released in February 2014 via Republic Records
With out any regrets I can say that New York trip-hop duo Phantogram takes the crown for making my number one album of 2014. Voices was one of the earliest releases of the year, so I was worried that it might drift slowly down the list. Not a chance in slightest. Especially after seeing them live at a huge festival, and then up close and personal at a venue in my own town.
Took this photo-set over the summer at The Beachem in Orlando, FL
All the emotion and intensity, that so far only seemed possible through the outstanding production Phantogram is known for, is raised tenfold when in a live setting. They are one of those bands that most likely would not be happy unless your glass ceiling of exceptions were shattered. So in a dazzle of synchronized lights, and a mess of metaphorical glass, my perception of how genuine a band that I had adored for years could truly be was obliterated. Phantogram have grown so much internally, and externally, in the past couple years that it was nice to have that sort of reassurance.
Voices itself is quite an accomplishment for Sarah and Josh. 40 minutes of non-stop indie inspired electro beats that can fluctuate anywhere between a downtempo ballad, to a high energy synth shoegaze experience. I wish that half of the album was not recycled from an EP they released last year, but beggars can’t be choosers. So even if I still love their 2010 debut more I wouldn’t be able to forgive myself if I did not recognize 2014 as Phantogram’s most successful year to date. I’m more than happy to see that they have been getting the recognition that they have always deserved. With so much support and expectation it’s hard to explain how excited I am for what’s coming next.
Farewell 2014, and hello to all the marvelous opportunities that 2015 will bring to all the talented artists in this world!
Howling At The Moon
Black Out Days
Fall In Love
The Day You Died
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/Phantogram
released in February 2014 via Island Records (UK)/Vagrant Records (US)
Here’s where predisposition starts entering the mix of things. Since their 2007 debut, Bombay Bicycle Club has solidified itself as my favorite band in all of existence. So for them to have a nice and safe spot in my top 3 is hopefully not too surprising. Heck, even if I got over my personal bias this album would still probably be in my top 10! Listening to So Long, See You Tomorrow was like falling in love with the band all over again. Their latest album is a rich and symphonic experience that tantalizes the senses into a frenzy that leaves behind little room for disappointment.
My favorite English indie rockers have shown to the world once again the insane amount of growth that can achieved in one album’s time. Doing so this time by showing off how the many of different cultures of the world that have made such a profound impact on them. Bombay Bicycle Club definitely understand the importance of learning about a culture if your going to appropriate its distinct sound. They are not shy at all for accrediting their new direction to the beautiful countries they have spent the last couple years traveling and learning so much about.
A simple test to see if So Long, See You Tomorrow is the kind of vibe you can get down to is by giving the exhilarating track Feel a go. You’re either with Bombay Bicycle Club or… oh well I guess it’s your loss!
It's Alright Now
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/bombaybicycleclub
Spotify: Bombay Bicycle Club
released in August 2014 via Loma Vista Recordings
Veteran indie rockers Spoon have managed to stay relevant for over two decades, and it’s a trend that certainly shows no sign of stopping. Their eighth and latest album, They Want My Soul, is the equivalent of getting hit by a truck and having all that you hold dear flash before your eyes. You may think I’m being hyperbolic, but Spoon decided to show up with a colossal sound that will smack you right through memories of days previously forgotten.
Every single track taken from They Want My Soul could be commemorated as sheer brilliance. These gents have had years to hone their talents and craft so it should come as no surprise just how damn good this album truly is. What does come as a surprise is the gentle pat on the back from listeners. As if to say, “Aww, that’s nice Spoon. Here’s a gold star. We know your amazing, but we’ve all but moved on already.” It’s disappointing to see a lack of sincere acknowledgement, but it should not matter as long as Spoon just keeps on doing whatever the hell magical thing they consistently do.
I’d wait another ten years to hear an album by Spoon, if it means it as structured and wholesome as They Want My Soul.
I Just Don't Understand
Knock Knock Knock
New York Kiss
Let Me Be Mine
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/spoontheband
released in September 2014 via Harvest Records
No other female vocalist this year dug under my skin as deep as Banks. I’m sure I’m at odds with many, but I’ll stand by my choice to side with her sharp and piercing wit. I don’t think I could ever explain to anyone why Banks cuts into my soul so clean, nor should I ever have to. I’ve been waiting very patiently for the release of Goddess since I first heard the downtempo Warm Water (Snakehips Remix), and I must say her voice stuck out like vein of gold in the up and coming music landscape. After showing so much potential with a handful of other singles, there is little disappointment to be had in the way her debut came out. If dark and brooding electro beats with the voice of a goddess singing along appeal to you, then why not give Banks a try? Well, sometimes you come across a super somber piano track, but all the better right?
Banks certainly does not hold anything back on Goddess as she rips into the many people that have attempted to screw her over in the past. It’s strange how much you want to root for this girl to find a way out of it all, as she is obviously lost in a dark place. Somehow, though, I doubt she’ll be trapped much longer, because she has unknowingly exposed to us just how strong she really can be. I sincerely believe that triumph is coming for Banks and 2015 will most likely be the determining factor in that.
This Is What It Feels Like
Beggin For Thread
Under The Table
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/hernameisbanks
released in August 2014 via Warner Bros. Records
The Golden Echo is both majestic and enamoring in the way it leaves behind an insatiable thirst for more. New Zealand’s very own Kimbra has truly outdone herself on her latest release with the ability to keep her unique brand of experimental pop so palatable. She’s miles ahead of her fellow intellectual alt-poptress and the proof is in the incredible range of genre warping going on here. The debate about the coming mono-genre rages on, and all the while Kimbra has created a saturated cocktail that combines more genres then I actually knew existed.
Here is where things start to get a little strange. As it turns out, The Golden Echo is an experimental concoction that goes down smoother than I could have ever possibly expected. I never knew I could fall for an album that had so much going on in areas music that I simply have no foundation. I can understand how at first everything it may seem too overwhelming to handle, but like a good movie, as you watch it time and time again, you begin to pick up on the clever artistic choices made that add to the overall appeal. Clocking in at over an hour, with its shortest track being closer to 4 minutes, The Golden Echo is very much like watching a cinematic experience, and I strongly recommend setting aside the time to give it shot.
Kimbra has created more than a few engrossing songs that I will surly keep on sharing and playing for decades to come.
Love In High Places
Nobody But You
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/kimbramusic