This is my last list of releases and it was probably the hardest list make. I think 2014 had some excellent releases across all genres/subgenres of guitar based rock and roll music. From heavy metal to indie, there were some excellent releases. As with my first two lists, I made a mix that you can listen to on Mixcloud with a track from each release.
Ramesh – the King: I was a huge Voxtrot fan, and was able to catch them live a few times before they decided to call it quits several years ago. And then here comes Ramesh, dropping a solo record that made the Voxtrot fan in me smile.
Holy Wave – Relax: This is the first of two psychedelic releases that I included on this list. I saw them open for GOAT once and have been a big fan ever since. This is a playful, summer record. Sometimes I get a Beach Boys vibe off of them.
Temples – Sun Structures: This is the second psych release on the list. They have really blown up this year, going from DC9 to the 930 Club for DC venues, quite the upgrade. They have nice sing-a-long sound with lots of harmony; also, slightly hypnotic and groovy.
Lagwagon – Hang: I was not into Lagwagon in the 90s, but started listening to them in the early 2000s when I saw a CD of theirs at a used record shop and noticed the Fat Wreck Chords stamp on the back, and I have not looked back. Everything they do is great. Joey’s voice is as good as ever, and while the lyrics of his music reflect a more grown up persona, there is still that playfulness that is a Lagwagon trademark. Oh, and it has been 9 years since their last full length (6 since their last EP) and it doesn’t sound at all like they have missed a beat.
Sorority Noise – forgettable: This was a random find, and I am glad I found them. I was checking out random bands playing Metro Gallery in Baltimore, and found these guys. While I didn’t go to the show (which I regret), I have become a huge fan. I don’t know what to call this. Pop-Punk. Emo. Post something or another. Whatever it is, it is another one you can sing with, with songs about life. I can see these guys becoming a Hot Topic crowd favorite, but wont let that stop me digging them. Plus my fiance likes them, so it is always good when we can enjoy the same bands.
Nothing – Guilty of Everything: Although I am still a huge shoegaze fan, Nothing was the only band making that kind of noise to make this list. They are also extremely polarizing. I have friends who dig them, and friends who hate them. I am on the love side of the spectrum, and finally caught them live at the Ottobar for a festival.
Godflesh – A World Lit Only by Fire: Goldflesh! They are the Aphex Twin of this list, as it was also thirteen years between their records. This is heavy industrial music. I was a big industrial fan in the 1990s for a while, and this release brings me back to that time in my life.
Swans – To Be Kind: This is a hard listen. Long songs. Two hours long. Brutal riffs. Beautiful melodies. Gira and company continue their trajectory of making excellent albums after their 14 year absence from 1997 to 2010. My Father Will Guide Me up a Rope to the Sky is still my favorite post-reformation album by them, but this one is still great. I look forward to seeing them for time number three next year.
Cavalera Conspiracy – Pandemonium: I have been a fan of Max and Igor Cavalera for a long time; ever since Chaos AD came out by Sepultura. I do not dig new Sepultura without Max, and I do not really dig Max’s band, Soulfly. But Cavalera Conspiracy? Them I do dig. Crushing riffs, brutal drumming, Max’s roaring vocals – it is everything I would want from those brothers. They even include traditional Brazilian elements to some of the songs, which was always one of my favorite parts of their old music.
the Skull Defekts – Dances in Dreams of the Known Unknown: I saw the Skull Defekts twice. Once with Daniel Higgs, and this year, without him. It was still an uplifting night of what they dub street metal. This album captures that same vibe, with their music being very percussive and can almost induce a trance in the listener. I cant wait to dig into their SECOND 2014 album, which they actually called Street Metal, one of these days soon, as I bet it also shreds.
Photograph/cover by me of the Skull Defekts at the Gold Bar in Baltimore in 2014