10. Solana - ‘Camino’
After forming in Valencia in 2012, Solana have enthused (and confused) listeners throughout Europe playing a unique blend of instrumental folk & world music. Their style is rhythmically complex and harmonically rich. With an arty style to the packaging of this album it already promises something different. The must is unusual but but beautiful in an ethereal way. Solana make an interesting sound that I hadn’t heard before. They really intrigue me. I particularly enjoy 'Cheap Nougat', the 7th track of the 8th track album; a calm and beautifully plucked melody that picks up halfway through and make you want to dance. Cheap Nougat sounds like it comes from gypsy music traditions.
9. AFI - ‘The Blood Album’
I’ve read a lot of reviews on this album and disagree with most of them. They all claim that AFI are simply trying to rehash what they’ve done before and that while ‘The Blood Album’ isn’t terrible, it doesn’t give them a step up.
For me, it harkens back to Decemberunderground, just with a new fashion sense. The songs are full of the same energy and the lyrics are just as poetic. 'Aurelia', 'Dark Snow', and 'Above the Bridge' are my favourites from the album.
8. Melrose Quartet - ‘Dominion’
Nancy Kerr, James Fagan, & Jess and Richard Arrowsmith are writing their own songs into a quasi-folk style. Their songwriting each has a different style which makes the album a varied and electric mix of traditional and modern folk. I am a big fan of Nancy Kerr’s songwriting though, surprisingly, my favourite songs on this album weren’t just those written by Nancy: 'Dominion of the Sword', by James Fagan and ‘ware Out Mother, by Jess Arrowsmith.
7. Jon Boden - ‘Afterglow’
Jon Boden FINALLY released his long-awaited third self-penned album. The singles he released and the instagram posts leading up to the unveilings of the album had me excited. While it is still damn good song-writing, in my opinion it isn’t quite up there with his previous two solo albums which were works of genius. I suppose they may have been too hard to beat.
Afterglow follows on from his 2009 post-apocalyptic concept album, Songs From the Floodplain. While Songs From the Floodplain was largely rural in setting, Afterglow is set in a urban streets amidst a dystopian street carnival. It tells the story of two star-crossed lovers trying to find each other in the chaos.
6. Taylor Swift - ‘reputation’
Yes, I am a Swifty. I have followed her progress from 'Love Story' to 'Bad Blood' and I have loved every bit of it. Taylor Swift’s songwriting skills are outstanding and I find it amazing how she gas managed to hold onto her adoring fans despite the massive change of style she has undergone recently. From American country/pop music to electronica pop, ‘reputation’ cements her style change. Taylor Swift always declares who she is and what she stands for. However, I feel that this album doesn’t quite have the impact that 1989 did. The songs are more angry, yet seem to have less emotion than previous albums.
5. Ruby Muse - ‘Just Like You’
I feel in love with this short EP within seconds. Ruby Muse have a distinct style that I am very much attracted to. I have only once ever heard one other artist like them. This is a very specific style of music that I just don’t find very often. It reminds me of one of my favourite artists, Sam Phillips. I never thought I’d find music like hers, until I discovered Ruby Muse. Ruby Muse would be a lot higher on this list if the record had been full length. It is only a short EP and leaves me begging for more.
4. Evanescence - ‘Synthesis’
I have listened to Evanescence from a young age. I have always loved their dark, sonorous music. Synthesis is the next step for this band. Employing an electronica sound while also performing with a full orchestra, they have developed their style into something new while also maintaining the distinctive Evanescence style we have grown to love. Synthesis has taken their old hits, now written into this new style. The result is (can you believe it?) even more epic than ever before.
3. Blue Rose Code - ‘The Water of Leith’
Before hearing the album I knew that a lot of people had been raving about bit, Kris Drever included. On my first listen I didn’t really understand what it was they were raving about. I thought it was odd but quite simplistic. And then I found myself coming back to the same songs over and over again. They’re not the irritating ‘stuck in my head’ songs, they just ring in your memory, specifically 'Passing Places' and 'Sandaig'. But the real triumph of this album, for me, was The Water; an utterly breathtaking piece of music.
2. Emma Stevens - ‘To My Roots’
I discovered Emma Stevens last summer and was quickly addicted to her bubbly music. She is a masterful lyricist and creates such memorable melodies. 'To My Roots', 'Sing Out', and 'Money Can’t Buy Me' will have you singing along in no time.To My Roots is Emma’s third album, described by Terry Wogan as “just magical” - and I totally agree! Deep and profound throughout, Emma manages to look at life’s ups and downs in a unique way.
1. Kim Lowings & The Greenwood - ‘Wild & Wicked Youth’
Kim Lowings is always going from strength to strength. With a gorgeous voice that has enthralled the folk world, she always manages to capture the emotion of a song. This album includes Kim’s self-penned 'Firestone' which will forever be one of my favourite songs of all time. This album ranges from heartbreaking to jolly; funny to downright beautiful. Check out these tracks: 'In Spirit', 'The Tortoise and The Hare', 'Firestone', 'Oh The Wind and Rain', and 'Away Ye Merry Lassies'.