Tag Archives: 2014

The Final Entry: The Actual Album of the Year

Lunatic Soul:  Walking on a Flashlight Beam

It was difficult to know what to do with this album. Clearly it is the number one album of my year, but it didn’t take too many listens to realize that this was an album I could not in good conscience stick into the same list with the other, mere music offerings – it was hardly fair to them. At any rate, since it transcends just about everything else I’ve heard—not only this year but maybe for the last decade, I decided to put it into its own category.   So yes, my list goes to eleven.   😀

The actual review for this album can be found here. Please read it if you want a detailed, somewhat rational take on it.

I have to admit, I was somewhat anxious about how this album was going to fit in with the other three Lunatic Soul albums. It is difficult to describe what this music means to me–hell I wouldn’t even call it “music”…whatever it is that is at the heart and soul of Lunatic Soul: the approach and sounds, the musical philosophy and vision…it absolutely enmeshes itself into me. It is essential like blood and bone and breath. I am astonished that something like this even exists out there, and abjectly grateful to whatever fates might be at work that I was able to find it (or that it found me…there is a case to be made for that).

But enough of that.

I needn’t have worried. WoaFB is different, but only in the details. The essence of Lunatic Soul has not changed, in fact maybe even more Lunatic Soul-ish…likely because its creator was more focused and it is a true solo album, with no dilution of vision through other people (yes, there is a drummer, but clearly Mariusz Duda and Wawrzyniec Dramowicz are on the same wavelength).

However…now I worry that if ever I am stranded on that Desert Island, forty percent of my album allocation is already accounted for. I wonder if I can pretend it is a single item….



Recap: The Albums and Gigs of 2014

This is just a summary list of the albums I have reviewed and the gigs I went to this year.  Please visit the previous posts if you want to read what I said and listen to select tracks.  If not…then this post winds it up (almost…).

The Top 10 Albums

10. Sounds Like the End of the World: Stages of Delusion

9. John Wesley: Disconnect

8. Knifeworld: The Unravelling

7. Rival Sons: Great Western Valkyrie

6. Tuber: Desert Overcrowded

5. The Pineapple Thief: Magnolia

4. Tune: Identity

3. Katatonia: Kocytean

2. Seven Impale: City of the Sun

1. Salt of the Chief Cornerstone: Intelligent Design

Continue reading Recap: The Albums and Gigs of 2014

Albums of 2014: Numbers 1 and 2.

And finally…the Winners….   🙂

Number 2

Seven Impale:  City of the Sun

This was one of those albums that came out of the blue.  A recommendation from a friend, he also provided the warning: “give them a chance” – which can be regarded as either a challenge, or a red flag.   And the first time I played the album, I knew exactly what he meant: I spent a lot of the time thinking, “What the fuck is going on here??”   But I also got that feeling…the one where I have no idea if I liked what I heard, but there was something.   Albums that start out that way, that leave me bemused and intrigued, that demand revisiting in order to make sense of them, often end up being long-term winners.

Who are they? A six-piece from Bergen, Norway. What are they? Well, it is hard to describe what they do. Psychedelic jazz-rock-fusion, lots of saxophone winding all through prog-like songs, they sound deceptively loose and crazy, but don’t be fooled. What we have here is masterfully-controlled chaos.

While they do not really sound like any of those bands, they are reminiscent of Soft Machine, Quiet Sun, a bit of jazz-era Crimson. Each song is a surprise, the way the elements are all intertwined, sliding smoothly from raucus disorganized noise to nice melodic themes, changing up the time signatures but not in that self-referential way that modern prog bands tend to do—when it happens, it’s like it takes everyone by surprise, listener and performer both.

Every time I play this album, I am surprised how much I like what I hear, because otherwise every musical instinct tells me this is not the kind of thing that holds my attention. But these guys are the real deal. They don’t sound quite like anyone else, and sometimes they sound less like a band than a loose collective of people wandering in and out of the songs at random. If you do choose to listen…well, give them a chance.


Continue reading Albums of 2014: Numbers 1 and 2.

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.

Continue reading The Albums of 2014: Nos. 5 – 3

The Albums of 2014: Nos. 10 to 6

So here we are, the albums that made the cut for the year…

Number 10

Sounds Like the End of the World:   Stages of Delusion

Sounds Like the End of the World is a 5-piece instrumental post-rock outfit, recently formed, from Gdansk, Poland. I had never heard of them, until one of them (or maybe their manager, I forget) popped up in my Facebook chat with a link. So I checked them out and pretty much liked what I heard.

They tend to play at the more sedate end of post-rock, and that tends not to be my favourite part of the genre, but they can turn on the heavy when they want to, enriching the guitar/bass/drum sound with keyboards which adds an nice textural element to their sound. However, after a while it does begin to all sound similar, and I find that my attraction to the music depends on my mood. Sometimes it does not work, and sometimes it does. For that reason the album was in and out of the Top 10 like a yoyo, until I finally decided that it really is more satisfying to listen to than the other contender for the spot. And I certainly enjoy it more than most of the stuff I have heard this year.


Continue reading The Albums of 2014: Nos. 10 to 6

The Musical Year in Review: The Short List and Honourable Mentions

In the last post I presented the albums from 2014 that I played through once or twice; however, it was difficult to come up with a reasonable Short List because so few of those albums tweaked any real interest. I like to create a short list of albums wherein most of them have some kind of shot at making the final Ten, but this time I had to add a few no-hopers just for padding. It really was pointless, but…oh well, I did it anyway.


The Short List, in alphabetical order

Continue reading The Musical Year in Review: The Short List and Honourable Mentions

The Musical Year in Review: Getting Started


This seems to be a fitting way to open up my blog to the world, it certainly encompasses one of the main themes. In the next couple of posts I will present my list of albums and shows of 2014: not only the Top Ten albums, but the near misses, the complete losers, and the gigs I attended. It should also serve to provide an indication of the kind of music I listen to and like; rather than try and explain it, you can just see the process in action.

It is unfortunate however that it was not a better year for music. Certainly there were plenty of releases, there always are: but the proportion that interested me, even for a brief time, was very low, compared to the year before—at least, that is how it seems. A few other people I know also complained of finding very little of interest as well, so maybe it wasn’t just me. In the end, I could not even put together a shortlist of 20 albums to whittle down, and for most of the year I didn’t even have 10 in total to work with, let alone a Top Ten. Thankfully the latter part of the year was better than the first half and brought in some serious contenders.

So let’s get down to it: In alphabetical order are the albums I considered, however briefly, over the past year. It might not seem like a lot, but there were other issues, not relevant to this post, that prevented me from spending as much time with my music as I otherwise would have.   In the next post: The Short List

Continue reading The Musical Year in Review: Getting Started