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#NewMusicFridays – Autumn Kick-off Edition


Musicheads,

Let me reiterate how much I dislike the release date of new music to Fridays.  Not only are Fridays jam-packed with the kickoff of the weekend and other events that may disrupt or make one unable to purchase new music physically, but the weekend in general is usually just as busy and therefore hinders writing in a timely manner that I would like to relatively stick to.  Well, rant now over, it was another big week in terms of releases.  What better of a way can one kick off the beginning of Autumn than with lots of good new music worth your ears’ attention?  Among the groups releasing music this week we have Kurt Vile, Silversun Pickups, Disclosure, Arcade Fire, Jr. Jr. (formerly Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.), The Dead Weather and my favorite from the week, CHVRCHES.

While all these artists released new music, I only purchased a few, with intent to listen to all at a later date.  That being said though, I was incredibly excited for the sophomore effort from Scottish trio CHVRCHES, with Every Open Eye.

After the album was hosted on NPR the entire week prior to the album’s release for listening (which I listened to a handful of times), the band paired their album release with a live broadcast performance at Rough Trade in NYC which streamed on Sirius XM and was rebroadcast all weekend.  Then performance was a mix of tracks from the new album and the group’s début release with excellent banter in between.  If  you get a chance, I’d strongly urge you to try to find it.  Anyway, all that aside, the new album is a relentlessly upbeat, bouncy album.  Kicking off with Never Ending Circles, the album starts on a high note and never sways from that spot.

Lauren Mayberry’s unique voice rises above the electronic trills and beats created by Iain Cook and Martin Doherty on synthesizer and sampler.  The next four tracks are all single worthy tracks as well.  The second track on the album is the lead single Leave A Trace and although it is no The Mother We Share, it has a lot of kick.

Then we’ve got Keep You On My Side, Make Them Gold and Clearest Blue which all were performed during the live show in Brooklyn.  This is followed by a track titled High Enough To Carry You Over where Lauren takes a vocal reprieve and Iain takes the vocal reins.  After that slight rest, the album gets right back into it with the bouncy and very 80’s bubblegum pop beat of Empty Threat.  After a more somber track in Down Side Of Me, Lauren and company kick it back into high gear for the final set of tracks.  Playing Dead is a confident vocal track with a lot of heart-felt throughout the recording, even with the sampler usage.  Bury It relies on a heavy synth beat that gets you moving and dancing and would have just as easily fit on the first album.  We then come to the closing track on the 11-song 42 minute album, Afterglow.  This final track is just the right pace and energy for a closing track.  The album had been high energy and fast-paced throughout and this track slows it down with a more ethereal feel to it before finally drifting away to its close.

The album breathes synthpop success over and over.  The album is all aspirational and inspirational and the group doesn’t miss a beat throughout its entirety.  I have already placed the album in my car with heavy rotation online as well.  This album will no doubt make top 10 lists for 2015.

 

After an album like that, where does one go?  To The Dead Weather, that’s where!  The band’s third album Dodge and Burn is an interesting one and a distinct change of pace after listening to CHVRCHES.

The album kicks off with the lead single I Feel Love (Every Million Miles) and immediately you can feel the energy.  The track has a heavy blues rock feel to it along with a less than crystal clear production feel to it.  This lack of crispness in the recording may have been intentional to give it a distinct edge apart from most of today’s releases which are often over produced into perfect sound (which can never be recreated live, mind you).

The rest of the album maintains the intensity found in the lead single.  Whether you are listening to Let Me Through with its raucous guitar solo or the odd track Three Dollar Hat which is sung by Jack White and feels like an odd blend of 90’s Beck, Grunge and Hip-hop.  Allison Mosshart’s (of The Kills) vocals throughout most of the album are raw and full of feeling.  You can tell Jack White had a major influence on the writing as his similar musical progressions and instrument sounds  are prevalent which have been heard over and over in his other projects.  Despite the previous comment, I did thoroughly enjoy the rambunctious track Open Up.  I will let you discover the rest of this rock album for yourself.

 

Lastly, in terms of acquisitions today we have Silversun Pickups latest album, Better Nature.

This album kicks off with its title track, Cradle (Better Nature) and immediately one can notice that the group has maintained its familiar sound and feel, choosing to stay in its comfort zone rather than venture into uncharted territory.  The album is championed by two tracks in particular, which arrive back-to-back in the middle of the album, Nightlight and Circadian Rhythm (Last Dance).  Both of these tracks follow previously used patterns of the band’s other singles, so it is easy to single them out, quite literally.

Outside of these tracks however, the band is pretty much on a familiar musical path.  I do want to draw particular attention to the track Friendly Fires which did stand out to me in particular.  I am not sure if it is because of the track’s pace or the fact that it is reminiscent of other artists (in particular Cold War Kids and The Smashing Pumpkins), but I was oddly enthralled by this track.  Another catchy track was that of Tapedeck with its original xylophone resembling rhythm.

If you enjoy the Silversun Pickups previous albums, I can’t see why you would not like this album.  I am just disappointed they didn’t try to diversify their discography with something a bit different.

 


When it comes to singles, this week was a bit sparse in the new music department.  I only have three tracks for you, and one isn’t even new, it just got a music video.  This track is  from Jamie xx’s 2015 album In Colour and one of my favorite tracks from the album, I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times) feat. Young Thug and Popcaan

The other track that did release this week was a new track from Sam Smith, Writing’s On The Wall, who also shared with the world that this would be the latest James Bond theme song and posted it on Spotify.

Lastly, we have a new track shared by Sia, who had originally written the song to be performed by Adele, but instead she kept it for herself.  You can listen to that below.


And now, as always, here was everything acquired on this New Release Tuesday:

and be sure to follow on Facebook and on Twitter @AudiofileAkwitz to get even more music updates that don’t make the posts.

Spotify Playlists:

-Akwitz

Now Playing: SiaAlive

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The Audiophile’s Top 10 Albums of 2014


Musicheads,

The votes have been counted and now before we really get the new year started let’s take one final look back at the best music of 2014.

This year’s music class was a challenging one to categorize and rank considering the fact that it was an overall down year in music.  Don’t get me wrong, there was still quality music to be had and released in 2014, but in comparison to 2013, 2014 fell far short when it came to the previous year’s volume and quality of new music.  That being said, there was good music released in 2014, and yet no album truly stood out as an outright favorite; not even a steady top 3 among Best Of… lists.  That was also obvious among the voters in this year’s poll who couldn’t decide on an out-and-out winner.  There was no clear victor among the voters, with an even amount of voting for multiple albums and so I will refrain in crowning a Voter’s Choice Champion this year considering that outcome.

This year’s list offered a lot of musical diversity to choose from, whether it was in the shape of Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings or St. Paul & The Broken Bones with their soulful, sometimes gospel revues, to Porter Robinson with his dominant EDM album this year, to Thievery Corporation with their bossa nova album.  There were also some very strong indie pop contenders in Wild CubSleeper Agent, CLAIRE and NONONO.  Once again, Australia offered a fine plate of new music and artists with SiaCourtney BarnettVance JoyChet Faker and The Preatures.  Quality dance music was also a popular theme in this year’s list: KieszaJungle, Clean Bandit, RAC and Caribou all offered significant contributions to this area.  Diversity was key to this year’s new albums.  Acts like Tune-YardsSylvan Esso, Glass Animals, Future Islands and FKA Twigs all had breakout years and couldn’t sound any more different from each other.  Then there was the resplendent return of many artists: Beck, Damien Rice, the Foo Fighters and Pink Floyd’s final studio album ever.

 Now, without further ado, The Audiophile’s Top 10 albums of 2014:

#1 – Vance Joy – Dream Your Life Away – This album, highlighted by the massive singles Riptide and Mess Is Mine, is a fantastic conglomeration of tracks that has both an overarching theme, but also delivers over and over with track gems.  This Aussie exploded in 2014 and for good reason, with music that was quickly catchy and yet did not get old fast either.  His voice and music is a clever mix of Phillip Phillips, Bon Iver and Mumford & Sons and with those comparisons and the songwriting shown on his début album, it’s no question why he broke out the way he did and topped our list in 2014.

#2 –  Sylvan Esso – Sylvan Esso A very close second in my book.  The massive down tempo single Coffee is offset by the high energy singles Hey Mami and Play It Right (which is my favorite track on the album).  This North Carolina duo truly had one breakout year in 2014.

#3 – Hozier – Hozier With the smash dark hit Take Me to Church which is a heavy contender for Song of The Year which completely overshadowed a superb album behind it, there’s no question why this young Irish muse made the Top 3.  His mix of Gospel, Blues and Folk throughout the album provides a fantastic sampling of his potential and his vocal talent.  Angel of Small Death and the Codeine Scene is definitely the second single and is probably my favorite for the album.

#4 – HAERTS – HAERTS Having toured most of the year with bands that broke out big in 2013, this group rode a strong EP through most of the year before putting out their self-titled full-length in late 2014.  WingsHemiplegia and Giving Up are just three of many tracks on this terrific indie-pop album.

#5 – Glass Animals – ZABA – What a breakout year by this British band.  Having been labeled by one writer as “the poor man’s Alt-J,” the first signing to Paul Epworth’s Wolf Tone label was a good one and absolutely slayed the music charts with tracks like GooeyPools and Black Mambo.

#6 – The War On Drugs – Lost In The Dream What a breakout year for this Kurt Vile-fronted Philadelphia band.  Both singles  Red Eyes and Under The Pressure are fantastic pieces of songwriting and the group’s sound as a whole can garner comparisons to Paul Simon.  This album was a top contender in many Best Of… lists for 2014 and for good reason.

#7 – The New Pornographers – Brill Bruisers A surprisingly underrated album came from this remarkably consistent band led by Carl Newman. Tracks like Champions Of Red Wine and Dancehall Domine also offer the vocal talents of Neko Case and the album as a whole is a sturdy piece of musical craftsmanship.

#8 – Jack White – Lazaretto – The incomparable Jack White has been a figurative god-send to the music industry.  While I personally was not all that impressed by his initial solo release, his sophomore effort is incredibly well done.  Lazaretto and High Ball Stepper are outright guitar thrashers, while the duet on Would You Fight For My Love? brings a folksy, roots vibe to his music.  Want and Able is a hidden gem on this album that takes you back to some of the early The White Stripes discography.

#9 –  The Preatures – Blue Planet Eyes – These Aussies followed a similar vein in 2013 and 2014 as Brooklyn’s Haerts, opening for some of the top acts of 2013. Bolstered by the breakout 2013 single Is This How You Feel?, the Sydney band’s début album is rich with quality tracks.  Two Tone Melody is one of my favorite tracks on this album, but it’s not to be outdone by It Gets Better or  Somebody’s Talking.  It might be the clear impact of the band’s influences on their musical style, or their fantastic live performance that just makes me love this group’s sound so much.

#10 – Porter Robinson – Worlds Surprisingly, in a year wrought with a major downturn in the popularity of EDM music (and let me just say, I’ve never been a big fan of the genre myself), this album was a quality piece of craftsmanship.  The blending of robot-esque themes and ideas and removal of the human element of the vocals really worked on Worlds and actually drew true emotions from its listeners.  The singles Sad MachineLionheartedFlicker and Sea Of Voices were each diverse in their own way and Google even used the lead track Divinity as the backing track for its “Year In Search” compilation video.  Not a bad year for Porter!

 

With the list now complete and a top album crowned, let us truly take an optimistic look towards the new music predicted to be released in 2015, including the likes of Tame ImpalaModest Mouse, Florence + The Machine, Radiohead, The Decemberists among many others.

 

And now here is your complete list of the top 51 albums of 2014:

And remember, be sure to subscribe to the Spotify playlist below to listen to all the top music of 2014.

Playlist: The Audiophile: Top 51 Albums of 2014

and don’t forget to follow on Facebook and on Twitter @AudiofileAkwitz at to get even more music updates that don’t make the posts.

Akwitz

Now Playing: The Audiophile’s Top 51 Albums of 2014


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The Audiophile’s Top 51 Tracks of 2014


Musicheads,

Not every artist who has a hit track makes a hit record.  In today’s musical environment, more and more artists are choosing to, in lieu of releasing a full-length album, choose to release multiple singles or short 3 or 4-song EPs.  Should these folks be forgotten in the annals of 2014 music simply for this choice?  Here at The Audiophile, we think not.  It is for that reason that we provide you with a list of both the top albums and top tracks of 2014 because being on one of those lists does not necessarily mean they will be on the other.

Creating this list is always quite the challenge.  With soooo much music being released on a daily and weekly basis over the course of a year it is difficult to identify only 51 quality tracks that will, in the end, make the list.  Unfortunately, some quality songs didn’t make the cut, but that’s why we make lists, right?  Also, as a guideline for creating this list, if an artist may have had a huge year and had multiple singles this year, only one track will make this list.  So, for instance, Alt-J had three singles this year, Hunger Of The PineLeft Hand Free and Every Other Freckle.  You may like one or all three, but only one will make this year’s cut (and Every Other Freckle is that track this year).

Once again, I am putting it into you, the reader’s, hands (and ears) to vote for what you believe is the best song of the year.  The voter’s choice along with the Audiophile’s Top 10 will be revealed the week of Christmas, so get your votes in now!

Share with your friends and let’s get as many votes in for this and the Album of The Year!

Vote for your favorite: 

 

  1. alt-J – Every Other Freckle
  2. Alvvays – Archie, Marry Me
  3. Birds Of Tokyo – Lanterns
  4. Bleachers – Rollercoaster
  5. Broken Bells – Holding On for Life
  6. Broods – Bridges
  7. Chet Faker – Gold
  8. Clean Bandit – Rather Be feat. Jess Glynne
  9. Coldplay – Magic
  10. Courtney Barnett – Avant Gardener
  11. Duke Dumont – I Got U
  12. Fickle Friends – Swim
  13. FKA twigs – Two Weeks
  14. Foster The People – Coming of Age
  15. Future Islands – Seasons (Waiting On You)
  16. George Ezra – Budapest
  17. Glass Animals – Gooey
  18. The Griswolds – Beware The Dog
  19. HAERTS – Giving Up
  20. How To Dress Well – Repeat Pleasure
  21. Hozier – Take Me to Church
  22. In The Valley Below – Peaches
  23. Jack White – Lazaretto
  24. Jamie xx – All Under One Roof Raving
  25. Joywave – Tongues
  26. Jose Gonzalez – Step Out
  27. Jungle – Busy Earnin’
  28. Kiesza – Giant In My Heart
  29. King Tuff – Eyes of the Muse
  30. KONGOS – Come With Me Now
  31. Milky Chance – Stolen Dance
  32. The New Pornographers – Champions Of Red Wine
  33. ODESZA – Say My Name (feat. Zyra)
  34. Paolo Nutini – Iron Sky
  35. Perfume Genius – Queen
  36. PHOX – Slow Motion
  37. Porter Robinson – Sad Machine
  38. The Preatures – Is This How You Feel?
  39. Saint Pepsi – Fiona Coyne
  40. Sbtrkt – NEW DORP. NEW YORK
  41. Sia – Chandelier
  42. Sleeper Agent – Waves
  43. Spoon – Inside Out
  44. St. Paul & The Broken Bones – Call Me
  45. St. Vincent – Digital Witness
  46. Sun Kil Moon – Ben’s My Friend
  47. Sylvan Esso – Coffee
  48. The War On Drugs – Red Eyes
  49. X Ambassadors – Jungle
  50. Vance Joy – Riptide
  51. Wild Cub – Thunder Clatter

 

Did I miss someone or leave them off the list?  Let me know.  Discussion is always appreciated.

Don’t know some of these tracks, don’t worry, we’ve got a curated playlist just for you!

Playlist: The Audiophile: Top 51 Tracks of 2014

Here are a few others that just barely missed the list this year but are definitely worth mentioning.

2014 Honorable Mentions:

and don’t forget to follow on Facebook and on Twitter @AudiofileAkwitz at to get even more music updates that don’t make the posts.

Akwitz

Now Playing: The Audiophile: Top 51 Tracks of 2014