Here we present to you some of the best overlooked albums of 2014, from the perspective of 4 OurVinyl writers who each have different personal tastes. Check it out, give em a listen, there is sure to be a new gem for listeners of every kind.
Jarad Matula | Associate Editor
Antemasque – Antemasque
A release from the masterminds behind At the Drive-In and The Mars Volta you’d think would get a release with much more fanfare, but it’s complicated. First it was released digitally in July for a few days, then pulled quickly. Then it was re-released officially in both digital and CD formats in November, but a vinyl release is still nowhere in sight. Regardless, this album is well worth the time of anyone who’s a fan of either of the aforementioned bands. It’s got the raw energy of punk, the skilled song-crafting and maturity that can only come from veteran musicians, and poppy sensibilities not heard in their music for a very long time. It’s a grower of an album but worth it, because one it grabs a hold of you and you’ll be humming the tunes for days. Key tracks: “Providence,” “4AM,” “Drown All Your Witches”
Le Butcherettes – Cry is for the Flies
This Mexican band’s 2011 debut album ‘Sin Sin Sin’ was a shot in the arm—39 minutes of raw, smart and strangely compelling blasts of rock fury. On last year’s album they upped the ante, delivering a near-perfect album that combines garage rock sensibilities with early PJ Harvey snarl and esoteric lyrical topics. There’s even appearances from Henry Rollins in a spoken word bit and vocals from Garbage’s Shirley Manson. Key tracks: “Demon Stuck in Your Eye,” “Your Weakness Gives Me Life,” “Shame, You’re All I’ve Got Left”
Elysian Fields – For House Cats and Sea Fans
It’s been a fascinating journey watching this band go from late 90s/early 2000s noir alt rock to slinky, sexy jazz and folk. If you’ve never heard this band, do yourself a favor and check them out immediately. This album is a perfect starting place for the modern day incarnation of the band, with gripping medieval-flavored numbers to smoky jazz night club fare. Singer Jennifer Charles’ voice is sultry and captivating. But if you want to hear their roots and fall deeply, madly in love, seek out the album ‘Queen of the Meadow.’ Then come back to this one. You won’t regret it. Key tracks: “Alms for Your Love,” “She Gets Down,” “Channeling”.
Dylan Tracy | Contributor
The Agromaniac – AM
An aural journey, The Agromaniac (uncredited) created a monstrously devious experience of minimal techno and unflinching terror. The bass will shake you to your knees, making you plead for something – anything – as you listen to a grueling tale loosely based on the machine, AM, in Harlan Ellison’s I Have No Mouth, And I Must Scream. Dark, unique, and unforgettable, The Agromaniac’s AM will take you down a long, heady road and leave you in the purest state of desolation. The record itself is layers upon layers of meaning and intent – a fully realized idea, breathing its own breath. If you are generally afraid of tuning in now, I don’t blame you, but you will miss one of the most interesting albums of 2014.
Intimatchine – I’ll Eat You Last EP
There are love songs, and there are sex songs, and Intimatchine know the difference between both. They also know how to make both of them too well, and they make it sound like they are generally already geniuses with the textures, precision, and execution on their debut EP (not even an album, but easily one of the year’s best extended plays), I’ll Eat You Last, a lovely dip into the atmosphere of the minds of Chelsey Rae Holland and Christopher Wormald. Together – in body, mind, and spirit – these two craft silky, sultry dark pop jams that will swallow you and smile afterward.
Fennec – Let Your Heart Break / Beloved EP
Communicating emotions with groovy beats is something Fennec does with a flick of the wrist, but it’s the perfection that Fennec achieves with the production and coherence that makes this effort look like a masterpiece. Actually listening to it gives you the utmost introspection, yet all of the beats are easily danceable; Fennec’s Let Your Heart Break is a concoction of the right amount of everything, diced and settled just right in the mix of tone, theme, and power. The Beloved EP only manages to further the deep jams and make the myth of Fennec even more interesting.
Jorge A. López Mendicuti | Senior Writer | @jlopezmendicuti
Roadkill Ghost Tour – In Tongues
After a standard and deluxe edition of their first EP, Quiet Light, Florida’s Roadkill Ghost Choir put out their debut full length In Tongues with ten tracks that take the best out of alternative folk, rock and Americana into experimentation. Raunchier yet better produced that their earlier recordings, In Tongues foreshadows a bigger sound yet to come later in their career.
The best way to describe this album is either through the track A Blow To The Head or imaging a time machine bringing the Beach Boys, Radiohead and Interpol into a same band in this time an age. Another highlights are the 60’s vibed I Could See Everything, the fuzzed pop No Enemy and the too-good-to-be-ignored Dead Friend. This is that one band that will take its time to stand out, but when it does, it’ll be for all the good reasons.
Russian Red – Agent Cooper
Lourdes Hernández began as an innocent folk solo project back in Spain, with one of the sweetest and comforting voices wrapped in English lyrics yet. Russian Red‘s previous albums I Love Your Glasses and Fuerteventura had subtle touches of rock and a harder sound, but Lourdes went full on with Agent Cooper.
She promised something more electric and part of her fan base was worried about this being a huge detour from her lost love lyrics and longing feel in her music; luckily, they were wrong. Agent Cooper consists of ten songs named as supposed old romances and men that were an important part of the artist’s life with the rhythmic and mood changing Casper, the sad and beautiful Xabier, the Eagles-ish Alex T. The genre might have changed, but Lourde’s sentimentalism is still present throughout her LP. This album was a bold and solid step forward in Russian Red’s short yet strong career.
The Red Headed Indian – Honey
Once in a while, that first effort by an unknown artist hits your life right through yours ears and you can’t help but wonder how it is that the explosion didn’t cause any more damage to anybody else. This is what happened to this writer and The Red Headed Indian’s debut Honey. Just six songs wonderfully crafted of the now Nashville resident are enough to make you an instant fan of one of the most honest debuts in the contemporary folk scene.
January’s opening bass line and Caroline Kingsbury’s echoing vocals grab you into an album full of heartbreaking memoirs and hopes for the future through A Broken Heart, Honey, the Tom Petty styled rock tribute that is From Colorado (along with a soulful multi chorused finale), the haunting duet You with Miles Patzer and one of the best unheard songs of 2014, Please Come Home, a tear-jerking juggernaut ready to become a longing anthem in many people’s lives. This girl brought, in this writer’s opinion, another ray of hope into songwriting.
Honey (free download) = http://noisetrade.com/redheadedindianmusic/honey
Sean Brna | Editor
Glass Animals – ZABA
Glass Animals have been grabbing some attention for ZABA in Great Britain (where they are from), but it has somehow yet to cross the pond to America. That may change in 2015 though. Glass Animals is an indie rock band that have given us a debut album filled with beefy and low lying songs that are heavy on the bass and mid-lows, but don’t ever seem to go over the top in that regard. Instead they choose to build hypnotic songs built around melodies provided via the bass and vocals, instead of synths and guitars. There is minimal ornamentation, as they instead focus on creating more entrancing skeletal songs. They found a way to superbly sit within an energy level that falls somewhere just above head-nodding but below leg-gyrating.
Sleepy Sun – Maui Tears
Maui Tears came out in the very beginning of 2014, which unfortunately means it usually is too far back for end-of-year list consideration, but this author cannot forget them. Maui Tears is Sleepy Sun’s fourth full length album, and it’s a beauty for any fan of psychedelic rock. They didn’t try to reinvent the wheel here, just give you 9 songs of mind bending San-Fran inspired psych music filled with corpulent and soaring guitar riffs built around long songs that weave through energy levels with ease. A good example of this is the title track, a song that clocks in at 10:32 minutes, slowly piling vigor into the beat with yowling guitars in the periphery before it morphs into a song chugging at quite the pace, before melodically coming back down to earth. One doesn’t know whether to go for a run or stare at the ceiling, but either way it’s exactly what you want from psychedelic rock n roll.
The Rural Alberta Advantage – Mended With Gold
This band is another that has gotten some love in their home country of Canada, but is still unknown to most music lovers in the US (even within their genre). They’re a 3 piece indie rock band that focuses on making heartfelt, but vibrant, songs that have a slight folky undertone yet with a completely contemporary feel. Nils Edenloff voice is wonderfully unique, with the ability to hit all his notes while always sounding raspy and melodramatic. Their melodies and lyrics will get stuck in your head. But it’s the way that their melodies combine with quickly moving and forceful rock that’ll impress you the most. The drumming is often breakneck, but lying underneath acoustic guitar and often grand piano. It is very well balanced in that regard. This is music that is highly accessible, asking little of the listener than to just press play and enjoy.