist of the year: FKA Twigs
Album of the year: Sun Kil Moon - Benji
Track of the year: Damon Albarn – Mr. Tembo
Live performance of the year: Royal Blood at Glastonbury
Surprise of the year: Lesnar ending The Streak
Disappointment of the year: Wild Beasts not even getting on the Mercury Prize shortlist
Hero of the year: Michael Clarke. Man of the century.
Villain of the year: Lily Allen – mardy cow.
Film of the year: Gone Girl
TV Show of the year: Coronation Street
Musical predictions for 2015: Leon Bridges, Wolf Alice and Raury to cause havoc
Favourite type of bread: Tesco Tear & Share Camembert bread
Craig Stevens
Sum up 2014 in music in just one word: Progressive
Artist of the year: Lorde
Album of the year: St Vincent - St Vincent
Track of the year: Låpsley - Station
Live performance of the year: Arcade Fire at Glastonbury
Surprise of the year: Azealia Banks releasing an album
Disappointment of the year: Angel Haze live at Wireless festival
Hero of the year: Disclosure
Villain of the year: U2
Film of the year: Boyhood
TV show of the year: Transparent
Musical predictions for 2015: More understated melodies with unusual beats; a continued growth in UK artists collaborating with US artists; a dangerously adventurous new album from Kanye West
Favourite type of bread: Gluten-free wheat, barley and rye with added nutmeg and ginseng.
Forrest Cardamenis
Sum up 2014 in music in just one word: Forgettable
Artist of the year: It’s hard to vote for Mark Kozelek in light of his later antics, so I’m going to go with Merrill Garbus
Album of the year: Sun Kil Moon - Benji
Track of the year: Sun Kil Moon - Carissa
Live performance of the year: I had an awesome time at Arcade Fire, uncool as they may be now.
Surprise of the year: I’m going to have to go with Benji here once again. I thought Kozelek’s best work was twenty years behind him.
Disappointment of the year: I have a lot of disappointments this year, but I’m mostly disappointed by the fact that nobody is talking about Susanna and Jenny Hval’s brilliant collaboration, Meshes of Voice, while The War On Drugs are seeing the accolades roll in for writing eight-minute long Bryan Adams pastiches.
Hero of the year: The members of Sleater-Kinney, for reuniting.
Villain of the year: Iggy Azalea
Film of the year: Closed Curtain
TV show of the year: Girls
Musical predictions for 2015: Sleater-Kinney delivers, James Blake makes the album of the year, and Frank Ocean’s enormously hyped album won’t be as good as Channel Orange, but it will still be really good. 
Favourite type of bread: Banana bread!
Gabbie Nirenburg
Sum up 2014 in music in just one word: Paltry. 
Artist of the year: St. Vincent
Album of the year: St. Vincent 
Track of the year: Broken Bells - After the Disco 
Live performance of the year: 2014 will live on in infamy as the year I didn't see any concerts (except those my friends played). Thank you, Classical Revolution of Philadelphia, for making classical music into accessible jam sessions for the masses.
Surprise of the year: Kelis. I didn't know she was for real.
Disappointment of the year: The whole year. The whole year was a complete disappointment.
Hero of the year: Sleater-Kinney, for reuniting and unbreaking my heart.
Villain of the year: The Black Keys. Their new album pissed me off so much that I refused to review it. 
Film of the year: I've been binging on a lot of MST3K lately while reading blog posts from my friend who knows his movie shit, just waiting for his favourites to come out on DVD. I trust his opinions implicitly, so I'll go with Birdman despite not yet seeing it.
TV show of the year: Broad Fucking City.
Musical predictions for 2015: This was a year of major album anniversaries and remasters. I'm hoping that's the explanation for why we had an otherwise pathetic year of music. Next year, I'm ambitiously awaiting at least five new stand out debut acts. Don't let me down, 2015.
Graeme Marsh
Sum up 2014 in music in just one word: Mediocre
Artist of the year: Ben Howard
Album of the year: Hookworms – The Hum
Track of the year: The War On Drugs – An Ocean In Between The Waves
Live performance of the year: James at the O2 Academy in November
Surprise of the year: Kate Bush’s return to live performance
Disappointment of the year: The Foo Fighters album
Hero of the year: Tim Booth – incredible presence at the age of 54; enthralling.
Villain of the year: Ian McCulloch for ridiculing my question attempts in a hastily-arranged email interview. 
Film of the year: Box Trolls. Genius.
TV Show of the year: Breaking Bad. Ok, I don’t watch much TV and only saw the entire series recently.
Musical predictions for 2015: Oasis to reform; best album to be released courtesy of The Charlatans; Radiohead to release the best-selling album of the year.
Favourite type of bread: Garlic
Joe Rivers
Sum up 2014 in music in just one word: Hashtag
Artist of the year: Like the world and its wife, I’ll say St. Vincent.
Album of the year: Beacon of originality that I am, St. Vincent.
Track of the year: Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off continues to rock my socks, months on.
Live performance of the year: Any year I see Janelle Monáe, she wins. In 2014, I saw Janelle Monáe; this time at Brixton Academy.
Surprise of the year: I’m still not entirely over the fact that the Ed Sheeran album isn’t entirely without merit. Don’t tell anyone I said that.
Disappointment of the year: I seem to be the only Taylor Swift fan who thinks 1989 was a let-down.
Hero of the year: Charli XCX
Villain of the year. Chris Brown. It’s always Chris Brown. Plus Russell Brand. And Nigel Farage. Actually the whole of UKIP. Actually the entire media and PR machine that allows UKIP to flourish. In fact, all politicians for creating a climate where UKIP can market themselves as a viable alternative. You know what, anyone who supports or votes for UKIP. And Chris Brown again.
Film of the year: The Lego Movie, clearly.
TV show of the year: 2014 was the year I finally discovered (and watched all of) 30 Rock, but seeing as that’s not particularly current, my vote goes to Orange is the New Black.
Musical predictions for 2015: I’m wondering if the (relative) success of Royal Blood means rock could be more prominent in the coming year. Also, I think that people like Devonté Hynes, Ariel Rechtshaid et al will mean people will start looking out for producers more than artists or musicians. Finally, I’m super excited to see what Kendrick Lamar and Chance the Rapper do in 2015.
Favourite type of bread: Let’s face it, you can’t go wrong with a well-constructed fougasse.
Joel Stanier
Sum up 2014 in music in just one word: Better. 
Artist of the year: Sun Kil Moon. 
Album of the year: Benji by Sun Kil Moon is far and away my favourite album this year. I’ve become a bit tired of stripped-back acoustic music in recent years, but this one does it right. It’s recorded beautifully, Mark Kozelek’s voice sounds incredible, and the lyrics demand your attention. It’s one of those rare albums in which nearly every track is excellent.
Track of the year: Perhaps predictably, I’m going with Sun Kil Moon’s I Can’t Live Without My Mother’s Love. Mark Kozelek makes you feel every last pang of emotion with his poetry. He lays bare a child-like frailty, a feeling I think we can all relate with from time to time. I can’t wait for the follow-up track, I Can’t Believe My Mother’s Dead. Which isn’t actually that unlikely given his recent behaviour.
Live performance of the year: A tie between Sleaford Mods and Nils Frahm. Sleaford Mods for sheer discontented aggression, and Nils Frahm for a display of true musical virtuosity. Plus I turned thirty this year, and there were seats at the Nils Frahm gig, which was nice.
Surprise of the year: Sleaford Mods. If you’d told me a year ago that I’d be greatly enjoying working-class post-punk with a broad Nottingham accent, I’d have told you to get aaaahhht (that’s a Nottingham accent).
Disappointment of the year: ATP Jabberwocky falling through. The best festival line-up of the summer got cancelled with three days to spare, after what looked like a monumental cock-up between ATP and Dash Tickets. It’s a worrying time for ATP, one of the few remaining labels focusing on avant-garde music. 
Hero of the year: Russell Brand. Not music-related, but what he is doing to promote political and social awareness is hugely important. And when you see how the tabloids are starting to react, you know it’s working.
Villain of the year: Harry Styles. Just put Harry Styles every year.
Film of the year: Since it was released just after last year’s list was published, I’m going to say Her. A fascinating ‘what if’ movie, and a thought-provoking glimpse of our future.
TV show of the year: The only thing I really watch on TV is Spongebob Squarepants, which I’d say is a deserving winner.
Musical predictions for 2015: Modest Mouse will be great but still not as good as they used to be. The Decemberists will put out a slightly better album than last time. And Radiohead will confound us all with their ability to do something different every time.
Favourite type of bread: It’s a toss-up between a naan bread and a French stick.
Juan Edgardo Rodríguez
Sum up 2014 in music in just one word: For me: Sobering / In general: Orderly
Artist of the year: Sun Kil Moon
Album of the year: This one most definitely goes to Under Color of Official Right by Protomartyr. I must’ve heard this record hundreds of times this year, no exaggerating. The blood red vinyl copy I own is also very, very delicious. 
Track of the year: Black Ballerina by Ariel Pink. I’m quite baffled Pink has gotten shunned by most of the staff this year, and I think part of the reason is because of this track. It’s not a pleasant one, I admit. Pretty much everyone who’s in the know in the music world has pretty much had it with Pink’s cheap shots, but I for one find it quite refreshing how blatantly trashy and subversive this track is. And the groove is sick!
Live performance of the year: Oh, here I go again! Protomartyr at Bootleg Bar. What’s funny is that some crap local band opened for them. Insane! What were the promoters thinking? I was also really, really sick that night, but that didn’t stop me from getting up and watching Detroit’s finest. I’m giving the runner-up spot to Slint’s expectedly apathetic, but no less incendiary, performance of their classic album Spiderland at FYF earlier this year. 
Surprise of the year: The fact that I enjoyed so many albums you could describe as “emo" this year. Of course, 2014’s version of emo is leagues away from 2004's version. That said, I must admit that as I age I’ve grown to enjoy your odd Taking Back Sunday track, which is quite scary. I used to condescendingly smirk at anyone who’d dare even mention their name. 
Disappointment of the year: As much as I liked Real Estate’s last record, I found some of the tracks to be a bit boring. It’s a solid, if complacent effort that didn’t have a too many memorable hooks. And don’t get me started on the new A Sunny Day in Glasgow, which is by far their weakest; surprisingly, it was widely celebrated. And yeah, that Pixies record. You forgot about it too, didn’t you? I'm not even mentioning U2. Nope. Won't. *sheds tear*
Hero of the year: I’m giving the honors to D’Angelo, for being such a bad ass and releasing one of the best records of the year after we’ve pretty much finalized the grueling end-of-year process. good grief. 
Villain of the year: Pharrell, for making me unhappy every time I heard Happy. And who is this Hozier who's nominated for Song of the Year? "Take Me To Church" pushes all my buttons in a very bad way.
Film of the year: This modest, elegant, perfect eighty minute Polish feature called Ida. Haven’t seen it? It’s going to win all major awards this year, and it’s streaming on Netflix right now. So go on, stop reading this and go watch it. 
TV show of the year: Hmm, there’s not one single television show that grabbed me this year. True Detective came close, but I thought it had major pacing issues. And if you really think about it, it wasn’t as intriguing as people made it out to be. I very much enjoyed the chemistry between between Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson, though, especially when they would quarrel about religion and existentialism in those car scenes. 
Musical predictions for 2015: In list form:
  • Sleater Kinney are going to become ridiculously famous thanks to Carrie Brownstein’s other day job.
  • Grimes will once again fail to release her much-anticipated follow-up to Visions.
  • Vince Staples becomes a star, and deservedly so.
  • That new Idlewild record I’ve been waiting years, YEARS, for won’t meet my astronomical expectations.   
Favourite type of bread: Water bread, or "pan de agua", though don’t try to find a reputable Google translation of what that means. It’s just a term for how much I love, and miss, native Puerto Rican whole wheat bread.
Luiza Lodder
Sum up music in 2014 in just one word: Razzle-dazzle
Artist of the year: St. Vincent
Album of the year: St. Vincent's St. Vincent :)
Track of the year: Stay With Me - Sam Smith
Live performance of the year: Beyoncé's VMA performance
Surprise of the year: Taylor Swift taking her songs off Spotify
Disappointment of the year: Pixies' Indie Cindy
Hero of the year: U2 for their surprise free album
Villain of the year: Hey, Meghan Trainor, skinny girls are people too.
Film of the year: Boyhood
TV show of the year: Game of Thrones
Musical predictions for 2015: Taylor Swift will run out of red lipstick and it will become standard procedure to drop albums by surprise.
Favourite type of bread: sourdough
Mark Davison
Sum up 2014 in music in just one word: Baffling
Artist of the year: FKA Twigs
Album of the year: Taylor Swift - 1989
Track of the year: Deptford Goth – A Shelter, A Weapon
Live performance of the year: Prince and 3rdeyegirl at Koko
Surprise of the year: Kate Bush comeback…
Disappointment of the year: …that the show wasn’t actually that inspiring. Yes, it was an impressive spectacle, and she sounded great, and I’m glad I got to see it, but I felt more exhausted than moved by the end.
Hero of the year: tUnE-yArDs, for turning a frosty midweek Brixton crowd into perhaps the most cheerful bunch of people I’ve ever come across in London. 
Villain of the year: The people I had to yell at during St Vincent at End of the Road, for effectively ruining a highly-anticipated set with a complete lack of consideration for everybody else around them.
Film of the year: Under the Skin 
TV show of the year: Orange is the New Black’s second season was surprisingly even better than its first one.
Musical predictions for 2015: No idea, although I am expecting myself to finally warm to Benji and Lost in the Dream about a year after everyone else fell in love with them. (At the moment, still can’t really see the appeal, sorry).
Favourite type of bread: Depends on the circumstances. Although you can do a lot of things with a good quality bagel.
Peter Quinton
Sum up 2014 in music in just one word: Panera
Artist of the year: Sun Kil Moon
Album of the year: Grouper - Ruins
Track of the year: Protomartyr - Maidenhead
Live performance of the year: It’s between Perfect Pussy and Caribou for me. Perfect Pussy for leaving me completely out of breath in the span of just fifteen minutes, and Caribou for everything just sounding so perfect and having some of the most spectacular lighting I’ve seen at a show.
Surprise of the year: Honestly, the video for Iceage’s The Lord’s Favorite (a welcomed surprise, naturally). Also, the new Joyce Manor album rising to be perhaps one of my favourite and most listened to album of 2014, despite only modestly praising it in my review.
Disappointment of the year: The fact that despite always being a big fan of hers, St. Vincent’s self-titled has still yet to click with me. I don’t know, maybe it’ll happen in 2015.
Hero of the year: Mark Kozelek, Run the Jewels, Meredith Graves, and iLoveMakonnen come to mind.
Villain of the year: Mark Kozelek (again)
Film of the year: Boyhood
TV show of the year: Nathan For You
Musical predictions for 2015: The new Modest Mouse album will be pretty good… totally worth that seven year wait
Favourite type of bread: Brioche, the hashtag of breads.
Stephen Wragg
Sum up 2014 in music in just one word: Real
Artist of the year: Sleaford Mods. I've heard a lot of excellent music this year but most of it could have been made any year - some personal future classics were released but conceivably, a lot of them could have been made ten, twenty years ago. Sleaford Mods are the clear "artist of the year" for me, not just because Jason Williamson has such a vital poetic voice, or because the circumstances I've been in have made me want to listen to this band all the time, but because they're the real "I was there" band I'll be thinking about many years down the line.
Album of the year: Sun Kil Moon - Benji. The stories this album tells are vividly engaging, the emotions Mark Kozelek feels are palpable, the revelations within profoundly affected me, maybe even changed my life a little bit. It's funny, sad, ambitious, clever, confused, literally morbid but for Kozelek creatively fruitful - Benji is a absorbingly honest album about death.
Track of the year: Richard Dawson - Nothing Important. Listening to this track unfold for the first time was unreal. It's Dawson's sense of style that uprooted me, listening to his childlike, detail-driven narrative develop from stray trivial observances to naked existential angst. His guitar work and sense of melody are utterly astounding. 
Live performance of the year: Swans, on a good day, are everything I hoped for and more.
Surprise of the year: PC Music
Disappointment of the year: Being the only person who found the St Vincent album so irritatingly overwritten.
Hero of the year: Laura Jane Grace (Against Me!). She's made the most important punk album in a long time with Transgender Dysphoria Blues. It's a stunning achievement 
Villain of the year: The War on Drugs - Seemingly a random target of Mark Kozelek's self-effacing meanness, The War On Drugs make the kind of boring music more people should be getting that pissed off about.
Film of the year: Under the Skin
TV show of the year: Broad City
Musical predictions for 2015: I called the Sleater-Kinney reunion last year, this year I'm going to be a bit bolder and hope for a Fugazi reunion.
Favourite type of bread: Peshwari naan
And with that, we are done for 2014. Have a good one and see you on the other side.