Friday, December 4, 2015

2014-2015 Albums Countdown

12//21/15 5:03PM

I know this was posted in another entry, but per people not finding it there, I'll double post the video I made here.

12/4/15 11:56PM


I didn't do a full-on Twitter-length blurb for all of these, but I did for a lot and it was for the most part easier.

But, and there's a number of paragraphs to be written about this year and even recently, not only from a musical standpoint, but just from a personal standpoint for me. But as I do want to put this up as soon as I can, I may have to spill out something longer and more detailed soon, maybe even this weekend. Kind of a 2014-2015 Afterthoughts I suppose.

But for now, I'll just say, this was a long year, and a good year for new music. I had a shit ton of things to deal with, that all the music I took in wasn't quite what I would prefer. And part of that was of course time.

But a lot of comebacks that were good to very good. Long awaited really, and the fact they came out in general meant as much to me in many cases as the actual albums themselves.

More to add hopefully soon..

Some I didn't check out yet, or did in spots, but never fully got to hear:

Sir Video - Young as the Night [EP]
Nile - What Should Not Be Unearthed
Spock's Beard - The Oblivion Particle
Duran Duran - Paper Gods
Stateless - Sixfold Symmetry
Brian Wilson - No Pier Pressure
Tangled Thoughts of Leaving - Yield to Despair
Torres - Sprinter
Jim O'Rourke - Simple Songs
Hidden Hospitals - Surface Tension
Nightingale - Retribution
Ne Obliviscaris - Hiraeth
Ne Obliviscaris - Saraband of Nihil
Timmy Sean - Songs of the Week

The Clements Session EP cover art
The Barnum Meserve - The Clements Session [EP]
Kamasi Washington - The Epic
Sufjan Stevens - Carrie and Lowell
Demians - Mercury
Eidola - Degeneraterra
Vola - Inmazes
The Helio Sequence - The Helio Sequence
Battles - La Di Da Di
Godspeed You! Black Emperor - 'Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress
AM and Shawn Lee - Outlines
Steve Hackett - Wolflight
Josh Rouse - The Embers of Time
Lost Lander - Medallion
Beardfish - 4626 Comfortzone
Author - Of Brighter Days
TesseracT - Polaris
Susanne Sundf0r - Ten Love Songs
Dan Mangan and Blacksmiths - Club Meds
Between the Buried and Me - Coma Ecliptic
Thomas Giles - Modern Noise
Hardcore Crayons - Zozzled
The Basics - The Age of Entitlement
David Gilmour - Rattle That Lock
The Decemberists - What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World
The Bird and the Bee - Recreational Love
Daniel Johns - Talk
Sweet Billy Pilgrim - Motorcade Amnesiacs
Umphrey's McGee - The London Session
Pink Floyd - The Endless River
The Night Flight Orchestra - Skyline Whispers
Scale the Summit - V
Other Lives - Rituals
False - Untitled
The Winery Dogs - Hot Streak
Tuxedo - Tuxedo
Caravan of Thieves - Kiss Kiss
Public Service Broadcasting - The Race for Space
Ne Obliviscaris - Citadel
Riverside - Love, Fear and the Time Machine
Danny Cavanagh - Memory and Meaning
Dead Letter Circus - Aethesis
God is an Astronaut - Helios / Erebus
Hiatus Kaiyote - Choose Your Weapon
Coheed and Cambria - The Color Before the Sun
Muse - Drones
Metal Allegiance - Metal Allegiance
SOAK - Before We Forgot How to Dream
Dave Kerzner - New World
Warpaint - No Way Out / I'll Start Believing
Refused - Freedom
Falling Up - House Full of Caverns [EP]
Motopony - Welcome You
Iron Maiden - The Book of Souls
Faith No More - Sol Invictus
East of the Wall / Cryptodira - Split 7" [EP]
Madam Officer - Madam Officer [EP]
Signal-to-Noise - I Won't Let the World Become a Prison
Mercies - Blue Against Green
Ringo Sheena - Hiidzurutokoro

The Barnum Meserve cover art
The Barnum Meserve - The Barnum Meserve
Enjoyable debut album

Original Entry

The Velvet Teen - All is illusory
Great to see them release a new full-length after nearly a decade. It's like a mix of all their other records in one. Enjoy some of the textures and drum work especially.
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Thurisaz - The Pulse of Mourning

Enjoyable record, and maybe a little under-played at this point.  The chamber instrumentation and piano from memory adds something.

More from the Midseason Entry

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Punch Brothers - The Phosphorescent Blues

Another solid record from these guys with a couple of standout tracks.

More from the Midseason Entry

Tigran Hamasayan - Mockroot

Very impressive modern-sounding jazz-fusion record, which from looking at their history, adds to an impressive catalog. This guy should tour with Hiromi sometime. More from the Midseason Entry

Good Luck Have Fun is our fourth album. We recorded five new songs and an instrumental suite arranged from music we composed for a documentary about Starcraft and professional gaming. The album is out August 14, 2015. Listen to the album’s opening track via the link below. It’s called “Kid.”
Mother Falcon – Good Luck Have Fun

Another nice record from this Texas-based chamber rock/pop/folk band.  The 1st half I have enjoyed more each time I've listened to this album whereas the 7-part Starnation Suite on the 2nd side often seems greater than the sum of its parts.

A record I anticipate more out of in the future certainly, especially after I missed them live (after buying a ticket) per the death of my Grandmother the same week.

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Prose cover art
Words for Penga - Prose

Great new Minnesota progressive/post heavy rock/metal band. Like East of the Wall with Darren from System of a Down singing. Very impressive debut LP with a lot of potential down the road. The sax tones add something unique about them.

I always thought there's a connection between "This Was Icarus Drowning" and the last track "Drown."

Fjokra - The Mellowsound Sessions [EP]

Absolutely adore this, much like I revere Thoughtsteps from 2014. This is all acoustic or stripped down tracks, including a cover of a John Grant tune. "Koi" still remains my favorite and absolutely breathtaking, tear-jerking tune along with the nostalgic, melacholic video images with it of people racing on ice skates, etc.

Fjokra has become a huge favorite of mine the last 2 years, and this EP is part of that. I cannot wait to hear what he and his band do next, which seems to be likely coming in 2016.

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Steven Wilson - Hand. Cannot. Erase
Another quality record from Steven Wilson, this probably being the most overt and maybe moving concept record he's made (both solo and PT it seems). I guess I see it a little better than the sum of its parts, and even more moving live, with many of the videos. "Happy Returns" still gets me every time, and the title track still is too catchy to forget.

The Dreams of a Life  Joyce Carol Vincent story I think I may have been even more fascinated by

Original Entry

Nordic Giants - Rapture Ft. Beth Cannon cover art
Nordic Giants - A Seance of Dark Delusions

I enjoy a lot of this, like their previous 2 EPs. A somewhat unique blend of Post Rock with some different guest vocalists, using samples well. "Evolve or Parish" the one with the sample talking about needing to go into space may be my favorite.

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Quiet World cover art
Native Construct - Quiet World
This debut album from Berklee College of Music Students is quite impressive and somewhat unique for progressive metal, a genre that doesn't lack in new artists, but does in bands who emphasize songwriting as much as technicality.

"Mute" "Passage" and the closing multi-part piece "Chromatic Aberration" are among my favorites. Great use of synths and varied impassioned vocals/vocal harmonies.

I suppose in some ways these guys are doing music like Between the Buried and Me that is grabbing me more than BTBAM newest music itself.

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Archive - Restriction

Another engaging, moody, electronic and textured record from Archive.

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Miracles of Modern Science - Mean Dreams

Much like their last EP, many songs include those time/mood-shifting moments I look forward to.  The vocal harmonies standout especially.

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Hotel of the Laughing Tree - New World Sundown

The 2nd record from HOTLT, which is more song-oriented, but still rather engaging. More trumpet, catchy riffs and AJ Estrada's signature style of vocals. Favorites: "Brussels" "Aging Archimedes" and "Temple Arms."

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Video Review Entry

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The Pneumatic Transit - Concerto for Double Moon

The review I wrote linked below kind of tells more or less my take on this album. But in a  nutshell, it's a very well composed and produced modern sounding instrumental jazz-rock record, featuring use of Cello and saxophone among other non-traditional rock instruments.

As an early King Crimson and Mahavishnu Orchestra fan, this record really appeals to me.

Original Entry/Review

Gatherer - Heavy Hail

A different kind of record in a lot of ways, compared to their impressive debut So Be It from 2012, yet it still resembles their frantic, schizophrenic, in-your-face style. This record includes a lot of electronic textures that add atmosphere and density.

"High Fives" and "Sensational Creation" remain the catchiest or most memorable tracks, but overall, this record is another greater than the sum of its parts release. But I think it's a bit more moody than their last album.

Another enjoyable record from these guys, although one I probably could enjoy more with some time.

Original Entry

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Mew - + -

A 6 year gap since their last record, which overall I guess I find to be worth that wait, but I'll admit to being a bit of a fanboy.

"Rows" was initially and still is the biggest highlight on this album. After the show they played in Minneapolis in September I concluded it's 1 of their 5 best songs, at least on my list. The epic nature, different layers, textures and sad, emotional sections get me every time. Plus I love the percussion on it.

Other favorites being "Water Slides" "Satellites" "Clinging to a Bad Dream" and "Cross the River on Your Own."

Even having Kimbra guest appear added to the quality of this album.

But among their catalog? it's sort of in the middle. But another greater than the sum of its parts, and heavy on the dreamy moments, less heavy, rocking stuff save for "Witness" and "My Complications."

It was good to be a Mew fan in 2015. I just hope their next record comes sooner than another 6 years.

Original Entry

The Great Bazaar cover art
Subterranean Masquerade - The Great Bazaar

Mew had a 6 year gap, but that seemed short compared to the 10-11 year gap for this sort of sideproject that has become a little more in 2015.

This is more prog metal than their debut record, but still in a good way. There still is the blend of clean and growling vocals from Paul Kuhr, and still many moments that have me turning my head.

"Tour Diary" "Blanket of Longing" and "Early Morning Mantra" probably still remain my favorites, but this record also works best heard all-at-once.

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Video Review Entry

Sun & Moon cover art
Timbre - Sun and Moon

Epic and Ambitious record that Timbre spent nearly 5 years to make. A concept or story release that clocks in at 110 minutes being a double album.

"Night Girl: Nycteris Sees the Sun" still remains my favorite with the off-beat /playful interplayed section in the middle that goes all progressive rock that I'm a sucker for.

But I enjoy well over 3/4 of the music on this, and even the story, that its length and even the extended Choral vocals at points I have found add to its charm and sound/style.

Well worth all work and wait for Timbre, and I can say I'm happy to see a lot more interest in her music this year as a result. Namely per which I think this album is still in the Top 50 albums or so, which says something for such an underground and niche-style artist (despite the comparisons to Joanna Newsom).

Original Entry

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Everything Everything - Get to Heaven

It has become my favorite Everything Everything album. Excellent and consistent track-2-track. "To the Blade" still maybe is my favorite for its energy and riff, but I always love the energy on this album, especially the 1st 6 tracks.

A record that definitely has my mind taken to other parts at times like time travel or just being a misfit in some part of England or another country far from my home.

Improved vocals and vocal harmonies in a lot of ways too.

Original Entry

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The Dear Hunter - Act IV: Rebirth and Reprise

A comeback sort of, in the return to the Act Series. An epic record that resembles Act II, my favorite in many ways. "This Old Haunt" "King of Swords (Reversed)" are maybe my 2 favorites. But this is The Dear Hunter, most of their songs I enjoy for different reasons.

I have come to believe it deserves a lot of the praise it has received, although my fanboy bias and high standards for them probably prevents me from loving it more than some of their others.

But it also could be a grower years from now.

The Acts series are now getting through and I now picture Casey talking about all 6 acts and the whole story in the not so distant future from a musical and story standpoint.

'Waves" may be 1 of the most accessible tunes they've written i.e. for those uninitiated, it's not a bad place to start. "A Night on the Town" as well though. The callbacks, etc.

Also the influence of the work on the Symphony is clearly present on here, for the most part, in a good way. Even as methodical as it can cause it to seem at poiints.

Good long record.

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Foals - what Went Down

Consistently engaging and energetic record. It's odd how this album is probably become their most polarized as I know a lot of fans who found it boring and lacking what they love about Foals. But some like myself just find all the songs have moments to look forward to. Wall-of-sound guitar layers, dynamics, dreamy moments and melancholy points that all are worth looking forward to.

"Lonely Hunter" is the biggest track to me still as I get goose bumps every time I hear it. The line "It's a new day" I always think of it for.

Original Entry

Vennart - The Demon Joke
Wonderful return from Mike Vennart, after Oceansize's ending 5 years ago. "Doubt" remains my favorite track, but every song on this record is good and I never skip. "Operate" and "Infatuate" are 2 others I always love hearing.

I love the textures both on guitar and synths.

Closest thing to Oceansize since their breakup. Being that I love Oceansize, that is a really good thing. The sky only may be the limit for what Mike may do in the future, but for now, The Demon Joke is as impressive a a debut record I've ever heard.

Can't wait for British Theatre soon as well

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Kaddisfly - Horses Galloping on Sailboats
This turned out to be everything I would have hoped for, beyond my #1 hope of it just finally being made and released.

I did revisit it again and I've come to conclude while it has a ton of things that I love so much about their other records, namely Set Sail the Prairie of course.

I guess how this is different though is many of the songs have their great moments and twists and turns, that i look forward to, but also many include attached sections that segue into the next song. A little like what The Dear Hunter has done at times.

That being said, I do love it and maybe even love the fact it came out finally after 8+ years. And the whole concept continues to grow on me, and bringing thoughts and images to my head. The Vinyl hasn't been released yet, but hopefully it will. And hopefully the lyrics will be included in it, as I haven't disciplined myself to read them more thoroughly.

But until then, I guess I will hold this record still on a very high pedestal. It has a ton of magical moments, from the synths and vocal harmonies, to the dynamics. "The Painter" I chose to play on KFAI last month, and it still remains the song with maybe my favorite moments with the pretty yet sad, melancholy tones.

But as I explained in my Video review, every track has things I love and look forward to.

The only thing I haven't done I suppose is listen to Buy Our Intention, Set Sail the Prairie and this back-2-back-2-back as a trilogy. That certainly is something I plan to do in the near future. And hopefully not only it coming out on Vinyl but perhaps either some live shows or just some hope for more music from these guys is in their future someday.

Original Entry

Face Yourself, and Remove Your Sandals cover art
Small Leaks Sink Ships - Face Yourself, and Remove Your Sandals

This is a 5-star record. Post Rock of a kind with vocals. The dynamics and melancholy moments standout  especially. It's an album that tells a story or takes you on a bit of a journey.

The haunting/cinematic element to "Midnight Jin" and its crescendo, and the absolutely jaw-dropping almost entirely instrumental 9+ minute progrock piece "Building Blocks" are 2 of my favorite tracks from 2015, without question.

But even beyond those, this is one of those classic grower records, and one that came out of nowhere to win me over and never drop off.

"We All Die" "Orchis" "The Devil in the Desert" "Yellow Bird" "Iceberg"

and the closing epic "The Mind is Its Own Place" just get me every time. That epic closing track I get this amazing uplifting feeling every-time towards the end. It's quite inspiring.

I also will likely always associate this album with mornings at work as I tended to put it on frequently in the morning at work, and it was during the Winter, so I guess the cold weather and the barren, sort of dreamy mystical dark-out atmosphere I used to get, getting to work while it was still dark out and it giving me an escape. And the fact I found a total diamond in the rough, a buried gem, etc as this album did totally come to win me over unexpectedly. I checked it out on a whim after knowing this band from many years ago.

It's those experiences that are often my favorites with great albums, and they don't seem to happen incredibly often, especially recently. Maybe once a year, or even once every couple of years.

We'll see if it happens again and what these guys do in the future as I know they are working on a new album already. And of course I'd love to pickup this record on Vinyl which may happen as it was the goal of the band initially, but for time and cost reasons, they obviously weren't able to do it yet. But hopefully in due time.

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Chris Isaak - First Comes the Night
Mutemath – Vitals
SikTh - Opacities [EP] (December)
David Bowie - Blackstar (1/8/16)
Brooke Waggoner - Sweven (1/15/16)
Steven Wilson - 4 1/2 (1/22/16)
The Besnard Lakes - A Coliseum Complex Museum (1/22/16)
Obscura - Arkoasis (2/5/16)
Hands of Despair - Bereft (2/15/16)
Cloud Cult - The Seeker (February)
Vektor - Terminal Redux
Dream Theater - The Astonishing
Radical Face - The Family Tree III: Leaves
Klimt 1918 – Die Sentimentale Jugend
dredg - Catch Without Arms (Vinyl) (4/22/16)

22 - You Are Creating
Abnormal Thought Patterns - Altered States of Consciousness
The Barnum Meserve - LP #2
British Theatre ("Numan" a working song or album title)
The Faceless
The Family Crest
Falling Up
Fates Warning
Happy Body, Slow Brain
The Mercury Tree
Pain of Salvation
Painted in Exile
Pepe Deluxe
Ramona Falls
The Reign of Kindo
Tiny Giant
Diablo Swing Orchestra
Dream the Electric Sleep
Kaddisfly - Horses Galloping on Sailboats (Vinyl)
Small Leaks Sink Ships - Face Yourself and Remove Your Sandals (Vinyl)