Tuesday, December 16, 2014

STN Top 50 Albums Of 2014: 45-41

45 Hayley Bonar - Last War
Canadian Bonar's been around for more than a decade but on her fifth album she let her alt-country roots go to tatters in favour of a sound that takes on the jagged directness that hasn't really been fertile in this genre since Tanya Donelly and Kristin Hersh were in their mid-90s band pomps, with post-punk wariness underpinning the ventures and by way of Rilo Kiley-esque darkly hookish power-pop. Charging not entirely blindly into the face of failure and indifference, Bonar's heart is firmly on her sleeve and the hope where there might currently be none fits her newish, much grimier surroundings.
[iTunes] [Amazon] [Spotify]

44 Cheatahs - Cheatahs
Yeah, shoegazing revivalism has kind of been done by now, but Cheatahs' approach feels freshest even as vocals disappear behind squalls. Sonic Youth would be another touchstone here for the way they could strangulate poppish melodies and bend them to their own will, guitar runs coursing round the instrumental bits with a certain malevolent grace and something always going on in the background like Teenage Fanclub circa Bandwagonesque with flanges set to full. It's not full-on revivalism in the turn up and play through pedals sense but a band using those influences to slow-burn up something more altogether aggressive.
[iTunes] [Amazon] [Spotify]

43 Avey Tare's Slasher Flicks - Enter The Slasher House
It might be Animal Collective's own fault for putting out so much material between them but Avey's side project seemed to pass by barely noticed, which is a shame as it posited that band's spaced-out search for new nooks and crannies to poke about in as a rough and ready garagey trio attempting to concisely handle chopped up psych-pop. The oddball abandon remains largely in place, something creepy remaining within sight no matter how playful what's going on with the topline gets, disappearing further as we go along into alternate universe wormholes and down the rabbit hole the horroriffic band name suggests.
[iTunes] [Amazon] [Spotify]

42 Acollective - Pangaea
In a good way, it's difficult to see what Israel's sprawling Acollective are pinned down to. Rattling digitised soft rock sits next to grandiose piano-led marches of a Hope Of The States stripe next to radio-ready rock shapes. Warping psych-prog and windswept folk are treated as two sides of the same coin in a way that makes such stylistic leaps seem to make sense. It feels like their next album, the one where everything forms one whole, will be The One, but in the meantime allow this one to internally grow until its sense of adventurous purpose coalesces.
[iTunes] [Amazon] [Spotify]

41 Martin Carr - The Breaks
After years exploring the periphery of his songwriting credo Carr has turned for home in his most straightforward set of songs since Wake Up! Not to say they're straightforward by most standards, evoking Nilsson, west coast country, soul, folk, new wave and psychedelia in a set of songs that don't attempt for any sort of zeitgeist but suggest a man finally at peace with himself while still betraying a certain fragility and lack of wider comfort for all the wistfulness at home. Witty, jarring at times, it's an adult record but not one that rests on its laurels.
[iTunes] [Amazon] [Spotify]

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