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GBITS Top Albums of 2014 December 19, 2014

Posted by greatbloginthesky in Recommendations.
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2014-300x168

This little website really is the gift that keeps on giving.  Though my last post was 366 days ago, it’s always just a click away, a digital document of the past five years of my favorite pastime.  Looking back at my short-lived attempt at music journalism, I make specific note of a major shift in preference:  from primarily guitar-based music to that of buttons and knobs.

Electronic music has overtaken my life (and the lives of some of those “fortunate” enough to be forced to listen with me).  Throughout this reeducation, however, it has become clear that crafting a coherent statement in album form is, for reasons unknown to me, more difficult for these artists.  Singles, remixes, and EPs seem to be more well-suited to these longer track lengths.  Or perhaps I just need more practice recognizing the subtle gestures that define a great electronic album (I’ll be quite happy to continue studying this).

That being said, I have tirelessly worked to critically evaluate as much music as personally possible to bring you the stand-outs, about half of which are from more traditional genres.  The others are from the vast pixelated plains of electronic music, but the percentage of electronic music albums here pales in comparison to the amount I actually listened to in 2014.

Changing gears – if anyone asks me what my favorite album in recent memory is, without hesitation I give them Lonerism by Tame Impala.  It stood head and shoulders above the pack in 2012 and, to be honest, no album has since eclipsed its every-song-is-great track listing.  I say this because this year’s nominees, while all great in their own regard, were not quite able to piece a full album’s worth of excellent songs together.  Some had 6, some had 8, none had 12.

However, the past year offered much in the way of outstanding full-lengths, from the return of a reclusive electronic genius to the best “beer commercial” Americana in decades.  So, after much consideration and 12 months of glorious listening, here are my favorite albums of the 2014.

Honorable Mentions:  Clark – Clark, Flying Lotus – You’re Dead, Real Estate – Atlas, Ricky Eat Acid – Three Love Songs, Brian Eno/Karl Hyde – High Life, Answer Code Request – Code, Tobacco – Ultima II Massage, I Break Horses – Chiaroscuro

Unknown20.  How To Dress Well – What Is This Heart?

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Unknown19.  Heterotic – Weird Drift

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Unknown18.  Aphex Twin – Syro

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Unknown17.  Lockah – Yahoo or the Highway

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Unknown16.  The Juan Maclean – In A Dream

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Unknown15.  Caribou – Our Love

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Unknown14.  Spoon – They Want My Soul

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13.  UnknownDownliners Sekt – Silent Ascent

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Unknown12.  Dark Sky – Imagin

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Unknown11.  Helado Negro – Double Youth

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Unknown10.  Leon Vynehall – Music For The Uninvited

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Unknown9.  School of Language – Old Fears

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Unknown8.  Swans – To Be Kind

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Unknown

7.  Beck – Morning Phase

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Unknown6.  Plastikman – EX

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Unknown5.  Hundred Waters – The Moon Rang Like a Bell

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Unknown4.  Mr. Twin Sister – Mr. Twin Sister

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Unknown3.  Wye Oak – Shriek

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Unknown2.  The War On Drugs – Lost in the Dream

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Unknown1.  Shabazz Palaces – Les Majesty

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Happy holidays!

J

Tame Impala / Rudi Zygadlo / Pinback and more October 24, 2012

Posted by greatbloginthesky in Recommendations.
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1. Tame Impala – “Mind Mischief” – Their new album Lonerism is so good it makes me want to cry. This might just be the best song off the best album of the year. Once again Kevin Parker and crew channel all that was good and holy and pure from the Beatles late-60’s heyday and manage to put their own acid-laced 21st-century kiss on it.

2. Rudi Zygadlo – “Russian Dolls” – Zygadlo’s electronic roots first saw him remixing fellow avant-dubstepper Starkey. From the Glasgow-via-Berlin producer’s recent Tragicomedies album comes this dubstep-indebted pop single. Like most of the album it isn’t easily pigeon-holed and uses its influences sparingly, never straying too far from its luscious rhythmic hook.

3. Pinback – “Glide” / “Diminished” – If you’ve ever listened to Pinback, you’ll know that they don’t use many different ingredients for their indie soup. The magic lies in how they mix them slightly differently with each song. I’ve decided to post 2 songs by this San Diego duo because, as much as I wanted to label their recent album as “more of the same old Pinback” (and it is), they still make really interesting and catchy variations on their theme.

4. Hundred Waters – “Thistle” / “Boreal” – This indie-electro-medieval collective just signed to Skrillex’s OWSLA label. It seems Sonny is branching out. You’ll realize just how far after you hear these ethereal folktronica-high-on-Stereolab selections.

5. Suzanne Kraft – “Crest” – Actually a male, Diego Herrara “crafts” (…) light-stepping disco-house a la Todd Terje or Lindstrom. From this summer’s Horoscope EP, “Crest” hits on a wonderfully airy, almost new-age synth wash overlaid on a classic 70’s groove that he rides for 7 blissful minutes.

6. Factory Floor – “Two Different Ways (Perc Remix)” / “REALLOVE” – UK trio Factory Floor have been grinding out dark alley industrial dance noise for several years now and a debut LP is reported for 2013. This year they released the “Two Different Ways” single on James Murphy’s DFA Records along with a few remixes. Perc’s driving techno remix is sublime, as much Berlin as it is Manchester. The second track is similarly quick-paced but a little more upbeat in its 80s synth loop.

7. XXXY – “Bash” – We can’t leave you without a solid bass music track, though the line between bass and all other things electronic is mostly well-blurred now. UK knob-twiddler Rupert Taylor has had a bevy of EP’s and remixes out since 2010 – here’s a classic house/bass hybrid (as they all are these days) to tide you over until next we meet.

Happy Halloween (don’t go in the basement…)

J