12/27/14

Forgotten Songs dk Top 10 LPs of 2014

Nobody cares but here's a list of my fave 10 LPs (or long EPs) of the year. Since I do not write anymore in music mags, I only have this blog to publish it. In the further days, I'll try to compile one song from each LP and create one of my famous (???) do-it-myself cover sleeves with it. I got plenty of images I would love to use and do not find the occasion. It will be. I'll ask Rough Mix his and this will twice the pleasure (and the number of free dl songs). As a global comment, I would like to say this year sounded a shitload to my ears and that most of the music in the Top 50 of the music media (see here for aggregate and separate lists) illustrates it perfectly. I actually made the effort to listen to most of it and my conclusion is that it is worst than the worst elevator muzak, when it is not awful rip offs of old school styles that second-hand bands of the concerned periods would have been ashamed to play. But given the large musical ignorance of rock-press journalists, no chance they could detect this. I must be a terrible old twat (not a real idea what a twat is but that sounds good for an insult). The only album they all put high in their list and that is high in mine is Sleaford Mods (not a musical masterpiece but a real blast in today's indigency), the incongruity is on their side not mine. And it would be great that the duo does not accept to become a fave of these grotesque fake makers. For the rest of my list, it's true the diversity is rather surprising but that's the way I am since I was 14 (loving Master of Reality, Harvest, Grand Hotel, The Slider, Masterpiece, Hero and Heroine, Gather Me similarly) and I won't change now.

1. Thou - Heathen





Often classified in the highest ranges of sludge lists, this band, and particularly this album, does not have to be constrained in a genre. It's pure musical discrimination to put The War On Drugs (I would personally call them better "the war on music") at the top of a list when it's a sub-genre in its own way (and really sub). Thou is to my eyes one of the most essential band of the last decade, and that they do not get the success they deserve unfortunately tells a lot about our times. This album is a masterpiece. The closest rock has been to classic music in terms of grandeur and timeless quality. Louisiana was and still is one of the greatest land for music. Seeing Dr John played at Sète (France) and having listened to this album the whole year I can say that if I'm sure of something I'm sure of that.



2. Macy Gray - The Way

A clear sign that eclectism is the word to design this list is the fact that Macy Gray's new album features after Thou's one. What's true too is that eclectism is one of the greatest quality of Macy Gray work. And in particular in her two last personal albums (2010 Sell Out and this one, others being covers album I find weak and useless). I was quite afraid that she would try (according to the title of her greatest success) to start imitating today's standards of charts music but she didn't and indeed, Prince and T. Rex seem the main influences on this wonderful way. I must say that I'm totally mad of her voice. With Billy Holiday and Melanie, she's the voice that gives me the highest level of thrills and shakes my limbic system the hardest. Moreover, in this one, the quality of the lyrics, their honesty, are a bonus. Some songs as the eponymous one or "Queen of the Big Hurt" could rivalize with anything she has done before and put most of the female singer-songwriters of the above lists in a garbage bin of insignifiance. Last, the video of Henry Rollins insulting Macy Gray about her voice make him a pathetic dumb that would not make the difference between an arsehole and a hole in the ground (copyright Randy Newman). He should remember that what he says about her was what everybody said of his hero Ozzy Osbourne in the golden era of Black Sabbath.



3. David Crosby - Croz

The unexpected one. First because nobody expected really anything from him (maybe even himself) but also because it took me quite a time in my life to find the way to the particular genius of David Crosby. Younger I had only ears for Young. Then Stills caught my attention but I had to wait until the nineties to be touched by the tortuous constructions of Crosby's melodies. Sure that listening to Steely Dan and Prefab Sprout helped me to finally appreciate this approach. And now, I'm the first to place Crosby in the major song creators of the sixties. This album, recorded with his son is really a fantastic journey in a soft and powerful musical world. This may sound a little bit too mellow for many (including me) but once you get in it, you seem to float in  a parallel world and few records achieve this. Compared to SN and Y, Crosby shows a relevance today that his acolytes lack.



4. Lunchbox - Loves You

Why this band is not bigger, why their clever and even gorgeous pop that make the Beach Boys, Television Personalities, Herman's Hermits or Polyphonic Spree melt together in a magical harmony is not in the others top lists of the year instead of the pale imitators of glorious past-makers, don't ask me I don't know. After their fantastic previous album under the name of Birds of California, they're back under their original name for an album that sounds like a collection of singles A-sides.  Tim Brown is an incredibly underrated composer. Sorry to seem a little bit bitter but what the hell rock critics have as ear equipment to miss such gems? Has been one of the rare records to help me in my dark passages this year. I rode my bike throughout autumn with it in my earphones.



5. Sleaford Mods - Divide and Exit

Maybe more for what they represent (the so-expected come-back of real life in rock music, a flavour of working class culture in the evanescent bourgeoise trend of rock for the 2 last decades) than for their own musical merits (musically it's sometimes really poor although I agree that simplicity here allows the listener to concentrate on the words and the way Jason Williamson tells them). As a fan of Third World War and the Fall (era pre-2000), I can only be happy to have the pleasure to see one band perpetuates this tradition. There are some gems in this collection. And all in all, it's maybe the record that will leaves the deepest trace this year. The only record of my list featuring in other lists.



6. Moonknight - Death Card

I like Black Metal but I must say I don't like many bands so maybe after all I don't like that much Black Metal. After Xasthur and An Autumn for Crippled Children, here's my third coup de coeur in 10 years. Under this "patronyme" is a guy called James Brown III aka Roach aka Horus, so, like Xasthur it's apparently a one man band. It doesn't sound like it is. What's great is the liquid impression you feel when you listen to this record (actually a 5 track-EP). It's like a river of noise, not far from what Nadja proposed 5 or 6 years ago. Other reminiscences are the first Gorefest releases but it is black metal and not death although the title may suggest the contrary.



7. Buzzcocks - The Way

I contributed to this album through The Pledge (and still waits for any solid version of the album, not fair but surely a problem of transmission) and I truly didn't expect it would be that good. If I regret that the long epics they now play on stage do not appear in this LP, there's something refreshing to see old punks (I'm their age actually) like Shelley and Diggle still able to propose 10 songs with melodies that don't suffer the comparison with ancient stuff. Don't forget however that Buzzcocks have released several albums since they reform and none of them was even weak. This one is not great but there are enough gems (such as "Virtually Real" or "It's Not You") to put it in their bests. Hope I will contribute to many others.



8. King Buzzo - This Machine Kills Artists

As a long-time Melvins fan, I was not sure that this solo acoustic album would produce an interesting album, Buzz being versatile and often results are deceiving (see for example the last Melvins album that I was not able to listen until the end). But here, with this Jimmy Page inspired acoustic playing (he says he was inspired by Pete Townshend but the truth is that he sounds as Page on the B-side of the LZIII), he reachs his goal. Live, it was impressive, on record it's great but maybe 17 songs were too much and he should have selected 12 and maybe develop some of them instead of this song necklace. But 2014 will stay for many as the year Buzz released his solo acoustic album and this deserves to be noticed.




9. Heaven's Gateway Drugs - A Propos


Another album whose absence in the multitudes of 2014 lists is totally unexplainable since it's psyche-pop at its best. Everything too many French weirdies try to achieve without any success. Although this record has everything to make me runaway (the cover sleeve, the look, the retro-style) I must admit it's a fantastic album that maybe should be ranged higher than at the 9th position. If you like the Kinks era Preservation Society, the Who era Sell Out, the Pretty Things era SF Sorrow, Pink Floyd era Syd Barrett, or, more recently  Polyphonic Spree or Julian Cope, you will love this record. Each song is a winner and seems an instant classic. If rock critics could take their ears out of their assholes and listen to something that worth it, they would put this band at the top of their aggregated lists.



10. Indian - From All Purity

The only reason this huge band is not higher with their 2014 offer is because I didn't listen much to it this year for unknown reasons actually. I discovered them with their first LP (The Unquiet Sky in 2005) and this was instantly one of my album of the year. Afterwards I was less impressed by their 3 following ones but this one is massive as hell as fuck as shit as whatyouwantocallit. Sometimes it's like the ghosts of the great Khanate were back. You won't find heavier this year. And more inspired. A record for our twisted times sure it is and unfortunately will remain.



Bonus - Albums released in 2013 but who made my year

1. Birds of California - One And Only

BoC are actually Tim Brown and Donna McKean, the duo from Lunchbox, here the previous year, for a transitory experience under the name of BoC. The album is pure genius. Less surf-pop and more psyche-pop, but actually a masterpiece I listened to so often that it's difficult to consider it was not my abum of 2014. If you're in alt. pop you can't miss such a gem.




2. Kal Marks - Life is Murder


The names of the album and of the band would be enough to raise my enthusiasm but strikingly it's the music they play that is the main reason of my euphoria. Released in September 2013, I only discovered it last September and since then it became a trusty companion. Here what I wrote on Bandcamp about it: "It's emotional music as its best. Long time an album didn't offer me so strong chills in my spine. Everything talks to me in this band. Could have been a cult album if it has been issued during the 90's noise movement. It will be one of the cult albums of this century". I won't be able to say better today. 


3. His Name Is Codeine - The Only Truth Is Music

A wonderful but late discovery. A crossover between the best seventies folk (Spriguns, Trees, String Driven Thing, Fuschia) and the best shoegazing (MBV of course but also some more). Constantly tense and intense, it's been too a sonor companion this year the reason why it's here. Don't know if it were in others lists last year but I doubt.



4. White Medal - Guthmers Hahl

Not sure I appreciate the underlying ideology and syncretic philosophy but sure that I love this incredible mixture of noise George Proctor does. Imagine Roy Wood becoming Black Metal and you'll have an idea of what you will hear on this monstruous album that was revealed to me some days ago by a 2014 best of list although it was released in the summer of 2013. he drums seem to be played by some greek god, some mythological giant (maybe Polypheme). It's like taking a bath in lava and staying in it by a strange masochistic pleasure. If it had been released this year sure it would be in my top 10.



5. Pile - Dripping

"Don't be foolish dk, this LP was released 2 years ago now!", "Yes but I only discovered it this year and actually it was MY album of the year. Fuck years, fuck calendars, fuck age, I want to live in the present, don't want to see years go by, getting old and die like a worm".

2 comments:

rough mix said...

I saw it and I'm working on it..for the early hours of 2015,sorry.
I'm afraid we will have at least 2 lps in common,and it's your own fault guy because you made me discover them ;-)

dkelvin said...

Sorry pal, I should have not but impossible not to share with you.
dk