THE FIFTY BEST NEW ALBUMS OF 2014-PART 1.

THE FIFTY BEST NEW ALBUMS OF 2014-PART 1.

RODRIGO AMARANTE-CAVALO. 

Previously, Rodrigo Amarante was part of one of the most successful Brazilian bands of all time, Los Hermanos. However, this year, he embarked upon his solo career. His debut solo album Cavalo, was released in May 2014, on Mais Um Discos. Cavalo shows a new side to Rodrigo Amarante’s music.

It’s much more introspective and thoughtful. It’s as if the six years he’s spent in L.A. has resulted in inspiration for the eleven songs on Cavalo, where Rodrigo takes centre-stage. This is a role Rodrigo Amarante seems born for. He’s a storyteller who brings his lyrics to life. During each song, he sounds as if he’s lived, loved and survived the pain, hurt and heartbreak he’s singing about. So much so, that you find yourself empathizing with Rodrigo Amarante’s plight and pain. Then to life your spirits, he throws in a hook laden gem like Hourglass or Maná. This leaves you wanting more. The same can be said of Cavalo, Rodrigo Amarante’s critically acclaimed, genre-melting debut album, which belongs in the record collection of anyone who loves and appreciates music that’s ethereal, beautiful, wistful, heartfelt and joyous.

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ALGEBRA BLESSETT-RECOVERY. 

It was six years ago, that Atlanta born soul singer Algebra Blessett released her debut album Purpose. It was produced by Kedar Massenburg who previously, produced India Arie and D’Angelo. On its release in 2008, Purpose was released to critical acclaim. Comparisons were drawn with India Arie and Erykay Badu. Critics forecast great things for Algebra. Described as a charismatic and versatile singer-songwriter, Algebra Blessett was hailed as the most talented singer to come out of Atlanta in a long time. The future, critics said, looked bright for Algebra. Six years later Algebra returns with Purpose, the followup to Recovery, which was by BBE Music in February 2014. 

Angela’s a hugely talented singer-songwriter. She has the uncanny ability to make a lyrics come to life. It’s as if she’s lived and survived the lyrics. Whether any of the lyrics are autobiographical, I don’t know, but the pain and hurt Algebra sings about seems very real. Maybe Algebra has suffered the heartache and disappointment she sings about on Recovery? If she has, I hope this proves cathartic for her. Should  she not have experienced the heartache and disappointment, she’s obviously able to bring other people’s pain and problems to life. That’s not easy to do, because you’ve not suffered like they have. Whatever the truth is, Recovery is an emotional roller coaster of album from the hugely talented Algebra Blessett.

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BLY DE BLYANT-HINDSIGHT BIAS.

Bly De Blyant are the equivalent of international musical superheroes. They dare to create innovative, groundbreaking and genre-melting music. To do this, they combine musical genres and influences. Through improvisation, Bly De Blyant fuse  everything from classic rock, jazz, Krautrock and math rock. It’s an inventive and innovative combination. No wonder. This is what we’d expect from true musical mavericks like Bly De Blyant. They released their sophomore album, Hindsight Bias, will be released on Hubro Music in March 2014. 

Hindsight Bias, just like Bly De Blyant’s debut album, ABC, is an old school album. Using vintage equipment, including a Hammond organ, Moog synth, and Fender Precision bass Bly De Blyant recorded eight tracks. During these eight tracks, Bly De Blyant fuse musical genres. Everything from ambient, avant-garde, blues, classic rock, electronica, experimental, free jazz, funk, jazz, Kratrock and math rock has been combined. This pot pourri of musical genres and influences became Hindsight Bias, a worthy followup to ABC.

It reinforces Bly De Blyant’s reputation as an inspirational, innovative and imaginative band. Bly De Blyant are the keeper of the flame for music that’s bold, challenging, innovative, inventive and influential. It’s a case of expect the unexpected on Hindsight Bias, which is a truly genre-melting album. Bly De Blyant after all, are no ordinary band. No way. Their music is exciting, innovative and progressive, where a fusion of musical influences and genres became one. That’s the perfect description of Bly De Blyant’s sophomore album Hindsight Bias.

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BOMBAY MONKEY-DARK FLOW.

Mention Dark Flow and the words will mean different things to different people. To astrophysicists it’s a subject of conjecture and controversy. For music lovers, Dark Flow means something very different. Dark Flow is the highly anticipated fourth album from Bombay Monkey.

Combine ambient with classic rock, dub, electronica, indie rock, pop, prog rock, psychedelia and synth pop and the result is Dark Flow. It’s n album that’s variously dark, dramatic and eerie to beautiful and ethereal, right through to anthemic, dance-floor friendly, hook laden, irresistible and joyous. Dark Flow also veers between cinematic and subtle, to melodic and melancholy. That to me, is the perfect description of Dark Flow, which marks a coming-of-age from Bombay Monkey.

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BUILDING INSTRUMENT-BUILDING INSTRUMENT.

Although Building Instrument formed in 2008, it’s taken them six years to release their eponymous debut album. Building Instrument, which was released on Hubro Music during 2014. Building Instrument was recorded over a period of several years. During that time, Building Instrument’s trademark sound evolved. This is apparent on Building Instrument’s eponymous debut album.

On Building Instrument, Building Instrument create what’s best described as genre defying music. It’s ambitious and innovative music. That’s why Building Instrument was released to widespread critical acclaim. No wonder. Building Instrument is best described as a beautiful, cinematic, ethereal, innovative and inventive. Musical boundaries to their limits, and sometimes, beyond, on an album that’s been six years in the making. That’s six years well spent.

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VASHTI BUNYAN-HEARTLEAP.

For far too long, Vashti Bunyan was one of music’s best kept secrets. Vashti’s music was almost unknown outside of a small, loyal coterie of music lovers. This included a new generation of folk singers, including Devendra Banhart and Joanna Newsom. Their careers were influenced by Vashti Bunyan, and especially, her 1970 debut album Just Another Diamond Day. Sadly, after Just Another Diamond Day’s release, failed commercially and Vashti turned her back on music. Then in 2002, Vashti made a comeback. Her latest album is Heartleap, which was released on  Fat Cat Records.

Vashti Bunyan was always a hugely talented singer and songwriter. That was the case in 1970, when she released Just Another Diamond Day. Sadly, Vashti Bunyan was ahead of the musical curve. When Just Another Diamond Day failed commercially, she turned her back on music. Gradually, though, a new generation of music lovers, critics and musicians discovered Just Another Diamond Day. Belatedly, Vashti Bunyan was receiving the critical acclaim that her music so richly deserves. No longer is Vashti Bunyan one of music’s best kept secrets. Instead, Vashti Bunyan is the comeback Queen, who has just released Heartleap, an album that oozes quality and ethereal beauty.

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BUSHMAN’S REVENGE-THOU SHALT NOT BOOGIE!

Never before have I heard of a band named after a range of hot sauce. That’s until I came across Norwegian trio Bushman’s Revenge. The band discovered Bushman’s Revenge during a trip to South Africa back in 2003. During that trip, they enjoyed several memorable encounters with Bushman’s Revenge. It made a lasting impression. So much so, that when they discovered they’d a concert to play, but no name for their band, they decided to call their band Bushman’s Revenge. That was 2003. Ten years later, Bushman’s Revenge released their sixth album, Thou Shalt Not Boogie. It was released on Rune Grammofon in January 2014. 

There’s no doubt, that Thou Shalt Not Boogi is the finest album of Bushman’s Revenge’s career. It’s an example of a tight and talented band who have spent the last ten years honing their sound. This has paid off. On Thou Shalt Boogie! Bushman’s Revenge veer between musical genres. There’s everything from ambient, blues, free jazz, prog rock, psychedelia and rock. Sometimes, Bushman’s Revenge seamlessly switch between musical genres. They throw a series of curveballs, lulling you into a false sense of security. Then they spring a surprise. 

From a cinematic sounding ambient track, Bushman’s Revenge kick out the jams and become a hard rocking power trio. At times like that, they sound as if they’ve been influenced by Black Sabbath, Cream and the New York Dolls. Other times, their music sounds as if it’s been influenced by free jazz musicians Sun Ra, Cream, Alice Coltrane and Ornette Coleman. Seamlessly, Bushman’s Revenge are capable of flitting between musical genres. Soon, you learn to expect the unexpected. You can never tell where a track is going. Even, Rune and Gard are constantly throwing curveballs during Thou Shalt Boogie! Helping them to do this was guest artist David Wallumrod. He was ying to Bushman’s Revenge’s yang on Thou Shalt Boogie!, the best album of Bushman’s Revenge’s six album career.

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CAKEWALK-TRANSFIXED.

It was May 2012, when Cakewalk released their genre-melting debut album Wired. Released to critical acclaim, Wired featured intense, mesmeric music. Featuring three experienced and talented musicians, Cakewalk became one. Each member of Cakewalk seemed to have know exactly what the other was about to do. The interaction between them was peerless. They fed off each other, and seamlessly, Cakewalk fused musical genres. Krautrock, experimental, electronica, free jazz and punk all melted into one. The result was music that veered between lively and vibrant, right through to frantic and frenzied. Influences included David Bowie’s Berlin trilogy, plus the Krautrock of Neu and Can. Wired was akin to a musical tapestry, full of nuances, surprises and subtleties. Critics who were won over by Cakewalk, hungrily awaited the followup to Wired. Thankfully, they’ve not had to wait long. No. Transfixed, Cakewalk’s sophomore album, was released by Hubro Music in January 2014.

Just under two years after the release of their debut album Wired, Cakewalk return with their sophomore album Transfixed. Transfixed is aptly titled. It’s an album that has you Transfixed from the opening bars of  Ghosts to the closing notes of Dunes. During the six tracks, the music is variously atmospheric, cinematic, dark, dramatic, eerie, ethereal, evocative, experimental, gothic and haunting. Subtleties, surprises and nuances unfold. Soundscapes flower and blossom as genres and influences melt into one. This allows Cakewalk to hone and sculpt a song until they’re mini modernist works of art.

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CHANCHA VIA CIRCUITO-AMANSARA. 

Chancha Via Circuito released his fourth album Amansara in September 2014, on Crammed Discs. Amansara is Chancha Via Circuito’s first album for Crammed Discs. The long awaited followup to Rio Arriba marks a new chapter in the career of musical maverick, Chancha Via Circuito.

Listen carefully and Chancha Via Circuito combines a myriad of disparate musical influences. As a starting point, Chancha Via Circuito uses cumbia. He adds to that avant-garde, electronica, experimental, hip hop, industrial, Latin and soul. The soul comes courtesy of Lido Pimienta and  Miriam García. Although they’re both Latin vocalists, they’re both deeply soulful. They provide a contrast to Chancha Via Circuito’s arrangements. Each of these arrangements are very different. During Amansara, Chancha Via Circuito seems determined to constantly reinvent himself and his music. He successes in doing so. Amansara is a genre-melting, musical journey. It’s a captivating journey full of twists and turns aplenty. Before long, you realise to expect the unexpected. The other thing you realise, is never try to second guess Chancha Via Circuito. He is after all, a musical maverick. That’s why Amansara is a truly refreshing, genre-melting and album of ambitious music. 

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ADRIAN CROWLEY-SOME BLUE MORNING.

In November 2014, Galway born singer-songwriter, Adrian Crowley released his new, critically acclaimed, album Some Blue Morning, on Chemikal Underground. It’s his seventh album since his 1999 debut. 

Wistful, melancholy, hopeful and cinematic describes Some Blue Morning, which was recently released on Chemikal Underground. Some Blue Morning features eleven songs from the pen of Adrian Crowley. They’re based upon Adrian Crowley life and experiences. Many of the songs are akin to short stories. They unfold before your eyes, while as Adrian Crowley becomes a storyteller par excellence. His lyrics come to life, as Adrian breathes life, meaning and emotion to the lyrics. Accompanied by a tight, talented band, these songs become like the soundtrack to a film that’s yet to be made.

There’s a reason for this. Adrian Crowley’s songs have a cinematic quality. Some of the songs wouldn’t sound out of place in a David Lynch or Wim Wenders film. That’s how good they are. Indeed, the songs on Some Blue Morning include some of the best of Adrian Crowley’s careers. That’s why Some Blue Morning is a career defining album for Dublin based troubadour, Adrian Crowley.

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