Wednesday, December 17, 2014

STN Top 50 Albums Of 2014: 40-36

40 Peggy Sue - Choir Of Echoes
Katy and Rosa have never attained the regular mainstream credentials many of their ilk have managed, despite the spot-on dulcet pinched harmonies and the arrangements that take nu-folk standards down shady woodland alleys. Their sound expanded again here, taking in ragged rhythm and blues and blues sourness, chiming guitars and choral pop manoeuvres with an unsure darkness underneath. Clattering rhythmic stutters, gospel-influenced vocal arrangements, treated guitars creating foreboding atmospheres – this is not an album that settles for the acoustic harmony safe ground. If it ultimately feels like just another Peggy Sue album, albeit a less outgoing effort, at least it demonstrates they have full command of their sound.
[iTunes] [Amazon] [Spotify]

39 Damon Albarn - Everyday Robots
Hazy nostalgia fills in the cracks in Albarn's first proper solo album, a record that exudes soul without delving too deeply. It drifts attractively at least, finding a heart in a certain bleakness reflective of Damon's past, the years on the road and living it up at a mid-90s height, while located in isolation from modern life through the medium of technological alienation, the idea of a man who believes in the world as communicative tool trying to make sense of social media's rate of change. Not having to fill arenas or work his worldview into cartoon character shapes suits him for once.
[iTunes] [Amazon] [Spotify]

38 Golden Fable - Ancient Blue
Golden Fable's most notable, and best carried through, USP is Rebecca Palin's quasi-operatic, highly ethereal vocal style. On their second album the music has come back a little to meet it, bringing in new little nuances that complement the extra thrust found elsewhere and bring something new out of the mix with every listen. Treating rough terrain with utmost delicacy, it makes fuzzy guitar sounds and ambient minimalist backings feel like obvious bedfellows when what's in front of them are that gorgeous a voice and an awareness of subtlety that feels as if but for the occasional louder groundings these gossamer songs might take off and float into the stratosphere.
[iTunes] [Amazon] [Spotify]

37 Lykke Li - I Never Learn
Li's third album still has its Spectoresque widescreen moments but never feels like maximum production, mining her freshly broken heart in a frame that values closeness, poignancy and minimalism – a delicate acoustic guitar, a reverberating piano sound, a shuffling beat pointing the way towards what seems like personal darkness for as far as the heart's eye can see. Lykke's naturally pained vocal makes these tales sound like they're constantly mining fresh wounds, ballads washed afresh in tears, ready to tell the world just to get the emotions out of herself.
[iTunes] [Amazon] [Spotify]

36 Adebisi Shank - This Is The Third Album Of A Band Called Adebisi Shank
And the final album of a band called Adebisi Shank, it turned out. But at least they went out with heads high, their bombastic sound as difficult to place as ever outside basic 'instrumental' parameters - Don Caballero in a particle accelerator recreating FM rock riffs, perhaps – as electronics and full throttle post-rock tricksiness heads full pelt towards each other. Dancing round itself endlessly, sending 16-bit arrangements towards the stadium or fighting each other with laser guns amid implausible riffs, springing effects and computer voices, it's unlikely we'll see quite their like again.
[iTunes] [Amazon] [Spotify]

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