I know, I know. This should be my favorite albums of 2014, not albums I’m looking forward to in 2015. As much as I love the favorite lists, and as satisfying as it is once I’m done with making my own and sharing it with the world, I have to admit it’s quite a daunting task for me. Sure, the top five is pretty easy for me. It’s that six through ten that kills me. There are always about five albums every year that get heavy rotation with me. From the get-go I know those are gonna make it in my top five favorites. But then there’s those other albums that get a lot of play, but just not quite enough for me to call them masterpieces. Very good albums, but not quite top five. Those are the ones I struggle with, as I don’t want to make them seem less great than what they are. I just want to….. You see? I’ve been rambling for a healthy paragraph about making my favorites list. I’m not even actually writing it. I’m just talking about writing it. So in lieu of my favorites list(it will be here soon), I wanted to talk about a couple albums I’m super excited about for the new year.
Viet Cong – Viet Cong
So just recently I discovered this Calgary band called Viet Cong. They formed from the ashes of the band Women. I wasn’t that crazy about Women(but I do love women, don’t get me wrong), though their album Public Strain had some moments of genius. After Women called it quits, members Matt Flegel and Michael Wallace formed Viet Cong with Scott Munro and Daniel Christiansen and made the Cassette ep. Called Cassette because it was orginally a cassette-only release that they gave out at shows. The cool folks at Mexican Summer were kind enough to do a vinyl release of this gem and it’s so worth the money. Musically it’s a blast of post-punk(think the raggedness and angular riffs of Wire, mixed with the pop sensibility of The Buzzcocks) mixed with some dark, gothic undertones. Plus, they do a cover of Bauhaus’ “Dark Entries” that’s insanely good. Well Viet Cong are releasing their LP debut with Jagjaguwar. It’s self-titled, and from the first single “Continental Shelf”, I can tell it’s gonna be great. It still retains that post-punk harshness with the underlying darkness. It adds just a little bit of How To Bury Strangers’ guitar squall in the verses, while throwing in some Interpol melancholy during the chorus. These references are merely starting points. Viet Cong are doing their own thing here. This song and band are scary good. The self-titled album comes out 1/20/15 on Jagjaguwar.
Of Montreal – Aureate Gloom
I’m not sure if Kevin Barnes has ever been diagnosed as having ADD, but I think if he was ever tested he’d surely be. The guy goes through musical styles like his life depended on it. Pretty much from 2007s Hissing Fauna Are You The Destroyer to now he’s donned a different musical hat each time out. Always changing it up, yet always retaining that ingredient that makes it very much a Kevin Barnes/Of Montreal joint. It’s usually freaky, sexual, funky, and hallucinogenic. Last year’s Lousy with Sylvianbriar was probably the most straight-forward rock and roll record Barnes has ever put out. It was a mix of classic 60s staples the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, and even some Neil Young thrown in. For those that bought it on the promise of more of the same you will be sorely disappointed. For the rest of us, we knew this was coming. Aureate Gloom, from the first single “Bassem Sabry”, sounds like a return to more of the disco-ish leanings of Hissing Fauna and Skeletal Lamping, but slightly darker. I listened to the track and thought “Hmm. Okay.” Then I listened to it again. And again. Then one more time. By the fifth listen I was hooked. It’s deceivingly familiar sounding. You’d think it was a leftover from an earlier album, until you dig a little deeper. There’s more depth here. It sounds honest. It’s quite wonderful. After watching the doc The Past Is A Grotesque Animal I found myself not liking Kevin Barnes as much as I did before I knew what a difficult person he truly was. I even wondered if I’d ever like him as an artist like I did prior to that viewing. This song answers that question: Yes. I do still like him as an artist. I probably always will. He’s still a musical genius that makes incredibly freaky and funky confessional albums. Aureate Gloom comes out 3/3/15 on Polyvinyl.
Moon Duo – Shadows of the Sun
Man do I love Moon Duo. I think I’m starting to love Moon Duo more than Ripley Johnson’s main gig Wooden Shjips. It’s as if he’s saving his krautrock freakiness more for Sanae Yamada and their Moon Duo moniker than his old school space rock buds in the Shjips. And I think I’m okay with that. After the great Live In Ravenna earlier this year I wasn’t expecting anything new from this spaced-out motorik duo, but just a couple weeks ago it was announced that Johnson and Yamada in fact are releasing a new album in March called Shadows of the Sun. If lead single “Animal” is any indication it’s gonna be a snarling, spaced-out record. Shadows of the Sun comes out 3/3/15 on Sacred Bones.
John Carpenter – Lost Themes
I’m a sucker for that analog synth stuff. Some amazing records came out in 2014 that kept my ears buzzing with square waves and modulation. A good portion of those records were heavily influenced by John Carpenter and his creepy and slick synth scores for his excellent films. As with most scores, a lot of stuff that gets written for film never sees the light of day. Master of Horror John Carpenter is no different. In February Sacred Bones is releasing Lost Themes, a collection of pieces Carpenter wrote but never used. We get to soak in some Carpenter goodness as much as we want without the use of a Blu Ray player or VCR. It’s gonna be good. Check it out. Lost Themes comes out 2/3/15.
The Soft Moon – Deeper
Luis Vasquez and his Soft Moon moniker made me a fan with 2012s Zeros, an unrelenting dark and hypnotic record filled with gothic black and pulsating beats that makes one think of some hidden, underground German club where everyone is in black leather, sweating, grinding, and there’s at least three vampires on the dance floor. It felt like a collection of musical vignettes, each accenting long pushed away thoughts. The thoughts coming back to life with Vasquez’ musical incantations. Vasquez disappeared into Europe with his Soft Moon project and has returned after a year of getting lost in his head and music and has given us Deeper. Lead single “Black” is heavy, unrelenting, and in razor focus. It sounds like a young, hungry, and vicious version of Trent Reznor(a collaboration between Vasquez and Reznor would be something to behold.) If this song is any indication, this album is gonna be dense, dark, and incredible.
Deeper come out 3/31/15 on Captured Tracks.
A Place To Bury Strangers, Alex Calder, The Black Ryder, and Panda Bear all have albums coming out in the next three months as well, so it’s gonna be a front-heavy year for new music. You have nothing to complain about in regards to new music to engage your mind with. Open your head and prepare dig in. All right, I’m getting back to the dungeon to work on this favorites list.