The year is almost over, and it has been a great year for acoustic music. No, we will not do a flimsy “Top whatever”; we are more interested in what others have been listening to. That is why we asked our colleagues and musicians about their favourites. Take a look at the choice of Oxygen Thief, Brian Marquis, Emily Barker, The Lion and the Wolf and more.
On top of ‘the artist’s choice’, we have a list of releases below of great acoustic records that came out in 2014. There is a chance we missed out on some great acoustic releases, though. If you happen to know any, do not shy on contacting us on Twitter or Facebook.
Ian Schram (me) on The Lion and the Wolf - Symptoms:
It has been great to see a friend finally release something big; a project he has worked on for more than a year. Even though the record only came out last month, it has had more spins than any other record I bought this year. Seeing Tom George slowly finish Symptoms, hearing bits and pieces (and sometimes a whole song) of it during the year has taken me on a journey I will not easily forget. I am curious to see where his first full-length takes him.
Tanya Timmers of AcoustiX 'n Stones on Chuck Ragan - Till Midnight:
"Still slightly bedazzled perhaps by meeting the man himself in June (he played us a song! Watch here), I have to say my favourite acoustic record of the year has got to be Till Midnight by Chuck Ragan and The Camaraderie. With a fuller sound than some of his earlier solo work, this album is a perfect record for a relaxed drive or chilled out afternoon. Chuck Ragan can do no wrong."
Martijn Pels of AcoustiX 'n Stones on Northcote - Invisible Diamonds:
"Just over a year ago, I was in Antwerp seeing one of my all-time favourites: Dave Hause. It was the first time I saw Northcote and I was blown away by this tall, bearded, friendly (aren't they all) Canadian guy. His guitar looked tiny in his hands, as everything in the room in fact. This EP has four amazing tracks, including a new version of his old diamond 'Worry'. I can only hope and pray it has paved the way for new full-length! Thanks for another piece of brilliance Matt!"
Tom George (The Lion and the Wolf) on Helen Chambers - Penny Arcade:
"I was meant to be playing a show with 'Dear Everyone’ on the 12th December in Manchester but one of them was ill so Helen Chambers (a third of the trio) played solo. People had told me before how great she was so I was excited to see her play and she genuinely blew me away. I have played with what must be dozens and dozens of acoustic acts this year and Helen has without doubt topped the list. Having picked up the record and listened to it only twice since purchasing, I am convinced that this is my acoustic record of the year. It’s a wonderful mix of Richard Thompson-esque vocal lines, beautiful guitar work and what impresses me the most is how she makes it seem so effortless. I will be playing this album a LOT over the coming months and probably feeling quite depressed knowing full well that I won’t be able to write songs this good."
Barry Dolan (Oxygen Thief) on Mark McCabe - A Good Way To Bury Bad News:
"Everything about Mark McCabe's "A Good Way To Bury Bad News" is bloody lovely; from the hand-packaged vinyl edition, to the lush musical soundscapes and heart-wrenching lyrics. I've played many shows with Mark over the years and followed the making of this album online, so I was excited to hear how it would turn out. Hearing the finished product, it has been brilliant to hear the songs I've come to known so well being brought to life, not as that might suggest they weren’t already vibrant, but expertly augmented and enhanced. Good work buddy."
Derek Zanetti (The Homeless Gospel Choir) on Chris Stowe - Hollow:
"This release is the saddest and most heartfelt record I'd heard in a long time. Song after song of loss and regret and heartache and shame. I'm not one to typically desire to feel down, but this record is so perfectly recorded, it really just sucks you in. His voice sounds like he had been up for a month straight drinking whisky and chain smoking cheap cigarettes. It's so beautiful and honest. It defiantly made my top ten list of 2014."
Brian Marquis on Alcoa - Thank You EP:
"My favourite acoustic record of 2014 because it marks a celebratory point in Derek's life. He was able to crowd fund a much needed hip replacement so he could walk without pain again and continuing touring with his bands Defeater and Alcoa. The EP was for all the people who donated to his hip replacement and are covers of some great songs by friends of his and bands he was inspired by. Nothing beats that for me in 2014."
Joel Barker on Ben Howard - I Forget Where We Were:
"I think at the heart of all Ben Howard's songs is an innocence of song writing, balanced with an ambience that echoes its sentiment. It is perfect as we head into the Australian summer where I call home. It calls for long drives and lost beaches..."
Stream it here.
Emily Barker on Lucinda Williams - Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone:
"I love this new record of Lucinda's. I've been a fan for many years now and this is stand out. The songwriting is exceptional and very much complimented by a great production. Her voice is weathered, broken and beautiful as ever. Very classy and visceral."
Gregory Lambrechts of Bearded Punk on Bobby Barnett - Little Wounds:
"Even though I am a huge Bobby fan, picking Little Wounds was not as obvious as it might seem. There was a lot of tough competition this year and I am usually drawn to the more gruff voiced acoustic guitar wielders. I don’t know what this guy does to me but he totally made me forget about my main man Chuck [Ragan]. Maybe because he puts his heart and soul in every single one of his song. He already did that with Captain, We’re Sinking (If you haven’t heard The Future Is Cancelled yet, be sure to check it out) and keeps going equally strong solo. I don’t know man. I feel like all I have to add is that, to me, Bobby Barnett is one of the most talented singer-songwriters I've discovered in years."
Stanley van Heusden of DutchScene on Our Last Night - Oak Island Acoustic:
"I just love how relaxing the songs turned out, while the regular album is very energetic. Great songs to listen to on a relaxed night in. Lyric-wise the album is great too. The songs aren't just happy with light subjects, they really pass on a message and mean something. It's amazing to see how far this band has come on such a young age and I hope they’ll put out more acoustic releases in the future! "
Aaron West and the Roaring Twenties - We Don't Have Each Other
John Allen - Sophomore
Joel Barker - Beyond the Crows
Tim Barry - Lost & Rootless
Beans On Toast - The Grand Scheme of Things
Chris Cresswell - One Week Record
Ducking Punches - Dance Before You Sleep
Front Porch Step - Whole Again EP
Harker - Hours EP
The Homeless Gospel Choir - I Used To Be So Young
Rob Lynch - All These Nights In Bars Will Somehow Save My Soul
Brian Marquis - Blood & Spirits
J Mascis - Tied to a Star
Nick Mulvey - First Mind
Nick Santino - Big Skies
Night Windows – Musicassette/Magnetic Memory
Oxygen Thief - One Day This Will All Be Fields EP
Max William - Long Distances
You + Me - rose ave.
Emily Barker & The Red Clay Halo - Songs Beneath the River
Billy The Kid - Horseshoes & Hand Grenades
Cory Branan - The No-Hit Wonder
Janet Devlin - Running With Scissors
Dry The River - Alarms in the Heart
Chris Farren / Grey Gordon - Ducks Fly Together (split)
Jonny Two Bags - Salvation Town
Austin Lucas - A New Home in the Old World
MxPx - Acoustic Collection
Matt Pryor - Nine Forty Live
Donald Spence - The Late Shift EP
The Story So Far - Songs of The Story So Far
Frank Turner - The Third Three Years
Tim Vantol - Basement Sessions EP