Albums Of The Month
1. KAMASI WASHINGTON – THE EPIC
The Epic is saxophonist Kamasi Washington’s aptly titled, triple-length, 172-minute debut album for Brainfeeder. This is wonderful stuff. Sure, 2015 isn’t an easy year in which to imagine droves of people sitting down and listening to a 172 minute album in full. But whether you absorb it song by song, disc by disc, or as one huge suite, Washington is reaching for the epic on every scale. The Epic isn’t fusion, retro, or remotely academic. It’s 21st century jazz as accessible as it is virtuosic — feel matters to Washington. Holistic in breadth and deep in vision, it provides a way into this music for many, and challenges the cultural conversation about jazz without compromising or pandering.
2. THE WEATHER STATION – LOYALTY
Lindemans approach puts her in the company of Bill Callahan and Joni Mitchell, songwriters whose careful combinations of pedestrian details and profound insights also create secret, self-sovereign worlds. And like both of those songwriters, she’s a singer with an unmistakable and communicative voice, able to convey hope and hurt with equal clarity. These 11 tunes are expressions of woes that you can’t quite correct but can’t let go, either, worries that plague you but push you onward, too. These are public folk songs about the private problems—breakups and makeups, depressions and deaths—we’ve all suffered.
3. ROISIN MURPHY – HAIRLESS TOYS
The former Moloko star’s third is her most exquisitely produced yet: inside is a hedonistic haven. It’s an album that distracts from the tyranny of the norm – the rent-paying rigmarole and relentlessness of everyday life – with Murphy cooing as if lounging in a giant champagne glass. Never is it gaudy, however. From the glasslike Gone Fishing to its Italo-disco and house mutations and unusual country diversions, it draws from the past but adds a crisp, modern polish; and unlike other revivalists, there’s a depth to Murphy’s vocals, as if she has experienced the freaks and fantasy of Studio 54 firsthand. Hairless Toys is pure, evocative elegance, her performance as flamboyant and fragile as the subculture she celebrates.
4. ESKA – ESKA
Though the Lewisham-raised Eska will be a new name to many, she has spent a decade working as a session singer for the likes of Tony Allen, Matthew Herbert and Grace Jones. Her debut album, five years in the making, attests to the Londoner’s versatility, drawing on everything from psychedelic soul to folk infused with the spirit of Kate Bush. At its best, Eska is a mind-bending gem.
5. DJANGO DJANGO – BORN UNDER SATURN
Three years on from their Mercury Prize-nominated debut album, the acclaimed eclectic psychedelic quartet Django Django return. Their lysergically-warped mood and song writing quality is intact, but there are now added house music influences. The results are euphoric.
6. JIM O’ROURKE – SIMPLE SONGS
How could someone be this gifted as both a pop and an avant-garde artist? Drawing on elements of classic pop song craft, O’Rourke uses melody a through-line in musical arrangements that shift frequently through instruments and textures, and with enough subtlety that it’s easy to miss as the songs scroll by. Simple Songs places far fewer layers between Jim and the listener as on previous records. O’Rourke doesn’t invite you inside his home, but he does unlock the door.
7. KERRIER DISTRICT – 4
Once again Luke Vibert has delivered Rephlex a delectable slice of musical pleasure which unusually is singularly dedicated to the delights of disco music, and is arguably his most accessible record to date. Luke’s inimitable take is stripped down like early house. Organic sounding but with a lush glowing contemporary electronic feel, all groovy handclaps, strings, cowbells, horns and creamy bass-lines, highly addictive and very fresh.
8. DEATH AND VANILLA – TO WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE
Death and Vanilla are pretty close to being the perfect band for those who worship the ‘60’s exotic electronica that so influenced the music of Broadcast. A fine record throughout and if you’ve not as yet been snared into their multi-layered melodicisms this is a good a place as any to start.
9. THEE OH SEES – MUTILATOR DEFEATED AT LAST
Another batch of blast furnace psych from the ever-fertile mind of John Dwyer and co. Thee Oh Sees at their best, burning a hole through your skull with frazzled garage scree.
10. MIKAL CRONIN – MCIII
This California dreamer can flip on the charisma as if it were as simple as stomping on a distortion pedal — which means his vibrant new album MCIII, might end up being one of the most likable rock album of the year.
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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