She & Him – Volume 3
I’ve loved She & Him since their first album was released in 2008. The duo of Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward is a refreshing one and each album up to this one has been full of sixties sounds and Volume 3 is no exception. M. Ward’s warm reverb drenched guitar tone is everywhere on the album and I love it. That paired with Deschanel’s wonderful voice combine to make my favourite album of the year by far. The songwriting is excellent, the production is amazing and just like Volume 1, Volume 2 and A Very She & Him Christmas the album is perfect in every way.
David Bowie – The Next Day
By far and above the greatest comeback album of all time, it came out of nowhere and boy did it blow us away. 10 years after his last album, Reality, David Bowie seemed to have disappeared completely from public life but The Next Day proved that he still had everything in the bucket load. The songs are fantastic, the album cover is a smart yet simple design on his “Heroes” album cover and it got everybody talking about every aspect of the album. The album sounds like he never even went away in the first place.
City and Colour – The Hurry And The Harm
This is the 4th studio album from City and Colour and just like the previous three albums you get absolutely excellence from Dallas Green. From start to finish you’re reminded just how good he is at writing music. His first two albums were fairly underground in terms of popularity but now he’s starting to turn heads all over the world. This album continues that trend of acceptance and rightly so. Every song on every album is exquisite and The Hurry And The Harm is no exception. It’s fantastic.
Arcade Fire – Reflektor
I absolutely love the change of music style on this album from rock/alternative of their last album The Suburbs to more dance based tracks here. My favourite song on The Suburbs is Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains) which is dance based so to have more songs in the same vein as that on Reflektor is fantastic. It’s very difficult to choose a favourite Arcade Fire but this is certainly up there, probably just behind The Suburbs. The second track on the album, We Exist, is my personal highlight but the album as a whole is just superb.
Bob Dylan – Another Self Portrait
The first of five ‘old’ releases in my list of favourite albums, this album is the 10th release in Dylan’s ‘Bootleg Series‘ which encased recordings from 1969-1971, arguably his most creative yet mis-understood period. The album came in two editions, a standard 2CD release and a 4CD deluxe edition which is the one I have. CD1 and CD2 contain a huge amount of demos, alternate takes and unheard material from his Self Portrait and New Morning albums. CD3 contains a live recording of Dylan with The Band at the Isle of Wight Festival 1969 and CD4 a fantastic remaster of the original Self Portrait album from 1970. It’s a great collection of songs, with an orchestral overdubbed Sign On The Window being my personal highlight. Just fantastic.
The Beatles – On Air – Live at the BBC Volume 2
On release, a number of people were unsure why a 2nd volume of The Beatles’ BBC sessions were needed because most tracks had made their way onto bootleg recordings over the years but this collection of songs is nothing short of excellent. The Beatles played so many sessions at the BBC and it’s great to have them released whether they’ve been on bootlegs or not. My favourite track is without a doubt Kansas City/Hey-Hey-Hey-Hey! which is brimming with energy and in my opinion better than the studio version released on Beatles For Sale. But every track is great and you can’t not notice how much fun they had together in the early days.
The Allman Brothers Band – Brothers And Sisters (40th Anniversary Super Deluxe)
What a release. Just outstanding in every single way. Originally released two years after the death of founding member and brother Duane Allman, this album as in dire need of a good remaster. The sound on this album is just so fresh that it could have been recorded yesterday. It’s great to hear the songs sound so lively. What’s also included in the set are a number of outtakes and alternate takes of album songs along with rehearsals which are all previously unreleased. Also spread over two CD’s is a fantastic live show recorded at Winterland in San Francisco in Sep 1973 and 11 of the 17 live tracks are previously unreleased as well. I do prefer the Duane Allman era of the band to post-Duane but this album is fantastic. You can hear his influence all over.
Eric Clapton – Give Me Strength: The ’74/’75 Recordings
I reviewed this album a few weeks ago on my blog and there was no way in hell it wasn’t being included in my favourite albums of the year. 461 Ocean Boulevard and There’s One In Every Crowd are two of my favourite Clapton solo albums so to hear them remastered so beautifully is an absolute joy, as is the inclusion of a shedload of alternate takes, outtakes and demos. It’s a fantastic box set and one I’ve not stopped listening to since I got it a few weeks ago. The live tracks and Freddie King session songs are just as good as the two albums and outtakes and it’s fantastic that this period of Clapton’s solo career has now been thoroughly looked in to.
Bobby Whitlock – Where There’s A Will There’s A Way: The ABC-Dunhill Recordings
This amazing collection of recordings contains Bobby Whitlock’s two first solo album which included performances from so many great musician friends including his fellow Dominos Eric Clapton, Carl Radle and Jim Gordon but also George Harrison, Bobby Keys, Delaney & Bonnie, Klaus Voorman and Jim Price. What’s excites me when listening to these songs (the first album especially) is that the songs would have fit perfectly in and amongst a second album from Derek and the Dominos. Recorded during and after their second album breakdown their sound is shouting out from absolutely everywhere. Both of these albums (1972’s Bobby Whitlock and Raw Velvet from the same year) had never been released on CD before this set, having only been released on vinyl on the year of release. It’s fantastic that they’ve now been put out there again for everyone to enjoy the talent that is Bobby Whitlock.