Music appreciation is a pursuit that never ends. As listeners, we all hear and interpret things differently. What speaks to one person is entirely different to the next. This determines how we prioritize what’s important when selecting our music and this changes the context of the listening experience every time. As the ability to hear everything is impossible a listener must determine how to invest one’s time. Does one explore past catalogues or brand new material? The answer is both.
Exploring the vast amount of material already available is a daunting task; there is so much out there! A personal pet peeve of mine is the resistance to move beyond the successes of the past. It is a close-minded, outdated view. However, I am guilty of spending more time exploring full discographies than seeking out current releases. Indeed, new bands/artists are releasing excellent albums on a regular basis. To truly appreciate music and have a well-rounded taste, new material should be considered as important a priority as the past. As a New Year’s resolution, I intend to hold myself to this challenge in 2015.
5) Soen – Tellurian
As noted in my review, Tellurian is a good, adequate record but nothing more. Although it has nothing particularly awe-inspiring it does feature a clear overall purpose, strong musicianship and emotional depth. I would be enthusiastic to see the band release a third album but for now, Tellurian has already largely been forgotten.
4) Sleepmakeswaves – Love of Cartography
Love of Cartography might not reinvent Post-Rock as a genre but it is a highly enjoyable listening experience. Packed to the brim with optimistic energy and interesting textures the listener is hooked-in and hurled through a Zen-like obstacle course of uplifting, catchy melodies. The album displays a refreshing emphasis on meaty, rock riffs and does not over-indulge in the use of synthesizers as a means of creating atmosphere. Certain points on the record demonstrate surprisingly fast, technical playing; the band’s playing is airtight. Both this band and album are well-worth attention.
3) Jakob – Sines
In comparison to the previous entry, Sines is a different type of Post-Rock record. This record relies on ambience, minimalism and building to crushingly epic climatic moments. Also, there is nothing optimistic about this record; it is dreary. However, the beauty of the music is captivating. Truly, the perfect album for relaxing and promoting inner-reflection.
2) Agalloch – The Serpent & the Sphere
My runner-up album of the year goes to The Serpent & the Sphere. It showcases Agalloch’s miraculous ability to reinvent themselves every record while maintaining their signature Neo-Folk sound. The record has the meandering campfire-feel of The Mantle (2002); the disorienting, Post-Rock influence of Ashes Against the Grain (2006); and the delightfully rough, isolated in the wilderness-vibe of Pale Folklore (1999). The album lumbers forward in a dirge march whilst occasionally reverting to icy Black Metal, tremolo riffs. Never has Agalloch sounded so deliciously bleak.
1) Giant Squid – Minoans
Why was it so surprising that Minoans turned out to be my run-away favourite this year? After all, the quality of the album is consistent with previous releases (if not superior). The album’s eight tracks are full of sophisticated melodies and layers that flow in and out in perfect synchronization consistent with the band’s usual artsy execution. Minoans is a testament to the band’s longevity. Spectacular record, I could not be more pleased!