Thursday, December 18, 2014

STN Top 50 Albums Of 2014: 30-26

30 Two White Cranes - twowhitecranes
Two White Cranes is the medium through which Bristol's Roxy Brennan puts her innermost thoughts to spare guitar and the occasional bit of drumming. Riddled with heartbreak and self-doubt, reverberating with a human pulse with bursts of louder guitar almost like resonance of her heart leaping, Brennan's voice can be either strident and willing to push everything in the way of her path aside or bruised to the touch, lyrics of gorgeous imagery and tenderness backed by simple hooks and sudden surges, things of quiet beauty and joy in the detail and of love in cold climates.

29 The Wind-Up Birds - Poor Music
Chief Wind-Up Bird Kroyd has pretty much had enough now. Over a luxurious seventeen tracks he narrates a country gone socio-politically wrong from the bar, not in a ranting overtly political sense but as a series of post-Half Man Half Biscuit/Art Brut observations of characters dissatisfied, overcurious or just lost in situations along class lines. It's the energy of the band that make it, though, charging through a very Northern charge, echoes of prime Fall in the background, often as keen to poke and prod the listener as the lyrical sentiments. It's defiance refracted as indie, just like it used to be done.
[iTunes] [Bandcamp] [Spotify]

28 Maybeshewill - Fair Youth
No instrumental band quite does optimism within grandiosity in the way Maybeshewill do it. Their fourth album refines their sound further, the laptop glitchery sneaking back in to augment the high emotive content, beauty and drama suggested by the major key piano flourishes and guitars that swap the metal riffola of previous records for something more layered and considered, backed by drifting strings and ice floe textures where others would construct all-out sonic cathedrals. The way everything fits together works just right for purpose, gliding never too serenly, never settling into a holding pattern.
[iTunes] [Amazon] [Spotify]

27 White Lung - Deep Fantasy
You almost don't need to explain albums like this, you set them off and let them strip the paint from the walls. Ten electrifying tracks in 22 minutes, illuminated by the righteous, urgently and proudly politicised/feminist screeds of Mish Way and backed by guitars that take off like rockets, leaving feedback sparkles and enormous wreckage in their wake, with precious little in the way of deliberate let-up. Sometimes it reminds of Motorhead, sometimes of Black Flag, always it sounds entirely vital and the sort of album that you know what to expect from but it still pins you to the wall by force of internalised belief alone.
[iTunes] [Amazon] [Spotify]

26 Hello Saferide - The Fox, The Hunter And Hello Saferide
Annika Norlin's first English language album in six years peels away most extraneous elements until all that's left is delicacy against Norlin's aching lyrics. She's always excelled at using imagery to cut quicker to the ultimate truth and here applies the light and shade approach to personal themes – ageing and maturing, dependency on others, nostalgia and misunderstanding – until the intimacy either becomes all too well sketched out or becomes a consideration of how we all fit into the world. Norlin might talk, unexpectedly in context, of “a darkness trying to get out” but there's equally as many light, curious touches to fill in the humanity aspect of her character self-study.
[iTunes] [Amazon] [Spotify]

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