Features Music Year End 2014 Scene Point Blank's Favorites: Year End (2014)

Year End 2014

Music: Scene Point Blank's Favorites: Year End (2014)

16

White Lung

Deep Fantasy

Domino

Deep Fantasy is pissed off, but it could still use a good angry howl every so often. There’s some variety in Mish Way's vocal delivery but it doesn’t mix things up all that much over the 22 minutes. The true variety between the songs comes from drummer Anne-Marie Vassiliou, whos adrenaline is to be commended — this is a record that doesn’t decelerate for a second, except for a rare 2 second breath between some of the songs. It stands out when White Lung takes a turn in direction. “I Believe You” has more bass and it nicely offsets the guitars that often dominate their sound while keeping that pissed off vibe and hitting a couple of throat curdling moments. – Loren

17

Yob

Clearing the Path to Ascend

Neurot Recordings

YOB has been a constant force in the doom metal field. Since their first release, Elaborations of Carbon, they have not ever really disappointed me. Releasing records year after year, they took over the doom/sludge/stoner genre by storm, having excellent moments with Catharsis, The Illusion of Motion and The Unreal Never Lived. And now they come back, three years after their last full-length and bring forth Clearing the Path to Ascend. Everything you love about YOB is back, from the huge riffs, the stone rock moments to the sludge weight and the psychedelic touches, Clearing the Path to Ascend does not disappoint. It's the band’s seventh full-length, and it is amazing to see that they are still as vibrant and hungry as in the days they were putting out Elaborations of Carbon. The band’s blend of psychedelic doom/stoner/sludge remains as fresh and interesting as ever and their newest album is an example of what heavy music should sound like. – Spyros

18

Street Eaters

Blood::Muscles::Bones

Nervous Intent

Bands are seemingly judged differently on their sophomore outings: where does it change, does it meet expectation, does it show growth, and the like. Well, writing about a band the second (or third) time is kind of the same thing. With Blood::Muscles::Bones, Street Eaters haven’t changed up their sound drastically or reworked their well-oiled machine. They’ve just written another bundle of songs and pressed them to wax. They can mix the serious and positive, the noisy with the danceable. It’s a complicated mix, but they do it wonderfully. – Loren

19

The Pack A.D.

Do Not Engage

Nettwerk

When a band consists of only two members tasked with carrying the weight of riff-heavy and sneakily blues-influenced garage rock sounds on two pairs of shoulders, a certain degree of equilibrium needs to be reached. When Maya Miller and Becky Black decided to leave their former band and write and perform as a two-piece it was probably the best decision they've ever made. Where Miller's aggressive, visceral drumming pummels your eardrums Black's searing guitar riffs and pitched vocals strike back twice as hard. On Do Not Engage, the Canadian duo's fifth album, the tight-knit connectivity they have makes the album flow so seamlessly that it leaves little doubt about the band's synchronicity. – Aideen

20

Aphex Twin

Syro

Warp

Sometime around the mid-2000’s, I began to realize just how much I missed having new music by Richard D. James, who typically records under the name of Aphex Twin. I’d been spoiled in the 1990’s: starting off the decade with a pair of outstanding and other-wordly ambient releases, James continued to regularly produce albums of tweaked out, frequently manic glitch electronica that somehow was quite listenable and enjoyable despite its many quirks. Later singles “Come to Daddy” and “Windowlicker” positioned James on the verge of mainstream accessibility, yet following 2001’s very obtuse Drukqs, James and the Aphex Twin moniker virtually disappeared, leaving a huge void in the world of electronic music. I suppose one of the most striking things about an Aphex Twin album showing up in 2014 is noticing how undeniably different this album is than just about anything else in the electronic music spectrum. It quietly beats most of the albums by today’s big name electronic artists at their own game. Not only the most outstanding electronic release of the year, Syro is one of the year’s best overall. – Andy

21

Watery Love

Decorative Feeding

In The Red

Much like fellow Pennsylvanians Pissed Jeans, Watery Love play loud, heavy punk that's driven by an unsettling vocalist (formerly of Clockcleaner) who screams the type of scathing admonitions that dig their way deep into your brain matter and set up shop. On "Face The Door" Richie Charles repeats the line, "unlike you dickheads, I welcome death" so many times that by the end of the song you're like, "yeah me too!" – Nathan

22

The Bilinda Butchers

Heaven

Independent

Following a handful of shorter releases, San Francisco three-piece The Bilinda Butchers released their full length debut in mid 2014 and in doing so, followed through on the potential shown in their earlier work in a big way. They've truly outdone themselves with this work: though the second half loses a bit of steam, Heaven stands as a magnificent, emotionally resonant album that truly has a little something for everyone in terms of its variety of songs. In terms of its songwriting and production, the album is outstanding, particularly during its middle stretch, and I’m almost convinced that this is the best damn thing that’s been released all year. Without doubt, it’s an album that deserves more recognition than it has received: highly recommended. – Andy

23

Coathangers

Suck My Shirt

Suicide Squeeze

This Atlanta trio caught my attention with Larceny & Old Lace a couple of years ago, and Suck My Shirt is a continuation of that sound. It shifts into hypnotic, rhythmic patterns and eschews melodies at times, instead just shouting their fury over the beat while discordant guitars clash away. It’s not noise rock — there’s still a firm focus on structure and tonal pleasantries—instead, it’s chaotic and brash: a perfect pairing for the themes within. For every time they spit an angry line, the rhythm is countering with something catchier and upbeat. It’s a blend of fiery rebellion and positive energy. The inner artist is content, strong, and fun while the voice reflected at the outside world is challenging and calling for action. While Larceny & Old Lace may have stretched Coathanger’s boundaries further, they reel in the tempo experimentation on Suck My Shirt and it’s largely a high energy, positive-tone record, despite carrying a lot of anger inside. But that feels like a silly sentence. Who said it can’t be both? – Loren

24

Schammasch

Contradiction

Prosthetic

Existence is a series of challenges – ones that force you to adapt, to change and to create sides of yourself that you show to the world, ones that are more appealing and accepted, ones that help you feel more at ease and able to cope with the journey we call life. Those ideas are at the heart of Contradiction, the second full length from Swiss band Schammasch, which takes the split of the self to new dimensions in a two disc package that provokes and gives much to reflect upon. Schammasch are adept at working outside of the constraints of time and space and instead create music that flows from a place of utter desolation and carries with it a need and want to overcome. People are conflicted at their core and Contradiction does much to reveal that truth, although it’s clear that there is still so much to learn… if you should want to. – Cheryl

25

Morrissey

World Peace Is None of Your Business

Harvest

Perhaps the musician best known equally for his trolling-esque media comments alongside his musical contribution, Morrissey saw fit to give us another offering in 2014 with a characteristically dense and disagreeable record. Some smart lyrics cut in around feedback and unexpected brass sections and although it's clearly unable to match his output during the Smiths era, there are still a few gems to be found in amongst the middle-aged crotchiness on show here. – Matt

26

Earthless & Heavy Blanket

In a Dutch Haze

Outer Battery Records / Roadburn Records

When it's all over, it's hard to believe just how far you've gone in 58 minutes time. To think about the course that you took is almost too much to bear. In a lot of ways it feels like having followed a free balloon all the way to its natural end. When the ribbon on the inflatable rubber vessel first slipped out of that small child's hand, the sphere rose slowly, almost suspended in the air. Eventually, it began to soar in the wide open blue sky and then soaring gave way to climbing and then, from a distance, it just started to look like a goddamn hard-charging helium dart. The sky falls into the rearview and the red balloon rockets out of the atmosphere and into space, skipping across both celestial and astral planes. It slides, it stumbles and it glazes over all the heaviness on display in outer space. It skirts on with just enough light to get by. It proves to be flexible and resilient; stretching when it needs to and swelling when it's permissible. This doesn't last forever, though. Shapes are suddenly stretched too far out and there's a slight sag, and then that's it. Silence. It's over. – Chris Brown

27

Neighborhood Brats

Recovery

Deranged

September saw the release of Recovery, the band’s first proper LP, released on Deranged. It’s driving punk rock, DIY in production: rough and tumble—which is befitting of their relentless ADD rhythms. It pounds and drives while Jenny Angelillo and the band sing and play power chords over the top. It’s not all that unique in that sense, but they embrace it and they do it right, as explained in “One Wasted Year” when Angelillo sings, “Fuck the kids/ fuck the new.” The band wears their influence on their sleeves but avoid sounding derivative. As a whole, the lyrics are socio-political and direct, blending first person and wider issues. The energy from the band in palpable and it’s impossible to sit still to this record. Energy and anger, specifically combining the two into a single outlet, is exactly what this record is about, and it thrives at that. – Loren

28

Antemasque

Antemasque

Nadie

The drama and finger-pointing that led to the breakup of Cedric Bixler and Omar Rodriguez-Lopez's prog-rock behemoth The Mars Volta made it seem like the longterm collaborators wouldn't be working together again. Luckily for fans of their salsa-tinged post-hardcore freakout, Antemasque sees them playing together once more, this time in a hugely stripped-back straight-up rock band. There's no over-the-top shenanigans: almost all songs are simple guitar/drum combos with Bixler almost descending into soft rock warbles with his immediately distinctive vocals. Lyrics are interesting and unique enough to keep things interesting, though, and even when Rodriguez-Lopez is strumming powerchords he's still more creative than half the guitarists in radio rock these days. Worth a listen to hear the latest evolution of these prolific musicians. – Matt

29

The Hold Steady

Teeth Dreams

Washington Square

The Hold Steady has been on quite a ride. They went from “New York bar band” to critical and indie darlings to, now, wavering somewhere on the edge of the public consciousness without really breaking into new circles. In other words, they seem to have found their fan base and stuck with it. The vocals are sung in a soothing tone while the guitars soar toward the smoky spotlights above. It’s not just steeped in ‘70s hard rock anymore, it’s bathed in it and the sheen sometimes blinds off their instruments. The lyrics are still yarns about colorful characters and detailed settings, pulling a majority of namedrops to Minneapolis locations and peppering the larger story with other locales. But the lyrics are also harder to discern, as they get buried under the guitars. – Loren

30

Old Man Gloom

The Ape of God

Profound Lore

The Ape of God I is a really great album. The majority of the songs have a more furious and straightforward approach to them. On the other hand there are no words in which The Ape of God II can even be described. Through its forty-something minutes, it is arguably the best work that this band has produced. And that on its own is quite something. – Spyros

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Words by the SPB team on Jan. 7, 2015, 5:02 p.m.

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Scene Point Blank's Favorites: Year End (2014)

Posted on Jan. 7, 2015, 5:02 p.m.

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Pages in this feature:

  1. Records 16-30
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Series: Year End 2014

Our annual round-up of the best music of the year 2014.

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