Black Messiah – D’Angelo
I’d love to shake D’Angelo by the hand. The dude hasn’t released an album since ‘Voodoo’ in 2000 and he comes back with one of the strongest releases of the year.
Very few artists can do that. Just look at the mess of ‘Chinese Democracy’ by Guns ‘n’ Roses. With no promotion and no hype, he casually drops it at the quietest time of the year for new releases and sits back to watch the ripples.
This is a modern soul record with social awareness and emotional depth that is lacking in so much of the genre in 2014. In ‘The Charade’ he sets out feelings on the state of racial equality at this point in the US. Elsewhere, tracks like Sugah Daddy, Back To The Future (Part 1) and Prayer drift out of your speakers with grooves that not even modern day Prince could concoct.
I seriously love this album. It’s one of the biggest releases for 2014 and you should be playing it loud from the end of this sentence.
London Calling – The Clash
Double albums are the ultimate folly of the music industry. For every Blonde on Blonde, there’s a Stadium Arcadium. A double album can showcase the greatest facets an artist’s work, it can also highlight a band too bloated and unsure of itself to do anything else but blow their wad over two long hours. It’s tricky to get it right. That’s why London Calling, in all its four- sided vinyl glory, earns its place in the pantheon of great double records.
It’s beguiling that a “punk” band even had the nerve to put an album out with such girth. There’s plenty here that strays from the cliche of ‘77 fury and that’s what makes it a thoroughbred classic. It highlights a band as its peak power.
The songwriting of Joe Strummer and Mick Jones is as strong as Lennon/ McCartney at their zenith. I don’t need to tell the best songs of this record but I do urge you to make it your first purchase of 2015.
Euneirophrenia – Simon Dobson
You’ve probably seen Simon Dobson blasting his horn with the deliciously funky Freshly Squeezed. You may not know, however, that this brother is a serious musical mad genius, capable of scoring war films and writing beautiful, stirring classical pieces like Journey Of The Lone Wolf.
On Euneirophrenia, his debut album, he melds all of his many influences into a multi-headed monster. It’s a beguiling experience to travel into this album. No matter how many times I sat down to listen, I found details in the music that I hadn’t heard before.
From the magical opening of Crystal to the languid funk underpinning Psuedoscience, via the symphonic dubstep head-fuck of Synth0ny and onto the album’s jewel, A Symphony Of Colours, you really get to visit all of the far reaches of Simon’s mind. It’s a journey worth taking with a true maestro as your guide and I can’t wait to hear more.