As the year marches on, I find myself being more selective with my listening time as I continue to try and work my way through a pretty intense backlog of records. However my thirst for new music is still never quenched and I took the plunge on three new 2014 albums this week, none of which disappointed. As with the mood of the past few weeks, there's a decidedly winterish vibe to my choices on this list and lots of eeriness. Hope you find something that interests you. Enjoy.
Sleepy Sun - Maui Tears: Due out next week, this is the fourth album from the San Fran psychedelic rock band. As is expected from West Coast psych bands, there's a heavy stoner feel, but it avoids any link to drone. It's a subtle album, one that takes the listener along for a ride that is not at all unpleasant. It reminds a bit of Dead Confederate's first album, but with Dead Meadow influence. Nothing groundbreaking here, but a solid experience nonetheless.
Neil Young - The BBC Sessions: This popped up online this week, it's a remastered version of long circulating bootleg from 1971. It's from a performance that I've seen on television, just Neil and a piano and guitar. This is my favorite era of Neil live recordings. Without a backing band, his fragile voice and delicate songwriting really shine. A beautiful remastering of a wonderful concert. Definitely worth checking out if you are new to Neil bootlegs, or even if you are well-versed.
Best Coast - Fade Away: Over the past few years, this lo-fi indie dream pop band from L.A. has been growing an audience with their catchy twist on love songs. Though I've enjoyed many tracks on their previous albums, I found this to be their most enjoyable album as a whole. Released in the Fall, this was one of the records I pushed through towards the end of the year with the thought that it might sneak into my best of the year list. And while it didn't, it's still quite good. A more mature sound than their earlier work and it suits them well.
The Lumineers - The Lumineers: The debut from this Denver indie folk band received a lot of love in 2012, and came highly recommended to me by people whose opinions I trust. For whatever reason, I ignored it when it came out, mostly because I was already drowning in wonderful folk recordings. This is a solid album, anchored by the hit "Ho Hey," but as is often the case, I fail to see why this album stood out above other albums with a similar feel. Though I really like it, I didn't fall in love with it, with the exception of "Dead Sea," the best track on the record.
Warpaint - Warpaint: Another L.A. based dream pop band, this is Warpaint's second record, released this week. It's ethereal sound, with psychedelic undertones, works beautifully with the vocals to give the entire thing the feeling of listening to a dream. They manage to capture the effortless appeal of The XX and Mazzy Star, while adding a hint of Joy Division eeriness. "Feeling Right," "CC," and "Son" are my favorites in this atmospheric masterpiece of an album.
Blood, Sweat & Tears - Blood, Sweat & Tears: It's sort of rare for a blues rock band to come out of NYC in the late '60s. The city was dominated by the folk movement at the time, but somewhere in that environment this band emerged with one of the first true marriages of jazz and rock. This was given to me in a box of records rescued from a yard sale, and while it feels a little like a poor man's Traffic in some ways, the innovation and risks they take is worth applauding especially when it all comes together. Their rendition of "God Bless the Child" is fantastic, and "Spinning Wheel" is a near perfect blues rock tune.