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!
70. Woman’s Hour
Experts in gloomy pop, Woman’s Hour took a big first step in 2014.
Woman's Hour have existed three years now, but everything seemed to finally click for the Kendal four-piece in 2014. The considerable buzz surrounding them was cemented and accelerated by their debut album 'Conversations', released in July, and occupies healthy slots in multiple end of year lists. Their 2015 begins with a show at London's Lexington, following a triumphant night at the capital's Village Underground back in September. The band's 2014 caught everyone unawares, and with 'Conversations'' follow up due next year, we'll most likely be here again next December with yet more praise for these experts in gloomy pop. Will Richards
It’s been a ridiculously fast rise, from humble practice rooms to The O2.
They’ve only just hit the studio to record their debut album, but Gengahr’s turning point came months before, at showcase festivals hosting the band for the first time. These inner-city weekenders always find new heroes in a flash, and Felix Bushe and co.’s early slot at Liverpool Sound City remains a 2014 highlight. Little did anyone know that within less than a year, they’d be joining Alt-J at London’s O2, ready to release their first work via Transgressive. It’s been a ridiculously fast rise, but in guitarist John Victor they boast someone capable of sending a band skywards in an instant - it’s how Gengahr link his wild solos with eerie, unorthodox songwriting that really does the trick. Jamie Milton
Dodging traffic and baffling hapless directors, Peace have had anything but a quiet year.
Who'd have thought a band would single-handedly out-choreograph Haim at the same time as matching the boyband-aping chutzpah of Blink-182? And – more to the point - that band would be Peace? Well, obviously. Because in a year which saw the June DIY cover stars grace the Main Stage of Reading & Leeds, it's still the all-white foursome dodging traffic and baffling hapless directors that stands out most. El Hunt
67. Royksopp & Robyn
A one-off, but one of 2014’s most priceless memories.
They might one day claim to ‘Do It Again’, but Scandinavian giants Röyksopp & Robyn’s collaborative live shows in 2014 will always stand out as a one-off. Together, they combined blitzing sections of solo material, before joining forces in a chaotic future-gasm, a maddening and often hilarious interpretation of dance music. Svein Bjorn and Torbjorn Brundtland wore masking headgear lifted straight out of a space drama that’d never get commissioned. Robyn came across like a street-ready Bowie hybrid with her mullet and sports jacket combo. Every aspect of the performance felt ridiculous when viewed from Latitude 2014, but it still made for one of this year’s most unforgettable moments. Outside of the live arena, Robyn remained on the fringes (contributing to Kindness’ latest LP, as well as launching into ‘Do It Again’), but Röyksopp called it a day in terms of albums, declaring that ‘The Inevitable End’ would be their final LP. Perhaps the buzz and the melee of their live shows was all too much - not even releasing a special record could match the high. Jamie Milton
66. La Roux
Years out the game did nothing to hinder her La Roux’s take on pop.
In between a chart-topping debut and this year, Elly Jackson broke ties with her songwriter partner, hit a creative wall and, at one point, physically couldn’t sing on stage. A good chunk of what was initially feared around La Roux’s absence ended up being true. But years out the game did nothing to hinder her ‘80s-obsessed take on pop. This time, instruments were wound tighter, a funk groove leading the way instead of a Tron-esque future cruise. ‘Trouble In Paradise’ packs anthems that are near-enough timeless - particularly in ‘Sexotheque’, a song that deserved to lodge itself at the top of the charts. Jamie Milton
SOHN is a staple of electronic music production and songwriting. A Jedi, even.
SOHN’s Twitter bio used to be a list of corrections to common misconceptions about him (he’s not Austrian, he’s not Jesse Pinkman, he’s not a girl… so on). That list has since been updated, replacing disclaimers with cold hard facts. It's a fitting match for SOHN's year. Entering 2014, he may have been wrongfully known as a band or as a poor man’s James Blake but leaving 2014 he’s none of those things, he’s a staple of electronic music production and songwriting. His name only further solidified by his radio one residency and some ace remixes, SOHN has arrived and is here to stay. He also wears hooded robes and looks like a Jedi, which is always a plus. Henry Boon
64. Lana Del Rey
In the end, the joke is on everybody else.
On the surface it might look like Lana Del Rey has spent her year courting controversy – you only have to skim The Guardian's interview in which she reportedly said “I wish I was dead already” to see where that impression might come from. She’s made the pages of red top tabloids everywhere, numerous times, for the scandalous crime of (gasp) lighting up a cigarette on stage, and then there are the endless accusations – Lana Del Rey glorifies this, or Lana Del Rey is a disgrace to that.
Thing is, though, in the end the joke is on everybody else. Her third record ‘Ultraviolence’ isn’t sultry, alluring, inauthentic or flat at all; it comes from somewhere far more complex. Lana Del Rey is no songstress. In actual fact, she’s played every tired out trope like a helpless puppet all year. El Hunt
63. Perfume Genius
Bow down to the royalty that is Perfume Genius.
There must be something special in the air this year. Whatever the fresh hell it is, Perfume Genius is fuelled by the stuff, and his third album ‘Too Bright’ took him from a cultish sensation to a bona fide superstar. Usually very touching, sometimes theatrical and always gut-punchingly emotional, Mike Hadreas’ latest musical endeavours have batted previous form out the park. “No family is safe, when I sashay,” he sings on ‘Queen’. It’s the most quietly subversive lyric of the year. El Hunt
One of the most exciting rock acts around, without a doubt.
As well as small monkeys with two fetching little tufts of white fur on their heads, Marmozets are one of the most exciting rock bands about. This year’s seen a typically raucous Reading & Leeds Festival, a spot supporting Royal Blood, and a debut album that crashed out of the scene where Marmozets started out, growing into something fearsomely brilliant and totally standalone. In other words, it’s been one hell of a 12 months. Comprised of the Macintyre siblings and the Bottomley brothers, headlining Shepherd's Bush, is next on the agenda for the band, and it’ll be their biggest stage yet. ‘The Weird and Wonderful Marmozets’ just keep getting more wonderful by the minute. El Hunt
No doubt about it - Låpsley’s a unique talent.
It arrived late in the day, but the video for ‘Falling Short’, Låpsley’s latest single, confirms Holly Fletcher to be a star. Hints have been dropped up to now, like in the pitch-shifting simplicity of her ‘Station’ track and the five-star rated brilliance of her new EP, ‘Understudy’. But in her latest clip, out steps a unique talent. Eyeballing the camera or keeping grip of a lost, half-nude (and thankfully towelled) young man, it’s one of several 2014 videos that strike out as immediately iconic, like Arca’s alien dance for ‘Thievery’ and FKA twigs’ deeply unsettling ‘Video Girl’. Jamie Milton
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