Monthly Archives: December 2014

The CD Critic’s Top 5 Albums of 2014

5: Unravelling – We Were Promised Jetpacks

Scottish rockers We Were Promised Jetpacks have been making incredible progress since the release of their debut album effort of ‘These Four Walls’, showcasing a great rock style fused together with a few somewhat experimental notions that give a little bit more edge to the music. The bands’ third studio album ‘Unravelling’ sees the band really pushing forward their own capabilities and strengths, producing what is arguably one of their most cohesive and impressive album efforts thus far. There’s incredible range and scope from the band, who manage to showcase tracks much more delicately crafted than some of their previous efforts suggested, without losing the great levels of energy that made the first few records so great to listen to. It seems the band are slowly becoming much more mature than what their debut effort suggested, though the level of quality being demonstrated by the band on ‘Unravelling’ hardly suggests this as a band thing, but if anything elevates them to the same level as other Scottish rock bands like Frightened Rabbit and The Twilight Sad.

4: More Than Any Other Day – Ought

Canada’s youthful rocker’s Ought’s debut album of ‘More Than Any Other Day’ is to simply put it, a stunning debut album effort. Incredible confidence and natural charisma exudes from each song, demanding attention and retaining it through interesting musical motifs, vocal styles and lyrics. There’s arguably an amateurish element running throughout this debut effort, though this adds much to the album’s experience, and much to how easily enjoyable the whole effort is. There’s clear evidence of a great band, hidden underneath layers of slightly odd yet incredibly satisfying musical layers. ‘More Than Any Other Day’ offers up an incredible amount by a band who are ready to showcase everything they have to offer. It’s easy to see what works here, with the main appealing elements being the incredibly charged energy from the band, which at times descends into musical madness with clear methodical methods being it all. Ought are clearly a band who are destined for great things, and one can only hope they achieve the levels of greatness that their music so clearly suggests.

3: Rave Tapes – Mogwai

‘Rave Tapes’ saw Mogwai pushing out what they simply do best, music of exceptional quality. On their latest album the band opted to push forward a few more experimental ideas, playfully hinted at on some previous efforts. The result is one of Mogwai’s more interesting and perhaps more experimental album experiences. There’s a fair amount happening on the album, and whilst there’s a lot that’s different, there’s also a lot that remains in the music that makes it all feel a little bit familiar and somewhat comforting. Electronic instruments dominate many of the tracks, adding to the experimental nature of how the band are approaching their own methods of composition. At times it’s exciting, at times it’s unsettling. Many of the tracks showcase a range of ideas and themes, showing Mogwai’s incredible range of expressing emotion through music. ‘Rave Tapes’ is perhaps arguably not one of the bands’ most strongest releases out of their whole discography, but this is perhaps due to the standard the band has maintained for many years, as ‘Rave Tapes’ is a very enjoyable record from them nonetheless.

2: Last Ex – Last Ex

Simon Trottier and Olivier Fairfield (of Timber Timbre) joined forces for the release of their side-project Last Ex, a set of recordings born from the abandonment of a film soundtrack the band members were composing. With some extra tinkering here and there, Trottier and Fairfield managed to push forward one of the most interesting released of this year, a post-rock album experience that echoes the early days of Do Make Say Think and Tortoise. There’s a lot happening, a lot of emotion and energy and a lot of scope being offered by the band who push forward idea after idea. For the most part, the album itself is rather unsettling, featuring musical motifs that could easily send chills down the spines of listeners. There’s much more at play here rather than the album being the recycled material of the band members, but instead an album experience that has been clearly envisioned, without coming across as so. It’s incredibly creative and enjoyable to those who enjoy the more classical (or what could be deemed as classical) side of post-rock music. It’s effects are rather subtle, but there’s a lot of evidence of greatness being demonstrated.

1: Syro – Aphex Twin

Richard D James’ albums have always had a highly experimental and slightly inaccessible element to them, though there’s always been clear evidence of extraordinary talent. Following up some incredibly impressive albums after many years on hiatus is no easy feat, though Richard D James’ latest album effort under the Aphex Twin moniker ‘Syro’ does exactly that, coming across as one of the musician’s most enjoyable album efforts to date. There’s a wonderful mixture of new methods and ideas, many of which have been combined with some of James’ old and more classic methods of composition. ‘Syro’ can at times bombard and confound, though there’s an incredible amount being offered up, which certainly makes up for the many long years of inactivity. ‘Syro’ comes across as its own entity deserving of its own attention and praise, with the wonderful grooves and motifs of the music coming through in fantastic style. Definitely a pleasing record with many memorable and outstanding tracks that hopefully signal the beginning of much, much more to come.

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