Records of the year 2014
It’s almost the end of the year again, time to share with you some of the records I’ve enjoyed in 2014. I’ve tried to keep it short and sweet, only including those records that I still have on regular rotation; I could also have included albums I enjoyed reviewing – Dikembe’s Mediumship, Hoax Hunters’ Comfort and Safety and numerous others, but I’d be here all next year putting that list together, so I give you my top 13 with a few bonus EPs and singles to check out – enjoy.
Goodtime Boys – Rain
The first full length from this UK hardcore band realised the potential of their previous EPs and singles and expanded their sound, refining the raw heady hardcore into something melodic, well rounded but still with plenty of bite. The album manages to be instant and easy to listen to but doesn’t scrimp on the meaty riffage. Easily makes my best of the year list.
Acid Fast – Rabid Moon
Released early in 2014 this was an immediate addition to my best of the year list and didn’t get forgotten in the shuffle. The lasting appeal of the album comes from a core of excellent melodies and a backing of solidly hooky bass lines and sing along vocals rounding things out. There is a strong 90s influence, which is reminiscent of bands like Jawbreaker, Superchunk and, to a certain extent, The Breeders, making the album sound like it was released an age ago and has just been discovered in a dusty attic somewhere; never a bad thing in my opinion.
Late Bloomer – Things Change
Knowing nothing about this band and having no expectations, apart from liking the great cover art, I put this record on, and was instantly drawn in. North Carolina trio Late Bloomer make me reminisce – bringing back memories of albums I loved in the 90s by Dinosaur Jr. and Galaxie 500 amongst others. Things Change successfully melds the fuzz and distortion of a classic indie/shoegaze outfit with the melodies, riffs and vocals you’d expect to find in catchy indie-rock. However, it must be said, that the joy of the record comes not from the nostalgic feelings created, but the way the band have brought these sounds bang up to date, by mixing in many other things; from warm gruff punkish vocals, to new wave emo and hardcore, there is nothing they’re not afraid to blend in but it’s all constructed in a sympathetic way making many of the tunes here instantly likeable.
Cayetana – Nervous Like Me
I’ve made no secret on this blog that all girl Philly trio Cayetana became one of my new favourite bands as soon as I heard their Demo back in January 2013, so it’s probably no surprise that their debut full length album features high in this list. In the simplest terms, Cayetana write songs that make me feel glad to be alive and I’ve come back to this album over and over again since its release and it never fails to lift my sprits with its raw edged but instantly likeable melodies.
Pariso Svalbard Split LP
It’s not a huge surprise to see these two great bands coming together to make a split album – they’ve toured together many times and musically its clear they are on a similar wavelength, but even for a split record, Pariso and Svalbard have produced a truly collaborative effort here – going one step futher than most and writing and performing two of the tracks as one band; like a gnarly supergroup of sorts. All three vocalists from the two bands play a part and there is a healthy amount of the heavy duty power you’d expect from these two, with meaty riffage a feature of course, but there are also some nice lighter touches throughout balancing the sound well.
Hag Face – Rag Face
All girl Canadian punk band Hag Face released this great record in April – it’s only $2 on Bandcamp so no excuses. I’ve been totally won over by their raw edged charm – melodies hide under blown out riffs, feedback squeals and screams. I love the angsty energy, fantastic vocals and rock and roll rhythms – it all hooks you in so easily, making this a totally addictive record.
Bleeding Rainbow – Interrupt
Classy shoegaze from this Philadelphia mob; hooky, melodic and memorable tunes pepper an album with no filler. This band has been around for ages (previously under the Reading Rainbow moniker) but only just made it on to my radar, for shame.
The Good Wife – Love Songs
This is available for free via Bandcamp in an unmastered format as unfortunately The Good Wife is no more. Apparently the band split up shortly after recording this album but even in its unfinished form it holds some monstrous tracks and serves as a reminder of how great this Brit noise-rock band were.
Svin – S/T
Another great record from the Danish avant-garde instrumentalists. This one feels more robust due to some meaty riffage and heavier duty drumming than I’ve heard from them recently. Less of an emphasis on melody gives the record a more hypnotic, psychadelic feel, with a hint of the industrial in the drum patterns. They haven’t lost their delicate touch however, the minimal track Alt is heartbreakingly beautiful.
Brain F# – Empty Set
Fast, bratty punk from Carolina with great vocals; this is fun and catchy stuff you can dance to. Not entirely sure it has the staying power of a classic album but it’s been a blast to listen to this year – sometimes all you want to do is rock out.
Generacion Suicida – Todo Termina
Hardcore punk from Los Angeles with Spanish lyrics. This is an addictive record, the tunes are super catchy and the riffs get you moving. It reminds me of that fantasic Neon Piss album from a couple of years ago – punchy, snappy tunes with heart and melody. So good.
Up River – Undertow
The first thing you notice about this new record from Brighton post-hardcore four piece Up River is the excellent production, it brings out every nuance, making for a crunchy and raw sound but it also makes the record sound huge rather than minimal – it’s spot on. Honestly I wasn’t sure what to expect from the cover art, but as soon as you put the album on you are hit with the rich guitars pumping out hooky riffage and emotive yet controlled vocal screams – this is hardcore done very well and it makes you remember what you love about it.
Iceage – Plowing Into the Field of Love
This new third album from Iceage sees a change of style for the band – the scuzzy punk seems to have taken a back seat to more indie experimentalism, with a darker, inward looking mood taking over. While it feels like a band throwing open the doors musically to new avenues and stepping outside their comfort zone to bend those ideas into something different, there has been a backlash of bile from existing fans, accusing the new album of being being a Nick Cave clone. I’m not in agreement with this pointless name calling and would recommend the record. It is a change of direction, yes, but the melodies are very much Iceage, the vocal delivery and lyrics are not much altered and above all this is a collection of great tunes that deserve to be heard.