Friday, February 6, 2015


Well, here's these finally. Muh fav'rite albums. (Favorite songs here, by the way)

I can't help but compare to 2013, just a little, and this year paled in comparison. But, let's be honest, 2013 was a tough year to follow. At any rate, this passed 365 days were quite eventful for me personally - got a new job, went back to Japan, made some art, even participated in some gallery shows and a Comic Con. Many adventures, and these were my soundtracks. Let's get started, shall we? Click the blues for tasty treats!

First, a few items of miscellaneousness:

Favorite Film Soundtrack/Score:
Interstellar • Hans Zimmer

Runner up:
Under the Skin • Mica Levi

Favorite EP:
X priest X • Samurai EP

Favorite Album From 2013 Not Heard Until 2014:
Still Corners • Strange Pleasures

Philip Selway • Weatherhouse
Kyary Pamyu Pamyu • Pika Pika Fantajin
Flying Lotus You're Dead!
Kye Kye • Fantasize
Tennis • Ritual In Repeat

THE TOP 25--------------

D'Angelo and the Vanguard

Black Messiah

Still need some time with it, but quite an interesting and eventful listen. Sort of miss that slow, sweet, and sexy, but major points for originality. D’Angelo is still a pimp.
-- Ain't That Easy

S. Carey

Range of Light

A perfectly understated effort from the Bon Iver pal. Soundtracked many a reflective moment for me this year. Great on a calm and rainy day.
-- Glass/Film

The Smashing Pumpkins

Monuments to an Elegy

I have to admit I was a tad underwhelmed with Monuments. It’s adequately enjoyable, but I prefer my Pumpkins to be a tad more EPIC. I really loved Oceania and this just sort of feels like its b-sides. Still, every album Corgan puts out that isn’t “bad” is a sigh of relief these days. Keep it up!
-- Tiberius


Ghost Stories

Hard to pinpoint this one. I felt like every other song was incredible, among the best they’ve made. Stuff like “Midnight”  branched into new territory, while “Oceans” was a blissful and nostalgic return to the Parachutes intimacy of yesterdecade. So, at least half of it was fantastic. Which is enough to merit a #22, I suppose.
-- Ink

Hercules and Love Affair

Feast of the Broken Heart

After hinting at it on the previous two, Andy Butler and friends finally offer an album full of 90’s house goodness. Not as euphoric as Disclosure’s romp the year before, but definitely a worthwhile party in the same vein. And just a little more gay.
-- Do You Feel the Same?


Guilty of Everything

Juiced up shoegaze goodness is always welcome in my house. A superbly fuzzy guitar album, filling some of that geetar void in my life.
-- Dig

The War On Drugs

Lost in the Dream

The album meanders a bit more than I’d like, but I’ll be damned if the vibe put off on this record isn’t chill as chill could be. The power of its Springsteenian bliss didn’t quite hit until I put it on while strollin’ Newport Beach in California. Definitely a good setting for its bright melancholia.
-- Under the Pressure

The Pains of Being Pure At Heart

Days of Abandon

I dig the pop leanings from the band this time around. Especially the female led tracks like the shimmering “Kelly.” I’d take a full album of those! Good jorb, kids.
-- Simple and Sure

St. Vincent

St. Vincent

This album grooves and also rocks a little more than I was used to from her, and I totally dug it. Listening to it now, I realize I probably didn’t listen to it as much as I should have. Songs like “Birth In Reverse” remind of what I imagine Daniel Johns would do solo. I’d love to hear those two tackle a song together. Stand back, David Byrne!
-- Digital Witness



This band of ladies kind of came out of nowhere. I knew very little about them until they dropped this goodness and my friend suggested I take a gander (ども, Sierra-chan). Very cinematic, very brooding, and often quite funky. I like to walk in slow motion with sunglasses on to these tunes. Makes me wish I was a badass chick instead of some frumpy dude.
-- Hi



A spectacularly spacey effort from these chill instrumentalists. It's a rare treat when an album of instrumentals can groove this smoothly all the way through, but they pull it off yet again. Is spacey-surfcore a genre? It should be.
-- See


Morning Phase

Every time Beck releases an album, I wonder how in the world one man can master so many sounds. Road-trip desert folk? Hell yes he did. The harmonies on this sucker are as good as I’ve ever heard from the man. A simply fantastic and happy sequel to Sea Change.
-- Turn Away


Venezuelan sound magician Alejandro Ghersi is on the rise, kids. Dude knows how to construct some otherworldly soundscapes (like he did with FKA twigs, Kanye, and now Bjork). This album of solo material is less beat driven than it is textural, but the results are nothing short of breathtaking. Make sure your headphones are ready.
-- Thievery

Thom Yorke

Tomorrow's Modern Boxes

What a happy surprise this was! After dinking around with Radiohead’s PolyFauna app and soaking in the alien melodies within, I was more than happy to find out this solo effort was basically its soundtrack. Something about it seems so effortlessly hypnotizing. And it’s obviously little more than the digital sketches of a mad genius, but who doesn’t love to see the sketchbooks of a true master?
-- Brain In A Bottle

Damon Albarn

Everyday Robots

I wrote a review of this album on its release, and still stick by everything I said there. There are so many glorious juxtapositions happening here - beautifully melancholy songs about lamenting society’s technological addiction, made by putting together a very acoustic sounding electronic album. Damon and Thom just keep showing us that them old folks still got game.
-- Lonely Press Play

THE TOP 10--------------

Sisyphus • Sisyphus

I’m still pretty disappointed this album didn’t get more praise last year. I was floored by it’s ambition. Immaculately produced, humorous but sensitive, wild but quiet. Somehow Sufjan Stevens, Serengeti, and Son Lux came together seamlessly to fuse an amazing mix of experimental hip-hop and melodic synth pop that any fan of Gorillaz should appreciate. It succeeds most on tracks like the fantastic opener “Calm It Down” and “Rhythm of Devotion,” when fat beats melt away to the soulful yearnings of Suf. Is the thing perfect? No. But when it’s on, it soars. And like Gorillaz, there’s a keen sense of humor at work here. The mistake is to take this album too seriously. It’s just a party album with three unlikely friends. And it’s a helluva good time. Sounds great on vinyl too.
-- Take Me

The GOASTT • Midnight Sun

I’ve been waiting for this sucker to drop ever since I developed a school-boy crush on model/instrumentalist/songstress Charlotte Kemp Muhl and realized she was shackin’ up and writing music with rock prince Sean Lennon. Little did I know just how psychedelic and incredible the duo’s debut album would be. Its like a sexier Tame Impala, where the male lead has a better excuse for sounding like old school Beatles than anyone else alive. Sean has proven himself to be capable over the years, but hearing Charlotte coo over the quirky melodies while rolling along with some very analog sounding basslines on songs like “Johannesburg” is very impressive. The two compliment each other phenomenally. A much more melodic, rockin’ and all-around enjoyable album than I even hoped for. I hope they keep it up.
-- Animals (Warning: some psychedelic nudity!)
-- Xanadu

Caribou • Our Love

It’s always lovely when otherwise basic club-worthy electronic music can sound so fresh. I realize Dan Snaith has been doing this a lot longer than either, but Our Love almost sounds like the love child of Toro Y Moi’s laid-back grooves and Disclosure’s pleasure center jams. “Silver” melts around my skull like very few songs have in recents years. I even hear a little of Arca’s spacey textures in tracks like “Dive.” Basically, the album is an accurate snapshot of everything good about electronic music today. And that makes me happy. Very happy indeed. Not sure what else to say about it. 
-- All I Ever Need

††† • †††

Chino is on a roll the last few years while Deftones takes a break. Last year he teamed with Isis to form spacey shoegaze outfit Palms, and now this. Somehow I didn’t expect Crosses to be as good as it is. “This Is A Trick” starts things off pretty heavily, and while a dark air of gothic gloom hovers above the entire album, for the most part it’s relatively low key (by Chino standards). Never before has his love for 80’s synth groups like Depeche Mode bubbled so closely to the surface. Even still, every track has a decisive bite to it. One thing he’s always been good at is finding beauty in darkness. Make no mistake; these are love songs. “The Epilogue” would be playing on pop radio in some alternate universe where decent stuff like that still played on the radio. “Bermuda Locket” blurs the lines between love and lust just a bit more, and “Frontiers” doesn’t hide anything with lines like “I’m consumed by your danger.” And that’s just tracks 6-8. Occasionally he lets loose with a howling chorus in “Blk Stallion” and, my personal favorite, “Bitches Brew.” Overall, a surprisingly solid collection of melodic digirock…er witchhouse…er dark wave… or whatever the kids are calling it these days. BONUS: it was also my favorite concert of the year. Even met the man himself.

Kidkanevil • My Little Ghost

Over the summer, my wife and I took the vacation of a lifetime visiting Tokyo. Naturally, I had to visit the famous six story Tower Records in downtown Shibuya. As I roamed the megastore, I gravitated to the electronic section and randomly played featured album My Little Ghost at the listening station. I listened to the first three tracks (ambient opener “All Is Lost,” the glitchy “Earth to G San,” and lonely-sounding highlight “Inakunaru”). That’s all it took. I had found a souvenir. I assumed the artist was Japanese, given most of the track names were in Japanese. But I came to find out it’s actually the work of Tokyo-obsessed London native Gerard Roberts (it took me forever just to find his name, very little is written about him online). Roberts paints a dreamy landscape of blips and bleeps that can be light, but often venture into technical euphoria pretty quick. He has a keen knack for melody, mirroring greats like Aphex Twin or FlyLo at their most melodically glitchy. Occasionally, a Japanese guest artist provides some ghostly vocals, like on the incredible “Butterfly/Satellite” (feat. Cuushe & Submerse). And sometimes anime samples pop up, like in the spritely “Keroro Dub.”  The whole thing is a brilliant, light hearted journey, and a must-listen for any fan of good electronica, or good music in general. And for me, it’s also a memory attached to one of the best vacations ever.

Little Dragon • Nabuma Rubberband

Speaking of vacations, every big trip needs a good album to soundtrack the adventure. When I went to Europe in 2013, it was Phoenix’s Bankrupt!,  which appropriately complemented the constant barrage of Euro-chic everywhere I went. But for Japan this passed summer, Nabuma Rubberband was the album blasting through my psyche – a slick dozen of some of the smoothest jams all year. The band’s effortless cool and techno-soul sounds like Tokyo looks. Of course, singer Yukimi Nagano is of Japanese descent, but that’s not really a factor (or is it?). When my headphones weren’t pumping the synth stomp of “Paris” on a bullet train to Kyoto, my mind was focussed on the breezy pop of “Pretty Girls” under the rainy Shibuya night lights. I even hummed it to myself while at hip night club AIR (Lost In Translation, anyone?), even though there was a house DJ doin’ his thang. Coincidentally, my favorite track from their album previous (Ritual Union’s sassy “Shuffle A Dream”) was heard two separate times in stores whilst roaming the city. It was meant to be, and I was just glad they could tag along. Thanks, Little Dragon.
-- Killing Me

Aphex Twin • Syro

The universe has been mighty generous the last few years. 90’s legends have been popping up out of the woodwork all over the place: Daft Punk, Justin Timberlake, Mazzy Starr, My Bloody Valentine, Beck, Thom Yorke, Damon Albarn…it’s been such a blessed time. I just wish Richard D. James could have joined the party, ya know? I wouldn’t expect anything life-altering, just an album or so of juicy throwback goodness. Like the good ole days. And it would be so cool if he could actually “sing” a little on a track, maybe with some odd sequenced name like “Minipops 67 [120.2][Source Field Mix].” Or what if he did a straight-forward funky jam and called it, I dunno, “Produk 29 [101]?” That would be sweet. And I’d really love some sort of spastic video game freak out. He could call it (and I’m just spitballin’ here…) “Circlon6a [141.98][Syrobonkus Mix].” I suppose it would be wishful thinking to even hope for an achingly beautiful piano track to close the thing, though, right? Yeah… you’re right. I feel so selfish even thinking it. Maybe someday. If we’re good.

Charli XCX • Sucker

I don’t know how I’ve ignored this girl the last couple years, but when I finally heard “Boom Clap,” I fell in love. When I finally got my hands on her anticipated sophomore release, I thought it was a fun collection of energetic, campy pop, but nothing too “fancy” (get it??). Still, it was good enough to merit repeated listens, and the more I did, the more I began to realize something: this might actually be the best ROCK album of the year. Seriously. This album eventually brought out the same sort of giddy delight I usually reserve for acts like The Strokes, or maybe Sleigh Bells, or even Phoenix on occasion. The kind of fist pumping melodic guitar jams you can’t help but sing along to at the top of your lungs while driving down the street. Listen to those riffs on “Breaking Up.”  Or how about the Ramones rip “London Queen?” Hell, “Hanging Around” is the best Weezer song in ages. And don’t even get me started on the epic that is “Famous.” That jangly intro, that soaring chorus…you kidding me?!? FUHGETTABOUTIT. Sure, the lyrics are a tad empty. Purposely so, just like many a fantastic rock jam of the past where the goal is simply having a good time. And, sure, it’s a pop album at heart (“Doing It” is a spot-on Madonna by way of Haim tribute). But good, ol' fashioned rock hasn’t had the best showing the last few years. If it takes a chick like Charli to get it goin', I ain't complaining.

FKA twigs • LP1

I’m not the smartest man, but two things I know are true in this world: #1.) Some albums simply must be heard on a system with enough bass to shake your bones. #2.) as a regular consumer of music, there is no greater joy than hearing something new that completely takes your breath away on first listen. Listening to LP1 reminded me of these very truths. #2 is no easy feat. It doesn’t happen as often as I’d like, that’s for sure. But this is easily one of the most fabulously produced albums I think I’ve ever heard. My immediate thought was that of a female James Blake (“Jane Blake?”). Aesthetically, there are many similarities between the two; the spine tingling quiet-but-emotive vocal presentation, the flawless production, a reverence for the space between the noise (and the impact it can have), and an uncanny ability of injecting warmth and soul into an otherwise cold and mechanical sound. Of course, Blake mostly produces his own stuff, while Twigs had some help from a few super-powered collaborators (a fact that shouldn’t be overlooked, cuz those guys made some magic here). But, the most distinct connection between the two is the feeling of hearing pop from the future. Like some big headed space goon beaming sounds into my brain exclaiming, “This is how we do in 3014.” It’s is the kind of album that you can’t come back from. I hear the crap on the radio and it sounds like the poundings of cave men compared to this.
-- Pendulum 
-- Hours
-- Two Weeks

Wye Oak • Shriek
Someone I don’t even know once told me “If you like Beach House, you’ll enjoy Wye Oak.” That person was correct. And though it’s practically a funkier Teen Dream, I was still sort of surprised Shriek ended up here. I had pegged LP1 as my sure-fire #1 for much of the year, and was convinced it would take quite a behemoth to topple it. Yet, slow and steady, Wye Oak crept their way up the ladder as 2014 went on. The little album that could! Wasn’t until it came time to crown my favorites that I realized, “Waitaminutte, I think Shriek is actually my favorite album of the year… how ‘bout that!” The only reason it surprised me was because there really isn’t anything significantly mind-blowing about this album. There’s no new sounds that warp my brain, or life-affirming themes that change my world. It’s no Bloom, that’s for sure. But therein lies its true power–it’s simply the most immediately approachable, and endlessly enjoyable album I heard this year. I don’t have to wrap my head around how good this is, I can just hear it. More often than not, when I’d get in the car and pull out my iPod with nothing specific in mind to listen to, I found myself putting on Shriek. And it was always a good choice. The lyrics are understated but poetic (“And in the telling of the story/I lose my way inside a prepositional phrase/I read his lips and I see glory/but what I hear is “be afraid”), the instrumentation is minimal but lush, the grooves are understated but memorable, and Jenn Wasner’s voice is oh so pleasant. I think one of the album’s secret weapons are Wasner’s perfectly placed bass lines. Right away that bass hooks you with opening track “Before,” and then flows right alongside a cloudy piano in the title-track that follows. Of course, the synths are obviously integral as well. They bounce to perfection in “The Tower.” But it’s when “Sick Talk” hits that every element involved seems to click in flawless unison. Definitely the overlooked centerpiece of the record, and an instant classic. 

After all is said and done, the sounds captured here seem as though they were fine-tuned to my very liking. As pleasant as pleasant can be. Many people lamented the change in direction and lack of guitars. I had actually never listened to Civilian before this, but after falling for Shriek, I decided to go back and take a gander. And it’s ok I guess. But there’s too much guitar. And not enough euphoric, blissful, heavenly awesome. Shriek, FTW! Now, if only we can get these guys and Beach House to tour together…hot damn.

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