Sunday, December 14, 2014

THE BEST 30 ALBUMS OF 2014: PART II (#11--20)...

the penultimate section...

11. Owen Pallett In Conflict: On In Conflict, Pallett mostly steps free of his own labyrinth. The album is mournful and restrained in tone, featuring his most pleading and open vocal performances. The lyrics, meanwhile, veer often into excruciatingly personal territory. He's less concerned with dazzling us this time around, and as a result he moves us more. His looped violin is still the DNA of the music, but the giddiness has been carefully siphoned from it: The arrangements are far simpler and cleaner, highlighting his beautiful, long-breathed melody writing. (Pitchfork)

12. Angel Haze Dirty Gold: For all its musical commerciality – the glossy production, the huge, irresistible hooklines of Deep Sea Diver and Sing About Me – Dirty Gold has its dark side. It says something about the emotional tenor of Dirty Gold that a track about a relationship breakup comes as light relief, not least because Haze has a way of telling people she fancies them that could send a potential suitor scarpering for the nearest exit while screaming in terror: "You send messages to the pits of my womb."(Pitchfork)

13. Against Me! Transgender Dysphoria Blues: Transgender Dysphoria Blues is wholly focused on pushing aside so much of what Against Me! has built through the years; even in their shortcomings, they remain who they are. But it's fitting that there are facets of the album that refuse to cohere, that don't quite fit right, that flail about in its too-eager execution. These welts are ultimately part of Grace's journey to the depths of self-discovery, and the journey to Against Me!'s true sound, all while playing to the theme of transformation. Punk has always been about disruption of order, and this new revolution that Laura Jane Grace leads doesn't surrender her identity, it reclaims it. This revolution is no lie at all. (Pitchfork)

14. Azealia Banks Broke With Expensive Taste: Broke With Expensive Taste is a reminder that the corner of Harlem that she claims is walking distance from both Washington Heights and the Bronx, where you’re as likely to hear hip-hop booming out of apartments and passing cars as freestyle, reggaeton, house, or bachata. Broke With Expensive Taste glides through all of these, just like the faithful 1 train sampled on Desperado. Both album and the artist revel in the freedom of a New York City where divisions between these sounds and scenes have ever so slowly ceased to exist. (The Guardian)

15. Five Steez These Kingston Times: Five Steez is about as authentic as you can get in today’s rapidly expanding music industry where nothing is completely original. Indie rappers are a dime a dozen-indie anything seems to be the current trend-but Five Steez manages to stand out without the gimmicks or flamboyance that many come to expect from modern musicians. His success rides solely on his talent - something he has in abundance. Some might argue that talent isn’t enough anymore, and the all too ambiguous and often elusive “x-factor” element may or may not be in his possession; his talent however, is undeniable. (Jamaicans Music)

16. Avey Tare’s Slasher Flicks Enter The Slasher House: As Portner admitted in a recent Pitchfork interview, the Slasher Flicks concept was born of a desire to mess around with the sort of 60s garage-rock and horror-movie tropes that yielded novelty hits like Monster Mash. On Enter the Slasher House, that influence proves to be mostly implicit. You won’t find any ditties here about ghouls and ghosts hosting graveyard soirees, but the songs craftily split the difference between cheeky and creepy, pitting innocent nursery-rhyme-like melodies against mutating, hallucinogenic backdrops. (Pitchfork)

17. Gem Jones Admiral French Kiss: Recorded in Dexter, Iowa to four-track porta studio. Admiral French kiss is a Midwest bonanza of sweaty post-Prince stylistics. Gem Jones plays full-band jammers, piano key laments, dub-inflected anthems, and damaged rock discharges, buoyed by a nimble funk finesse that belies his bedroom. Gem Jones belts out lyrics like he really means them. His demented guitar solos are like teenboys flailing around basements with raw testoid delirium. Nonetheless, Gem’s delicate zigzag between postures carries a whiff a sly parody–a balladeer peeking out the corner of his eye, gauging the vibe, and shapeshifting accordingly. (Animalpsi)

18. Future Islands Singles: Singles is a great balance of pop and melodrama. It’s built around the sturdy new wave beat, almost always four on the floor, giving Herring a comfortable frame in which to sing. Its themes are also symmetrical, as Herring plays with antithesis like an eager English student: day and night, sun and moon, summer and winter, man and woman. His words are the sort of thing that would tumble out of your mouth if you were told to write a love poem right now in eight seconds. (Pitchfork)

19. FKA Twigs LP 1: Barnett's music is the latest chapter in the ongoing transatlantic vogue for barely-there R&B, and this album joins her two previously released EPs in providing the subgenre with new heights. At its most textbook, R&B is urban body music, but this stuff is filtered through a prism of otherworldliness, not strictly made for the dancefloor, although the option of horizontal dancing is strongly suggested throughout. (The Guardian)

20. White Lung Deep Fantasy: Just about every aspect of White Lung’s music is aggressive and sounds angry and invective, though “I Believe You” stresses the resonance and empathy; while Way’s philosophical and theoretical leanings might not be considered “mainstream,” it’s a compliment to Deep Fantasy to say that none of its calls for dignity, for humanity, for understanding sounds remotely radical—rather, they’re pretty fucking rational. Deep Fantasy is a product of its environment, as well as one hell of a survival guide to live through this. (Pitchfork)