Tuesday, December 9, 2014

best of 2014: part one of four

Biggest Disappointments

Real Estate—‘Atlas’

I guess disappointment might be a little strong of a word for this album, but considering how much I loved 2011‘s ‘Days‘ and their self-titled debut I couldn't help but feel let-down by the very placid nature of this album. It lacks that vibrancy and electricity that made ‘Days‘ such an engaging listen, plus Real Estate‘s particular style of indie guitar pop has always paired best with wistful reflection and introspection, so for whatever reason the bright, sunny nature of these songs seems to fall a bit flat here. It‘s a shame, too, since the production on ‘Atlas‘ is so bright and lush. The songs themselves could just use a little more spark and glow.

A Sunny Day in Glasgow—‘Sea When Absent’

I was sure this one would be a safe bet-I loved A Sunny Day in Glasgow's debut ’Scribble Music Comic Journal,’ ’Sea When Absent’ was gloriously funded through the band’s kickstarter campaign and then, upon release, it scored them their first Best New Music rating on Pitchfork. Then I listened to it and, for whatever reason, I found nothing on it that drew me in whatsoever. I guess I should’ve given it another listen, but of everyone I talked to who was gaga for it every single one of them claimed they loved it from the moment they started playing it. Not sure what happened there, seemed like a no-brainer, and yet... I have noticed people are awfully quiet about it now.

Best New Discoveries

Beach Fossils—s/t

It only took me four years to finally hear this album—but at least it finally happened. This album has a refreshing vibrance and melodic richness that enriches the wistful nature of the songs. It’s also a nice touchstone in the development of Captured Tracks, which has become a go-to label for dream pop of this caliber.


Speaking of Beach Fossils the debut album from former Beach Fossils guitarist Zachary Cole is pretty special as well. It was fascinating watching DIIV go from opening for Wild Nothing at the Empty Bottle to headlining at the Vic in a little over a year. ‘Oshin’ weighs in as dreamier and more in the late-80s shoegazing area than the Beach Fossils debut. It‘s a shame that I missed DIIV's set due to a transit delay on my way to Pitchfork festival this year—it would've rounded out an already great day of live music.

Lost Gems of 2013

The Stargazer Lilies—‘We Are the Dreamers’

I really wish I’d heard this album last year—it would’ve made the list without any problems and would’ve been in very good company. This record is one of my favorite examples of a new band exploring the classic ’shoegaze’ sound and building upon it admirably by taking some familiar sounds and injecting them with some new life and vitality.

Lumerians—‘High Frontier’

Not sure how this didn't make it into the incredibly crammed list last year, especially considering how much I listened to this record. It almost seemed that Lumerians were able to pick up the torch from Cave and carry it off into even stranger territory—where Cave seems to be more concerned with grooves than psychedelic exploration, Lumerians have the two switched which means I’m looking forward to where they go next all the more.

Carlton Melton—‘Always Even’

Since there wasn’t room for the Lumerians record in last year’s list there wasn’t any for this album by Carlton Melton either. I like the way that this record juxtaposes the loud, heavier side of psych with the weightless, dreamy mass of ethereal soup that it can be as well.

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