One of the great fallacies of our postmodernist climate is that the golden age of creativity has passed. We’ve moved beyond hoping for ideals; therefore the art we create won’t benefit from the same striving for unachievable standards that was responsible for humankind’s greatest aesthetic achievements.
‘What’s classic is sacred.’ Hogwash.
The real postmodernist problem is that every person has so much potential, and so little sense of responsibility. Increased access to the technologies of production yields a more diluted form of idolization—more artists are creating than ever before. On the other hand, only art backed by large promotional resources has the power to be presented with minimal consumer effort: attention is a slave to convenience.
Below is a list of artworks that, taste aside, deserve merit for tapping the human condition, for exploring the range of feeling and evoking others, for enriching life.
Here you are, beloved readers, my list of the best 20 albums of 2014.
20. Hundred Waters – The Moon Rang Like a Bell
Can a keyboard paint with all the colours of the wind?
Like a Bell rolls and cracks like a thunderstorm, while you huddle in a woody candle-lit cabin—only, the winds are whirls of static and the intemperate cumulonimbi are the processed shifts and stomps of a drum sampler. Let Nicole Miglis whisper you a tale.
19. Open Mike Eagle – Dark Comedy
Michael Eagle intelligently rap-sing-meditates on his middle class role with as little pretension as he can muster—Dark Comedy’s production is as indie as it is stylish.
18. The Preatures – Blue Planet Eyes
These fun-loving Aussies make a damn good rock n’ roll song; surf’s up.
17. Perfume Genius – Too Bright
Glam-pop has never been so understated. Mike Hadreas glimmers and glows in a dim-lit dive. The level of controversy of his music depends on how liberal the audience is.
16. Real Estate – Atlas
Atlas won’t demand your attention: its hypnotic jam-centric tunes will cradle you like a daydream, pondering a sad thought softly.
Melodious melancholy to soothe your senses.
15. Isaiah Rashad – Cilvia Demo
Kendrick Lamar label mate and little-brother-from-a-different-mother holds his own over consistent beat-work.
“The best is not perfect, the rest is not worth it.”
(Warning: video contains offensive language.)
14. tUnE-yArDs – Nikki Nack
Playful, ecstatic, motley, capricious, grave—Merrill Garbus’s brand of worldbeat furiously entertains while reminding us that art should be less a means to self-absorption.
Nikki Nack is a kid’s cartoon for adults: you’ll be giggling at all the googly-eyed, fuzzy frumtons and then catch on that their fundamental rights are being infringed upon.
13. Indian – From All Purity
The dismal, fettered march of human history isn’t best represented by a speeding bullet—no, an overcast, colourless plain sewn with a crop of jagged blades, harvested by the hands of a gaunt populace would be much more fitting.
So goes the harrowing trudge of Chicago sludge-metal heretics Indian. However, the horror represented is elegantly crafted, effecting an uncomfortable rapture that may well earn some wicked smiles.
12. Mac DeMarco – Salad Days
“Treat her better, boy/ If having her at your side's something you enjoy,” sings the cigarette-scratched tenor of British Columbia-born Mac DeMarco. For a musician that emphasizes the principal importance of poetry in songwriting, his frequent choice to centre on feminism further waxes his lyrical charm.
Salad Days tastes like a classic ham n’ cheese sandwich, prepared just the way you like it. (Soy equivalents for the vegetarians and vegans.)
11. Angel Olsen – Burn Your Fire for No Witness
Angel Olsen’s eerie cooing produces plenty of shivers over the course of her excellent record. Her talky musings recall Songs of Leonard Cohen, then break away with tumbling toms and reverb-rock-guitars into impassioned belts: “Are you lonely too?/ Hi-five, so am I/ All of your life/ Stuck in time/ I’m stuck too.”
An album of motley shades, and listenable to the nth; you won’t require any witnesses for enjoyment.