2015 Music in Review

A group of music friends and I put out top releases of the year each year-end.  I put up my picks from last year, instead of through email format, here on my blog with media attached (unlike the others, who just had text; one had a podcast)!  This year was a bit different as my favorite finds were not necessarily new releases.  Here are my picks of favorite new music from this last year.

Local Musicians

As always, I start off with local musicians like myself; we all had a great year and more people should be talking about the great scene we have in the Denver/Boulder area!

Acidbat.  The Magician.

There aren’t many artists in the area focusing on acid music, but there is one band I can always count on for straight up acid, and that is Acidbat.  I had the opportunity to play a gig with him this year as well.  This album is on the Cyberdyne label on limited cassette format limited to 15 (there are a few left, grab the media while you can!).  http://acidbat.bandcamp.com.  This album is a wonderful acid excursion through various techno styles.  World-class acid from a local artist!  Awesome!

Acidbat - The Magician

Symbols + Translations

Not quite local, this Austin Texas resident co-manages the Obsolete Future record label which has strong local ties.  This release is their first foray into acid music and it is a great one!  Many moods and melodies tag along with the consistent acid lines weaving throughout the mix.  My personal favorite is “How long is the coast of Britian” which starts off the b-side of this cassette release.  Limited edition to 100 on cassette, still available if you’re fast.

Ambit ^~-

This is a great local band who I hope to see much more out of them in the future!  They did a lathe cut 7″ single and have this album available for free digitally on band camp!  Cheers!  Melodies and vocals are addictive, great tracks!

Non-local musicians

Now onto the other non-local artists and bands that I picked up in 2015!

MAKiNA GiRGiR – Torment

Coming out of France, on La Forme Lente Records out of Belgium, this amazing cold wave album came out in 2013 but I have searched for the limited edition silkscreened cover to no success; so I purchased this digital only (sad, but true) in 2015.  This album is amazing; for any fan of synth-based alternative, cold wave, dark wave, new wave, etc.  Cold, female vocals; stunning lead synth lines, and groovy tracks all the way through!

Solvent – C for Comfort

Solvent goes way back into the last 90s with his label Suction Records.  Jason Amm is a purveyor of synth leads and melodies.  This is his own creation with tribute to the classic composers of the new wave synth gods — Depeche Mode, Human League, Visage, Ultravox, etc.  This 6-track cassette release is rock solid synth instrumentals all the way through.  So happy to see Suction Records back in business, releasing very strong releases!  Released in 2014, I rediscovered this label and placed an order for many awesome releases in early 2015!

Mark Van Hoen – The Worcester Tapes 1983 – 1987

I’m a huge Mark Van Hoen fan, synth/sampler aficionado!  In case you are having problems recognizing the name, think Seefeel, Scala, Locust among other projects.  The Tapeworm presents… put together his original demo tape from early works from the artist. Beautiful piano and reverb dosed synth pads on this cassette-only release of 150.  Appreciate The Tapeworm going out of their way and putting this out there!  Beautiful Eno-esque ambient music!

Mark Van Hoen demo

Mark McGuire – Beyond Belief

Mark McGuire has had a big year; starting a family and continuing to press new age style music.  Definitely different than his prior band Emeralds, this contains beats, guitar and even some vocals.  Still, wonderfully looped melodies as only Mark McGuire can do.  This double orange swirl colored vinyl came with a bonus cassette release of remixes and a poster.  Beautiful release!

New Order – Western Works Demos

Limited edition of 50, this grey swirl vinyl was released containing the Sheffield based Western Works Studio demo masters of New Order’s first tracks after the death of Ian Curtis.  6 tracks on this one, recorded on July 9, 1980.  The demos are what you would think they would sound like–Joy Division still in shock from the loss of their front man…with all the emotion and rawness that would bring to the sessions.   Dreams Never End (Mix #1 and #2), Homage, Ceremony, Truth and Are You Ready?  All very different versions from other recordings.  This is an amazing find!

New Order - Western Works Demos

Various – Something Cold

With my discovery of Suction Records releasing material again, I also discovered they are also distributing likeminded music.  This album is one I purchased in my order with Suction in 2015.  This is great coldwave tunes; every track is awesome!  Several dance floor tracks too…well worth a listen!  Vinyl is sold out, but I suspect you can find copies around…

Miss Kittin & The Hacker – Lost Tracks Vol. 1

Dark Entries Records out of San Francisco is on fire; releasing great gems old and new.  This is true to the coldwave/demos I have spoken about in the last few highlighted releases, the original demo from 97-99 from this dynamic duo!  Leather Forever is a club classic!  Electro and cold wave!  Think Drexciya or Dopplereffekt style electro!

http://www.darkentriesrecords.com/store/dark-entries/miss-kittin-the-hacker-lost-tracks-vol-1-ep/#

Luke Vibert – Halloween Part 1

Looking to get part 2, this is a classic acid record like only Luke Vibert can put together.  Halloween is a spooky acid anthem that would rock any dance floor.  Jack U Whole is classic Chicago style acid house.

Acid Pauli & Nancy – iBang

Had this as a favorite like on Soundcloud for a while, but Katermukke decided to produce 4x 12″ singles with their favorite tracks, one of which is my favorite track from the label. I also like Animal Trainer and the other Acid Pauli tracks too.  This is a fun dance floor remake using the classic Nancy Sinatra vocals.

Acid Pauli iBang

AtomTM – Riding The Void EP

These took a while to get; I’m assuming due to excessively long pressing times for vinyl, but it was worth the wait.  Atom TM remixes of Riding the Void from the HD album.  I still haven’t gotten the HD video, I can’t seem to make myself purchase a low-fi DVD on an album called HD.  Bluray only Uwe, that is the only acceptable format other than perhaps 16mm.  These are wonderfully produced dance tunes.

Mato – All About That Bass

Believe it or not this was the first version of this track that I heard.  I bought it on a whim because of the title; but this is a wonderful 7″ Reggae plate remaking of the classic pop song. All the right junk in all the right places…

Leon Switch featuring Alys Be – Make Your Move

Been listening to a lot of bass music from the UK, sub genres of dub step called Dungeon / 140.  Slow, heavy bass dub.  This track I heard on a London radio show by a guest mix from Leon Switch, who plays dub plates of his own works.  Love the pop vocals on this cool dub / bass track.  Finally released in December with a bunch of remixes by another artist Markee Ledge, but the original Leon Switch mix is the best.  Digging other similar modern “pop” tracks in this style.

Flexi Picture Records

Hasenbart Zeotrope Flexi-disc

As many of you know, I’m a huge flexi record collector.  This I found by Hasenbart Records out of Germany, simply a beautiful Christmas picture record that is lathe cut.  Get one while you can, good luck!

Hasenbart Zoetrope Flexi

Hasenbart Flexi Record

Acidbat – Autumn Mourning

Extremely limited edition of hand made double-sided flexis from a 1940s lathe.  Wonderful acid tracks by Denver’s premiere acid scout!  Available for free in digital download, check out Autumn Mourning now!

The Beatles – All You Need Is Love

This is a Polish bootleg flexi-record postcard from the 70’s.  The premise is they would take postcards and press music on them and distribute them throughout Poland where there wasn’t proper music distribution.  I have six different, equally cool (by the same artist) postcards with this same song.

 

Beatles - All you need is love

 

2014 Favorite Records & Tunes

A the year comes to a close, there is a group of likeminded music enthusiasts that puts together their favs for the year.  This year is no different–although like always I tend to stretch the rules and this year is no different! 🙂  Some of these releases are vinyl re-releases that came out long ago; and some of these releases are not from 2014 but I learned about them and picked them up in 2014.  Finally, some of these releases are not albums but rather singles–likely found on Soundcloud.

Would love to hear your opinions and comment on your favorites of the year; or perhaps give me some tips on releases I should have heard but didn’t!

First, some local artists…

Munly & The Lee Lewis Harlots (Pesanta Urfolk 032-1)

Bummed that I didn’t get the colored vinyl version (I even pre-ordered), it would be amazing with the gatefold artwork of this double vinyl release.  Heavy 200g vinyls to boot!  This is classic Munly, not really country but definitely a rural vibe.  Munly’s unique vocals (sometimes high, sometimes low) and various stringed instruments in the composition give this record a very unique feel.

Reighnbeau x Sister Grotto – Highways

Remix by New Mexico artist Reighnbeau, this is a classic shoegaze pop track featuring Denver’s Sister Grotto.  I first saw Sister Grotto open for Mark McGuire earlier in the year and really enjoyed her ambient/melancholy set.  Soon thereafter she released this track and I have been enjoying it on my commute for the rest of the year!  Definitely worth checking out!

Obsolete Future’s House of Mutes Vol.1

Coming from around the world, Denver/Austin based Obsolete Future describes this compilation of electronic music / techno tunes precisely.  Beautiful artwork on this cassette release (think ANALOG) and overall great presentation of local and global artists.  In the electronic high rotation bin for sure!  A must listen!

Carpe Sonum’s Veni Vidi Audivi

This was just released at the end of the year and already is in high rotation.  For those unfamiliar with this label, it is a tribute label to the late Pete Namlook (think FAX – the pioneering electronic music label out of Germany).  This is an excellent lineup of ambient artists and look forward to what 2015 has to bring from this label!

SYM TRN

Symbols & Translations?  This is banned media from some Austin freak.  This track is solid techno and makes you yearn for the next release.  I happened to find a bootleg of the upcoming Austin show and that track is amazing.  Clubs, beware!

 Now some not so local artists…

Trentemøller – Lost

I’m a big fan of Trentemøller; his latest couple of albums have been more listening albums than his earlier dancefloor style.  This album is great; excellent female vocals throughout; some really mellow tracks while others are seriously rockin’.  Several tracks remind me of older The Cure, especially in the guitars!  Got to see him on this tour at the Gothic and was a stellar show!  Full band…he’s a very talented individual!

Hank III – Long Gone Daddy

This is a great record of probably mixed timeframe of tracks on Curb Records.  Hank III has departed ways with Curb (seems pretty nasty relationship) but they must have a wonderful archive of his stuff.  I liked this better than his Brothers of 4×4 and punk albums he came out in 2014 as well.  Classic country, as only Hank 3 can pull off!


Terranova – Hotel Amour (Kompakt)

I’ve been a big fan of this German producer and this album took me by surprise.  Vocal electronic tech house music, but a little more soulful than I typically listen to.  The album has grown on me and I listen to it often.  I recommend all his releases!

Kid Koala – 12 Bit Blues (Ninja Tune)

Ok, the gimmick lured me into this album, but after the first listen I loved it.  Kid Koala mashes up old blues tunes as only he can.  The best part, though, is on the CD there is a small turntable you put together (cardboard) with a flexi record you can listen to!  Now this I couldn’t turn down.

 

Bonobo – Cirrus (Ninja Tune)

What a cool picture disk.  This is a zeotrope with a cardboard zoetrope viewer.  The limited picture disk was made available only to fans with a voucher (from the fan club I think).  The track is really nice, and the picture disk and its Zoetrope video is incredible.  Super sweet!

 Blawan – His He She & She EP (Hinge Finger)

Love this straight up techno track.  Why they hide bodies under my garage?  Don’t know, but it definitely inspired an amazing track.  The other 3 tracks on the EP are killer tracks too.  Mostly dancefloor techno tracks, one is an amazing “anxiety” track ala Demdike Stares.  Highly recommended!  Oh, and the video is amazing; again Zoetrope!  Took 2 years to track this bad boy down; but acquired the single in 2014 so it made the list!

Plastikman – EX (Novamute)

Richie Hawtin was commissioned to perform at the Guggenheim Museum and this is the set he put together for it.  Classic Plastikman minimal acid techno, I really like the album.  Lots of work on the EFX and straight up 303 and beats like only Richie can pull off!

Luke Vibert – Ridmik (Hypercolor)

Luke Vibert is one of the kings of acid music, and this is a great expedition down that classic acid sound like no one but Luke can do.  FUNKY beats and soulful techno acid.  Super sweet!

 

Bjork – Bastards (One Little Indian)

This was a record store day special from several years ago, Angelos had it for 1/2 price. Great album full of limited edition remixes from the album Crystalline.  Bjork remixes are typically more fun and I like them better than album versions.  Bjork was ahead of the game (image that) creating an interactive iPad app for this album.  For fans of Bjork; even includes a Daniel Bell remix, who passed this year; his Dancer In the Dark soundtrack was amazing!

Kline Coma Xero (Medical Records)

Tony Williams I first heard on Soundcloud, the Left Behind track.  I’ve been following him since.  This is his first album and it is absolutely classic EBM.  Very talented, can’t wait for future releases from him!

 

Happy New Year S/T

I bought this on a whim; the discogs seller had it cheap and it was free shipping; sometimes you have to take a chance to get something new.  This would fit perfectly at The Road House opening for Julee Cruise!  Sometimes you get lucky.  Also on pretty white vinyl!

 And finally some classic reissues on vinyl…

  • Lassigue Bendthaus – Atom Heart’s first project, essential EBM, an absolute classic!  Comes with a 12″ and 7″.
  • Siouxsie and the Banshees – Songs from the Void.  The earliest Siouxsie recordings available, on incredible orange marbled vinyl (my favorite color and rare color for vinyl).  Amazing bootleg!
  • Psyche – Re-membering Dwayne.  Tribute album of Skinny Puppy band member Dwayne Goettel.  He was in Psyche and crushed the band to join up as a permanent member of Skinny Puppy until his overdose prior to The Process album.  I am a big fan of Psyche after Dwayne left; and this album doesn’t disappoint; much more aggro–all the stuff Dwayne recorded with the band including his diary/notebook as an insert!
  • Skinny Puppy – The Greater Wrong of the Right.  Classic re-issue of this album when they started their comeback in my opinion.  Only available on DVD/CD combo (concert) and Metropolis released this super packaging gatefold release.  Classic “new” album in the Skinny Puppy catalog.
  • Xymox – Subsequent Pleasures.  This album has been impossible to find over the years, and recently repressed in high quality vinyl with a remaster.  This is the first Xymox single before they signed to 4AD Records as Clan of Xymox.  If you like early Clan of Xymox, this is a must!

Singles – Soundcloud playlists

Finally, I have been finding a bunch of music on Soundcloud.  As you probably know, you have to dig to find gems; and many times you come up empty handed; but as prospecting for gems in the real world; when you hit a pocket you are treated with many incredible finds.  That’s Soundcloud for me.  I have been interested in 140/Dungeon style of Dubstep…very slow funky beats with cinematic backdrops and just amazing bass.  Check out some of these tracks…

 

Top 2013 Releases

 

            jws-jpg

Jeffrey Wentworth Stevens – Los Angeles Mescal Buttons

Denver based teacher & songwriter that put together a great EP available for free!  Gotta love that.  Nice western feel and great bassline for the title track.  Remixes are good too!  The Marcellus Lewis Remix has some nice squidgy sounds under a deep reverb tank that are great!http://jeffreywentworthstevens.blogspot.com/2013/09/los-angeles-mescal-buttons-singleremixes.html

 jws2.jpg

Jeffrey Wentworth Stevens – The Holy Dogs of Other Days

Awesome album; and gets the creativity art project of the year award!!!  Released on a 2” button that you can clip onto your jean jacket…just plug in headphones and away you go…  track selection and volume control included.  Plug into USB for a fresh recharge!  One of the best packaging ideas to date; and the tunes are awesome too.  Get the digital edition for free…

http://jeffreywentworthstevens.bandcamp.com/album/the-holy-dogs-of-other-days

 dyad.jpg

Cyberia – DYAD

What the hell is up with Denver bands this year!  O F F  T H E  C H A R T S !!! This is off of some obscure cassette tape label (really?) from some hick town in Texass.  One of the most listened to albums of the year; this is a great commuter release.   Tight melodies and awesome production!  If you haven’t heard it yet; well; you’re lame!

http://cyberia.bandcamp.com/releases

 locust

Locust – You’ll Be Safe Forever

I love Mark Van Hoen; and he again comes out with a strong release!  I can remember falling in love with his sound from Weathered Well in 94; this is no-where near as strong of a release; but that one will never be bested by Mark.  Not ambient, not dance; but somewhere in the void between…awesome rainy day music!

 adult

Adult – The Way Things Fall

Starting in 2012 I rediscovered one of my favorite genres, coldwave, on Soundcloud.  Since I have been loving all the resurgence of this sound.  I remember seeing Adult in NYC 2000 at the SiNFest and this duo has come a long way since then!  Female vocals are a bit off; which just drives me nuts!  For those liking an alternative sound, grab it!

 makina

Makina GiRGiR – Torment

Another incredible coldwave record.  Beautiful female vocals over classic old school “new wave”.  Awesome French start up label doing beautiful releases.  This one is hand silk screened!  Thanks to Soundcloud for tuning me into this one!

 lente

Various – Circuit D’Actes 3

A great new startup label from France, Le Forme Lente is hitting it with spot on coldwave VINYL ONLY releases.  Along with the Makina GirGir LP; this one is excellent.  Featuring Kline Coma Xero from San Francisco, a great startup artist very reminiscent of Lassigue Bendthaus, and when I saw he had this release on vinyl I had to pick it up!  The KCX track is incredible, and I was gifted with 9 other awesome tracks!  A very disturbing version of “Ring Around The Rosie” ends the LP…

 kittin

Miss Kittin – Falling from the Stars

This album has grown on me considerably.  Not as much so as her last album Batbox (which is growing to one of my all time favorite techno-pop albums), but this 4LP heavy weight set has two modes—the first two LPs are more techno pop while the second two are more experimental and instrumental.  Bought this pre-order from France, $21 shipped as it was not available in America; keep an eye on Amazon for great deals!

 doppler

Dopplereffekt – Tetrahymena

A latecomer to 2013; this is a classic Detroit style 3 track EP.  Starting off with analog arpeggio and travelling through classic electro and dark techno; a classic release!  Can’t get this off of the turntable!  On my newest mix…

http://davealex.com/happy-xgiving-mixtape/

 sp

SP#1 – Retrofit

2 tracks of acid techno bliss.  I bought this on a whim from Amoeba (first visit since 2008!) –this is likely the most listened to record of the year for me.  Ultra limited, you probably missed it…  Mesmerizing deep acid techno; both sides are incredible—hypnotising!  Also on the above mixtape…

 recondite

Recondite – On Acid

A recommendation from some label owner in Texass, this is one of the best acid albums in a long time.  Not the typical dance stuff; but full of slide and octave up on the old 303!  The vinyl sounds amazing!  Wonderful record!

 trente

Trentemoller – Reworked & Remixed

My first (and only) official buy on iTunes.  This is a remix compilation from his amazing “Into the Great Wide Yonder” album from several years back.  Awesome self-remixes along with touch ups from other great producers; the fav is the surf track produced by Andrew Weatherall!  Essential Trentemoller release!

 puppy

Skinny Puppy – Weapon LP

I saw them in 2012 and they still have what has made the one of the best electronic bands ever; what an amazing show!  This LP was limited and worth the long wait; classic Puppy sound but with a modern feel and great synth programming as always.  Solvent is a remake from their first cassette demo and takes you all that way back; the other tracks are fresh but also have the feel of early Puppy!  Great record!

 atom

Atom TM – Pop HD

I love most the album; except the horrible Who remake and the Jamie Lidell tracks.  Uwe mastering makes the most of minimal samples and spaced sounds.  BIG sound from little sounds!  Production quality is something to make engineers heads spin—he is the master!  Great fun!  Stop Imperialist Pop makes me laugh out loud each listen!  Can’t wait for the Blu-ray version!

 idow

I Dream of Wires Blu-ray

Produced by Canada’s own Jason Amm (Solvent), this is the documentary of the year, maybe the decade.  History of Modular Synthesizers is part I, part II explores the current Modular craze that is happening now.  A synth lover’s wet dream…Hardcore Edition is > 4 hours long!

Send me the ones I missed in the comments!