Warstub’s Top Four Albums of 2014 - Articles - Soundblab

Warstub’s Top Four Albums of 2014

by Warwick Stubbs Rating: Release Date:

Once again, I indulged myself in exploring back-catalogues of classical music and ignoring as much as I could of the contemporary world prior to joining the staff of writers at Soundblab. If you want to find blame for this, pass it onto my school students who constantly force their grotesque blends of hip-hop and pop on my ears (it's either that or some horrifically pretentious folk group).

As a result, Shellac’s Dude Incredible was all I was looking forward to this year. A pure coincidence then that I stumbled on the new J. Mascis album as a result of Amazon surfing and have been blessed with the discovery of We Were Promised Jetpacks and the work of Greta Morgan since taking up the mantel of 'music reviewer'.

 

  1. Tied to a Star - J. Mascis

It was impossible for me to give one song on this album less than five stars, even ‘Come Down’ which lasts too long and on which Mascis’s falsetto doesn't really sustain itself – a song where he could have utilised the guest vocalist from ‘Wide Awake’ to better effect. Nevertheless, the gorgeous playing and heartfelt beauty that permeates the rest of the album is still present but reaches an absolutely stunning peak with ‘And Then’.

 

  1. Unravelling ​- We Were Promised Jetpacks

I couldn’t give this album a 10 purely on the basis that production lets some of the songs down occasionally - that guitar lead/bend at the end of ‘Peaks and Troughs’ really needs to stand out. Beyond that, there are great hooks, big instrumental buildups contrasted with gentler verses and fades, and songwriting that stretches beyond the simplicity of what most indie bands accomplish. And boy, did this album catch my ears and not let them go.

 

  1. Springtime Carnivore - ​Springtime Carnivore

Even after Springtime Carnivore’s ‘Sun Went Black’ lodged itself in my brain, I still wanted to continue listening to Unravelling. Eventually, though, ‘Name on a Matchbook’ and ‘Keep Confessing’ started breaking through and forcing me to fall in love with Greta Morgan’s début solo album. This is an album that feels like all the lessons learnt from crafting songs in her previous two outfits, Gold Motel and The Hush Sound, have been combined to produce a stunning collection of all the ups and downs of relationships in the life of an indie-pop artist.

 

  1. Mozart: Requiem - ​John Butt; Dunedin Consort

Mozart is usually presented with either a big orchestra or a smaller ‘historically informed’ ensemble. Butt took it one step further and reconstructed the last piece of music Mozart was to compose while on his deathbed with single voices per part instead of a full choir of vocalists, while the instrumental parts have also been stripped down to just one or two performers. The result is quite stunning and shows Mozart as the master composer that he is.

 

In addition to just four albums over the course of a year (not including Dude Incredible, my very rushed review of which can be found on Amazon), individual tracks from other albums that grabbed me:

 

  1. ‘Motherload’ by Mastodon (Once More ‘Round the Sun) – catchy!

 

  1. ‘Dude Incredible’ by Shellac (Dude Incredible) – manifests some of the old magic.

 

  1. ‘The People’s Microphone’ by Shellac (Dude Incredible) – kicks it hard with some solid metal grooves.

 

  1. ‘Hired Gun’ by Dope Body (Lifer) – like some crazy mash-up of Sex Pistols, Ramones, and Sonic Youth.

 

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