The Albums of 2014: Nos. 5 – 3

Continuing where we left off in the last post…

Number 5

The Pineapple Thief:   Magnolia

The Pineapple Thief  had never struck me as especially noteworthy before this on the few times I had sampled their stuff. I found them pleasant but somewhat conventional, and not memorable enough to convince me to investigate more fully.

 Magnolia is a different kettle of fish: here we have a dozen shortish tracks that are more than just pleasant timewasters, they are quite substantial, with very powerful melodies and great hooks, moving easily from soft ballad-like passages to heavy driving dense guitars in the same song. The songs are lush, memorable in feel, they can be quite orchestral, very nice songwriting happening here. This is exactly the sort of thing I need when I’m not looking for a musical challenge, nor do I want drony background sounds, but I also want music that is interesting in its own right if I choose to pay closer attention. I’m not sure if it is enough to make me run out and buy the rest of the discography, but it’s one of those albums that serves its purpose above and beyond the call of duty, fine enough to make it into the top end of the list.

Number 4

Tune:  Identity

Tune is kind of a rediscovery for me: I recall hearing some of their music ages ago, maybe a couple of years, and liking it, but somehow they just got lost in the shuffle. Then someone linked to a youtube of a track off their latest album, and boy did it get my attention.

Tune is yet another outfit from Poland (there *has* to be something in the water…), and Identity is an album of guitar-and-keyboard driven tracks that slide between rock and electronica, melancholic but heavy for all that, with a unique and sexy delivery from the singer: he has a voice that really makes the album for me. The album itself is thematic, the struggle for self-identity in a remote and uncaring world where lock-step job performance and glitzy false façades seem the only things that count.

I love this album, melodic and engaging and clever, but still straightforward, no tricks or gimmicks, pure music.

 

 

 

Number 3

Katatonia:   Kocytean

Yes, it is an EP, and yes, the songs are not new, and it was a Record Store Day exclusive limited edition. But I have to say, during the early months of this year when it seemed that nothing decent was in the musical pipeline, this little album kept me hoping.  Lovely songs, perfectly chosen and assembled, maybe Katatonia at some of their finest moments. Tracks of delicate beauty, crunching guitar heaviness, and of course Jonas Renkse’s cool, smooth vocals. Not to mention the superb artwork by Travis Smith.  It is a tiny miracle of music, I feel uplifted whenever I play it.