Parashi – Pilot’s Salt LP

Well, the dust from the year end explosion has settled. Take a second to breathe before you dig into this Parashi LP, because you might not get another shot. ‘Pilots Salt’ is a grinding tour de force for modular synths, tape and metal objects. But it’s more than just a ‘noise’ record. There is a fantastic balance between audio and what is written. Tracks like ‘Recombinant Field’, ‘Pilot’s Salt’ and ‘Pulverized Concrete On The Rim Of A Coffee Cup’ — I mean, what exactly are these things and what’s really going on here? I have no idea, but it’s totally intriguing word play that is perfectly married to the esotericism inherent in the sound and totally worth getting lost in. A sleeper hit from the end of ‘14, not to be missed.

Available in an edition of 300 (first 100 copies on Grey Marble) from Retrograde Tapes.

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Mitch’s Top Ten Albums of 2014

Another one bites the dust, eh? It seems like I just spent the year working, worrying, and skateboarding, but I did listen to some amount of music, presented for you below. Cheers.

1. Sun Kil Moon – Benji
I don’t listen to Benji very often, it’s just too painful. But I think that’s why it deserves the top spot. When’s the last time someone made a record so emotionally taxing that you couldn’t even fuck with it more than once a month?

Sun Kil Moon

2. Andy Stott – Faith in Strangers
‘Deconstructed techno’ makes up a large portion of my listening these days, and it’s hard to imagine a lot of it existing without the influence of Andy Stott. The master still reigns supreme on his newest slab.

Andy Stott

3. The Knife – Shaken Up Versions
It says an awful lot that a remix album can make my top ten, but I have that much love for The Knife. One of the biggest bummers of 2014 was their breakup, though I’m certain both members will continue to produce goods. Swedish gods incarnate.

The Knife

4. Vessel – Punish, Honey
Having been a fan of Vessel’s debut album a few years back, I was excited for this one, but didn’t expect it to be THAT good. Groundbreaking stuff in the noise/techno world. You may not find me listening to it five years from now, but it sounds really great right now.

Vessel

5. Sturgill Simpson – Metamodern Sounds in Country Music
The best country album of the year with the worst cover art of the year (spanning all genres). This one has hints of everything anyone ever loved about country music. Should please most folks even remotely fluent in American nostalgia.

Sturgill Simpson

6. Objekt – Flatland
I feel so lucky to be living through yet another golden age of electronic music. It seemed like it lulled out in the early aughts, only to surge forth through both the mainstream and underground in recent years. Experimentation has yielded stunning results, and this Objekt album is the strongest proof yet. Their techno ancestors must feel like the proudest parents ever.

Objekt

7. Run the Jewels 2
I thought I was done with “backpack rap” (or anything that wasn’t prominently featured on XM HipHopNation) for good. And of all people to bring me back, it’s Killer Mike and Mr. Funcrusher himself, El-P. The RTJ project has turned into the best thing either has ever done in their career (yes, even better than Company Flow). Who knew?

RTJ2

8. FKA Twigs – LP1
She’s like an ultra-stoned-out Beyonce. I like that a lot.

FKA Twigs

9. Leon Vynehall – Music for the Uninvited
Yet another great electronic album in what has to be a hallmark year. Subtlety rules here, with nods to decade-old deep house and downtempo.

Leon Vynehall

10. Taylor Swift – 1989
No explanation necessary.

Taylor Swift

FAVORITE FILM OF 2014: Under the Skin

Under The Skin Poster

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Top Twelve Albums of 2014 by Aaron Horkey

Once again, fine artist and illustrator Aaron Horkey has graced us with an impressive year-end list. He’s had a long, winding year, even joining Instagram a few months back. He appears to have made it through, and here are the albums that soundtracked his 2014.

Aaron Horkey

In no particular order:

1. Thee Silver Mt Zion Memorial Orchestra “Fuck Off Get Free We Pour Light On Everything” (Constellation)

My soundtrack to hitting absolute bottom. I’ll likely never be able to listen to this astoundingly heavy record again but it’s importance as it relates to my life cannot be overstated. As beautiful and visceral as anything released on the essential Constellation imprint, and a live experience not to be missed.

2. Thou “Heathen” (Gilead/Howling Mine/Vendetta)

The magnum opus statement from the apex predators of the slow/heavy ecosystem, Heathen is the band’s defining moment-simultaneously crushingly dark and massively optimistic and bright. Seeing this album performed in its entirety at Gilead Fest this summer was akin to John Muir visiting Yosemite for the first time-thoroughly overwhelmed by the beauty and violence of nature. Fuck it, I cried when they closed their set (and the fest) with “Free Will”, a focused and pointed manifesto delivered by the Id incarnate-pure and primal.

3. Lana Del Rey “Ultraviolence” (UMG)

The sound of poison smoke tendrils, sweat on the neck and blood under the nails, Ultraviolence is fully ripe with lust and glistens with the polish of fruit fit for the plucking. The one-two slap of “Money Power Glory” and “Fucked My Way Up To The Top” is a nearly perfect song sequence and has me aching every time. Given the chance, I’d make her my Sarah Bernhardt.

4. Andy Stott “Faith In Strangers” (Modern Love)

There are plenty of bands trying to be “evil” out there but the darkest album of the year came in the form of this minimal, shuffling, post-techno masterpiece. “Violence” is my favorite track of the year, across genres. I defy anyone to turn this record up too loud, it reduces me to more of a quivering mess with each subsequent listen.

5. Lust For Youth “International” (Sacred Bones)

It only took a single play through of International for my friend Kevin to declare it a classic, and he’s absolutely right. This album is so perfectly executed and transcendent that it feels simultaneously fresh and familiar, demanding repeated plays. Drawing on the very best of their influences without directly referencing anyone in particular, this is LFY’s breakthrough record and yet another high-water mark for Sacred Bones, who continue to impress.

6. Cult of Youth “Final Days” (Sacred Bones)

Another jewel surrounding Sacred Bone’s impeccably curated crown, Final Days is the coiled strike this band has been hinting at since the first LP. Refined vitriol in the form of a rock record, listening to this gives me the same charge I’d get early in Dischord’s run. Chill inducing and on tour now.

7. Run The Jewels “RTJ2″ (Mass Appeal)

I had my doubts. On paper this was not looking promising – questionable guest appearances, released only a year after the first LP, etc – I was expecting a sophomore slump of epic proportions. Happy to be proven wrong, EL-P and Killer Mike blew my goddamned wig back like it hasn’t been (by a rap record) in many a year. Solid from start to finish, I really hope these guys keep this momentum going and a RTJ3 isn’t far off.

8. HTRK “Psychic 9-5 Club” (Ghostly International)

A honey’d morphine drip of an album, P9-5C burrows under the skin and hibernates just below the surface, its muffled thump overwhelming and replacing your own stilted heartbeat. Perfect for long, aimless drives through rainy northwestern Iowa while crying.

9. Only Lovers Left Alive “OST” (ATP)

Jim Jarmusch scores his best film in years (along with his band Squrl and Jozef Van Wissem) with the most intriguing soundtrack since Neil Young’s “Dead Man” (also a Jarmusch movie, natch). The 2XLP includes blood red wax, is beautifully packaged and wonderfully sequenced-a treasure with a true vampiric lifespan.

10. Shlohmo and Jeremih “No More” (self released)

A hedonistic dirge. A post-listening shower is recommended, it gets greasy to say the least… Includes the brilliant “Fuck U All The Time” remix which is most certainly a modern masterpiece.

11. The Knife “Shaken Up Versions” (Rabid/Mute)

Without The Knife my life will be just slightly more boring. Bowing out on top with this “remix” album (more of a complete retooling of selected past work) it’s as bizarre and compelling as anything Karin Dreijer Andersson has had a hand in. Rock solid discography intact, here’s to a new Fever Ray record in 2015.

12. Slow Season “Mountains” (Riding Easy)

Primitive, analog and blown-out in all the right ways, Mountains is the perfect soundtrack for melting into your ratty couch while reading back issues of Zap and Slow Death. So much of the current long haired crop of throwback blues rock practitioners dip their unwashed toes too deep into parody and it comes across as corny. Slow Season seem to genuinely live the life and that honesty comes through brilliantly in this fantastic sophomore long player.

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Best Albums of 2014 by Sonny Day (We Buy Your Kids)

We are honored to have a great year-end list from one of our favorite working artists, Sonny Day of We Buy Your Kids. Enjoy!

We Buy Your Kids

Normally at the end of the year I’m fit to burst, wanting to tell the world what music rocked my world the previous year. But this time I’m almost at a blank.

Sure, I bought records and listened to bands recommended by friends, but this year I decided to pay for Spotify. What was meant to be an amazing tool to discover new music quickly turned into a trip down memory lane. I’ll come back to this later.

So here it is – the list I had to rack my brains to put together.

Pallbearer – Foundation of Burden

Now that I think of it, I was looking forward to this record more than anything else this year. I loved Sorrow and Extinction and it’s still on high rotation, so expectations were high. Lo and behold, it’s an amazing record that makes the first sound like a demo tape.

Epic themes and massive songs.

Brilliant.

Run The Jewels – RTJ2

This one came out of nowhere.

I wake up one morning and there it is, a link to download the new RTJ record. Awesome.

Bigger, better and more angry. Killer Mike spitting flaming darts and EL P making beats from another dimension. Oh and a Zach De La Rocha verse!

Arrggh!

Big Business – Battlefields Forever.

This record came out last year but I got it in January, so there. Like RTJ, this was a complete surprise.

Big Business make music that I love to draw to. The lyrics and themes really click for me, and thats way better than any visual stimulus.

Banging.

Flying Lotus – Yr Dead!

Anyone else love Until The Quiet Comes? I do, but I can’t remember it.

Not so with YD!, brilliant, full of life, full of death and straight to the point. Also, best cover of the year with amazing art by Shintaro Kago.

Art.

Ahpex Twin – Syro.

Ten years later and still the best.

BFFEVA

Future Islands – Singles.

I’d heard these dudes and liked the cut of their jib. Biddy showed me the Letterman performance and my jaw dropped. Couldn’t wait for this record, and what a record it is. So positive and life affirming.

We got to see them play on our first night in LA in September this year.

What a way to start what turned out to be the trip of a lifetime.

Memories.

Andy Stott – Faith In Strangers.

I gotta be honest. I literally just bought this and am listening to it while I write this list. Have you heard Luxury Problems? Faith In Strangers makes the list just for being the record that follows it.

Also I love music that makes me feel like I’m in an 80s Sci Fi movie.

Cool.

Protomartyr – Under Color of Official Right.

We work out of the Rolling Stone office here in Sydney. We bounced this one around the office and everyone had their thoughts on what this record sounded like; Husker Du, The Fall, Sonic Youth, Wire. Can you imagine a band that sounds like all of those bands?

Well Protomartyr are that band and this record rules.

Moving.

Nothing – Guilty of Nothing

I love Smashing Pumpkins, I also love shoe gaze and now I love Nothing. It’s funny when I’m trying to wax lyrical to my friend about these guys. “ You heard Nothing?” You get the picture.

This year we made a new friend Bob and he played this for us the first time as we were driving around LA. He has good taste.

Sorry bring up LA again, but for some reason I love that town.

Cruising.

True Widow - Circumambulation

The worlds creepiest bar room band. Country twang meets doom in a swamp and the record player’s broken.

Bourbon.

Against Me! – Transgender Dysphoria Blues

AM! used to be a guilty pleasure. New Wave and Searching for a Former Clarity are amazing records. More rock than punk with so many shout a loud choruses. TDB is the best record they’ve made, Laura’s voice is so spot on.

Fist pumping, hoarse throat magic.

Boom.

So, back to the Spotify thing. 

Spotify tried to tell me that my most listened to song last year was Letter to Memphis by the Pixies. I listened to that song quite a bit but Spotify was wrong. The Four Albums I listened to more than anything else in 2014 were Guns n Roses – Use Your Illussion 1&2 and Type O Negative – Bloody Kisses and Octobers Rust. I also made more art listening to these records than any of the above.

On Instagram I try and post new drawings with song lyrics, if you take a look at my feed you get an idea how much I listened to these records. I was going to paint a giant portrait of Peter Steele on the walls of the gallery of my last show.

Anyway…

Guns N Roses – Use Your Illussion 1&2.

Ask me a couple of years ago and I would’ve said that there was only two GnRs albums. Ask me now – there’s 4. Everyone should sit down with these albums and embrace the excess. Rock Opera for the 90’s. I have no words.

Locomotive, Pretty Tied Up, The Garden, Perfect Crime.

Except Axl should’ve been more of a team player.

Greatness.

Type O Negative – Bloddy Kisses and October Rust.

There is only one TON and thank god because I don’t think the world can handle any more awesome. Before coming across these guys on Spotify ( Im not getting paid by Spotify BTW ), I thought they were some super goth band kinda like Cradle of Filth.

BUT it turns out they are one of the best bands ever. I fell head over heels for them. They had everything I wanted in my music, Love, Sex, Death and a sense of humour. Doom, goth and 90s alt rock in one convenient package.

Listen to Die With Me from October Rust, or the title track from Bloody Kisses, and tell me I’m wrong.

I probably am, but hey.

GOAT

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Call Super – Suzi Ecto 2×12″

Despite our own neglect to post them (yet), we love year end lists. It’s a great opportunity to review the year in music as a whole and find those little gems that you may have missed out on. For instance – this shuffling, bleeping, melodic techno record from Call Super (found via the Resident Advisor Top 20). Suzi Ecto is cut to two pieces of vinyl and released via the Houndstooth label (a Fabric sub-imprint). You can pick it up from experimedia.net or store.houndstoothlabel.com.

Stay tuned as we post our own year end lists (check out Josh Mason’s below) and post links to more 2014 albums that slipped through the cracks.

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Josh Mason’s Best Of 2014

Favorite Album: Talk West – Black Coral Sprig (Preservation)

Dylan Aycock has created a record that does one of my favorite things: it transcends season and location. ‘Black Coral Sprig’ works in the heat, the cold and everything in between. It’s a dusty neither-here-nor-there guitar record that is simultaneously familiar and evasive; like someone in a crowd you swear that you recognize but can’t for the life of you place in a greater shared history. As part of Preservation’s Circa series, it is right at home amongst a great body of work that has come before it and will surely follow.

Other albums I enjoyed thoroughly: Plebeian Grandstand ‘Lowgazers’, Eric Holm ‘Andøya’, D/P/I ‘08.DD.15’, Charlatan ‘Local Agent’, Chris Herberts ‘Constants’, Tom James Scott ‘Teal’, Robert Curgenven ‘They Tore…’, Zu + Eugene S. Robinson ‘The Left Hand Path’, Thou/The Body ‘Released From Love’

Favorite Tape: Topdown Dialectic – s/t (Aught)

The Aught label came out of nowhere this year and had some really stellar releases, but this thing…this thing grabbed on and would not let go. From the opening seconds of side A, I was in for the long haul and knew I’d end up wearing the tape out. This is woozy late night cruise control music. Slinky dub from the empty downstairs club. In addition to the great audio, the label has created (or perhaps deconstructed, depending on your point of view) a great minimal aesthetic that is the perfect compliment to the data sets found within these movements.

Other tapes I enjoyed thoroughly: Aquarelle ‘Interrupted Forms’, Cody Yantis ‘Resonant Memory’, Persona Mercure ‘La Marche, Le Discours, Le Souper’, Glass House ‘Keeping To The Void’, The Fun Years ‘One Quarter Descent’, Pete Swanson ‘Life Under The Art Flag’, Black Hat ‘Dream Interlock’…

Favorite Label Discovery: Tombed Visions

Speaking of tapes, I stumbled upon the very cool Tombed Visions label out of Manchester, UK during my search for new music in 2014. These guys were unstoppable this year and were the standout tape label as far was I was concerned. There is a thread of really good art direction, interesting oversized packaging and exploratory sounds that run throughout every release and I can’t wait to see what else they come up with in the future. Highlights include tapes from Aging, School House and the excellent Ex-Easter Island Head and Duke Of Zuke tapes that snuck in at the end of the year–but really, everything is worth checking out.

Thing I Listened To The Most That Wasn’t Released In 2014: The Ventures – Japanese EP Collection

In preparation for something I’ve been working on personally, I listened to a ton of surf rock this year, especially this collection of Japanese EPs by the Ventures…most notable the Kimi To Itsumademo b/w Yozora No Hoshi 7”. I couldn’t even tell you how many plays just this one alone got. Easily a few hundred. Their version of Yozora No Hoshi is, in my opinion, a quintessential surf jam.

Favorite Beers I Discovered:

Prairie Ales (OK) – Bomb! (et al)
Aardwolf (FL) – White Russian Imperial Stout / Wolf-In-Stein
Grimm Ales (NY) – Bees With A Buzz
Terrapin (GA) – Moo-Hoochiato / Liquid Bliss
Kiuchi (JP) – Hitachino Nest XH

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D’Angelo And The Vanguard – Black Messiah Vinyl Pre-order

I’ve only listened to it 30 times in the past three days so can’t for certain say whether Black Messiah is one of the best albums released this year or merely one of the best released this decade. The original press release via okayplayer.com claimed a 2xLP but this listing looks like a single LP. It’s 56 minutes long – let’s hope for two LPs, folks. In any case, you can get a February 10th pre-order in over at myplaydirect.com and watch the birth-rate skyrocket nine months from then.

Dangelo and the Vanguard Black Messiah

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Mark Templeton + Kyle Armstrong – EXTENSIONS LP + DVD

‘Extensions’ is the inaugural release on Templeton’s new Graphical label, and man, right out of the gate they are killing it. This 12” + DVD combo release is a tribute to Marshall McLuhan, the Canadian author and media theorist. As with last year’s ‘Jealous Heart’ LP, Templeton has this fantastic way of utilizing tape manipulation and found sound that makes the memories of a bygone time drip right out of your speakers. Kyle Armstrong’s visual component of the release is comprised of warped film and blurred imagination that is the perfect compliment to both the audio and to the underlying themes of technology and over-extension present in the release.

Check it out at Graphical. The LP is available to pre-order in an edition of 300 (and currently at a discount) and first 100 copies come with a limited edition postcard, with 20 different postcards in all.
 

extensions

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Panda Bear Meets The Grim Reaper 2xLP + Mr. Noah 12″ EP

It’s not as if we need the ecstatic new single “Mr Noah” to prove that the new album is going to be a highlight for 2015 but listening to it on repeat should at least help you solidify the decision to pre-order this limited edition of Panda Bear Meets The Grim Reaper. Two healthy slabs of vinyl plus the Mr Noah 12″ EP along with the eye-popping paper package to hold it all together – $30 at acus.dominorecordco.com.

Panda Bear Meets The Grim Reaper

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Sturgill Simpson – Metamodern Sounds In Country Music LP

You aren’t impressing anybody with your dilettante’s deconstruction of the piss-poor state of modern Country & Western music. Why not focus on something positive, man? Why not find an artist who represents everything that ever was and will be great about Country music and tell all your jaded, 30-something, micro-brew drinking buddies all about it? Listen to sturgillsimpson.bandcamp.com and buy a copy of his new album, Metamodern Sounds In Country Music.

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