KBOO DJs list their top ten releases of the calendar year 2014
KBOO Programmers list their top 10's for this year:Diane Karl - Early Morning Gumbo (Tues 5:30-7am)
Richard Thompson - Acoustic Classics (Beeswing), RT always makes his old stuff seem new, nice new acoustic versions of a variety of favorites
Jesse Winchester - A Reasonable Amount of Trouble (Appleseed), recorded while he knew he was dying but not depressing at all, includes some of his favorite do-wop
Parker Millsap - Parker Millsap (self), Great first release, even better live I'm told
The Stray Birds - Best Medicine (YepRoc), Roots music trio
Mark Erelli - Milltowns (Hillbilly Pilgrim), an homage to his friend the late Bill Morrissey's work
Katie Glassman & the Snapshots - Dream a Little Dream (Fiddle Parlor), Texas swing
Lizzy Hoyt - New Lady on the Prarie (self), Canadian s/s with a little Celtic flavor
Rosanne Cash - The River & the Thread (Blue Note), her best yet, evokes her connection with the south
Eden Brent - Jigsaw Heart (Yellow Dog), blues but a little folkier than past releases
John Hiatt - Terms of My Surrender (New West), rootsy blues, great stuff as usual
Jamilah - Guess Who's Coming to Radio (2/4 Thursdays 8-10pm)
d'angelo and the vanguard- black messiah (RCA)
theo parrish- american intelligence (sound signature)
prince- art official age (NPG/WB)
mary j blige- the london sessions (capitol)
george michael- symphonica (aegean/virgin EMI)
kelis- food (ninja tune)
jose james- while you were sleeping (blue note)
flying lotus- you're dead! (warp)
Rich - Radio Lost and Found (2/4 Thursdays 10-Midnight)
I never do these ‘best of year ’ type lists. My musical tastes are somewhat unconstrained by time and I often feel like there’s so much great music from any given year in the past still waiting to be discovered that I feel like I’m barely keeping up with any of it.
However, the last couple of years of so, I’ve been making a real concerted effort to blow the moss out of my ears and pay more attention to currently living artists and their worthy output - not that the many and myriad reissue labels are making my goal particularly easy. Ahem! (More on them later).
Here’s my high points for 2014, as I saw them, in no particular order.
Various Artists - Raymond Scott Rewired (Basta)
The Evolution Control Committee, The Bran Flakes and Go Home Productions each plundered composer and electronic music pioneer Raymond Scott’s tape archives and made some incredible and often danceable tracks. Simply amazing. Produced by Irwin Chusid, WFMU host and author of the Outsider Music bible Songs In The Key Of Z.
Rudy Schwartz Project - Winter Dance Of The Koala Sperm Harvest (Sick/DC Jam)
Another frenzied collection of caustically funny and artfully played songs from one-man-band Rudy Schwartz Project, a stalwart of the DIY/Indie scene going back to the Golden Age of the Cassette Release. Sure to please fans of The Fugs, The Mothers Of Invention, The Bonzo Dog Band, The Dead Kennedys, Ernest Borgnine.
Sinoia Caves – Beyond The Black Rainbow - OST (Jagjaguwar)
Brooding electronic music score for Panatos Cosmos’ wonderful and hallucinogenic homage to the 1980s VHS nightmare complex. Black Mountain keyboardist consciously channels Goblin, Tangerine Dream, Cronenberg-era Howard Shore and countless soundtracks to 70s Giallo, countless sci fi and horror flicks from the video rental store era. Listen with the lights out.
Primus - Primus & the Chocolate Factory With the Fungi Ensemble (Prawn Song)
When a band gets eaten up and spat out the other end of the Lollapalooza Circuit/Commercial Radio Airplay Machine™, as many greater and lesser bands did in the 1990s, we pissy weirdo music hipster snobs tend not to ever take them under our wings again, however outré or otherwise fantastic their ensuing musical output.
Kudos, then, to Primus, having reformed to their original lineup and endeavoring to cover the vastly overrated 1970s musical movie version of Roald Dahl’s unjustifiably revered children’s book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. It’s a feat in and of itself and will have you tapping your fingers and snapping your toes.
Scott Walker and Sunn ((O)) - Soused (4AD)
Amazing, jaw-droppingly weird pairing of increasingly edgy Scott Walker and doom/stoner metal gods Sunn ((O)). Walker has never sounded so haunting, his voice tremulous against the stark background of the dense, barren guitar wall of noise of Sunn ((O)). This is a collaboration I never would’ve saw coming in a million years.
Snarky comparisons to this seemingly absurd but engrossing on all levels LP and Lou Reed and Metallica’s Lulu don’t stand up because Soused didn’t kill Scott Walker.
Dead Sea Apes - High Evolutionary (Cardinal Fuzz)
Apocalyptic instrumental guitar rock from this Manchester outfit, on this their third LP. Dark and majestic. Highly recommended for doom-obsessed stoners.
Salvatore Martirano - The SalMar Construction (Sub Rosa)
This record documents composer and early electronic music pioneer Salvatore Martirano’s (b. 1927- d. 1995) groundbreaking and prescient 1970s experiments with interactive synthesis in installation form, in a performance recorded in 1983 at the Institut de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique/Musique (IRCAM) in Paris, France. Limited edition on silver vinyl. Recommended!
Rachel Taylor Brown - Falimy (Bandcamp)
Wonderful, themed outing by Rachel Taylor Brown - aided and abetted by longtime collaborator Ben Landsverk (and others) - which seems to ponder the meaning of the concept of family. RTB’s gorgeous keyboard work, insightful-yet-humorous lyrics and beautiful and fragile voice keep the proceedings from becoming too heady to fully engage in the music. Her mastery of melody is damn infectious, to boot. Another great, memorable album from this Portland artist.
Mitchel Davidovitz - Window of Normalization (Self Release/Bandcamp)
“In an attempt to expose which values, beliefs, and codes of behavior are being normalized via television, I recomposed the sounds into a six-movement musical composition, placed images into grids, and authored a research paper containing detailed program notes.” - Mitchel Davidovitz.
Not a physical release, as such, but the audio portion of this presentation/performance/installation made available at Davidovitz’s Bandcamp page. It’s like a more ambient concept of material by groups such as Negativland, Tape Beatles, et al.
Brizbomb - 1401 (BRIZBOMB)
A live-with-no-edits performance album by Noise artist Brizbomb, released as a double gatefold album on blue vinyl. Brizbomb’s music is lush, multilayered soundscapes of drones and pulsing waves of minimal synth noise, all performed in real time on a towering equipment rack. The fourth side of this release is a wonderfully captured field recording from the jungles of Belize, were Matt Brislawn - the man behind the rack - currently resides.
Khun Narin’s Electric Phin Band (Innovative Leisure)
While not as trippy as the cinema verite YouTube video seen all over the web in 2013 that spurned interest in this Thai phin band’s music - something spontaneous is lost in the studio here - this documentation of contemporary Isan Thai rock music is most welcome.
Pulse Emitter - Alien Vacation (Cassette - Expansive)
Pulse Emitter has been active in the Portland noise and electronic scene for quite a while and lately his releases have been sounding very elaborate and tinged with a certain 70s Deutsche Elektronische Musik klingen, which I quite like. You have a cassette player somewhere. Get this and watch the tiny reels spin.
Chrome - Half Machine from the Sun, The Lost Tapes from 79 - 80 (King Of Spades)
Wonderfully chaotic collection of outtakes from Chrome’s classic era which will make you wonder: A): Why didn’t they release this stuff? ; and B): Why wasn’t Chrome THE SHIT back then? I guess the world had to fully mutate to catch up with them. We’re there. Boom.
Apparently, guitarist and current Chrome crown wearer didn’t know the tapes from whence this album came from existed as they were lost due to an unpaid studio bill.
Craig Leon – Nommos / Visiting - Anthology Of Interplanetary Folk Music Vol. 1 (Rvng Intl.)
Wonderful remixed re-release and pairing of Leon’s amazing minimal electronic music diptych Nommos and Visiting, originally released in 1981 and 1982, respectively, now recontextualized under the appropriate and optimistic title Anthology Of Interplanetary Folk Music Vol. 1. One can only hope there’s a volume 2, 3, etc. forthcoming.
Pull a seminal album out of your collection and there’s a good chance Leon’s name is on there somewhere as a producer. It’s nice to hear his own music getting the reexamination it deserves.
Severed Heads - City Slab Horror (Medical Records)
Peak-era 1985 LP from these Aussie loons gets a great quality reissue, along with ‘83’s equally brilliant Since the Accident. Snap it up, pronto.
Delia Derbyshire - The Dreams (boot)
Semi-unauthorized vinylization of an amazing 1964 radio piece (as part of BBC’s Third Programme series) by Delia Derbyshire and Barry Bermange, utilizing vox pop audio transcriptions of people’s dreams, recorded and assembled by Bermange over Derbyshire’s haunting electronic tape music score. You know where to find records like this.
Christopher Komeda – Rosemary's Baby: Music From The Motion Picture (Waxwork Records)
Expanded version of Krzysztof Komeda’s (released here under his Anglicized name) score for Roman Polanski’s 1968 horror/comedy classic. Much of the music on this album has never been released before. A lovingly packaged edition, with satin finished gatefold cover, on clear vinyl. Must have.
HELDON 6 - Interface (Superior Viaduct)
Richard Pinhas’ incendiary sixth outing of his outfit Heldon gets a much-needed reissue. Pinhas’ frenzied Fripp-like fretwork runs all over the grooves of this post-Prog electronic rock album. Recommended. Label Superior Viaduct are killing it with reissues of this order. We may as well sign our houses, paychecks, children over to them.
DJ Grimrock - 1-2-1-2 (4th Friday 8-10pm)
-Lord Finesse "The Sp1200 Project"
-DJ Doom "Deep Breath"
-DITC "Remix Project"
-Big Rec "The Dumbout"
-MF Grimm & Drasar Monumental "The Phoenix Project"
-Cormega w/ Large Professor - 'Mega Philosophy
-Nutso & Dee Metto - 'Fluushang Metto'
-Body Count "Manslaughter"
-People Under The Stairs 12SP
-Melanin 9 "Amulets" 12-inch
Rolf - Sound Unsound (Every Ohter Sun Midnihgt-3am)
10 Andromeda Mega Express Orchestra - Live on Planet Earth (Alien Transistor)
9 various artists – Science Fiction Park Bundesrepublik (Finders Keepers)
8 Rakta – s/t (Dama Da Noite)
7 Fire! Orchestra – Enter (Rune Grammofon)
6 Black to Comm – s/t (Type)
5 Andrew Liles – Fast Forward Through Time (United Dairies)
4 Building Instruments – s/t (Hubro)
3 Kyle Eyre Clyd – Pale Dawn Creeps (Halatern)
2 Black Oak Dirt – Wawayanda Patent (MIE Music)
1 Jenny Hval & Susanna – Meshes of Voice (SusannaSonata)
JBJ- Back to the Egg (Every Ohter Sun Midnihgt-3am)
1 Sun Kil Moon - Benji (Caldo Verde)
2 Spoon - They Want My Soul (Loma Vista)
3 Warpaint - Warpaint (Rough Trade)
4 Ed Keupper - Return of the Mail-Order Bridegroom (Valve)
5 Diane Cluck - Boneset (self-released)
6 Mirah - Changing Light (Absolute Magnitude)
7 Goat - Commune (Sub Pop)
8 Duover - Duover 2 (self-released, available on bandcamp)
9 Robyn Hitchcock - The Man Upstairs (Yep Roc)
10 Angus & Julia Stone (American)
Protomartyr - Under Colour Of Official Right
Actress - Ghettoville
Guided By Voices - Cool Planet
Anna Tivel - Before Machines
Brian Jonestown Massacre - Revelation
Erin Yanke - Life During Wartime (Every Other Wed 10-Midnight)
Big Crux - Ponchito (Not Normal Tapes, B<X Records)
Easy and lazy reviewing comparisons that are none the less true: Big Boys, Minutemen. Sure, it’s there, but so’s the heat, a modern groove, and what I can only call their own life experiences. Also, some of the more epic vocal styles and They aren’t a tribute, but took a message from the bands and people that came before: “shut the fuck up, this life is for living” for whatever fucked up and nasty things are out there, so is comradery and discovery.
Delia Ann Derbyshire – Inventions For Radio: The Dreams (Psychic Sounds)
"Dreams" was made in collaboration with Barry Bermange, collecting spliced/reassembled interviews with people describing their dreams of running, land, falling, water, and color. It’s dreamy in the sense of surprising and disconcerting, and also how banal they are individually, but collectively add to my sense of awe for content and structure.
Good Throb - Fuck Off (White Denim, SuperFi Records, Sabermetric)
When Fuck Off came out, and came into my life, it moved right on to the turntable for seemingly months. The perfect metamorphose of real life bullshit to art.
The Lowest Form - Negative Ecstasy (Iron Lung)
The intro to Exhaustion is one of my favorite musical moments of the year. That groovy angry riff is so fuck you in such a gleeful way... the rest of the album is also fantastic, but that part is what makes this launch into the top ten.
Mülltüte- Third (Heartfirst)
The perfect mix of catchy snotty noisey deep and real and ragin... what else is there to say?
Negativland - It’s all in your head (Seeland)
Not a record, but a double CD packaged in a bible, described as “a musical essay that looks at monotheism, Christianity, Islam, Judaism, neuroscience, suicide bombers, 9/11, colas, war, shaved chimps, and the all-important role played by the human brain in our beliefs.” it’s traditional Negativland, found music, radio recordings, sound collage, amazing mixes, and of course, fun and smart.
Nots -We Are Nots (Goner)
On the Goner website, it says that this record “arrives just in time to land a spot on your Top Ten of 2014.” Which is TRUE. It’s sharp, full of bravado and scars, synth and guitar, driving and moving. Great record for listening to before going out, ups your energy for protests OR parties.
Reigning Sound - Shattered (Merge)
My easiest choice this year, not only the record I listened to the most but also the one that most shared my experiences of 2014. Lots of fucked up shit happens, but you just get through it and then you move on and you’re not ever the same as you were before. Seems to me that Greg Cartwright had this year a few years ago, got to turn the wounds into scars into songs, and then makes a record that provides the perfect soundtrack for my year of loss and love, dead friends, collaborations, new responsibility, changing minds and changing hearts, and now here at the end some settling in and some peace.
Various Artists: Anxious Color (Mississippi Records)
Callie Danger is a genius, and I’m stoked that I get to follow her radio show, but I’m also stoked she’s making compilations for Mississippi of her radio hits. This record is curated perfectly from her unusual garage and soul records. She makes a scene out of people who have never met, and has great flow that is both deep and encompassing. Some of Callie’s finest work.
Various Artists - Science Fiction Park Bundesrepublik (Cashe Cashe)
This German electronic experimental compilation has taken KBOO by storm! It’s the fun part of electronica, with weirdo sounds, noise that presses on you, surprises, and humor! The liner notes talk about summing up a time and a place, the bedroom studios of “doomdenken”, early 80’s, as well as so much more. Totally compelling. Thanks Felix Kubin!
Frau - Punk is My Boyfriend
In School - Praxis of Hate
Poison Girls - Hex/Chappaquiddick Bridge
Secret Prostitutes - Punks is Disco
Total Control - Typical System