Announcing the Righteous Felon Rollout of 2014's Best Albums of the Year. RF's Chief Sound Trafficker, Tucker "Two Ears" Rinehart, attempted to listen to every single new album released this year and the following list reveals his "best of the best." The 5th installment to the 31 day countdown is Mr. Noah by Panda Bear. C'mon in and have a listen...
Deathfolk. When was the last time that was a viable genre? Today folks, today. No band has synthesized the open-eyed willingness of folk and the stultifying hellscape of nightmares as Timber Timbre has on their fifth effort. A combination of Lynchian dreams, sweaty Americana, and a condor’s baritone, this perfect, deceptively slow meandering on a psychopath’s choice radio station is the best album of the year. Haven’t listened to it? Slip on your favorite pair of fingerless gloves and get stalking, it’s hunting season.
As if we didn’t have enough instrumental records on this list. Terje’s masterwork of tight synths and discocentric beats makes any trip to the grocery store an acquisition of 10 lb. bags of cocaine—and they sell them in the ramen aisle! So slip on those headphones and become a badasss, whether you’re driving along a pacific roadway or drafting blueprints to rob Las Vegas’ most elegant casino.
Google Mike Hadreas and there you have it. A dystopian soul trapped in a beautiful body. That image is the schema of Too Bright, a subtle and punishing record. Hadreas’ pipes are the protagonists of this stunning litany of songs. Pray you’re going through a breakup and/or identity crisis.
Well spank my ass and call me Whitey. RTJ have done it again. Killer Mike and El-P present their sequel, a blistering amalgam of beat and lyric. Simultaneously ‘music to just listen to’ and music that takes unpacking and deconstruction, RTJ2 is the last man standing in the rap battle between who stays and who goes. You are intended to stay.
Ten years ago if someone would have told me in vague terms “there’s some kind of mash-up between Eluvium and Explosions In The Sky” I would have crapped my pants. Update: my pre-Inventions nickname “schieße hosen” has reached relevant magnitude. This is the most daunting, paralyzing post-rock-ambient record in years. A reason to own vinyl and a turntable.
Ms. van Etten has been putting out records for a while. She is arguably the most important singer/songwriter working today, sculpting steady instrumentation and words into self-criticizing, love-sick landscapes. If telling it like it is were a currency, Shan would be a thrillionaire. There’s a reason even the ballsiest lothario steers clear of Etten’s Grendel, a monster with a parable for every way love can steer sour.
The courtesans of outer-sound have approached the doorstep. “This is the album of the year!” they cry. They are undoubtedly correct. This is the seventh best album of the year. There are infinite images to put to this perfectly licked magnum opus, a steady composite of organic and analog that flickers on the mind like a lyrically drenched Stan Brakhage film. There are myriad avenues to access in describing Love—I’d rather you listen to it.
NPR got their stranglehold on this little gem like a 40-foot python finding a baby calf with an asthma attack in the wilderness. Although I’ve been following this project since seeing Mountain Man at Newport in 2011 (personal zing!) they are not wrong. Opening for t-U-n-E-y-A-r-D-s in south Denver I saw Sylvan steal the show.
Suddenly listening to these dudes on a Saturday night (given up all hope on the singles bar scene, am I right ladies???) and loving every second. Then learn it’s Dustin O’ Halloran and Adam Wiltzie, champions of everything I hold dear in music—how did I miss this? OK. Discover it scores interpretive dance choreography by Wayne McGregor. Jesus. Stick a fork, fellas. Sensual strings and exploratory spaces to the nth.
The most pivotal driving prog-rock of our generation comes from… the Swedes. This latest unidentifiable blurred line between what is earnest and groundbreaking and what is guitars, time signatures, and trying vocals comes from Scraps Of Tape, a band that couldn’t stop playing while I was wandering videogame territory or washing the dishes. The perfect companion when there isn’t a love interest for a million miles and you want to rock.
Behold, the sludge. Pallbearer’s sophomore ode to the heavier than ununseptium downtempo road that Black Sabbath paved brings more raucous than their first, as if that were possible. Suspiciously great after dab of the dispensary’s finest hasish oil, this joyous barrel-roll through gloaming smog is 2014’s keystone doom release.