Records of 2014

December 30, 2014

One more ring on the tree, four seasons gone. Who knows where the time goes?.

#1 Spring (EP): Blixa Bargeld and Teo Teardo. Only five songs, but blimey, what a little gem. A collaboration between Bad Seeds/Einsturzende Neubauten guitarist, singer and composer BB and composer TT. Soli si Muoro & Crimson and Clover, an Italian and English version of the same piece are just hair raising beautiful music. Millions of Eels tells the story, of, well, millions of eels making their way to the Sargasso Sea. If you have a record player, there are a few copies still left and it’s also available for DL online and on iTunes. Their album “Still Smiling” from 2013 is just as good, but the EP really stands alone by itself.

#2 Steve Gunn: Way out Weather. I’ve probably listened to this and last year’s “Time Off” more than anything else. Gunn’s relaxed virtuoso guitar style from vintage Americana to clean fender jazz with a bit of krautrock would be enough on its own but its his ability as a songwriter and member of his group that puts this (and time off) right up there. Again both this and Time Off worth buying on CD or (preferably) vinyl but also available on Spotify and other places.

#3 King Creosote: From Scotland with Love. Some find Kenny’s stuff a bit syrupy and sentimental but I really like it. He’s taken Jon Hopkins influence from Diamond Mine and folded it into his more traditional approach to songwriting to great effect with a much bigger and broader spectrum with a full band, strings and chorus. There are some real standout songs in Something to Believe In, Miserable Strangers and the rocking For One Night Only alongside interesting off-the-wall stuff like the kids nursery rhyme Bluebell, Cockleshells, 1 2 3 and the Hopkins influenced electro acoustic One Floor Down. (I believe he voted Yes in the referendum…)

#4 Mac Demarco: Salad Days. I really like this guy. Reminds me a bit of Steven Malkmus (Pavement) with a bit more of an 80’s Eagles/Cars/ yacht rock coke vibe. Sunny, summery, lazy slacker pop rock. Like a less serious and more stoned Sea and Cake. His Mac Demarco 2 is just as good, if not better.

#5 Moodymann: Moodymann. Maybe KDJ’s best album yet or at least on par with Black Mahogani. Syrupy soul, compressed reconstructed funk, Detroit codeine house beats. Still opening up like a Japanese paper flower pill months on.

#6 Flying Lotus: You’re Dead. Still exploring this one.. He’s Alice Coltrane’s nephew and it shows. Proper electric era Miles Davis (Live Evil, Agartha etc.) plus Kendrick Lamarr, Snoop Dogg and other vocalists. It’s like the Guru’s Jazzmatazz take on mid-70’s Herbie Hancock (he plays on it), Miles, Weather Report, Sun Ra but with modern electronica and Ras G thrown in. A messy Joyful Noise to the Creator.

#7 Oathbreaker: Eros/Anteros. Sister (in real life and lead vocalist) group to the amazing Belgian avant metal outfit Amenra. Not easy listening; blistering hypnotic black’ish metal, it’s ace with a female singer.

#8 Beck: Morning Phase. I’m guessing he was on morphine when he fucked his back up ‘cos this is about as blissful as one could get. Californian sunshine, waves lapping on the beach. His old man arranged the strings for his acoustic guitar songs which wouldn’t be out of place on a Denis Wilson mid 70’s bootleg.

#9 Melanie de Biaso: No Deal. She sings like Nina Simone and Sade and the music’s great.

Also on the list… Swans: To Be Kind. Shellac: Dude Incredible. J Mascis: Tied to a Star. Sun Kil Moon: Benji. Ryan Adams: Ryan Adams & 1984. Bob Mould: Beauty and Ruin. Sharon van Etten: Are We There?. Sleaford Mods: Divide and Exit; Chubbed Up (the singles). Mogwai: Rave Tapes. Fennesz: Becs.

Reissues of note.

Arthur Russell: Love is Overtaking Me. Lots of early poppy, folky Arthur. Really lovely.

Harry Tausig: Fate is Only Twice. A fellow traveller of the Takoma school of Americana, this hasn’t seen the light of day for years.

I Am The Center: Private Issue New Age In America – 1950-1990. Forget the New Age classification, this is great absorbing cerebral/body music.

Mick Harvey: Intoxicated Man/Pink Elephants. Another Bad Seed alumni. His amazing translation of Serge Gainsbourg’s best songs.

Led Zeppelin: all the albums up to Houses of the Holy. I did question why these were getting remastered again but this time Jimmy Page has done a real proper job. They sound amazing and the alternative takes are all fantastic.

Sleep: Dopesmoker. The classic stoner rock high water mark.

Iggy and the Stooges: Raw Power. Iggy’s and Bowies mixes on the same album. Sounds really fresh.

Hawkwind: Astounding Sounds, Amazing Music. My favourite Hawks album that wouldn’t sound out of place in Roxy Music’s back catalogue given the remaster and 180g repress treatment.

 

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