To think back and express a year’s worth of my favorite listens in words and their importance to me has never felt more organic. This is the first time since we started the site that I decided to sit down and write out the first things that popped into my mind while going though my list. What came out are thoughts ranging from the ridiculous to the personal – hopefully creating an authentic take on the ‘year end’ list that you can appreciate and maybe even relate to.
Deers – Barn / Demo There is something so sincere and real about these two releases. The recordings are super lo-fi and unpolished which makes for a very charming listening experience.
Perfume Genius – Too Bright Too Bright feels like a cinematic movie that travels over the hills and valleys of a love story that can be just as ugly as it is beautiful.
Daughter – Live @ Air Sessions There was a time earlier in the year where I was questioning the idea of loving feelings and emotions. It felt like a wall that prevented opening up to anything or anyone had surrounded my soul. I came across this live session from Daughter and it completely obliterated that wall, opening up my mind and heart to what feels like a whole new world.
Weyes Blood – The Innocents Natalie Mering’s project is a dark, twisted take on music from the likes of Sharon Van Etten and Beirut. The Innocents is beautifully haunting and “Some Winters” is one of the year’s best gems.
UME – Monuments Growing up a 90’s kid I was into Stone Temple Pilots and Pearl Jam, so it makes me very happy that guitar solos and “boot to the face” rock ‘n’ roll like this still exists.
The Raveonettes – Pe’ahi In 2008, The Raveonettes helped usher in my musical renaissance. When I heard “Aly Walk With Me,” everything that I knew and loved about music was turned upside down. I was left asking myself, “How can noise sound so beautiful?” With Pe’ahi, The Raves take elements of the past with shoegazey nods to Lust, Lust, Lust and the rock ‘n’ roll sonic driving force of Whip It On then fuse them with Sune’s love of old school hip hop beats and some of Foo’s grooviest bass work to date. The duo has always had a knack for taking the darkest of subjects and turning them into some of the most beautiful sounding music. On the latest release, those blood-stained roses are as radiant as ever.
Christopher Willits – Opening There is something so inviting and transcending about Christopher Willits’ Opening. Willits’ combination of audio and visual mediums help create an environment that puts you into a dreamlike state and makes you feel like you’re having an outer body experience.
Broods – Evergreen Evergreen is my Pure Heroine of 2014. This smart and catchy pop music takes the most beautiful and intimate turn with their stripped down Spotify Session… Listen to “Taking You There”.
White Lung – Deep Fantasy During the rush hour commute, some people play calm music to put them in a relaxed state of mind. I remember getting off on Canal Street during a chaotic rush hour with Deep Fantasy blasting through my headphones. Feeling the power of Mish Way’s energy and Kenneth Williams’ relentless riffs – I felt as if they were giving me permission to throw some elbows and knock people over as I made my way through the sea of chaos. After knocking a few people out and emerging victorious, Deep Fantasy is now my soundtrack for the struggles of the NYC subway commute.
Son Lux – Eleanor Rigby Like walking on a tightrope while trying to balance the most delicate piece of glass in your hand. This album is as fragile and beautiful as they come.
Grouper – Ruins Listening to Ruins makes me feel like I’m walking through a desolate forest in the middle of nowhere where I accidentally stumble upon Liz Harris performing these songs just for herself.
Wye Oak – Shriek One of the most memorable scenes in the short history of The Walking Dead was once paired with the galloping drum beats and signature wailing guitar tones of Wye Oak’s track “Civilian.” On Shriek, Wye Oak trade in Wasner’s guitar for bass and synths, flipping the script from the guitar driven soul of Civilian to the percussion embodied body-swaying melancholy of a newly defined sound.
Young Fathers – Dead Young Fathers are making the type of music that would have pioneered Anticon’s music label back in the day. The energy and intensity of Dead is at a level, which by the time you’re done listening, will leave you with a feeling of being punched in the gut and gasping for air.
Baths – Ocean Death I remember first hearing the track “Ocean Death” at NYC’s staple venue Cake Shop. Will had those crazy sideburns and displayed a new found aggressive energy as he unveiled the unreleased track to the CMJ crowd. It’s amazing to look back and realize that even though it took four years for this track to officially go public, the artist we know as Baths today already existed way back then.
TOBACCO – Ultimate II Massage Tom Fec has a way with words. A way with words without barely ever using them. I always looked at Black Moth Super Rainbow as the definition of a good DMT trip. Kind of like being in the beautiful landscapes of What Dreams May Come. TOBACCO, on the other hand, is one of the nastiest, grimiest trips one can take. A place where all of our thoughts of beauty and innocence give way to desires and the kind of thoughts most people wouldn’t dare tap into. TOBACCO is the mysterious hand extending out to you from behind the dark curtain, asking the question… Can you handle what’s on the other side?
Yoni Wolf – Old Dope (Rap Tape) WHY? has gone through a major transformation over the years. Once the solo project of Yoni Wolf, the project has grown into a full band with two drummers and the precision sound of a technical music lover’s dream. With Old Dope, Yoni goes back to basics by taking an old school mixtape approach and trading technical perfection for simple beats – reimagining some of the best work from his past.
Tom Vek – Luck Tom Vek is an artist who mixes a unique voice with layered elements that build up to something so jarring yet dancey that you find yourself doing The Man from Another Place’s Twin Peaks dance without knowing it.
Jason Silva’s Shots of Awe (Podcast) Today anyone can broadcast his or her personal life and air their opinions within the blink of an eye. All it takes is a simple click, and we can post our thoughts as fast as we think them. As incredible as this is, people tend to talk about the negative a lot more than the positive. Jason Silva’s web series Shots of Awe gives viewers “shots of philosophical espresso” which is like watching an Alan Watts inspirational video but for the ADD generation. Jason likes to take what some people deem the negative and spin it in a positive direction. It’s my go-to anytime I need a little jolt or push of inspiration.
Hundred Waters – The Moon Rang Like a Bell As moving and emotional as “Chambers” is on record, it wasn’t until their show at Terminal 5 that I was drawn in. From the Donnie Darko light show vibe to the meticulously crafted moments of audio bliss, I was sucked into an emotional vortex that I have still not found my way out from.
The Twilight Sad – Nobody Wants to Be Here & Nobody Wants To Leave These guys were one of the first bands that we covered for the Artistree and they are still one of the most underrated acts out there today. “Don’t Move” makes me envision that I’m in the middle of an empty warehouse slow dancing with the love of my life. But when I look into her face – there is no face, just a body. With The Twilight Sad there is always that slight hint of light illuminating a sea of darkness. They are one of the most intense and heartfelt bands out there – a true blue collar act.
Tycho – Awake Tycho’s former Dive is an album that I will always relate to the honeymoon period of love. It found its way into my life when everything was just right, and the world was for the taking. A couple of years later that bright light had temporarily shut off, and I was left to find some way out of the dark. “L” and “Montana” put me on an empty highway that lead to rebuilding what was broken. Awake is a symbol for that moment when the broken light starts to flicker again.
Illustration by Lucy Salgado