Seen It All: The Autobiography (2014)
Jeezy still manages to make selling cocaine sound interesting. He claims to be the realest rapper in this (sorry Iggy), and whilst I doubt he gets his fingers snowy too often now, his brags ring true. This record is street. It's both a cautionary tale and a celebration of hard work equalling success. A few high profile features never hurt either.
Best song:Seen It All (Feat. Jay Z)
The Magic Numbers
Time seems to have passed these guys by. Alias is in no way a disappointment, but it meanders with few highlights and plenty of skips. Theirs is a sound mired in 2008, and whilst the vocal harmonies are smooth and there is certified chill factor, there's nothing to render this a memorable listen, especially amongst more dynamic peers.
Best song:Out On The Streets
Never Hungover Again (2014)
This is wonderful. Non-bearded emo from California. A handshake between Weezer, The Smiths and Against Me! As tough as the band-aid on their glasses, as real as their heart tattoo. Sounding both restless and of age, Joyce Manor fully embrace and at the same time transcend the pop punk genre with a charming stomp, a croon and a bag of great songs.
Best song:Falling In Love Again
10 Summers (2014)
Want to hear the same song repeated 10 times? 10 Summers is for you. He may have championed ratchet music, but his palate has known no further refinement. In the era of DJ's releasing full length albums, his guests are on par, and their verses break even, but nothing stands out. He paid his money, they turned up, done. All a bit dull.
Best song:Face Down (Feat. Lil Wayne, Big Sean, YG, Lil Boosie)
Crush Songs (2014)
Karen O is a genius. She pulls us into her intimate emotion with these lovely lo-fi jaunts, while reminding us that emotional projection in music goes both ways - everyone's feeling it - and music like that is charming. Charming is a very sought-after quality, and with Karen's experience in her other ventures, she's nailed this.
I'm Not Bossy, I'm The Boss (2014)
The title may be a cosign to Bruce Springsteen. Heavily influenced by 60s blues and guitar based story-telling, this new LP finds O'Connor yet again vulnerable and in the throes of teenage love and lust. Her sentiments wouldn't be out of place on a Valentines Day compilation, and claims of being the boss become sadly redundant.
Best song:8 Good Reasons
The New Pornographers
Brill Bruisers (2014)
This super group has always been more than the sum of its awesome parts. Once again, they throw around huge melodies like it's nothing. With three songwriters / vocalists, it's a versatile affair, yet it all fits together. An indefinable charm makes you long for this record again and again. The New Pornographers are still the definition of power pop.
Best song:War On The East Coast
Across EP (2014)
Fusing deep, downtempo electronics with calm 80s R&B, Kilo Kish pushes an Erykah Badu type brand of music. Utterly decked out in chill, she shows both dexterity (Curious) and smoked-out melancholy (Wax) to weave a defiant narrative based around the two big ones: life and love. There's some indulgent rabbit holes to follow her down.
Green Language (2014)
Rustie has been a trusty provider of dancefloor bangers for years, but on his latest record they're few and far between. It's like listening to a collection of intros and intermezzos scattered around five actual songs. There's some loud and chaotic trap beats, and Danny Brown actually manages to rap over one of 'em, but it's not enough for an entire album.
Best song:Attak (feat. Danny Brown)
Directors of Photography (2014)
Searching for 'real' hip hop? Look no further. Reprising their role as underground darlings, the Peoples push uncomplicated production on you with serious intent, each track creating an ambience of positive thinking tinged with the hard truths they face in daily life. It's a refreshing take on modern hip hop, even if it does borrow 90s nostalgia.
Best song:The Dark Room
Royal Blood (2014)
A bit of everything. An insult and a compliment in Royal Blood’s case. Sure, these guys can play, and yeah they rock. But do they Rock? Lacking the brazenness and intensity of other combos like Japandroids, Death From Above 1979 and The White Stripes, Royal blood comes out a bit too clean. It’s good, but not exciting. More royal than blood.
Best song:Out Of The Black
Blacc Hollywood (2014)
What happened to Trap Wiz?! Blacc Hollywood finds him in such an apathetic mode it makes a mockery of his adopted persona. Occasionally he jogs his mind, such as on KK, but too often he is content to allow the beat to do the work, merely coasting. Maybe it is his stoner mindset, but he can truly spit, and that is blatantly absent.