A lot of really rough stuff happened in 2014. (Flint, MI; Brown, Seeger, Hoffman, Temple, Márquez, Giger, Angelou, Williams, Attenborough). But also a lot of dogs had birthdays.
Casualties of Cool – s/t
There was something special about the smoky, electroacoustic hum that Devin Townsend conjured up on 2009’s Ki (my entry point into his discography), something I’ve had only limited success finding elsewhere (Gilliver comes to mind). Ki‘s spiritual successor married the bluesey, folksy sounds of that project (and its radiant core, vocalist Ché Aimee Dorval) with an expanded palette of instruments and soundscapes to create a treasure trove, a cache of ancient correspondence you might find in a dusty attic.
clipping – CLPPNG
People are always so excited when I tell them that one of the Hamilton guys has a rap group, but that’s a cheap tactic on my part to get them interested; it’s wildly unfair to characterize clipping as anything other than a trio of visionaries in their own right. Their most conceptually diverse work to date, I can only hope that CLPPNG is a brick through the window of a casual listener’s perception of what hip-hop can be.
Destrage – Are You Kidding Me? No
When you apply goofiness to metal, there’s a fine line between something hilarious and clever and something godawful (Destrage’s most recent album, for instance, is not my cup of tea), and of course, your mileage will vary, but Are You Kidding Me? No holds hair metal bombast and mathy grooves in chef-kiss-perfect balance. Also, there are zombies, and a weird mixup involving a bachelorette party and a waterpark.
Trepalium – Voodoo Moonshine
I have some gripes about this French band leaning heavily into spooky voodoo imagery, given France’s long history of Haitian exploitation, and even as I voice those gripes, I am dragged into the pit by a bunch of skeleton people and find myself having a wildly good time. With the introduction of rumply keys and blasting horns to their sound, Trepalium have finally reached apotheosis as Diablo Swing Orchestra’s greasy, leather-clad cousin; their swing-metal is ugly and vicious and will have you partying til you die.