Monday, December 15, 2014

STN Top 50 Albums Of 2014: 50-46

50 School Of Language - Old Fears
A fascination with funk rhythms has crept into the last couple of Field Music albums. Old Fears dives right in with an approach pitched between a home studio version of Prince-style funkified electronic production tricks and David Bowie’s Young Americans ‘plastic funk’ era, on top of which comes hefty doses of 1980s keyboard and David Sylvian production effects. You can't dance to it, but it's stuffed with arrangements that have so much going on but you hardly notice once they’re set and turning inwards on themselves.
[iTunes] [Amazon] [Spotify]

49 Field Mouse - Hold Still Life
Brooklyn's Field Mouse got left behind a little in the shoegaze stakes this year, perhaps because their core ingredients – too-cool female vocals, pedal abuse, shimmer and roar alike – seem well done. Delve deeper, though, and you'll find its heart is as much in another early 90s staple, the brutally bruised Throwing Muses/Juliana Hatfield/Veruca Salt school. They can handle a sugary pop melody as much as much as dragging the listener along by volume alone, while the slower moments come on like distant illuminations.
[iTunes] [Amazon] [Spotify]

48 Talons - New Topographics
The wall of droning violins that make up the lengthy intro to the opening track give Lincoln's Talons a modern-classical edge and a sense of scale rarely really poked at by 'glacial', 'full-on' post-rock outfits. Refining their previous everything-all-the-time approach, the eight tracks pass by like movements where stately string-led sections give way to metallic riffage, unspooling with an urgency that sits intriguingly alongside the GY!BE-style fragile connecting passages into an enthralling dynamism where the dual violinists add drama amid the headlong surges around. You have to put the work in, but sometimes that's the point.
[iTunes] [Amazon] [Spotify]

47 The Understudies - Let Desire Guide Your Hand
Bands evoking the spirit of Orange Juice never quite get it, that it's supposed to be as much about soul, in both musical and spiritual forms, as much as strummy angular guitars. The Understudies feel like they studied in the same art school classes and saw the same French films as their Glaswegian bretheren and completely understand the fragile romanticism that underpins the best indiepop, sparsely used strings giving tracks the requisite noir. It's an album for the joys of spring and the dark of the night, light enough in its understanding of serious affairs of the heart.

46 Steven James Adams - House Music
Adams has struggled for a consistent path since the Broken Family Band split; on this first album under his proper first name he found a profitable route by stepping backwards a little into that band's very English wry version of drink-sodden, melancholic country-rock, lyrically cutting down to the emotional core on tales of hopelessness, heartbreak and the generally pervasive air of lives being lived by others alone.
[iTunes] [Amazon] [Spotify]

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