The Westword asked me for my top fifteen albums of the year for their mondo year end list. My choices are all mixed up with the other critics excellent choices, what a great year for music! Please note that Kurt Vile is on my year end list, but he was already chosen.
1. Swearin’ “Hundreds & Thousands” http://swearin.bandcamp.com/track/hundreds-thousands
Allison Crutchfield, twin sis of Katie Crutchfield of Waxahatchee fame shows that she can do the 90’s jangle pop thing with flat vocal intonations even better than her sister.
2. Sides of Chaz “Sweet Tea” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I8dfaOakGJk
Better known as Toro y Moi, Chaz Bundick shows off his weird, psych art folk pop side here and it sounds both derivative and modern at the same time.
3. Naturally Born Strangers “Tie Breaker” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4MIgDW8C7tg
Toronto MC Rich Kidd produces and rhymes in this new rap trio that mix old school beats with real life narratives. This one about a shorter chick wanting to be a basketball player is unique and positive.
7. Natural Child “Ain’t Gonna Stop” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L_2EMbmIU70
Nashville’s Natural Child does the southern psych thing better than anyone, and the vocals bring to mind Lynyrd Skynyrd in the best way.
I love watching sunsets, and have been spoiled to live close to a lake with a western unobstructed mountain view. When the clouds start to go pink, I grab my camera and head to my spot. Sadly, a group of guys that get drunk and listen to music loudly from there cars also like this spot, so I’m usually getting whistled at when taking these. I’ll miss this spot when we move.
Melbourne’s Courtney Barnett is a refreshing, dry witted DIY performer who releases her earnest, psychfolk tunes on her own label, Milk! Records. Her single “Avant Gardener” made Pitchfork’s Top 100 singles list this year, and for good reason. She’s got a tint of Bob Dylan in her rambling, beat driven narratives that poke fun at herself and the rest of the world, with a deadpan singsong voice with inflections reminiscent of Liz Phair.
Nashville’s Natural Child have had some buzz for awhile, their southern tinged psych rock being a highlight for me this past year at SXSW. They have a new album coming out February 25th on the always on point Burger Records, and I think it’s going to get them even more attention. Their golden country sound with phase shifters and dashes of psychedelia is a treat, making me want to play some Flying Burrito Brothers. They will be performing at the Bluebird on January 18th, come watch these guys jam out live.
Gabriel Fulvimar a.k.a Gap Dream was invited to live at Burger Records, an opportunity he couldn’t pass up. Fellow Burger Record star Bobby Harlow came in to help record and produce the new album, and it’s a synthy, sexy dream of an album. The new album hits harder than Gap Dream’s previous work, drum machine right up front giving an industrial and harder hitting sound that comes closer to his live show. It’s the perfect balance of a gritty modern aesthetic and chill psychpop. Title song “Shine Your Light” has an epic feel to it, and the video’s film production quality and matter only add to that feeling. “Fantastic Sam” has the perfect flat vocal delivery that brings an edge to the synthloaded beats. The whole album is pretty midtempo, and while I wish maybe some songs were a little sped up, the mellow sound lets more interesting effects come into play so it works itself out. The 60’s sounding reverb drenched “Immediate Life Sentence” brings a great layer of fuzz and Galaga sounding laser noises while “Shine Your Love” has a synthy horn melody reminiscent of “A Whiter Shade of Pale”. It’s like the garage rock version of The Neverending Story score.
Sometimes you fall in love with a band that has only just begun and has very little material out there. You play those three songs over and over, checking for US tour dates and anticipating their EP release. Yesterday the waiting paid off a little, as they released a video for their new song “Melting”. Their scattered 90’s pop sound is insanely catchy and extremely accessible, at times reminding me of Weezer and Beck but with direct Britpop connotations.
Here is their soundcloud with the other two songs that exist on the internet. Here’s to 2014!
The Monday before Thanksgiving I got a chance to review and shoot Black Joe Lewis for the Westword. As a long time fan, I thought the new material sounded great live, and breathed fresh takes to old material as well. Read my review here, and scroll down for some more photos. It’s time for a better lens.
The Westword asked me to write about the album I’m most thankful for, and it was a no-brainer. This album started my obsession with finding new bands, and the reason I created the blog in the first place.