Albums That Weren’t Total Shit in 2014 – First In a Series!

An incomplete list of new albums that I’ve enjoyed listening to this year, as prompted by the lad James Baker and as posted in instalments here to make it look like I’m actually doing some writing.

Please note that this isn’t a “best of” – if I do one of those I’ll do it properly and I’ll do once the year has actually ended.

Richard Dawson – Nothing Important

I saw this guy supporting R.M. Hubbert in Rutherglen a few months back with an audience who clearly didn’t know whether they were supposed to take his alternately wry and deranged tales of teenage debauchery and heroic quiltmakers seriously or not. I’m less interested in that question than I am in the effects he generates from moment to moment, the sudden lurches and explosions and passages of uneasy beauty, all of which conspire to make the acoustic guitar seem like it’s not just for readymade dickheads.

Helena Hauff – Shatter Cone/Return to Disorder/Helena Hauff Meets Andreas Gehm (with Andreas Gehm, obvs)

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There are only one or two tracks here that come close to matching the title piece from 2013’s Actio Reaction, which sounded like the introduction to Whitney Houston’s ‘I Want To Dance With Somebody’ stuck on a loop until you listened to it with the bass up loud enough, but when I want music that makes me want to move I go to Hauff right now. Disgustingly crude and minimal, simple sounds battering away at you until you’re tender enough to become receptive to the groove.

YG – My Krazy Life

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The structure makes it obvious that YG’s trying to do a Kendrick, but while he doesn’t quite have the stories or skills to make that work he does have beats you could lounge to for miles. There’s no hip-hop record I’ve enjoyed listening to more this year, except for mebbe RTJ2 (about which more in a later post).

Actress – Ghettoville

And this is the album I’ve enjoyed listening to most this year. It’s all about the hiss and static, the space between the beats, until it isn’t and all of a sudden you’re staggering out into the daylight with no idea where you’ve been and a chestful of amazing angelic tunes to show for it.

St Vincent – St Vincent

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If I’m honest I was hoping that Annie Clarke was going to team up with Steve Albini and make her Steve Albini album, all distortion and grind, since that’s where her 2012 live show was obviously heading. Let’s just say that it took me a while to find my way into this lush, conceptual record. I got there in the end though, so fuck Gaga, this is artpop, and while I know you rolled your eyes at that line about TV’s looking like windows ‘Rattlesnake’ is contact with mortality with a guitar solo so I’m giving approximately zero fucks.

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