My Year in... Music

I figured the end of the year is all about lists - favourites, best of, what’s next… we all know here at Coffee Sugar Lemonade I’m never short of words, so I’ve decided to do a few round ups for you. I thought long and hard about three categories that mean a lot to me and settled on music, books and food.

These are going to be some of the things I’ve loved this year. I’m looking for a little bit of a chat on it all really – tweet me or email me or comment if you read any of the round ups and think you might have something I can try out next year. A smashing read? New band or festival? Let me know as I’d really love to hear!

I’m starting with music because it is easily my favourite thing of the three. Shock horror it isn’t food I know but one can’t eat out every day, but you can listen to music every day… and I do. Be it obnoxiously loud in my flat or in the background as a drift off to sleep, music really is my ‘élan vital’. I can’t think of a person, a time or emotion that I don’t automatically associate with certain songs. The Strokes define revision, Michael Jackson will always remind me of my childhood and Bon Iver was my sound track to love and heartbreak. My goal when I was thinking about these posts was to have just one person/band in each category but that proved too difficult (massive fail)! So here it is for you – my year in music, by Kate Maxwell.


Most anticipated
From being young and realising what kind of music I liked, new music has always been really important to me. I’m not at all bothered about being ahead of the curve but I am always on the lookout for exciting new acts. If I’d written this post 6 weeks ago you might not have heard of one of the acts but, he’s just won a Brit award and is on the BBC sound of 2015 long list – James Bay. I’ve been a fan for quite a while now, his track was used during the Burberry S/S14 shows last winter and I’m expecting big things from him next year – I saw him a few weeks ago and at the iTunes Festival in September, so have a read of the review if you want to know more. The other act I’m excited to see grow is Prides; their songs are powerful and exuberant, they ooze ‘stylish pop-synth’. Although the ‘synth’ aspect is secondary to the overarching pop power. Keep your eyes peeled and let me know who you’re looking out for next year.

Best live
I’ve been to so many gigs and festivals this year I’ve lost count! This was the year I started doing more things alone and going seeing live acts was one of them. Being honest it is nice to share live music with someone else, but I really love going on my own, listening, enjoying, feeling the music. I could write endless prose on some of the concerts I’ve seen this last year but digging deep I’ve chosen three. I’ll be brief and summarise into three words: Dancing Years at The Social (intimate, ornate, luxurious), Dry the River at The Forum (luminous, uplifting, angelic) and The 1975 at the Royal Albert Hall (Matty Healy Forever).

Best album
My best album was the hardest, so I chose five! Which I feel is fair considering how many incredible albums have been released this year. I don’t know about you but I love to listen to an album start to finish – I like to think that’s how the artist created it so that’s how we should listen. They take time and care over track listings and transitions so let’s respect that! The year started well with Bastille – Bad Blood, an album which came to represent my once, long commute. I could turn it on at the start of my journey and it was the perfect length to punctuate the various signs and sounds of the district line. Next is Dan Croll – Sweet Disarray, I’ve seen Dan live a few times this year and can say with ease that his charming vocals are just as good live as recorded. The album is poppy and upbeat without being sickly – clever, heartfelt lyrics make for a sweet listen on bright summer days and lounging around the park. alt-J’s second offering This is All Yours was a grower for me but now much-loved. My favourite songs have always been Left Hand Free and Bloodflow, Pt II. and I’m so glad Left hand Free has just been released as a single. This is the album I listen to when I cook, all the best food is made to music. My last two albums are more mellow and soulful. Someone you may not know of is Michael Kiwanuca, consider yourself informed. He won the BBC sound of poll in 2012 and has been quietly getting along with it ever since – the album Home Again, was released in 2012 so certainly isn’t new but it was new to me this year after seeing him at a gig and, I couldn’t be happier! I’d compare him to Otis Reading and Bill Withers - smooth and soulful, perfect for a Sunday night with a hot chocolate and a good book. Finally, Hozier’s self-titled album was one of my most anticipated of the year; I unfortunately missed him at The Great Escape and couldn’t wait for the full offering after buying his EPs. The album is perfection, definitely not afraid to say I cried when I listened to certain songs! The sound swells in your chest and grows within. It is glorious and elevating, have a listen if you haven’t already!

Best single
This bit will be short and sweet, I have three songs that have really drawn me in. The first, Royal Blood – Figure it Out, this song has for me defined those moments on a run or in the gym when you’re lagging. It comes on and fills you with the power and prowess to smash it! Second, James Bay – Hold Back the River, this is what you’ll find me humming along to most of the day and the song I tidy my room to. Finally, a pretty new entry, Mark Ronson - Uptown Funk… there are just no words.

Best band
One band monopolised 2014 for me, The 1975. It think what adds to their appeal for me is 1) Matty Healy - who I actually met over the summer whilst I was on a lunch break in Hammersmith and was the most lovely person 2) pure ‘indie pop’ anthems 3) Their incredible lives set. Robbers is the song that stole my heart, I think if I was counting it would be my most played song of the year. They’re a total sensation now so I’d be surprised if (if you like similar music to me) you haven’t listened! Also follow their Instagram for delightful arty live shots (and my offering below!).

Best best!
To the people who know me, my ‘best best’ isn’t a surprise. I could have put him in every category really but have saved my best til last. George Ezra has been my number one choice of music for more than the last 12 months. I bought his ‘Did you hear the Rain’ EP on its release date last October – knowing he would be special, and his music has gone from strength to strength. I think it would be weird to say I’m ‘proud’ because I don’t know him (let’s not forget the times I met him this year and embarrassed myself in many many ways!) but honestly his rise and rise to success has been phenomenal. I can’t imagine anyone not having listened to his album but if you haven’t, buy it, stream it, anything, you’ll love it! I wrote a review last may after his first UK tour to have a read if you want but most importantly, plug in and listen. My standout tracks are Leaving It Up to You, Stand by Your Gun and Breakaway (and Blind Man in Amsterdam if we’re being greedy) and I’m sure you’ve all heard the anthemic Budapest on the TV and radio. Here’s hoping for new music in 2015 from this one.

So that was long… but like I said, if from anything you’ve read you have any recommendations let me know, especially on the new music front.

I’m finally going home tomorrow for Christmas and I couldn’t be happier. I need a real break with my mum and the cats. No doubt plenty of writing time and planning for the next year.

Next stop… books.



  1. Yay great post - your list is v. similar to mine! Have you ever listened to Thumpers? You'd like them!

    1. Thank you! I haven't, but i've been having listen and they are GOOD. Great recommendation. x


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