THE FIFTY BEST NEW ALBUMS OF 2014-PART 4.

THE FIFTY BEST NEW ALBUMS OF 2014-PART 4.

DOUG PAISLEY-STRONG FEELINGS.

Doug Paisley is a refreshing alternative to much of music that’s released nowadays. He’s not the result of major label hype or the winner of some tedious talent show. These are the type of artists who nowadays, are hyped as the future of music. They’re not and never will be. They’ll enjoy a fleeting fling with success and a few years later, be back to pumping gas or waiting tables. Meanwhile, Doug Paisley will be enjoying the fruits of his labor. He is the real thing and has a huge future ahead of him. For anyone yet to discover Doug Paisley’s music, you’ve been missing out on one of the most talented singer-songwriters of his generation. Born in Toronto, Canada, Doug has released his third album Strong Feelings on No Quarter Records earlier in 2014. Strong Feelings is a fusion of alternative country, Americana and folk.  

There’s no doubt about it, Doug Paisley is a seriously talented singer-songwriter. He’s a reminder that there are still musicians who can write their own songs. Then when he sings these songs, they come alive. They’re like ten short stories. Tales of betrayal, love and love gone wrong, you can picture these scenarios unfolding. Many of the songs have a cinematic quality.  Close your eyes and the scenes unfold in front of your eyes. Not many contemporary singers can do that. Doug Paisley can. That’s why listening to Doug’s third album Strange Feelings is like a return to the golden age of the singer-songwriter. Strange Feelings is also a coming of age for Doug Paisley.

Strange Feelings is the album where Doug Paisley’s music should attract a much wider audience. He’s come of age and deserves to be heard by a record buying public starved of quality new music. From the opening bars of Radio Girl, right through to the closing bars of Because I Love You, Doug Paisley has you captivated. It’s music that’s absorbing, beautiful, cathartic, cinematic, emotive, enthralling and heart-wrenching. That’s why Doug Paisley deserves to make a commercial breakthrough after five years of trying. 

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LINDA PERHACS-THE SOUL OF ALL NATURAL THINGS.

Back in 1970, twenty-seven year old dental hygienist Linda Perhacs released her debut album Parallelograms. It was released to critical acclaim, but sadly, this psychedelic folk classic wasn’t the huge commercial success it should’ve been. Many people within the music industry forecast a great future for Linda Perhacs. No wonder. Parallelograms is a beautiful, understated and enchanting album. From the opening bars of Chimacum Rain, right through to the closing notes of Delicious, it’s a captivating listen. Linda’s tender vocal and gently plucked guitar have you spellbound. The result was hopeful music that’s ethereal and dreamy. With baited breath, music industry insiders and music fans awaited the followup to Parallelograms. Forty-four years passed, and earlier this year, Linda Perhacs released Parallelograms, she was about to release the followup The Soul Of All Natural Things.

Although forty-four years have passed since Linda Perhacs released her debut album Parallelograms, she’s picked up where she left off on The Soul of All Natural Things. Accompanied by some of the best young musicians Los Angeles has to offer, they’ve played their part in a flawless fusion of folk, pop and psychedelia. There’s even diversions via ambient, experimental, jazz and drone pop. That comes courtesy of Chris Price and Fernando Perdomo who co-produced The Soul of All Natural Things with Linda Perhacs, whose now aged seventy. She’s lost none of her talent, and like Vashti Bunyan, whose career is enjoying an Indian summer. 

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ROBERT PLANT-LULLABY AND…THE CEASELESS ROAR.

For many musicians who were once part of one of the most successful bands in musical history, the day that band breaks up is one of the worst days in their life. That day, can mark the end of their career. Try as they may, they never reach the same heights as a solo artist. Musical history is littered with examples of artists who never reached the same giddy heights. This includes former members of The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin. However, this doesn’t include Robert Plant, who released Lullaby and…The Ceaseless Roar earlier this year.  

On Lullaby and…The Ceaseless Roar, Robert Plant relives his former glories. There’s a nod to Robert’s musical past, in the shape of blues, folk rock and rock. This is reminiscent of Led Zeppelin, as their music evolved. However, Robert combines other genres with rock. This includes electronica. Sometimes, washes of synths provide the backdrop to blistering guitars. It seems that, despite have just turned sixty-six, Robert Plant hasn’t been resting on his laurels.

No. Robert surrounded himself with a band of young, talented and innovative musicians. With their eclectic selection of instruments and an innovative way of working, Robert Plant, aided and abetted by The Sensational Space Shifters, played their part in a return to form from Robert Plant. Thirty-two years after the release of his debut solo album Pictures At Eleven, Robert Plant proves he’s still got the Midas touch on the genre-melting Lullaby and…The Ceaseless Roar, where the former Led Zeppelin frontman becomes a musical shapeshifter.

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RODION G.A.-BEHIND THE CURTAIN-THE LOST ALBUM.

In October 2014, BBE Music released Rodion G.A.s debut album Behind The Curtain-The Lost Album. It contains a musical feast of innovative, groundbreaking music. Listening to the music, it was hard to believe it was recorded between 1975 and 1983. Here was music that was way ahead of its time. That’s still the case.

Although innovative is an overused word, Rodion G.A. were innovative group. They weren’t afraid to push musical boundaries. Rodion G.A. didn’t follow fashions or trends. Instead, they were innovators, who fused musical genres. The result was a unique, enthralling and captivating sound that was unlike anything else of its time. 

Indeed, Rodion G.A. were way ahead of their time. That’s apparent on Behind The Curtain-The Lost Album. Only now, thirty years after Rodion G.A. entered a recording studio for the last time, is music gradually catching up on them. However, Rodion G.A. are content to know that they were trendsetters and innovators, whose music at last, is finding the audience it deserves. 

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SCOTT WALKER AND SUN O-SOUSED.

Released on 4AD on 20th October 2014, Soused is a collaboration between Scott and Sun O. It features five tracks written by Scott Walker. On these tracks,  Scott and Sun O, plus a few friend unleash a myriad of interments and effects. 

Soused is a groundbreaking, genre-melting fusion from Scott Walker and Sun O. They combine everything from ambient, avant-garde, drone rock, experimental, industrial, psychedelia and rock. These genres become one on Soused, where Scott Walker and Sun O push musical boundaries to their limits, and beyond.    

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SKADEDYR-KONGEKRABBE.

Recently, Skadedyr have been establishing a reputation as one of Norway’s most exciting up-and-coming bands. Skadedyr however, are no ordinary band. Far from it. Described as an anarchist/democratic band, Skadedyr feature twelve members. These twelve musicians play an eclectic selection of instruments. This includes a brass, string and rhythm section. Even their rhythm section is unlike most other bands. Skadedyr’s rhythm section features two drummers. Then there’s guitars, keyboards and even an accordion. As you can see, Skadedyr aren’t more like other bands. Instead, they were more like pioneering collective of avant-garde musicians  when it came to recording their debut album Kongekrabbe, which was  released by Hubro Music in January 2014.   

Kongekrabbe is best described  as a pot pourri of influences. Ambient, experimental, electronica, industrial, free jazz, Krautrock and rock can all be heard on Kongekrabbe. They’re part of the five atmospheric, dramatic, ethereal and evocative soundscapes. It’s bold, brave and inventive music that paints pictures in your mind’s eye. There’s a cinematic quality to the innovative and imaginative music on Kongekrabbe. I’d also describe Kongekrabbe as cerebral cinematic soundscapes. Sometimes, they’re understated and pessive, while other times they range from dramatic, challenging and futuristic, to moody and broody. Then seamlessly, the music can become crystalline and ethereal, as influences and genres melt into one. All the time the music on Kongekrabbe is articulate and intelligent. One thing Kongekrabbe never is, is boring. No way. This is music on Kongekrabbe is guaranteed to pique your imagination and keep you interested. 

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SLY AND ROBBIE-UNDERWATER DUB.

For over forty years. Sly and Robbie have been reggae’s go-to rhythm section. They’ve also established a reputation as a talented and innovative production team, producing reggae royalty like Prince Jammy, Peter Tosh, Linval Thompson, Bunny Wailer, Black Uhuru and The Revolutionaires. However, it’s not just reggae artists who Sly and Robbie produce. Far from it. 

Sly and Robbie have produced the great and good or music. This includes everyone from Bob Dylan, Herbie Hancock, Serge Gainsbourg, Grace Jones, Mick Jagger and The Fugess. These are just a few of the artists Sly and Robbie have produced during the last forty years. This is just the tip of a musical iceberg. It’s estimated that Sly and Robbie have played on and produced several thousand recordings. The latest addition to Sly and Robbie’s discography is Underwater Dub, which was released in April 2014, on Groove Attack. Underwater Dub is the followup to 2012s Blackwood Dub. Just like Blackwood Dub, Underwater Dub was recorded at Harry J’s recording studio, in Jamaica. Producing Underwater Dub was Alberto “Burur” Blackwood of Slam Records and Groove Attack. 

Underwater Dub is like nothing else Sly and Robbie have recorded. They’ve drawn inspiration from Afrobeat, drum ’n’ bass, electronica, hip hop, R&B, rock and soul. All these influences shine through on Underwater Dub, which is best described as an album of adventurous soundscapes. Sly and Robbie collaborated with some top musicians on Underwater Dub. Their rhythms were augmented by everything from bubbling synths, dusty Hammond organs, African percussion and rocky guitars. The result was an adventure in sound Sly and Robbie style. By this I mean the music is innovative and ambitious. It’s as if Sly and Robbie set out to rewrite dub’s rules and succeeded in doing so. 

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SPACE MONKEY-THE KARMAN LINE.

Over the last few years, Gard Nilssen has gained a reputation as one of Norway’s top drummers. He also deserves to be described as an innovator. Anyone whose heard Gard’s work with Astro Sonic, Puma, The Trondheim Jazz Orchestra and Susanne Sunfor’s band will realise realise this. Then there’s the six albums Gard has recorded with Bushman’s Revenge.  Their most recent album was Thou Shalt Not Boogie. It was released in January 2014 to critical acclaim. It’s no exaggeration to say that  Thou Shalt Not Boogie is one of the best albums of 2014. 

In May 2014, Gard will return with his latest collaboration. This was with another of Norway’s most innovative musicians Morten Qvenild. Morten has an equally impressive CV. He’s previously worked with In The Country, Shining, Jaga Jazzist, Trinity and Susanna and The Magic Orchestra. The latest addition to Morten’s CV is sPace monKey, whose debut album The Karman Line was be released by Hubro Music. sPace monKey is, without doubt, one of the most exciting and innovative collaborations of 2014.  

During the musical journey that’s The Karman Line, sPace monKey’s music is full of nuances, subtleties and surprises. sPace monKey combine everything from ambient, avant garde, classic rock, electronica, experimental, post rock and psychedelia on The Karman Line. It’s one of the most ambitious and innovative genre-melting albums of 2014. Featuring nine improvised soundscapes, it’s a mesmeric fusion that captivates and compels. You’re taken on a nine musical journeys. They veer between dramatic, dreamy, surreal and trippy, to beautiful, pensive, understated and melancholy Other times the music is dramatic, moody and broody. Subtleties and surprises are constantly sprung, sPace monKey aren’t afraid of changing direction. Throughout The Karman Line, it’s a case of expect the unexpected as sPace monKey innovate and create music that’s captivating, compelling and groundbreaking.  

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STEIN URHEIM-STEIN URHEIM.

It was in February 2014, that Stein Urheim, released his eponymous debut album on Hubro Music. Stein Urheim is a much anticipated album from the Bergen born multi-instrumentalist. Ostensibly a guitarist,  Stein plays a wide variety of stringed instruments from different corners of the world. This brings an exotic sound to him music. On Stein Urheim, he plays everything from guitars, flutes, harmonica, slide tamboura, fretless bouzouki, gu qin, mandolin, langeleik, charango, banjo, analog synths and effects. He also plays a wide variety of stringed instruments from different corners of the world. This brings an exotic sound to his music.  

Stein Urheim is virtually flawless. Over the five tracks, Stein fuses Afro-blues, avant-garde, blues, country, experimental, folk, jazz, Chinese gu qin music with langeleik, Norwegian zither music. Add to this the free jazz of Ornette Coleman and the music of American composers Lou Harrison and Steve Reich. The result is an eclectic and potent mix. This heady brew is best described as atmospheric, beautiful, ethereal, haunting, hypnotic, melancholy, sparse, thoughtful and wistful. It’s an album where less is more. 

Throughout, Stein resists the temptation to overload the mix. Sometimes, only a few instruments are deployed. The result is music that’s sparse and minimalist. Sometimes, I’m reminded of Brian Eno and Ry Cooder. Indeed, on some tracks, it’s as if Brian Eno and Ry Cooder are collaborating. That’s one way of describing the music on Stein Urheim. It’s also music that’s cohesive, unique and understated. On  Stein Urheim takes not just instrumental music, but his music in a new and unheralded direction. It’s a direction that it’s never headed before. No worries though. Stein is the equivalent to a swashbuckling musical pioneer. Helped along by his collection of eclectic and exotic stringed instruments from the four corners of the world, Stein created some of the most ambitious, exciting and innovative music of his career. As a result, Stein Urheim the best album of Stein’s career.  

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HAKON STENE-LUSH LAMENTS FOR LAZY MAMMAL.

Ambitious, fearless, groundbreaking and innovative. These are just a  few of the words that describe the music of improvisational musicians Håkon Stene. His long awaited debut album, Lush Laments for Lazy Mammal, was released in April 2014, on Hubro Music. Lush Laments for Lazy Mammal marks a change in direction from Håkon Stene. That’s no surprise. Håkon is one of the most innovative Norwegian musicians. For Lush Laments for Lazy Mammal, Håkon has combined music by British composers Laurence Crane and Gavin Bryars with a new piece by the influential Norwegian composer and improvisational musician Christian Wallumrød. The result in music that’s the polar of the music he’s created so far.

Melodic, understated, ethereal, minimalist soundscapes describes the music on Lush Laments for Lazy Mammal. So does subdued, ambient, lush and wistful. This is far removed from the“noise-based” music Håkon Stene has been making. However, this won’t surprise anyone whose familiar with Håkon Stene’s groundbreaking music. Throughout his career, Håkon Stene’s music has never stood still. That’s why he’s established a reputation as one Norway’s most inventive musicians. Recently, Håkon has focused on “noise-based” music. This is a fusion of musical genres, including avant-garde, drone, experimental and post rock. This is music that’s complex and contemporary. However, there’s more to Håkon than “noise-based” music. 

Lush Laments for Lazy Mammal is understated, subdued and ethereal music. It’s best described as ambient music. The nine tracks on Lush Laments for Lazy Mammal are guaranteed to change your mood and make you think. Moody, broody and pensive, plus dramatic, melodramatic, melancholy and beautiful are just some of the words that describe Monolog. It’s an album that variously, washes over you, embraces you, and forces you to think. It also has a cinematic quality. This results in the nine tracks painting pictures in your mind’s eye. That’s why I’d describe Lush Laments for Lazy Mammal as the soundtrack to a film that’s yet to be made. You supply the pictures, while Håkon Stene’s debut album Lush Laments for Lazy Mammals supplies the music.

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