Nothing Has Changed (2014)
50 years! The cultural chameleon known to Earth as David Bowie has released a retrospective collection of his greatest and sometimes his most odd tunes, something that's been done many times, but thankfully never better before now (3xCD version, specifically) - this is the definitive Bowie collection. "Put on your red shoes and dance the blues..."
Best song:Sound And Vision
Hail Mary Mallon
Bestiary is the left-side of hip hop's answer to Run The Jewels. Aesop Rock and Rob Sonic engage in tongue to tongue combat, and it's wildly entertaining. They play off one another with constant punchlines that leave others in their lyrical wake, and the production will force your neck muscles into repeated action. A rewind button is essential.
Bury Me At Makeout Creek (2014)
Smoky, sultry, and fragile, Mitski opens this lexicon of power pop textures in tiny indie pop structures, giving all this sunny exposure to an emotional core. Too sweet to walk away, this is what Best Coast was trying to achieve without fumbling hard. Bury Me At Makeout Creek should be the new breakup album. Try to not hum along - I dare you.
Best song:I Don't Smoke
Shady XV (2014)
Eminem is mind-boggling. Too often, though, he puts form over function, crafting thesis-like rhymes with dazzling dexterity. The wow factor has been slightly diminished since Rap God. His cohorts are less impressive, but no less eager. The 2nd disc is heavy with absolute bangers, and showcases just how talented his stable is. Very solid package.
Nick Chiericozzi and Mark Perro of Brooklyn's The Men create a project that purely brews the most distant and furthest sounding music from their previous efforts. Not exactly distant in genre, but literal, aural distance - thick, airy reverb gives these chilling gothic shoegazey slips and slides some grimy gleam. Dancing & crying are not included.
Best song:Let It Be
.5: The Gray Chapter (2014)
Age has not wearied them. In fact, this record bites with the hunger of a just born Pit Bull. There's some dense, dark themes explored, and not always in kick-ass fashion. Killpop is pure 90s gutter, with accompanying imagery. They never really kick up a gear though, and the energy slowly wanes as the record progresses.
Content Nausea (2014)
Parquet Courts or Parkay Quarts - whichever - has been steadily slowing down, in speed and quality, since their incendiary start with Light Up Gold. But what they manage on their first release under their slightly different name is the same greatness. Imagine Wowee Zowee-era Pavement plus Basement Tapes-era Bob Dylan. Ingenious insanity.
Best song:Content Nausea
No Fixed Address (2014)
The first 2 tracks absolutely slay. Then it's service as usual, except for the odd blip (Get 'Em Up, Sister Sin). You know what? It's a good album. This is incredibly solid pop-rock, with all the empty spaces filled, and suitable atmospherics deployed. Then there's moments of inspired blues and real gritty Southern rock, way too gnashed for Canada.
Best song:Million Miles An Hour
Maybe it's because Kele normally fronts such a dynamic band, but Trick is just dull. He has such a distinctive voice, yet it gets lost amongst the maze of sub-par, middle of the road beats. Boring. Even when he does awaken from his slumber (Humour Me, Closer), the result is just mildly pleasant. He's got more spunk than this.
Best song:Humour Me
The punk rock trailblazers are back! Expanding their infamous blend of punk and metal. Dive into Hang’s layered compositions, swarming riffs, blazing drums and bass lines to discover its dark beauty. This bold album is engagement built on true musicianship. Lagwagon prove they’re still flag bearers of the genre and manage to redefine its sound.
Best song:Obsolete Absolute
Cadillactica is what occurs when you allow a genius mind to run rampant through its own creative fields. Krit's confidence is inspiring, but at times it blurs his internal filter, and as a result we get an album that never holds on to a great idea long enough before jumping to the next. When he strikes the formula, the results are stunning.
Best song:Soul Food
Broke With Expensive Taste (2014)
The divisive New York rapper / singer finally drops her debut and immediately silences all the haters. It's a versatile affair: there's EDM, Latin, a weird Ariel Pink collab and hardly any conventional hip hop beats. And of course there's the still-fresh instant classic 212. Production is top notch, her energy is contageous and her tunes are memorable.
Best song:Heavy Metal And Reflective