The year is still young but there’s no doubting that it’s been a stellar one for music already with there being plenty that has impressed us here at Cultured Vultures.
So, now that we’re past the halfway mark of 2014, its time to look back at our picks from the music world this year. Be warned, there might be enthusiastically rave reviews ahead.
Lazaretto – Jack White
Jack White’s second solo LP is a truly exciting album that is sure to get your blood pumping. Heavily guitar laden tracks such as ‘Lazaretto’, ‘High Ball Stepper’ and ‘That Black Bat Licorice’ hammer themselves into your subconscious through the use of stinging riffs and a vocal technique from Jack White that effectively slaps the listener around the face, whereas quieter more tender tracks like ‘Temporary Ground’ and ‘Want and Able’ lather your ear canals in melodic, meandering piano. All in all, my favourite album of the year so far, and one that can easily stand up to Jack’s previous work – Rapid, vicious, and a little bit insane. Genius.
Their sixth studio album, ‘The Take Off and Landing of Everything’ has everything you’d expect from Elbow, and a lot more. The sheer quality of the music produced on this album is astounding – world class vocals, intelligent and emotive lyricism, and a musicianship and technical ability that even a band as accomplished as Elbow can be proud of. Highlights include the beautiful ‘My Sad Captains’, the rasping turmoil of ‘Charge’ and the irresistibly anthemic ‘New York Morning’.
After a grueling nine year slog of working the club scene and releasing five albums to critical acclaim but modest commercial success, The Black Keys finally brought their high powered brand of dirty garage blues rock to the mainstream with their 2010 album Brothers, they built on this with 2011’s world storming El Camino. Having made one of the greatest pop records of the noughties they’d set themselves a monumental mountain to climb with their 2014 record Turn Blue. But instead of going bigger, they made a trippy left turn and went so much better. Once again teaming with frequent collaborator Brian ‘Danger Mouse’ Burton, frontman Dan Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney broadened their signature raw blues sound with influences like soul and psychedelic rock showing more prevalence. Turn Blue offers endless depth, all the way from the mind blowing opener ‘Weight Of Love’ to the instant classic closer ‘Gotta Get Away’, a true masterpiece.
First Mind – Nick Mulvey
Previously a member of the Mercury Prize nominated band Portico Quartet, Nick Mulvey left the outfit in 2011 to pursue a career as a singer-songwriter. If Mulvey ever had any doubts about leaving the band, then his debut album ‘First Mind’ definitely serves as vindication that he made the right choice, the young Cambridge born musician was born to do this. Having studied music and art in Cuba and completed a degree in Ethnomusicology Mulvey is far more than a mere soul baring folkie. The poetic, playful and complex lyrics of First Mind are complimented by Latin Rhythm’s and Mulvey’s traditional Cuban guitar technique. Endlessly enthralling and compulsively listenable, this marks the birth of an intriguing new star.
Lost In The Dream – The War On Drugs
The third album from Adam Granduciel’s Indie Rock crusaders, Lost In The Dream is truly an apt title; this grandiose yet understated masterpiece serves for an hour of pure, ethereal, dreamy bliss. Akin to artists like Bon Iver and LCD Soundsystem what Granduciel has done is completely ignore any current trends and gone searching further back in time for influence, and the outcome is a glorious blend of 1980s rock and Americana. You’ll hear a lot of timbres reminiscent of Dire Straits, 80s Dylan and Springsteen in this album. As Granduciel reflects on the depression and loneliness he felt readjusting to everyday life after touring, you can’t help but get lost in the dream with him.
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