Hello, friends. If you made it here without any malware warnings, breathe a sigh of relief.
As is the yearly tradition, I hope all of you were “Down with the Christmas” this week, no matter what festive holiday you celebrated:
Stream: The Paybacks – “Down with the Christmas” (3:55)
Credit to Doug Savage at savagechickens.com. Die Hard is an awesome Christmas movie!
Similar to my entry last year (save for removing the EPs section), I’m going to split this entry between what I’ve called “The Jom Expansion Pack” (i.e., 25 albums that missed my Top 25 for whatever reason, likely because they’re solid albums that I spent an appreciable amount of time listening to again and again, but exhibit some quality that justifies their placement in the Expansion Pack, and/or I totally missed an album or two (or five… or more) albums by a nautical mile and heard them way too late in the year to give them ample consideration for the staff year-end feature).
In the Expansion Pack, the albums are in alphabetical order by artist name — if I tried to organize this into a Top 50, it’d be 2017 by the time I figured it out (given my typical output, anyway). When cultivating the Jom…
Rather than boring Sputnik’s readership with a numbered list of all the metal albums I liked and then spending three paragraphs bitching about how much metal sucked this year and how xSPONGECOREx is neither funny nor well made, I’ll instead bore you with a wall of text regarding the dichotomy that was metal in 2014. You see, this was one of the truly great years for metal – perhaps the best one in over a decade – but it was also filled with a smattering of laziness or just plain filth. Not filth in the way Innsmouth spewed out disgusting death metal riffs on their fantastic Consumed by Elder Sign, but filth in the way In Flames basically smeared some melodic guitar riffs with feces and then recorded Anders Friden crying and babbling as if he mistook a piss-flavored lollipop for a tasty and tangy lemon one.
So there was a lot that really isn’t worth mentioning in 2014, but for the sake of making this blog a presentable length I’m going to go ahead and talk about them anyway. As if we needed more of an indication that Agalloch were falling off their own bandwagon they managed to somehow defy expectations and release an album that was worse than Marrow of the Spirit. I’ll admit it: Marrow wasn’t all bad, in fact there are tons of moments that were pretty damn good, it’s just that it was all surrounded by moments where the band decided “Well, we’ve already…
50-31 | 30-11 | 10-1
10. Against Me! – Transgender Dysphoria Blues
[Official Site] // [Spotify] // [Facebook]
Stream: “Transgender Dysphoria Blues” (3:16)
From the opening punch of the track of the same name, Transgender Dysphoria Blues is a haymaker of unapologetic transgender perspective made to come across in one of the few avenues of emotion we humans actually comprehend and respect: music. If Laura Jane Grace simply wrote a press release, or an essay, or spoke at a convention, it wouldn’t mean a damn thing, but the thousand pound hammer of “You want them to notice the ragged ends of your summer dress / You want them to see you like they see any other girl / They just see a faggot” set to a marching, military snare beat is a statement that will wake people up and make them take notice.
Transgender Dysphoria Blues isn’t comfortable, but I’ve got to imagine it’s nowhere near as frightening and downright dangerous as it must be to actually live as a transgendered individual in our modern society. But the…
50-31 | 30-11 | 10-1
30. The Antlers – Familiars
[Official Site] // [Spotify] // [Facebook]
Stream: “Intruders” (5:25)
By now, everyone knows what to expect from a record by The Antlers, and Familiars sees the American indie rock/dream pop outfit choosing not to buck that trend by tunneling even deeper into the niche that they’ve been carving for themselves since 2006’s Uprooted. That being said, if results continue to be as good as this, few will complain. “Palace”, Familiars‘ opening track and lead single, is a ringing endorsement of the band’s default setting, with its multifaceted arrangements and striking lyrical play (“Now he hangs your mirrors separately/So one can’t show you what the other reflects,” whispers vocalist Peter Silberman at one point) finding a precise balance between melancholy and erstwhile nostalgia. Elsewhere, “Intruders” is a masterclass of the dramatic musical narrative: “Well this is my house/So fuck your doubts and your cute battalion,” intones Silberman poisonously over a bed of swelling strings. For a group of artists who have always specialized in the art of being subtle, these are…
50-31 | 30-11 | 10-1
50. Thou – Heathen
[Official Site] // [Spotify] // [Unofficial Facebook]
Stream: “Into the Marshlands” (6:58)
Thou have been creating some of the most soul crushing doom metal ever set upon human ears for the last several years. Heathen is no different. It’s an unholy manifestation of distorted guitars and the burliest of burly riffs. Yet, Heathen also expands the New Orleans doom-mongers’ sonic palate in new atmospheric directions, with mournfully layered chords creeping their way into even the heaviest of places. It’s an unrelenting triumph to the emotion that is able to be coaxed from extreme music. –Adam Thomas
49. Kenn Nardi – Dancing With the Past
[Official Site] // [Spotify] // [Facebook]
It’s been a pretty good year for music. We had quite a few bands get back together and make some excellent music. There was also quite a few other artists that just continue to churn out quality releases, and of course there were also a few surprises. Anyway, different people use different criteria to make their end-of-year lists. Some want to worry about an album’s impact on a genre or how unique an album is. Me — I only worry about how much I enjoyed listening to it. These are my top 25 most enjoyable albums of the year.
25. Beyond Creation – Earthborn Evolution
[Spotify] // [Review]
RIYL: Technical Death Metal with emphasis on the bass.
I love technical death metal just so long as the technical doesn’t overpower the death. This is one of those rare bands that manages to straddle the line between the two elements without losing track of either. My favorite thing about this album has to be the bass playing. It’s all over the music and is mixed right up front. Some might find that a bit overbearing, but it’s right where it should be.
24. Anaal Nathrakh – Desideratum
[Spotify] // [Review]
As the release calender winds down for the festive season, and as we gear up for the big year-end features, this will be the last new releases post for the year.
As such, this post will cover all scheduled releases for the whole of December and January. Please note that all release dates provided are current at the time of posting, though are subject to change. All information is based upon their physical North American release date (where possible). This post will continue to be updated over the coming weeks as any new releases are announced or are postponed ( *cough*The Carter V). Both the album streams section and the Last FM charts will be updated accordingly as well.
If you happen upon a new release being announced that you don’t see here, please feel free to post in the comments section and it will be added. The same goes for any streams that become available after posting.
Stay tuned for the upcoming Staff end of year feature as well as the best of 2014 feature as decided by the entire userbase; head here to find out how you can cast your votes. Apart from that, enjoy the upcoming holidays and we will catch you all again in February 2015!
And as always, please feel free to request reviews for any of the following albums from staff or contributors.
AC/DC – Rock Or Bust (Columbia)
Little Envy – Little Envy (South By Sea)
As the curtain closes on 2014, it’s difficult to fathom just how amazing of a year it was musically. This is a statement that seems to ring true for a lot of people almost every year, as we look back at the music we’ve acquiesced since January and marvel at the strength and diversity of the collective whole. Maybe we’re all too simple to please. Perhaps we just know what we like and pursue it with reckless abandon. Either way, I personally think that 2014 is one of the best years for music in a long time. So instead of drawing up a plain looking top 25 list (which I almost did), I’ve decided to do something unnecessarily over-the-top and showy to commemorate how I feel about 2014. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the first annual Sowing’s Music Awards (SMA). Only the worthy have been nominated, and only the best out of those will receive the somewhat coveted (but not really) SMA trophy, which I can only imagine would look something like this:
Only the most brilliant artists will get to line their trophy cases with these! But without further ado, I present to you the first category. Thank you for reading on – if you choose to do so – and I hope you enjoy the 2014 SMA’s.
CATEGORY 1: BEST NEW ARTIST
: Mainstream pop, perfected. The effects are slick and stylish, the choruses are out-of-this-world, and the hooks are…
Starting from today (November 30), in conjunction with Clawhammer PR, Sputnikmusic has the exclusive chance to host a stream of Vancouver-based Astrakhan’s new EP A Tapestry of Scabs and Skin, set for a 12” vinyl release on December 12 via War on Music Records. It is the band’s third EP, featuring two new tracks and two (“The Pillarist” and “Rest In Depths”) that you can also find on the band’s digitally released 2013 EP The Pillarist. Astrakhan play a hybrid form of sludge/stoner metal with a garage vibe and a progressive edge. You can hear a bit of Baroness in there, a bit of The Sword, and a bit of Kylesa, but you’ll also hear a lot of what makes Astrakhan a force of their own. For a band “born out of years of failure, frustration and stifled creativity,” the band members have sure found their feet in Astrakhan. The way the band melds sludge, garage rock, and spacey stoner vibes together is enviable: Astrakhan have a clear vision of the kind of music they want to create, but unlike a lot of young bands, they also have the chops to make that vision come to life. A Tapestry of Scabs and Skin is a true teaser in that sense: being a mere 20 minutes long, it generates appetite, it commands attention, but before you know it, the album has come to an end. There’s so much promise here, a full-length by these guys could really kick ass and…
Here’s a list of major new releases for the week of November 25th, 2014. Please feel free to request reviews for any of the following albums from staff or contributors.
Amadeus Awad’s Eon – The Book Of Gates (Power Prog)
Andy Stott – Faith In Strangers (Modern Love)
Bella Novela – Telemtery (Self released)
frYars – Power (Fiction Records)
Kaledon – Antillius: The King Of The Light (Scarlet Records)
Kevin Hearn – Days In Frames (Roaring Girl Records/Fontana North)
Savages & Bo Ningen – Words To The Blind (Stolen Recordings/Pop Noire)
Scapes – One:Unseen:One (Nihil Ultra)
Snowday – As We Travel (Self-released)
Submotion Orchestra – Alium (Counter Records)
Andy Stott – Faith In Strangers
Savages & Bo Ningen – Words To The Blind
Snowday – As We Travel
Submotion Orchestra – Alium
SputnikMusic’s Most Played Artists of the Week (according to Last.FM):
1. TV On The Radio
2. Damien Rice
3. Foo Fighters
4. Pink Floyd
5. Azealia Banks
6. Taylor Swift
7. Yeah Yeah Yeahs
8. John Frusciante
9. Freddie Gibbs
10. Cloud Nothings
2. The National
3. Brand New
4. Bon Iver
5. Neutral Milk Hotel
7. The Smith Street Band
8. American Football
9. Meek Mill
10. La Dispute
1. Run The Jewels
3. Brand New
4. The National
5. Pink Floyd
6. Aphex Twin
7. Kendrick Lamar
9. Flying Lotus
10. Modest Mouse
Let’s start the new week with an exclusive stream, shall we. English black metallers Fen have been quite the busy bees since bursting onto the scene with their 2007 EP Ancient Sorrow. Since then, counting Carrion Skies, they’ve proceeded to write four fell-length albums in the span of five years. Dustwalker, their 2013 studio offering, finally showed what the band were really capable of and what their EP hinted at – the album presented a thoroughly satisfying mix of black metal, folk and post-rock that didn’t sound derivative in the least. Fen had really come into their own as a group. Luckily they haven’t stopped there and in 2014, with Carrion Skies, they look to carry the momentum further, with the new album featuring towering highs and zero lows. It is just that good, and one of the more unique black metal albums of 2014 to boot. Fen have definitely found a sound in the folk/black metal spectrum that has only one name written on it – their own. Carrion Skies will be released on November 22 in Europe, and on December 2 in North America, but starting from today, Sputnikmusic has a chance to stream Fen’s new opus ahead of its official release.
If you find that the aural description “twilight descending upon empty heathland and the cries of the crows that wheel in the bunching stormclouds” reads like it could translate into some excellent music, then look no further and doubt no longer, since Fen are…
Exclusivity vol. 2. In addition to being able to stream the sophomore effort from Swedish doomsters Anguish this week, Sputnikmusic also has a chance to host an exclusive pre-listening of the new album from Australian prog rockers Opus of a Machine. Another new band on the rise, Opus of a Machine was formed in 2012, and Simulacra is their debut album, slated for release on November 16. Soaring verses, delicate instrumental breaks, catchy choruses and heartfelt ambition is what would best describe the first offering from these guys. An airy, shimmering affair, it’s a debut worth notice – which is also why I strived to bring it to Sputnik’s attention – possessing traits to accumulate some hype on the modern prog scene, with the right amount of promotion. Simulacra will be streaming on Sputnikmusic until the midnight of the 16th. Come on, stop by, give this album a good listen and discover some great new music!
NB! Here’s a good, recent interview with the band’s guitarist Zachary Greensill, which further introduces Opus of a Machine and their approach regarding the creation of music: http://progarchy.com/2014/11/11/opus-of-a-machine-following-progressive-ideologies/
The stream has ended!
Opus of a Machine facebook
Here’s a list of major new releases for the week of November 11th, 2014. Please feel free to request reviews for any of the following albums from staff or contributors.
…And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead – IX (Superball Music) – Rudy K.
2:54 – The Other I (Bella Union)
Anguish – Mountain Jewel (Dark Descent)
Antony & The Johnsons – Turning (Secretly Canadian)
Big K.R.I.T. – Cadillactica (Def Jam)
The Birthday Massacre – Superstition (Metropolis Records)
Bloodbath – Grand Morbid Funeral (Peaceville/Snapper)
Brant Bjork & The Low Desert Punk Band – Black Flower Power (Napalm Records)
Bryan Ferry – Avonmore (BMG Rights Management)
Cadaveria – Silence (Scarlet Records)
Cult Of Youth – Final Days (Sacred Bones Records)
Damien Rice – My Favourite Faded Fantasy (Warner Bros.) – SowingSeason
Depeche Mode – Live In Berlin (Columbia)
Devilment – The Great & Secret Show (Nuclear Blast)
Dirty Beaches – Stateless (Zoo Music)
Dream Police – Hypnotized (Sacred Bones Records)
Fearless Vampire Killers – Unbreakable Hearts (Goremount Records)
Foo Fighters – Sonic Highways (RCA Records)
Ghost Brigade – IV: One With The Storm (Season Of Mist)
The Ghost Inside – Dear Youth (Epitaph)
Hookworms – The Hum (Domino Recording Co.)
In This Moment – Black Widow (Atlantic)
The Jazz June – After The Earthquake (10 Spot)
Job For A Cowboy – Sun Eater (Metal Blade)
K-X-P – History Of Techno (Scart Records)
Kaipa – Satygg (Inside Out Music)
King Of Cats…
Gather ’round, gather ’round Sputnik friends and family, for today we assemble to witness Swedish doomsters Anguish climb their mountain. A relatively young band on the scene, Anguish was formed in the autumn of 2007, and Mountain is their second full-length offering, with their debut album Through the Archdemon’s Head gathering plenty of favorable feedback upon its release in 2012. Drawing plenty of parallels with the hallowed Candlemass, Anguish present the listener doom metal in its original, most basic form. If the comparisons to Candlemass still aren’t enough to pull you in, know that the album was produced by Johan Ericson, one of the founders of Draconian and the man behind the Doom: VS moniker, whose 2014 album Earhless is one of the best metal records to come out this year. For him to be interested enough to produce the whole album is a huge compliment to Anguish.
In conjunction with Dark Descent Records, Clawhammer PR and the band itself, Sputnikmusic now has the exclusive chance to stream Mountain in full, ahead of its November 12 release date. Full of monolithic sounds, veteran-level songwriting and just pure ass kicking, slow-burning metal, this is one release you don’t want flying under your radar. Come, climb the mountain along with the band and reap the rewards at the top.
The stream has ended!
Clawhammer PR Facebook
Dark Descent Records
Dark Descent Records Facebook
Critics everywhere have been bemoaning the downward spiral of trap for a while now, ever since that horrible realization that (gasp!) ninety-plus percent of songs in the genre consisted of nothing more than an annoying upper-register siren-esque synth and some tonic-based 808s. Sure, you have the standard claim that Hudson Mohawke, Rustie, and Lunice are all doing really interesting things with trap’s quintessential bounce, adding wonky melodies and twisting hi-hat attacks to the point of unrecognizability, but none of them has really been all that exciting recently — the nail in the coffin of the holy trinity being Rustie’s decent but wholly uninspiring Green Language. The unfortunate part of all this, of course, is that the generally derided Baauer is actually making some of the best music in the genre nowadays, yet he’s unfortunately ignored thanks to the overexposure of “Harlem Shake.” The stellar pump-up of “Infinite Daps” and the this-is-what-Green-Language-should-have-been “Clang” are testaments to his creative and technical skill, but unfortunately his music has been tossed to the wayside in favor of the newly-sprung Jersey Club fascination.
His latest EP β doesn’t unfortunately reflect his skill with singles, save for the stellar lead track “One Touch,” featuring the vocal talents of Aluna Francis and the brothers in Rae Sremmurd. What really makes the song click is the perfect interaction between each of its elements — the wonderfully spare offbeat shaker and the the watery bass play off each other gorgeously under Francis’ mouse-like croon. Despite the problematic nature…