Albums Of The Month
1. TAME IMPALA – CURRENTS
This is a break-up record on a number of levels—the most obvious one being the dissolution of a romantic relationship, but also a split with the guitar as a primary instrument of expression. For many, this is such a departure from his previous works that comparison and initial acceptance of this album have been difficult. But the question of whether Currents is better than his first two albums is beside the point: it stands completely apart. Currents is the result of many structural changes, most of which exchange maximalist, hallucinatory swirl for intricacy and clean lines. The near total absence of guitars means the bass is allowed to serve as every song’s melodic chassis as well as the engine and the wheels. Nearly every proper song on Currents is a revelatory statement of Parker’s range and increasing expertise as a producer, arranger, songwriter, and vocalist while maintaining the essence of Tame Impala. This is as close to pop perfection as music as seen in quite some time.
2. FOUR TET – MORNING/EVENING
Two twenty-minute tracks make up the entirety of Four Tet’s eighth album, Morning/ Evening. The former pays tribute to his Indian heritage, the latter displays a structure that brings to mind Indian classical music. Both tracks move between diffuse drifts of electronic tones, a bright, quivering Indian voice, saccharine strings at play around her and skittering drum programming. Hebden allows each element plenty of space to breathe, striking a balance between the abstract and the accessible. The scope and ambition of Morning/ Evening is profound, and will hopefully inspire producers to take bigger chances and not be satisfied with pop- or club-friendly lengths. Hebden has done what he does best: create an atmosphere so encompassing that you lose sight of wherever you are while you’re listening.
3. SEVEN DAVIS JR – UNIVERSES
Universes is swept up in the power of positive thinking, both lyrically and musically. Constructing his own blithely funky edifice on sure foundations from George Clinton (Everybody Too Cool) to D-Train (on the Julio Bashmore-assisted Good Times), Davis Jr seems equally at home amid the brazen pop of Sunday Morning and the way more abstract 10-minute finale Welcome Back. Davis’ own history as a house dancer is evident in his music’s wild gyrations; even when he’s laying down four-to-the-floor rhythms, he imbues them with more bump and flex than most contemporary dance floors will be used to. Claiming the middle ground between D’Angelo and Four Tet was a bold move, but I think he’s pulled it off.
4. THE CHEMICAL BROTHERS – BORN IN THE ECHOES
With their Glastonbury performance fresh in people’s minds, it might seem like a good time for the Chemical Brothers to return with their first studio album in five years. Born in the Echoes is gloriously disorienting, restoring a woozy mania to a genre in danger of self-combusting in search of ever more euphoric pop highs. The kids will probably look on aghast. But old ravers will find themselves transported back to a time when electronica really did sound like the future.
5. JASON ISBELL – SOMETHING MORE THAN FREE
Navigating between crestfallen country ballads and rollicking rockers, Something More Than Free showcases Isbell’s musical diversity without sacrificing a pinch of lyrical precision. Something More Than Free finds Isbell revealing that conquering your demons isn’t just about survival; it’s also about rebirth, growth, and redemption.
6. SAMANTHA CRAIN – UNDER BRANCH & THORN & TREE
The richness of folk maiden Crain’s voice and the elegant simplicity of the musical arrangements bring drama to her stories. And the striking imagery of her lyrics finds beauty and pathos in the details of downtrodden lives.
7. GOSSAMER – AUTOMATON
Gossamer is Evan Reiner, a relatively new artist who wears his heart on his sleeve through chill electronic chopscapes. Automaton is a gently swaying record showcasing some imaginative sampling/recording and some very personal themes
8. QUANTIC – A NEW CONSTELLATION
Holland set about recreating the transient spontaneity of instrumental jazz and the lucidity of classic soul recordings where the studio band have been given free reign. The result is a glistening suite of ten new compositions. True to the studio ensemble groove, highly adept musicianship swims beneath a collective consciousness.
9. ULTIMATE PAINTING – GREEN LANES
Imagine a cheery Lou Reed strutting down Stoke Newington high street on a sunny Wednesday morning. This is the image that Ultimate Painting manage to conjure up on this breezy second album.
10. ADRIAN YOUNGE + GHOSTFACE KILLAH – TWELVE REASON TO DIE II
This blood-splattered, supernaturally spiked tale of mafia war, revenge, comeuppance and resurrection in mid-70′s New York is done with such teeth-gritting relish you’d half expect some microphones may have been harmed in the high octane process.
FULL LIST OF OUR TOP 100 ALBUMS OF THE YEAR 2014 CLICK HERE. ALSO CHECK OUT UNDER AOTY2014 FOR OUR TOP 20 REISSUES, COMPILATION AND STAFF LISTS.
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