Music

Quench Music’s Albums of 2014

MU - Death From Above 1979 - The Physical World

 

From FKA twigs to Bombay Bicycle Club and Death From Above 1979 to Caribou, Quench Music round up the records that made 2014 

Death From Above 1979 – The Physical World 

After ten years of hiatus, Sebastien Grainger and Jesse F. Keeler returned with second album, The Physical World, following up to ’04s You’re a Woman, I’m a Machine. Not forgetting their once hardcore guise, the opening track of the album ‘Cheap Talk’ sets the tone for the next eleven tracks with a solid drum beat, plenty of electronica and a firm selection of riffs; hooky choruses galore and layers upon layers of tuneful noise. The reunification of the duo and their new instalment leaves no room for disappointment to even the oldest of DFA fans.
Loud, fast and short; few songs on the record exceed the three-minute mark, which makes the album an easily accessible compendium of full-frontal musical assault. Well-received after a ten year gap, from the Canadian duo bring no disappointment or unwelcome surprise. –Dale Evans

MU - Caribou - Our Love

Caribou – Our Love 

Our Love finds Dan Snaith’s Caribou combining the psychedelic pop of his early releases with the dance floor workouts of his Daphni side-project. The effervescent ‘Can’t Do Without You,’ shimmering and gorgeous, sets up the theme of the album; love. From the synth-pop break-up ballad of ‘Back Home’, to the devotional album closer ‘Your Love Will Set You Free,’ Snaith still finds room to experiment; from the sampled voices, aggressive drumming and flute loop on ‘Mars’ to the woozy synths that underpin ‘Second Chance’. However cerebral the album may become, it never loses its beating heart; complicated and ambiguous it may be, but that heart is ultimately what makes the album such a subtle triumph. –Taliesin Davies

MU - St. Vincent - St. Vincent

St. Vincent – St. Vincent

It’s been one hell of a year for Annie Clark. Her eponymous fourth solo outing oozes jaggedy, obscure chording and serious guitar shred, sludgy effects laced with a voice that could belong to no other. Whilst waxing lyrical on taking out the garbage and masturbating, she’s given us something unorthodox but relatable all in the space of 40 minutes; a clunky European rhythm crossed with twisted, epic guitar lines are slipped beneath an everyday, understated and overall human musical aesthetic. On ‘Digital Witness’ she states ‘I want all of your mind,’ but if St. Vincent has proved anything in 2014, it’s that she already has all of ours. –Veryan Leaper

MU - Zola Jesus - Taiga

Zola Jesus – Taiga

Heralding Taiga as her first official pop album, Nika Donilova has risen to new heights with her experimental growth as Zola Jesus. Whilst opening track, ‘Taiga’, may have similarities to some of her previous, more gothic projects, pop-heavy lead single ‘Dangerous Days’ lies in stark contrast. Stand out track, ‘Go (Blank Sea)’, is bold, its melodramatic chorus adding to what makes Taiga so sonically cohesive. Amongst consistent haunting vocals, synthesisers and honest songwriting, there are still moments of obvious exploration, breaking up the album periodically. Although her musical transition was likely to cause complaints from some old fans, Taiga proves that Zola Jesus has the ability to successfully execute a pop album and appeal to a mainstream audience without losing the essence of her music. –Becky Taylor-Ashfield

MU - Todd Terje - It's Album Time

Todd Terje – It’s Album Time 

The legions of disco producer Todd Terje’s fans have been waiting ten long years for an album, and It’s Album Time didn’t disappoint. It bounces from funky piano jazz to zingy 60s lounge all the way back to the dance classics that he built his name on. Tracks like ‘Svensk Sas’ that zip along at a ludicrous pace and sound like a pastiche of a Nordic ‘Spanish Flea’ are Todd’s way of telling the world that dance music still has a sense of fun. The album calms down as Bryan Ferry provides vocals on ‘Johnny and Mary’, a gorgeous and haunting cover of the Robert Palmer ballad, before it closes off with the timeless anthem ‘Inspector Norse’. Todd Terje was right; it was album time, and as far as we’re concerned, it still is. –Henry Atkinson

MU - FKA twigs - LP1

FKA twigs – LP1 

Tahliah Barnett began her career appearing in music videos for other artists. Yet, when twigs was born, something more exciting took over. Her debut, LP1, landed last year and showcases her unique vision as an artist; the eerie blend of energetic bass and delicate, often vulnerable lyrics that securing her spots in best album lists-a-plenty. The album is representative of a new future for music, with twigs offering a completely new sound and that cannot be categorised. Stand out tracks ‘Two Weeks,’ ‘Pendulum’ and ‘Video Girl’ are experimental, synth heavy and a testament to the strength of her musical talent. –Zak Maoui

MU - Bombay Bicycle Club - So Long, See You Tomorrow

Bombay Bicycle Club – So Long, See You Tomorrow

After their longest gap between records yet, much expectation rested on Bombay’s fourth studio album. But, much like a long crafted sculpture, So Long, See You Tomorrow proved to be their most successful record to date. Combining influences from all over the globe, no one song sounds the same. So Long, See You Tomorrow marks a triumphant peak in the band’s musical evolution, culminating the talents and nuanced taste of each member. Of course, there are the stand out singles such as the jubilant ‘Luna’ and ‘Carry Me’, but it’s the record’s hidden gems that make So Long… what it is; ‘Home By Now’ combines hip-hop rhythms with the bands distinctive style and finishing on a climatic high, the title track culminates its musical journey. If there’s one album to take away from this year of music, make it So Long, See You Tomorrow. –Jade Attwood

MU - Run The Jewels - RTJ2

Run The Jewels – RTJ2 

Returning in 2014 with Run The Jewels 2, Outkast affiliate Killer Mike and producer El-P expanded on their sound to produce an album that many are declaring the album of the year. The production throughout is booming; gritty trap-influenced beats are laced behind excellent lyricism, with Killer Mike focusing in on the political issues that plague the USA. The guest spots – that appear to be a little off-centre – such as Blink 182’s Travis Barker and Rage Against The Machine’s Zach De La Rocha, are superbly executed, falling into the fold without disrupting the chemistry between Killer Mike and El-P. RTJ2 stands as a huge, and completely relevant, middle finger to everything the duo stands against; be it politics or mainstream radio-friendly hip-hop, RTJ doesn’t substitute intelligence for angry. –Jack Boyce

MU - Wild Beasts - Present Tense

Wild Beasts – Present Tense 

A scintillating return to form for the Cumbrian moodrockers, Wild Beasts cemented themselves as one of Britain’s most consistent indie outfits with their fourth LP, Present Tense. Almost as instantaneously as the spectacularly baritoned Hayden Thorpe announces on lead single ‘Wanderlust’, “Don’t confuse me with someone who gives a fuck,” each of Present Tense’s ten tracks flows seamlessly into the next. The interchangeable nature of Fleming and co-frontman Hayden Thorpe’s vocals are now part and parcel of the ultimate Wild Beasts package and continue to enthuse listeners; while Fleming rasps through synth-laden belters ‘Daughter’ and ‘Nature Boy’, the sweet sensation of Thorpe’s tones in tracks such as ‘Mecca’ give the album a two-in-one feel. A fantastic album deserving far more accolades than it was granted. –Max Goldbart

MU - SOHN - Tremors

SOHN – Tremors 

Vienna-based, English-born Christopher Taylor – aka SOHN – has a lot to offer, as evidenced by the release of his debut Tremors in April of last year. Taylor had already been attracting the attention of numerous big names as a producer, engineering tracks for the likes of BANKS, Lana Del Rey and even 2015’s next-big-thing Kwabs, but Tremors demonstrated a whole new side to his ingenious musicianship. The distorted vocals and ethereal soundscapes flow over the listener with consummate ease, from the harsh drums and sweetly-sampled backbeat of lead single ‘Artifice’ to the opening 30 seconds of ‘Tempest’ in which Taylor announces amidst a backdrop of distortion “Oh Lord I got lost along the way”. One of the year’s most experimental LPs and one that oozes natural talent, Tremours indicates a long, successful career is awaiting Christopher Taylor. –Max Goldbart

 

CG

Childish Gambino – Because The Internet

As a former sketch comedian from hit comedies 30 Rock to Community, writer/actor/comedian/rapper Donald Glover, or by his stage name Childish Gambino, ranks among one of the most accomplished performers of this year and this album is definitive proof of that. Boosted by singles ‘3005, ‘Crawl and ‘Telegraph Ave.’, Gambino combines his talents to produce a well-polished, well-produced and well… frankly, an album like no other. The Internet showcases his lyrical genius and takes it to new heights as he unleashes his most formidable weapon in his arsenal; his wit. Spanning from; pop, underground R&B, club music, and to even psychedelic experimentation, the project is further heightened by Gambino’s knowing irony, his gift for hooks, and his visionary theme to even write a screenplay and a short film to accompany the album as promotion! It’s no wonder Because The Internet has been nominated for Best Rap Album at the upcoming 2015 Grammy Awards. -Alex Miarli 

 

Atlas_12Gatefold

Real Estate – Atlas

Having claimed an aesthetic of understated angst with their sophomore album Days, Real Estate built on this to offer some fresh moments of self-pity on 2014 release Atlas. A sense of sincerity is created through the uncertainty that can be heard in the muted voice and equally modest, open chords of vocalist and guitarist Martin Courtney. Whilst their lyrics remain reliable indie reflections, the music is dramatically cleaner and more mature than previous works. As the tempo slows and ‘The Bend’ wanes into a pained ending, there is a hopeful reprise; the apologetic tone – “I’m just trying to make some sense of it, before I lose another year” – shifts to that of acceptance. Whilst Atlas is not quite the ‘cry into your glass of white wine’ album of 2014, the familiar ache of self-indulgent frustration runs through this standout record of the year. –Sadia Pineda Hameed

 

MU - Jessie Ware - Tough Love

Jessie Ware – Tough Love

Jessie Ware’s second album, Tough Love, produces a refined, smooth sound that is performed with subtlety, a delicate balance of emotion positioning her as a genuinely talented pop vocalist. Adding a new dimension to the well-developed pop genre, Jessie creates tracks that revolve around experimentation, the exciting sound engaging with a variety of genres and inducting new listeners into the mix. Moving from the midtempo disco of ‘Want Your Feeling’ to swooning acoustic sound of ‘Say You Love Me’, Tough Love showcases Ware’s journey and continuance of developing into an accomplished and respected artist. –Jess Rayner

MU - East India Youth - Total Strife Forever

East India Youth – Total Strife Forever

William Doyle’s debut as East India Youth combines his knowledge of the traditional song writing craft with more electronic sounds, composed as part of his interest in bringing depth of emotion to music created on a laptop keyboard. The grand musical landscape of Total Strife Forever spans passages of sparkling electronica on tracks such as ‘Glitter Recession’ to the more melodic ‘Dripping Down.’ The articulate and smart nature of Total Strife Forever feels distinctly like a digital album, yet the strength lies in the way Doyle plays with convention. The experimentation produces a striking sense of emotion, sending listeners on to a musical journey through an album full of promise and originality. –Jess Rayner

MU - Taylor-Swift - 1989

Taylor Swift – 1989 

She’s the pop princess the 21st century has been longing for since Britney hung up her headset for an electric shaver. A bastion of bangers, Taylor Swift owned 2014. We all knew she was capable of fantastic things; ‘Love Story’ was no one hit wonder and conquering Harry Styles is no mean feat. No, 1989 was far from the surprise success of the year. Its singles swept the charts, defying haters and fakers worldwide, taking down the odd player and ex-lover along its way; its sassy messages and superb synth lines stole hearts and filled dance floors a plenty; its polaroid-style artwork saw sales of Fujifilm Instax Minis reach newfound heights. 2014 was the year that Taylor did it all, and for that we can only thank 1989. -Charlie Mock

MU - Cloud Nothings - Here and Nowhere Else

Cloud Nothings – Here and Nowhere Else 

Here and Nowhere Else makes the cut because it’s a thermal blast of fresh air. Clocking in at just over 30 minutes, 8 exquisitely crafted songs hurtle unrelentingly to perfect punk rock crescendos without indulgence. There is a rare joy in the bravery to let ferocious, screaming guitars and tearaway drumming take centre stage. Its beauty lies in the tension between Baldi’s anxiousness to control everything – his focused mindset that makes perfect pop songs with catchy hooks – and the desire to let go, to let the music pour out as a stream of consciousness. An honest, grungy, punk rock masterpiece that consciously chooses pure energy over an inclination towards self-consciousness: listen through and I defy you not to want to press play again straight away. –Gareth Kitchen

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