August is a time of “fuck it.” When the demise of summer crashes against the looming specter of fall—separated by a holiday meant to appease the working class—it’s a month of high temperatures and equally high tensions. None of which are the reason behind our choice of the Best Album of August 2014, but the above summary of the last full month of summer do an adequate job surmising the pick. Bred from exasperated repetition and layered upon a dedicated work ethic, there really was only one option when it came down to it.
The Best Album of August 2014
Sophomore records are a time for reinvention. That’s what history, as well as the all-knowing Music Critic, has led us to expect. When artists choose not to deviate from their originally laid-out path, even just slightly, they often face harsh judgment. On Television Man, Naomi Punk’s approach is familiar: sinking percussions, vague, distant guitar sounds, and barely intelligible, ghostly vocals. In place of sharp punk aggression, there’s dark thrashing that’s painstakingly delicate. The formula remains the same, but two years removed from The Feeling, its effects are even mightier. Highly addictive, Television Man is an album of hypnotic repetition. Filled with maddening hallucinations, it’s a carefully choreographed dance through the mind. Even down to their name, Naomi Punk takes no decision lightly, and for that, respect is deserved.
For more on Naomi Punk read our interview.
The Best Music of August 2014 (in no particular order):
For their first big outing, Monster Treasure pick and choose components from their favorite DIY movements and apply an algorithm of their own. The band’s subscription—either consciously or unconsciously—to these self-created formulas could prove to be either a detriment or an exemplary definition of their sound in future releases. The refinement in the way the the melodic-noise ratios work create a stream of song consciousness, where the album experience can be heard as one song, with various surprises, and playful moments in between.
Gone are the 10-minute, brassy hurricanes that yawned through the track lists of Totale Nite and Children of Desire. After The End comes stacked with songs that fit comfortably inside rock music’s most superficial formatting. Instead of hooks, Merchandise hone in on mood, texture, and flow, creating a structural antithesis to the post-punk revivalists that float in their DNA.
Sacramento punks G. Green’s latest album Area Codes is about a band trapped between two worlds; a band that’s right on the cusp of maturity, both sonically and emotionally; a band that’s trying to hone its aesthetic without giving up its identity. Luckily, this is an undertaking in which G. Green is remarkably successful.
For his New York Telephone record, Uncommon NASA is adopting the outmoded pay phone as a symbolic token for a bygone New York City to demonstrate his ill communication to the past. New York Telephone transports the listener to a pre-9/11 Big Apple, before Bloomberg swept Times Square sterile, before Williamsburg was its sister neighborhood of bougie tourist gawkers, and before the bodegas were replaced with Whole Foods.
Taken from the Furtive Movements EP, “CRWNS” rides a bluesy guitar sample, rooting the verses from Elucid and billy woods in America’s oldest musical tradition and its youngest equally. Armand Hammer take to “CROWNS” like two men cliff noting Howard Zinn’s A People’s History Of The United States. Elucid directs our attention to the diaspora of oppressed backs that built our nation’s infrastructure, while billy woods focuses on the cyclical mistakes we make as the proles, from Mesopotamia to World Star Hip Hop, foolishly crowning the wrong kings.
The harrowing, chest clenching steel-gray brand of metal is heavy and angry, but you can tell there’s a sense of hopelessness hanging over the heart of Things Haven’t Gone Well. The emotional load-bearing debut came out of Tanner’s bleak world-view after his close friend Jerry Fuchs (drummer for !!!, Turing Machin, LCD Soundsystem) passed in 2009.
Fueled by alcohol and 90210 reruns, Tanner’s depression foiled his attempts to write a new Harvey Milk record in the days that followed Fuchs’ death. In its place, Things Haven’t Gone Well was born.
The project of Oregon-via-New Mexico producer Santiago Leyba, it’s a wired, tension-filled three track release that pays homage to a barrage of regional influences and the idea of affective response.
Beast Coast affiliates AK and Issa Gold are back with their breathless, biting flows, which they use to tackle everything from spirituality to psychedelics. Layered amongst haunting background vocals and reverb-laden backbeats, there’s something very otherworldly about Cellar Door (as if the loopy, dippily-drenched track names didn’t already give that away).
Overall, the nine-track album, doesn’t hang around without your help. Coming in under 30 minutes, Debt is easy to repeat. With each listen, the seams fade farther away until the album’s smattering of influences—like the Grizzly Bear-esque cavernous guitar strumming, wipe out-ready surf rock bass runs and the rippling psych-groove moments akin to Tame Impala—becomes a fluid sound that alternately revs you up and lulls you into a happy daze.