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Old 12-14-2014, 07:51 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Anteater's 30 (ish) Favorite Albums Of 2014

To differentiate this a bit from last year's approach, I'll be doing little snapshots of the first twenty and then more in-depth looks at the top ten.


30. Ought - More Than Any Other Day

Put On A Playlist With: Nomeansno, Magazine, Cardiacs

Canada's latest heatseekers in the post-punk world pulled out all the stops on this one: familiar elements abound, but there's enough cool ideas and attitude to bring the best out of this punchy, bass-heavy production. You won't find me rioting anytime soon, but this would be an ideal soundtrack to that.


29. Teramaze - Esoteric Symbolism

Put On A Playlist With: Karnivool, Coheed & Cambria, Anubis Gate

Ah progressive metal, one of those genres so dear to my heart. Few modern acts tick as many of the "right" boxes as these Australians though. Esoteric Symbolism is a melodic metal shot of adrenaline straight to the heart of a jaded genre, complete with a grasp on hooks and songwriting that would make the best pop acts envious.



28. Pat Metheny Unity Group - Kin (<-->)

Put On A Playlist With: ...other Pat Metheny albums of course!

Metheny has always possessed a supreme grasp on mood and space as both songwriter and living guitar messiah, but this time he spices up the proceedings a bit with horns, sax and more typical jazz instrumentation on the back end instead of the World-music flavored synths he'd typically bring in on his old Group's projects. This would be a top-notch fusion album any year of course, but for 2014 its a no-brainer for inclusion.


27. Fallujah - The Flesh Prevails

Put On A Playlist With: Allegaeon, old school shoegaze

Death metal with an unusually sonorous, spacious post-rock production framing its harsher edges and pulling the material inside to a higher place. Lots of great albums this year in extreme metal, but nothing that sounds quite like this.


26. Marcus D - Simply Complex


Put On A Playlist With: CunninLynguists, Nujabes

Typically above average as far as the guest spots and flow goes, but what separates Marcus D from all the other producers working out there today is his subtle but always classy intuition when it comes to samples. He's got a flair for the grand and orchestral, and it elevates the music here considerably.
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My Top 30 Albums of 2018
Quote:
Originally Posted by Frownland
You can't blame the Jews for everything...just most things.
Quote:
Originally Posted by OccultHawk
Trump might be the best thing since free jazz.

Last edited by Anteater; 12-16-2014 at 09:40 PM.
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Old 12-14-2014, 09:47 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Anteater, I've always highly respected your musical tastes, and I've hardly followed music at all this year. Needless to say, I'm excited.
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Old 12-14-2014, 10:41 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I will be following this.
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Old 12-16-2014, 09:03 AM   #4 (permalink)
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YES! I've been waiting for this all year! xx
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Old 12-16-2014, 10:30 PM   #5 (permalink)
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25. He Is Legend - Heavy Fruit

Put On A Playlist With: Mastodon, Baroness

The weird Southern deep-fried cousin of those modern sludge met00l bands you've probably dabbled in. In this case though, being a little off the beaten path is a huge plus: this album is a couple notches above Mastodon's latest opus in terms of creativity, and you won't find a catchier song than 'Be Easy' anytime soon either. Extra kudos all around too for the hallucinogenic quality that hangs over Heavy Fruit like a glorious fog bank from out of the glades.


24. Ole B°rud - Stepping Up

Put On A Playlist With: Stevie Wonder, Steely Dan, Justin Timberlake circa 20/20 Experience

One of the best kept secrets in modern music, Ole B°rud is better known as the lead guitarist and a key songwriter in progressive death metal band Extol. On his own time though, he's a top class singer/songwriter on par with the aforementioned Stevie Wonder tonally with a music style sitting somewhere between classic early 80's Westcoast AOR and the smoother side of contemporary R&B. This third album is a minor masterpiece, and one that could have been in my top 10 without too much trouble.



23. Sturgill Simpson - Metamodern Sounds In Country Music

Put On A Playlist With: Waylon Jennings, early Brooks & Dunn, 70's psychedelia

A great present to send to your hipster friends who think they're too good for Country: its trippy, interesting and never overstays its welcome on any one song. Some people have made the case that Sturgill is the best guy in the genre today, trying to progress the "Nashville sound" forward one record at a time. Based on this particular outing...they just might be right on the money.


22. Pallbearer - Foundations Of Burden

Put On A Playlist With: Candlemass, Intronaut, Secrets Of The Sky

These guys are (arguably) the face of modern doom metal, and in the case of this album that status is indubitably deserved. People slobbered all over 2012's Sorrow And Extinction, but Foundations Of Burden exceeds it in ways both subtle and significant. The hooks are bigger and more confident, the overall pacing is better, and the production has just enough space to let the whole thing snarl and sigh in all the right places.


21. Paul Hardcastle - Jazzmasters VII


Put On A Playlist With: The better stuff you've heard on The Weather Channel

The U.K. based Paul Hardcastle is one of those go-getters who started off as a pioneer of sorts with synth technology in 80's EDM but later got a little too comfortable in his own skin once he established a "signature" sound in the early 90's.

That being said, nobody quite sounds like him in the smooth jazz world even now: he incorporates a wider range of instruments (like flute) and other textures, and isn't afraid of doing longer songs or more ambient material either. I'll close out of this by saying you'll either dig the night driving smooveness of Jazzmasters VII or feel complete indifference toward it. I just happen to lean toward the former.
__________________
My Top 30 Albums of 2018
Quote:
Originally Posted by Frownland
You can't blame the Jews for everything...just most things.
Quote:
Originally Posted by OccultHawk
Trump might be the best thing since free jazz.

Last edited by Anteater; 12-16-2014 at 10:41 PM.
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Old 12-19-2014, 07:52 PM   #6 (permalink)
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20. Fish On Friday - Godspeed

Put On A Playlist With: The Alan Parsons Project

Now here's something pretty swell: some modern mellow art-rock in the vein of early 80's Alan Parsons Project or perhaps a less obtuse Pink Floyd. Nice vocals, solid production with a dash of contemporary synths, lots of cool details if your paying attention too. I suppose there must be something pretty snazzy in the water over in the Netherlands, because these guys are incredibly engaging on Godspeed's best moments.


19. Nightbringer - Ego Dominus Tuus

Put On A Playlist With: Emperor, mid 90's Ulver, early Opeth or perhaps Enslaved

I think there's some sort of unconscious mutual prejudice amongst many metalheads that American black metal will never touch anything done in greater Europe from the early 90's through the early 00's, but I think Nightbringer are a shining example of why that train of thought is incorrect. A rather punchy yet cavernous production job and a few progressive touches here and there on the arrangements are a few things you'll notice immediately, but the whole album is a helluva trip: highly recommended.



18. Dirty Loops - Loopified

Put On A Playlist With: Stevie Wonder, Lady Gaga, Dimension, The Reign Of Kindo, School Food Punishment, early Backstreet Boys, 70's jazz-fusion

In contemporary pop music's darkest hour, an era where musicianship and interesting ideas are shoved off the radio in favor of endless replays of whatever Taylor Swift or her contemporaries are peddling...one trio of young Swedish dudes have stepped up to bat with a combination of killer pop hooks and jazzy instrumental chops so sharp they'll take your head clean off. They are Dirty Loops...and they are here to stay. Amen!


17. Kayo Dot - Coffins On IO

Put On A Playlist With: Scott Walker, Swans, Depeche Mode, The Cure

Toby Driver's latest reconstruction of the Kayo Dot universe is equal parts witching hour jazz and John Carpenter-esque synthesized nightmare fuel that constantly sounds like its on the verge of unraveling into pure and utter chaos. In other words, top shelf avant-garde entertainment and the best material I've heard from him since the maudlin of the Well days.


16. Casualties Of Cool - Casualties Of Cool


Put On A Playlist With: early Fleetwood Mac, Johnny Cash, Comus, Honeychurch...and a lot of other vastly disparate acts across multiple genres.

Can Devin Townsend do no wrong? I've been convinced for a few years now that he's a living, breathing example of what it means to be at the top of your craft...perhaps above all others. Like the infamous Frank Zappa, "Heavy Devy" has a seemingly endless amount of creativity, dedication and drive to bring incredible music to life both in and out of his typically zany and catchy-as-fuck approach to metal. In the case of Casualties Of Cool, you can add 70's West Coast rock n' roll, experimental jazz and old school outlaw Country to his list of conquered frontiers. Absolutely phenomenal album experience, right up there along with my top 10 this year...
__________________
My Top 30 Albums of 2018
Quote:
Originally Posted by Frownland
You can't blame the Jews for everything...just most things.
Quote:
Originally Posted by OccultHawk
Trump might be the best thing since free jazz.

Last edited by Anteater; 12-19-2014 at 08:10 PM.
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Old 12-19-2014, 07:56 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Wow. I've heard only #23 and #30. I suck.
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Old 12-20-2014, 03:14 AM   #8 (permalink)
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LOL at the Paul Hardcastle, it took me right back to Sunday mornings "Jazz brunch" my mom used to listen to on the radio. Simply great.

I'm freaking out because these get better and better. After Casualties of Cool at number 16 I can't imagine what numbers 1-15 are! So psyched. Thanks Ant! <3
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Old 12-20-2014, 10:32 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Happy to see Casualties of Cool on this list.
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Old 12-21-2014, 03:22 PM   #10 (permalink)
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mordwyr: Don't feel bad amigo. For what its worth, I often haven't heard half of everyones' lists either.

misspoptart: Your mom knows her smooth music! And of course, thanks for sticking around. You'll get a kick out of the rest!

Ki: As am I. And honestly, it could have been #1 this year under normal circumstances. But things just don't always pan out as you plan, and there were plenty of competitors.


15. Nate Williams - Got To Let Go

Put On A Playlist With: early D'Angelo, Usher, Leon Ware

I touched upon this soulful Welshman in my yacht rock journal not too long ago, but the whole album actually ended up having a lot more staying power than I expected. While the songwriting of course is great, Williams' particular sonic palette is a quilted pattern of the chillest elements in modern R&B and early 80's L.A. synth pop that immediately elevates him above most of the better known players on the board right now.


14. Freddie Gibbs & The Worlds Freshest - The Tonite Show (EP)

Put On A Playlist With: Pinata by Madlib & Freddie Gibbs, the smoother side of gangsta rap

The best half hour of hip-hop you'll spend this year. The critics will tell you that Freddie's collaboration with Madlib is the only top shelf drink you'll need (and it IS good), but I liken this to being a great cheap frozen margarita mix as opposed to the straight up patrˇn tequila of Pi˝ata: the former is a lot more fun at parties, and your posse will be surprised at how good it is once they've had a taste.



13. Rick Miller - Heart Of Darkness

Put On A Playlist With: The Moody Blues, David Gilmour, Peter Gabriel, Steve Hackett, Nick Cave

Rick Miller is one of the more interesting independent one-man shows in the 70's inspired prog-rock world, a man full of dark morbid tales to tell and a particular aesthetic he wants to canvas them in. In the case of Heart Of Darkness, that aesthetic is somewhere between classic Moody Blues / King Crimson and the multiculturally minded realms of early Peter Gabriel or any number of early Darkwave bands who signed to 4AD throughout the 80's. 'Haunting' isn't a word I apply too much to music I listen to, but ol' Rick here certainly fits that description to a fair degree. Brilliant stuff when the mood is right!


12. Veni Domine - Light

Put On A Playlist With: Your favorite classic doom metal, Kamelot, Fields Of The Nephilim, Queensr che

I've always described these guys as Saint Vitus meets Queensr che circa Operation: Mindcrime, and that comparison still holds true to a degree with their latest Light. Absolutely top notch symphonic doom-laden heavy metal, and I find it fascinating that they've been putting out such great music since 1991 despite their obscurity.


11. Devin Townsend - Z2


Put On A Playlist With: Strapping Young Lad, other Townsend albums, The Omega Experiment, Ramage Inc.

We're back to Townsend again...but again, who else is capable of releasing three perfect albums in the space of one year? Z2 is two records in one, a melodic metal masterpiece called Sky Blue and his conceptually driven sequel to 2007's Ziltoid The Omniscient known as Dark Matters. The latter is a lot of fun, but Sky Blue may be modern music's equivalent to Def Leppard's Hysteria: you get so caught up in the hooks and production that you can forgive Townsend for not taking a huge creative leap from 2012's Epicloud. He's the best at what he does and he damn well knows it by now: we're all just along for the ride at this point.
__________________
My Top 30 Albums of 2018
Quote:
Originally Posted by Frownland
You can't blame the Jews for everything...just most things.
Quote:
Originally Posted by OccultHawk
Trump might be the best thing since free jazz.

Last edited by Anteater; 12-21-2014 at 04:10 PM.
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