Best of 2014:
top 20 LPs, top 6 EPs and top 5 splits
What a crazy fucking year. My son was born. This blog is now 1.75 years old and my label Zegema Beach Records is just over a year old. I'm broke as shit in a minimum wage job and have no benefits. Times are hard. Music, thankfully, continues to grow, evolve and permeate my eardrums daily. Here is my list of stuff that I jammed the most this year. 2014 twas a great fucking year.
First, the best stuff I didn't hear until this year:
COREA reviewed here
GUIDELINES reviewed here
FORGET ME NOT review coming
LOGS reviewed here
Top 20 LPs(1) VI SOM ÄLSKADE VARANDRA SÅ MYCKET - 'Den sorgligaste musiken i världen' historical, in my opinion, just not too many people are aware of it yet. Blending beauty and chaos, it's like an evolved Envy with a Swedish twist. Fucking unreal album as well as artwork.
"Leva Som Snö" (audio)
(2) LIFE IN VACUUM - '5' stirred something in me dormant since the mid 1990s (aka Nirvana) and mixed it with my love from the 2000s (aka The Blood Brothers). So groovy. So catchy. So screamy. Fuck me this album is unreal. And the guys are super nice and also play in Congratulations!
"Van Life" (audio)
(3) CASSILIS - 'Quitting'
was my favourite record of 2013 (ahead of the almighty Mutoid Man, no less!) but as it wasn't officially released until 2014 so it had to drop a spot or two. Goddamn, this record is definitely the band's beacon of anger, frustration, noise and breakdowns. "God Hair" makes me destroy things because that breakdown is fucking unreal.
(5) ∞ - 'Emme Näe Elämää' at first the album didn't seem as amazing as their previous endeavour 'Nayt Kauas' but upon repeat listens the epic and surreal became much more apparent. Definitely my sleeper of the year. I will be helping release this on cassette in 2015 with Friendship Records. Epic screamo/crust/shoegaze.
(6) UNITED NATIONS - 'The Next Four Years' was totally worth the wait. Changing members but not really changing their sound, the first track alone is worth the $12 for the cd, but not necessarily the $38 for the box set. Luckily the rest of the album being excellent makes the box set worth it.
(7) SAID GONER - 'Said Goner' reminded me that stripped down acoustic rock is amazing and pure. A soulful and phenomenal debut effort from the front man of Carrion Spring.
(8) BLACK LOVE - 'Black Love' completely original, raw yet refined, three guitarists and one of the best bassists in the business. Nothing sounds like the band but I sure wish other bands did!
(10) CAPACITIES - 'Capacities' Tom, Eric, Chris and Rob dropped one hell of a final album. Their best produced record shines through as clear as day but sounds like the anthems of frustrated and disillusioned youth. Music that could be used in a revolt against the government, societal norms and corporations.
"The Pink Nose" (audio)
(11) NOUS ETIONS - 'La Maniere Noire' for a band that I initially was hesitant to help financially, they really blew away all of my expectations. Great music. Great live. Great dudes.
(12) NNAMDI OGBONNAYA - 'Feckin Weirdo' got me into a style I didn't know I liked. I generally leave hip-hop and rap or whatever you would call this to those who really love it, but I found myself entrenched after watching that video for "2% Chest". What video? This video.
"2% Chest" (official video)
(13) KADDISH 'Thick Letters to Friends' opening track "And So I Tell Myself to Myself" made the rest of the album sound mediocre by comparison - but still, an amazing accomplishment because the album runs so smoothly and is really generating a style that is all their own.
(14) I LOVE YOUR LIFESTYLE - 'I Love Your Lifestyle' took awhile to grow on me, as the vocals and structure reminded me a lot of pop-punk upon first listen, but soon enough I found myself singing the songs incessantly.If only all the songs were as catchy/amazing as "Christopher Robin" this would be in the top 10 for sure.
(15) LOCKTENDER - 'Rodin' was perhaps too epic an album when it came down to the scope of it. I know a number of people who lose interest in a song after 7 minutes, as these guys pumped out one of the greatest 19-minute songs I've ever heard. Also love the continued use of art themes. Overly gravelly/growly vocals pulled this down a few spots but I've already heard the band's new material and the vocals may well now be the best part about the band.
(16) CROWS-AN-WRA - 'Kalopsia' was a jarring and unexpected listen, but after repeat spins the genius is much more obvious. Trippy as fuck riffs smash head on with both screamy and angelic vocals.
"Vibrant Colours" (audio)
(17) AVVIKA - 'Avvika' came outta nowhere. I gave the first track "Fire" the benefit of the doubt after patiently sitting through the first six minutes of noise and was rewarded, and then some, for my self-restraint. A massive, swelling beast this two-song record is. Archaic. Destructive. Indestructible.
(18) VIVA BELGRADO - 'Flores Carne' is a beautifully arranged album. Like Vi Som Alskade Varandra Sa Mycket and Sed Non Satiata these guys know how to make an emotional record with precisely timed shifts, movements and undertones.
(20) CAUTION CHILDREN 'Self Crusades / No Judgements / And Baby' just sneaked into the top 20. Japan's Blue Friend would have been here, save for the Caution Children's live performance in Kitchener/Waterloo that absolutely blew my mind and catapulted the band and album into the arena of Dave's favourite from the year 2014.
"Knowing About Bombs" (audio)
Top 6 EPs(1) VIA FONDO - 'Fast' was the other reason I started a label, as the band had no label to help them out. Shame on those labels because this 3-song EP is one of the best things I've ever heard. Screamo of the La Quiete variety meets Deafheaven. This video sold me on the band because it is mindblowing.
"Rovaniemi" (official music video)
"Aren't You Frightened Skinny, Scary Skeleton?" (audio)
(4) YOUNG MOUNTAIN - 'We're Dying in Slowmotion' was the perfect mix of screamy, dreamy post-rock with a few black metal tendencies and a whole lotta heart. There's even a secret b-side track!
"Arctic Smile" (audio)
(5) RAVIN - 'Ravin' was an excellent debut with powerful screamo/hardcore instrumentals mixed with very passionate vocals. Quite the surprise. So good, I'm releasing their next cd.
(6) CREEPER - 'Noize II Men' released following the announcement of their impending doom as a group. I tried to get the band to release this under the Zegema Beach Records label on a 7", but no avail. Dirty, thick hardcore for fans of Curl Up And Die, Ghostlimb and Canyons.
Top 5 splits(1) OLD SOUL / NIC (usa/czech republic) + OLD SOUL / LENTIC WATERS (usa/germany) both 12" splits could easily take top spot, but as OLD SOUL pumped out five of the greatest songs I've ever heard with NIC and LENTIC WATERS contributing solid material on the flip-side, these are dreamy screamo songs with epic black-metal influences for the first split (OLD SOUL and NIC) and the same for the second, only with more metallic/doomy hardcore from LENTIC WATERS.
OLD SOUL "Emerald" (audio)
OLD SOUL "Wick" (audio)
Woah, this two-band split was one of the best screamo collaborations I've ever heard...and I can't pronounce either band name! Who cares, these five songs will leave you salivating for more full lengths by both bands.
ØJNE "Sotto I Tigli" (audio)
(3) THE RABBIT THEORY (switzerland) / ADOLINA (belgium) 12"
This split came to me after pressing, but it was so good I convinced the bands and labels to let me hop on for 30 copies and a self-drawn logo on the back for ZBR. This math/screamo influenced indie rock kicks major ass.
THE RABBIT THEORY "The Denial Of Life And Joy vs. Everybody's Right To Beautiful Radiant Things" (audio)
I always mention that I bought this for BREAG NAOFA but ended up falling head over heels for MONUMENTS OF COLLAPSE. Both bands play huge, massive and destructive post-metal/post-hardcore with both lighter and demonic moments.
(5) CALLOW (usa) / JUNGBLUTH (germany) 7" is the perfect head-on meeting between two crusty, metallic hardcore/thrash bands. Three songs from CALLOW and one from JUNGBLUTH prove that young, emotional rage is alive and true.