D’Angelo and the Vanguard – BLACK MESSIAH
The fourteen years between BLACK MESSIAH and D’Angelo’s slow burning masterpiece VOODOO are immaterial as far as I can see as a guy like D’Angelo lives in his own world of sonic experimentation – both sounds and vocals as vision. MESSIAH is initially more warmer and organic and more upfront than VOODOO if not as deep or layered aurally. Not as much an attempt at freeform musical revolution perhaps but a wonderful record regardless with especially exquisite vocals. Numerous musical moments – The Charade, Til It’s Done (Tutu), Another Life. One note – Apparently the record was moved up for release from next year because of Michael Brown and other civil rights issues although with the exception of 1,000 Deaths and Til It’s Done, most of the other songs don’t seem to be politically themed at all. Need to read the lyric sheet I guess.
Engineers – ALWAYS RETURNING
Line-up changes have removed the guitar based showgaze-y aspects of Engineers’ sound (Perfectly showcased on their best record THREE FACT FADER) but not the dream-like vibe or the otherworldly sense the vocals give us. Lone original member Mark Peters brings enough of established Engineers mojo and German electronic music staple Ulrich Schnauss fills in the rest with washes of synthesizer sound like waves alternately lapping and roaring onto a beach. I could have done without the two instrumentals but otherwise great.
Also as we are the end of the year here are my picks for best records of the year. I didn’t hear a lot of great new music this year but what I did hear was excellent and played often. The good new music I heard this year was often synth based, electronic. I also dug several future classics by old farts, established acts.
Ten Best Records of 2014
Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott – What Have We Become
Morrissey – World Peace is None of Your Business
Wild Beasts – Present Tense
D’Angelo and the Vanguard – Black Messiah
Arthur Beatrice – Working Out
Gardens and Villa - Dunes
Bear in Heaven – Time is Over One Day Old
Bryan Ferry - Avonmore
Phantogram – Voices
Engineers – Always Returning
Bombay Bicycle Club – So Long, See You Tomorrow
Bob Mould – Beauty and Ruin