We’ve reached the halfway point of the year and for music fans now is the time to sit down and evaluate what the past six months has given us. So far 2014 has given a varied body of work to choose from, no bona-fide classics have been released as of yet but the year is filled with solid efforts from a number of bands. Lacklustre efforts from big bands such as Coldplay and Kasabian have been offset by solid efforts by a plethora of artists. Here are a few of my personal favourites:
Mac Demarco- Salad days
Named after a period of time characterised by youth idealism and innocence, Mac Demarco’s third album is antithetically his most mature and sophisticated. Recorded at the aptly named Jizz-Jazz studios, the album still contains Mac’s trademark playfulness, but with a more sophisticated approach to song-writing. Tracks like Passing Out the Pieces and Chamber of Reflection, both based around keyboard hooks add a new diversity to his repertoire and showcase why Mac is one of the most exciting songwriters around.
Real Estate- Atlas
An album so chill it’s almost abrasive. The third album from New Jersey’s real Estate is full of sunny pop tunes with jangly melodies and lyrics of miscommunication with significant others. Despite being released in March this is the perfect album of summer, either relaxing by a pool on some Mediterranean island or supping some mixed berry cider in a park. Highlights include the irrepressible pop of Talking Backwards and the skewed time signatures of Crime.
Damon Albarn- Everyday Robots
The first proper solo effort form the Blur frontman begs the question, if he is going to release solo album this good do we really need another Blur album? Moving away from the cartoonish pop of Gorillaz the album is a more introspective one focusing on existentialist problems of life in the modern world in both the tilte track and Lonely Press Play. But it s not all doom and gloom. Albarn showcases the obvious influence of African music, procured through his various travels to the continent, on the song Mr Tembo, written about an elephant he encountered across the sea in Chile. Sonically and lyrically intriguing, as only an effort from Mr Albarn would be.
Harking back to her 2003 album Tasty, the culinary-centric sixth solo album from Kelis is a surprise treat. Filled with well-written songs that draw from Soul, Funk and Gospel Food is a great modern RnB record that manages to steer clear of the current trend of incorporating aspects of electronic music. This is a surprise considering Kelis last album did just that, so very well. It just goes to show how talented and underrated the singer is. Kudos as well must be awarded to producer Dave Sitek who showcases his versatility by producing this at the same time he was producing for Liam Gallagher’s Beady Eye. An eclectic and nostalgic trip that does not disappoint.
Fucked Up- Glass Boys
Fucked Up’s intention on new album Glass Boys was to a write a concise rock record to stand in antithesis to their third and previous album David Comes to Life. And they have done exactly that. Whilst David was written intentionally as a rock opera at 77 minutes, Fucked Up’s fourth is almost half that length. Still one of the nest melodic Punk bands around, the songs are no less grand than on its predecessor. This is truly a drummer’s album that’ll have you flailing your arms at those air-snares and air-symbols an interestingly enough the record comes in a double LP with the second album featuring the each song with the drum track at half time. An albums full of tunes, standouts include Sunboys and Paper the House.
The Horrors- Luminous: A solid but familiar 4th album from the Art-rockers
Warpaint- Warpaint: Great songs but as a whole can be quite jarring and unengaging.
Lana Del Ray- Ultraviolence: Would be good if she wasn’t so lyrically vacuous and annoying.
Here’s to the next six months!