Mike Brody’s Top 15 Albums of 2014

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Somehow as I get older my musical tastes are getting more and more aggressive.  I blame male-pattern baldness.  A lot of this list is metal and hardcore, but there’s some weird Japanese psychedelic pop, “indie” and other things too.  U2 did not make the list.

15) Body Count “Manslaughter” – This is the dumbest album ever made, but I can’t stop listing to it.  Ice T seems like someone’s angry, scary dad on this one.  One minute he’s yelling that he’s going to shoot you and the next he’s telling you to get a job and go to rehab.  The cover/re-working of Suicidal Tendencies’ 1983 classic hardcore/thrash crossover classic is legitimately funny, even if Ice’s equivalent to being forced into a loony bin by his parents is forgetting his email password.

14) Kikagaku Moyo “Forest Of Lost Children” – I don’t know anything about these guys other than that they’re from Japan and they sound like the Beach Boys meets Simon & Garfunkel meets Sabbath.  And it’s fucking great.  Turn on your black light, duuude.

13) Bitch Witch “Too Old Too Punk” – Sometimes you just know you’re going to like a band based on their obvious influences.  They got the name “Bitch Witch” from an old Venom song, they use the Black Flag bars on their first EP and have a song subtitled “Darkthrone’s Punks”.  It’s like crusty hardcore from Spain with female black metal vocals who think they’re in the Manson Family.  Weird shit.

12) Enabler “La Fin Absolue Du Monde” – Enabler was going to be #11, because I thought they were from Minneapolis.  They’re actually from Milwaukee, so #12 for them!  (It’s great thrash/hardcore.)

11) Lord Mantis “Death Mask” – DO watch this video if you love weird, scary, stoner black/metal doom made by people who are not fooling around.  DO NOT watch this video if you afraid of seeing uncircumcised zombie penis.

10) Protestant “In Thy Name” – Absolutely crushing, brutal album from a hardcore band (from MILWAUKEE!) that suddenly decided to be black metal.  Maybe I’m dumb, but I never saw this coming, even though they’re connected in ways.  It’d be like your grandma dropping Christmas and suddenly celebrating pagan Yuletide.

9) Panopticon “Roads To The North” – Okay, this sounds like a totally stupid gimmick, but these guys mix bluegrass and black metal.  It sounds horrible on paper, but it actually found a way to make American black metal authentic.  Nobody from Kentucky should dress up like Immortal and/or pretend they’re Odin, but they can grab a banjo and scream a bunch.  Some of the songs are just straight up bluegrass too.  Look out Trampled By Turtles, Euronymous wants to hoedown!

8) Alcest “Shelter” –  They used to be black metal and now they’re pretty much just shoegaze. I hate shoegaze, but this album is just so damn catchy I can’t not love it.  I don’t know what this album is about, but his last one was about a little magical elf world that he believes he went to in France when he was a kid.  So I believe this one’s possibly about hippogriffs.  Here’s their video of two people doing a color run in Iceland for some reason:

7) Trap Them “Blissfucker” – Super dark hardcore.  If you don’t like the breakdown after 2:25 on this video then I guess we can’t be friends.

6) Sólstafir “Ótta” – Another former black metal band that got all spacey and sensitive.  They’re from Iceland and they sound like Sigur Ros if they were a bit angrier and didn’t make noises like whales having sex.  This is a really great album.

5) Sick Of It All “Last Act Of Defiance” – I’m gonna say it: Sick Of It All is the greatest hardcore band of all time. Bad Brains, Minor Threat, Agnostic Front, Cro-Mags…these guys might all have better albums, but nobody has done it more consistently (and without stopping) as Sick Of It All.  They’re like that old mechanic that’s been running a shop since 1953 and still fixes your shit for $20.

4) Budos Band  “Burnt Offering” – They’re an afro-beat band, which means they’re probably ex-ska dorks that listen to Fela Kuti and James Brown.  On this album, they’re playing (sorta) doom metal, which means they’ve been listening to Sabbath and Saint Vitus.  I don’t know if it’s really doom or really afro-beat. It’s somehow both.  But screw it, they’re not from Milwaukee and it sounds really great and original.

3) J Mascis “Tied To Star” – I LOVE DINOSAUR JR!!!!  J Mascis could record himself pooping and I’d buy it.  However, his two solo albums have been legitimately great.  And why wouldn’t they be?  He writes 98% of Dinosaur’s music anyway.  J is older than Moses, but he is still putting out music as good as he did in the 80s.  He does look like Dumbledore now, though.

2) Ringworm “Hammer Of The Witch” – Ringworm is tied with Integrity for my favorite hardcore band that metal guys like.  They’re so angry and unrelenting.  I recently saw them play for the first time and was shocked and amazed to find out that their singer, “The Human Furnace”, is approximately two feet tall.  Prince would be freaked out.  Oh well, I still wouldn’t fuck with him.  Keep putting out songs like this one, Papa Smurf:

1) Cloud Nothings “Here And Nowhere Else” This is the third Cloud Nothings album (in four years!) that has instantly become my hands-down favorite.  They have that 90s feeling of Archers of Loaf, Pixies and Superchunk with the energy of punk rock and the awkwardness of the Violent Femmes.  And no perceivable irony!  They just rock and that’s that.  If you aren’t familiar with the Cloud Nothings, do yourself a favor and check them out.  If you haven’t hear of the Archers of Loaf, Pixies, Superchunk or Violent Femmes then get a fucking time-machine and start your life over.

My Top 25 Albums of 2012

If something’s not on the list, either I’ve never heard it or your favorite band sucks.

Click the links to listen to a song from said album.

25) Nu Sensae – Sundowning
24) Screaming Females – Ugly
23) Ceremony – Zoo
22) Carolina Chocolate Drops – Leaving Eden
21) Sun Kil Moon – Among The Leaves
20) Bob Dylan – Tempest
19) JEFF The Brotherhood – Hypnotic Nights
18) Swearin’ – s/t
17) A Whisper In The Noise – To Forget
16) Dinosaur Jr. – I Bet On Sky
15) Bob Mould – Silver Age
14) Mean Jeans – On Mars
13) The Tallest Man On Earth – There’s No Leaving Now
12) Jack White – Blunderbuss
11) White Lung – Sorry

10)  Bruce Springsteen – Wrecking Ball
This would have been higher if not for those weird Irish songs, but it’s still the Boss and the songs that rock ROCK.

9) OFF! – s/t
Second LP from Keith Morris‘ new punk band OFF!  It’s 1981 again in your face.

8) Forgetters – s/t
Blake Schwarzenbach from Jawbreaker/Jets To Brazil returns with his new band, which is an excellent mix of the two mentioned bands.

7) Tyvek – On Triple Beams
Indie garage punk?  I don’t know…they’re from Detroit and they’re really good.

6) Trash Talk – 119
Sacramento hardcore band Trash Talk’s fourth LP “119” is their longest and slowest to date.  14 songs, 21 minutes.  This shit SHREDS!

5) Gentleman Jesse – Leaving Atlanta
Power-pop!  Elvis Costello on speed.  (Elvis Costello may have actually been on speed.)

4) The Men – Open Your Heart
Catchy, aggressive, sleepy, fast, insane and avant-garde and still the most conventional thing they’ve done yet.

3) Jimmy Cliff – Rebirth
Reggae legend Jimmy Cliff teams up with producer Tim Armstrong to put out far and away his best album since the early 80s.  Instant classic.

2) Japandroids – Celebration Rock
Japandroids channel the spirit of the 90s without hacking or being retro.  Celebration rock, indeed.

1) Cloud Nothings – Attack On Memory
The Cloud Nothings bring a tight intensity to go along with these infectious hooks.  And they still manage to sound sincere in an age of tired, tired irony.  I haven’t been this excited about a band in years.

Cloud Nothings - Attack On Memory

Cloud Nothings – Attack On Memory