Archive for the ‘Christian Fennesz’ Category

Jack Payet’s Top 10 Albums of 2014

Friday, December 19th, 2014

From the experimental to the ethereal, Antennas to Heaven columnist Jack Payet counts down his favourite releases of the year.

10. VESSEL — Punish, Honey

Punish, Honey is a weirdly chaotic journey reflected through human and robotic spheres. With the members of Vessel having produced and built many of the instruments on here, the whole affair wouldn’t be out of place on a freakish alien rave party on Mars, albeit one in which the partygoers are all under the influence of some hellish futuristic drug.

9. SHABAZZ PALACES — Lese Majesty
Easily some of the most ambitious music to come out this year, Shabazz Palaces deliver less of an experimental hip-hop album and more of an intergalactic journey via “songs” and tripped out vignettes of production wizardry. Combined with Ishmaels Butler’s smooth flow, they give the whole thing a feeling of zero gravity, taking Shabazz Palace’s medium and blasting it into the stratosphere.

At times wholly crushing, Becs can bludgeon with the force of the most abrasive electronic music — see the drudging pistons of ‘The Liar’ a lobotomy via jackhammer. But just as soon as it’s likely to unsettle you, Becs will offer up the most perfectly sculptured waves of static noise that you’d swear you weren’t ten minutes earlier about to have a panic attack. Such is the nature of Fennesz’s latest offering; a duality that has the power to make you feel either very safe or very scared, but never nothing.

7. BATTLE TRANCE — Palace of Wind
Some of the most moving pieces of music likely to be released this year have come from an instrumental album – no less an album centred around saxophones – yet perhaps it’s unsurprising given the enormous mental and physical strain the members have invested. In the year we celebrate the 100th anniversary of jazz legend Sun Ra, it’s fitting a release such as Palace of Wind arrives to highlight the continued lifespan of one of music’s most human instruments.

6. TUNE-YARDS — Nikki Nack
Merril Grabus has that special ability to convey the ugly truth with the welcoming arms of great pop music, a wildly eccentric character whose vision rings true on Nikki Nack: a gloriously freewheeling ride of a multi-colored palette and a contrast to the black and white opaqueness of protest in modern pop.

5. PERFUME GENIUS — Too Bright
Mike Hadreas once crafted deeply personal tales portrayed with such stark frailty you almost expected him to collapse half way into a song. On Too Bright, we can remove all notions of the shy introvert and replace it with a bombastic troubadour who’s upended his sound and in turn elevated the quality of his work enormously.

Whether it’s on the electro crazed jig ‘Grid’ which features the most unsettlingly desperate howl you’ll hear in a long time, or the creeping truck stop blues of ‘My Body’. Hadreas is a man who knows what he wants to say how he wants to say it, even if that means making a few people uncomfortable along the way.

Lose is the moment everything clicked for Cymbal Eat Guitars, their noodling tapestry of ambitious indie rock was always enjoyable but at times a little scatterbrained. On LOSE, they’ve tightened things up considerably with the band producing a much more focused and enjoyable listen, combined with lyrics on par with a Pulitzer-winning novel, Cymbals Eat Guitars have produced their finest work to date.

3. PROTOMARTYR — Under Color of Official Right
Protomartyr’s second album struts with the brazen self-confidence of Bono but with about a hundred times more justification. Inspired by some less than savory characters from their hometown of Detroit, the band draw from a rich history of garage rock steeped in a strong admiration for Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds. A shot in the arm for all tepid garage rock pretenders.

2. OUGHT — More Than Any Other Day
These crazy Canadians make music that rises and falls with such gleeful enthusiasm that it’s impossible not to be swept away in the ride. By focusing on the banalities of human life and channeling king weirdos The Feelies and David Byrne, Ought capture a sound that for the most part goes unexplored in modern music. Making the choice between whole and two percent milk has never sounded so life affirming.

1. ICEAGE — Plowing Into the Field of Love
Plowing Into The Field of Love is everything people love about Iceage and a whole lot more, the songs still wallow the same bleak mirth Iceage bathe in, but dense, nihilistic moods are now littered with the sounds of folk and an undeniable country swagger, which might sound odd to some fans but by damn you wouldn’t have it any other way.

The whole album is like a punch in the guts, but it’s the sort of punch you’re grateful for, the one where once you’ve managed to start taking in oxygen again you reach out and gladly ask for another. It’s bold, aggressive, mangled and so perfectly enjoyable — an example of a band leering ten feet above their contemporaries.

Check back next week as our writers continue to count down the best records of the year.