Eric’s Best Albums of 2014 – The Second Twelve (2/3)

What’s up everyone?!? This is the second installment of the “Eric’s Best Albums of 2014” list. Same format as last time. Band Name: Album Title – Both of these are links. The first to the band’s website or twitter feed or something that describes the band. The second (to the right of the colon) is a representative video. So, without further ado, let’s get to work!

  1. Opeth: Pale Communion – Opeth has continued its drift in to the Sea of Prog rock, and they kill it. Musicianship is mind-numbing on this record. It reminds me a little of Tarkus, by Emerson, Lake, and Palmer.  I know the traditionalists aren’t thrilled with Mikael Åkerfeldt’s movement away from harsh vocals, but I’m completely ok with it. They are stronger, tighter, and more cohesive as a songwriting unit than ever before. This album rips.
  2. Shellac: Dude Incredible – Steve Albini is a record producer in Chicago. If you watched the Foo Fighters series, Sonic Highways, you’ll recognize Steve from the Chicago episode. Shellac does not make records often, but when they do they are so worth the wait. Punk edge, messed up time signatures, no-filter lyrics. My pal Marshal turned me on to these guys, and it’s become one of my “can’t stop listening to records”.
  3. British Sea Power: From The Sea To The Land Beyond – Produced as a soundtrack to a BBC film about the British seacoast, it’s a beautiful, moving, sonic painting. This record is largely instrumental, but don’t let that steer you away, its huge, sweeping songs are immersive. I love this band, they run the gamut from shoegazey instrumental to powerpop indie, and do it all deftly.
  4. The War On Drugs: Lost In The Dream – This is on everyone’s top lists of 2014…for a reason. This is a stunning album! One YouTuber described “Under the Pressure” as having a “Bob Dylan goes ambient shoegazer vibe”. Others have referenced a Paul Simon, Springsteen, or Rod Stewart flavor to this record. Pretty good company, if you ask me.
  5. Kyng: Burn the Serum – Chunky, heavy guitar, LA-based stoner metal. This is a great record to mow the lawn to…true story! Eddie Veliz is a badass too.
  6. Future Islands: Singles – These guys are great. Their Twitter description is “too noisy for new wave, too pussy for punk”. Perfect. they made their TV debut on Letterman, and Herring did these crazy death metal vocals, while doing the whitest white guy dance, and looking like a young Dom DeLuise…outta nowhere. Blew my mind. They got legitimacy points for hanging it all out there.
  7. Bad Suns: Language & Perspective – I heard Cardiac Arrest on Alt Nation one morning on the way to work. I couldn’t stop singing the hook all day.
  8. Foxygen: …And Star Power – A little T-Rexy, a little Dylanish, a little Teenage Fanclub-like – this is the second record (the first was brilliant too, 2012’s “Take The Kids Off Broadway) from this duo of 24 year olds. They started the band in high school, when they were 15. Amazing talent, hooky tunes, and a vintage feel. It’s like finding that perfect orange sweater in the thrift store….to go with your green leather jacket.
  9. Tycho: Awake – Some of the best “I need to crank out some work” ambient music ever. Tycho gets compared to bands like Boards of Canada, and I can see that. I like his approach a little better though, usage of guitar, bass, and vintage synths is killer. Live, he uses real drums, and that makes such a difference. When you need to focus and get some stuff done, this is your go to record.
  10. Royal Blood: Royal Blood – I don’t know what it is with all the duos these days, but Royal Blood (a bassist and a drummer) are so good wyou’ll wanna slather this record all over yourself. Heavy freaking groove.
  11. KXM: KXM – George Lynch is BUSY these days. KXM record, Sweet/Lynch record, new Lynch Mob record. If you know me, you know my fascination with guitar tone, and Lynch is one of the archetypes of tone. He’s a master. Oh, and I’d listen to Dug Pinnick from King’s X sing the phonebook.
  12. Mastodon: Once More ‘Round The Sun – Probably the most “accessible” of the Mastodon catalog. Crushing guitar tones, singable choruses, solid hooks, and complex song structures that all hover around 5 minutes. Three of the guys sing, so that makes things interesting out front. This is probably my favorite act to come from the “sludge” movement.

Alright, that’s “the second twelve”! Two down, one to go.  See you guys in a week or so!!

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