10 Underrated Albums of 2014

SPENNY 2014

 

https://soundcloud.com/spencer-bridgman/sets/top-10-underappreciated-of

Thought I’d do something a little different for my end of the year post this year. Instead of the usual best songs or best albums list, I’ve decided to put together a list of albums whose greatness you haven’t heard about a thousand times. This is not to say that those albums aren’t great (I love RTJ2 as much as the next music nerd) but the underdogs deserve some credit too. I’ve included a link to a soundcloud playlist that includes my favourite songs from the albums on this list- except for Kississippi who don’t have a soundcloud unfortunately. If something catches your ear then check out the rest of the album. These albums are all great from front to back.

10. Bellows – Blue Breath

This one’s still growing on me to be honest. If I gave it another couple of weeks it might of jumped up a couple spots. “Lost in Space” and “See Bright, Be Fine” are standouts.

 

9. Kississippi – I Can Fell You In My Hair Still

Kississippi share a label with Cyberbully Mom Club (Too Fare Gone Records) and they also share some musical sensibilities. Like CMC, they harness the intimacy of lo-fi to beautiful effect. Kississippi sound their best when shaping gorgeous harmonies, like in the song “ivy forest due”.

 

8. Trace Mountains – Buttery Sprouts

Drawing influence from Pavement Trace Mountains mutter their way perfectly through this EP. Also, there’s a Beyonce cover so that’s pretty cool.

 

7. Kero Kero Bonito – Intro Bonito

Kero Kero Bonito is a London band who draw influence from J-Pop, Indian, and PC music. This might sound like a cluttered mess, but Kero Kero Bonito know exactly what they’re doing and they hop through their influences with ease.

 

6. Cyberbully Mom Club – Outdoor Activities

No band this year sounded as fragile as Cyberbully Mom Club. Outdoor Activities was recorded in a bedroom and you can tell. The lo-fi production allows Sam Becht to speak directly to her audience. She sounds like a real person and her problems are real person problems.

 

5. Lowell – I Killed Sarah V.

Torontonian band Lowell is poised to do great things. They have great songs and the support of a great label (Arts and Crafts). Personally, I think their songs are poppy enough to compete on the airwaves with anyone.

 

4. Bad History Month/Dust From 1000 Years – Famous Cigarettes

Famous Cigarettes is a split LP and both bands deliver. BHM drop some dark apocalyptic tunes to start off the album. These songs take their time in setting an eerie mood and reward the listener for their patience by crashing the silence with chaotic and cathartic choruses. When DF1Y takes over in the second half it is a nice change of pace. Their songs are more straightforward and provide a nice juxtaposition with BHM’s more experimental songs.

 

3. Frankie Cosmos – Zentropy

Zentropy is a quick little pop album. Out of its ten songs not one reaches the two and a half minute mark. Frankie expresses a lot of her personality in this short time. Each song has a personal focus as Frankie touches on subjects such as her brother, boyfriend, father, and dog (who is pictured on the album’s cover). She is self deprecating in a way that one can empathize with and which stops short of a pity party. If it is a pity party, it’s a very catchy part.

 

2. Mitski – Bury Me at Makeout Creek

A very emotionally powerful album. Mitsky rips open her heart and lets everyone take a look. This album is equal parts depressing and inspiring.  An example of this can be seen in the song “I Don’t Smoke” where Mitsky tells her partner the disheartening line: “If your hands need to break more than trinkets in your room you can lean on my arm as you break my heart” and than immediately turns it around with the battle cry that she is “stronger than you [sic] give me credit for”. The music matches this feeling, oscillating between quiet ballads and energized rock songs.

 

1. Small Wonder – Wendy

Every song on this album gives me goosebumps. Henry Crawford is an expert at crafting songs that build and crash in spectacular fashion. These songs sound big and confident. Every moment of every song contributes to the momentum that this album maintains from start to finish. This attention to every detail carries over to the albums lyrics too. Two of my favourite lines come from album closer: “Wind Let Loose”. Henry sings, “I’m scared that I’m so boring”, a feeling that many people grapple with as they mature. One thing Henry need not fear is that his album is boring. Wendy is one of the most exciting projects I’ve heard in awhile, and has refused to bore me despite many many listens.

 

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