The best albums of 2014
Last year was a fine year, musically. But most of the albums I purchased are from Japanese bands and musicians. I did buy some stuff by my old musical heroes, like Tori Amos and Pat Metheny. Beautiful, atmospheric albums, but nothing really new. Amos seems not to have gone through any noticeable evolvement for the past ten or so years and if somebody told me Metheny’s latest album was recorded in 1984, about the year my favorite Metheny album came out (Travels), I would have believed him. Like nothing changed. Like I’m still fifteen and fantasizing about girls and killing my dad.
Everybody’s going nuts about D’Angelo and the Vanguard and I truly appreciate the merit of Black Messiah but it’s Prince done right and I have been kind of over Prince for the last two decades.
I did not buy the new Bowie anthology since I figured I have al those songs, and in twenty versions of each AT LEAST. I did of course get the new single, Sue but decided I prefer the cover song on the B-side, ’Tis A Pity She Was A Whore.
So here’s my list of fave albums of the year 2014. It’s still January so I can still do that, right? I could do it in April if I wanted, or in August. Because it’s my website and I’m the boss here. I can do anything I fucking want. Well, not anything because I would be destroyed by all those pencil-wagging, “Je suis Charlie” lisping cowardly rodents that pass for journalists here in The Netherlands, who really LOVE freedom of expression but not in their own backyard.
But you know what I mean.
10: Cristobal Tapia de Veer ‘Utopia 2; original television soundtrack‘
Okay so I like the first Utopia album better because it’s darker and more threatening and Utopia 2 is more of the same but lighter and, it must be said, with more production value. I really want to point out the wonderful music of this Chilean master that gives an already genius television series an extra dimension. Mysterious, very atmospheric, chilling, playful at times, really gripping music. Simply brilliant.
9: The Akabane Vulgars On Strong Bypass ‘Aeon‘
There they are again, those pumping rock chicks from Japan. I just love that throbbing bass, the militaristic drumming, the energetic guitar riffs and singer Yumi Uchizono’s dark, low voice (and her hair). Aeon brings us more of the delicious same we’ve grown to love on Proclamation (in my top 10 of 2013) but technically it’s better, with a fuller sound, better arrangements and I believe a tad of melancholy. Below is a video of their performance in Manchester last year. The song, Maison Noir, is from Aeon, which you can listen to in it’s entirety here.
8: Crunch ‘Futoshita Nichijyo No Koto‘
Another all-girl rock band from the land of the boiling hot ramen soup. Maybe this is not a real rock band. Singer/guitarist Noriyo Hotta, bass player Reina Kawagoe and drummer Yoshiko Jinno keep it light and melodic. They are inspired by Burt Bacharach, they say, and for that alone I want to cuddle them. Buy their album here.
7: Quruli ‘The Pier‘
Very complex music, with many twists and intermezzos and at the same time Quruli keeps it lighthearted and very easily accessible. Superb song writing. Folksy influences. Horns. Great bass player! I already showed you the weird video of their song Liberty & Gravity, the below video is more down to earth:
6: LLLL ‘Paradice‘
‘Pushy drums are balanced by ethereal voices like glittery Christmas angels singing you into a trance,’ as I described this band recently and I have nothing to add to that. I hate synthesizer music except when I love it. Then I REALLY love it. Purchasable here.
5: Miii ‘Everything Happens To You‘
Listen to that first song, that organ like from an American quiz show from the fifties countered by that electronic beat and that high-pitched synthesizer sound. Then on to the next track which looms large and aggressive. Just four tracks on this EP but boy, they do count. And the REALLY good news? Miii let’s you download the whole thing for absolutely free!
4: Smany ‘Polyphenic‘
And from the overwhelming weirdness of Miii on to the ethereal soundscape of Smany, whose debut album (I described it as a crystal fairy tale world where warm snow flakes whirl down from the sky) ended as my fifth favorite on my top 10 of 2013 and is still downloadable for free. Early last year she came up with something that is even better. An album of heavenly music with hints of Satie, Kate Bush, Akino Arai and a soupçon of Tom Waits. You can download it here for free. Can you believe that? Genius music for absolutely nothing? LEGALLY?
3: Buddy Girl & Mechanic ‘Topsy Turvy‘
Fantastic band whose debut album also ended up high on my list of 2013. This summer they released a new EP that almost went completely unnoticed by most music reviewers specializing in Japanese alternative pop. Unjustly so because it’s a great album. Moody, laid back but adventurous, bordering on the psychedelic, totally refreshing. My favorite track is Release the fish because it has a koto on it, or is it called shamisen? Anyway, that Japanese traditional string instrument. Buy it here.
2: Triple Fire ‘Skill Up‘
Such accomplished musicians! ‘Just a couple of autistic guys being brilliant without blow-dried hairdos and glitters and all that’, I wrote a month and a half ago. Japanese tweeps, including the band members themselves, seemed surprised they were being noticed in The Netherlands. Yes you guys! And I want to try to get you to do a gig in our country. Show them here what innovative music REALLY is! You’ll have to import their CD from Japan, if you want it.
1: Otori ‘I wanna be your noise‘
To me this band is the surprise of 2014. Screaming, aggressive, fast-paced or what am I saying, they’re FRANTIC. Uncompromising, virtuous, hyperactive, energetic, very exciting music. Tightly written compositions, perfectly timed, full of surprising turns and titillating intermezzos, not to mention the pulsating rhythm driving these songs. Downloadable on iTunes.
These are only ten of my favorite albums of 2014 and on a different day this list might have been completely different, or somewhat different.
I mean I still think Hidenka and Fumitake Tamura´s Muddy Water is the best hiphop album of 2014 and shouldn’t I have included Soar, kiss the moon by Luminous Orange, which is a true gem of an album? How about Savage Imagination by Takako Minekawa & Dustin Wong, which I described as a ‘tropical rain forest of colorful birds and musical flowers’. Also I have fallen in love with that weird but beautiful girl of Suiyoobi no Campanella.
There is so much worthwhile and I can only say, keep checking this website to see me digging up those gems for you, my precious readers, so I may educate you, put you on the right way, make a better human being of you and thus make the world a better place for everyone, which is my life’s mission, to which I have dedicated my entire existence.
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op 24 01 2015 at 14:03 schreef Mohammed:
Peter, je bent uniek.
op 24 01 2015 at 15:32 schreef Noriyo Hotta:
Thank You for listing us CRUNCH with Quruli, Greatest Japanese rock outfit.
our songs are here MORE http://crunchjp.bandcamp.com/album/simple-mind
op 24 01 2015 at 18:25 schreef MNb:
No news from the ZZZ’s?
I love the drummers Kei Sofue (Akabane Vulgars) and Lyn (ZZZ’s) most. Such cute little girls and they bash the HELL out of their kits.
op 24 01 2015 at 18:27 schreef Peter:
I love the ZZZ’s too. But last year nothing new came out.
op 25 01 2015 at 09:53 schreef Chris:
Ik vrees dat ik 2014 in een iets ander licht zie. Maar veel van de Japanse alternative die je hier opvoert mij heel erg doet denken aan heel veel Zweedse alternative die ik zag en meemaakte toen ik nog in Stockholm woonde. Ik denk dat je Bob Hund uit de heyday wel zou kunnen waarderen, om maar een act te noemen. Ook vraag ik me af wat je van The Knife vindt. Hoe dan ook krijg ik dus wel warme gevoelens bij jouw lijst, die mij terug voeren naar festivaldagen ‘s zomers op het terrein van de Uni van Stockholm. Bedankt daarvoor.
Hoe dan ook vind ik de D’Angelo plaat wel een bid deal, omdat D’Angelo iets voor elkaar krijgt wat Prince nog nooit gelukt is: Een consistent briljante plaat neerzetten.
Ik heb Prince niet hoog zitten en D’Angelo wel, als je me voelt, dus ik zou bijna zeggen dat je die plaat een keer of vijf moet beluisteren. Als ie dan niet binnenkomt houdt het op, uiteraard.
Ik stuur je een DM op Twitter met een link naar mijn compilatie. Eén waarschuwing: Het is een collectie waar niet een maar twee D’Angelo nummers in zitten. :)
op 25 01 2015 at 10:07 schreef Chris:
Oh. Kan alleen bij wederzijds volgen.
Dan niet, want ik wil die link niet openbaren, het is niet voor brede distributie. Stuur maar een mail als je er belang bij hebt. :)
op 25 01 2015 at 11:26 schreef Peter:
Ik sta altijd open voor nieuwe dingen, Chris, bedankt. Mijn mailadres is firstname.lastname@example.org
op 25 01 2015 at 23:29 schreef AntiSoof:
Muziek is eigenlijk strijd.
Trommels, hoorns, doedelzakken, ze leiden tot strijd en jutten op, dat was en is hun doel.
Hedendaagse muziek indoctrineert. En ze is nog vals ook. Het harmoniseert niet. Dat is een wiskundig feit. Onze toonladder is ‘vals’. Het is een compromis. Alles een beetje vals. Eerlijk waar.
op 26 01 2015 at 06:42 schreef Peter:
Thanks for sharing, Antisoof.
op 26 01 2015 at 10:38 schreef Pickelhaube:
Dat gezeur over indoctrinatie ook altijd…. Wat geeft dat nou?