While 2014 didn’t spring any more Beyoncé surprises on us, it was a satisfying year musically. Arcade Fire brought Haitian beats to Glastonbury, Arctic Monkeys were still on the telly every time you turned it on, and a small man crouching and beating his chest on Letterman became one of the biggest musical viral hits of recent years. Conventional indie lad rock returned to the charts with Royal Blood, and everyone got a U2 album that they didn’t want, but when I look back on this year I can’t help but think that girls really dominated the alternative scene. My Top 10 Albums of the Year #1: St Vincent // St Vincent After her bizarre but well received collaboration with David Byrne on 2012’s ‘Love This Giant’, Annie Clark burst into the New Year with the loudest, craziest and catchiest bunch of tunes she’s ever written. Previous efforts from Clark are muted in hindsight, with opening track ‘Rattlesnake’ fizzing and popping toward a frantic guitar solo-laden climax, and lead single ‘Digital Witness’ sounding almost discordant on your first listen. With her fourth solo effort as St Vincent, Clark has proven herself to be a true guitar hero, dance goddess and, in my eyes, the new saviour of rock and roll. #2: In Conflict // Owen Pallett #3: LP1 // FKA twigs #4: Too Bright // Perfume Genius #5: Salad Days // Mac DeMarco #6: Singles // Future Islands #7: Love Letters // Metronomy #8: Hesitant Alien // Gerard Way #9: Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes // Thom Yorke #10: Crush Songs // Karen O My Top 10 Songs of the Year #1: Real // Years & Years I genuinely can’t think of any way to describe this song without calling it the realest song of all time. Shimmering synths, clapping hands and a throbbing bassline almost hide the lyrics of Real, leading you to think at first that it’s just a dancefloor filler. Vocalist Olly Alexander hits the high notes while telling us of his fickle lover, with words I think we can all relate to: “well if I had been enough for you, would I be better? Would I be good?” #2: Seasons (Waiting On You) // Future Islands #3: Huey Newton // St Vincent #4: Passing Out Pieces // Mac DeMarco #5: God Help The Girl // God Help The Girl #6: River // Ibeyi #7: Flawless Remix // Beyoncé feat. Nicki Minaj #8: Sprinkle With Rust // Rale #9: Wanderlust // Wild Beasts #10: Take Shelter // Years & Years My Top 10 Gigs of the Year #1: Arcade Fire – Hyde Park, London – July 3rd After their triumphant and career defining headline slot at Glastonbury this year, Arcade Fire completed their UK tour with one last hurrah in Hyde Park. Usually I don’t like Hyde Park as a venue because the sound mix is never right, but Arcade Fire somehow managed to sound like they were playing in a nightclub instead of a massive park in the middle of London. A moving mirrorball backdrop, confetti cannons during the massive Here Comes The Night Time, and the ethereal fairy princess that is Reginé Chassagne dancing with her ribbons made this a night I’ll never forget. #2: Neutral Milk Hotel – Toulouse Metronum, May 27th #3: St Vincent – Birmingham Institute, October 24th #4: Years & Years – Hackney Oslo, March 5th #5: Mac DeMarco – Camden Koko, May 22nd Things I’m Looking Forward To In 2015 #1: Fleetwood Mac Tour I will see Saint Stevie of Nicks in real life if it kills me (and the £50+ tickets just for seats probably will end my life). #2: Tramlines Festival I’ve missed Tramlines about three years in a row now but I am determined to go to as many of the gigs there as I can in 2015. #3: Gerard Way at Birmingham Academy I may be a properly functioning adult, but on the inside I am a 13 year old with heavy eyeliner crying to Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge.