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2014 Readers Poll - The Results

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Thanks again to everyone who contributed, nominated, and voted.

The 17th Annual Brainwashed Readers Poll:

Album of the Year

  1. Swans, "To Be Kind" (Young God)

    http://brainwashed.com/brain/images/swans-to_be_kind.jpgI'm trying not to be jaded against the Brainwashed readers for predictability by placing Swans at the top of the list for their third album in a row, however I can't think of a better album this year either. It hits all the right spots. The force and power contained within this package is astounding. The amount of material is generous, with a live DVD inclusion that provides more evidence of their sweat and toil, but it's never overwhelming and there's no weak spots anywhere. Swans continue to spread the fire and dwarf everything from anyone even merely attempting to make a similar racket. - Jon Whitney

    It might not have been the same leap from The Seer that that album was from My Father, To Be Kind seemed more fully realized and polished to me in comparison.  Picking a favorite between those two wouldn't be an easy proposition, so this one is for sure a top album for me this year. - Creaig Dunton

    This absolutely deserves the top spot, but more by default than overwhelming merit.  It seemed like Gira was the only guy swinging for the fences last year.  - Anthony D'Amico

    While by no means a bad album, this felt a bit like treading water for me. Where My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky and The Seer both felt like Michael Gira and his group were pushing their creative limits, To Be Kind ended up feeling like The Seer Mk. II. However, I’m hard pressed to name a bit that I would get rid of from To Be Kind as the individual parts are all satisfying, it just feels like the overall sum does not quite add up. - John Kealy

    Hard not to agree with Kealy. Swans keep releasing good music, but I keep waiting for them to go further and further out, past the places they explored on Soundtracks for the Blind and Swans Are Dead. - Lucas Schleicher

    Two hours of music without a minute of filler. To Be Kind was also more reflective of Swans' touring incarnation than My Father... and The Seer, which came across as studio creations; To Be Kind is more reflective of Swans' live ensemble than anything they've released since, well... one of their many live albums.  - Stephen Bush

  2. A Winged Victory for the Sullen, "Atomos" (Kranky)

    They make it sound so easy. The simplicity seems so natural but nobody can come close to the powerful music that passes through Adam Wiltzie's fingers. Whether it is through Stars of the Lid, one-off projects like Dead Texan and Aix Em Klemm, or tweaking knobs and providing guitar for Jóhan Jóhannson and Christina Vantzou, the sound is perfection. Always patient enough without droning too long, always well balanced. Even this, a soundtrack to a dance performance, which is somewhat of a work-for-hire by its nature, is stellar.  - Jon Whitney

  3. Ben Frost, "A U R O R A" (Bedroom Community)

    There are a number of things that I love about Ben Frost, but his songs just do not connect with me at all.  - Anthony D'Amico

    Looking back, I'm pretty sure "Secant" was my most-played track of the year.  - Stephen Bush

  4. Current 93, "I Am the Last Of All the Field That Fell" (The Spheres)

    This was another disappointing one for me; while David Tibet sounds as intense as ever, this particular configuration of Current 93 felt like they were dialing it in. Reinier Van Houdt’s piano and John Zorn’s sax both felt utterly out of place and unsympathetic to the Current 93 feeling. Yet I know in about 15 minutes, Tibet will assemble another line up of Current 93 as he turns his music on its head again so fingers crossed I will once again be on the same wavelength. - John Kealy

    I loved "The Invisible Church" so much that it took me weeks to realize that the rest of the album was kind of a mixed bag.  - Anthony D'Amico

  5. Sunn O))) & Ulver, "Terrestrials" (Southern Lord)

    Out of the two Sunn O))) collaborative albums (more on the other one should you cast your eyes downwards), this was my favourite. Short and sweet, this covered all the bases (and basses) that I would hope for from Sunn O))) and Ulver. About 10 years ago, Ulver remixed a track for Sunn O)))’s White1 which always hinted at possible greatness and Terrestrials has more than been worth the wait. - John Kealy

    This was a great year for Sunn O))) though they passed through it quietly. LA Reh 012 isn't something I've given much attention yet, but both of their collaborative records were very good. Odd to think of them playing the backing band, but I think that is the case on both Terrestrials and Soused. Sunn O))) are extremely flexible and I continue to enjoy listening to everything they touch, whether they're in the spotlight or not. - Lucas Schleicher

    This was one of my go-to late night spins. Terrestrials didn't bowl me over like I was half-expecting, but it's a solid listen all the way through.

  6. Scott Walker and Sunn O))), "Soused" (4AD)

    Although not quite as good as the Ulver collaboration, I found Soused to be immensely satisfying. Sunn O))) provide a perfect backdrop for Scott Walker: a black curtain for his stark imagery to be presented in front of. Like Terrestrials, Soused does not overstay its welcome and the balance between the two main artistic inputs feels right. Unlike Terrestrials, this feels like a one-off as I find it hard to envision what else Walker could do with Sunn O))) that would not be a repeat of Soused. On a side note, I am taking bets as to who Sunn O))) will collaborate with in 2015. - John Kealy

    Soused is yet another wonderfully deranged and singular Scott Walker album, but Sunn O)))'s presence seemed rather incidental to me.  - Anthony D'Amico

    I agree with John and Anthony: Sunn O))) plays the backing band for another fantastic 21st century Scott Walker album.  - Stephen Bush

  7. Aphex Twin, "Syro" (Warp)

    There is a lot that could be said about Syro but everyone has already said it ad nauseum. It’s fine, it’s nothing amazing but it’s listenable. The hype didn’t kill it but it did try my patience. You would think electronic music didn’t exist before (or after) Richard James. - John Kealy

    The actual album was totally overshadowed by its announcement by blimp for me.  I still liked it though.  Of course, I expected to LOVE it, but James cannot really be faulted for failing to blow my mind at this late stage in his career.  - Anthony D'Amico

    I was surprised at how much I liked Syro. It's a pleasant reminder at how good RDJ is at riffs, however it's a reminder at how terrible he is at "experimental" fluff. Some of the album's dead weight could have been easily been relocated to single B-sides to form a far stronger record. - Jon Whitney

    Syro is the first Aphex Twin record on which Richard D. James sounds as if he is following someone else's lead. It's a fine record that doesn't even come close to cracking my favorite records list for 2015. - Lucas Schleicher

  8. Andy Stott, "Faith In Strangers" (Modern Love)

    Seeing Andy Stott play a small Austin club in near-darkness into the wee hours of the morning was one of the best live sets I caught this year. Faith in Strangers is next-level stuff—darker, weirder, and more obtuse than Stott's last couple long players.  - Stephen Bush

  9. Lawrence English, "Wilderness of Mirrors" (Room 40)

    Unexpectedly bad-ass.  - Anthony D'Amico

  10. Loscil, "Sea Island" (Kranky)
  11. Pharmakon, "Bestial Burden" (Sacred Bones)

    Harrowing and surprisingly engaging. Also the album I was asked to turn off quicker than anything else when I played it in, well, anyone else's company.  - Stephen Bush

  12. Einstürzende Neubauten, "Lament" (Potomak)

    I am disappointed to see this outside of the top 10 as for me Lament was not only album of the year but one of the best albums Neubauten have done in their career. I feel like I am still sifting through the layers and each listen through reveals something new either in the music, the lyrics or the conceptual depth. That lukewarm Aphex Twin album is better than this, seriously? - John Kealy

    I thought Lament was so bizarre and indulgent that it is actually kind of a miracle that it placed this high.  - Anthony D'Amico  

  13. Grouper, "Ruins" (Kranky)

    The critical praise for this album seemed perplexingly unanimous and rapturous to me, but it certainly boasts a handful of very strong songs.  Then again, so does every Grouper album.  - Anthony D'Amico

    I can't say this grabbed me nearly as much as A I A or Dead Deer. I like Liz Harris' music slathered with thick reverb, ghostly and barely there; can't say I'm a huge fan of her piano stuff.  - Stephen Bush

  14. Alessandro Cortini, "Sonno" (Hospital)
  15. Bohren & Der Club of Gore, "Piano Nights" (Ipecac)

    Bohren release more doomy jazz, this time weighted more towards the jazz and less towards the doom. I like Bohren's tunes best when they feel like they are falling part due to a lack of momentum and that's not the case here. This record sounds a bit like Angelo Badalamenti played at the wrong speed which is still cool.  - Matthew Jeanes

    I like this album, but it comes across as incidental compared to, say, Black Earth. - Stephen Bush

  16. Fennesz, "Bécs" (Editions Mego)

    Surprisingly heavy and unsurprisingly excellent.  - Anthony D'Amico

    One of the year's most underrated listens. This is every bit as good as Endless Summer and Venice, and if Bécs was released 10 years ago, I think people would absolutely lose their shit.  - Stephen Bush

  17. Pye Corner Audio, "Black Mill Tapes Volumes 3 & 4" (Type)
  18. Godflesh, "A World Lit Only Buy Fire" (Avalanche)

    Somehow Justin Broadrick and Ben Green managed to pick up right where they left off in 1995, before the side projects started leaking in to Godflesh proper.  There was no attempt to reinvent themselves or do something drastically different, which meant it was the Godflesh album fans were waiting for. - Creaig Dunton

    I loved the reincarnated live show. This is a strong comeback, but I think most of its songs could stand to be trimmed by a minute or two. - Stephen Bush

  19. The Body, "I Shall Die Here" (RVNG Intl.)

    This is a powerful full-length statement from The Body—their best yet. Bobby Krlic's production is top-notch. Essential listening. - Stephen Bush

  20. The Legendary Pink Dots, "Chemical Playschool Volumes 16 & 18" (Terminal Kaleidoscope)

    There were some truly beautiful and haunting interludes lurking amidst all the abstract mindfuckery.  My favorite Dots release of the year for sure.  - Anthony D'Amico

  21. Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra, "Fuck Off Get Free We Pour Light on Everything" (Constellation)

    I had to listen to this again as I had completely forgot it came out. I remembered it as being dull, a lacklustre follow-up to the brilliant Kollaps Tradixionales but I appear to have been wrong, it's actually pretty great. So while it may be more of the same from Silver Mt. Zion, it still pushes my buttons. - John Kealy

    I found this to be Silver Mt. Zion's strongest album to date. - Stephen Bush

  22. Earth, "Primitive & Deadly" (Southern Lord)

    I was getting a bit fed up with Earth around the two Angels of Darkness albums. I had loved the country vibe that ran through Hex and The Bees Made Honey but the following albums felt boring in comparison as Dylan Carlson mined the sound to the point of tedium. I was unsure about Primitive & Deadly because of this but it was a return to form. The vocals add a nice dimension to the music and Carlson’s playing is terrific here. - John Kealy

    My experience was the exact opposite of John's... I loved both Angels of Darkness releases, but this one left me mostly cold. - Stephen Bush

  23. Klara Lewis, "Ett" (Editions Mego)

    For a first statement, it's an exceptionally remarkable fully formed concept. Klara has an undeniable talent for composition and construction as well as an intuitive ear for depth and space. I look forward to her artistic trajectory as it almost feels like she's holding back a little still. - Jon Whitney

    I suspected that Lewis had backed herself into an impossibly constrained stylistic corner with her first EP, but she managed to find a way to expand and improve upon her unusual collages with Ett.  This was a delightfully strange, inventive, and unpredictable debut.  - Anthony D'Amico

    Klara Lewis's music is very subtle and imaginative and probably the most underrated album in the top 25. - Lucas Schleicher

  24. Peter Christopherson, "Time Machines 2" (Threshold House)

    I should be all over this as Time Machines is one of my favorite albums ever and Peter Christopherson’s post-Coil work had generally been wonderful. However, between the awful management of the ordering and delivery process, the issues with corrupted files and the ultimately annoying factor of the files being supplied in a format that is unsupported by every player I own aside from iTunes meant that this was an ultimately underwhelming and disappointing experience. This is a shame given the hard work that has evidently gone into making this happen in the way Sleazy wanted but that is how it is. Given that the audio was encoded in a way to allow the widest range of frequencies to be preserved, the fact it cannot be played on anything but a laptop (and all that entails in terms of playback quality), it does seem like a misstep that prevents Time Machines 2 from being the epitaph for Sleazy that it could have been. - John Kealy

  25. Burial Hex, "The Hierophant" (Handmade Birds)

    The project has done scary/experimental electronics well on a multitude of albums, but opening and ending songs on here were just brilliant.  Musical, but with a weird edge, it was unlike anything else for me this year. - Creaig Dunton

  26. Edvard Graham Lewis, "All Over" (Editions Mego)

    Of his two albums this year, All Over won out for me with its electronic pop leanings.  Like an updated He Said for the 2010s, Lewis mixed catchy song writing with his own spiny sensibilities like no other can. - Creaig Dunton

  27. Jozef Van Wissem & SQURL, "Only Lovers Left Alive" (ATP)

    Only Lovers Left Alive was one of two films I went to see in the cinema this year (the other was a Halloween screening of The Shining). I walked out feeling like I had seen one of the best films in years and completely buzzing on the soundtrack. The soundtrack album has not only reinforced that buzz but perhaps has surpassed the original context in terms of power. This is sublime. - John Kealy

    While watching the film, I kept thinking "these songs are great--who recorded them?" Now I know, and the album is lovely. - Matthew Jeanes

  28. The Bug, "Angels and Devils" (Ninja Tune)

    Kevin Martin got pretty mellow with his fourth full length outing as The Bug. Tracks like "Function" and "Fuck A Bitch" retain the lyrical venom (the Devils, I presume) while "Void" and "Ascension" present a whole new side to the project. It's certainly less monolithic than 2003's Pressure but I appreciate the moments of calm. - Matthew Jeanes

    I wanted to like this album more than I did, having been a fan of Kevin Martin's work for years.  It just didn't grab me like I hoped.  I prefer the Devils side for sure, but even that was good, not great. - Creaig Dunton

    I'm surprised more people didn't seem to love this. I think Angels and Devils is Kevin Martin's career peak, and I'm tempted to say it's my album of the year. The split moods between the two halves work beautifully; all the guest spots are perfectly executed; and Martin's production is unsurprisingly devastating.  - Stephen Bush

  29. Goat, "Commune" (Sub Pop)

    I need to go back and re-listen to Commune. I played it several times, but for the life of me I can't recall any of the songs as naturally as the earworms on World Music. - Stephen Bush

  30. Lee Gamble, "Koch" (Pan)
  31. Vessel, "Punish, Honey" (Tri Angle)

    This was a huge and unexpected leap forward for Vessel.  - Anthony D'Amico

    A stellar listen from start to finish.  - Stephen Bush

  32. Anjou, "Anjou" (Kranky)

    I kept planning to cover this album, but could never remember anything about it once it was over.  - Anthony D'Amico

  33. Christina Vantzou, "No. 2" (Kranky)
  34. Edvard Graham Lewis, "All Under" (Editions Mego)
  35. Horseback, "Piedmont Apocrypha" (Three Lobed)
  36. Mica Levi, "Under The Skin OST" (Milan)
  37. Sun Kil Moon, "Benji" (Caldo Verde)

    I am probably the world's biggest Mark Kozelek apologist, but I have absolutely no idea why everyone decided to like him so much this year.  On the bright side, Benji did inspire this masterpiece of critical vitriol.  - Anthony D'Amico

    Benji opens on a seriously heavy note and then slowly peters out, but that strong start is reason enough for all of the Sun Kil Moon love this year. "Carissa" and "I Can't Live Without My Mother's Love" have some of Kozelek's best lyrics and, even if the record is uneven on the whole, those two songs are enough to make it stick out in my memory. - Lucas Schleicher

    I still pull out those early Red House Painters albums on 4AD from time to time, but Benji was insufferable. I have zero desire to hear Mark Kozelek whining incessantly about his life minutiae over a bunch of sad-sack instrumentation. Easily the year's most overrated album, and I like plenty of Kozelek's past work.  - Stephen Bush

  38. Valerio Tricoli, "Miseri Lares" (Pan)

    Here's another candidate for one of the best, most over-looked records of 2015. Valerio Tricoli has produced and recorded with numerous people in the past ten-plus years, including 3/4HadBeenEliminated, Thomas Ankersmit, and Autistic Daughters. He has also contributed to recordings on Die Schachtel, Room40, and Tochnit Aleph. Miseri Lares isn't Tricoli's first solo full-length, but it's a great introduction to his dark, looping, pseudo-concrète work. - Lucas Schleicher

  39. Kangding Ray, "Solens Arc" (Raster-Noton)
  40. Marissa Nadler, "July" (Sacred Bones)

    For the last few years I have snoozed on Marissa Nadler’s releases. I had followed her work to a point and then felt I knew all I needed to know about her music. July challenged this conception deeply and, combined with a stunning performance in Dublin earlier this year, it has won my affection all over again. It could very well be her best yet. - John Kealy

    There are several songs on July that I will probably be listening to for years.  I cannot say that about many other albums on this list.  - Anthony D'Amico

    Brilliant release from Marissa Nadler—her best to date, not just on the strength of the songs, but on Sanford Parker's production as well. Seeing Nadler in a tiny Austin club with about 50 people was a live highlight as well.  - Stephen Bush

  41. COH, "To Beat" (Editions Mego)
  42. The Legendary Pink Dots, "109" (Rustblade)
  43. Locust, "After The Rain" (Editions Mego)

    This is a highly underrated and somewhat ignored masterpiece that is beautiful in every moment. - Jon Whitney

  44. Mogwai, "Rave Tapes" (Sub Pop)
  45. Oren Ambarchi/Stephen O'Malley/Randall Dunn, "Shade Themes from Kairos" (Drag City)
  46. Zola Jesus, "Taiga" (Mute)

    Given the lack of comments here, I can probably speak for most of the Brainwashed staff in saying Taiga was a complete letdown.  - Stephen Bush

    Actually in a readers poll with close to 1,000 albums, cracking the top 50 isn't a small feat. I don't think it was a letdown but I needed to see the live show to appreciate it more. Everything came to such stunning life when Zola Jesus performed them live on this tour. She's such an incredibly talented vocalist and songwriter, perhaps the move to Mute was intimidating and she played it too safe in the studio. - Jon Whitney

  47. Sunn O))), "La Reh 012" (Southern Lord/Ideologic Organ)

    I always buy them but all these Sunn O))) live/rehearsal releases are starting to blur into each other. - John Kealy

  48. Cut Hands, "Festival of the Dead" (Blackest Ever Black)
  49. Hildur Gudnadottir, "Saman" (Touch)
  50. Human Greed, "World Fair" (Omnempathy)

    I don’t think I can say much more than I did in my review but if you have not heard this yet, rectify that situation immediately. - John Kealy

  51. Kyle Bobby Dunn, "Kyle Bobby Dunn & The Infinite Sadness" (Students of Decay)
  52. M Geddes Gengras, "Ishi" (Stones Throw)

    More than anything, I threw on Ishi during those late-night spaces when I needed something ambient to fill the dead air, and it works beautifully.  - Stephen Bush

  53. Angel Olsen, "Burn Your Fire for No Witness" (Jagjaguwar)
  54. Kevin Drumm / Jason Lescalleet, "The Abyss" (Erstwhile)

    Three or four records still fight for the number one record spot in my head this year. This is one of them. Jason Lescalleet released an insane amount of music in 2015 (four albums came out in the last three months alone), all of it extremely impressive. The Abyss is the dark, monolithic recording that the title suggests, an album of extremes that pounds against the ears with jackhammer intensity, then shifts into quiet, cavernous tape sequences that crawl with time-warped details. - Lucas Schleicher

  55. Ø, "Konstellaatio" (Sahko)
  56. Pitreleh, "Pitreleh" (Important)

    I like Duane Pitre, I like Eleh, I like Pitreleh. - John Kealy

  57. Zeitkratzer, "Whitehouse" (Karlrecords)

    An orchestra playing Whitehouse is certainly a gimmick, but a well done one here, with most of the songs performed mirroring their original noise synth heavy arrangements quite accurately. - Creaig Dunton

  58. Amen Dunes, "Love" (Sacred Bones)
  59. Arve Henriksen, "The Nature Of Connections" (Rune Grammofon)
  60. Chrome, "Feel It Like a Scientist" (King of Spades)
  61. Eleh, "For Moussavi Atrium" (Important)

    This came with three t-shirts in a box. Possibly the most useful release of the year for me. - John Kealy

  62. Erik K Skodvin, "Flame" (Sonic Pieces)

    One of my favorite releases yet from the Miasmah/Sonic Pieces milieu.  - Anthony D'Amico

  63. Helm, "The Hollow Organ" (Pan)
  64. Leyland Kirby, "We drink to forget the coming storm" (History Always Favours the Winners)
  65. Nadja, "Queller" (Essence)

    Fuck, this was heavy.  - Stephen Bush

  66. Nurse With Wound/Graham Bowers, "Excitotoxicity" (Red Wharf)

    Without sounding too bitter, Aphex Twin is lauded as being the savior of (electronic) music as he pushes supposed barriers and envelopes into oblivion. Meanwhile, the single most adventurous and exciting album of the year wallows in 66th place. Excitotoxicity is a monumental work that eclipses any other album in terms of emotional power and inventiveness. - John Kealy

  67. Pere Ubu, "Carnival of Souls" (Fire)
  68. Shellac, "Dude Incredible" (Touch and Go)

    Another consistently good Shellac album, but honestly, I'm just waiting for them to tour again.  - Stephen Bush

  69. Supersilent, "12" (Rune Grammofon)
  70. Tara Jane O'Neil, "Where Shine New Lights" (Kranky)

    A beautiful, fractured record with a ton of talent behind it. It took five years and five studios to complete and it was all worth it. My favorite Kranky LP of the year. - Lucas Schleicher

  71. Aidan Baker, "Triptychs" (Important)

    Baker's glorious use of space, melody, and instrumentation blew my mind. Probably my favorite album of 2014. The ludicrous fact that
    Triptychs languishes here at #71 alters that opinion not one jot. - Duncan Edwards

  72. Black Rain, "Dark Pool" (Blackest Ever Black)
  73. Carla Bozulich, "Boy" (Constellation)
  74. Have A Nice Life, "The Unnatural World" (Flenser)
  75. Oren Ambarchi, "Quixoticism" (Editions Mego)

    This album made me angry.  It sounded like a half-hearted commission for a modern dance troupe.  - Anthony D'Amico

  76. Thou, "Heathen" (Gilead Media)

    One of the year's heaviest—and best—metal albums. Far underrated on this list.  - Stephen Bush

  77. Wovenhand, "Refractory Obdurate" (Deathwish)

    Like Marissa Nadler's July, this was another excellent Sanford Parker-produced album that deserves a lot more love than it's getting.  - Stephen Bush

  78. Current 93, "My Name Is Nearly All That's Left" (The Spheres)
  79. Death Blues, "Ensemble" (Rhythmplex)
  80. Dirty Beaches, "Stateless" (Zoo Music)
  81. Run the Jewels, "Run the Jewels 2" (Mass Appeal)

    Wow, there's a hip-hop album on the Brainwashed top 100—stop the presses! Speaking as a long-time fan of both Killer Mike and El-P, I'm glad to see them team up and start getting more recognition from the general public. This album is excellent.  - Stephen Bush

  82. Sleaford Mods, "Divide And Exit" (Harbinger)

    I really don’t get Sleaford Mods, it feels like an emperor/new clothes situation. - John Kealy

    It's like The Fall, but new!  For me, the appeal is just that they are very angry, very funny, and very direct at a time when few other artists are any of those things.  - Anthony D'Amico

    This (and the Chubbed Up+ singles collection) were a hell of a lot of fun I thought.  If it has any staying power remains to be seen though. - Creaig Dunton

    Really, guys?  - Stephen Bush

  83. Vladislav Delay, "Visa" (Ripatti)
  84. Wrekmeister Harmonies, "Then It All Came Down" (Thrill Jockey)

    Yet another crushing tour de force from JR Robinson.  Also, it inspired me to finally read Capote's Music For Chameleons, which was awesome.  - Anthony D'Amico

  85. Andrew Liles, "Fast Forward Through Time (Illusion Four)" (United Dairies)
  86. C. Reider, "The Plangents" (Vuzh Music)
  87. HTRK, "Psychic 9-5 Club" (Ghostly)

    Far too subdued to make a lasting impression on me. - Stephen Bush

    It's definitely a slow burner. - Jon Whitney

  88. Jon Porras, "Light Divide" (Thrill Jockey)
  89. Keiji Haino, Jim O'Rourke & Oren Ambarchi, "Only Wanting to Melt Beautifully Away Is It a Lack of Contentment That Stirs Affection for Those Things Said to Be as of Yet Unseen" (Black Truffle)

    Scorchio. - John Kealy

  90. Lussuria, "Industriale Illuminato" (Hospital)
  91. Actress, "Ghettoville" (Werk Discs/Ninja Tune)

    If it wasn't for "Forgiven," the 8-minute endurance test of an opener, I think this album would have made a much bigger impression on most people.  - Stephen Bush

  92. Andrew Chalk, "The Circle Of Days" (Faraway Press)

    I was so excited when this arrived in my mailbox and then so disappointed when it sounded like a bunch of random, half-finished studio scraps. - Anthony D'Amico

  93. Cindytalk, "touchRAWKISSEDsour" (Handmade Birds)
  94. Eric Holm, "Andøya" (Subtext)

    A brilliant concept beautifully executed.  - Anthony D'Amico

  95. Fire! Orchestra, "Enter" (Rune Grammofon)
  96. James Blackshaw, "Fantomas: Le Faux Magistrat" (Tompkins Square)
  97. Jason Lescaleet, "Much To My Demise" (Kye)
  98. Rivulets, "I Remember Everything" (Jellyfant)

    This was a characteristically enjoyable effort, but I definitely missed the darkness and intensity of Amundson's earlier work.  - Anthony D'Amico

  99. Mamiffer, "Statu Nascendi" (SIGE)
  100. Neneh Cherry, "Blank Project" (Smalltown Supersound)

    Far underrated by the Brainwashed crowd (though I wonder if many know her past work aside from "Buffalo Stance"). Kieran Hebden's bare-bones production was spot-on, and Neneh Cherry's in top form throughout.  - Stephen Bush

 

Single of the Year

  1. A Winged Victory for the Sullen, "Atomos VII" (Erased Tapes)

    I still need to get the full album but this EP was beautiful. Tremendous work yet again. - John Kealy

    The Ben Frost remix definitely added some welcome dynamic variety and power.  They should have him remix the entire album.  - Anthony D'Amico

  2. Swans, "Oxygen" (Young God)
  3. Godflesh, "Decline and Fall" (Avalanche)

    This was good, but I feel it paled in comparison to the full album.  But then again, I usually prefer when Godflesh went all experimental on their EPs. - Creaig Dunton

  4. Deaf Center, "Recount" (Sonic Pieces)
  5. Container, "Adhesive" (Liberation Technologies)
  6. Current 93, "Channel" (The Spheres)
  7. Rivulets, "Ride On, Molina" (Jellyfant)

    I think the B side of this single was my favorite Rivulets song of the year.  - Anthony D'Amico

  8. Mazzy Star, "I'm Less Here" (Rhymes of an Hour)
  9. Powell, "Club Music" (Diagonal)
  10. Bardo Pond, "Looking For Another Place" (Fire)
  11. Lumisokea, "Apophenia" (Opal Tapes)
  12. Sleaford Mods, "Tiswas" (Invada)
  13. Mogwai, "Music Industry 3 Fitness Industry 1" (Rock Action)
  14. Windy & Carl, "I Walked Alone/At Night" (Blue Flea)
  15. Akkord, "HTH030" (Houndstooth)
  16. Klara Lewis, "Msuic" (Peder Mannerfelt)
  17. Inter Arma, "The Cavern" (Relapse)

    Probably the year's most engaging 40-minute song, and a very bold, distinctive release.  - Stephen Bush

  18. Ben Frost, "Variant" (Bedroom Community/Mute)
  19. Oren Ambarchi, "Stacte Karaoke" (Black Truffle)
  20. Samuel Kerridge, "Deficit of Wonder" (Blueprint)

    It is nice to see Kerridge finally make his way into the poll.  This is not my favorite release of his, but he reliably delivers some of the darkest, ugliest industrial-damaged techno around.  - Anthony D'Amico

  21. Robert Turman, "Three Parts" (Cejero)
  22. Leyland Kirby, "Breaks My Heart Each Time" (Apollo)
  23. Vladislav Delay, "Ripatti03" (Ripatti)
  24. Chris Herbert, "Wintex-Cimex '83" (Room40)

    I loved this EP.  "Vactrol" is easily one of the best pieces that I heard all year. - Anthony D'Amico

  25. Snd, "Tplay" (SND)

Music from the Vault

(live/reissue/remaster or single artist release that's not an album of all new material)

  1. Swans, "Filth" (Young God)

    Great album but far from their best or even the best reissue this year. - John Kealy

  2. Fennesz, "Venice" (Touch)

    This was reissued? I feel old. - John Kealy

  3. Nurse With Wound, "Bar Maldoror" (United Jnana)

    A nice expansion to an overlooked album from the NWW back catalogue. - John Kealy

  4. Cabaret Voltaire, "#7885 Electropunk to Technopop" (Mute)

    This was just a weird compilation, mixing the two distinctly different eras of CV.  My gut feeling is that it simply happened because Mute got the rights to the Virgin era material. - Creaig Dunton

    Every CV compilation, dating back to The Golden Moments of has been perplexing to say the least. They seem to always be scattered, incomplete (Where's "Yashar" hiding?), and haphazardly assembled. At least the music is unquestionable and, as a fan, it's rewarding to finally obtain some of these rare (and often superior) 7" edits. - Jon Whitney

    I wonder when people are going to finally get tired of the seemingly endless repackaging of Cabaret Voltaire's back catalog. - Anthony D'Amico

    I'm with Jon—I enjoyed all the 7" edits on this compilation, and I think it flows very well.  - Stephen Bush

  5. Mogwai, "Come On Die Young" (Chemikal Underground)
  6. Pan Sonic, "Oksastus" (Kvitnu)
  7. Songs: Ohia, "Didn't It Rain" (Secretly Canadian)

    Another fantastic reissue from Secretly Canadian. Hearing all of the Molina demos has been a very revealing treat. - Lucas Schleicher

  8. Cabaret Voltaire, "Drinking Gasoline/Gasoline In Your Eye" (Mute)

    Included in the Collected Works box, it's convenient to have this CD/DVD set as an isolated release for those who are interested. My most hopeful wish is now that this has been accomplished, The Drain Train gets a proper remastering and is expanded with all those compilation tracks from those post-Covenant pre-Code years that should have appeared in that Collected Works box to begin with. - Jon Whitney

  9. Fugazi, "First Demo" (Dischord)
  10. Nurse With Wound, "Lumb's Sister" (United Jnana)
  11. Severed Heads, "City Slab Horror" (Medical)

    It is very cool to see Medical Records turn up on this list, even though it is for such a recognizable name.  They really dig up some fascinating obscurities sometimes.  - Anthony D'Amico

  12. Cyclobe, "The Visitors" (Phantomcode)
  13. Severed Heads, "Since the Accident" (Medical)
  14. Glenn Branca, "Lesson No. 1" (Superior Viaduct)
  15. Nurse With Wound, "Terms and Conditions Apply" (Dirter)

    This is a period of NWW that I tend to skip over but Terms and Conditions Apply is a good reminder of the fun stuff that came out around this time. - John Kealy

  16. The Pop Group, "Cabinet of Curiosities" (Freaks R Us)
  17. The Pop Group, "We Are Time" (Freaks R Us)

    Both of these reissues by The Pop Group should be essential listening for all post-punk fans. Throw away those faded Unknown Pleasures t-shirts and play this instead!  - Stephen Bush

  18. Brian Eno, "Nerve Net" (All Saints)
  19. Godflesh, "Pure" (Century Media)
  20. Jon Hassell/Brian Eno, "Fourth World Vol. 1: Possible Musics" (Glitterhouse)
  21. Fushitsusha, "Nothing Changes No One Can Change Anything, I Am Ever-Changing Only You Can Change Yourself" (Utech)

    Surprise vault release of the decade. Mucho scorchio! - John Kealy

    Fushitsusha + Peter Brotzmann, is there any way it couldn't have been ridiculously intense? - Creaig Dunton

  22. William S. Burroughs, "Häxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages" (Sotpackan)
  23. Fripp & Eno, "Live in Paris 28.05.1975" (Discipline Global Mobile)
  24. The Legendary Pink Dots, "12 Steps Off The Path" (Terminal Kaleidoscope)
  25. Max Richter, "Memoryhouse" (130701)

    Flawless, and one of Max Richter's best.  - Stephen Bush

 

Various Artist Compilation of the Year

  1. "Everall By Everall"
  2. "The Sound Of Siam Volume 2: Molam & Luk Thung Isan From North-East Thailand 1970-1982" (Soundway)

    This volume did not quite floor me like the first volume did, but I think it might contain a better proportion of great songs.  - Anthony D'Amico

  3. "Choubi Choubi! Folk And Pop Songs From Iraq" (Sublime Frequencies)
  4. "1970's Algerian Folk And Pop" (Sublime Frequencies)
  5. "Punk 45: There Is No Such Thing As Society - Get A Job, Get A Car, Get A Bed, Get Drunk! - Vol. 2: Underground Punk And PostPunk In The UK 1977-81" (Soul Jazz)
  6. "My God It's Full of Stairs" (Front & Follow)
  7. "Pop Ambient 2014" (Kompakt)
  8. "Black Fire! New Spirits! Radical and Revolutionary Jazz in the USA 1957-82" (Soul Jazz)
  9. "Science Fiction Park Bundesrepublik" (Finders Keepers)
  10. "Pop Yeh Yeh: Psychedelic Rock From Singapore And Malaysia 1964-1970 Vol. 1" (Sublime Frequencies)

    Lovely booklet accompanies this great document of an odd, exciting, twangy pop scene -much better than a scene largely influenced by Cliff Richard has any right to be. - Duncan Edwards

  11. "Punk 45: Sick On You! One Way Spit! After The Love & Before The Revolution - Proto-Punk 1969-76 Vol. 3" (Soul Jazz)

    I kind of expected this to blow my mind and send me off in search of a whole slew of weird albums (like Julian Cope's Copendium did), but it was merely enjoyable.  - Anthony D'Amico

  12. "Hyperdub 10.3" (Hyperdub)
  13. "Hyperdub 10.4" (Hyperdub)

    I had all four of the Hyperdub compilations on iTunes shuffle for a good portion of the year. Hard to argue against Hyperdub being of the most foward-thinking electronic/dubstep labels of the last decade.  - Stephen Bush

  14. "Spiritual Jazz 5: The World" (Jazzman)

    I had heard of maybe one or two of these artists prior to picking this up, but don't let that dissuade you. For anyone into Alice Coltrane, Pharoah Sanders, et al., this is definitely on point.  - Stephen Bush

  15. "Parchman Farm: Photographs And Field Recordings, 1947-1959" (Dust-to-Digital)
  16. "Arkansas At 78 RPM: Corn Dodgers & Hoss Hair Pullers" (Dust-to-Digital)
  17. "Electronic Explorations from his Studio + the BBC Radiophonic Workshop 1958-1967" (Sub Rosa)
  18. "Facing The Other Way - The Story of 4AD" (4AD)
  19. "I'm Just Like You: Sly's Stone Flower" (Light in the Attic)

 

Boxed Set of the Year

  1. Slint, "Spiderland" (Touch and Go)

    I couldn’t afford to get the fancy box but glad I didn’t splash out as the bonus material on the regular CD/DVD release was underwhelming. The original album was perfect, we didn’t need to hear them butchering “Cortez the Killer” on the same release! - John Kealy

    I would be shocked if everyone who voted for this actually owns it. The LP/DVD combo is certainly worth its price, however. - Jon Whitney

    I do not understand the impulse behind diluting classic albums with an avalanche of bonus material unless the artist in question is someone like John Coltrane.  I would like to see the documentary though.  - Anthony D'Amico

    I'm perfectly happy with the $12 copy I bought something like 15 years ago. Would still love to see that DVD though. - Lucas Schleicher

  2. Bedhead, "1992-1998" (Numero Group)

    A beautiful set, perfectly assembled, and a fantastic listen. Once again I'll be shocked to learn if everyone who voted for it owns it! - Jon Whitney

    I voted for this, but I don't own it... I'm clinging to my original albums and EPs, and at a glance, I've heard all but three or four tracks on the box set. Regardless, Bedhead created an excellent body of work in their day.  - Stephen Bush

  3. The Clean, "Anthology" (Merge)

    I just picked this up only recently.  So many great songs- I feel like a total chump for sleeping on this band for so long.  - Anthony D'Amico

  4. Songs: Ohia, "Journey On: Collected Singles" (Secretly Canadian)

    How many of you managed to track down physical copies of this collection for a decent price? It seems like entire parts of the country went without while others had more copies than they could sell, all thanks to Record Store Day. Music this good definitely deserved better distribution. - Lucas Schleicher

  5. Richard H. Kirk, "The Many Dimensions of Richard H. Kirk" (Die Stadt)

    As someone who usually skips over the multitude of digital only releases, this set was a good way to catch up with Kirk's solo work of the past decade or so. - Creaig Dunton

  6. Spacemen 3, "Translucent Flashbacks" (Fire)
  7. Unwound, "Rat Conspiracy" (Numero Group)
  8. Unwound, "No Energy" (Numero Group)
  9. Eyeless In Gaza, "Original Albums Collection" (Cherry Red)
  10. Half Japanese, "Volume One: 1981-1985" (Fire)
  11. Pascal Comelade, "My Degeneration: Electronics 1974-1983" (Vinyl On Demand)
  12. Pixies, "Doolittle 25" (4AD)
  13. Boris, "Archive I" (Daymare)

    I burned out on Boris in a big way (thank you Smile and all subsequent releases) but the original version of this is still a special release for me. Glad it has made it (briefly) back into the wild. - John Kealy

    Great archival reissue for those Boris fans that didn't catch the original Archive set about a decade ago. Mine is still sitting on the shelf, complete with OBI strip.  - Stephen Bush

  14. John Zorn, "The Song Project" (Tzadik)
  15. Motorpsycho, "Demon Box" (Rune Grammofon)

    Good to see Motorpsycho here as they are always unfashionable despite their music often being rewarding. - Duncan Edwards

 

Artist of the Year

Swans

  1. Swans

    The musical act of the year list is calculated by the votes for their physical releases. However, it is well deserved in this case as Swans not only push forth with monumental recordings, their massive tour schedule is unparallelled. - Jon Whitney

    Despite my misgivings with To Be Kind expressed above, it is very hard to argue with how essential Swans have proven themselves to be post-reunion. If some younger bands could tap into this energy and release something vital rather than the limp, boring stuff I'm hearing on the radio these days then maybe people would start paying for music again? In any case, we at least have Swans. - John Kealy

    It is so easy to take Swans for granted, since they've been making great music for decades, but their brilliance was really hammered home for me the few times that I lucked into "Oxygen" or "A Little God In My Hands" on college radio last year.  It always felt like a bomb going off and instantly dwarfed everything else that had been played earlier.  At their best, Swans feel far more like a force of nature than a mere band. -Anthony D'Amico

  2. A Winged Victory for the Sullen
  3. Sunn O)))
  4. Nurse With Wound
  5. Godflesh
  6. Current 93
  7. Fennesz
  8. The Legendary Pink Dots
  9. Cabaret Voltaire
  10. Mogwai

Label of the Year

  1. Kranky

    Six albums in the top 100, five of them placing in the top 50 (note: they only issued seven full-length albums). The year Kranky doesn't place in the number one spot will be one of those empty music years that critics look back upon with much disdain. - Jon Whitney

    While there definitely is a Kranky vibe to be expected from many of their releases, the actual breadth and depth of their new releases (never mind the astounding back catalogue) means that I know if I pick something up based on the label, I am sure of something worth hearing. The number of labels I can say this about is dwindling as they either fold, embrace homogenous trends, or price themselves out of the race. Kranky stands above it all, still a shining example of what a label can be. - John Kealy

    Kranky did not deliver quite as much variety in 2014 as they have in previous years, but it was pretty much impossible to find any music sites that were not raving about Grouper and Winged Victory last year.  -Anthony D'Amico

  2. Editions Mego
  3. Young God
  4. Important
  5. Pan
  6. Mute
  7. Southern Lord
  8. Sacred Bones
  9. Blackest Ever Black
  10. United Dairies

New Artist of the Year

Klara Lewis

Klara Lewis

It's difficult to avoid mentioning Graham Lewis when talking about Klara, but only because it's shocking to hear a talented innovator born from a talented innovator. ALL music-making children of rock stars are incessantly annoying while most of the children of our favorite brainwashed-type artists probably think "your shit's weird, dad." Klara isn't bound by conventions and has introduced herself to us with a collection of gems that aren't merely sonically nerdy enough to be cool, but are actually quite enjoyable. I can only hope to see some of her live performances because the album seems to lay the groundwork for a much more massive development, as my only complaint was that some of these songs on her debut were too short. - Jon Whitney

Regardless of her famous father, Klara's two releases this year would have been impressive coming from any artist, even more so considering her young age.  Shades of the post-punk/early industrial experimental sound abound on Ett and Msuic, but feel entirely contemporary in her hands.  I echo Jon's sentiment though, as I feel her work is dying to be presented in a more long-form approach. - Creaig Dunton

Lifetime Achievement Recognition

Justin Broadrick

Justin Broadrick

Justin is one of those guys that is possibly too talented to live. So many seminal musical stages of my life have involved him; Napalm Death and Godflesh were two of my first entries into extreme music and later Jesu and Final complemented my other interests. Around the time of the self-titled album, Jesu put on one of the greatest sets I have ever seen (blowing the headliners Isis off the stage) and Final have cleared my ears out entirely. I have seen him put on robes with Sunn O))), adding a noticeable extra layer to the already thick sound. Even when I have not enjoyed his music (and there have been quite a few times I haven’t), I can recognize his willingness to take risks and avoid stagnation at all costs. Most artists would give life and limb to be associated with one of his many acts, the fact he can span such a spread of styles is a testament to him. - John Kealy

I don't think the man wastes any time of day doing anything _but_ music. When new albums aren't popping up on his bandcamp, he's fixing to tour or remastering something from the vault to reintroduce. And it's all worth a listen. He continues to be unbounded by genre lines and expectations as his numerous projects are multidimensional, even within themselves. On top of that he's a very genuine person, quite approachable, and appreciates every fan. - Jon Whitney

It was a chance purchase of the Merciless EP in 1994 that put me on the road to weird and difficult music and out of my rut of industrial/EBM.  Even though I still don't consider myself to be an actual metal fan, Broadrick's work in that genre has always clicked with me.  It was his side projects (especially God and Techno Animal), plus his associations with other artists such as Robert Hampson and Mick Harris that lead me into more experimental music and noise.  Now two decades later I continue to pursue his work (and plethora side projects) more intently than many other artists, and I am happy to see that he has kept both Jesu and Godflesh as his primary outlets.  This year's reactivation of Godflesh via new material and a successful tour of the US makes him an easy choice for me for artist of the year.  - Creaig Dunton

I bought Streetcleaner in 1989 as a teenaged metalhead and hated it instantly and intensely.  Everything that I loved about extreme metal (complicated riffs, relentless double-bass drumming, speed) was conspicuously absent and I could not wrap my mind around why so many people were so excited about a band that seemed so rigid, so plodding, and so annoyingly dissonant.  Then six months later, it all made sense to me and I've been following Broadrick's career ever since.  I certainly have not liked everything that he has released, but he has always been a distinctive, smart, iconoclastic, and forward-thinking artist.  Twenty-five years have now passed and he is still just as likely to release something totally crushing.    - Anthony D'Amico

 

Worst Album of the Year

  1. Pixies, "Indie Cindy" (Pixies Music)

    It probably does suck but I didn't listen and I doubt all the haters who dissed it in the poll actually listened either. - Jon Whitney

    After hearing the first Pixies comeback EP and watching their limp performances on late-night TV, I avoided this album like the plague.  - Stephen Bush

  2. Mac DeMarco, "Salad Days" (Captured Tracks)

    I must have heard Mac DeMarco literally hundreds of times this year on various college radio stations, yet I cannot remember a single one of his songs.  Is that bad?  It certainly isn't good.  Maybe I'll just settle for "puzzlingly ubiquitous."  - Anthony D'Amico

    If anyone's going to give Ariel Pink a run for his money for "most unlistenable indie singer/songwriter," it's this guy. Complete and utter garbage.  - Stephen Bush

  3. The War On Drugs, "Lost in the Dream" (Secretly Canadian)

    I actually enjoyed this record. Something tells me Mark Kozelek got into all of your heads. That or you just couldn't stomach some of the Born in the USA keyboard sounds. Cool to see a likeable record in this category though. It's at the top of a lot of people's lists this year and I think its appearance here reflects just how diverse the Brainwashed readership is. - Lucas Schleicher

    I didn't enjoy this one bit, but it's a couple steps up the ladder from Benji.  - Stephen Bush

  4. tUnE-yArDs, "Nikki Nack" (4AD)
  5. Alcest, "Shelter" (Prophecy)

    This album was Alcest in full-on shoegaze mode, complete with Neil Halstead guest vocals toward the end. I'll rep for Shelter, but I can easily see how fans of Alcest's prior albums would be disappointed.  - Stephen Bush

  6. Basement Jaxx, "Junto" (Atlantic Jaxx)

    Speaking as a long-time Jaxx fan, this album isn't too bad, but it's missing one or two undeniable singles like each of their past albums have had.  - Stephen Bush

  7. The Men, "Tomorrow's Hits" (Sacred Bones)

    Why does everyone hate this band so much?  "Different Days" is a cool song.  - Anthony D'Amico

  8. Behemoth, "The Satanist" (Metal Blade)
  9. Craft Spells, "Nausea" (Captured Tracks)

    The album title couldn't have said it any better.  - Stephen Bush

  10. Dum Dum Girls, "Too True" (Sub Pop)

 

Last Updated on Sunday, 11 January 2015 11:41  


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