Playlists are up! Here’s what I thought was the best of August 2014 on Rdio, Soundcloud, Spotify and Youtube. August was solid for new music, check songs from Ryn Weaver, Sucre, The Griswolds, and Alvvays and many more.
You know the drill. Here’s what I thought rocked in February 2014 (featuring songs by Kevin Drew, Prides, Sylvan Esso, Cathedrals and many more).
Playlist links below for Rdio, Soundcloud and Youtube. Enjoy.
Here’s what I thought rocked in January (featuring songs by Fickle Friends, Moderat, Moonlight Mask, Little Comets, The New Division, Skaters, Snakadaktal and many more).
Pick your poison, Rdio, Soundcloud and Youtube (below).
Check it out.
1. ON AN ON – “Give In“. Chicago/Minneapolis trio of Nate Eiesland, Alissa Ricci and Ryne Estwing (formerly of Scattered Trees) create a fantastic debut album that I couldn’t put down all year. Produced by Dave Newfeld (Broken Social Scene), the album is “a dream-washed textural journey armed with a biting perspective on life, love and the commonality of loss”. I can’t believe it’s not on more of these year end lists. An undiscovered gem for sure.
2. PAPA – “Tender Madness“. Papa is former Girls drummer Darren Weiss and childhood friend Danny Presant and their debut album (Tender Madness) is a collection of “indie rock anthems that pair propulsive electro-pop with open-road, Springsteen-induced Americana”. Following their progress over the last couple of years, I’ve heard these many great songs in different forms, releases and singles. On Tender Madness, they finally fit all together in one cohesive offering.
3. SMALL BLACK – “Limits Of Desire“. The bands’ 2nd album moves beyond the hazy home recorded sound of their previous releases toward a full-fledged, but still self-produced, clear approach. Probably more accessible than the maximalist pop of 2010’s New Chain, but I see it as a band honing their craft and getting better.
4. CHVRCHES – “The Bones Of What You Believe“. It’s hard not to love this Scottish electronic trio. Their album will make you dance with earworms, hooks and features the impressive vocals by lead singer Lauren Mayberry. Always just holding back from sounding “too poppy”, The Bones Of What You Believe was a grower but now one of my favourites this year.
5. CAYUCAS – “Bigfoot“. Perhaps this record made my top 5 because I always look for a “summer” sounding album to put on. Bigfoot posesses flirty rhythmic sensibilities, a tropical warmth and is bittersweet, cheerful and an enjoyable album to get lost in.
1. MOUNT KIMBIE – “Cold Spring Fault Less Youth“. This electronic duo builds heavy layers of jazzy based beats and smooth rhythmic vocals for that crisp electronic sound.
2. BONOBO – “The North Borders“. Beautiful melodies mixed together with downtempo electronica creates the ultimate soothing album.
3. THUNDERCAT – “Apocalypse“. Bass virtuoso throws down funky beats and R&B vibes to produce a grooving yet unpredictable energy.
4. JAMES BLAKE – “Overgrown“. Haunting and emotional, this album lays an perfectly balanced mixture of jazzy, R&B and downtempo textures.
5. RYAN HEMSWORTH – “Guilt Trips“. Canadian producer drops his first solo LP filled with rap rhythms and lush synths that develops an experimental electronic atmosphere.
1. FOALS – “Holy Fire“. In 2014, something changed. Despite the growing presence and necessity for hip-hop, R&B and pop in popular culture, five British musicians managed to create their own perfectly packaged alternative that felt more personal and more direct than ever before. Knowing that songs like ‘Inhaler’ and ‘Bad Habit’ make more sense in the context of Holy Fire’s full sequence – is just one testament as to how from start to finish a band with such innate talent steadily inspired a comforting sensation of familiarity and progression within one cohesive story. It’s unequivocally, one of their best albums to date.
2. THE NATIONAL – “Trouble Will Find Me“. After the classic that was Boxer, to one of my personal favourites High Violet, The National released their sixth studio offering Trouble Will Find Me. We all secretly love the melancholy, and these men, more matured and able, wrote an album this year that stood out for its sonic sophistication. A collection of songs devoid of any ‘look at me’ crowd pleasers, they gracefully sat down and became the steady underrated shoulder for the listener to lean on. For a band to feel confident enough to let the husky murmurs of Matt Berninger’s tempo be dialed down to a simple wry empathy and tenderness only proves their status. From the Elliot Smith quoting in ‘Fireproof’ to the impressive ‘Sea of Love’, they are the only band on earth that makes me listen to their lyrics as though I were part of a select few lucky enough to receive secret instructions to all the answers in life.
3. SON LUX – “Lanterns“. Punishingly intimate and ludicrously layered, Ryan Lott aka Son Lux transcends genre’s by creating a worthy interaction between instrumental textures. He triangulates through these genre’s by boldly heightening classical fundamentals with post-rock and hip-hop colorations. The listener becomes the ‘connector’ for his orchestral electro-pop and it is this album, Lanterns, that manages to evoke a sense of minimalism whilst alluding to a broth of enchanting, heavy-handed experimentation. He found symbiosis between his artistic collaborators on the album and and intelligently intertwined them. Like an informative documentary, this is an expose of a multi-instrumentalist showing off every inch of his talent.
4. FACTORY FLOOR – “Factory Floor“. One of the albums I’ve been feasting on the entire year is Factory Floor’s self titled debut album. There’s somewhat of a brutal attack to their sound, a predatory and jagged edge that keeps me nibbling at the palatable hypnosis this trio create. I find this sound absent in many other ‘sound-alikers’ in this genre. They found the ability to create brain-thumping, heart-bashing, drum-beat clashings that cling onto endless loops and flavoursome vocals. It’s sinister disco, in the intergalactic netherworld.
5. JAGWAR MA – “Howlin’“. I’m a sucker for tunes that have the ability to transport me back to the days when music really sent me gliding into another dimension. However, this it usually the time when we spoil it for ourselves and on the strength of just a few singles place those bands on pedestals. That moment you surpass fan status and become addicted. The young Aussie duo Jono Ma and Gabriel Winterfield, were my vehicle for teleportation. There’s everything you need here; strains of 60’s pop, psychedelic electro-rave and dance. This album cracked through an inherent primal level that transcended into a cohesive and transformative album for me this year.
1. NOISERV – “Almost Visible Orchestra“. A work of genius by an indie one-man-orchestra from Portugal. Introspective, progressive and intimate, Almost Visible Orchestra is an album that you have to listen to from first to last track. David Santos’s deep and soothing voice combined with kaleidoscopic emotions and numerous instruments, make for a complete, complex and touching proof of brilliance.
2. KAVINSKY – “OutRun“. Vincent Belorgey aka Kavinsky was considered an outsider in electronic music. He made the public wait for ‘OutRun‘ for a long time, increasing everyone’s expectations and anxieties, which could have proven fatal – but it did not. This album is the place where nostalgy, love, adrenaline, cinema and video games are celebrated in a way that the world has never seen before. The soundtrack for an epic nocturnal drive that you will remember your whole life.
3. CHVRCHES – “The Bones Of What You Believe“. CHVRCHES create an addictive electro-pop with beautiful vocals, high levels of danceability, and a disarming touch of innocence – mostly through the sweet (yet strong) voice of Lauren Mayberry. ‘The Bones Of What You Believe‘ is one of the most powerful debut albums that I’ve heard in a long time… and on repeat.
4. DAUGHTER – “If You Leave“. Daughter is a trio from London that developed from the solo work of Elena Tonra. ‘If You Leave‘ contains unsettling anthems for an entire generation, made of lyrics like bullets and music like a tonic.
5. PINS – “Girls Like Us“. PINS are an all-girl punk rock band from Manchester with loads of style. ‘Girls Like Us‘ is an outstanding album, with high levels of energy, passion and explosive thrill.
1. RADIATION CITY – “Animals in the Median“. A perfect blend of smooth indie pop and doo-wop sensibility.
2. DISCLOSURE – “Settle“. London House duo creating what’s probably the most consistent dance album of the year.
3. JOANNA GRUESOME – “Weird Sister“. An ass-kicking piece of fuzz pop with catchy hooks and crunchy guitar rhythms.
4. THE LOVE LANGUAGE – “Ruby Red“. Stuart McLamb’s project loosens up and refines his textures to make a fun, yet elegant lo-fi pop album.
5. RHYE – “Woman“. A fleshed-out, sensual R&B album that runs all over the dynamic spectrum; calling it sexy is selling the emotions evoked from “Woman” is selling it short.
This quartet from North London suddenly appeared in the local scene as one of the most promising new acts in a long time. Their folksy roots combined with powerful guitar riffs, deep lyrics and Ellie Rowsell’s incredible voice, make for a truly unique identity, which Clash Magazine meaningfully described as ‘the lovechild of folk and grunge’. Their debut EP, Blush, is as striking as it is evidence of Wolf Alice‘s potential for greatness. — by Rita
They snarl at you with sharp guitar rhythms, soothe you with dreamy, C86 inspired choruses, and then threaten to crush your skull. If this Welsh Fuzz-Pop group’s ability to mesh these contrasts into short bursts of energetic punk are any indication, it may be some time before we find their limitations. These guys are the most beautiful ass-kicking you’ll get all year. — by Sam
Recently signed to Australia’s independent music label Future Classic, Brisbane-based producer puts out soothing ambient electronic tracks with the release of his debut EP, Weathered Straight. This artist became the gateway influence for my what seems to be never ending affair with this downtempo wave. — by Lenore
Most notably, Mike Milosh (a long time favourite) and his other musical half Robin Hannibal (Quadron band fame) were responsible for restoring a full-album listening experience for me. Woman, their debut, is a masterpiece. Their songs are arranged in such a manner that the vocals and instrumentation become so interwoven they’re bolstered forward as a single entity. Milosh’s wondrous countertenor has always stood out for me, but on this album he manages to attach an alluring aspect to the music without making it overtly sexual. This band feel deeply intimate and seduce you in, letting you get lost in their gorgeous sentimentality. — by Lior
This Washington, D.C. duo of Lindsay Pitts and Clifford John create intoxicating, cinematic dream-pop that has turned a ton of heads in 2013. Reminding me of the XX with their intimate male and female vocals, hazy guitars and lush synthesizers, I’m totally hooked on this group. — by Chris
Rebekah Raa and producer Nic ‘Casually Here’ Nell form the glamorous indie pop duo Rainer, a brilliant and original band from London that puts electro and scandi-pop inspired sounds to the service of sharp lyrics with no trace of monotony. With an impressive EP, a couple great remixes and proven talent, Rainer are on their way to what can only be a huge success. — by Rita
At first listen, Parquet Courts‘ brand of peppered post-punk is delivered with a David Byrne-like anxiety. Their talent lies with taking this delivery and combing through it with lyrics of stoned-out contentiousness. Who knew lethargy could be so aggressive? — by Sam
Having already been circling the LA-music scene for the past few years, experimental synth pop duo dropped their highly anticipated debut LP Fire Dream via Father/Daughter records. Their vibrant tracks and polished harmonies are what captivated me the most. Just listen to their album once, and don’t be surprised if it has the tendency to become permanently glued in your head. — by Lenore
Personally, I’ve never actually been to the jungle. Truth be told, my imagination for it is as actively mesmerizing as the music this band from London manage to conjure up this year. In this here musical jungle, the single ‘Platoon’ became the cue for a hugely thrilling new band. Texturally they fold a layer of hypnotic sounds and surround them with detailed beats that are subtle enough to carry the vocals and send you in some sort of soul-sway. They’re a favourite new band and a definite one to watcher too, having been confirmed for next years SXSW festival in Austin, Texas – I’d happily camp out in this jungle for a while. — by Lior
The past three years have seen Magic Man evolve from two college students behind a laptop into a five-person band. Their EP (You Are Here) released in September is instantly rememberable and infectiously catchy. — by Chris
Yoann Lemoine is a French artist, director and musician; as Woodkid, he is very simply a multifaceted genius. His debut album The Golden Age revealed an all-encompassing level of creativity, putting music and image together in the service of art and awe. Live, Woodkid goes beyond any expectations and provides for an unforgettable and epic experience. Stimuli for all the senses! — by Rita
PURE BATHING CULTURE
This synth-heavy dream-pop duo made their mark in 2013 by creating an almost completely nonintrusive sound. With clean vocals and clandestine synth tones that seem to echo in an empty room, Pure Bathing Culture are a band that cultivates tracks that reflect their namesake. — by Sam
With just a couple of months of production experience under his belt, 21-year-old beat maker from Paris impacts the music scene with his fusion of soul, R&B and electronica elements. His bass drops and delicate vocal samples flow together to create a soothing atmospheric sound. — by Lenore
So you’re a fan of Animal Collective, Wild Beasts and Alt-J are you? After hearing Glass Animals the need to re-scoop my jaw from the floor came only after all the songs had finished. After being the first to sign with super-producer Paul Epworth’s new label WolfTone, we yet again understand the success of his work with Friendly Fires, Florence and The Machine and Adele. Afterall, these have put him in a league of his own, perched high atop the music industry branch. It’s no wonder then, that singles like ‘Black Mambo’ dabble in eerie R&B and electro-pop textures and perfectly spotlight Dave Bayley’s effortlessly sumptuous vocals. The inventive and intelligent musical abilities of this band highlight their eccentricities with synth clicks and bleeps that automatically sett them a part from their contemporaries – just a few fundamentals that place Glass Animals as an exciting new band to watch. — by Lior
Following through on my post earlier this year, Jagwar Ma have been a great surprise in 2013. The psych-pop duo of Jono Ma and Gabriel Winterfield create some danceable rhytyms, while channeling such ’90s alt-rock influences (Screamadelica-era Primal Scream, Stone Roses). — by Chris
I was lucky enough to see this New York-based noir pop duo live on their first European gig, motivated by the impression that their track ‘Hurricane’ had left in me. From that night onwards, I became hopelessly addicted to MS MR. Singer Lizzy Plapinger and producer Max Hershenow are not only an incredibly talented music act, but they also score points in the way they present themselves to the public with fabulous personalities and down to earth approachability. Their album Secondhand Rapture is striking; live, they are just amazing – and that counts a lot for my opinion of a band! — by Rita
This Michigan quartet attacks shoegaze with an almost bratty approach. The melodramatic lyrics and overenthusiastic drumming may seem simple, but when combined a with dreamy, distortion-heavy guitar attack, their sound is effortless to get lost in. Their punk rock approach to shoegaze gives no concession to practicality and hands itself over to young idealism. — by Sam
London’s nu-soul infused sextet, all ranging from the ages of 18 and 21, mixes in a hint of jazz and dubstep for a velvety debut EP Tangle. Their sax implements and sultry vocals are what constantly keeps me drawn in and mesmerized. I just want to hear more and more. — by Lenore
MUSEUM OF LOVE
DFA’s descriptor tagline “Too Old To Be New, Too New To Be Classic” couldn’t possibly sum up their new studio project Museum of Love better. Here we see Pat Mahoney move from behind the drum kit of LCD Soundsystem right to the edge of the microphone to lead the vocals whilst Dennis McNany from Juan Maclean slips comfortably into instrumentation and production. The New Wave sonic atmosphere in the single ‘Monotronic’ pulsates with a patient pace through synths and teases us until a blissful summit. I have no doubt their new album will exhibit the raw talent housed in this here museum, one I’d happily browse around in for a while. — by Lior
I look forward to making this post every year. Who doesn’t like making mix-tapes really?
The tough part is getting it down to a reasonable number, as 2013 was filled with many amazing tunes from new artists and old. I managed to get it to 39 songs (36 on Rdio) and I’ve been through a few times to confirm that all those songs belong there for a reason. We all have differing ideas on what were the best of 2013, this list is just what turned my head and peaked my interest in 2013.
Enjoy (and please do share).