This is my list of favorites from the year. It’s not restricted to items that just came out in 2014. It’s a list of favorite media that I consumed within 2014. Click on the links to see or hear or buy.
Below is a mixcloud sampler of the following list. The great thing about Mixcloud is that the artists get paid royalties from the playing of their tracks. So here’s it is, Scott Colburn’s Best of 2014 mix.
Chrome – Feel It Like a Scientist
What can I say! If you know this band, you are already nodding your head because you put this LP on your “best of” list as well. This has all the classic Chrome sounds. The first play of this was me just thinking, “OK Helios, what’s the next riff you’re gonna pull out that will destroy me”. The great Micro Synth’d guitars, the fucked up vocal effects and the pure psychedelic damage makes this a top album this year. Chrome sounds like strychnine.
Moira Scar – Psychoid
This record is nearly impossible to buy. The link above will take you to Aquarius Records in SF. They’ll take care of you. This band has become an annual favorite of mine. You got to see them live. This record is a slightly different turn down what I would call the “Modern Goth” track. The record is full of weird organ, blown out drums, heavily effected vocals and is pure bliss. Get your freak on man!
Michael Arcos – Black Berry Bones
This year I bought more cassettes than I have in the past 20 years. Yes! I seriously bought 20 cassettes this year. Michael was the brains behind another annual favorite of mine – Jane Jane Pollock. The link above will take you to the bandcamp site where it is totally worth the $20 for the cassette. Mine came in a briefcase full of thrift store finds and a hand typed (like, in a typewriter) letter. This has all the signature Jane Jane sounds. swooping group vocals, lonely piano, psychotic organ and lo-fi cassette recording fidelity. Beautiful. It’s rainy day music or maybe it’s sunny day music. Oh hell, it’s everyday music.
Dada Trash Collage – Post Haste
FULL DISCLOSURE: I mixed this record! But it’s still a favorite this year. This is Billy’s best material to date. It’s also the most commercial he’s ever been. You can groove and bounce to this stuff. It’s still very complex. Lots of ear candy, but always has a great “get up and dance” feel. I think of it as a collaboration between Stevie Wonder and Quasimoto.
Vensaire – Perdix
FULL DISCLOSURE: I produced this record! It’s a full blown, high concept art piece. The ebb and flow of the musical version of Daedalus. No gaps in this record. In fact the digital version is cut in a way that if you play it on a loop, you won’t know that it starts up again. Some of my best work and sadly, you’ll never hear this on vinyl because the copies are stowed away in a closet in deep Bed-Stuy. If you can handle the digital thing, then I encourage the listening of this record. If you enjoyed the Fleet Foxes vocal harmonies and the quirkiness of Animal Collective, then you’ll groove on this.
Coming Soon – Tiger Meet Lion
FULL DISCLOSURE: I produced this record too. Hey, I can’t help it that I work on really great shit! I also can’t help it that rest of the choice material is few and far between. This is French Pop at it’s best. It has all the commercial potential of the Turtles with influences ranging from Tom Waits to Arcade Fire to Prince Rama. It’s also some of my best work to date. While there are all kinds of great pop ditties, they are sprinkled with that Colburn flair. Weird synth pads, distortions and feedback buried deep in the mix. a multi listen treasure trove of…(how do you say genius in french? that’s right,) genie!
Bias – Model Citizen
I’m a huge Black Flag fan and collected the SST catalog for about 10 years. After Black Flag disbanded, I paid attention to my favorite guitarist Greg Ginn while he did some solo efforts. Then I thought he quit doing music. With the recent Black Flag reunion and the subsequent Good For You opening band that actually sounds more like Black Flag than Black Flag (not to mention the vocalist then joining Black Flag) I realized that he had been making music all this time under a 25 different names. Fuck! I put in a mega order and am still just scratching the surface. This record is a highlight so far. Came out in 97 and is comprised of weird percussion and drum loops by Andy Batwinas with Ginn doing basically everything else except some keys. It’s instrumental but the signature theme on this is quick picked guitar drones. Really stunning!
Blut Aus Nord – Debemur Morti
Blut Aus Nord are consistently a favorite in the black metal genre. I believe it to be one person and they never play live. This double 7″ is killer. Not only is it the coolest looking black, grey and white splash vinyl, it also is good at any speed. I first played it at 33 and prefer it at that speed. Pure head damage that you must yield to on multiple occasions.
Renaldo and the Loaf – Songs For Swinging Larvae
This is a fairly old album from 1981 and this isn’t even the first time it’s been issued on CD, BUT it’s the second disc of material that blows my mind. The second disc is called Songs from The Surgery and contains all kinds of weird goodies. It’s hard to say that RATL are weirder than the Residents but they are in a way. You could think of them as the forgotten child under the stairs at Ralph Records. They didn’t release that many records but the material was still recorded. Klang Galerie is running a reissue project of their records, always with a bonus disc of unreleased material. This record was always a favorite of mine originally, but this extra stuff reminds me of the Complete Bitches Brew Sessions where you hear the material that was cut from an already brilliant record and you realize that someone’s been holding out on you for a long time.
K. Leimer – A Period of Review
I came to discover this through a tape transfer job. I was contacted by the NYC label RVNG to see if I was able to take on a tape transfer job of about a dozen or so 1/4″ reels. They said the artist was an obscure northwest home recording dude using analog synths and modified instruments. Sounded cool to me, but I didn’t realize how cool. I looked into K. Leimer and found a early LP on ebay and when I got it, it reminded me of 90’s new age music. Not really my cup of tea. When the reels came in, I found that this material pre dated that first record and from reel 1 on, I was hooked. Unfortunately, this is not a 12 LP box set, so you won’t hear everything, but the compilation is really well done. I’d be hard pressed to find a cross section of material to represent this artists. The material is minimal synth drones and melodies that have a very Eno flair to them but occasionally going into more abstract areas. The vinyl edition is gone, but maybe if we bugged the label enough, they would repress.
Ulver – Messe I.X-VI.X
This actually came out last year, but it took me a while to get a copy. FANTASTIC! It’s got all the Ulver signatures of darkness and space but it’s done with a full blown orchestra! Reminds me of Devil Doll without much vocal stuff. When the vocals do come in, you know it’s Ulver. This band is by far one of the most innovative bands around.
Juana Molina – Wed 21
Another 2013 release that I got at the top of 2014. WOW! What a great record all the way through. Lots of South American influence in the rhythm but so much weird vocal and instrumentation that it reminds me of Renaldo and the Loaf!
Nocturnal Poisoning – Doomgrass
Honorable Mention this year because I’m confused on whether this is a “best of” record this year or not. I keep listening to it, but I never do back flips over anything in particular. But I keep listening to it because it sets a great mood. A few years ago Scott Conner put Xasthur to bed. I loved Xasthur. The slowly picked arpeggio melodies were tres chic! I was unaware that he had started this new project because it was so obscure and independent. Something happened and he got on facebook and twitter and I found out about this project. The label is trying to pass this off as bluegrass. It’s a far cry from that but it is acoustic Xasthur so I’m psyched about that. Listen and let me know what you think.