Tag Archives: Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra

Fave albums of 2014, so far: The 3Q wrap-up

Benjamin Booker, Benjamin Booker – A powerful burst of blues rock, somewhere between the Black Keys and the Black Crowes.

Curtis Harding, Soul Power – Today’s R&B so frequently sounds like it’s made in a hermetically sealed studio with computers. Soul Power is so warm because Harding and the band at times sound like they’re performing live, not just cranking out the same riffs over and over until they get handed to the geek with Pro Tools to be cleansed and assembled for distribution.

July Talk, Guns + Ammunition – I’ll be seeing this group open for Rural Alberta Advantage in October, and I’m really looking forward to it. The songwriting is strong, and the one-two, male-female vocal combination creates a unique sound.

Jenny Lewis, Voyager – Do I love it as much as Rabbit Fur Coat or Acid Tongue? No. Voyager loses the country sound for a poppier sheen. Regardless, Ms. Lewis is still one of the smartest and funniest lyricists around, and that elevates her latest effort.

Tony Molina, Dissed & Dismissed – If Rivers Cuomo cut the cute shtick and just made hook-driven punk pop, the album would sound like Dissed & Dismissed.

Perfect Pussy, Say Yes to Love – This is one of those albums where not only do I like the collection for what it is, but I’m also excited about the potential it teases.

Pixies, Indie Cindy – It’s rare that an old band gets back together and makes a quality album (The Rolling Stones, The Eagles, etc.). The Pixies defy that expectation with a disc that stands with their best.

Royal Blood, Royal Blood – When you think of two-piece rock outfits, the Black Keys and the White Stripes tend to come to mind. But this bass-drums combo is much more No One Knows than Ball and a Biscuit.

Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra, Fuck Off Get Free We Pour Light on Everything – Prince once said, “Let’s get crazy.” Silver Mt. Zion took them up on that, making a sprawling, psychedelic punk album worthy of Sonic Youth.

St. Paul & The Broken Bones, Half the City – Another album that’s been on this list since the first quarter, Half the City is a well-made collection of Southern soul music. I can’t recommend these guys enough live.

Honorable mention: Cherub, Year of the Caprese; Courtney Barnett, The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas; First Aid Kit, Stay Gold; Lana Del Ray, Ultraviolence; Guided By Voices, Motivational Jumpsuit; Lecrae, Anomaly; Parquet Courts, Sunbathing Animal; Pharoahe Monch, PTSD – Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder; Pete Molinari, Theosophy; Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings, Give the People What They Want; Spoon, They Want My Soul; Spanish Gold, South of Nowhere; Trampled By Turtles, Wild Animals; Tweedy, Sukierae; Angel Wilson, Burn Your Fire For No Witness

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Favorite albums of 2014, so far

My favorite albums through the first six months of 2014.

Fuck Off Get Free We Pour Light on Everything, Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra – I love it when a band manages to mix chaotic musical departures with strong song-writing, a la the Mars Volta. Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra has that ability, creating complex sonic pastiche while just barely clinging to traditional rock structure.

Guns + Ammunition, July Talk – In my songs list, I said the dueling vocals of Peter Dreimanis and Leah Fay sounded a bit like Nick Cave and Tonya Donnelly. Musically, this one-two singer punch helps give July Talk an interesting edge.

Half the City, St. Paul & The Broken Bones – These southern boys aren’t reinventing the wheel here. This is old school, big band soul, plain and simple. But the thing about that old school, big band soul sound is that, when done well, it’s impossible not to listen. Paul Janeway and his crew display power and deftness on their debut.

Indie Cindy, Pixies – It’s not strange that the Pixies are on this list. Indie Cindy is the outlier among rock albums from bands who broke up for an extended period of time then got back together to record in that it doesn’t completely suck (see the Fleetwood Mac catalogue, anything after Stevie Nicks’ initial run with the band). What is strange is that the Pixies, indie underground darlings of the late 1980s and early 1990s, are easily the most recognizable band on my list.

Out of the Black, Royal Blood – If you like Queens of the Stone Age, give these fellas a shot. Thick, heavy guitars and active drumming drive Royal Blood’s sound, and singer Mike Kerr provides strong, melodic vocals to play against the wall of sound.

Say Yes to Love, Perfect PussySay Yes to Love makes beautiful noise, from the opening track Driver – a full-throated roar over music that is constantly spilling from melody to chaos – to points deep in the disc, such as the schizophrenic vocals and slow, quiet fade out of Interference Fits. Sublime punk rock.

South of Nowhere, Spanish Gold – Southern rock, reggae, psychedelic rock, blues … Spanish Gold touches a bit of everything, committing only to make the best album they possibly can.

Sunbathing Animal, Parquet Courts – I think of Pavement and 1980s skate punk quite a bit while listening to Sunbathing Animal. That’s a good thing. Parquet Courts use some conventional punk and garage rock song structure, but tend to throw the occasional feedback solo or wall of noise in spaces where the average fan probably isn’t used to hearing them.

Honorable mentions: Burn Your Fire For No Witness, Angel Olsen; The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas, Courtney BarnettGirl, Pharrell Williams; Give the People What They Want, Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings; Stay Gold, First Aid Kit; Standing By Your Side, Lee Fields & The Expressions; Theosophy, Pete Molinari; To Be Kind, Swans

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Favorite songs of 2014, so far

My favorite cuts from 2014 (check out my favorite albums here).

American Horror, Speedy Ortiz – I was first attracted to them because they sounded a bit like The Breeders. I’m now attracted to them because they don’t sound much like The Breeders. Growth is good.

Bad News, Sleeper Agent – “I just want to stay in love with you” is the bad news. The good news is that you’ll be singing along with this glammy, pop gem by the time you hit the last chorus.

Blue Moon, Beck – The best tune from one of Beck’s most milquetoast albums.

Brand New, Pharrell Williams feat. Justin Timberlake – A natural pairing. A funky track.

Can’t Be Broken, Twin Forks – A mellow, rootsy song.

Change My Ways, Tony Molina – Molina gets his Rivers Cuomo on during this brief, melodic punk cut.

Cut the Grass, Cheatahs – Let it all disintegrate, then bring it back together.

Different Days, The Men – I like 2012’s Open Your Heart better than the disc Tomorrow’s Hits is from. That said, The Men still craft solid rock tunes, and this is one of them.

Fall In Love, Phantogram – Phantogram reminds me some of Portishead, although a bit more accessible to the average listener.

Grandma Looks, Desert Noises – A fun, buzzy, high-energy rock tune.

High & Wild, Angel Olsen – This song sounds like it could have landed on Mazzy Star’s So Tonight That I Might See or The Velvet Underground & Nico.

I’m Only Joking, KONGOS – If I said throbbing bass and atmospheric vocals, you’re probably thinking of some sort of EDM. Instead, the KONGOS build a strong rock track around those elements.

Just Another Bullet, Young Fathers – Lyrically solid and interesting stylistically, this song is put over the top by the oft mesmerizing and occasionally bizarre production.

Legs, Chuck Inglish feat. Chromeo – My favorite song out of all of my favorite songs of 2014. It’s got a Pharrell-meets-early-1980s-Prince-and-the-Revolution vibe to it. Too cool for school.

Like a Mighty River, St. Paul & The Broken Bones – A strong, natural, easy soul track.

Little Monster, Royal Blood – Melodic voices and loud, distorted guitars don’t always work together. Royal Blood has no such issues.

My Resignation, Besserbitch – A scream-along, pop-punk sliver of defiant fun.

Nights on the Strand and We Get Out, Battleme – These rockers work the loud-quiet-loud formula with some serious mastery.

Now Hear In, Cloud NothingsHere and Nowhere Else would’ve made my first quarter fave albums list if it had been released a week earlier. I still get to sneak them in here.

People Don’t Get What They Deserve, Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings – Sharon states the obvious in this track that harkens back to Motown Era socially conscious soul.

Red Water, Diamond Youth – A lost Foo Fighters track, with less personality and more interesting musicianship.

Richard Ramirez Died Today of Natural Causes, Sun Kil Moon – A dark, brooding and creepy stream-of-consciousness acoustic track that might just make you shiver.

Take Away These Early Grave Blues, Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra – Be loud, be bold, be listening to these guys. Fuck Off Get Free We Pour Light On Everything is an album to be cherished.

Tongues, Joywave feat. KOPPS – This is the direction I always thought/hoped the Killers would go: A bit more mix of the electronic and live instruments, a bit dancier but with a rock and roll base.

Uno, Freddie Gibbs & Madlib – Freddie and Madlib drop easy, smart rhymes over production that really elevates the collaboration.

Watch You Change, The Drowners – “There’s not a shoulder / cold enough for me / to give her.” Maybe my favorite lyric of the year to date.

Work Song, Hozier – Love conquers death in this slow burning acoustic track. The percussion really is a perfect touch, and fading to just that toward the end is the cherry on top.

Honorable mention: A Bird Is Not a Feather, Roseanne Cash; Blackland Farmer, Hard Working Americans; Digital Witness, St. Vincent; Gangsta, Schoolboy Q; Husdonsville, MI 1956, La Dispute; Interference Fits, Perfect Pussy; Likely To Use Something, The Belle Brigade; Lorena, Sleeper Agent; Make You Mine, Black Lips; Perfect Storm, The Strypes; Recess, Skrillex; Stayin’ Alive, Les Claypool’s Duo De Twang; Throw Your Hands Up, The So So Glos; Wool, Big Ups;

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