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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

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Suicide/Dent May/Teengirl Fantasy and more… July 4, 2012

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Much like Abigail did not forsake John Adams whilst he spent years negotiating help for our 13 colonies in Paris, we have not forsaken you.  Staring at a computer screen has been the last thing on my t0-d0 list for the last few weeks.  Now it’s the first.  And I’ve amassed a handful of quite killer tunes to submit this stormy eve.

1.  Every once in a while I’ll hear about a band that I know holds an important place in history, but for some reason, to whom I’d never actually listened.  Enter Suicide.  A duo of New Yorkers that, in 1977, decided it was an excellent idea to sing over synthesized and drum machine beats.  Sounds simple, but their self-titled debut is a landmark in the history of punk, new wave, industrial and techno.  Check out track 1, “Ghost Rider”.  (You may recognize the blatant lifting of this track’s rhythm by MIA for her “Born Free” single – gingers beware)

2.  Dent May is a multi-instrumentalist from Jackson, Miss. whose last 2 albums were released on Animal Collective’s house label Paw Tracks.  I took a shine to this luminescent neo-disco romp from new album Do Things.

3.  I’m still a sucker for dubstep that uses its wobble responsibly.  I found this gem hidden inside episode 201 of Rob Booth’s incomparable Electronic Explorations podcast (to which I highly recommend everyone subscribes).  A second note about that:  Booth and his EE project released a who’s-who-in-bass-music compilation on July 1 containing 61 songs and setting one back a measly of 5 pounds (about $7.83, or whatever you want to donate).  Find it here.

4.  After the unexciting follow-ups to his massive and transcendent 2009 hit “Hyph Mngo”, it seemed Joy Orbison had had trouble recapturing that magic, as many do.  Something has changed in 2012.  He remixed Lana Del Rey’s “Video Games” single this spring to much acclaim and has recently released a maxi-single that is will definitely nod the head.  It’s not quite “Hyph Mngo” but he’s headed in the right direction.

5.  Oberlin’s own electr0/dream-pop duo Teengirl Fantasy is slated to release their follow-up to 2010’s dreamy 7AM.  Last month they released a 3-song EP containing this unique future techno banger.

6.  The last we heard from young London producer Pariah (when not collaborating with like-minded Blawan) was his impressive Safehouses EP.  The title track of his new Rift EP is one of those songs that reminds me why wobble is such an effective (and freakishly disarming) tool when used properly.  I defy you to attempt to make peace with or humanize that mechanically cold and irresistibly descending bass-line.  This strikes right at the heart of my fascination with this form of sound and it’s a very welcome return to form.

7.  To conclude, a song that I heard first not an hour ago, from a fave blogger in Ireland.   You’re likely familiar with Wye Oak from their (honestly) slightly above-avergage debut of future-folk/Americana in 2011.  I don’t know what happened, maybe they’ve raided their friends’ World Party or Bear In Heaven collections (or they visited GBITS…), but new single “Spiral” is by a different band.  A haze of 80’s hangs over the entire piece including blissful vocal reverb and jangling late-Police-style guitars.  Whatever it is, they are now officially to be watched carefully.

From the Adult Swim Singles collection

Independence (from crap music.  And England)!

J

Wye Oak – because we said so March 7, 2011

Posted by greatbloginthesky in Recommendations.
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Wye Oak are a duo who generate more sound than two people oughtta.  She (Jenn Wasner) takes the mic and guitars while he (Andy Stack) plays keyboards and drums — simultaneously (see picture).  You don’t usually see that without some sort of monkey on the cymbals keeping the beat.

In any event, Wye Oak releases Civilian on March 8th and their sound lives at an inventive intersection of dreamy vocals, steady drum beats, and sonic guitar bursts.  The title track below will give you a crossing-guard-like perspective.  The full experience kicks in at about the 2:40 mark…