FREEwilliamsburg’s Top 25 Albums of 2014

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Photo via BK Mag

2014 will be a year bookended by loss in Williamsburg. When 285 Kent closed its doors in January, it was like a shotgun blast through the heart of the local music community. While it was true that Williamsburg had been condofying for years, and spots like Monster Island, Secret Project Robot, Zebulon and Galapagos had been long shuttered, it was first of the area’s “last stand” to fall. Death By Audio followed months later, and in a little more than a week, Glasslands will follow to close out the year.

“DIY” in Williamsburg may be a dead concept, but it’s important to remember that independent music venues are always transient. It’s particularly depressing that everything closed in the blink of an eye, but there are still lots of venues keeping it real in and around Williamsburg. Times change and places close, but great music never goes away, and the twenty-five albums below prove that.


25) Against Me! – Transgender Dysphoria Blues

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LISTEN: “FUCKMYLIFE666”

As this list unfolds, you’re going to hear us talk about a lot of albums in terms of personal confession, an opening of self to the world—a form of bravery. In comparison to Against Me!’s Transgender Dysphoria Blues, however, which saw former frontman Tom Gabel, now Laura Jane Grace, debut her new identity to the 4chan-ing backwaters of the music industry, well, there is no comparison. And yet, despite the power of its narrative, Transgender Dysphoria Blues doesn’t get bogged in preamble, coming out swinging with a spit- and sweat-soaked urgency not heard from Against Me! in nearly a decade. There’s a misstep or two, “Osama Bin Laden as the Crucified Christ” and “Dead Friends” both feel like songs apart from the whole, but on the title track and “Fuckmylife666″—two of the year’s most gut wrenching yet infectious songs—Laura Jane Grace and co. firmly reestablish themselves as a band with not only something to say, but the courage to back it up.
– Coleman Bentley

24) Hiss Golden Messenger – Lateness of Dancers

hissgolden

LISTEN: “Saturday’s Song”

In those sad years when the glorious Gillian Welch doesn’t release an album, I’m always delighted to find another artist to scratch my alt-country itch. Hiss Golden Messenger’s Lateness of Dancers satisfied my craving in 2014. Their first record with Merge is also their best. If War on Drugs’ Lost in the Dream had a country cousin, Lateness of Dancers would be it. Frontman Michael Taylor’s craggy baritone is often described as being “world-weary” — and it is — but the spell he casts with Hiss Golden Messenger is a melancholy that never fails to be warm and inviting.
– Robert Lanham

23) Eagulls – Eagulls

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LISTEN: “Nerve Endings”

If we can cut that jackass Mark Kozelek some slack for, well, being a jackass we should be able to forgive Eagulls for their moronic blog post. It sadly overshadowed their excellent self-titled debut. This post-punk band from Leeds never slouches on melody, but its the relentless rhythm section of Tom Kelly (Bass) and Henry Ruddel (drums) that sets them apart. “Possessed” and “Footsteps” are the record’s strongest tracks and that they were bold enough to bury them past the record’s halfway point speaks to Eagulls’ overall consistency. A poised and hard-hitting debut.
– Robert Lanham

22) Curtis Harding – Soul Power

curtisharding

LISTEN: “Heaven’s On The Other Side”

The seemingly impossible was made possible this year: a contemporary artist creates a classic soul record without sounding derivative. Whilst listening to most soul music of the last couple of decades you would think “this is the Marvin song… there’s Otis… obviously Curtis Mayfield here…”, etc. Soul Power has a confident swagger and pushes all the right buttons, from the reflective “Next Time” to the foot-stomping “Keep On Shining,” aficionados will love how Harding can straddle both smoother and gritty soul whilst also not being afraid to rock things up, handing out an understated vocal masterclass throughout.
– Chris Quartly

21) Nux Vomica – S/T

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LISTEN: “Reeling”

No band has benefited from full the 2015 album cycle quite like Nux Vomica. When the Portland ATVs dropped their self-titled opus this spring, it was met with solid reviews and this-one-could-go-overlooked cache, but as the year progressed along its preordained path, Nux Vomica, germinated by their epic trio of pulverizing hybrid compositions, morphed from underground namedrop to one of the biggest best-of-list darlings. Like Sunbather before it and Sorrow and Extinction before that, Nux Vomica has become THE metal record of the year for non-metalheads, and while that might sound like a backhanded compliment, it’s really not, with the band’s head-on collision of hardcore grit and post-rock pretty obliterating cynicism and eardrums alike.
– Coleman Bentley

20) Nothing – Guilty of Everything

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LISTEN: “Endlessly”

An enveloping, beautiful debut from Nothing, which is particularly lovely when listened to in order and in full. This is really gorgeous and dramatic shoegaze that borders on noise rock, with all of the melody and crashing crescendos that you could hope for on an album described as such. I wouldn’t say it’s exactly reinventing the wheel as far as the genre is concerned, but it’s certainly earned a noteworthy spot within it.
– Carly McAlpine

19) Pharmakon – Bestial Burden

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LISTEN: “Body Betrays Itself”

Music, like language, has its own rules and boundaries that make certain concepts and ideas communicable. Noise exists to break those rules, and the genre’s best musicians abandon convention with purpose. They aren’t making music that aims to alienate listeners with red-lined volume shifts, odd time sequences and overall atonal abrasiveness. They’re expressionists; explaining the unexplainable at the fringes of their medium. Just as life’s most profound experiences are difficult to put to words, they’re often undefinable, for the musician, within the constructs of traditional melody and verse. Such is the case of Margaret Chardiet’s recent near-death experience. Shortly before her European tour last year, doctors found a cyst abutting on a major organ which required invasive surgery and an intensive healing process. While she healed up, she shared a hospital room with a dying man who futily called out for his estranged daughter. This is the world of Pharmakon’s Bestial Burden, a sonic space occupied by harsh static, industrial white noise, slow bass pulses, black metal scrawl and frantic gasps for air that sound just as ghastly as being trapped in triage for months. No other album metamorphosed an artist’s narrative as effectively this year.
– Peter Rittweger

18) Isaiah Rashad – Cilvia Demo

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LISTEN: “Brad Jordan”

It must be difficult to get much attention when your labelmate is scene stealer Kendrick Lamar. Especially, if your jams are as mellow and blissed-out as Isaiah Rashad’s. In fact, Rashad has had such little buzz I thought I was the only person who was actually listening to Cilvia Demo. In the last few weeks I was pleasantly surprised to see him rise to the top of numerous “best of” lists. Granted, Rashad’s lyrics often slump into blunts and bitches cliche, but when this underdog from Chattanooga is at his best, he rivals anyone at Top Dawg. Rashad wears his love for Golden Age hip hop on his sleeve channeling the smooth swagger of Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik and the cool jazz of Blowout Comb. A thick haze of reverb enhances the way-chill experience.
– Robert Lanham

17) St. Vincent – St. Vincent

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LISTEN: Birth In Reverse

It’s quite perfect that this album is eponymous.  The songs range from angular, weird, shredding Annie to soft, thoughtful, reflective (and still weird) Annie. It is wholly representative of her character and signature style, made complete by a robotic, well-orchestrated and choreographed live show. While there is no overarching theme here – she sings of rattlesnake run-ins (had to bring that up one more time this year), her mother, the perils of the digital age – as there was on Strange Mercy, it plays like an expulsion of things Annie Clark needed to get out there and talk about. Or shred about (did I mention this chick can shred?) As the above album cover suggests, she’s at the top of her game, an empress of rock.
– Carly McAlpine

16) The Hotelier – Home, Like Noplace Is There

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LISTEN: “Your Deep Rest”

No matter what you may have heard, the emo-revival movement still needs one or two good, new (put your hand down guy in the American Football t shirt) albums in order to graduate to full-fledged phenomenon, and when that happens, let’s just hope The Hotelier aren’t propped up as its champion. Far too good to be reduced to a two-dimensional cardboard cutout of flash-in-the-pan fad (sorry guy in the Saves the Day trucker mesh), the Worcester outfit’s Home, Like Noplace Is There deserves something better, and hopefully 2015—when, thanks to lists like this, most people will actually experience it’s surgically precise brand of emotive punk—delivers that. From the tattered ballad “An Introduction to the Album”, to the centerpiece anthem, “Your Deep Rest”, The Hotelier certainly aim to snip some heartstrings, and while your inner 17-year-old is sure love it, so will the depressive post-college adult you’ve become, mumbling about the balanced production and sugary hooks while sobbing salty, red-eyed tears deep down inside.
– Coleman Bentley

15) Arca – Xen

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LISTEN: “Thievery”

I read somewhere once that the best part about Werner Herzog’s documentaries is that he has something of a childlike wonder about him. He’s discovering all of those caves and barrier reefs along with you for the first time, with a sort of naive amazement. That’s how I feel when I listen to Arca’s official debut, Xen. Of course, Alejandro Ghersi, like Herzog, knows damn well what he’s doing (dude is responsible for FKA Twigs and some of the best tracks off Yeezus) but fuck me if a lot of his songs don’t sound like what you’d get if you tossed a seven year old a KORG with some pre-loaded kicks and MIDI tones and told him to go to work. Except after a couple of swipes at the board, the seven-year old turns into a virtuoso of arranging and sequencing. Arca takes these little snippets of seemingly unrelated, off-kilter beats, hooks, synth strokes and pulses and re-arranges them in a collage style that’d make David Shields blush into a completely mesmorizing piece of electro-stimulation. Like Reality Hunger, Xen wants to reinvent the wheel. It’s bored with what a producer has become and wants to lay its claim as the forefather to the new. There aren’t any singles here (maybe “Thievery”), just idea after idea, digital image after digital image. This record sounds absolutely nothing like The Avalanches, but I’m reminded of how revolutionary their cut and paste techniques were. Instead of sampling from the pop zeitgeist, Arca is tuned into the screen in front of him and all around him. Everything is in play and everything feels so loose and free-flowing, which is usually the case when new ground is truly being staked.
– Peter Rittweger

14) United Nations – The Next Four Years

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LISTEN: “Meanwhile on Main Street”

If you were a teenager of the aughts, then you know Geoff Rickley from his influential (and often chastised – wrongly, in my opinion) post-hardcore band Thursday. After they called it a day, more or less (or maybe they didn’t, but who really cares about anything after War All The Time?) dudes like me were left with a detuned radio, jet-flagged, sign-smashed, needle-sized vector hole in our collective hearts, at least until word got out that Rickley would be starting a new band alongside fellow cult post-hardcore demigod Darryl Palumbo from Glassjaw. That band was called United Nations, and the EPs that followed were sorta not great, and we all kinda moved on until this year when Rickley decided to drop his best album… maybe ever? All right, it’s probably not as good as Full Collapse, but it’s certainly his strongest record conceptually – displaying the kind of self-aware humor he’s had from his new band’s inception, but this time doing it with straight hardcore punk as a vehicle. Thursday never really SAID anything too political in their records, but they certainly SEEMED political with songs like “For the Workforce, Drowning,” and “War All The Time” coupled with faux-bottom scrolling newscast music videos. This record pokes fun at some of that and also at punk’s ethos as a whole, with tongue-in-cheek titles like “Meanwhile on Main Street,” and “False Flags.” It’s the sonic equivalent of growing up and laughing at that Che Guevara shirt you used to rock.
– Peter Rittweger

13) Flying Lotus – You’re Dead!

flyinglotus

LISTEN: “Coronus, The Terminator”

Musical magician Flying Lotus’ 5th full-length album is a complete mind fuck – a beautifully arranged mind fuck that leaves you expanded, panting and 100 percent satisfied. Taking a hefty 19 tracks and cramming them into 38 minutes would be a feat for anyone else, however, the experimental electronic artist effectively drives the theme of what it means to die through avante-garde jazz fusion, chaotic guitar and dreamy hip-hop elements that culminate in an album that shouldn’t make sense to the ears, yet somehow TOTALLY does. Vocal contributions from Kendrick Lamar on “Never Catch Me” and Captain Murphy and Snoop Dogg on “Dead Man’s Tetris” further demonstrate the expert production on You’re Dead, from a dude who is nothing less than a goddamn wizard.
– Megan Venzin

12) Future Islands – Singles

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LISTEN: “Seasons (Waiting On You)”

A big year for these guys, who I first saw in a dingy church called Jesus Camp in Baltimore five years ago. They’ve certainly come a long way, exploding into the mainstream after a heartfelt, dad-dance-filled performance of “Seasons” on Letterman earlier this year. The album itself is full of uplifting, amorous synth-pop made unique by Samuel T. Herring’s incredibly endearing vocals and lyrics (and the occasional growl). No other album I wrote about on this list made me fall so hard and fast for it as Singles did.
– Carly McAlpine

11) PUNCH – They Don’t Have To Believe

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LISTEN: “They Don’t Have To Believe”

How’s this for myth-making? You form a punk band, put out a couple of strong records on a small label, build up some buzz, get a cool break and hop into the studio with Jack Shirley who produced Deafheaven’s Sunbather and Joyce Manor’s Never Hungover Again (spoiler-alert, appears below), record and release one of the most vital feminist punk records of the past few years and three weeks later, decide to end the band. That’s exactly what happened to San Francisco’s self-described fastcore outfit PUNCH, and that vital feminist punk record is their third long player, They Don’t Have To Believe. The title, according to frontwoman Meghan O’Neil, was inspired by a speech last year’s excellent Kathleen Hanna biopic The Punk Singer, which you should totally check out if you haven’t already. Just like Hanna’s first band, Bikini Kill, O’Neil’s band will go down in punk history as a case of “what could have been?” Her corrosive vocals are the most immediately striking element on the record as she takes aim at street-harrassers and other oppressors. She’s backed admirably by an absolutely filthy grind-leaning hardcore assault which plows through fifteen tracks in just nineteen minutes; nineteen of the best minutes of the year in a particularly strong one for punk rock.
– Peter Rittweger

10) Real Estate – Atlas

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LISTEN: “Talking Backwards”

Atlas should have been the record that garnered this New York staple a new fanbase. Instead, Real Estate fatigue crept in. Despite glowing reviews, people seemed bored by Atlas accusing it of being more of the same. Give it another listen. This is not Days part two. Atlas is a stronger, more assured release and the actualization of a band playing at the top of their game. Utterly beautiful with a production value that trumps the studio work of any record released this year.
– Robert Lanham

9) Wovenhand – Refractory Obdurate

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LISTEN: “Good Shepherd”

Faith of any kind in post-hope 2014 is virtually extinct, a fact that makes Wovenahnd’s Refractory Obdurate—and its acceptance in alternative culture—all the more impressive. The sixth studio record from alt-country icon (and deeply religious songwriter) David Eugene Edwards’ mid-career lynchpin, Wovenhand, Refractory Obdurate is NOT a Christian rock album, of course, but it is one that operates under a Judeo-Christian sky, conjuring its attendant fire and brimstone, waging war on original sin and inevitable death, in each mountainous riff and bellowed baritone proclamation. In a year where Nick Cave went silent and Swans remained as vital as ever, Wovenhand exploded from their nexus, not preaching necessarily, but booming the siren song of American music from a pulpit of pure conviction and absolute belief. Put your preconceptions aside, and you just might find, in its thrumming blend of folk, post-rock, and metal, an entirely new form of transcendence.
– Coleman Bentley

8) Run The Jewels – Run The Jewels 2

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LISTEN: “Close Your Eyes (And Count To Fuck)”

Our favorite buddy hip-hop duo Killer Mike and El-P are back with a sequel to 2013’s Run the Jewels that more than holds up to its breakout predecessor. The album title says it all – if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Fans of last year’s acclaimed debut, Run the Jewels, will find themselves bumping all the same to El P’s excellent production and Killer Mike’s driving rhymes that confidently reminds you of just who it is you’re listening to. Jazzy drops on “Jeopardy” make way for bass heavy bangers like “Blockbuster Night Part 1.” Run the Jewels II is tight package that doesn’t digress from what these two do best, and hip-hop and dance fans alike will find themselves shamelessly shaking ass and telling the law to eat their dicks to this sophomore LP.
– Megan Venzin

7) Parquet Courts – Sunbathing Animal

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LISTEN: “Instant Disassembly”

This band can take the mundane and make it interesting unlike any other, aided by all their sneering and sharp wit. It doesn’t hurt that they’re really fucking smart, either. From long-winding, plodding jams like “Instant Disassembly” to brief, headbang-worthy “Vienna II,” Parquet Courts prove they have instrumental range but still manage to make the album extremely cohesive. Between this and “side project” Parkay Quarts’ (weirder) album Content Nausea I’d say the band’s only getting better.
– Carly McAlpine

6) Twin Peaks – Wild Onion

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LISTEN: “I Found A New Way”

I’m not sure why four stoner kids from Chicago would name themselves “Twin Peaks” — a goofy, double entendre from an odd, decades old series. It’s a notably unoriginal name, and fails to capture the essence of a band that, unlike the David Lynch show, is anything but offbeat. Their second record, Wild Onion is a very straightforward garage-rock album. Detractors have criticized it for lacking originality too. But who really cares when the record is this fun? Twin Peaks merges the vibe of 70s Stones with Tim-era Replacements, defusing the criticism with great songwriting. Stand-out tracks “Good Lovin’,” “Making Breakfast,” “Flavor,” and “I Found a New Way” are carried by good old fashioned riffs with three members sharing time on lead vocals. It’s no wonder they literally tore the roof off the joint at their Baby’s All Right show earlier this year.
– Robert Lanham

5) The War on Drugs – Lost in the Dream

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LISTEN: “Red Eyes”

While Adam Granduciel’s lyrics center on depression and anxiety, the music itself is a warm embrace, a comfort blanket, waking up in the morning and realising it’s Saturday. This album would not just tell a lost tourist where the nearest subway station is, it would walk them to it. Never getting out of third gear, Lost in the Dream is not going to get anyone’s pulse racing, but there is still something to be said about owning the middle of the road on occasion.
– Chris Quartly

4) Sun Kil Moon – Benji

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LISTEN: “Richard Ramirez Died Today of Natural Causes”

As a diehard fan of Mark Kozelek, it has been somewhat surprising to witness the sudden adulation of his sixth album as Sun Kil Moon. Benji is an extraordinary body of work, which is no surprise, because it is ordinary for Kozelek to release incredible records, he’s been doing it for over 20 years and hasn’t had a bad one yet. The album features the trademark finger-picked acoustic ballads and soporific vocals, all intertwined with a complete lyrical massacre. I have never known so many people to die over the course of a record! The roller coaster is not exclusively harrowing, death is not stuffed into the listener’s ear canals unceremoniously, rather the gauntlet of all available emotions are poetically crooned into the world.
– Chris Quartly

3) Joyce Manor – Never Hungover Again

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LISTEN: “Christmas Card”

This year was a tough year to be into the music scene in Williamsburg. Most of my favorite places to hang out closed. Some publication that got started here and was very much OF here was partially bought out by Rupert Murdoch and then became responsible for three of them shuttering. That was pretty disillusioning. It doesn’t feel like as many great records are coming out of Brooklyn anymore, because who the hell can afford to live here and make music now? Indie rock seems sorta dead in a lot of ways – it’s reached that bland corporatized place “alt-rock” reached in the mid-90s. It’s pretty depressing. One record really helped me get through all of that though. That record was Joyce Manor’s Never Hungover Again. It’s a completely cheesy and trite pop-punk record, but holy crap, it’s fucking great! Truly great pop-punk embraces the cheese and never takes itself too seriously. I submerged myself in pop-punk and emo a bit more this year than I had in a while, and I wasn’t really too sure why at first. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that with all the bullshit that’s gone down, I’ve wanted to revert a bit back to some of the innocent, saccharine-fueled music that brought me into the big ol’ tent that is independent music in the first place. It’s good clean fun, the sort record that isn’t up it’s own ass, nor is it afraid to admit things like “it sounds better when you’re on marijuana” or “wish you would have died in high school.” It has the word “hungover” in the title. Despite all of the crap we encounter on a day-to-day basis, it’s just MUSIC and music is supposed to make you feel good.
– Peter Rittweger

2) YOB – Clearing the Path to Ascend

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LISTEN: “Unmask The Spectre”

Once the list season hype machine hits peak RPMs (see: “Xtreme” lists from institutions that have hardly written a syllable south of Mastodon this year) it’s tough for someone who has ate, slept, and breathed the torture dungeon asbestos of metal for years on end to not just simply throw their (OK, elitist) middle fingers into the fucking sky and puke a reactionary list of indigestible crust onto the page. Fuck the man, fight the power, and so on until the end of time. Thus, it’s a testament to the sheer magnitude of the music itself, not some sinister journalistic collusion or lack of personal conviction, that YOB’s Clearing the Path to Ascend—one of the most critically en vogue records of fourth quarter 2K14—appears here, at the top of the smoking, incinerated heap. An absolute monument of musicianship, songcraft, and raw emotion, this hour-plus slab of gut-wrenching, god-toppling doom, crafted by frontman Mike Scheidt in the wake of divorce and the decision to stop taking anti-depressants, operates on a grander scale, both sonically and philosophically, than any other album this year. “Time to wake up” the voice of legendary Eastern philosopher Alan Watts proclaims in its opening moments. “Time will fall inside the dream”, Scheidt wails over the final stunning movement. Subtlety is unaccounted for. Concision is inapplicable. Clearing the Path Ascend is not concerned with life, but existence. Listen closely (or see them live—their Vitus appearance 10 days ago was as close to a religious experience as any self-respecting agnostic can have), and you might just hear what it’s saying about yours.
– Coleman Bentley

1) Aphex Twin – Syro
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LISTEN: “minipops 67 [120.2][source field mix]”

After 13 years, Aphex Twin returns with an album of brand new music that doesn’t push an unexpected sound from the IDM artist, yet impresses all the same. While there isn’t a damn song title that’s easy to remember, it hardly matters because all 65-minutes play out in a beautifully, melodic cacophony that’s easy to digest for house fans yet complex enough to appease those intellectual die-hards. There’s reason to believe that there’s more coming soon, but longtime fans craving tracks similar to historical hits like “Windowlicker” and “Come to Daddy” may have to wait longer.
– Megan Venzin

Like every Aphex Twin record, Syro is meticulously produced and arranged, but unlike most Aphex records, it’s sort of predictable. I mean that as a compliment. Aphex Twin’s records are often marked by their unpredictability. He builds you up to something and then takes a hard left. On Syro, tracks are built up and you’re in on the whole thing – you can see where it’s going and it goes there. Your anticipation builds, you wait for the payoff, and you actually get it. Syro holds the line and things play out to their logical conclusions. Stories are told and narratives are satisfied. Richard D. James’ discography is remarkably diverse, so getting into the magic of Aphex Twin can be sort of intimidating. It’s hard to know where to start. There’s terabytes of curiosities recorded under different aliases to explore. There’s the chilled out ambient stuff everyone seems to like. There’s the demonic death metal-inspired industrial stuff. There’s the modern composition stuff. There’s the early, straightforward drum and bass stuff people forget about. But if I close my eyes and think “APHEX TWIN, GO” I hear stuff that sounds a lot like Syro. And that’s weird, because if I did that a year ago I’d probably still hear Syro. James’ prolonged absence (outside of a few EPs and the like) definitely added to the mystique of Aphex Twin, but it’s not all a decade of dormancy has brought us; it’s brought us the defining record from perhaps the most challenging and difficult-to-define musician of the past twenty years. In 2014, after doing seemingly everything there is to do in electronic music, Aphex Twin did the one thing he has never really done; he made the most APHEX TWIN album of his career.
– Peter Rittweger

“The One That Got Away”

Swans – To Be Kind
I fought like hell for To Be Kind to make the list. Every bit as visceral as The Seer, and possibly the best show I’ve seen all year, rivaled only by Slint.
– Peter Rittweger

PAWS – Youth Culture Forever
While pretty much the whole of the metal genre could qualify here, I already got the 2,000-word chance to wax on my favorites earlier this week, so I’ll spare you the redundancy. Instead I’ll go with PAWS’ Youth Culture Forever, a fistful of sticky-icky indie punk out of Glasgow that bores its way into your skull and never leaves. Sure, it’s not the sonic reincarnation of Faulkner, but tracks like “Tongues” and “Owl Talons Clenching”, which boast more hooks than a freaking tackle box, rightfully earn their place among the year’s best.
– Coleman Bentley

Skrillex – Recess
Skrillex didn’t just kick down a door with his debut LP Recess – he fucking crushed it. From the moment that tracks began unlocking themselves via his “Alien Ride” app during this year’s SXSW, it was clear that the computer whiz with the peculiar haircut had a strategic plan to build an army – an army that would have newfound believers shouting All is Fair in Love and Brostep, one nation under Dubstep, with Dirty Vibes and wubs wubs for all. It wasn’t just an album that merely supported mainstream EDM’s validity; it solidified it. The title track “Recess” (ft. Fatman Scoop, Kill the Noise and Michael Angelakos of Passion Pit) was one of the summer’s hottest club hits, while thoughtful reggae collaborations and booming bass drops like the ones in “Ragga Bomb” (ft. Ragga Twins) and “Try it Out” (ft. scene newb Alvin Risk) displayed that Sonny Moore’s musical talents go much deeper than the typical EDM-cynic previously thought.
– Megan Venzin

Tweens – s/t
Infectious trash pop from Cincinnati, “Be Mean” is probably my favourite track of 2014.
– Chris Quartly

Pure X – Crawling Up The Stairs
The sonic equivalent of a warm bath with a Valium.
– Robert Lanham

A Sunny Day In Glasgow – Sea When Absent
Impossible to categorize yet again, this band really brought it this year, with a formula of shortened, incredibly dense and layered pop (the broadest way I could think to describe it). Every piece of atmosphere, guitars, vocals and harmonies (brought to the forefront more than ever before) fit together perfectly. Okay, okay I’ll stop gushing… or should I say crushing? Love this band so much, was happy to see them get the recognition they’ve deserved all along.
– Carly McAlpine

 

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