These are my favourite releases of 2014, just like it says up there in the title.
For me, 2014 ended up being pretty decent as far as releasing music into the world goes. Let's start with that list, ok?
THE SUN THROUGH A TELESCOPE - UNNATURAL CRUCIFORM ON A MOSS COVERED ROCK
THE SUN THROUGH A TELESCOPE - 12 moths
STREET MEAT - TACO NIGHT
MERDARAHTA - SOLAR PULSE
DEAD POPE SOCIETY - REDBULL WITHOUT A CAUSE
UNCLE PHIL AND FRIENDS - HIGH AS A KITE
Not too shabby. Another MERDARAHTA release is set for January of 2015. I'm also planning another TSTAT full-length for, if all goes to plan, sometime in the fall. I've gotta get started on that ASAP if I want that to happen (I've already got one song done so it's basically in the can at this point).
Anyways, onto the list. I'll take a cue from my distinguished colleague TOPON DAS and the list of local talent he provided us internet cruisers (check it out HERE) and start with all the releases from bands and artists that I pal around with from time to time. So, as per usual, these are in no particular order whatsoever other than the first part of the list will be known as....
I HAVE A LOT OF SUPER-TALENTED FRIENDS OF 2014 LIST
1) ALASKAN - DESPAIR, EROSION, LOSS "These guys have chosen a very predictable career path in that they get better and better with every release. How original. Also, where their live show in concerned, they seem to actually be devolving into cavemen, which I think is pretty cool. Cavemen with the best haircuts in town, mind you."
2) GARBAGEFACE - OBDURACY "I finally figured out what a 'mix-tape' actually is, thanks to this release (it ain't the pathetic attempt at winning my high school girlfriend back with a bunch of THE CURE and CONCRETE BLONDE songs on a blank MEMOREX like I thought it was). This guy is funny, intense and relentless."
3) SHAHMAN - DEMISE OF A BODY "A very intense and personal release from this Toronto-based duo. Anyone who has ever lost someone close to them can most certainly relate."
4) MAJOR ENTERTAINER MIKE H - T SHIRTS FOR SALE / OPENING ACT 7 INCH "Give this guy a chance, will ya? His sideways take on classic rock and weirdo pop is second to none!"
5) THOSE GULLS - FOREVERMORE "For me, my idea of 'alt-rock' would be something like 'pop music infused with enough weird ideas as to simultaneously narrow its appeal and broaden its likeability' and not so much 'bluesy/folky rock but with jaunty hats, funny sweaters and beardy haircuts'. This band is a shining example of the former."
6) FLYING FORTRESS - DIRTY RAIN "This bass/drums duo takes MOTORHEAD, VENOM, CLIFF BURTON and CHEAP TRICK and make a heavy rock smoothie outta that shit."
7) FUCK THE FACTS - ABANDONED "These awesome assholes can achieve in just 3 songs what most of their peers couldn't possibly in 10 or 12 or 20 or whatever."
8) GREBER - KILN HARDENED PSALMS "Another bass/drums duo (lots of those on my list!), these two infuse grind and sludge, the results of which are truly volatile. Also, let it be known that STEVE VARGAS is my drumming spirit animal."
THE REST OF THE ALBUMS BY PEOPLE I DON'T PERSONALLY KNOW OF 2014 LIST
9) HELMS ALEE - SLEEPWALKING SAILORS "I have to admit, I liked their last album much better than this one (even in lieu of that one rap-metal part in that one song that we all pretended to hate but all secretly enjoyed). Not sure what it is, maybe too much singing from the dude this time? I dunno. Me, I like a blend. Still, in and of itself, this album is gorgeous."
10) LORD MANTIS - DEATH MASK "Terrifying in all it's ladycorpsewithapenis glory (check out the album art if you doubt me)."
11) THOU / THE BODY - RELEASED FROM LOVE "Heavy, ugly and gross."
12) EARTH - PRIMITIVE AND DEADLY "EARTH has always worked in many different incarnations. Turns out you can add 'traditional heavy rock combo' to that list."
13) HENRY BLACKER - HUNGRY DOGS WILL EAT DIRTY PUDDINGS "Ugly riffs, even uglier vocals and a very weird, almost claustrophobic production value sets this release apart from your typical sludgey/doom affair."
14) AMEN DUNES - LOVE "I got to see this guy live earlier this year. He soundchecked for almost an hour. I was ok with it."
15) BITCHIN BAJAS - BITCHIN BAJAS "Just finding out about these guys. I know it's not written, recorded and released specifically for me. It's just that if it was, not much would be different about it."
16) ELECTRIC WIZARD - TIME TO DIE "I loved WITCHCULT TODAY. BLACK MASSES, I was not so hot on. This, however, is probably the best thing since the mighty DOPETHRONE. Big words."
17) PYRRHON - THE MOTHER OF VIRTUES "The weirdest take on technical death metal I've ever heard (and I don't just mean that it's interesting at all, although that is a pretty weird thing for technical death metal)."
18) PLEBEIAN GRANDSTAND - LOWGAZERS "There are many different flavours of black metal. I tend to lean towards the "relentless nightmare" variety, like the way these guys do it."
19) HTRK - PSYCHIC 9-5 CLUB "Indie-rock/dreampop through a sad quaalude filter. I wish I played in a band like this (I'm not young and / or skinny enough so it's a no-go)."
20) WIZARD RIFLE - HERE IN THE DEADLIGHTS "More weirdo noise/sludge/doom courtesy of a duo. I guess there's something about having a band comprised of only two people that makes it inherently unique. I mean, you have to be creative right from the jump in order to make things work."
21) HAVE A NICE LIFE - THE UNNATURAL WORLD "An avant-grade / black metal version of TEARS FOR FEARS? (seriously, they even used practically the same font as THE HURTING album cover) That was totally my idea first even though I've yet to carry it out in any way, shape or form."
22) TOBACCO - ULTIMA II MASSAGE "What we've got here is a solo album from one of the BLACK MOTH SUPER RAINBOW guys. So, like BMSR only weirder (if that's possible)."
23) GROUPER - RUINS "More haunting loveliness from LIZ HARRIS. The world is a better and far-more reverb-drenched place with weirdos like her in it."
24) TODAY IS THE DAY - ANIMAL MOTHER "This release takes things back to the spartan, self-produced quality that most TITD albums have (a sharp contrast to 2011's PAIN IS A WARNING). It was cool to hear a high-quality version of STEVE AUSTIN's madness but this really is the way I think this band should sound (ie: like it was created with many odds working against it).
25) PRIZEHOG - RE-UNVENT THE WHOOL "Yet another weird, weirdo doom/sludge metal album. There's a lot of that going around these days (and almost all of it is from Portland)."
26) BORIS - NOISE "I've got an arrangement with this band: They put an album out and I love it. So far, neither party has reneged on the conditions of said contract."
27) ALRAUNE - THE PROCESS OF SELF-IMMOLATION "More black metal that sits in the 'feral, vicious, oh-man-is-this-being-played-by-humans?' cadence (which is oh-so-preferable to the 'symphonic-crybaby-machine' variety)."
28) MONTIBUS COMMUNITAS - THE PILGRIM TO THE ABSOLUTE "This is like ambient music said 'It's such a nice day, let's have class outside!'."
29) MELVINS - HOLD IT IN "The aforementioned BORIS agreement also holds true with MELVINS. In this case, however, what they've got on offer is a real dark and ugly gut-churner of an album. It demands multiple listens."
30) PHARMAKON - BESTIAL BURDEN "There's an abundance of seemingly likeable music that I, in turn, hate for one reason or several. Where BESTIAL BURDEN is concerned, however, it may actually be the first case of me liking music that, in turn, hates my fucking guts and wants me to die for real."
31) ANTHROPHROPPH - OUTSIDE THE CIRCLE "An excellent and totally bizarre take on the psychedelic/space rock/krautrock sounds of yesteryear."
32) GODFLESH - A WORLD LIT ONLY BY FIRE "How many bands can remain inactive for over a decade and not miss a beat? The production value may be a little cleaner but, other than that, all the crucial elements are here."
33) APHEX TWIN - SYRO "I've listened to this album several times and can still barely remember one note of music from it. That it exists at all (let alone the fact that it is unthinkably dense with every colour in the sonic rainbow) is enough to make it amazing. Wishing that it measured up to his earlier stuff just seems selfish."
HONOURABLE MENTIONS OF 2014 LIST
NOTHING - GUILTY OF EVERYTHING
TEITANBLOOD - DEATH
YOUNG WIDOWS - EASY PAIN
IRON REAGAN - THE TYRANNY OF THE WILL / SPOILED IDENTITY EP
EYEHATEGOD - S/T
LIGHTS - LITTLE MACHINES
ALCEST - SHELTER
OVERKILL - WHITE DEVIL ARMORY
OLD MAN GLOOM - THE APE OF GOD
ABYSSAL - NOVIT ENIM DOMINUS QUI SUNT EIUS
TOWERS - II
THOU - HEATHEN
GENERATION OF VIPERS - COFFIN WISDOM
SZA - Z
CHROME - FEEL IT LIKE A SCIENTIST
KING BUZZO - THIS MACHINE KILLS ARTISTS
BONUS TOP-TEN TOP 40/RADIO FRIENDLY ALT-ROCK TRACKS OF 2014 LIST
1) DEAR ROUGE - BEST LOOK LATELY
2) BIG DATA - DANGEROUS
3) TOVE LO - STAY HIGH
4) TOKYO POLICE CLUB - HOT TONIGHT
5) ARKELLS - LEATHER JACKET
6) USS - SHIPWRECK
7) NICO AND VINS - AM I WRONG
8) LIGHTS - UP WE GO
9) NICK JONAS - JEALOUS
That's the closest I've come to actually having 10 songs in the Top Ten of what dumb dumbs would call guilty pleasures list (of 2014). I have a 9-year old daughter so I'm exposed to a lot of that shit, what can I say? Oh, I'll say that if the tastemakers over at Pitchfork Magazine stopped gleefully hailing TAYLOR SWIFT as the savour of music, they should take a sec to realize that both LIGHTS and SZA do that shit a billion times better. The hipster equivalent of "edgey" these days seems to be rooted in Top-40 R&B type shit (replacing past hipster endevours such as 'anything black metal' and 'anything to do with any dead rapper').
Happy New Year.