Lists, Mundo, Mundo Musique, The Revue, Year-End Lists — December 18, 2014 at 9:00 am

50 Favourite Albums of 2014: S. Carey, Sharon Van Etten, She Keeps Bees, Slothrust, and Snowmine

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Thirty down and twenty more to go. If you are just joining the countdown of our 50 favourite albums, you can find the previous albums, listed alphabetically, in these posts – 1-5, 6-10, 11-15, 16-20, 21-25, and 26-30. And now, here are albums 31 to 35, which all are under the letter “S”.

 

S. CAREY, “RANGE OF LIGHT”

Bon Iver collaborator Sean Carey creates some gorgeous music as S. Carey. His 2014 record Range Of Light is one of the year’s most beautiful releases. The instrumentation on this record is perfectly executed. Carey draws from many different styles of music, featuring some electronics, some banjo, and even some quirky percussion, but it never feels overdone. It’s a simple elegance that greatly complements some of the most breathtaking harmonies we’ve heard on a record all year.

 

SHARON VAN ETTEN, “ARE WE THERE”

Are We There is yet another stunning release from Sharon Van Etten, one of the finest songwriters of this generation. From the opening seconds of “Afraid of Nothing”, the album’s opener, the listener is lulled into a false sense of hopeful security before Van Etten throws out the devastating “throw me a lame ‘wait shit out’ you’re a little late” line. For Van Etten, Are We There is her most personal she’s written to date. The two piano ballads, “I Know” and “I Love You But I’m Lost”, are her most vulnerable since her debut record, and she fearlessly exposes herself to the listening public. There’s also an element of invention, as she adds some electronics to the record, most notably the use of an omnichord on tracks like “Taking Chances” and “Break Me”.  Van Etten set out to create something different from her previous stellar album, Tramp, and decided she was going to produce this record mostly by herself. So while this may be a pretty big musical change for her, it’s also 100% her and we are immensely grateful to be taken on her journey.

SHE KEEPS BEES, “EIGHT HOUSES”

With a quiet aplomb, the duo of Jessica Larrabee and Andy LaPlant – a.k.a. She Keeps Bees – continue to awe with their brooding indie-folk and -rock. On Eight Houses, the Washington, D.C.-based band has created ten songs that at times are intended to inspire while at other times deconstruct the human soul. It is a deeply provocative, intense, and hypnotic album that seamlessly moves from dark, eloquent ballads to slow-burning rockers. We still get chills every time we play the album.

 

SLOTHRUST, “OF COURSE YOU DO”

Slothrust‘s Ba Da Bing records debut, Of Course You Do is the right kind of nostalgia trip. Self-desribed as jazz-infused grunge, Slothrust have a unique blend of styles that influenced their sounds. Of Course You Do is grunge at its core, but with different complexities that resemble the trio’s musical background as classical and jazz students. It has a sound reminiscent of some of the finest grunge bands of the early-mid 90’s, as well as a lyrical wit reminiscent of Weezer’s Pinkerton. It also doesn’t get much better than the two-part “Magnets” epic. Slothrust is planning on releasing a new album in 2015 that was recorded with Ben Kweller, which is an early favourite to make next year’s list.

 

SNOWMINE, “DIALECTS”

Snowmine is a Brooklyn, NY-based, ambient rock band that has totally gone under the radar this year. They are truly an independent band with no label and their recent release, Dialects, was financed solely by their fans. Dialects, in terms of their evolution as a band, is a stellar mix of rock, synth and that ambient feel which includes soothing vocals by singer and composer Grayson Sanders. The entire album is one you can listen to straight through and one that takes you blissfully away from the mundane. If you dig a rock band with harmony, melodies and a mix of really tight guitar work with keyboards and synth, Snowmine is a band to add to your list. We are also highlighting two live recordings as their live sets are very solid and were also taken into consideration for making the list.

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