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Top 25 Albums Of 2014: Part 1

December 9, 2014

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Well friends, I’m just about done with posting the site’s year-end music lists.  Today I have the first part of my Top 25 Albums of 2014 (25-11, plus various Honorable Mentions), tomorrow I’ll have my Top 10 selections, and then on Thursday I’ll have Top 5s from each of SOTO’s contributors.  Whew!  Anyhow, on with the rambling.  Enjoy.

PS – This year’s list is very heavily influenced by how often I revisited an album.

25) Swans – To Be Kind

There’s nothing about Swans’ To Be Kind that’s easy (or it would be ranked way higher), but if you can fully immerse yourself in its sprawling sound, you’ll find that it’s a rather rewarding album.

:Swans – A Little God In My Hands:

24) Interpol – El Pintor

While it’s no Turn On The Bright Lights, I do think that El Pintor is the best thing to come from Interpol in a long while.  Who knew that parting with Carlos D would turn out to be good for the band?!

:Interpol – All The Rage Back Home:

23) Future Islands – Singles

Future Islands’ Singles is one of those albums that I burned out on and then ending up excitedly coming back to.  It’s a pretty great effort, especially if you need something to dramatically dance to.

:Future Islands – Seasons (Waiting On You):

22) Sylvan Esso – Self Titled

Sylvan Esso’s self titled debut is an easily accessible effort that’s loaded with some of the year’s best electronic pop songs.  I often just put it on and let its warm sound fill the room.

:Sylvan Esso – Coffee:

21) Thee Oh Sees – Drop

Just when it looked like Thee Oh Sees were going to take a lengthy break, they released the lively Drop.  I approve of such indecisiveness.  Here’s hoping they continue on maybe going on hiatus.

:Thee Oh Sees – Penetrating Eye:

20) Ty Segall – Manipulator

Manipulator is the culmination of all the various sounds that Ty Segall has churned out over the last few years, and it’s great.  Way to bring everything full circle, Mr. Segall.

:Ty Segall – Susie Thumb:

19) Phantogram – Voices

I can’t say that Voices dominated my time the way that Eyelid Movies did (way back in 2010), but it’s definitely a high quality effort.  Phantogram craft great hooks.

:Phantogram – Fall In Love:

18) S – Cool Choices

Jenn Ghetto (formerly of Carissa’s Wierd) is S, and Cool Choices is her very sincere, introspective album.  She’s got the sort of voice that I can’t help but get hung up on.

:S – Vampires:

17) Mono – Rays Of Darkness/The Last Dawn

Technically, Rays Of Darkness and The Last Dawn are two separate releases, but I still consider them to be a two-disc effort.  As for the actual LPs themselves, I really dig how neither of them feel like the Mono that made the over-orchestrated For My Parents.

:Mono – Recoil, Ignite:

16) Jack White – Lazaretto

I can’t ever make any sense of the things that Jack White says and does these days, but I sure do like his music.  Lazaretto is a boisterous experience.

:Jack White – Lazaretto:

15) Abram Shook – Sun Marquee

Austin’s own Abram Shook put out the immensely pleasing Sun Marquee back in January, and it’s been a favorite of mine ever since.  It’s the kind of breezy, relaxed pop music that’s impossible to not get lost in.

:Abram Shook – Coastal:

14) Tune Yards – Nikki Nack

Nikki Nack is exactly what we’ve all come to want and expect from the talented Merrill Garbus (aka Tune Yards) – it’s creative and a whole lot of fun to listen to.

:Tune Yards – Real Thing:

13) Ex Hex – Rips

I miss Wild Flag, but their disbandment delivered Mary Timony’s equally catchy and rocking Ex Hex AND put Sleater-Kinney back together.  I’ll take that deal any day.

:Ex Hex – Hot And Cold:

12) The Dead Space – Faker

If you are even the slightest fan of post-punk, then you need The Dead Space’s Faker in your life.  There’s not a track on it that isn’t rad.

:The Dead Space – Behind The Wall:

11) Tacocat – NVM

I didn’t pay much attention to Tacocat’s NVM until kind of late in the year, but once I “discovered” it I was forever hooked.  It’s total surf-rock bliss.

:Tacocat – Crimson Wave:

Come back tomorrow for my Top 10 Albums of 2014!

HONORABLE MENTIONS:

To be honest, I could have easily detailed 50 albums this year, but since the bottom 25 slots would have been occupied by the various releases that I liked but didn’t listen to a whole super lot, I figured it was best to hold back.  For fun though, here are the LPs that more than likely would have made an expanded list.

A Sunny Day In Glasgow – Sea When Absent
Alex Napping – This Is Not A Bedroom
Alvvays – Self Titled
Angel Olsen – Burn Your Fire For No Witness
Ariel Pink – Pom Pom
Coathangers – Suck My Shirt
Cymbals Eat Guitars – Lose
Deerhoof – La Isla Bonita
Equals – Tracts
Eternal Summers – The Drop Beneath
FKA Twigs – LP1
Flesh Lights – Free Yourself
Literature – Chorus
Men – Tomorrow’s Hits
OBN IIIs – Third Time To Harm
Owls – Two
Pompeii – Loom
Ramesh – The King
Sharon Van Etten – Are We There
Thurston Moore – The Best Day
Tontons – Make Out King And Other Stories Of Love
Warpaint – Self Titled
We Were Promised Jetpacks – Unravelling
Wye Oak – Shriek
Yellow Ostrich – Cosmos

Also, for even more fun, here are my five favorite EPs of 2014.

Speedy Ortiz – Real Hair EP
Diarrhea Planet – Aliens In The Outfield EP
White Reaper – Self Titled EP
Otis The Destroyer – Dark Arts EP
Whiite Walls – Self Titled EP

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Top 50 Songs Of 2014: Part 2

December 2, 2014

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Boom.  Here’s part two of my Top 50 Songs of 2014.  If you missed the first installment, check it out here.  The other parts will arrive each day this week!  Enjoy.

40)  :Braid – No Coast:  It was the arrival of this anthemic track that pushed me from curious to excited about Braid reuniting for a new full length (their first in 16 years).  From No Coast.

39)  :Eternal Summers – Gouge:  I’ve had this shoegazey number on repeat for just about the entirety of 2014.  I definitely think it’s Eternal Summers’ best song (so far).  From The Drop Beneath.

38)  :Letting Up Despite Great Faults – Wrapped:  This fantastic slice of dream pop is from one of my favorite bands in Austin, Letting Up Despite Great Faults.  It’ll make you dance (and maybe cry a little).  From Neon.

37)  :Mas Ysa – Shame:  Thomas Arseneault (aka Mas Ysa) churns out some really interesting stuff.  For instance, this synthy gem is somehow both very calculated and super raw.  From The Worth EP.

36)  :Alvvays – Archie, Marry Me:  Sure, Alvvays is a pretty silly name, but that doesn’t mean this song isn’t one of the best lo-fi pop efforts of the year.  From the band’s self titled album.

35)  :Pillar Point – Eyeballs:  I’m not sure that Scott Reitherman (formerly of Throw Me The Statue and now the main brain behind Pillar Point) has ever made a song that I didn’t like.  The guy sure knows how to craft quality pop music.  From the band’s self titled album.

34)  :Cymbals Eat Guitars – Chambers:  If you’ve ever wanted to hear Cymbals Eat Guitars as a full-on accessible rock act, then this is the song you’ve been looking for.  It’s a good sound for them.  From Lose.

33)  :Ariel Pink – Put Your Number In My Phone:  When it comes to Ariel Pink, I’m always impressed with the way he’s able to craft that one single every release that’s a total ear-pleaser.  I think he does it on purpose so it’s easier to dive into the bizarro creations that usually fill out his albums.  From Pom Pom.

32)  :Sylvan Esso – Coffee:  For a while I thought MS MR’s fancy remix of this track was unbeatable, but in the end I found myself partial to the minimalistic sound of Sylvan Esso’s original take.  From the band’s self titled album.

31)  :Weaves – Shithole:  Every time I listen to this song I immediately want to travel back to the 90s so that I can be angsty about having to exist in the 90s.  Thanks for that, Weaves.  From the Shithole single.

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Stream This

September 12, 2014

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From the depths of the SOTO inbox, I present to you your weekly serving of the latest and greatest album streams and videos.  Enjoy.

FULL ALBUM STREAMS

Please note that the majority of the streams expire as soon as the albums come out, so don’t wait too long to check them out.

ALBUM OF THE WEEK ➡ This Will Destroy You – Another Language

Generationals – Alix
My Brightest Diamond – This Is My Hand
Lia Ices – Ices
The Juan MacLean – In A Dream
Banks – Goddess
Valery Gore – Idols In The Dark
So Cow – The Long Con
Odesza – In Return
Bee Vs Moth – Shelter In Place
She Keeps Bees – Eight Houses
The White Octave – Style No. 6312
Broncho – Just Enough Hip To Be Woman
Moon Hooch – This Is Cave Music
Lowell – We Loved Her Dearly
Cy Dune – Shake
White Arrows – In Bardo
Cancers – Fatten The Leeches

MUSIC VIDEOS

⬆ VIDEO OF THE WEEK ⬆
We Were Promised Jetpacks

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Quickdraw: Jurassic 5, Sondre Lerche, Jonsi, Sylvan Esso, Big Deal

May 27, 2014

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Music!  Enjoy.

:Jurassic 5 – The Way We Do It:  I thought Jurassic 5 put on a really good set at Fun Fun Fun Fest last year, so I’m happy to see they’ve decided to extend their reunion run.  No word yet on if a new album is coming, but hopefully this upbeat number means there’s a chance.

:Sondre Lerche – Bad Law:  There’s a few mini-freak out sessions in this indie pop gem, and every time one shows up I can’t help but laugh.  They’re just so weird.  Still, I really like the song, and also I suppose there’s nothing wrong with Sondre Lerche throwing out a curveball every now and again.  Look for Please at some point this Fall via Mona Records.

:Jonsi – Where No One Goes:  Here’s a track that Jonsi did for the upcoming film How To Train Your Dragon 2.  I can imagine listening to it while riding a dragon, so that’s totally a job well done!  The soundtrack is due out June 10.

:Sylvan Esso – Coffee (MS MR Remix):  The original version of this Sylvan Esso song is cool, but I think I prefer this MS MR remix.  They’re turned it into an atmospheric beast, and I just dig it to no end.  Obviously, this track is just a one-off effort, so grab it while you can.

:Big Deal – Always Boys:  Last year Big Deal put out the very solid June Gloom, and now they’re following it up with an EP.  If this first single says anything, it’s that the band is still hard at work on expanding their sound.  I approve.  The Sakura EP is due out July 15 via Mute.

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Stream This

May 9, 2014

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From the depths of the SOTO inbox, I present to you your weekly serving of the latest and greatest album streams and videos.  Enjoy.

FULL ALBUM STREAMS

ALBUM OF THE WEEK ➡ Equals – Tracts

Swans – To Be Kind
La Sera – Hour Of The Dawn
Baths – Ocean Death
Sylvan Esso – Self Titled
Young Widows – Easy Pain
Tobacco – Ultima II Massage
Cheap Girls – Famous Graves
Mirah – Changing Light
Tori Amos – Unrepentant Geraldines
Le Butcherettes – Cry Is For The Flies
The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart – Days Of Abandon
Chromeo – White Women
The Black Keys – Turn Blue
Amen Dunes – Love
Walter Martin – We’re All Young Together
Visionist – I’m Fine: Part II
Tiny Ruins – Brightly Painted One
The Trouble With Templeton – Rookie
Dawn Golden – Still Life
Cousins – The Halls Of Wickwire
Barrows – Red Giant

MUSIC VIDEOS

⬆ VIDEO OF THE WEEK ⬆
Real Estate

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Stream This

May 2, 2014

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From the depths of the SOTO inbox, I present to you your weekly serving of the latest and greatest album streams and videos.  Enjoy.

FULL ALBUM STREAMS

ALBUM OF THE WEEK ➡ Lykke Li – I Never Learn

Curtis Harding – Soul Power
Atmosphere – Southsiders
Paws – Youth Culture Forever
Fujiya & Miyagi – Artificial Sweetners
Brian Eno & Karl Hyde – Someday World
The Horrors – Luminous
Antwon – Heavy Hearted In Doldrums
Papercuts – Life Among The Savages
Liam Finn – The Nihilist
Makthaverskhan – II
Kishi Bashi – Lighght
Gary Clark Jr. – Blak And Blu Mixtape
Doss – Self Titled EP
Secret Colours – Positive Distractions
Mystic Braves – Desert Island

MUSIC VIDEOS

⬆ VIDEO OF THE WEEK ⬆
Sylvan Esso

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Stream This

March 28, 2014

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From the depths of the SOTO inbox, I present to you your weekly serving of the latest and greatest album streams and videos.  Enjoy.

FULL ALBUM STREAMS

ALBUM OF THE WEEK ➡ Cloud Nothings – Here And Nowhere Else

Mac DeMarco – Salad Days
White Hinterland – Baby
Pattern Is Movement – Self Titled
S. Carey – Range Of Light
Saintseneca – Dark Arc
Thievery Corporation – Saudade
Pure X – Angel
Johnny Cash – Out Among The Stars
Wolfmother – New Crown
The Toadies – Rubberneck
Manchester Orchestra – Cope
Timber Timbre – Hot Dreams
Inventions – Self Titled
Weaves – Self Titled EP

MUSIC VIDEOS

⬆ VIDEO OF THE WEEK ⬆
Diarrhea Planet

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Quickdraw: The Hold Steady, The Coathangers, Mac DeMarco, Sylvan Esso, Magna Carda

January 27, 2014

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Music!  Enjoy.

:The Hold Steady – I Hope This Whole Thing Didn’t Frighten You:  After a few years of other projects and such, the Hold Steady are back together.  Guitarist Steve Selvidge (he toured with them in 2010) is now an official member of the band, and his presence seems to have given them a meatier sound.  I like it.  You’ll be able to get Teeth Dreams on March 25 via the band’s own Positive Jams imprint.

:The Coathangers – Follow Me:  Here in the next couple of weeks I’m going to scribble out a to-do list for SXSW, and near the top of it will definitely be to finally see The Coathangers play.  I bet it’s a show that just dominates you.  Suicide Squeeze Records will release Suck My Shirt on March 18.

:Mac DeMarco – Passing Out Pieces:  I really love this whimsical number from Mac DeMarco.  Makes me wonder why I’ve never really spent a lot of time listening to his albums.  Salad Days is all set to be released on April 1 via Captured Tracks.  DeMarco will play the Mohawk on April 13.

:Sylvan Esso – Coffee:  In case you missed my recommendation of Sylvan Esso last year, it’s a project from Amelia Meath (Mountain Man) and Nick Sanborn (Megafaun).  I think they’re doing some really interesting stuff.  The Coffee/Dress 12″ is due out March 25 on Partisan Records.

:Magna Carda – Geaux:  These days every time I turn around someone is asking about Austin’s Magna Carda, and I think that’s a very good thing.  Not only are they worthy of the attention, but maybe it will make people (and I’m including myself here) pay more attention to the local hip hop scene.  You can get the group’s new mixtape, Van Geaux, for free over at Bandcamp.

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