Sorry about the lack of material on here recently, but between final exams, travelling and life in general we haven’t had as much time to geek about music as we’d like to.
Here’s a speedy look at 5 albums I’ve been really into this year and we’ll have more reviews to come!
5 For 2014
St. Vincent – St. Vincent
Annie Clark’s latest offering is a glitchy, riveting listen with strafing guitar motifs and splashes of brass colouring her already vibrant songs. Whether through lush balladeering, Zeppelin-style thunder, agit strutting or her trademark twisted guitar lines, this self-titled effort is St. Vincent’s best yet and a hugely accomplished piece of work. More eyes are on St. Vincent than ever after the brilliant Strange Mercy and this should be the album that elevates her to the level of success and recognition she deserves.
It’s Album Time – Todd Terje
Todd Terje’s long-awaited debut album doesn’t disappoint those expecting a portable party. The promise that his much-loved 2012 single ‘Inspector Norse’ and subsequent EP It’s the Arps is fulfilled in colourful fashion here. Taking on whatever genre tickles his fancy, the one connecting thread here is Terje’s sense of playfulness, giddily fun synth tones, rhythmic backbeats and ability to wring multiple bright hooks from the sonic confetti. A jester of all trades, Terje has slapped a bit of sparkle into the increasingly po-faced outlook of modern Dance music and left us with an album that’ll be listened to long after the last few rays of summer.
Wig Out At Jagbags – Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks
Stephen Malkmus has never sounded more comfortable to be Stephen Malkmus on his latest effort with The Jicks. Continuing the great work that started on Mirror Traffic, Wig Out At Jagbags is wide-eyed, tuneful, funny, weird and comfortable in its own skin. SM’s backing band turning in incredible performances to bolster the album’s sunny disposition with sheer musicality as the hooks ring in from unexpected avenues as the band follow their noses to wring the most character they can out of each gem.
To Be Kind – Swans
Swans’ previous album The Seer took the (alternative) music world by storm, delivering rich rewards for those willing to endure the album’s 2 hours of song punishment. Those who know Michael Gira’s cruel ambition know to expect a lot from him by now and To Be Kind rises to the occasion, refusing to kept in the shadow of its predecessor. Weighing in at a similar running time, To Be Kind finds the band’s confidence at an all-time high, bringing new weapons to the party. Lead-off single ‘A Little God In My Hands’ is gleefully evil and hypnotically danceable, ‘Bring The Sun/Toussaint L’ouverture’ takes Swan’s pummeling to ridiculous levels and ‘Oxygen’ is straight-up punk rock. An exciting, dangerous and winding path for those who are up for it!
Piñata – Freddie Gibbs and Madlib
Gibbs himself described Pinata as a ‘gangster Blaxploitation film on wax’ in a press release for the record and it’s easy to listen to it as a series of quick-fire film vignettes as Gibbs comes brutally clean over Madlib’s typically lush, atmospheric beatwork. Gibbs’ street-hardened flow brings his tales of drug use and urban decay uncomfortably close to the listener and the all-star cast of guests (Ab-Soul, Raekwon, Danny Brown (completely in his element on ‘High’) and a whopping 6 MCs on the title-track’s final posse joint) add nuanced supporting characters and flesh out these tales of dysfunction even further. ‘Deeper than a motherfucker’ indeed.