Once More 'Round The Sun (2014)
Mastodon's newest album slays and eviscerates accessibly, echoing our love for the past and looking fondly into the future. It is an amalgamation of everything Mastodon, vibrantly represented well enough in the blisteringly great album cover. Find yourself listening to its world-burning intensity and end with a grin on your face. Until next time...
Best song:The Motherload
1000 Forms Of Fear (2014)
The woman who is famously withdrawn throws herself dramatically into her 6th album. Giant vocal movements are pinned to frank observations, delivered warmly. It's so close to being a monstrous pop experience, and it could have been, but Sia exercises control and tact, focusing on her songwriting cred to craft it. She's exposed, on her terms.
Like a good orgasm, Plastics builds every track from humble beginnings to expansive realms. Layering noise upon noise hits an inevitable crescendo that is sustained until the next one starts. Whilst this is satiating initially, it begins to wear as the formula isn't wavered from. It's lovely background music, but slightly underdone.
Best song:Movers and Shakers
It takes some getting used to: the late Mars Volta's core members making straightforward, muscular rock music. It's executed with such conviction and energy, however, that you don't even miss the weird time signatures and endless jams. It's the sound of expert musicians letting loose. This change of pace is exactly what the prog rock veterans needed.
Best song:Ride Like The Devil's Son
Déjà Vu (2014)
Of all the artists who have fused Kraftwerk with Tiësto, this is the most fun. In fact, they may be alone in that category. Simple boom bap is piled upon by distorted vocals and insistent 8-bit synth noises that clatter around the speakers. It's like jumping into a musical ballpit. There's much colour and enough influence to pique discerning ears.
Best song:Price Tag
Pitch Black Prism (2014)
As purveyor of spaced electronics for the Anticon label, Alias delivers his 2014 mellow pill. A closet full of sparse synth and focused, pinpoint percussion, the record embodies its title. Forcibly shunted into darkness, it's like riding Space Mountain: you catch glimpses of light but enjoy the sensory deprivation of the dark. Let it wash over you.
Best song:Crimson Across
Jungle have found a unique, soulful sound, but hang on to it too tightly, resulting in a pretty yet pretty boring record. There's an emptiness beneath the continuous shared vocals that can cet kind of frustrating. It's a funky dancefloor filler, but that's about it. They already have quite the live reputation, but their debut can't live up to the hype.
Best song:Busy Earnin'
Walk Me Home (2014)
There's already enough bands clamouring for the cutesy, dream filled music that Secret Cities make. It's like a walk around an antique shop. Everything looks pretty but nothing is actually functional. The best moments are when they explore more diverse instruments, and the best track actually sounds like Beirut. It's not seen often enough.
Best song:It's Always Winter
Await Barbarians (2014)
Head Hot Chip Honcho Taylor delivers a piece of disarming quality, delving into his psyche and extracting his unformed thoughts and presenting them over lovely minimalist fare. Similar to Mike Skinner's Everything Is Borrowed, it's a piece that takes environmental cues that spawn existential musings, forcing your system into deep ponderance.
Best song:Closer To The Elderly
A Sunny Day In Glasgow
Sea When Absent (2014)
They've done it. Sea When Absent creates an encompassing, swallowing album of Loveless-esque status, beckoning in the light dazey feel of the many songs and structures. A Sunny Day In Glasgow showcase their unique twist on the most derived genre - shoegaze - and manipulate an album of remarkable intensities. Future classic right here, no doubt.
Best song:In Love With Useless (The Timeless Geometry In The Tradition Of Passing)
Nightmares On Wax
N.O.W. Is The Time (2014)
This is not really a best of, more of a storyline of NOW history. It's an excellent listen, a sultry groove through their party side (Dreadoverboard, 195lbs) that's tempered by a morning after comedown (Calling, Be There). There's few career retrospectives that boast such a fluent nature, yet NOW can be played front to back endlessly.
Best song:Be, I Do
Light Divide (2014)
Drone experimentalist Jon Porras delves into analog and digital equipment to exude a jarringly cerebral, but dream-like symphony in Light Divide, his latest effort. Songs transcend into blurry blips and wondrous synths while dipping into the next track seamlessly. Porras exposes an underlying beat to dreams and forgets reality. Get. This. Record.