I was absolutely overwhelmed by the deluge of music that made its way into my ears in 2014. Many of my favorites this year are probably the favorites of lots of music critics. They better be at least, I mean, what is the point of having a yearly music retreat if not to ensure that musical tastes remain consistent across the board? Once a year music snobs move out of their parents’ basements, expose themselves natural light, and for a week congregate in Scottsdale, Arizona to agree upon the best albums of the year. Arguments happen, tears are shed, and the ugly side being an Internet music snob is revealed. Tiny Mix Tapes versus Pitchfork versus music stores pretending to be taste makers. It is truly a horrid mess but beats anonymously berating one another on obscure music forum threads. Believe me. I know. I was there.
Many of this year’s releases came out of left field for me. For one there was the sudden reawakening of Aphex Twin, Shinichi Atobe confirming he is still alive, Shellac’s release to tide fans over for another seven years, Circulatory System’s periodic reminder that they exist and the continual perfection of whatever anybody wants to call D/P/I’s sonic experiments (I call them origami). A few of these are from artists near and dear to my heart: I’ve always loved A Sunny Day in Glasgow, I look forward to Florian Hecker messing with my head, and Shit and Shine’s volume cleansing my ears of everything I’ve heard all day.
A few of these are bound to create controversy. What good is a music list if it does not bother someone? That is too safe. Hopefully people dislike some of these choices. That means I am doing something right. Plenty of people disagree with my taste in music calling it “uncomfortable”, “anxiety rock”, and asking “Why”. And the answer being why not? I’m generally a happy person who gets anxious, gets depressed, and needs music to reflect that. With that comes some of my favorite feel-bad bands of the year.
Posse remains my feel-bad band of the year, with the song Shut Up ranking among one of the most depressing sad pieces of the entire year. I absolutely love it and the rainy hopelessness it conveys. Taking a different approach to bleakness is Julian Casablancas + The Voidz’s Tyranny. When I listen to Tyranny I’m reminded of an interview with Julian Casablancas where he complained of New York City being filled with nothing but “white people having brunch”. Ironically those people Julian Casablancas rallies against are probably his key demographic and are listening to The Strokes played at a responsible volume in the background of their favorite brunch spot on any given Sunday. They aren’t listening to Tyranny. Tyranny is full of contradictions, a woefully muddled mix, lots of randomness, a behemoth of an album designed to piss people off. That is a lot of its appeal and while I initially wondered who would subject themselves to something so almost deliberately incompetent, there is something appealing about it.
Of course these are only my opinions. I could be wrong. I have not listened to every album that came out this year. Nor would I. Music consumption is a lot of my life but not all of it. I also sleep. Any suggestions and any additions to this list are welcome.
- A Sunny Day in Glasgow – Sea When Absent
- Aphex Twin – Syro
- Ariel Pink – pom pom
- Circulatory System – Mosaics Within Mosaics
- D/P/I – MN.ROY
- FKA Twigs – LP1
- Florian Hecker – Articulação
- Greys – If Anything
- James Hoff – Blaster
- Julian Casablancas + The Voidz – Tyranny
- Kyle Bobby Dunn – Bring Me the Head of Kyle Bobby Dunn
- Mac DeMarco – Salad Days
- Madalyn Merkey – Valley Girl
- Philipp Quehenberger – Content
- Posse – Soft Opening
- Real Estate – Atlas
- Shellac – Dude Incredible
- Shinichi Atobe – Butterfly Effect
- Shit and Shine – Powder Horn
- SND – Tplay, 1:5
- Spoon – They Want My Soul
- Sun Kil Moon – Benji
- Todd Terje – It’s Album Time
- tUnE-yArDs – nikki nack
- The Widest Smiling Faces – Sin Waves