end of year 2014 lists

2014 End Of Year Lists: Albums Of The Year

22.12.14



Forget all other lists, you’re in the commercial-free, hype-free, music loving D//E zone and these are the Albums Of The Year…

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#30. The Smashing Pumpkins: Monuments To An Elegy



There’s no doubt that Billy Corgan is an excellent musician, however over the years The Smashing Pumpkins have been heavily criticized about the many line-up changes, the weird never-ending concept albums, the “albums within another album” ideas and so on. The truth is that The Smashing Pumpkins will never be again the same band that made Gish, Siamese Dream and Mellon Collie back in that magical time for them, but circa 2014 finds the band in the best same they could be and that’s good enough for me. Reminiscing the past, but optimistically looking forward, Monuments To An Elegy, is a surprisingly amazing record, deservedly among the best of the year. Lets’s hope that Day For Night, coming in 2015, will be just as good.

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#29. Total Control: Typical System



Coming from Australia, Total Control released their second album through Iron Lung Records, just before going on hiatus. Harsh, post-punk aesthetics, cold atmosphere via synths, raging guitars and lyrical beauty, Typical System is miles ahead from its predecessor, Henge Beat and possibly the most intellectual punk record we’ve heard in a long while.

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#28. †††: †††



A side-project of Chino Moreno and Far guitarist Shaun Lopez, Crosses finds the two highly influential alt-metal icons joining forces in a project that focuses on the more soothing side of their respective groups. That sulky, downbeat sound emphasizes more the differences between both the band’s members’ other bands. It’s raw, tense and builds a mood.

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#27. Mitch Murder – Interceptor


With Mitch Murder its all about conjuring the image. While the album isn’t quite as dark as some of its contemporaries, like Perturbator’s Dangerous Days, tracks like Saturdays serve as much as an audio treat as a lazy/hazy childhood morning playing video tapes. If Perturbator is John Carpenter then, Mitch Murder is certainly veering more towards John Hughes, with a sleeve cover as immense as the album itself.

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#26. Thom Yorke: Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes


Thom Yorke’s unexpected latest album couldn’t be nothing but a most welcome surprise, another experimental “first” for him when it comes to distribution, after Radiohead’s 2007 In Rainbows, which was the first name-your-price record on the internet. This time the BitTorrent paygated bundle has been another attempt to work around the mechanisms of the record companies and deliver the goods directly from the artist to the public. In our times, if it’s one artist that can fart out a record as good as this so quickly and out of the blue, that’s definitely Thom Yorke.

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#25. How To Dress Well: “What Is This Heart?



What Is This Heart?” gained critical acclaim all over the world by many different sources. Tom Krell’s brand of R&B is unique and cutting-edge and this album enforced his sound even further, particularly on tracks like Repeat Pleasure, What You Wanted and Face Again and the explosive emotional peak, crescendo of Precious Love. I’m happy to say the live shows are as powerful and visceral as the music is on record. Tom’s voice captivated an audience in a church (of all places) in Salford in November.

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#24. Amen Dunes: Love



The acclaimed latest record by Damon McMahon’s Amen Dunes, Love, released in 2014, featured a duet with Iceage’s Elias Bender Rønnenfelt, as well as collaborations with members from Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Bon Iver. In terms of development, the record sounds more accessible compared to his previous releases. McMahon’s unquestionably unique voice can’t be ignored, Love has definitely a place among our favourites of the year.

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#23. Ides Of Gemini: Old World New Wave



Ides Of Gemini’s second album Old World New Wave is immense in terms of a doom or even as just a metal album. The slow burning doom riff palette is nicely matched by the vocals of ex- Black Math Horseman, Sera Timms. It’s hard to say anything other than how intensely good Timms’s voice sounds, so powerful everything else seems to become background, no matter how clear the album’s production is, as it even at points sounds like it peaks into its own brand of psychedelia. Beautifully executed, Old World New Wave is no doubt the metal album we all craved for this year.

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#22. Godflesh: A World Lit Only By Fire



Though Justin Broadrick never went away as a musician, the 13 years Godflesh was away, seemed like a long time. Obviously their active return in 2014 with new material was more than welcome, since the band doesn’t show any signs of decline, on the contrary, A World Lit Only By Fire is definitely up to par with Streetcleaner, or any other of your favourite Godflesh records.

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#21. Weyes Blood: The Innocents




The Innocents is named after he 1962 Jack Clayton movie of the same name, which was an adaptation of Henry James’ classic novel, Turn Of The Screw, a classic ghost story. Look it up that film, it is amazing, just like Natalie Mering’s second album under the moniker Weyes Blood is. Rooted in both American and British folk, The Innocents often feels just as creepy as the movie and as melancholic as the essence of folk music in general.

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#20. Code Orange: I Am King



Produced by Kurt Ballou, I Am King saw the end of Code Orange Kids and the rise of Code Orange, marking a new, even heavier era for the band and earning them comparisons to hardcore metal bands like Converge (obviously), Norma Jean and Refused, or even beyond that genre, earning the respect of indie rock and shoegaze fans as well.

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#19. HTRK: Psychic 9-5 Club



Halfway through recording the brilliant Work (Work Work) back in 2010, Sean Stewart, one of the founding HTRK members and ex-Portraits Of Hugo Perez, committed suicide. This new album was the first one HTRK returned back to being a duo again and despite the great absence, by all means it didn’t disappoint. On the contrary, the band took in the tragic experience of their loss and used it as an inspiration to create a dark, deep record, worthy of a place among their excellent so far catalog.

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#18. Young And In The Way: When Life Comes To Death



Coming from Charlotte, NC, YAITW got picked up by Deathwish Inc. to release their finest effort to date, When Life Comes To Death, an album that defines the term “blackened crust”, bringing to one’s mind the genre’s pioneers, like Amebix and Doom, as well as the obvious black metal factor of bands like Bathory or early Darkthrone. Be alert, it looks like it won’t be long until YAITW are brutal music’s finest representative.

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#17. Boris: Noise


Boris are possibly the most adaptive, almost undefinable genre bending band out there, combing such diverse musical styles from pop tunes to sludge metal. Noise is their 19th studio album, with their chameleonic abilities once again in full effect.

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#16. Woods Of Desolation: As The Stars



Woods Of Desolation have never performed live, the main musician behind that moniker is plainly known as “D” and all we know is that he comes from Sydney, Australia. The collaborative musicians on As The Stars include Drudkh drummer, Vlad, as well as Luke Mills of Pestilential Shadows and vocalist Old of Drohtnung. Though this is clearly a black metal record, the post-rock and shoegaze overtones that are so overwhelming, help the album be easier to appeal to any fan of dark, melancholic music in general.

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#15. The Body: I Shall Die Here



On their latest album, I Shall Die Here, The Body team up with experimental composer Haxan Cloak. Industrial layers over dark metal soundscapes, techno blasts combined with with unbearably heavy guitar riffs, comprise a record dark as hell and completely out of the ordinary, that makes you wonder what the next step of this once doom metal band is gonna be.

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#14. Perturbator: Dangerous Days



Perturbator is Paris-based British electronic musician, James Kent, who produces retrofuturistic dark synth music, heavily inspired by the 80s. His release this year, Dangerous Days was a stunning album that could easily pass as a soundtrack to a dark dystopian sci-fi nightmare, with plenty of cyberpunk mentality and reeking of John Carpenter-esque intensity. Hard Wired, for me one of the album’s standout tracks, it is deeply dark, seedy, like a cold dark walk home through a grimy city back street, where dangerous moments could strike anywhere, in a way Depeche Mode-esque and featuring a stunning vocal melody from Memory Ghosts’s Isabella Goloversic and Kent’s glitzy electronic passages. It’s the one moment when the album descends into Ballard territory and its makes you so glad of it, serving as a nice interlude.

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#13. Se Delan: The Fall



Things have gotten kind of ugly lately with Crippled Black Phoenix and it’s so sad watching one of the most heartwarming bands out there going down over legal disputes in situations you would think that apply only to crazy rich rock superstars, but as much as you should worry about CBP, you still have Justin Greaves’ other project, Se Delan, to hold on to. Justin’s duo with Belinda Kordic aka Killing Moon, released their debut, The Fall, in 2014. Whatever happens with CBP, which we hope will be the best for the band, Se Delan are definitely a name to look out for in the future.

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#12. Iceage: Plowing Into The Field Of Love



Charismatic Iceage front man Elias Bender Rønnenfelt channels his inner Mark E Smith/Shane MacGowan with Nick Cave lyrics. Plowing Into the Field of Love, their third album, deserves to be celebrated, with the singer still at the tender age of 21, this sound like a refreshing injection into punk. For their second record on Matador they’ve thrown in more use of pianos, violins and horns, as well as more acoustic tracks in places. It’s the perfect reflection on how the live shows are and encapsulates the live energy into the record itself.

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#11. Scott Walker & Sunn O))): Soused



A collaboration for the ages, Soused feels like it should have happened a long time ago, given Walker’s latest part of his career. Written by Walker with Sunn O))) in mind, the album was recorded in London in early 2014 and produced by Scott Walker and Peter Walsh with the assistance of musical director Mark Warman. The result is like what you’d imagined it to be: creative, unnerving, dark and a pleasure to immerse yourself into for 50 minutes.

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#10. Swans: To Be Kind



Lately it feels like the world has discovered Swans with a 30 year delay, but you knoe what they say, better late than ever. This new era the legendary band is going through, sparkled by their 2010 reformation, deserves to be highly praised as much as the old stuff anyway, so consider the top 40 just a bonus. Swans and Michel Gira always were and will always be one of the most honest and authentic bands in the world.

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#9. Have A Nice Life: The Unnatural World



Picking up where they left off, six years after their debut, HANL’s sophomore record is as genre-bending, a hell of a record, fueled by Dan Barrett’s and Tim Macuga’s inner fears with some of the darkest songwriting about life and death you can find. If you don’t check it out for yourself, don’t trust any descriptions or reviews, because this record, as well as the band’s state of mind are impossible to describe.

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#8. Electric Wizard: Time To Die



During the last decade Black Sabbath descendants come by the bunch, but none of them have established themselves with a distinctly impressive body of work, like Electric Wizard have. Time To Die marks the return of original drummer Mark Greening in what seems to be not only the longest, but their best record in many years too.

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#7. Lust For Youth: International



Definitely more heavily based on synth-pop than their previous work, with a more catchy vibe about it, the whole album just flowed from start to finish, enchanting us with its new wave form of synth-pop, while there wasn’t really a sore point on the record. The album spawned a number of quality singles included Illume, Running and New Boys. It’s not as dark as their previous releases, but we consider it just as high in the LFY catalog so far.

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#6. White Hex: Gold Nights

Self-describing their music as “tropical-goth”, the second album by White Hex is even more imposing, a change-up towards more minimal electronics, leaning much closer to synth-pop than post punk. Lasts less than half an hour long but stays with you for way much longer.

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#5. Mogwai: Rave Tapes



Mogwai have been around for much too long now, with Rave Tapes being their eighth studio album, but there are no visible (or audible) signs of tiredness in their new material. Remurdered is a new classic in their setlist and Rave Tapes is just as strong as their first few records were and like those, it sounds familiar from the first listen.

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#4. Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra: Fuck Off Get Free We Pour Light On Everything



Sorrow and hope go hand in hand in SMZ’s new album, getting it even clearer now why for all those years the group’s members seemed skeptical and avoided to use the term “post rock” to describe what they do with their music. This new record of theirs, a record of punk aesthetics and heavier, more direct sound has been defiantly ignored but most end of year lists out there, but for us is one of the very best of the year.

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#3. Whirr: Sway



Whirr’s amazing new record is a gem of shoegazing distortion and without trying too hard, it delivers. It’s a powerful, dreamy record that in all its fuzziness and noise it’s so articulate and heavier, not only in sound, but in feeling as well, than ever before. The band’s ongoing feud with Pitchfork, as well as their own fans sometimes on the internet, may be amusingly funny, but Sway isn’t anything like that, it’s dead serious and it’s one of the best albums of the damn year.

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#2. King Dude: Fear


It comes without any doubt that Fear by King Dude is one of the albums of the year. It’s out on his own label Not Just Religious Music, produced by Bill Rieflin, known for his work with Ministry, Swans and Pigface. From the first few listens, it has been quite clear that this was his best album to date, built around the concept of inner fears and horryfying the audience through song.

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#1. Nothing: Guilty Of Everything



After two years of running around doing live gigs and releasing a couple of EPs, Nothing in 2014 released a full length album via Relapse, a label known mostly for the heavier in sound, metal bands in its roster. Nothing may not be that close to Relapse’s kind of metal, but don’t think they’re not as heavy. They are heavy in mood and feeling, rocking a 90s-like distorted guitar fuzziness with a post-rock twist. Undoubtedly Guilty Of Everything is a highly recommended solid gem and our crowned Album Of The Year.

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There you have it, once again in actual list form…

  1. Nothing: Guilty Of Everything

  2. King Dude: Fear

  3. Whirr: Sway

  4. Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra: Fuck Off Get Free We Pour Light On Everything

  5. Mogwai: Rave Tapes

  6. White Hex: Cold Nights

  7. Lust For Youth: International

  8. Electric Wizard: Time To Die

  9. Have A Nice Life: The Unnatural World

  10. Swans: To Be Kind

  11. Scott Walker & Sunn O))): Soused

  12. Iceage: Plowing Into The Field Of Love

  13. Se Delan: The Fall

  14. Perturbator: Dangerous Days

  15. The Body: I Shall Die Here

  16. Woods Of Desolation: As The Stars

  17. Boris: Noise

  18. Young And In The Way: When Life Comes To Death

  19. HTRK: Psychic 9-5 Club

  20. Code Orange: I Am King

  21. Weyes Blood: The Innocents

  22. Godflesh: A World Lit Only By Fire

  23. Ides Of Gemini: Old World New Wave

  24. Amen Dunes: Love

  25. How To Dress Well: “What Is This Heart?”

  26. Thom Yorke: Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes

  27. Mitch Murder: Interceptor

  28. †††: †††

  29. Total Control: Typical System

  30. The Smashing Pumpkins: Monuments To An Elegy

ZR/RS

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