Tuesday, January 20, 2015

WYMA Top Albums of 2014 (Scott's List)

We music blog writers do certain things.  We listen to music, we write about music, we drink beer, and many of us write a year-end list.  So here we are with my list.  I don't pretend that this list is represents the definitive top 55 new albums released in 2014 (although it might).  I haven't listened to every album released, and the albums I did listen to reflect my tastes in music.  The reason I write this list, in addition to an obsessive desire to introduce some order to my life, is to give people who read this blog because they like what I like a bit of a recap of the year's more notable releases.  If you aren't one of those people and you are reading this anyway, you either are bored, imprisoned, or looking for some fodder to rebut your cousin when he starts spouting off about his favorite 2014 albums at the Super Bowl party.  In the latter case, this list will likely give you a few albums your cousin hasn't heard of.

There are a few guidelines for this list.  Generally, my list of ranked albums only includes new releases.  Compilations, reissues and EPs/singles will be the subject of a separate post if I have the time to devote to it.  I'll also point out that while Mom + Pop released Courtney Barnetts' Double EP: Sea of Split Peas in 2014, it originally was a 2013 release and was in my top ten for that year, so I am not including it this year.  However, it is wonderful, and everyone should own it.

Note that the list is in three sections, each presented in alphabetical order.  Some years the voices in my head tell me that this approach is better than a straight numerical list, some years the voices say the opposite.  I suspect they are just fucking with me, but they are my voices -- waddayagonnado?

One Through Fifteen (alphabetical order)

Allah LasWorship the Sun - Consistently note perfect Southern California garage/psych tunes. Our review here.

Blank Realm - Grassed Inn - Intense garage and psychedelic vibe.  I couldn't stop playing this album all year, so its inclusion on this list is an easy decision.  Our review here.

Blank Realm - Reach You On The Phone' from fire records on Vimeo.

East Brunswick All Girls Choir - Seven Drummers - Eight rock nuggets that everyone should here.   Intense, loud, crunchy, mysterious, and satisfying.  Our review here.

Fear of Men - Loom - Much anticipated debut delivered on the promise of the previous singles. Our review here.

The Hobbes Fanclub - Up at Lagrange - Jangle, reverb, hooks and big choruses from start to finish in this shoegaze offering.  Our review here.

The Holy Ghost Electric Show - The Great American Holy Ghost Electric Show - Infectious Southern Gothic brew.  Our review here.

The Ocean Party - Soft Focus - A confident step forward out of the pack of southern Australian guitar bands brings well shaped and musically interesting songs and the promise of a bright future.  Our review here.

Posse - Soft Opening - Wonderful guitar driven jangle pop that seems equal parts Real Estate, Melbourne slacker pop and Seattle indie. Our review here.

Reigning Sound - Shattered - George Cartwright's garage/soul/power pop reincarnation (Tennessee garage rocker backed by Brooklyn soul and R&B band) produced one of the more enjoyable listens of the year.  Our review here.

Sea Pinks - Dreaming Tracks - Inspired and energetic indie rock redolent of California from Neil Brogan's Northern Irish band.  Our review here.

Trick Mammoth - Floristry - An early 2014 release from a Dunedin, New Zealand band blessed with a couple of very talented songwriters.  All the members play in other good bands, but this one seems to have special magic sauce.  Our feature here.

War on DrugsLost in the Dream - Aptly named record invites the listener to become lost in the layers of sounds and rhythms.  Indie rock fans can quibble about its specific place on year-end lists, but there is little debate about its right to be on the lists.  JD's review here.

Weak Boys - Weekdays/Weekends - Incredibly infectious guitar pop with a sense of humor. Our review here.

Withered Hand - New Gods - Rich indie pop LP with folky accents from Edinburgh's Dan Wilson with a host of Scottish music luminaries in support.  Our review here.

Young Fathers - Dead - Breathtakingly audacious urban pop from Edinburgh trio that just keeps getting better.  Stream the entire album at their website (here).

Sixteen Through Thirty (alphabetical order)

Black TwigHeliogram - A masterful mix of shoegaze, dream pop and droning psychedelic guitar pop. Our review here.

Cool Ghouls - A Burning Fire Swirling Though the Rye - One of the best of the Bay Area garage/psyche bands sidesteps the sophomore slump with one of the better party soundtracks of the year.  Our review here.

Dude York - Dehumanize - One of the best of Seattle's emerging rock bands with a meaty and complete LP. Our review here.

Immigrant Union - Anyway - Jangling and psychedelic with a few country accents, this is an album sitting square in my sweet spot.  JD's write up here.

The Luxembourg Signal - The Luxembourg Signal - LA/Anglo supergroup comprised of members of Trembling Blue Stars, Aberdeen and Fonda with a fantastic shoegaze/dream pop set.  Our review here.

Pale Lights - Before There Were Pictures - Brooklyn band that sounds as if Lloyd Cole and Robert Scott had been additional members of Felt. Heavenly stuff.  Our review here.

Parquet Courts - Sunbathing Animal - Expertly crafted rock album pulling in influences from the last several decades. Our review here.

The Popguns - Pop Fiction - One of my favorite guitar pop bands of the late '80s and early '90s was Brighton's The Popguns.  They are back and in top form.  Our review here.

ScotDrakula - ScotDrakula - Smashing debut LP from Melbourne garage/punk trio.  Serving suggestion: Beer.  Our review here.

Total ControlTypical System - Thick synth-based post punk and dark wave.  Our review here.

The Twilight Sad - Nobody Wants to be Here and Nobody Wants to Leave - Glasgow's most famous miserabilists  continue to make dense, soaring soundscapes to carry their dark tales.  Review coming soon.  Website.

Ultimate Painting - Ultimate Painting - James Hoare of Veronica Falls and Jack Cooper of Mazes with an understated guitar pop offering featuring subtle touches that sound better with each listen. Our review here.

The Vaselines V is for Vaselines - Cheeky and irreverent with songs crafted with a dose of adult perspective.  They were gone too long.  Our review here.

Virgin of the Birds - Winter Seeds - A lyrical and aural pleasure, with one of the best songs of the year - "Every Revelry".  Our review here.

The Wolfhounds - Middle Aged Freaks - The Wolfhounds came back on the scene with crunch, noise and swagger.  Our recent review here.

Thirty-One Through Fifty-Five (alphabetical order)

Allo Darlin' - We Come From the Same Place - Aussie/Anglo band continue to refine their brand of melodic indie pop and deliver a strong set of songs. Our review here.

Alvvays - Alvvays - Jangling, hook-filled guitar pop from Canada, with a stellar vocalist in Molly Rankin.  Our review here.

Astronauts - Hollow Ponds - Elements of folk rock and electronic combine magically from the former member of Dark Captain.  Our review here.

Chris Devotion and the ExpectationsBreak Out - Crunchy, soul-infused power pop from Glasgow.  Our review here.

David Kilgour & the Heavy Eights - End Times Undone - Melodic, jangling and substantial addition to the superb catalog of David Kilgour, co-founder of Dunedin's The Clean.  John's review here.

The DeathcatsAll Hail Deathcats - Surfy, punky garage rock from talented Glasgow band.  Now on hiatus, enjoy this one. Our review here.

Delay TreesReadymade - Excellent dream pop from Finland. Our review here.

Donovan Blanc - Donovan Blanc - Our review here.

Flowers - Do What You Want to, It's What You Should Do - C86-style noise pop with the airy, strikingly angelic vocals of Rachel Kenedy.  Our review here.

Full Ugly Spent the Afternoon - Appealing guitar pop debut from Melbourne band.  "Drove Down" is one of my favorite songs of the year.  Our review here.

Gold BearsDalliance - Crashing noise pop, just the way we like it.  Our review here.

Literature - Chorus - Melodic, up tempo indie pop with hooks and jangles.  I'm truly surprised to not see it on more year-end lists.  Our review here.

Mark Martyre - Red Letters - Gravel-voiced Canadian poet and singer-songwriter can sing me stories all day long.  Here is a good chapter for your introduction.  Our review here.

Marlovers - (Stalking) You - Spanish pop band delivers album to make you sigh and search for someone to love. Our recent review here.

MarthaCourting Strong - Buzzsaw guitars, pop hooks and twee vocals from quartet residing in Pity Me in the UK.  Our review here.

Old Mate - It Is What It Is - Eight well-crafted and somewhat sinister guitar pop tunes.  Under the radar and totally collectable.  Our review here.

Party Dolls - Love Wars Baby - Drew Beskin from Atlanta/Athens' The District Attorneys recorded these anti-valentine songs with bandmates and friends for release last February.  The results were predictably excellent.  Our review here.

Peter Escott - The Long O - Keyboard ballads and experimental pop from Tasmanian who also is one half of band Native Cats.  Song "My Heaven, My Rules" shouldn't be missed.  Our review here.

The Proper Ornaments - Wooden Head - James Hoare of Veronica Falls combines with Argentinian Max Claps for one of his two projects of the year, providing a relaxed take on psychedelia and shoegaze.  Our review here.

Robert ScottThe Green House - Master songwriter Robert Scott (The Bats; The Clean) goes solo, with some help from Hollie Fullbrook (aka Tiny Ruins) on a deep and satisfying album.  One of the best 'late night' albums of many years. Our review here.

The Sugar Stems - Only Come Out at Night - It may be the first record from a Milwaukee band to make a year-end list here, but it is well-deserved.  The album is a sweet and catchy collection of power pop tunes with a vein of grit.  Our review here.

TacocaT - NVM - Sugar-coated and irreverent garage rock from Seattle quartet.  Our review here.

Watoo Watoo – Une Si Longue Attente - Glossy and sophisticated French pop. Our review here.

Witching Waves - Fear of Falling Down - Promising debut LP of angular post punk and jangling garage from London-based trio.  Our review here.

The ZebrasSiesta - Melbourne band with a pristine set of guitar pop.  Our review here.


Anonymous said...

Black people exist. Some of them make good music.

Rocksteady74 (Scott) said...

Of course. But very few make indie rock/guitar pop, which is my focus. Other blogs and writers focus on other styles. My list only has one band dominated by black artists - Edinburgh's Young Fathers. I love TV on the Radio, but another one of our writers covered that release so I didn't. I don't tend to cover country, metal, glossy top of the charts pop, rap or EDM.

Dr.Brownstein said...

Tasty, tasty morsels. Just like mummy used to make. The delicious Ocean Party, Blank Realm and Pale Lights set my taste buds tingling.Good to see the old boys, The Zebras still on the teat and making the list. Hoot. And I was pleasantly surprised to uncover a few steaming nuggets that hadn't passed through my indie pop rear passage. Top list, padre. Now will you excuse me whilst I freshen up.