June 9, 2014 in Album reviews, Alternative, Americana, Blues, Disco, Electronic, Experimental, Folk, Garage Rock, Hip Hop, Pop, Psych Folk, Psych Pop, Psychedelic Rock, Punk, R&B, Rap, Rock, Soul, Top 2014
St. Vincent – Digital Witness
It seemed like everywhere we turned St. Vincent’s glorious purple-hazed, Wayne Coyne-like locks were waving back at us, and now that we’ve given the album a listen we highly recommend that you give her hair a wave back. The album has a complex arrangement of a variety of instruments (or what sounds like instruments…) and from the title track to the wicked opener “Rattlesnake,” it’s clear that 2014 will always be remembered as the year of St. Vincent.
Quilt – Held In Splendor
Held In Splendor has a classic case of “Don’t Judge An Album By Its Singles,” because the gems on this release go well beyond “Tie Up The Tides” and “Arctic Shark;” (although those tracks definitely deserve a nod as well…) There’s some classic 60s, hippie-dippie shit spread out all up, in, under and throughout the album, so if CSNY is your thing then definitely check this record out.
The Black Keys – Turn Blue
C’mon. We all know this album was going to make this list so let’s get it over and done with shall we? The duo has been churning out new singles faster than Jack White can churn out hate-ridden e-mails about Dan Auerbach, after all. In case you haven’t figured it out by their not-so-obvious (as in totally obvious) album cover, The Black Keys are all like, trippy now and stuff; but there is an avoidance of redundancy. Slightly. At least they’re not ripping Jacky-boy off…right?
To read our “Fever” single review click here.
The Roots – …And Then You Shoot Your Cousin
For two years in a row now The Roots have made our top end-of-year album lists (with the first being 2013’s collaborative album with Elvis Costello Wise Up Ghost), but with a sexy-as-hell drummer like ?uestlove what do you expect? Hopefully the second half of 2014 leads to a lot more singles/mindfucking videos off this album, because each and every track is pretty damn impressive.
Damon Albarn – Everyday Robots
There’s nothing sadder than watching one of your favourite rock stars age (Bob Dylan anyone?) but at least Albarn is aging the right way and not letting his never-ending creativity go to waste. But let’s get one thing straight: If you’re looking for Blur you’re not going to find it here, because Brit Pop is DEAD man; and Albarn has moved on from not-so-subtlety writing about heroin to penning a song about a Tanzanian elephant…but I think I’m still following…
Pink Mountaintops – Get Back
You didn’t thing we were going to let a Vancity gem like this one slip through the cracks did you? On the reals though…I’m pretty sure it’s biologically impossible for Stephen McBean (yes, that’s his real name) to release something bad, and there’s no such thing as a bad Pink Mountaintops album. Really. There’s variety and flavour, emotion riddled with nostalgia, not to mention tinges of alt-country on “Through All The Worry” and synth on “Wheels” – what’s not to love?
To read our “North Hollywood Microwaves” single review click here.
Paolo Nutini – Caustic Love
One thing’s for sure is Paolo knows how to pen/sing some wicked soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooul music. And in typical Paolo style you can put the album on from start to finish and be entertained throughout. From the finger-snappin tune “Let Me Down Easy” or the more mellow “Diana,” the ebb and flows of this record aren’t just limited to fast or slow songs, but emotional variety and complexity.
To read our Caustic Love album review click here.
Wye Oak – Shriek
We already knew that we loved us some Wye Oak, but sweet baby Jesus the song “Glory” is amazeballs; (quite possibly the best we’ve heard from the band yet…) And even though we hate jazz with a fiery passion there is some crazy, experimental jazz here there and all over the place, and believe it or not, we L-O-V-E-D it. And whilst still tying back to the band’s roots, they even manage to throw a little #TBT to Elton John circa 1970s into the mix. Where the hell did that come from?
To read our single review of “The Tower” click here.
Thee Oh Sees – Drop
It may only be a measly nine tracks (which isn’t enough for us diehards as we lick our wounds about this supposed hiatus), but as usual, the band always knows how to speed things up, slow things down, and then come toppling down all over the floor in the most not-so-graceful fashion. From the bluesy backdrop underneath some delicious psychedelica on “Put Some Reverb On My Brother” (AKA the new “Stay Gold, Pony Boy”), the addictive riffs, the freaky vocals…oh Thee Oh Sees, you had me at the first “La-la-la La-la-la-la-la” on “Penetrating Eye.”
To read our “Penetrating Eye” single review click here.
Little Dragon – Nabuma Rubberband
Nabuma Rubberband has been hands-down one of the most notable R&B releases of the year (so far), so if that kind of music is your thing like a chicken wing then I highly recommend you spread some sauce all over this shit and munch it all down. Little Dragon’s name was popping up here, there and everywhere these past few months and have been releasing single after single, video after video…so their effort deserves at least a bit of RMD recognition (which I hear is more valuable than gold, FYI…)
Cloud Nothings – Here And Nowhere Else
Cloud Nothings have always stuck out like an awesome thumb to us, only because most bands that follow the poppy punk train sound like a pile of steaming poo…but not these guys! So whenever we read about a new album, track or Dylan Baldi crossing the street, our interest is going to piqued. Not to mention that Attack On Memory made our top end-of-year-list in 2012 as well. No big deal.
Todd Terje – It’s Album Time
Just when we thought things couldn’t get weirder than a meth addict stringing himself up with Christmas lights, we went ahead and listened to this album. It’s all over the place and experimentally delicious, which is the album’s purpose (I guess…) and there’s some classic Terje disco, jazz, and even some damn flamenco thrown into the mix. But despite its raving reviews it kind of fell flat for us…nevertheless the production was high-quality and it ends with “Inspector Norse.” A cherry on top indeed.
To read our “Delorean Dynamite” single review click here.
Sharon Van Etten – Are We There
We have no shame in hiding our Van Etten obsession (and if you’re judging me right now that means you haven’t listened to this), but this album has everything you would expect from Sharon: Intensity. Depth. Yearning. Heartache. Anger. You name it. Although Angel Olsen was the songstress that had our undivided attention for the first half of the year, it’s time for Olsen to shuffle those cowboy boots on over and let Sharon into the limelight again.
Metronomy – Love Letters
Metronomy are true Devonians in how they pen a good album, and there isn’t one musical corner left untouched on this release. From classic pop to intense electronica, it’s the kind of album where you could listen to all of the songs and never realize they were by the same artist, let alone off the same album. Oh yeah, and “Boy Racers” is amazing. The end.
The War On Drugs – Lost In The Dream
We may have found it a bit on the snooze-worthy side and it certainly doesn’t match up to the epicness that is Slave Ambient, but there’s no denying that Adam Granduciel is still churning on The War on Drugs Americana gravy train and we’re all about that shit right now. His Phillie brother Kurt Vile may have had 2013 under his thumb with Smoke Ring For My Halo, but hopefully the second half of 2014 sees a string of more singles/videos from Granduciel’s 2014 release.
To read our “Red Eyes” music video review click here.