Roe’s Best Albums of 2014: Honorable Mentions

1. You Will Eventually Be Forgotten by Empire! Empire! (I Was A Lonely Estate)

I loved the way this album flowed like a storybook or a collection of newspaper clippings or scrapbooks – and maybe that was the point, I don’t know. What I do know is that the “emo revival” or whatever you wanna call it, rings true in the sound and shape of this record. Though Keith Latinen’s voice is somewhat of an aquired taste, at times it’s the sweetest thing you ever did hear. I didn’t find myself exactly dumbfounded or necessarily “struck” by listing to this record, but parts of it shines through very brightly to me and I was overall impressed and content with what I heard.

2. Kingfisher by Prawn

 When listening to this record, I got excited dreaming up the potentialies of what Prawn could be in the future. Still a young band and also within the vein of “emo revival”, Kingfisher seems extremely promising upon first listen. I’d keep an eye on Prawn in 2015. I think they have a wide open road ahead of them and I’m definitely looking forward to the next release they put out.

Roe’s Best Albums of 2014: #1 – Flies In All Directions by Weatherbox

Artist: Weatherbox

Album: Flies In All Directions

Produced by: Brian Warren

Released: May 13, 2014

urlI think I could go on and on and on about this album forever. Before this year, I had no knowledge of Weatherbox, who Brian Warren even was but after seeing a few dribs and drabs via social media about the band / this record, I decided to give it a listen. I’m always game for new music, right?

And holy shit I was not expecting to completely fall completely in LOVE.

For me personally, this album was a godsend as I was going through a lot of existential crisis filled with fear, worry, and doubt and this record seemed to be the best tonic I could ever draft up to keep my mind at ease and feel okay. Every lyric became a mantra for me at some point.

Flies In All Directions jams to the beat of its own drum. No rhythm or tempo is the same for too long, lyrics are fresh and perfect, Brian Warren is crystal clear, yet wonderfully non-specific, giving way to mystery.

I fell in love with this band and album so much that I saw them live this summer at Asbury Lanes by myself, as I was unable to convince anyone knew of their absolute genius.

There’re parts of me that want to compare both Brian Warren and Max Bemis of Say Anything in some respects because of the way each of their musical minds work: Both self-produced the albums released this year, there are clever lyricisms abound throughout their work, there are time signature changes, rhythm changes, tempo changes (anomalies not typically seen within this “genre”) – as if both gentlemen are listening to their true human nature, letting the songs come, allowing the music to flow naturally, not conforming to what may be considered to be a pop song or a radio friendly song – and their music flourishes and is fun to listen to because of it! If I’m not mistaken, I believe Weatherbox and Say Anything did tour together at once point but I think I remember reading Brian Warren saying it wasn’t as successful as he had hoped, because as much as him and Bemis are the same, they are also drastically different: Bemis tends to be more biographical, Warren sticks to his metaphors and blurred/ambiguous meaning, during live shows Max utilizes his stage presence, Brian tends to stick to the mic and move around his center here and there, etc.

With that said, I think if you are a fan of Say Anything your interest will definitely be piqued while listening to this record. There are so many wonderful things going on, you need to listen more than once to catch them all. And if you’re not an SA fan, I still think this album holds up incredibly well as an independent entity. If you love and appreciate the craft of songwriting and want to chew on something different, take a listen.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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Roe’s Best Albums of 2014: #4 – Die On Stage by Hostage Calm

Hello there, fellow RKB readers/enthusiasts! From the comfort of my hotel room in Jacksonville, FL,  I’m currently bumming on my dad’s laptop to bring you the rest of what I consider to be the greatest albums this year had to offer. I hope you’ve enjoyed the past 6 albums I’ve listed so far. Here’s #4:

Artist: Hostage Calm

Album: Die On Stage

Produced by: Will Yip

Released: September 16, 2014

Hostage_Calm_Die_On_Stage“Devastated” would be an understatment to describe how I felt when Hostage Calm announced their inpromptu breakup a few months ago. I believe the jury’s still out as to why they did, especially in the middle of a tour and all…I suppose I’m still not over it. <sadface></sadface>

That aside, Die On Stage is one of the best albums you will listen to this year. Fresh with recognizable licks and chord progressions clearly inspired by The Beatles and The Smiths, along with many others I’m sure. Will Yip is in the production seat (whose name you may recognize from Braid’s newest record I wrote about, No Coast). Chris “Cmar” Martin’s voice has considerably matured in this record (even finding his falsetto on “Fallen Angel”), harmonies are the tightest they’ve ever been, with gentle accompanying bells on almost every track (I’m a sucker for that sort of thing). The songwriting is also at another level entirely.

I was a huge fan of Please Remain Calm, later discovered HC’s self-titled (and Lens) and fell in love. I’ve seen HC a handful of times and always loved their live show, energetic and full of spirit; Two things which seem difficult to find at a show nowadays.

If this record doesn’t give you something (anything) to believe in, I’m not sure what will.

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Roe’s Best Albums of 2014: #5 – Ultraviolence by Lana Del Rey

Artist: Lana Del Rey

Album: Ultraviolence

Produced by: Dan Auerbach, Lana Del Rey, Paul Epworth, Lee Foster, Daniel Heath, Greg Kurstin, Rick Nowels, Blake Stranathan

Released: June 13, 2014

UltraviolenceLDRTo say I am in love with the Lana Del Rey narrative is an understatement. I don’t even know what I am about it. Ecstatic about it maybe? Buzzing, excited, a level less than obsessed but oh-so-incredibly interested. Tell me more.

But I can’t get enough!

And since I kind of already said my piece on Lana and voiced my overall approval of this album, it should be no surprise that this comes in no less than #5 on my list.

The beginning chiming guitars of “Cruel World” are like the beginning of a wild acid trip in the desert. The reverb on Lana’s voice is damn near perfect, knowing she’s speaking to you right there in your ear, but you’re so damn high everything seems so far even though it’s so near. And the track just pulls you in, right then and there. You’re being roped into a swimming pool-esque ocean of sound; Crystal clear and beautiful, full of promise and sensory potential.

You can see why this record turns me on.

Though sonically distant and seemingly impersonal, you feel connected to this music somehow. Though the words are not literally about you or your life or anything you’ve done, it somehow is about you; This is your story. And Lana is a part – Even though you’ve never met. But is it a memory? Or could it be for real?

In a way, Ultraviolence is like a box of chocolates, but not in a Forrest Gump kind of way; Every track is deliciously decadent and an experience in itself. You sure as hell know what you’re gonna get, but it’s the way that happens that gets you, that makes you close your eyes and throw your head back.

You almost feel guilty listening to the whole thing.

It’s a wonderful indulgence.

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Roe’s Best Albums of 2014: #9 – X by Ed Sheeran

Artist: Ed Sheeran

Album: X (pronounced “multiply”)

Produced by: Benny Blanco, Jeff Bhasker, Peter Cobbin, Ed Sheeran, Jake Gosling, Rick Rubin, Johnny McDaid, Kirsty Whalley, Pharrell Williams

Released: June 20, 2014

X_coverThis album starts off with immediate goosebumps. You have to credit Ed Sheeran that at the bare bones he is at his best, which means that with full orchestration he’s thebomb[dot]com. To create beautiful sounds with just voice and guitar is no easy feat. He’s a master at the loop pedal, a master at layering, and getting all your feels to the forefront of your sensory perceptions feel they’re bursting from your own skin. And although there are subtle orchestrations throughout, both ballads (“Thinking Out Loud”) and stadium powerhouses (“Sing”) shine through.

What I love so much about Ed Sheeran is that he marries a clear Damien Rice influence, pop sensibilities, and spitfire hip-hop lyricism; He combines them all quite wonderfully that it’s simply refreshing, and yet makes perfect sense in a post-everything world. is an update from + and is rich with harmonies, gospel choir moments, and trademark Ed Sheeran acoustic ditties. We get to hear about Ed’s life on the road, past trysts with past loves, and a frequent discord between a father and son.

I had the pleasure of seeing Ed live in Brooklyn a few summers ago and boy, was it worth it! Sold out show at Music Hall of Williamsburg, the crowd went bananas! You would have thought The Beatles came back to life. It’s just him, his guitar, a microphone, and his loop pedal. He’s a natural entertainer and a pleasure to watch.

There are moments that this album reminds me of late ‘N SYNC, so if you hold that point in time in high regard and fangirled as hard as me and some of my friends, I think you’d appreciate the production value of X and all it has to offer. And if by chance ‘N SYNC wasn’t your thing, you should still give this album a listen; If you love lyrics and appreciate the craft of songwriting, Ed’s got it all here.

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