Here we go again folks, back another year for our 4th (or 5th?) annual And Pure Pop Year Enders! And as with last year, you’re all invited to submit your lists! Because of last year’s overload of submissions and because you never start a sentence with “because”, we’d like to lay out a few ground rules to help keep things organized.
- Your year ender should be relevant to Music, music culture and/or pop culture.
- Your list should be not more than a top 5 (short and simple.)
- Your review should contain at least 2 descriptive sentences / explanation for why you picked said year ender list item.
- Each list item should contain both artist name and title, where applicable, if it’s a film list – film title, maybe director… use your best judgement.
- Who you are. Name, Age, Location, Occupation, social security number and images you want to include… your cat, etc.
Submissions will be accepted until December 31st, and a full submission* will be chosen at random to win a Pure Pop Gift Certificate!
*Full means, fill out the complete form, don’t be a slacker, you slacker.
Ricky Eat Acid - 3 Love Songs 3 love songs was the album I waited for. I ordered the vinyl when it came out in January and listened to the album online obsessively until it arrived on my doorstep a couple of months later. When I put the needle down and turned up the volume, all I could think was "whoa". 3 love songs makes me fall in love with sound each time I listen to it. This album reminds me of last winter, this album sounds like winter, this album is last winter.
Ava Luna - Electric Balloon The first time I heard this album was at Pure Pop, when Eli turned it on as his pick. I think it may have been the second time I ever started semi-dancing at work (the first was to Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Wave".........). Then the song "Hold Me" came on and I was in love. This album has everything from fun mathy songs to smooth R&B tracks, and it's all around great.
TOPS - Picture You Staring This album is my 2014. My friend and I caught TOPS play a show in their studio early this year, at which they played all new songs we'd never heard and they were all amazing. It turned out to be most of the songs from 'Picture You Staring' and I couldn't wait for the album to come out. When "Sleeptalker" was released as a single, (I kid you not) I listened to it first thing in the morning, before getting out of bed, every day for almost 2 weeks. I was and still am OBSESSED with this album. Also the song "Outside" has an eerie resemblance to this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fUis9yny_lI
Ought - More Than Any Other Day The exact moment that I feel in love with this album was when I heard the lyrics: "today, more than any other day, I am excited to go grocery shopping." I love grocery shopping. This album is incredible and it fully satisfies my cravings for Canadian post-punk and really incredibly simple lyrics that make the music that much better.
Flashlight O - The Truman Sho This album is my number one album for a few reasons. First, it's the most played album of the year for me. Second, it makes me feel really happy and giddy, and it sounds so pleasing to the ear. Third, there is a song about science. Fourth, it holds a lot of really wonderful memories. I listened to this obsessively for a while until I thought I had to stop, then I had a week where I was forced to do nothing and I revisited this album only to become obsessed with it again.
Hello! I am Karla and I work at Pure Pop. I spent most of this year listening to older albums and discovering a lot of cool compilations. The best show I saw this year may have been Attic Abasement at CMJ or TOPS’s band practice, but I also can’t remember all the shows I saw this year.
Here is a list of my favorite EPs/split albums from 2014:
– Spencer Radcliffe – Brown Horse split
– Adult Mom – Sometimes Bad Happens
– Florist – 6 days of songs
– Attic Abasement – Nod Split
Leon Vynehall / Music For the Uninvited Not as "chill" as Thievery Corporation, not as body rockin' as Disclosure, slightly more dusty sounding than anything on Italians Do it Better. You should celebrate to this album once you buy a yacht.
Todd Terje / It's Album Time! My brother and I listened to this album on a car ride to the beach once. We thought of a movie involving one human detective solving a crime in a world full of muppet sort characters in some kinda Pink Panthery sort of style. It sounded like a pretty good movie.
Interpol / El Pintor After listening to the shit stain that was their 2010 album (although the first half of that album is mediocre enough to compare to the worst material on Our Love to Admire), El Pintor brought me back to my high school years when I wasn't so cynical about NYC and the people who live there.
War on Drugs / Lost in the Dream Never did I think I'd rate a Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, Shoegazer, krautrock ripoff band so high on an end of the year list.
Aphex Twin / Syro When I first heard this album, I thought it was real doggy turd synth funk with a drum machine racked up to 144 bpm playing behind it. Not the kinda Aphex Twin I was used to or wanted to hear. Four months later, and I think this is the greatest fucking album he's ever put out. What the fuck is wrong with me.
My thoughts on the past two years of music:
2013 music = Hot Shit
2014 music = Cold Diarrhea
Bob Dylan – Basement Tapes Complete
Sometimes he sounds like a man who thought the guy who shouted “Judas!” might have had a point after all, returning to the kind of songs he would have sung in folk clubs six years previously as if hoping to tunnel his way out of the mid-60s and back to a less chaotic, complicated time: Nine Hundred Miles, Young But Daily Growing, Johnny Todd (the latter, distractingly for the British listener of a certain age, set to the same tune as the theme from Z Cars).. Sometimes he sounds shattered and rueful, like a man reeling from the experience of being Bob Dylan. The most beautiful songs here are shot through with an affecting world-weariness: Too Much of Nothing, Edge of the Ocean (a gorgeous ballad that previously escaped the bootleggers), the astonishing I’m Not There (1956), a song as good as anything Dylan ever wrote. Read the full review on The Guardian
Joni Mitchell – Love has Many Faces
Mitchell went so far as to rearrange the 53 songs into “thematic acts” like that of a ballet. Likening the process of reorganizing and repurposing her catalog to that of a film editor, she noted, “I had 40 years of footage to review. Then, suddenly, scenes began to hook up. Then series began to form.” She added, “Instead of it being an emotional roller coaster ride as it was before — crammed into one disc — themes began to develop. Moods sustained. I was getting there…When this long editorial process (two years) finally came to rest, I had four ballets or a four-act ballet — a quartet. I also had a box set.” Read the full review on Consequence of Sound
Miles Davis – Live at the Fillmore Box
Miles at the Fillmore, the latest entry in Columbia’s revelatory bootleg series collecting unreleased Miles Davis live material, finds the trumpeter departing one musical world and entering a new one. In the previous five years, he’d taken the music of the Second Great Quintet (Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, and Tony Williams) as far as it could go; hearing new music in his head, music that had never been made before, Miles fully embraced electric instruments on the dual landmarks In a Silent Way and, a year later, in April 1970, Bitches Brew; most of this set was recorded in June of that year. Read the full review on Pitchfork
Wilco – Alpha Mike Foxtrox
You can follow various threads through Alpha Mike Foxtrot and find a different story. You can see the evolution of a rock band and a live act, the growth of a songwriter, the journey to find the next set of right players, the cohesion and expansion of a band’s sound. And yet, the box set never gives you a sense of completion. There’s not a sense, as the cover of Nick Lowe’s “I Love My Label” ends the collection, that this is a story that has reached its end. Alpha Mike Foxtrot is a fascinating, and remarkably consistent, look at how Wilco has refused to define itself. Read the full review on Pop Matters
Flying Lotus - You're Dead! WOW, You’re Dead! A cosmic jazz-hop, electronic, psychedelic freakout about death (and beyond) featuring Kendrick Lamar, Snoop Dogg, Herbie Hancock and more! Assembled with care by L.A. super-producer Steven Ellison a.k.a Flying Lotus, this album has it all! Thrills, chills, wacked out jazz, wicked guest raps, sweet beats and best of all, lots of live instrumentation including the amazing basstacular skills of the one and only Thundercat! Geez, what will Flying Lotus do next to top this fantastically fly album?!
The War on Drugs - Lost in a Dream A friend of mine expressed his dislike for this album stating “it’s like Bruce Springsteen, but a bit more psychedelic.” I responded back saying that’s exactly what I liked about it. This is such a fantastic, hazy and jubilant rock record that I found myself playing it over and over, something I hadn’t done with a rock record for a while. During my spring break while I was writing the bulk of my senior thesis, I blasted this album on repeat. Listening to it, I could do anything; I was invincible and no one could stop me from writing the best damn book the journalism department had ever seen. Then the album would end (or my coffee cup would be empty) and my super-human composition and editing skills would fade…..until I hit play again.
Grouper - Ruins This album is spun glass. Or at least as close as music can get to being spun glass. Liz Harris’ latest record is a sparse, delicate and overwhelming gorgeous. It’s just Harris’ voice, a piano and sometimes frogs and crickets chirping in the background. Sitting in the dark and listening to this record, it feels like Harris is actually playing right there in the room with you. If there are any other records that match the minimalistic beauty and intimacy of this record, I haven’t heard them.
Ought - More Than Any Other Day + Once More With Feeling EP Post-punk from Montreal on Constellation that sounds a lot like early Talking Heads and Television? Of course, I’ll listen to it but will it be any good? The answer is a resounding, yes and even more stunning is how this young band, despite the stylistic characteristics they share with the great post-punk bands of yesteryears, released one the most exhilarating records I heard all year. Slinky melodic bassline, sharp trebly guitar, propulsive drums, atmospheric keys, yes you’ve heard it all before but Ought makes it their own. Guitarist/vocalist Tim Beeler is a witty and talented songwriter whose penchant for memorable lyrics has also cemented this as one of the most lyrically interesting albums I’ve heard in a while. Their four song EP, released a few months after the full length, is a wonderful coda that extends the excellence of their debut just a bit further.
Swans - To Be Kind Despite the many iterations of Swans, rhythm has always been a key element. Perhaps groove is a better description because from their early no-wave, pigfuck days of bashing pieces of metal and pounding on dual bass guitars to the cathartic walls post-rock, noise and experimental rock they are churning out today, their songs have had a pulse, a beat that draws you in and hypnotizes you. Which must be why the two-plus hour epic album, To Be Kind, seems take no time at all to listen to. From the devilish opening bass line in “Screen Shot,” to the final blowout in the title track, Swans have created a darkly beautiful masterpiece and despite the vitriolic nature of music, there is an underlying joy to all the music. Maybe Gira & Co. are simply happy to be here and by bashing the hell out of your eardrums, they’re letting us know we should be too. It’s easy to get wrapped up in this dichotomy of Swans, the ugliness versus the beauty, so I’ll cut myself off before this bullshit gets out of hand. All you really need to know is this record rocks. Plain and simple, it just rocks.
I’m often found behind the counter at Pure Pop. Here are some other great records from 2014:
Bryce Dessner/Jonny Greenwood – St. Carolyn by the Sea & Suite from “There Will Be Blood”
Sharon Van Etten – Are We There
Perfect Pussy – Say Yes to Love
Iceage – Plowing the Fields of Love
Deerhoof – La Isla Bonita
A Sunny Day in Glasgow – Sea When Absent
Cymbals Eat Guitar – Lose
Courtney Barnett – The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas
St. Vincent – St. Vincent
Fennesz – Becs
"Benji" by Sun Kil Moon Uncomfortably frank, but compellingly, heartbreakingly human.
"pom pom" by Ariel Pink A treasure-house of infectious pop, sun kissed and farcical.
"Too Bright" by Perfume Genius Mike Hadreas emerges from his two year slumber, all poise and swagger. But underneath his hard new carapace, everything's flesh and bone.
"St. Vincent" by St. Vincent Her career's culmination: beautiful, elegant, absurd.
"To Be Kind" by Swans Fuck you.
I’m Shawn. I study biochemistry and mathematics in New York. Here’s some other music from I liked from this year:
“Fuck Off, Get Free, We Pour Light On Everything” by Mt. Silver Zion
“Are We There” by Sharon Van Etten
“LOSE” by Cymbals Eat Guitars
“You’re Dead!” by Flying Lotus
“RTJ2″ by Run the Jewels
“Present Tense” by Wild Beasts
“More Than Any Other Day” by Ought
“Syro” by Aphex Twin
“Nikki Nack” by tUnE-yArDs
“Here and Nowhere Else” by Cloud Nothings
“Atlas” by Real Estate
Hank Wood And The Hammerheads - Stay Home! Alright. Hank Wood and The Hammerheads are one of the coolest and more original bands to date. This is the follow-up to their infamous debut LP "Go Home!" Whereas that album carried spit-in-the-face hostility, this album's songs are a lot more introverted and isolated, which makes given the album name. What will go down in history as one of the greatest aspects of the 21st century New York punk. Music for people afraid to go outside. Toxic State records
Vexx - Vexx This was originally released in december of last year, but only in a pressing of 250 copies. Got a bigger release in the summer of this year through M'lady's Records. This is one of the coolest bands and I cannot stress that enough. I've played this to death and it's still kicking around in my head. For people who like: Avengers, Legal Weapon, Wipers, 45 Grave
Sheer Mag - EP This EP came out in October and blew up so quickly. Within the month that the band put this out, it went out of press. Luckily, you can still listen to it for free and download it for cheap off of their bandcamp (https://sheermag.bandcamp.com/), and even better, they're already working on putting out a re-press. Some of the guitar work on this reminds me of Thin Lizzy. It's just filled with so many unstoppable hooks! "Wilsuns Recording Company" (Self-released)
Institute - Demo These guys are great. This demo got this band a lot attention, getting labels like Sacred Bones pushing immediately to get stuff recorded with them. And honestly, I like this demo more than anything they've put out since (they've put out a 7" and a 12" EP more recently this year, all still definitely more than worth checking out). For people who like: Crisis, post-punk, military drum beats. Deranged Records
Cult Of Youth - Final Days This is the first album by this band that really caught my ear. It's definitely their most elaborate stuff I've heard so far, which probably in part has to do with the fact that the band's expanded quite a bit since their last album. Sean Rogan put a great deal of thought into this and it shows. In an interview, he called this his "post-industrial Pet Sounds". That might be kind of a loaded expectation to hold in your head when listening to this for the first time, but I think that might be the best way to sum this album up into words. Sacred Bones
I’m Rian. This is the stuff I liked.
Soul stuff I would have put up if I didn’t confine my list to punk stuff:
Naomi Shelton – Cold World
Lee Fields – Emma Jean
Budos Band – Burnt Offering
Gas Rag – Beat Off
Ooze – Ooze
Coneheads – Out Of Conetrol
Impalers – Psychedelic Snutskaller
BADBADNOTGOOD / III This trio from Toronto have been making a buzz the past few years by making incredibly accessible contemporary jazz music that features a lot of influences from hip-hop instrumentals and electronica. In the past, these guys are known for covering a variety of artists from the likes of Earl Sweatshirt & Hudson Mowhawke, but this album features entirely original material. My personal favorite track is a song titled "Confessions" which features saxophone from Leland Whitty. I was fortunate enough to catch these guys at Signal Kitchen this year, and I am looking forward to the next time they perform locally, and I will be looking forward to their next release.
Flying Lotus / You're Dead! Los Angeles based producer/MC Flying Lotus has always been known to go above and beyond with his releases. Every time he drops a project, I find myself going, "Wow. How is he going to top it next time," and he always comes through with every release. This album though might just top 2010's "Cosmogramma" as my favorite in his discography. The album was electronic, jazzy, and featured amazing guest verses from Kendrick Lamar, Snoop Dogg, and FlyLo's alter ego, Captain Murphy. I was fortunate enough to catch him at Higher Ground with Thundercat, and his stage presence emulates his music incredibly well. If you haven't checked out this album, you should. It'll only be 39 minutes of your precious time.
Freddie Gibbs & Madlib / Piñata Indiana rapper Freddie Gibbs teams up with famed producer Madlib to create an album that in the future will more than likely be revered as well as Madlib's 2004 project "Madvillainy"(with famed MC MF DOOM). The album's production is incredibly soulful, and Gibbs is spitting some of his best verses yet. Piñata isn't a major lyrical departure from Gibbs' usual flows about the gangsta lifestyle, but it is nice to hear him over Madlib's smooth, production compared to the usual trap instrumentals. In addition to Gibbs, the album feature a ton of fantastic guest verses. Danny Brown goes in with his over the top flow on the song "High," and Raekwon the chef also cooks up a fantastic verse for the track "Bomb." The most stellar track on this album, in my own opinion, is the final track on the album titled "Piñata." This song is a posse track that features Domo Genesis, Casey Veggies, G-Wiz, Sulaiman, Meechy Darko & Mac Miller. The instrumental is gritty, and everyone spits fire on this track. If you're a hip-hop enthusiast, this album is definitely one worth checking out.
Run The Jewels / Run The Jewels 2 Killer Mike & El-P are back this year with another album that showcases not only El-P's fantastic production, but it also shows off the lyrical abilities of both MC's. Last year, the two released their highly acclaimed debut album, and this year they came back with an even more solid release. Killer Mike & El-P are two guys with dexterous, booming voices over blaring production that’s percussive, abrasive, and dynamic. They not only can make music that is accessible music for radio-friendly hip-hop music fans, but they can do this while also having thought-provoking lyrics. This duo is a mismatch made in heaven, and I am looking forward to hearing anything they have to release next. Also, I have tickets to see these guys on Thanksgiving, so lucky me!
Young Fathers / Dead Words cannot even describe my appreciation for this album, but I will try my best to do so. I have been a fan of this group since the release of their first EP in 2011, and their music always impresses me. They are one of the most unique acts you can find in music. It's a shame that their music isn't as popular over here in the states as it is in their native land of Scotland, but I advocate highly for this album. If it makes this album any more enticing, it did win the 2014 Mercury Prize. You would never guess that with an album titled "Dead"that this trio would have an album that is so vibrantly alive, but they do, and they do it well. The album is raw, emotion-heavy, and lyrically intoxicating. The group's cultural heritage lies in Nigeria, Scotland, and Liberia and throughout this album this heritage is seen, rather it be from the African drum beats that make up the majority of the tracks, or the bagpipe-like drones seen on the opening track. The album's lyrics pertain to political/social commentary, heartache, and pain. Young Fathers possess that which makes the best British acts truly special: a singular identity born of multinational mixology.
My name is Jake L., and I am a student and a music advocate. I enjoy going to concerts, listening to music, and music news. I make my way to Pure Pop whenever I get the chance, but sadly in 2014 I haven’t been there as much as I like to be due to financial struggles, but that doesn’t stop my love for music. There were a lot of albums I wanted to include on this list (To Be Kind, Nikki Nack, Supermodel, This Is All Yours, Strange Desire, LP1, etc.), but I feel these albums are easily my 5 favorite from the year. I hope that 2015 brings even more fantastic releases, and I hope you all have a wonderful year as well!
Bob Dylan – The Basement Tapes Complete: The Bootleg Series Vol. 11
With six CDs of music, here’s the basement’s kitchen sink, sans a few “unlistenables”. Sweetening added to 1975’s partial LP release has been stripped away and, after years of sleuthing, the cleanest sources were located. (A 2-CD set is available for the financially impaired.) In ’67, while recuperating from the “Judas!” tour, Bob and The Band kept sharp by rehearsing in Big Pink’s basement. Some of the bard’s then-new tunes were sent as publishing demos to The Byrds and others, and The Band released a few on 1968’s Music From Big Pink. Otherwise they simply revelled in making music for fun. In addition to future Dylan classics (You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere, I Shall Be Released), they jammed on many shades of blues, honky-tonk, rockabilly, calypso, 19th century drinking songs, et al. Although keyboardist Garth Hudson ran tape, they had no idea that anyone might hear the results, save for the dozen-plus demos. Read the full review on MOJO
Deerhoof – La Isla Bonita
Unlucky for some, but not for Deerhoof. The quartet’s 13th LP is a product of the band’s 20 year history together, but if you didn’t know it, you would never guess that this wasn’t a sparkling debut written by a bunch of 20-somethings with an abundance of live-wire energy. Interesting that an album which was kickstarted by the band’s impromptu decision to record a song that sounded like their own take on the Ramone’s “Pinhead” ended up being named after Madonna’s kitschy classic “La Isla Bonita” – but that’s Deerhoof (nothing will be stranger than Milk Man, their 2004 concept album based around a pied piper figure enchanting children into his “dreamland”…) “Exit Only”, the album’s high-octane “Pinhead” sound-alike, is just one taste of the bolshy, punk streak that bleeds through the whole LP. Read the full review on Line of Best Fit
Grouper – Ruins
The emotional core of the album is the four melancholy songs for piano and voice, which are complemented by two instrumentals of a similar mood. Rarely have Harris’ lyrics been so clearly audible, and rarely, if ever, has love been so plainly the focus of her songwriting. “I hear you calling and I wanna go/ Run straight into the valleys of your arms,” she sings on “Holding”, her multitracked close harmonies reminiscent of Low circa The Curtain Hits the Cast. On the devastating “Clearing”, she sings, “Every time I see you/ I have to pretend I don’t”; on “Call Across Rooms”, she has a change of heart: “I have a present to give you/ When we finally figure it out.” (“The song is on one level very plain and literal, about a letter I wrote for someone I loved and could not get along with,” she told Vogue.) Read the full review on Pitchfork.
Thurston Moore – The Best Day
Following more in the footsteps of late-career Sonic Youth than his recent foray with Chelsea Light Moving, Moore’s new eight-song album is a record filled with complementary guitar lines (“Speak to the Wild”), dissonant post-punk thrashers (11-minute epic “Forevermore” and the upbeat “Detonation”) and poetic, punk rock ponderings (the Darby Crash-alluding “Germs Burn”). Read the full review on Exclaim
Ben Howard – I Forget Where We Were
Balls. 27-year-old singer-songwriter Ben Howard certainly has a pair of balls. After the unexpected success of 2011’s acoustic heavy debut Every Kingdom that saw him land a couple of Brit Awards and a Mercury Prize nomination, he’d be stupid not to build on that success and chuck out more of the same, right? Wrong. He’s fed up of the first album after having flogged it to death touring it extensively, so has chosen a different direction entirely – one down electric avenue, in fact. Read the full review on Music OHM
Sunn O & Scott Walker – Soused
Soused begins with “Brando”, a searing piece that immediately sets the limit for which the patience of the listener will be (consensually) tested over the course of the record. Various off-beat sounds open the track – a Slash-y guitar stinger here, a whip crack there, before the first gargantuan drone burns like molten tarmac through the speakers. Scott’s wet croon is as gorgeous and ectopic as ever as he moans amidst growling guitar feedback, and you can sense he’s instantly at ease coated in corrosive electric dew by Messrs Anderson and SOMA. And those whip cracks can really eat you up, too, if you ain’t careful, especially considering the fact that they are the beat… Read the full review on The Line Of Best Fit
If their last album was a 60s feast, ‘…And Star Power’ is a 70s all-you-can-eat buffet that gloriously clashes stewed girl-group harmonies (‘Star Power IV: Ooh Ooh’) with chargrilled punk riffs (‘Can’t Contextualize My Mind’), crushed-ice soul shakes (‘Coulda Been My Love’), side-dishes of glam rock (‘Freedom II’) and a supersize bucket of hip-shaking foot-clicking, finger-licking raw attitude.
Even with a pupil-popping twenty-four tracks, the album rarely feels repetitive. In usual Foxygen style, most of the tracks anyway comprise of several parts that twist-and-turn and helter-skelter like a piss-up at a playpark. ‘Cold Winter / Freedom’, for example, shape shifts from a distortion sludge into a full-out wig-out, while ’ Cosmic Vibrations’ morphs from a Doors-y feel into a Stones-y ending and ‘Everyone Needs Love’ rollercoasters through every sound of the album like a musical safari. Read the full review on DIY Magazine