Tuesday, July 1, 2014

2014 Mid-Year Favorites

So here I sit floundering over a mid-year dilemma of trying to filter standout albums for the year so far. As you probably know, if you’re into this sort of thing at all, that 2014 has been yet another scorching year for music releases. From Hard Rock, to country western, to psychedelic pop rock, so far, so good, and so fucking what, right? Well here’s my attempt at stringing together some of the more notable albums to grace my ears. Keep in mind, this is only a fraction of other deserving albums that just so happened to get shafted due to keeping the list as small as my mind would allow me. Let me know who I missed, which albums you agree on, and/or how shitty of music taste I have. I have listened to close to 600 new albums this year already, so to make the top 30 cut means there is something special. Play counts, initial wow factors, and growers are all present and factored into how I picked these albums as well as live viewings, and vinyl purchases.

I don’t know whether it’s the nostalgia factor this super group formed of ex members of Kyuss, Queens of the Stone Age and Slo Burn gives me, or the fact that band members aside, the album brings a modern take on the 90’s stoner/grunge era? Either way, I totally fell for this one despite mixed reviews. Equal parts Nirvana and Soundgarden, to QOTSA and Kyuss. Check it out.
“It's heavy, it's got groove, it's melodic, it's psychedelic, and it’s flat out a rock n ‘ roll masterpiece. Vocals are gruff but soothing, the riffs are ecstatic, the flow and diversity is intact. Here is my full Review.”
Like I said on facebook after about the 5th time through the album in one day with the mandatory share, “Mind Blower of the month alert!!! HOT LIQUID MAGMAFROST!!” said in Dr. Evil voice of course. This one delivers on all counts!
This one took a while to really hit me and when it did, it put it straight to the top of Small Stone Records massive 2014 output including great albums by Wo Fat, Dwellers, The Socks,  and Greenleaf, which I still haven’t been as awestruck with Trails and Passes as everyone else.
Great Western Valkyrie rivals and Rival Sons album. At this point I am going to say it rivals any modern blues rock album. Completely and utterly amazed with this new album after not having been very into their last one. Seriously if one album has potential to come from behind and rise on my list, its this one.
The new Afghan Whigs album is a masterpiece. I can’t say I really listened to them that much back in the day, but this new album proves that with age, comes wisdom and beauty.
“Oozing with brutally melodic riffage, Oxcross creates a stoned out Mastodon/Baroness buzz with their own unique twist.”
Like Clutch on PCP destroying any notion that stoner rock has died. In fact, Vigilante puts the heavy back in the hands of the true stoner rock authority and buries the nay sayers alive.
The Graviators have conducted one of the most compelling albums of the year in my book. If you're a fan of classic heavy metal mixed into a stoner/doom base such as bands like The Sword and Graveyard then look no further. Here is my full review, which is the only remaining review of mine still up over on that site.
Another band that I heard for the first time with their latest offering Headless Eyes. This is spectacular/accessible heavy doom metal. Sounding like John Bush crooning from the deepest doomiest cauldron of the underworld. I can’t get enough.
Completely blindsided with this new discovery this year. Wrote a lengthy review which expresses how the album hit my nerves. So unbelievably melodic and groovy while at the same time possessing an extremely awesome heaviness factor. Here is my full review.
What more can we say about Aleph Null? A whole fucking bunch more needs to be said about Nocturnal. Absolutely mesmerizing concoction of heavy and trippy with a die hard 90’s grunge meets modern metal vocal. 
What I think the modern answer to saving country music is. Sturgill Simpson incorporates a classic sounding country album with a modern twist that I haven’t heard in years, if ever. People are comparing this to the classics such as Waylon Jennings and Hank Williams, I say its BETTER!
Universe takes everything we all love about the fuzz rocker heros and incorporates a slightly more progressive leaning which for me is the icing on the cake. Actually the icing was seeing them live up close and personal and performing just about every one of the new tracks and their classics. Hands down, one of the best live performances in hard rock I have seen.
Incredibly awesome heavy psychedelic stoner rock, bridging the genre gap sounding a bit  like QOTSA at their most intoxicated stage. I don’t know what it is, but this has the IT factor for me. Sets it in front of the pack of what has been a fantastic 1st half of 2014.

-The Huntsman

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