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Old 12-29-2014, 05:47 PM   #16
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I have a list that's pretty concrete, but haven't distributed points or anything.
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Old 12-29-2014, 05:58 PM   #17
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I have my list. Just haven't distributed points yet. I also kept thinking Trouble Will Find Me was released this year for some reason.
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Old 12-29-2014, 08:36 PM   #18
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Mid-Jan would be great, I won't have time to write something up until a bit into Jan.
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Old 12-29-2014, 08:57 PM   #19
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Cutting my list down to a top fifteen is going to be pretty hard. It's been a really, really great year.
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Old 12-29-2014, 09:04 PM   #20
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1. Rancid - Honor is All We Know
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Old 12-31-2014, 05:05 PM   #21
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These are the 15 albums I purchased this year that I really liked. So yeah, my criteria was basically what I purchased and didn't take into account albums I streamed or got for free (sorry U2). On that note I do rank SOI highly, but I just want to keep that album separate.

(15) 1. Timber Timbre - Hot Dreams (15)

Timber Timbre's "Hot Dreams" was an unexpected surprise this year. I streamed it via NPR and would fall asleep listening to it. That is a good thing actually. This would actually be my first purchase of any Timber Timbre album and I am glad I did. Cinematic, haunting, are just a few words I'd use to describe it.

(15) 2. The War On Drugs - Lost In The Dream

Not surprising, The War On Drugs "Lost In The Dream" ranked so highly on my list of purchases this year. It's probably my most listened to album, but falls only slightly behind Timber Timbre as one of my favorite purchases this year. A lot has been written about this album ranging from Adam's obvious influences that shown through on the album so I wont retread what we already know.

(10) 3. Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra - Fuck Off Get Free We Pour Light on Everything

2014 needed a new Silver Mt. Zion album, and it got one. The album questioned what we value as we grow older and as children enter the picture (as Efrim Menuck had a child a few years since the last SMZ release).

(10) 4. Future Islands - Singles

My introduction to Future Islands came via a suggestion that I "check out this dude dancing on David Letterman" and I was hooked. I am also a sucker for some good synthpop melodrama too.

(10) 5. Curtis Harding - Soul Power

I look to Burger Records for some great up and coming artists. Especially on the lo-fi garage/synthpop spectrum. Curtis Harding is an exception to that rule. His debut album "Soul Power" perfectly captured the feel of early R&B and vintage soul... and it was nice to hear that this year, especially from a Burger artist.

(10) 6. Flying Lotus - You're Dead!

Yeah, jazz still exists. And it's good. FlyLo managed to create a free flowing album that doesn't veer too far off track and does it all within 38 minutes.

(5) 7. Leonard Cohen - Popular Problems

Leonard Cohen released "Popular Problems" this year and then turned 80 years old. He's still got it.

(5) 8. Ty Segall - Manipulator

Ty Segall's "Manipulator" is a nice hook laden rock album. Nothing more and nothing less. It doesn't need to be.

(5) 9. Ryan Adams - Self Titled

Ryan Adams dropped an album this year that was focus, polished, and all around good as a Ryan Adams album can be. He also played every instrument on the album from what I read... So that can also explain why this is so focused. Honorable mention goes to him using the same font style as Bryan Adams 1984 "Reckless" album on the cover of his album.

(5) 10. Jack White - Lazaretto

Album gimmicks aside (referring to the vinyl release) Jack White's "Lazaretto" is really a good album. Why? Because it touches upon everything that Jack White is good at. And on this album that is all crammed onto it.

(5) 11. Foxygen - And Star Power

Foxygen's "..And Star Power" is a sprawling lo-fi effort which kind of veers off course at times but comes back together to make it all worth it.

(2) 12. Swans - To Be Kind

Set aside two hours of your life to take in this album. It's a demanding album, and that's the kind of music I like.

(1) 13. Guided By Voices - Cool Planet

Guided By Voices did what they do best this year and that is releasing a lot of music..

(1) 14. Guided By Voices - Motivational Jumpsuit

.....But for many, I guess, we didn't think they'd once again call it quits. In retrospect their two albums released this year seemed more like an attempt to get everything out there while Robert Pollard plans his next big thing than less of a swan song of sorts.

(1) 15. Lost In The Trees - Past Life

"Past Life" is an understated release from earlier this year. Lost In The Trees crafted a wonderfully atmospheric and somber album that deserves listen.
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Old 12-31-2014, 05:45 PM   #22
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(15) 1. Timber Timbre - Hot Dreams (15)
(10) 3. Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra - Fuck Off Get Free We Pour Light on Everything
(5) 8. Ty Segall - Manipulator
(2) 12. Swans - To Be Kind
These are great albums that will probably go somewhat overlooked here. One of them is on my list as well.
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Old 12-31-2014, 05:56 PM   #23
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Now is as good a time as any, I suppose.


1. Wild Beasts: Present Tense (15 points)

2. FKA Twigs: LP1 (13 points)

3. Spoon: They Want My Soul (12 points)

4. Liars: Mess (11 points)

5. The War on Drugs: Lost in the Dream (10 points)

6. D'Angelo & The Vanguard: Black Messiah (8 points)

7. Timber Timbre: Hot Dreams (6 points)

8. Lewis: L'Amour (6 points)

9. Interpol: El Pintor (5 points)

10. Coldplay: Ghost Stories (4 points)

11. Robert Plant: Lullaby and...The Ceaseless Roar (3 points)

12. St. Vincent: Self-titled (3 points)

13. Andy Stott: Faith in Strangers (2 points)

14. Perfume Genius: Too Bright (1 point)

15. Caribou: Our Love (1 point)


Comments and such, spoilered for length:


 

1. Wild Beasts: Present Tense

I don't know how many superb albums Wild Beasts have to make before they finally achieve some form of wider recognition. On the heels of the slow-burning, glimmering Smother comes Present Tense: the most finely-balanced and completely-realized album of the year. The precision of the largely synth-driven production belies the tension at the album’s core: the lyrics reflect a reaching for somebody or something always just out of reach, and maybe a sense of shame in wanting that person or thing in the first place. "Confessional" might be the best way to describe it: there is no resolution here, only observations without a clear path for moving forward. The swath of emotion is amplified by the dance of the two lead voices: one an airy falsetto, the other a quivering baritone. And despite the instrumental variation of Wild Beasts' previous albums, on Present Dance they have found a soundscape that fits their idiosyncratic vocals perfectly: mid-tempo, vaguely middle-eastern percussion high in the mix backed with gentle keyboards and the occasional swelling synth line, the latter impeccably placed, as in the aching "Daughters," to keep the mood from becoming too uniform. If the consistency of vision wasn't enough, Present Dance also boasts at least three of the finest songs of the year in "Mecca," "A Simple Beautiful Truth," and "Palace," tracks that work equally well within and outside the context of the album itself. I would hope the praise heaped upon groups with unconventional vocals, like Future Islands, over the course of this year bodes well for the critical reception of this excellent group.

Standout track: Mecca

2. FKA Twigs: LP1

LP1 is a much smarter album than it has been given credit for. A song like "Two Weeks," for example, is as raw an expression of desire as anything you will hear, shot through with primal sexuality. But anchoring it and other songs on LP1 is a fear of the consequences of acting on that desire. The album is the story of a young woman grappling with her own expression, sexual and otherwise: aggressively pursue what you want and think you deserve, or play it safe and make your move from a more reflective angle? As with Present Tense, the instrumentation accentuates this emotional tension beautifully: "Give Up" is a great example, its piercing synths conveying the frantic mental state you might have when trying to reconcile desires. Tahilah also has one of the more distinctive vocal styles out there at the moment – rich and emotive – but again is wise to contrast it with mechanized, almost frigid beats and synths (see especially "Hours" in this regard). Maybe this is reading too much into it, but I see a feminist angle in this album in terms of women struggling to find their agency without appearing overly-aggressive or masculine. And so despite the fragility of the subject matter, there is a confidence and almost muscularity to the songwriting that makes FKA Twigs one of the most compelling artists of the year.

Standout track: Two Weeks

3. Spoon: They Want My Soul

Sometimes a great album is as simple as having a bunch of great songs in one place. They Want My Soul fits that bill. Even for a band with a reputation for delivering concise, immediate rock songs, They Want My Soul raises the stakes, especially on the opening four tracks, which will stick in your head for hours, days, even weeks after having heard them. "Do You" has got to be the most infectious hook of the year, impeccable but also completely effortless in its execution. The pacing of the album is also a strong point, with taut guitar tracks like "Knock Knock Knock" balanced well with synth-tinged songs like "New York Kiss." At a lean 38 minutes as well, They Want My Soul leaves you wanting more without sacrificing the replay value - a rare feat and a marker of a superb album.

Standout track: Do You

4. Liars: Mess

Aphex Twin got a hell of a lot of attention this year from the electronica world, and rightly so. The downside to that attention, though, is that Syro came to overshadow several excellent albums in the genre, including Mess, the left-field gem from persistent shapeshifters Liars. Propulsive from start to finish, Mess is also shot through with the paranoia that has characterized Liars' work since at least Sisterworld: the insistent, warped synths that introduce "Vox Tuned D.E.D." are absolutely apocalyptic, while on the other end of the spectrum, the hypnotic bass line that drives "Left Speaker Blown" is no less foreboding. And though no one would say the beats are on par with something like Madlib's Pinata, their simplicity serves as a consistently firm anchor for the soundscapes Liars drape over them. I have a hard time thinking of a band who has so thoroughly committed itself to a new vision while managing to remain distinctly themselves in the process - an accomplishment in its own right, but one made even more impressive by the quality of the final product on a song-for-song basis.

Standout track: Left Speaker Blown

5. The War on Drugs: Lost in the Dream

Despite the lofty comparisons to the likes of Bob Dylan and Tom Petty, The War on Drugs is shaping up to be a unique act in modern indie. Their particular style of drawn-out, misty Americana has matured beautifully with Lost in the Dream, arguably the most consistent album of the year. What sets this album apart from prior releases is how the songs are allowed to breathe without ever overstaying their welcome, to indulge in a bit of ambient without ever losing shape. "Under the Pressure" indulges in just enough guitar heroics to justify its prolonged fade-out; "Red Eyes" kicks up a gear at just the right time; the title track introduces just enough harmonica to keep the gentle arrangement engaging. The care put into this album is apparent at every turn, which when coupled with the prodigious talent on display from Adam Granduciel makes this album more than worthy of the considerable praise it has received.

Standout track: Red Eyes

6. D'Angelo & The Vanguard: Black Messiah

In an excellent piece in the New York Times about the release of Black Messiah, the author explains that the long-gestating album was finished in a rush after the death of Michael Brown in August, as something of a statement about the position of African Americans in the United States. I mention this because, although the album comes from a place of intense grief and frustration, the pervading feeling is one of optimism and, at times, unbridled joy. The fiery revivalist sermon running through "1000 Deaths" sets the stage for what becomes a meditation on the power of love and, as seen in closer "Another Life," the inevitability of redemption. The songs frequently deliver on these weighty themes - no other album this year was as dynamic or instrumentally varied. "Sugah Daddy" recalls On the Corner-era Miles Davis in its funk horns and polyrhythm percussion; "Really Love" uses flamenco guitar to great effect; "Back to the Future" incorporates a string section; whistling even turns up on "The Door." Then there's "Prayer," a simply awesome fusion of jazz, funk, soul, and R&B that feels like an outright celebration of African American music. It's rare that an album of such massive anticipation manages to exceed expectations, but here you have it, and a timely, relevant message at that.

Standout track: Prayer

7. Timber Timbre: Hot Dreams

Johnny Cash on acid with a vaguely S&M vision of the American West. If this sounds at all intriguing (and I hope it does), Timber Timbre is for you. Easily the most distinctive album I heard in 2014, this equal parts threatening and romantic album never really lets you know what it's on about thematically: "Bring Me Simple Men," for example, could be about anything from an old-fashioned cattle roundup to a homoerotic orgy. The ambiguity of these tracks makes the title of the album particularly appropriate and is accentuated in the lo-fi instrumentation; the insistent bass line on "Curtains!?," the synth/sax battle toward the end of "Grand Canyon," and the soft-lighting background vocals on the title track are highlights on an album with a considerable amount of tricks up its sleeve. The obscurity of this band, which seems intentional to some extent, should not prevent you from taking a look at this unique album.

Standout track: Hot Dreams

8. Lewis: L'Amour

The beguiling story surrounding the release - or maybe re-release - of L'Amour drew a fair amount of press, enough that you had a right to be suspicious about whether the music itself was worth a damn. Fortunately, it is - and then some. Airy to the point of feeling almost hallucinogenic, the atmosphere of L'Amour is encapsulated nicely in the track "Cool Night in Paris": both the title and the song. Gentle acoustic guitars are accentuated only with distant synths and even more distant vocals. Other tracks add piano, but the general approach is consistent: sparse but somehow lush. The whole thing comes across as a fading memory, or maybe an old-school daguerreotype photograph. I don't see myself often coming back to these songs on an individual basis, but as a mood piece, L'Amour is nearly perfect.

Standout track: I Thought the World of You

9. Interpol: El Pintor

Interpol was a classic example of diminishing returns, seemingly aimless after the runaway acclaim of Turn on the Bright Lights. Emphasis here on the "was," as El Pintor finds them revitalized in delivering a stellar set of muscular, brooding tracks. The general sonic approach will be familiar - minor keys, rumbling bass, and barbed guitars - but the attitude is more confident than it perhaps has ever been. "Fuck the ancient ways," for example - and why the hell not? "All the Rage Back Home" has a similar swagger in the vocals that complements the propulsive arrangement wonderfully; "Same Town, New Story" revolves around an off-kilter lead guitar riff of the sort that has been noticeably absent from their past three albums. Critics will call the band stagnant or unimaginative, but with songs this immediate and of such high replay value, I see no reason for complaint.

Standout track: All the Rage Back Home

10. Coldplay: Ghost Stories

Chris Martin: the easiest target in all of popular music. We've heard the endless allegations about his banality, his femininity, his soporific populism, etc etc. But I will say that if you give Ghost Stories a few earnest listens and don't feel any sympathy for the guy, you are being hateful just for the sake of it. The simplicity of the lyrics on Ghost Stories is conspicuous, yes, but they are also direct and effective in conveying his state of mind when making the album. I don't see this earnestness as looking for pity, either - rather just working out a bad situation through music. And that music is frequently beautiful, from the languid guitars on "Always in My Head" to the falsetto that introduces "Another's Arms," from the percolating synths in "Midnight" to the piano lines in "O." Somehow even the instantly-dated crescendos of "Sky Full of Stars" work as a marker of persistent affection in the face of pain. Even if none of these songs stand out amid the arena-reaching singles Coldplay are notorious for, within context this is as solid a group of tracks as they have produced since Parachutes.

Standout track: Midnight

11. Robert Plant: Lullaby and...The Ceaseless Roar

The venerable Mr. Plant continues his exploration of Americana in this gentle but vital collection of multi-layered, folk-rooted tracks. Single "Rainbow" is so good that even someone in EYKIW liked it.

Standout track: Rainbow

12. St. Vincent: Self-titled

Less immediate and melodic than Strange Mercy, but laser-focused in its experimentation and wildly compelling through Annie's sheer force of personality. She might be the closest thing to a true rock god(dess) music has right now.

Standout track: Digital Witness

13. Andy Stott: Faith in Strangers

Another collection of austere, industrial dance tracks from Stott. Some stunning contributions from guest vocalist Alison Skidmore temper the darkness in the beats and arrangements.

Standout track: No Surrender

14. Perfume Genius: Too Bright

Make Hadreas' project has always been haunting, and Too Bright is no exception. His latest effort, however, ups the ante with multi-layered instrumentation (Portishead’s Adrian Utley contributes) and bolder pronouncements about the place of the LGBTQ community - and pretty much any other minority, I suppose - in modern America.

Standout track: My Body

15. Caribou: Our Love

Dan Snaith is arguably the most consistent electronic artist out there at the moment. Our Love delivers a batch of sunny yet nuanced dance songs with effective samples and momentum-building arrangements.

Standout track: Can’t Do Without You

Superlatives and such:


Most Overlooked Album: Ice Age, Plowing into the Field of Love
Most Average Album: Beck, Morning Phase
Worst Album: Foster the People, Supermodel
Biggest Disappointment: Jack White, Lazaretto
Best Album Cover: New Pornographers, Brill Bruisers
Worst Album Cover: James Blunt, Moon Landing
Best Reissue: Neil Young, Official Release LPs 5-8
Best Thing from Past Years I Discovered This Year: anything by Tindersticks
Most Overused Music Journalism Term: "glitchy"

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Old 12-31-2014, 06:03 PM   #24
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I wish I was able to purchase more music this year and also venture into more obscure stuff, or stuff that wasn't on a lot of radars this year but I had to scale back on spending money around late August.
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Old 12-31-2014, 06:30 PM   #25
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These are great albums that will probably go somewhat overlooked here. One of them is on my list as well.
Ugh please let that Swans album go overlooked here. I'm sick of hearing about the tedious thing everywhere else.
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"And as for Bono, he needs a colostomy bag for his mouth."

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Old 12-31-2014, 06:46 PM   #26
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Too many balls in the air at the moment.

No one gonna swing at this lob over the plate?
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Old 12-31-2014, 07:28 PM   #27
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I will post a list. Probably won't end up writing anything. Too many balls in the air at the moment.
For what it is worth I'd like to offer my pet 5 ball lesson. One VERY useful pattern I found for learning 5 rings and 5 clubs and solidifying my 5 balls (I learned it after I could already do 5 balls OK) is a 4 ball pattern which simulates 5, one hand at a time. This pattern may have been mentioned before but I think it is definitely worth working on. Start with 3 balls in one hand and 1 in the other. Start with the hand that has 3 balls. Make 2 quick throws both with this hand to the other hand. When these balls come down make 2 quick throws with the other hand and so on. Try it, it's much easier than 5. However, it makes you get used to starting with 3 in one hand, it forces each hand to do pretty much the same thing it would have to for 5 at the same speed, but it has the added advantage of letting you concentrate on one hand at a time. The pattern will have a rhythm of "Right, Right, Left, Left, Right, Right, Left, Left." Note that sometimes you will be just holding a ball in one hand while the other hand does the work. This pattern can also be done with 5 balls to help learn 7.
A useful tip for 5 balls if you're just trying to learn the flash is to get together with someone who already does five, and flash it back and forth with them. This will let you get used to throwing all five and catching all five, but not at the same time.
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Old 12-31-2014, 09:03 PM   #28
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1. U2 Songs of Innocence 15 pts
2. Beck Morning Phase 10 pts
3. Todd Terje It's album time 10 pts
4. The Black Keys Turn Blue 9 pts
5. The War on Drugs Lost in the dream 8 pts
6. Lykke Li I Never Learn 7 pts
7. Elbow The Take off and landing of everything 6
8. Ty Seagall Manipulator 6
9. Spoon They want my soul 6
10. Aphex Twin Syro 5
11. Eno and Hyde High Life 5
12. Thom Yorke Tomorrow's Modern Boxes 5
13. A Sunny Day in Glasgow Sea When Absent 4
14. Sharon Van Etten Are We There 2
15. La Roux Trouble in Paradise 2
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Old 12-31-2014, 11:28 PM   #29
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1. U2 Songs of Innocence 15 pts

I can't take a list seriously when it starts like this.
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Old 12-31-2014, 11:29 PM   #30
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2. Against Me! - Transgender Dysphoria Blues
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