Thursday, December 18, 2014

The IMU 2014 Musical Revue

I have a long (not really) and complicated (not at all) history with year-end music lists*. I used to look forward to writing a lot and considered them the marquee moment of the year here on IMU. Then I got a little jaded and tried to play off their importance and last year I didn't even do one^. You know what? Looking back on the year that was is fun, so here we fucking go. 2014 year-end music list. Hold on to your butts.

First off, I would be remiss if I didn't mention that my band Beat Noir put out our first full-length this year. It is free here. If you would like a physical copy or a t-shirt, they are here.

All right, here's all the stuff I liked from this year:

Riff Raff- Neon Icon
All hail RiFF RaFF. If you aren't down, you're just TOO BASiC TOO UNDERSTAND AND i CAN'T FIX THAT.

Hard Girls- A Thousand Surfaces
The song-writing on this album is fucking next level. The album's sound is coherent enough that you can immediately tell they are a part of the same collection of songs, but different enough to separate themselves. The riffs, oh lord the riffs. It's a guitar manifesto for the ages.

You Blew It!- Keep Doing What You're Doing
I've always just kind of dabbled in twinkle, but got real into this year. This release has all the riffs and all the angst you need, stuffed together in a poppy package that I've been revisiting constantly this year.

Antartico Vespucci- Soulmate Stuff
I've always been a Fake Problems fan and obviously am devoted to the church of Rosenstock as well. This one has songs that make me feel things about the person I'm currently with ("100 Years", both parts) as well as people I used to be with ("I'm Giving Up On U2"). This was probably my most played release during the summer.

(It is free at that link.)

Hostage Calm- Die On Stage

I was a huge fan of Please Remain Calm, so I was pretty hyped on what Hostage Calm would do next. The band keeps going with the power-pop they started with on the last album and really go all-in here. This isn't big of an idea as PRC, but I won't complain about a great power-pop record in 2014.

YG- My Krazy Life

I love west coast rap. I love G-Funk. This record is pretty much all of my favourite parts of rap music in one place. A perfect balance of great beats, humour and to quote YG "mothafuckin' gangsta shit". This probably one of my favourite rap releases ever and it is hard for me to find a way to describe it without sounding like the whitest dude ever.

Wayfarer- Sleep Through To The Light

Don't tell Kyle I like his songs. He'll probably make fun of me.

The Hotel Year*- Home, Like No Place Is There

A damn good release. It didn't really hit me like their last one did, but a really well thought-out album and great collection of songs front to back.

The Both- The Both

I was confused why more of my friends weren't into this release, considering how many of them like Ted Leo. Here he collabs with Aimee Mann and the results are fucking stellar. A bunch of guitar-driven (obvi, it's fuckin' Ted Leo) pop songs. I like it as a substitute for a Pharmacists record because it's different enough to be something new, but also has enough guitar godding to tide you over until the next Ted Leo release. Also, Aimee Mann is really fucking good at writing songs.

Lights- Little Machines

I didn't expect to like a Lights record this much, but here we are. It's catchy and it's a great pop record.

Puig Destroyer- Puig Destroyer

Baseball-themed powerviolence/grindcore written by some stat-minded SABR nerds. Gimmick bands aren't supposed to work this well.

Moldmaker- Dark Chambers Demo

I'm really sad that more people will never get the chance to see this band because it's basically The Decay with two lead guitars and a wall of noise that somehow even bigger than The Decay's.

(Free at that link)

Junior Battles- Rally

A great followup to the wonderful Idle Ages. Different enough to set it apart from the album that came before it, but still sounds like Junior Battles. This definitely has some of their best songs.

Joyce Manor-Never Hungover Again

One of my favourite parts of Joyce Manor was they were able to take the harshest parts of 80's hardcore and combine them with pop-punk in a way that doesn't diminish either. Of All Things I Will Soon Grow Tired was an extremely ballsy second album and is something that I didn't really get until this year. Never Hungover Again is by far their poppiest album, but the change in sound pays off, as I love all the songs on this release.

The Bruce Lee Band- Everything Will Be Alright, My Friend

Being a huge ska, it really sucks that the amount of relevant releases per year is pretty minimal. B ut when a band who puts something out roughly once every ten years returns out of nowhere to put out a rock-solid ska-punk release I get so giddy that I can't even deal. Why can't this happen more? Also, JESSE MICHAELS SINGS ON ONE OF THE TRACKS!

The Canyon Rays- West Coast Babes

This one came out of nowhere. They were described on bandcamp as equal parts Beach Boys and Katy Perry and while that isn't the perfect description, it's pretty close. Full band pop music that's as heavy on dreamy synths as it is hooks. Great bass playing too.

Alvvays- Alvvays

I was listening to this while skateboarding to work one day this summer. A woman drove through an intersection when she wasn't supposed and almost destroyed me, as I was going full-tilt. I gave her the finger and yelled "What the fuck?!" When I got to work I told the kids what happened and they asked if I swore and I said no, but winked to some of the older kids so they would know that I did and think I'm cool. This has been a story from my life that involves the Alvvays album in some way.

It was a great year for music.

*I use cliches (damn my lack of shortcut knowledge) a lot. I like to think that they are a signature aspect of writing, even in school. But I also like to think that I use them in more of a Dan Harmon way, than a US remake of Lol way. Do you hate my cliches? Too bee-ad, because I love 'em.

^IMU: On Music. The Essential Year-End Lists of I, Musical Genius. 2008. 2009. 2010. 2011. 2012 I thought I had previous ones up on here as well. Know that 2006 and 2007's respective #1's were The Arrogant Sons of Bitches' Three Cheers for Disappointment and We Are The Union's Who We Are. Two big time jammers.

*Yeah, I'm gonna be that dick who reinforces that he liked the band when they had their original name.