2014 in Music: The Gems You May Not Have Heard

ADAM PETERSON. Movie Columnist.

As a person who’s mostly a fan of older music, I rarely buy more than a few new albums in a given year. However, with a little bit of effort and time, I have been able to find more and more recent artists producing interesting music. If you’re like me and find yourself continually turning off the radio and looking for something different, here’s a list of my four favorite albums so far this year that are worth your time.

3. Sweet Valley: So Serene and Fang

Sweet Valley is a duo between Nathan Williams (lead singer of Wavves) and his brother Kynan. They make bizarre beats comprised entirely of samples they take from all kinds of sources. A typical Sweet Valley album takes you on a journey through several different genres of music, all filtered through the duo’s strange sense of fun and experimentation. Everything from parts of other songs to video game noises to movie quotes assaults your eardrums; there truly is no experience quite like a Sweet Valley album. They have released two new ones this year, both among their best: the 27 minute long masterpiece So Serene and the relentlessly hard-hitting F.A.N.G.

2. Avey Tare’s Slasher Flicks: Enter the Slasher House

There is no question that of all my favorite modern artists, Animal Collective stands miles above the rest, and anyone looking for something different should check out their extensive discography. While there is unfortunately no new Animal Collective albums this year, this release is a new side project from their front-man Avey Tare and it will sound instantly familiar to fans of the band. It has the same weirdness and sound experimentation that fans have come to expect, but with the use of more live instruments and melodic hooks, making it slightly more accessible.

1. Tobacco: Ultima II Massage

Tobacco, best known for his band Black Moth Super Rainbow, has been releasing solo albums with a more aggressive tone than the sound his band is known for. His first two albums were filled with colorful synths, trippy beats, and his signature vocoder-distorted vocals that act more as an instrument than as a voice. Ultima II Massage is his best work to date, an album that feels like a great summary of all his unique talents. Tobacco himself feels that the album is a “definitive end to a concept that I’ve been trying to perfect for a while.” Highlights include the face-melting “Lipstick Destroyer”, the haunting “Creaming for Beginners”, and the epic instrumental “Pool City, Mcknight Road.” I guarantee you’ve heard nothing quite like the strange combination of sounds both beautiful and horrid that Tobacco puts together. Songs such as “Video Warning Attempts” are melodic and pretty, but just try watching the music video for the grimy freak-out “Streaker” without feeling unsettled. Overall, Ultima II Massage will leave you feeling dazed, overwhelmed, and completely satisfied.

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