Hard to believe, but we’ve nearly reached the middle of an eventful year in music. A recent Holus-Bolus poll revealed a few favorites and a lot of confusion/hesitation concerning the top albums of the year. This week we share the overall HoBo picks for mid-year top albums and recommend a few additional albums to fill out your weekend. Kick back for a jam packed edition of Follow Friday. I guarantee there is something here for everyone.
Holus-Bolus Mid-Year Top Albums (received three or more votes)
St. Vincent – St. Vincent
The War On Drugs – Lost In the Dream
James Vincent McMorrow – Post Tropical
Tune-Yards – Nikki Nack
Future Islands – Singles
Kishi Bashi – Lighght
Honorable mentions: Sisyphus, Wye Oak – Shriek, William Onyeabor – What?!, Todd Terje – It’s Album Time, Max Graef – Rivers of the Red Planet
Chad VanGaalen – Shrink Dust
Chad starts his 5th album with what plays like a typical folk track, but you quickly notice how up front his voice is (especially with headphones). This sets up the warbled background horns that have been manipulated into a psychedelic melting pool of goo that carries the track outward before returning to beauty. His lyrics are crazy, but have a sense of purpose behind them. “Where Are You” has Chad singing the title over and over again with a mechanical echo clinging to his voice, as if he’s about to spring out of the atmosphere. The rest of the album continues to put forth moments of strange musical beauty. “Lila” > “Evil” is a string of folk pop, masterfully capped off by “Monster.” He would have you believe he is an actual monster, albeit one that makes a catchy sing-a-long song. Gorgeous moments of steel guitar permeate “Hangman’s Son” & “Cosmic Destroyer” to end the album. It’s on this last song where he sums up the feel of the album, “Caught in the motion/ Of endless rotation/ Makes you feel ill/ Makes your guts want to spill/ When the world in your head/ Is the world where you live/ The people seem strange/ In their paranoid dreams/ It goes on and on and on…” – Chris
Mimicking Birds – EONS
Mimicking Birds just dropped EONS and right from the opening guitar riff I rested comfortably into an idyllic listening experience. Each track evoked a certain reflection one finds in perfect moments: a poetic sunset, breezy chats on the dock, picnics at a roadside attraction. The undeniable emotional connections you will feel during this album will result in continued plays throughout your summer. – Rocky
We Cut Corners – Think Nothing
It is hard to pinpoint only one thing I love about the debut LP from Dublin duo We Cut Corners, comprised of drummer/vocalist Conall Ó Breacháin and guitarist/vocalist John Duigna. Ó Breacháin’s unique falsetto delivers painfully honest lyrics. He plainly states, “I would hurt you if I could/ You know it just might do you good” in the powerful track This Is Then. ButDuignan doesn’t shy away from the microphone. His vocals often add a pleasant balance. He takes the lead for Mammals, an insanely catchy pop rock track.
You will find a little bit of everything in this one. Each track is meticulously orchestrated to say as much as possible in three minutes or less with intelligent lyrics and a surprisingly expansive sound. – Jeremy
Wye Oak – Shriek
This week I listened to about 15 albums for the first time and I could easily recommend almost all of them. But the one that grabbed me the tightest with both arms and wouldn’t let go was Wye Oak’s new album Shriek. On the first listen I knew that it would be in my top 5 for the year so far.
The single “The Tower” that came out a few months ago was definitely a sign of what was to come with the rest of the album. The guitars have been ditched in favour of synths, synths, and more synths. Since their previous albums were based around the guitars, this is a departure that could have been quite a risk but it was a brilliant move and resulted in an album that is strong from start to finish. – Christine
Young & Sick
One of my favorite tracks of 2014 comes off of Young & Sick’s self-titled debut album, Feel Pain. It could be that I’m just a sucker form some cool harmonizing, or it could be that it’s a well-produced poppy track. Young & Sick is kind of a strange entity, it is both a musical group and an art project. Nick Van Hofwegan is the man behind most of the group’s activities, serving as composer, musician, producer, and designer. He has designed artwork for groups such as Foster The People (Sorry Q), Maroon 5, and Robin Thicke. But despite the lack of ‘indie-cred’ associated with the aforementioned acts, their album is a great deal of fun. It is mix of some upbeat poppy track with some chiller ambient jams. Even if you have some doubts, the album tags in at 39 minutes, so you won’t be wasting too much time! – d’Art
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – Days of Abandon
On their third full-length album, Kip Berman and company have largely moved away from the big sound and noisy fuzz of their previous album Belong. Days of Abandon features a shift in its sound and a slightly different vibe.
Instead of crunchy guitars and massive synths, this album features a classic, jangle-centric, 80’s indie pop sound. In fact, Kip Berman wears some of his musical influences proudly on his sleeve. Songs like Kelly and Masokissed could make you think that Johnny Marr dropped by the studio to lend a hand, as they sound A LOT like The Smiths. Whereas you could hear a distinct Belle and Sebastian influence to songs like Art Smock and Life After Life.
In spite of the fact that this is not a groundbreaking album, there’s no denying Berman’s ability to craft melodic, anthemic indie pop. This album is catchy and pleasant enough to be a perfect soundtrack to the lazy summer afternoons up ahead. – Chevel
The Dodos – Time To Die
I realized while reviewing The Dodos’ discography before seeing them this week that I still had this in my head as their “new” album. I’m getting old. I chatted with them after the show about seeing them on our beautiful Memorial Union Terrace. Logan signed my 7″ with “stolen tambos ’08”. – Andy
Christian Loffler – Young Alaska
DJ Koze meets Robag Wruhme. It’s pure bliss in the form of pounding semi-ambient electronica that won’t put you to sleep. It’s got that untz untz. – Johnny