Top 10 International Albums of 2014

It’s that time of year, when I sell my soul, and conform to the expectation that all blogs, no matter how small and shitty (of which Soundly Sounds is both) needs to compile an end of year list, summarising all the great things that have been accomplished by the fair artists of the year. Now, if you’ve ever been on this blog, or heard words out of my mouth, it becomes apparent that I have a habit of hyperbole, and describing everything as “my favourite” or “the best thing ever”. Well, now it’s time to pay up, and show what I, King Deadshit, reckons is the best of the best this year.

With part one of the ‘Best of 2014’ thankfully out of the way (musings on the best music videos of 2014 this way), it’s time to turn our attention to the best international releases of 2014. As one ARIA red carpet attendee so accurately put it, Australian music sucks shit, and the only good music comes straight from our brothers n’ sisters of the USA! YEAH! ‘MURICA. And look, whilst The Clean and Cosmic Psychos didn’t release anything new this year, there have been some great releases. From Flying Lotus, to Caribou, to Sharon Van Etten, a wealth of talent was dumped on our ears in 2014. Here’s the best:

Honourable Mentions: Ty Segall (‘Manipulator’), Flying Lotus (‘You’re Dead!’), Schoolboy Q (‘Oxymoron’), Sharon Van Etten (‘Are We There’), The War on Drugs (‘Lost in the Dream’), Mogwai (‘Rave Tapes’), Ex Hex (‘Rips’), Golden Pelicans (‘S/T 12″).

10. Caribou – Our Love

A big toss-up between this record and Ty Segall’s ‘Manipulator’. Both are extensive leaps forward from established artists with near perfect track records. But it was Ty Segall’s inability to self-edit his 17-long tracklist that pushed Caribou into adoration. ‘Our Love’ is swirling, mystifying romance that is impossible to not get caught up in. Plus, “Can’t Do Without You” is a smoothie of Taylor Swift’s pop supreme, Spiritualized’s piercing gaze, and the best production this side of ‘Endtroducing…’.

Caribou is coming to Aus in February for Laneway, and a show at the Sydney Opera House, February 3.

9. The Men – Tomorrow’s Hits

2014 has been the year of The War on Drugs, and whilst ‘Lost in the Dream’ is a superb album, it seems unfairly raised above another working class band. But then again, that’s the curse of The Men. For too long, they have been serving up stone cold cult classics, from ‘Leave Home’, to ‘Open Your Heart’. On ‘Tomorrow’s Hits’, they almost completely erase their sludgy-punk/noisy past, and embrace country and the kind of rock ‘n’ roll that was deemed raunchy, but acceptable in the 1950’s. You can sing the praises of how great the lyrics and progression of “Red Eyes” and “Under the Pressure” are, but in turn, you’d have to say that about “Settle Me Down”, and “Different Days”. As far as Bruce Springsteen-love goes, The War on Drugs take the pain, but The Men preserve the joy. (Album Review)

8. Todd Terje – It’s Album Time

Speaking of joy, nothing came even close to the maniacal fun of Todd Terje’s debut album, a perfectly honed magnum opus. ‘It’s Album Fun’ seems like something Dan Aykroyd  and Bill Murray would’ve cooked up in the 80’s, but only if Barry Gibb had possessed their souls.  Deep, sultry cuts of synth-led party jams, Todd Terje never misses a beat. What’s more, he occasionally ramps things up into a sentimental overload, with the Bryan Ferry-assisted tear jerker “Johnny and Mary”. But never fear, Terje’s classic ability to spice things into a frothing paste of swooning, electronic, Cantina-band-esque lushness  is always around the corner, as “Inspector Norse”, “Delorean Dynamite” and “Strandbar” easily attest to.

7. Liars – Mess

Once again, very hard to pick between Liars’ new record and Mogwai’s brilliant ‘Rave Tapes’. Both records had a hard-edged zealot-ness to them, but Liars simply harnessed and appropriated it more. Liars showed they weren’t afraid to plunge into the obtuse, as their insanity and demented nature ramped to new heights. Their music has always bordered on paranoid, but now it became frighteningly so, a schizoid mixture of frightening, alien sounds munching on gnashing lyrics. For sheer animated terror and cartoonish slasher value, Liars’ ‘Mess’ was a helluva album. (Album Review)

6. Die! Die! Die! – SWIM

Hailing from New Zealand, it feels like this shouldn’t be an Internationally Acclaimed Album (TM), but rather one of our own. Alas, New Zealand have different accents and laws, and as such, we can’t claim an act like Die! Die! Die! as one of our own in the same way we can with Russell Crowe.

On their fifth record, Die! Die! Die! maintained the ferocity and biting cynicism that would seem appropriate for a band with their name. The friction caused between the power trio that is Andrew Wilson, Michael Logie and Michael Prain is enough to power a town to the same capacity of a nuclear reactor. As soon as someone can figure out how to harness this, the global energy crisis will be over. Until then, let’s just enjoy the beautifully pure punk explosion that is ‘SWIM’. (Album Review)

5. Shellac – Dude Incredible

The almighty Shellac returned this year, and delivered a brutal heap of music that hate-shamed most of the rock music released this year. Powered as always by Bob Weston’s inhumanly powerful bass, Steve Albini’s serrated lyrics and Todd Trainer’s consistently vile drumming, ‘Dude Incredible’ is a bile-spewing, looming work of the Gods of the music industry. You want affirmation in a world full of 5SOS and neutered indie acts that think a fuzz pedal is a nickname for an electric razor? Chuck on ‘Dude Incredible’, and allow yourself to whisper those same words over and over again, as each crushing song belies your idea of awesome. (Album Review)

4. Eagulls – Eagulls

Depressingly good, Eagulls have painted a picture of a visceral England so much more brilliantly than any Arctic Monkeys record ever could. Their debut self-titled is raw power, in the Stooges sense of the word. It pulsates and breathes, each song a punch in the guts whilst a bellowing drill sergeant insists you surge onwards. It is a sensational experience to put on this Eagulls record, a face-melting treatment of pop smudged and bludgeoned by teeth-baring, white-knuckled frenzy. (Album Review)

Eagulls are coming to Aus in February for Laneway Festival, and play a show at OAF on Friday 30th January.

3. King Tuff – Black Moon Spell

Probably the most perfect party rock record since Judas Priest’s ‘British Steel’ (“BREAKING THE LAW, BREAKING THE LAW, DUH DUH”). Coincidentally, “Headbanger” begins with a line that swoons over a girl’s record collection: “You had Sabbath, and Priest and Number of the Beast, it was heavy metal perfection”. Indeed ‘Black Moon Spell’ excels at just being a really fun record to rock out to. From the Marc Bolan-isms to the Slash-levels of gratuitous guitar solos, King Tuff revels in an  unparalleled love of classic rock with a modern flair, laying down the tastiest jams since Ozzy was in Sabbath. (Album Review)

2. Spoon – They Want My Soul

There’s a reason Spoon are the most consistently rated band of all time – they’re really fucking good at being an indie rock band. Believe it or not, being an indie band is hard. People, like me, will hate you for no other reason other than you have a trendy haircut, which means YOU’RE MUSIC SUCKS SHIT! But with Spoon, there’s nothing to hate; Britt Daniel simply aches with great songwriting. Catchy melodies snared by heartbroken lyrics on “Rent I Pay”, “Do You” and “New York Kiss” are too much. (Album Review)

1. Cloud Nothings – Here And Nowhere Else

Ahhh, Cloud Nothings. Over the course of four albums, they’ve gone from a solo project of fun, if not particularly memorable, lo-fi pop jams, to throttling, fearsome snaps of exhilaration. When the Steve Albini-produced ‘Attack on Memory’ came out a few years ago, everyone was thinking that there was no way it could be topped. Enter ‘Here and Nowhere Else’, a challenger with balls and a willingness to show them (that sounds fucked up).

The lyrics of ‘Here And Nowhere Else’ are deceptively simple, but nonetheless powerful. They’re bolstered even more so by some of the most brilliantly scathing music of the last few years. But most memorable is the way Dylan Baldi, a bearded and bespectacled fellow of an unassuming nature, belts and inflects his words with whipping fury. There is something in his throat which carries through onto record that is completely unexplainable. Pair that with vicious ability and concentrated aggression that wouldn’t be out-of-place on a  Fugazi record, and you’ve got Cloud Nothings at their jaw-dropping finest. (Album Review)


Top 10 International Albums of 2014 (So Far…)

Welcome to the latest episode of ‘My Opinion Is More Valid Than Yours’. For those that don’t know, this is an ongoing series of how my opinion matters more than yours. Pleb. Anyway, in this episode, we will be examining the best albums of yonder that have emerged in the first part of 2014.

10. The Lawrence Arms-Metropole

For a long time, The Lawrence Arms always existed outside of my consciousness. I never paid heaps of attention to them, and the songs I had heard only mildly piqued my interest. But a copy of their new record ‘Metropole’ changed that, and it actually made me believe that pop-punk hadn’t been completely soiled by shitty bands that confused slitting wrists with amazing melodies. On ‘Metropole’, The Lawrence Arms pump out track after track of infectious blue-collar punk tunes, intensely wrapped in headbanger blues. ‘You Are Here’, ‘The YMCA Down the Street From the Clinic’ and ‘Paradise Shitty’ are probably some of the best pop-punk tunes to have existed since the last apocalypse false warning.

9. The Men-Tomorrow’s Hits

It always seemed like The Men were one step ahead of the game. They were releasing visceral, ravaging post-punk and noise music before No Age were even foetus’  (sic). But they always managed to evolve and re-evaluate their position on the musical compass. So for their fifth outing, they went alt-country. Now usually, I’m of the ‘Fuck Alt-Country’ persuasion, but The Men managed to turn the genre into a romper of a good time. Songs like ‘Different Days’ and ‘Pearly Gates’ unfolded with majesty, more blue-collar punk, but this time pushed through a birth canal of harmonica and twinkling guitar.

8. Damaged Bug-Hubba Bubba

John Dwyer is more famous for his Thee Oh Sees project, who released a pretty fantastic album this year as well. But it was Damaged Bug, his new solo electronic-tinged outing that got my underwear soaked. It’s a morbid fantasy, morose guitars drowning under thick, black synth work. It’s like Dwyer’s voice is being held under a lake of caviar, like in that scene from James Bond. And just like James Bond, Damaged Bug emerges on top of his game with a world class entertainment product, full of explosions, exotic locales and evil incarnate defeated…for now!

7. The Black Lips-Underneath the Rainbow

Finally, The Black Lips, one of my all time favourite groups, released a new record. It’s a lot more cleaned up to say the least, but it’s got just the same amount of unruly ruckus that has stained the legacy of true rock n roll. The Black Lips throw down some Southern Comfort, slaughter a few teenagers and strap down their guitars for a full-blown massacre of garage rock on this album. They blow through 12 songs with the dashing handsomeness of Prince Charming on backyard meth. And the result is an insanely enjoyable record.

6. Future Islands-Singles

It seems like with ‘Singles’, Future Islands are finally going to break the mainstream. I mean, they always hung out on the precipice of global adoration, but this new album is so completely orgasmic, it’s hard to imagine them getting ignored again. Obviously there’s the new ‘Let’s Stay Together’ in ‘Seasons (Waiting On You)’, a song so readymade to be the new token making love track it’s a surprise it’s not on the soundtrack of every sappy romantic comedy being released this year. But the rest of the album continues on the breathless synth route that worms its way into the heart of everyone with even a semblance of romanticism.

5. Mogwai-Rave Tapes

Mogwai have released another epic album, complete with huge, lengthy songs that manage to be more dangerous than having sex with a pufferfish. The notes are razor sharp, trawling through the mire of Death Star-esxplosion level synth work, and Hiroshima-level devastation. Mogwai have never sounded as huge or as carnivorous as they do on this record.

4. Liars-Mess

Likewise to Mogwai, Liars did a 180 on their previous post-rock/noise sound, and evolved to some kind of tortured disco. Songs like ‘Mess On A Mission’ and ‘Pro Anti-Anti’ sound like the Grim Reaper had too much sugar, and found himself a set of decks. ‘Mess’ makes you want to dance yourself into the apocalypse, both terrifying and completely alluring.

3. Sharon Van Etten-Are We There

Unfortunately never got around to reviewing this one, but it is simply too stunning of a record to ignore. In this album, Sharon Van Etten hits her ultimate stride of marrying beautiful, love-torn lyrics with hypnotising music. She’s done it splendidly before, but whereas before it was all about recognising and sympathising with the listener, this time around she actually causes the heart to crack and break under the brunt of her brutal honesty and sadness. When ‘Break Me’ and ‘Our Love’ ring in, you’ll be swimming in a pool of your tears, whilst the anaconda of ‘Are We There’ slowly strangles you, whilst Jon Voight looks on in sick fascination. Sick 1997 film reference, bro!

2. Eagulls-Eagulls

Whilst the overwhelming majority of buzz bands manage to fail, or at least disappoint, on their debut albums, Eagulls simply raised expectations to ear-shattering levels. They shook off their Killing Joke-rip off comparisons, and made the original look like a copy. That’s some Inception-like shit right there. But ‘Eagulls’ greatest strength is putting together enormous, tidal riffs and clashing them with pop hooks that would make Michael Jackson weep. The result is a explosive and spine-snapping record that has contributed to way too many mosh-pit related hospital visits.

1. Cloud Nothings-Here And Nowhere Else

Easily the best record of 2014 so far, Cloud Nothings shun their indie rock/lo-fi past, and scrape the barrel of intensity for a truly visceral and honestly breathtaking record. It’s eight tracks of pounding fury, each song building a giant demolition machine that’s knocks down jaws and floors expectations. ‘Here And Nowhere Else’ is an album that examines loss, fragility, the unknown, disappointment, and separation, and lays these themes down next to some of the most white-knuckle riffery and jarring music heard. Every song on this album is worthy of your attention, a real no-filler, all killer record. Sorry Sum 41, Cloud Nothings actually came through on that promise.

Album Review: Liars-Mess

Liars are always pushing out the weirdest of the weird. Actually that’s an understatement. The first time I heard ‘They Threw Us All In A Trench, and Stuck  Monument On Top’, I fucking hated it. I listened to it a couple days later, and thought it was awesome. What kind of band can have that sort of polarizing effect on a person? There were no drugs involved, I was probably in the same emotional state, and I don’t think I had learnt all that much about Nietzsche in the time between the two listens. And yet, I offered myself two completely different perspectives on the album within two listens a few days apart. That’s not a weird band, like Lou Reed’s solo work or The Flaming Lips’ latest stuff; That’s a band with mystical, probably dark magical properties.

The thing with Liars is they either offer albums that take time getting used to but never surmount to being special, or they create albums that are immediately likeable and zone in on human frailty and bash it with the inane focus of the apes in 2001: A Space Odyssey. ‘They Threw Us…’ and ‘Drum’s Not Dead’ fall into the former category, whilst their self-titled, and ‘WIXIW’ fall into the latter category.

So where does that leave their new album ‘Mess’? Well, this has perhaps been the easiest selection for any Liars album, as ‘Mess’ is an intensely enjoyable and sticky effort from Liars. Maybe it’s because I prefer Liars when they’re in a more traditional songwriting mode, or maybe it’s because their new focus on synths and moving away from blistering guitar drone makes it easier to swallow the album, but ‘Mess’ remains Liars most solid and refined album to date.

Don’t worry, there’s the usual sadistic, twisted sounds that we’ve come to expect from Liars. Opener ‘Mask Maker’ ensures that when a demonic voice announces ‘Take my pants off…use my socks, smell my socks…eat my face off”, whilst a dangerous synth beat emerges. That’s kind of the template for the rest of the album. Demented and tortured electronic soundscapes set to disturbing, droning vocals.

Case in point: ‘Pro Anti Anti’ is a storming, fascist beat, whirring mechanics creating a machine of destruction. ‘Mess on a Mission’ is the kind of thing Oppenheimer probably would’ve listened to in order to pump himself up for a day of inventing mass death. The song even has a ominous tick-tocking rhythm! And ‘Darkslide’ is a gooey, dark mix, like the trash-compactor creature from ‘A New Hope’ scoring his own production credit.

Every song on ‘Mess’ is darkly morbid, and equally disturbing. And that’s what makes it such an arresting album. It’s a non-stop bubbling over of carnal desire, hidden pleasures uncovered for all to see and morbid fascinations exposed to all. It revels in the dirt and muck, and then remixes it with the twisted delight of Aphex Twin, but without losing any of the strange intoxication that makes Liars such a unique and breath-taking band. And whilst some of their previous albums have taken multiple listens to understand, ‘Mess’ stands at the forefront, naked and screaming in demented ecstasy.

February Playlist

February: Valentine’s Day, and the shortest month of the year. If February were in jail, it’d be December’s bitch. This wussy piece of shit has done nothing except for produce a couple of damn fantastic tracks. Why can’t we just get rid of February?

Make sure you get behind the Client Liaison, War on Drugs and Blank Realm. Why? Because these tracks will make you want to lead a better life, and apologise to that grandma that you beat up the other week. Suddenly ‘Falling Down the Stairs’ has a really dark ring to it, doesn’t it?

1. Client Liaison-Free of Fear

2.Cloud Control-Scar

3. Damaged Bug-Photograph

4. Trabajo-Black Practice

5The Slits-I Heard It Through the Grapevine

6. Blank Realm-Falling Down the Stairs

7. Bachelor Pad-Movin’ On

8. Phantogram-Fall In Love

9. Young Franco-Brooklyn

10. Scenic-Ride the Thrill

11. Wave Racer-Streamers

12. Run the Jewels-Pew Pew Pew (feat. DJ QBert)

13. Liars-Mess on A Mission

14. Wet Blankets-TV Suicide

15. Teenage Hand Models-We Can Find A Way to Fuck It Up

16. The War on Drugs-Red Eyes

17. Natural Child-Saturday Night Blues

18. Kurt Vile-Freak Train

19. Real Estate-Talking Backwards

20. Surf Dad-Unholy (featuring Camille Foley)

New Electronic Music: Angel Eyes + Liars + Oscar Key Sung x Naysayer & Glisun + Snakadaktal x Just Kiddin + SBMRGE + Fielded

Usually, this shit will start off mad, cool, and chilled out. Fuck that. Let’s get weird.


Angel Eyes-Heave

Please, just…fuck, please don’t get Angel Eyes mixed up with Angel Haze. Just…just don’t do that to me. When I see shit like that happen, it’s like someone hearing ‘Under Pressure’ by Queen, and then they start rapping ‘Ice Ice Baby’. Its so wrong on so many levels.

Anyway, rant aside, Angel Eyes, another stunning  ambient project from this sunburnt land (another way of saying I have no idea where this enterprise is actually from) have released a new track called ‘Heave’. And its eleven minutes long. Shieeet. Although ‘Heave’ comes with a warning that it’s ‘…not representative of anything I’m putting out in the near future…’, its a fine fucking thing to listen to. Heave it does, wishing and washing its way through a Terminator blowjob sound, as mechanical failure sets in and oblivion rears its ugly head. Even though it’s probably the longest song you’ve heard since Green Day put out ‘Jesus of Suburbia’, you’ll finish it, and immediately want to play it again. The same cannot be said for ‘Jesus of Suburbia’.


Liars-Mess On A Mission

Liars? By the sandpaper-tounge of Matthew McConaughey! Aren’t they, like, a post-rock band or something?

Actually, when they can put out this sort of scream-rave track, who even gives a fuck? This thing is both grating and gyrating, the kind of thing that would get played in the token club scene of any indie movie. This is the kind of thing made to sweat to, rotate your head to and abandon logic to. If this song were a celebrity, it would be Jennifer Lawrence-pretty sexy, and I have no idea why I adore it so much.

As a matter of fact I do: that sudden pause between the dull ‘Fact is fact, and fiction’s fiction’ and all out screams of oblivion amidst intense beats that drop to the floor harder than Point Break extras during a bank robbery scene. Liars=1, Jennifer Lawrence=0.


Oscar Key Sung-All I Could Do (Naysayer & Gilsun Remix)

Although the original, with its anthemic chorus, and super-sensual vibe, is undoubtedly never going to be beaten by the remix game, Naysayer & Gilsun have certainly had a fair go at trying to better Oscar Key Sung’s stand out single.

Aided by wispy loops and the gilded female moans, N&G add a rythmic balance to the track that it may or may not have been missing. This is less the sort of thing you sway to and more what you’d empty-mindedly grapple with on a dance floor. The seething beats, the sharp edge feel-it all combines for a damn good attempt at Oscar Key Sung’s crown jewel.


Snakadaktal-The Sun II (Just Kiddin Remix)

Damn, this song was made to be danced to in a dingy-lit nightclub just off of Oxford Street at 2 in the morning. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is a compliment of the highest order.

Just Kiddin get this remix just right, adding some silky smooth layers of danceability to the track without treading into weird rave territory. With the high hats, wind-in-your-ears synth, and bass line that puts the listener in a funk chokehold, this kind of remix reminds of artists like Touch Sensitive and Kavinsky. And that fucking rules.



We’ve already heard from Pilerats Records via their debut release of Sable’s ‘Feels So Good’, and the new lable show no signs of slowing down, having just released their third track by an artist known as SBMRGE. Listening to this track, there’s no doubt of the influence of SBTRKT. If you hadn’t picked it up from the name, then just a small snippet of the smoother-than-cream-made-of-silk soul of the track should convince you pretty quick smart.

However, there’s also a little of that Australian vibe through artists like Kilter and Yahtzel. However, with SBMRGE’s smoothness, he trumps those guys brash knob-tweakin’, and comes on top this round. You go SBMRGE!


Fielded-City of the Dayzed

At the very beginning of the track, Fielded (aka Lindsey Powell) immediately splits shit up by infiltrating a quiet, timid voice with rushing, raindrop-like xylophone sounds. However, that voice comes back in a big way very quickly, amping itself into some sort of Mariah Carey-influenced brand of The xx. Woah, right?

‘City of the Dayzed’ has just some of the strongest female vocals I’ve heard in a long, long time. If it were behind some sort of cheesy, bullshit thing, this track would’ve both been lost on me, and gone to the top of the Billboard Charts for approximately a week, and thousands of radio hosts would find a way to mispronounce Ms. Powell’s name. Instead, the shuffling, trembling music we get instead provides a lush background that completely allows the song to hit its absolute fucking peak.