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!
Read The List 2014: DIY’s year in music [100 - 91] here.
Read The List 2014: DIY’s year in music [90 - 81] here.
Read The List 2014: DIY’s year in music [80 - 71] here.
Read The List 2014: DIY’s year in music [70 - 61] here.
Read The List 2014: DIY’s year in music [60 - 51] here.
Read The List 2014: DIY’s year in music [50 - 41] here.
Read The List 2014: DIY’s year in music [40 - 31] here.
30. DFA 1979
A return like no other, Death From Above 1979 felt like they’d never gone away.
After a couple of years of stampeding their way across the U.S.A’s major festival circuit, Death From Above’s reunion finally hit top speed this year, with the release of their ten-year-in-the-making sophomore record. ‘Trainwreck 1979’ was the first glimpse we were given of their return, and its chugging, throbbing tank of a bassline shook away any cobwebs right from the off. Ultimately, ‘The Physical World’ was everything we’d come to expect from the pair. Returning a decade after their last record with something so razor sharp proved that DFA are, were, and always will be the perfectly formed behemoth that their legacy suggests. Tom Connick
29. Young Fathers
Award winners with a dazzlingly bright future.
Edinburgh hip-hop trio Young Fathers had their most successful year to date, receiving a massive profile boost in the form of the Mercury Prize. Tight lipped at the ceremony, despite the cool £20,000 prize money that accompanied their win, expectations for 2015 have inevitably increased. In spite of this, nobody can diminish the significance of a 2014 that saw them win the Mercury Prize and the Scottish Album of the Year (for Tape Two) with a wholly unique brand of alternative hip-hop. Influences drawn from across their musical backgrounds made for captivating listening, and it’s certain that whatever form their next release takes, it won’t be going overlooked. Maybe in 2015 they’ll start bearing those charming smiles they’ve been hiding all this time. Louis Haines
28. Jack White
Nobody on this list has done as much as White this year.
There are few singular characters even in the same league as Jack White. Kanye’s the only one who comes to mind, so it’s just as well White compares himself to Yeezy. And Alan Partridge. Yes, that one. From selling 40,000 12” albums in one week, to filling the O2 Arena in London, talking broken ankles with Ellen on primetime US television and looking really grumpy at baseball games, the term ‘Jack of all trades’ suddenly doesn’t seem too much of an insult. Then there’s the Paramount Records archives and talking at fancy US universities as a consequence, producing an album by Neil Young and daring to cover ‘Enter Sandman’ right before Metallica’s headline spot at Glastonbury. Of course, it hasn’t been all positive in the last twelve months, but one thing’s for sure – nobody on this list has done as much as White this year. Emma Swann
27. Years & Years
The perfect pop concoction.
Where else will you find a pop group fronted by an actor-turned-vocalist who loves dressing like Bart Simpson on stage? Absolutely nowhere. From the moment they stepped out with buzzy demos, Years & Years always had big potential. But in the last few months they’ve gone skywards, touring with big names like Sam Smith and Clean Bandit while retaining their own distinct style. They’re one monster single away from becoming the biggest breakthrough success of 2015, and that’s only partly why they landed on the cover of DIY’s Class of 2015 special. In Olly Alexander they have a frontman dishing out character like free grapes, in Emre Turkmen a producer with ridiculous knowhow, and in Mikey Goldsworthy a former chef in a Michelin-star restaurant. The perfect pop concoction. Jamie Milton
26. Arctic Monkeys
Arctic Monkeys and Alex Turner can get away with just about anything.
Whatever people say Alex Turner is, that’s what he’s not. So in 2014’s terms, the Arctic Monkeys frontman must actually be a charming, reserved rule-follower; a clean-shirted saint. Watch him drop the mic.
As it played out, 2014 witnessed Turner realising that he could get away with just about anything. Perfect the American drawl that debuted last year? Check. Bring a quiff bigger than the main stage itself to Reading & Leeds? Check. Hitch up to an awards ceremony, win everything and still manage to piss people off? Tick that one off too.
For years there’s been a desire for something like the BRIT Awards to buck up and get controversial again. First, they decided to air the ceremony live, after years of pre-recording. Then they dragged in a couple of potentially feather-rustling hosts, before reverting to James Corden. In the end, it took a leather jacket’ed frontman to talk shit for a couple of minutes - that did the trick. Through stunts and Finsbury Park triumphs, Arctic Monkeys became even bigger than the band that departed 2013 with the most almighty of bangs. Jamie Milton
Eagulls’ force can’t be controlled.
Eagulls’ hypnotic live show gripped the internet at the start of the year after a mesmerising performance of the appropriately-titled ‘Possessed’ on David Letterman. Bassist Tom Kelly also took the opportunity to show off his Bill Murray tattoo to the man himself, who was a guest on the show. Criminally left off the Mercury nominations list, their self-titled full-length was nevertheless one of the finest debuts of the year, and come its release in March the band shot straight through the festival circuit. Undoubtedly the peak of their year, however, came with the scarring video for ‘Hollow Visions’. We’ll leave you to seek it out. We’re still recovering. Tom Connick
24. Glass Animals
Glass Animals took to one of the year’s most unsung breakthroughs.
Tents came off their hinges, crowds clambered to get on stage, Noel Fielding thought their name was well wacky - and Glass Animals only had to purr and pounce to get attention. They’ve toured debut ‘ZABA’ relentlessly in 2014, but only because with every trip, the response gets amplified tenfold. From Australia to the States, Dave Bayley’s crew are one of the year’s most understated breakthroughs. Peanut butter-loving track ‘Gooey’ is the second most-shared track on Spotify this year, proof that the hype around this Oxford group is still spreading. ‘ZABA’-daba-doo, on to the next one. Jamie Milton
A Stateside triumph.
More than eighteen months on from Bastille’s 2013 debut, and they’re still trying and succeeding in taking over the world. 2014 has admittedly been a little more quiet for the four-piece over on our side of the Atlantic, but that’s just because they’ve been appearing at massive European festivals and playing sold out arenas shows all over North America. Needless to say, they’re still a big deal in the UK – a sold out show at Alexandra Palace and a BRIT Award is evidence of that – but they’ve now become one of our most sought-after exports too. With a brand new mixtape – containing a cast of high profile friends getting involved – also now in their arsenal, things are only going to get more massive for the London quartet. Sarah Jamieson
With SOPHIE, it’s what’s next that’s most exciting.
Technically, SOPHIE only released five minutes of recorded music in 2014, but it was enough to keep the one-of-a-kind producer firmly in the public eye. With ‘LEMONADE’ and ‘HARD’, his twisted, bubble-popping formula didn’t back down for a single second, only intensifying the sugar crush punch of the Londoner’s spiralling signature.
But that wasn’t all. In ‘QT’ - his collaboration with #85 on The List, A. G. Cook - he began to give the impression that if anyone’s capable of taking this severe take on electronic music to a mainstream audience, it’s him. Even if - as was the case this summer - he continues the faceless route, performing stunts like playing in front of a hot tub, or asking a drag queen to mime his DJing.
PC Music’s future might be fleeting, but the big names associated with its emergence have big potential to go further. With SOPHIE, it’s what’s next that’s most exciting. Collaborations with Nicki Minaj, Madonna and Kyary Pamyu Pamyu are all in the works. Given the way he casually debuts new material in frantic DJ sets across the world, expect next year’s most talked-about track to arrive just like that, out of nowhere. Jamie Milton
21. Perfect Pussy
Perfect Pussy haven’t stayed quiet for one second.
Syracuse, NY’s Perfect Pussy were already a big talking point in 2014 before they even played a note. Everything from the band name to singer Meredith Graves’ constant, brilliant tirade against sexism in music put the band into the spotlight and willed them to make the album to back it up. ‘Say Yes To Love’ is a visceral 23-minute barrage, and an event the band have done a stellar job of recreating live over a hectic year-long stretch on the road. Graves’ lyrics are almost intelligible on the record, smothered beneath mountains of sludgy bass and synth, but every so often a yelped lyric pokes its head above the surface and hits to the chest. Then when the lyric sheet is subsequently reached for, the beauty and sometimes horrifying nature of the band’s words come to light.
Meredith Graves has made herself known this year with numerous pieces of writing, tackling everything from Mark Kozelek’s moment of madness and how it intertwines with male violence in the music industry to Andrew WK and authenticity in music, but when taking a step back from the considerable amount the band has said, and has had said about them with a little digging and a glance at Graves’ songwriting, it’s clear that Perfect Pussy’s lyrics are as much as a statement as anything else they’ve said outside of them. They’re not just a hardcore band. ‘Say Yes To Love’ opens with the line “Watch me I’m kicking the wall / I’ll break through before I go / and leave a hole my shape in everything you know” on ‘Driver’, and serves as a bulldozing metaphor for Perfect Pussy’s 2014. Will Richards