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.
Read The List 2014: DIY’s year in music [30 - 21] here.
Honeyblood penned one of the best debuts of the year.
If the world fell into place the right way, Honeyblood would be riding the wave of their debut album for years. As it stands, it’s remained a solid albeit unsung gem, a riotous introduction that ought to pave way for something spectacular. Stina Tweedale’s songwriting bears few comparisons - it’s a dark and twisted but oddly celebrating take on garage rock, U.S. staples feeding into her Scottish twang. Despite the departure of Shona McVicar - one half of the vital duo - it’ll be fascinating to see how Tweedale uses this debut as a launchpad for album number two. Jamie Milton
19. Against Me
Laura Jane Grace has become the icon of 2014 and her band’s latest album is their punchiest and most clinical.
‘Transgender Dysphoria Blues’ was always going to be viciously autobiographical. Laura Jane Grace has become the icon of 2014 and her band’s latest album is their punchiest and most clinical. ‘Transgender..’ travels between the highs (‘True Trans Soul Rebel’) and lows (‘FUCKMYLIFE666’) of her well publicised journey, and packs ten tracks, a narrative and beautifully hooky punk rock into a fraction over half an hour. Laura’s band have potentially had their defining moment in 2014, but with her arsenal of songwriting ammunition, a new record on this level shouldn’t be bet against. Will Richards
‘Love’ is all around and Dan Snaith’s had the best year of his career.
All you need is ‘Love’. Dan Snaith’s steady rise as one of the most-cited producers was given one extra push thanks to his most expressive record to date, one that pieced together his mix of heady electronics and coo’ing lyrics into something that resonated on a huge scale.
Previous LP ‘Swim’ did half of the work. Several years on and the likes of ‘Odessa’ and ‘Sun’ remain go-to anthems. Only now, they’re backed by ‘Can’t Do Without You’, a song that filtered out of festival tent DJ sets, into countless house parties, walks alone and first loves. Snaith’s never shied away from being expressive, but on this year’s ‘Our Love’ he showed actual heart. Now, thanks a trusty all-white tee and jeans combo, plus one of the most frenetic touring bands around, he’s positioned himself for a huge 2015, with a headline slot at Field Day already in the calendar. Jamie Milton
If there’s a throne out there ready and waiting for any musician, Ms Yelich-O’Connor would have every right to call it hers.
“You can call me queen bee” may have been a lyric written in jest way back when Lorde was just Ella, a teen in suburban New Zealand, but if there’s a throne out there ready and waiting for any musician, Ms Yelich-O’Connor would have every right to call it hers. Who else could call on Chvrches, Haim and Charli XCX at will for a film soundtrack – and think to pair them with Kanye West, Grace Jones or Simon Le Bon? How many teenagers could be expected to have heard of Simon Le Bon?! Then there’s performing across the world several times over, being a fashion icon and yes, that Diplo put-down. Emma Swann
This year Jungle emerged as a fearsomely polished collective.
Zoom back to the beginning of 2014, and Jungle were still in hiding behind a self-constructed bunker of misleading press shots, gold-embroidered bomber jackets, and a bad-ass kid break dancing along to ‘Platoon’. As the curtains of secrecy surrounding leaders J and T began to drop, though, one by one, Jungle emerged as a fearsomely polished collective. By mid-year they were celebrating the launch of their debut album by performing it on top of a South London carpark and filming the whole thing with drones. Obviously. By September, the whole collective were making their way down a red carpet together and cheers-ing a Mercury nominated debut.
Throughout all this hubbub, J and T have stuck to their disco-inspired guns with such clarity that, even with their mugs revealed now for the world to see, Jungle remains about the sound aesthetics. A hypnotic, laggy brand of down-tempo funk, peppered with metal-scrapey guitar licks, strutting bass, and even animal noises, Jungle nailed it from the beginning. El Hunt
15. Bombay Bicycle Club
‘So Long, See You Tomorrow’ has allowed Bombay Bicycle Club to take the next step.
Having propelled them to the top of the charts all the way back in February, ‘So Long, See You Tomorrow’ and its worldly adventuring charms has allowed Bombay Bicycle Club to take the next step, and begin their ascent to festival headliners. Having garnered quite the acclaim – from critics, fans and their peers – their fourth record has seen them jump up line-ups, finally get the Mercury nomination they deserve and headline the massive Earls Court with just a few days to go before 2014 draws to a close. Not too shabby, eh? Sarah Jamieson
14. Wild Beasts
‘Present Tense’ is one of the year’s criminally unsung triumphs.
The most ‘they woz robbed!” injustice of this year’s Mercury Prize? Not giving Wild Beasts their dues. Nominated for previous LPs, the ridiculous step up that is ‘Present Tense’ wasn’t duly rewarded, making it one of the year’s criminally unsung triumphs. This is a record that belongs in 2014. It collects the discontent and fear of post-millennial Britain; the wage divides, the dead ends and the slim hopes of racing through your twenties with no grasp of an endpoint. And it’s backed by some of the most beautiful, simple songwriting Wild Beasts have yet produced. Hayden Thorpe sounds increasingly like someone hitting his finest form - the accolades must surely be around the corner. Jamie Milton
Paramore pull off the achievements no other band is capable of.
Sometimes the stars and planets align, the sun comes out and, after over a decade of making music together, a band get to headline Reading and Leeds for the first time and it goes off without a hitch. Then sometimes, things are sent to test even the most massive of success stories. This year, that was what happened to Paramore, and it was in the moments after that they proved just how incredible they are. Instead of throwing a hissy fit, or breaking down in tears, they gulped down any nerves, ignored the fact that the whole Main Stage was without power, sat themselves down and played anyway.
In 2014, they’ve played on cruise ships, at festivals and in sold out arenas all over the world, but never has it felt quite as special - quite as perfect - as those few minutes during their first ever Reading headline set. The stage may have been blacked out, they may have only had an acoustic guitar and just Hayley’s voice, but they had their entire audience - all 80,000 or so of them - singing every word too. That’s not something that any band can pull off, but then again, they are Paramore. Sarah Jamieson
Eclipsing the feats of their debut, Chvrches bit-by-bit became one of the UK’s biggest bands.
As if the dazzling synth pop of debut ‘The Bones of What You Believe’ wasn’t enough, restless Scottish trio Chvrches had it in them to go one better, time and time again. Topped off by the ‘Get Away’ and ‘Dead Air’ tracks, most of 2014 was devoted to one of the year’s biggest, most exhaustive tours. They never stopped playing and they never stopped smiling, one show piling on top of the other. With that, their previously disputed live show became a true force, laser-backed and easily one of the quickest fixes for pure euphoria. Watch this space - Chvrches are on the brink of being one of the UK’s biggest bands. Jamie Milton
11. The War On Drugs
Philadelphians taking on the Pyramid Stage, Adam Granduciel became a celebrated treasure in 2014.
It took just a minor alteration, a slight jig of an already proven formula, but The War on Drugs shifted from cult concern to one of the most acclaimed bands in the world this year. At the time of writing, ‘Red Eyes’ is currently soundtracking a Jimmy Choo advert. It’s also bursting out of countless car stereos, backing every life-affirming road trip both sides of the Grand Canyon.
Despite being a distinctly American record, an open road emotional juggernaut, ‘Lost in the Dream’’s struck a particular chord in the UK. Landing headfirst on the Pyramid Stage, it careered skywards into the hearts of thousands. Every band that spoke to DIY sang its praises, Benji Compston from Happyness saying “you can just sit there and it washes over you in a plesant way and it still has a connection,” Woman’s Hour’s Fiona Burgess stating that she felt like she’d heard it “a million times before. And I loved it because of that. Not for a nostalgia purpose - I felt like I knew where it was going.” Familiarity wins out, birthing a songwriter in Granduciel who’ll be cited as an inspiration for decades. Jamie Milton