Welcome back to the roundtable, in which Treble’s writers engage in a casual discussion on music, pop culture and our relation to both. Got a question for us? Feel free to send it over to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject “Roundtable topic.”
This week’s topic: Now that we’ve wrapped up our best of 2014 coverage with our Top 50 Albums of 2014, it’s time to highlight the albums we loved that missed the list: What was your favorite music of 2014 that missed our year-end lists?
Paul Pearson: Hurray for the Riff Raff’s Small Town Heroes actually got a reasonable amount of publicity and notice, given that it’s a trad-folk album and the band’s name has a clumsy mouthfeel. Alynda Lee Segarra must have understood my skepticism of folk revivalism (not distaste, just skepticism) because even though she swings through a bunch of folk styles her voice is very centered, very sure of what she wants to say. The album’s got a very plainly expressed viewpoint, almost journalistic. It’s got a lot of broken spirits on it and all of them sound like they’re telling the truth.
A.T. Bossenger: All in all, I’m satisfied with our year end lists. Between the big 50 and our genre lists, it’s been a pretty all-encompassing highlight of a great slate of new records. But, in such a banner-year for underground hip-hop, I can’t help but feel like Cities Aviv‘s Come To Life got swept under the rug. The Memphis-based punk-frontman-turned-rapper had already released two great mixtapes in recent years, but his commercial debut found him reaching a new peak, combining a glitch-heavy, psychedelic approach to production with Aviv’s smokey and soulful, spoken-word influenced vocal work. It’s an understated concept album with more than its fair share of triumphant, genre-bending moments. Fans of hip-hop and electronica alike should definitely check out this LP, and look out for more mind-bending efforts from Aviv in the future.
Adam Blyweiss: So I made a brief mention of this album in our electronica top 10, but I have to show a little more love to TVMALSV by Cocksure. If you remember or ever encountered the Wax Trax! industrial sound, and especially the warped moonshine party of the all-star crew known as Revolting Cocks, this album is a wormhole straight back to the days of their album Beers Steers & Queers. Chris Connelly returns to the foreground with manic manipulated raps, and matching his musicianship to Jason Nowak’s period-drama production and programming is derivative in the best possible way. There’s unchecked bang-on-a-can aggression in “Skeemy Gates” and “Silikon Suckaz,” and a fuzzy revision of Dillinger’s reggae classic “Cocaine in My Brain.” Jeez, even their first single “TKO Mindfuck” showed up on the revived Wax Trax! label in April, and has an assist from Front 242 alum Richard 23. Cocksure give us a set of sounds we haven’t heard in two decades and craved without realizing it. – AB
Jeff Terich: Noisy, super-intense industrial-ambient music tends to have a bit of a niche audience at best, but given that Swans made our top 10 this year, and Tim Hecker is a regular favorite around these parts, I’m a little bit disappointed that Ben Frost‘s A U R O R A missed our Top 50 this year. The Australian-born, Iceland-based producer offered up one of the most invigorating sets of music I’ve heard all year — all distorted shapes and volcanic drums, provided by the likes of Liturgy’s Greg Fox and Swans’ Thor Harris. In fact, I’m not sure it’s entirely proper to say that it’s an “ambient” album, when there’s so much momentum to it. I’m not sure you can dance to it, exactly, but you certainly can’t listen to it passively. It’s music that compels, whether out of joy or agitated itch, and for that reason it settled nicely in my personal top 10 of the year.
Giovanni Martinez: The one record I really loved that didn’t make our annual list was Mr Twin Sister‘s self-titled album. While one of their tracks (“In the House of Yes”) made the cut, that whole album is pretty great front and back. I’m pretty sure we’ll be hearing more from them soon. I’d like to mention that Ex Hex record, Rips, really fucking ripped and this week, D’Angelo finally came back with his grooves. Also, this might be the greatest track released this year.
You might also like: