December means list season - a time when everyone, from magazines and websites to shops, blogs and even you, dear reader, will work out exactly what your album, track or musically themed vegetable of the year really is. Off they’ll go into an ordered rundown; a factual account of what music was the best of the last twelve months.
That’s ace, but we want to do something that better reflects what DIY is. We’re all about music, sure. We happily grade albums with shiny stars, tell you what our tracks of the week are or tip you off to the hottest new thing, but when it comes down to it, it isn’t that simple. See, while we love the raw material they come out with, it removes so much of what we really have a crush on - bands themselves. While a great album makes a great act, it’s the personality, the full thing that really makes us excited.
So, instead of the usual end of year lists for individual types of releases, we’ve thrown it all together into one definitive list of artists. Between 15th and 19th December we’ll be publishing all kinds of features, interviews, retrospectives and archive pieces to explain just why they rank as they do. Albums, tracks, live performances, funny tweets and fierce rants - all count in The List, our definitive run down of who and what made our 2014.
How The List was decided
We think music is about more than just the tracks and albums bands and artists release over the course of twelve months. The List is a combination of everything from DIY writers’ nominations for albums and tracks of the year, through to the best festival performances and tours, amazing attitude and general sassiness.
There’s no points system, no firm statistical ranking - everything is thrown into a hat to result in 100 artists who we think made 2014 brilliant. Let the fighting begin!
90. Rae Morris
Rae Morris is one of a kind, and she’s set to define 2015.
She may be yet to release her own debut album, but Rae Morris has already been involved in two of the most successful records of 2014. Having been invited to be a guest vocalist on both Clean Bandit’s ‘New Eyes’ as well as three tracks from Bombay Bicycle Club’s ‘So Long, See You Tomorrow’, she’s already managed to get herself into the Mercurys and bagsy herself a recording stint with Ariel Rechtshaid. Her future is only gonna get brighter from here on in. Sarah Jamieson
89. Girl Band
The only guaranteed way to have your mind blown in 2014: Seeing Girl Band live.
Nothing compares to the fear and the force of Girl Band. All-nighters filled with American Horror Story episodes and the faint soundtrack of a creeping back door? That won’t do it. Taking a trip to the woods in pitch black, with nothing but a terrifying HEALTH record for company? It’ll come close. But the beauty of this Irish group is just how unprepared they look to jump out of their own skin. They’ll arrive on the average stage dressed in smart attire, clean jumpers completely free of beer stains. But deep within lies a dark edge, and out it bursts in full ghastly colours every time they play. On record, too, they have the phenomenal effect of stretching out grizzly, industrial notes across several harsh minutes. Either that, or they’ll release a single that’s 25 seconds long. Girl Band like to fuck with preconceptions, and 2014’s seen them achieving this with plenty more round the corner. Jamie Milton
Haim delivered one of the videos of the year, and then some.
Haim have been busy working on their second album for a fair portion of the year, but they’ve still earned their place on this coveted list with the deployment of one single video. As far as music videos go, Haim’s meticulously coordinated routine to ‘If I Could Change Your Mind’ gave Destiny’s Child a run for their money in the synchronised band stakes. It occupies a strange and fairly mesmerising middle ground between mums at an advanced level line dancing class, and incredibly well rehearsed primary school assembly performances. On the merit of this video alone, Haim are already well deserving of their place in The List, but their Latitude set and collaborations with Stevie Nicks, A$AP Ferg and Bastille seals the deal for good. El Hunt
87. Dev Hynes
Hynes has fought through hardship by referring to what he does best - music.
One year on from his ‘Cupid Deluxe’ LP, Dev Hynes’ 2014 was defined in equal parts by tragedy and his ability to stand up against adversity. In the beginning of the year, his New York apartment burned down in horrific circumstances, with Hynes’ pet dog being lost in the fire. Donations from fans had to be stopped, such was the subsequent demand to provide help. Midway through the year, he was reported to have been the subject of racial profiling at Berlin airport. And in the summer, Hynes claimed that he’d been assaulted by security at Chicago’s Lollapalooza. Not exactly a trio of incidents to lay claim for a successful year, but beyond these, Devonté stepped things up musically. His score for the Palo Alto film was a means of expanding his gaze into composition, and production-wise he contributed choice cuts to this year’s Jessie Ware and FKA twigs LP’s. In 2014, Hynes has fought through hardship by referring to what he does best - music. Jamie Milton
A surprise Stateside success who’ll be around for years to come.
The signs were there in how his ‘Take Me To Church’ single broke big online at the tailend of 2013, but nobody could quite grasp how huge Hozier was about to become in the States. Andrew Hozier-Byrne has kept things modest. His mum designs the album art. His songs aren’t massively showy, instead shouting bold truths without being preachy. A self-titled LP made the top five on these shores, but it was in North America where things took charge. Charting at #2 in the Billboard 200 was one thing, but it’s held the #1 spot on the Folk Chart for eight solid weeks, ranking as the biggest Irish breakthrough this side of Robbie Keane in the MLS. ‘Take Me To Church’ ended up ranking as the most-streamed single online. Jamie Milton
85. A G Cook
In some corners, the year belongs to A.G. Cook.
If last year belonged to the unofficial patron saint of pastel pink North Face jackets - Hannah Diamond - 2014 has to be A.G. Cook’s. He’s delighted as many as he’s pissed off with his blooping, unwieldy and ever-so-slightly ironic spin on pop music, and Hey QT, Cook’s soft drink sponsored collaboration with fellow producer of the moment SOPHIE only sweetened the deal. The main driving force behind PC Music, AG Cook’s spawned as many think-pieces as he has gif covered internet-only releases this year. El Hunt
84. Mark Ronson
Mark Ronson’s ‘Uptown Funk’ is a late claim for track of the year.
“I enjoy a good cover from time to time,” Mark Ronson tweeted the other day, showing that even he hasn’t missed the irony of X Factor contestant Fleur East’s performance of ‘Uptown Funk’ threatening to scupper his and Bruno Mars’ single (or throwing the spotlight on it, depending on where you stand). Other people’s songs may well be left back with 2007’s ‘Version’, but the brass has returned. Parping trumpets included, ‘Uptown Funk’ has made a late play not least for the festive top spot and staple Christmas party dancefloors, but also the track of the year. Just as well – it reportedly took seven months and Ronson collapsing to finish. Emma Swann
83. Bring Me The Horizon
Chart-bothering single ‘Drown’ is giving the cream of pop’s crop a run for their money.
Looking back at Bring Me The Horizon when they first emerged, as those fresh-faced screeching teenagers all the way back in 2004, it’s hard to comprehend just how much they’ve managed to achieve over the last decade. Taking their brand of metalcore and morphing it with each of their four albums, all the while storming the gleaming white towers of Radio 1 and winning, those kids from Sheffield have done good. With a sold out Wembley Arena freshly added to their resumé, and a chart-bothering single in ‘Drown’ that’s giving the cream of pop’s crop a run for their money, there’s not much that can get in the way of the five-piece. Sarah Jamieson
Prince delivered one of the year’s best surprises.
Rumours of Prince playing Glastonbury have existed as long as the festival itself, but this year it was “definitely” going to happen. Except, y’know, it didn’t. Again. What did happen, however, was a series of tiny shows that saw Prince take short residencies in various venues around London (and a brief detour to Manchester). Each show sold out in roughly minus one second, and made the perfect warm up for the subsequent drop of two new albums at the end of September, which he celebrated by deleting his entire social media presence. Presumably to avoid next year’s Glastonbury rumour mill. Tom Connick
Finally, the world came round to Gnarwolves in 2014.
A year ago, Gnarwolves thought things were going pretty well for the band. They’d played a few festivals, sold a few t-shirts. Their ‘Funemployed’ EP was causing ripples throughout the punk scene and word was spreading: this Brighton trio were ones to keep an eye on.
A lot can change in twelve months, and this three-piece can testify to that. Throughout 2014, they’ve skated their way into packed out rooms, managed to squeeze six shows into one weekend back in May and recorded and released their debut album all while endlessly touring the UK.
Then there was their slot at this year’s Reading & Leeds Festival, where they opened up the Main Stage - complete with goofy smiles and a good dose of disbelief - and held the biggest gathering of their Gnarwolves CRU to date. If Gnarwolves thought last year was a decent one, well, it’s a safe bet this one’s topped it. Sarah Jamieson