Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Top 50 Albums of 2014: 30-21

Top 50 albums of 2014

Ekki Gera Fikniefnum
30) Drekka- Ekki Gera Fikniefnum

I found myself listening to this album a lot more at the beginning of the year.  While the repetitive chanting may dissuade some, this album hides a very unique sound to it; as though an ambient/drone album is secretly holding the interworkings of a pop-album movie score.  At times the album reminds me a lot of Tim Hecker (“Tarwestraat 52”), but overall the artist focuses much less on tension in his sound and more on creating a vast, haunted atmosphere (even more noticeable on the Live cassette released on Dais records in 2014, which has many hints of Misha Mishajashvili in it).

Listen to the album Here.

Maximum Vegetation
29) Room 204-Maximum Vegetation

I didn’t listen to too many math rock albums last year, but this was one that I would put on quite a bit.  The guitar has a great tone on it that really fits the album, and the bird chirps that happen intermittently between tracks add a welcome warmth to the already inviting atmosphere created on these tracks.  

 If you’re a fan of the genre, do yourself a favor and give this album a listen and purchase the album on either CD or Record Here.

Health and Safety
28) Seeami-Health and Safety

Here is a small, random bandcamp release that ended up really catching me by surprise.  First off, the art and physical release are nice and polished, but more importantly this short little album is great at what it is: acoustic/ambient with bedroom production.  I have often found that the right producers can make very simple song structures sound beautiful; and seeami has a way of doing this.  Tracks like “Gel” and “Cold AF” both show off proof of how song production can surpass instrument technicality.  

While the album may feel a little too simple at time, that is, in part, what makes it have a lot of feeling to it.

Listen to it Here, and if there are any still left, grab a copy of the cassette before it's too late.

2014 Noise release
27) Shapeless Coat of Arms- Shapeless Coat of Arms (cassette)

While there are a few noise related albums on the list this year, as far as strictly noise goes, this album was probably my favorite.  Rarely did I feel too overwhelmed, and never did I feel like I was listening to a continual wall of static that I could quickly recreate using Audacity.  The tracks never hurt me with continual high pitches, nor did they bore me with a focus on minimalistic changes.

Instead, Shapeless Coat of Arms presents an ever-fluid song structure, where lyrical parts remind me of the band Sightings, and instrumental parts play like a toned-down Sissy Spacek.  Obviously, if you don’t like noise, this isn’t for you.  But if you do, you better grab one of the few Tomentosa have left either Here or Here.

Listen to Side A Here.

Rooms of the House
26) La Dispute-Rooms of the House

I had a few friends who always use to listen to La Dispute and lots of other post-hardcore.  I never really got into it.  This album, though, clicked with me right away.  Maybe it was the depressing middle class themes, or maybe just the mixture of spoken/sung lyrics.  Regardless, this album gives me nostalgia for moments I’ve never experienced and reminds me of times I was vulnerable.

Tracks like “First Reactions After Falling Through the Ice” have a great mixture of near absurdist lyricism and storytelling, and “Woman (in mirror)” follows it perfectly.

Listen to the whole album Here.

Lost in the Spectacle
25) York Factory Complaint- Lost in the Spectacle

Review taken from Here.

This album definitely caught me by surprise. Harsh static drones, industrial electronics, overdriven vocals: Lost in the Spectacle is like bastard child of Wolf Eyes and Sunn O))).  If that either sounds off-putting to you, or you don’t know either of those artists, than this probably is not a release for you.  If that sounds like something up your alley, however, then this will probably be an album you don’t want to miss.

Lost in the Spectacle is quite literally that; a spectacle.  By the time the listener is even halfway through the album, is continual droning begins to sink in.  As “Commodified” begins, the album slowly switches from attempting to scare you off to entrancing the listener.

Listen to the album Here.

If Anything
24) Greys- If Anything
Review taken from Here.

The Toronto band, Greys, debut album, If Anything, is a great addition to the 2014 noise rock/post-punk releases heard this year.  At the faster songs, like "Use Your Delusion" remind me of current bands like Metz, White Lung, and (now defunct) Shoppers.  Slower tracks, like "Flip Yr Lid", remind me of Nirvana.
This album probably wont make any top ten lists for the year, but that is okay; afterall, some of the funnest albums I have in my collection don't deserve to make any top ten lists.  And this album is fun, with tracks like "Adderall" really capturing the vocal sound of groups like Wavves.  Additionally, much of the album sounds like  Roomrunner's 2013 album, Ideal Cities, another album that finds that balance of accessible punk and harder rock while maintaining a fun vibe.

Why not check out a few of the tracks Here, and purchase the album while your there.

face skeleton
23) Wizards Of-Face//Skeleton
Review taken from Here.

Wizard Of, aka Bob McCully, made the first album I have really enjoyed from this year.  Face/ Skeleton reminds me of Fuck Buttons' Tarot Sport at times because of its aggressive sound is much more in-your-face than most electronic music.  The synthesizers on it have a very analog sound, similar, like those on Tycho's Dive (though I imagine that they are done by something like a microkorg that is emulating analog).
Face/ Skeleton consists of two multi-part tracks, one for each cassette side.  The tracks within each side utilize similar samples and emphasize a mutating repetition within each other.  Initially, I preferred "Face", but now I am on the fence.  Overall, "Face I" and "Face II" are a great opener, but by "Face III" things seem a little stagnate, at least for that track.  With Skeleton though, the samples really benefit from the time and growth, making for a stronger overall side (also, the vocal samples reminded me of Blockhead at times).
I was very surprised to find out that this was a cassette release.  Maybe it is because when I think of cassettes I think of vaporwave, drone, and all around less accessible music, I'm not sure.  This album is something that should be pressed though, as it definitely left a good impression on me.

While the cassette is all sold out now, you can still listen to the album and buy a digital copy Here.  Also, click Here to check out the Wizards Of bandcamp.

Finally, the album can be downloaded with This.

22) Ben Frost- A U R O R A

I loved By The Throat when that came out, but Ben’s sound has changed quite a bit since then.  Sure, I’ll be honest and admit I like By The Throat more, but this is still great.  Here, much of the intense buildup and anxiety-inducing sound is gone, but it is replaced by an energetic pulse that seems continuous throughout AU R O R A.  

If you have never heard Ben Frost, this is probably the best album to start with, so take a listen Here. 

Ultima II Massage 

21) Tobacco- Ultima II Massage

Like many who have stumbled upon Tobacco and Black Moth Super Rainbow, ever since I have had a great appreciation for the unique, vox infused sound.  As Tobacco, Tom Fec tends to record to a darker side not much seen on recent Black Moth albums.  With Ultima II Massage, this remains true, as the album is filled with an almost lush yet grimy sound.

Anyone who has heard Tobacco before knows what to expect.  Anyone who hasn’t probably won’t be any the wiser after reading this short review.

Take a listen to the track “Eruption” Here.  Ghostly Records may still have copies available, as should the Black Moth store.

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