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!
Interpol loomed over 2014, with the shadowy elegance that they’d been mastering since the first notes of ‘PDA’. Having built excitement, they released ‘El Pintor’ in September, an excellent album that represented close to their best output since the outrageously good debut ‘Turn On The Bright Lights’. The levels of suaveness were astronomical, playing gigs in art museums, in front of ancient Egyptian tombs and even ending up in mural form on some trendy New York walls. Not even being trapped in a blizzard managed to dampen their momentum as many of their fans turned out on Twitter with #prayforinterpol. From a much loved band to a legendary one, 2014 marked the year Interpol’s maturity and poise finally clicked with a legacy and back catalogue that would justify even the highest of praise. Matthew Davies
79. Tobias Jesso Jr
Jesso has countless gripping stories to tell.
When LA-based piano man Tobias Jesso Jr. stepped out onto the stage for his first ever show at Pitchfork Paris in October, the wincey figure in the blurred promo shots became a lanky bag of nerves. But Jesso had countless gripping stories to tell. Whether it was early underground hit ‘Just A Dream’’s disoriented refrain of “I can’t explain my world to you” or ‘Hollywood’’s glum telling of various slipshod career moves, his was easily the most stirring set of the whole weekend. He’s already been compared to other songwriters (think Elliott Smith, Mark Linkous, even John Lennon), but really, he’s very much his own. Certainly more than just a “rusty boot”, as he recently told DIY. Expect more rousing gloom and despair on debut album 'Goon', out March next year. Huw Oliver
78. White Lung
In-your-face firebrand punk.
After having kicked, screamed and riffed their way out of the Canadian underground since 2006, this year saw White Lung sign with Domino and begin a full-on worldwide onslaught. 'Deep Fantasy', their first record for the label is one hell of a awesome whirlwind; twenty-two minutes of in-your-face firebrand punk. What's more, there are few vocalists as visceral, and, frankly badass as Mish Way. Emma Swann
77. Mica Levi
2014 is the closest Mica’s ever come to becoming an actual star.
It’s hard to imagine Mica Levi ever becoming a full-blown national treasure, but in her own remarkable way she’s created her own little world which, when peered upon in a couple of decades’ time, might dig up a hero.
Classically trained but mostly opting for bonkers de-tuned alt-pop via Micachu and the Shapes, 2014 is the closest Mica’s ever come to becoming an actual star. She achieved this with the year’s most harrowing soundtrack, a cold and hollow ‘Under the Skin’ companion that backed Scarlett Johansson’s twisted, alien take on the human world. Few films leave a bigger, more gut-wrenching afterthought, and a lot of that’s owed to Levi’s gloomy music.
Plus, when it all boils down to it, nothing will ever top Mica’s ‘where the fuck am I’ expression at the ‘Under the Skin’ premiere. Jamie Milton
76. Mac DeMarco
‘Salad Days’ are gone, now Mac’s on the brink of becoming a star.
As DIY’s Tom Walters noted at London Forum last month, “people go fucking crazy for Mac DeMarco”. In the space of two years, the Canadian has released three albums, been tortured on television and has spent the majority of his time on the long winding road. Recent album ‘Salad Days’ was released earlier this year, an album that showed the softer and endearing side of Mac DeMarco. Personally and creatively, he’s come into his own after learning the ups and downs of touring heavily and a public persona that casts him as joker.
’Salad Days’ perhaps provides a watershed moment in DeMarco’s career. The response from the album has strengthened people’s love for him and exposed him further to new adoring fans. A loveable goof that he is, the world has welcomed him with open arms for being himself. There’s no pretence with Mac DeMarco but if there were, then the world of music would be a little less fun. Sean Stanley
75. Johnny Foreigner
A relentless force, incapable of losing enthusiasm.
The audible whirlwind that begins Johnny Foreigner latest album ‘You Can Do Better’ was just the start of the group’s mile-a-minute ambitions this year. Since that record’s March release, the group have embarked on a non-stop romp around the globe, signing to US label Lame-O as the summer hit its peak. Through it all, the newly expanded four-piece have retained every ounce of their scrappy charm, with a sweat drenched link up with indie-pop heartthrobs Los Campesinos! as part of the Dr. Martens #STANDFORSOMETHING tour a fitting cap to a breathtaking and mental year. Tom Connick
74. Jamie T
The comeback king.
As indie myth goes, a group of fanboys and fangirls sporting ripped bomber jackets and black spray-on jeans have been on the hunt for Jamie T for the last five years . All over Wimbledon search-parties scoured the streets for just a trace of a quiff or an earful of the South-London slur. Supposedly, even the bloody Wombles had a look. Thankfully, he resurfaced this year with ‘Carry On The Grudge’, a late-night cocktail of thoughtful ballads (‘The Prophet’, ‘Mary Lee’) and ska/rap-rock bangers (‘Zombie’). The record was more mature and subtle, steering away from his earlier one-dimensional sound in gutsy but well-measured fashion. The only slight mare was choosing not to include ‘Sheila’ in his live setlist, meaning everyone missed out on a chance to rupture their voice box roaring ‘SCREAAAAAMS CALLING LONDON’. Still, no grudges will be carried on; nothing would be worth holding if it meant Jamie T left us for another five years. Kyle MacNeill
She’s passed ‘Go’ - the next step is a hype-defying new LP.
The only misstep Grimes made in 2014 came in acknowledging that yes, ‘Go’ - her only single of the year - might not be what people wanted. The second someone like Claire Boucher starts following what she ought to do, or what she’s expected to do, is the moment she falls behind the pack. There’s no danger of that, really - a new LP will storm 2015 and let’s face it, ‘Go’ would have been a monster hit had Rihanna accepted it. But it’s unlike Grimes to stand in line with expectations. Thankfully, and contrary to initial reports, she’d scrapped the follow-up to ‘Visions’ way before anyone had a chance to hear it. Subsequent sessions have seen her working with Lizzo, which is obviously amazing, and there’s every reason to think that ‘Go’ might end up being looked upon as a breakthrough moment where, by trial and error, she discovered her big next step. Besides, outside of opinion-splitting singles, Grimes still possesses one of the best food-obsessed Instagram accounts, and her tweets about Game of Thrones continue to act as a blessing on us all. Jamie Milton
72. Aphex Twin
A blimp in the radar, Aphex Twin’s return has been a blessing to all things bonkers.
Thirteen years after his previous official Aphex Twin album, ‘Syro’ arrived in the way only a record from Richard D James could (especially with the sense of anticipation around it): a cryptic website, a barmy press release and, obviously, a blimp flying over East London. The whole thing felt quintessentially him. And then we got to hear the music, itself it revealed him to be a master of his craft. ‘Syro’ was an album ambitious in scope. Maybe it didn’t invent a new genre, but its attention to detail remains staggering. And then his son (or so he claims) goes and shows he’s better than most other musicians out there too. There’s no limit to Aphex’s madness. Danny Wright
Rip-roaring self-titled second album seated in industrially minded post-punk? Check. Storming collaboration with SBTRKT? You bet. A live show polished to perfection, and claim staked over ‘Disco//Very’ – a song so terrifying that it resulted in a police visit during recording sessions in Joshua Tree? Yep, that too. It’s been a huge year for Warpaint for so many reasons; all of them smashing the upper limits of the Exciting Things barometer into oblivion. El Hunt
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