Category Archives: Music We Like

Stereotype Top Albums of 2014

IMG_3368-2Another year has gone past and yet again it has produced many fantastic albums, of which we have only listened to minority of what was released in 2014, but here’s our favourites that we kept coming back to time and time again. Happy New Year!

10. First Aid Kit – Stay Gold

14589-stay-goldFirst Aid Kit’s debut albums The Lion’s Roar picked up top honours in 2012. Stay Gold continues where the Swedish sisters left off with a set of delightfully easy to listen to pop/folk tunes. Favourite tracks are opener My Silver Lining (Live on Letterman), title track Stay Gold and the Summery Waitress Song (Live). Recommended, but if First Aid Kit are new to you, I suggest you also pick up The Lion’s Roar.

9. Steve Gunn – Way Out Weather

Steve-Gunn-Way-Out-Weather-608x608Title track off Steve Gunn’s Way Out Weather would be a contender for song of the year for me, I absolutely love everything about it, and as the YouTube comments say it is an absolute crime that this has only had 30K views, come on people!! Do yourself a favour and click the link above now, everything in the world will seem right for a few minutes. The rest of the album doesn’t disappoint with stand-out tracks like Milly’s Garden and Drifter upping the tempo a bit, and the laid back Atmosphere all rewarding the listener with sonic goodness.

8. The Black Keys – Turn Blue

turn-blueIt took me a while to listen to Turn Blue because I really couldn’t get into the single Fever which was being thrashed on Hauraki. Once I did pick up the album and give it some time I was loving the fact the rest of the album is quite different from Fever… Stand-out tracks for me are title track Turn Blue (Live at BBC), Waiting on Words and In Our Prime. The Black Keys prove yet again they are one of THE bands of this decade and keep delivering solid albums by making our Top 10 lists in 2009 with Keep it Hid (Dan Auebach’s solo release), 2010 with Brothers and in 2012 with El Camino. Had I started this blog in 2008 Attack & Release probably would have made my Top album list for that year too!

7. Damien Jurado – Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Son

Damien-Jurado-Brothers-And-Sisters-Of-The-Eternal-Son-608x608A friend of mine posted the track Silver Timothy on Facebook and from that I check out the rest of the album which was my first experience of Damien Jurado. What an album! Some of the songs take a few listens to grow on you, and others hit you right away. Stand-out tracks for me are Metallic Cloud (Live acoustic on Jools Holland), Silver Malcolm and Silver Joy. Yes lots of the song titles start with Silver! Go get this, it will become one of your favourite albums that you’ll listen to for years to come.

6. Conor Oberst – Upside Down Mountain

conor-oberst-1400163701Conor Oberst is best known for his work with Bright Eyes, and also features on First Aid Kit’s King of the World. Oberst is a fantastic songwriter and Upside Down Mountain has many great poetic examples, such as:

I want to walk in that howling wind ’til it scatters all my thoughts, Sit alone on that riverbank ’til I Forget that I can talk, Just listen.

Stand-out tracks for me are Time Forgot, Zigzagging Toward the Light, Enola Gay and Double Life. You can listen to the whole album here, enjoy.

5. Angus and Julia Stone (Self Titled)

Angus-Julia-StoneI’m a huge fan of Angus and Julia Stone, the Aussie brother and sister duo have served up a great range of tunes over the years and in 2014 they teamed up with Rick Rubin to create their 3rd full length studio album together. Angus’ solo album made my 2009 top album list and Julia’s solo album made my 2012 list. Stand-out tracks for me aside from single Heart Beats Slow which you’ve probably heard on the radio are: Little Whiskey, Please You and Get Home. And as always with these two, a fantastic recording too.

4. Ryan Adams (Self Titled)

ryan-adams-d138c563Ryan Adams is likely the most played artist in my home, both my wife and I really enjoy his work and many of his songs have been the soundtrack to special times in our lives. This album kicks off with Tom Petty style guitar riffs with Gimme Something Good (Check out this Letterman performance) and ends in true Adams style with a quieter yet stunning number Let Go. Everything in between is great too, this is a solid album from beginning to end, with Kim (Live on Jimmy Fallon, spot the drummer missing his first note) and Tired of Giving Up being other stand-outs.

3. Beck – Morning Phase

12275-morning-phaseBeck’s Sea Change (2002) is somewhat of an audiophile darling when it comes to recordings, I think Morning Phase can be best described as side two of Sea Change. Both in terms of outstanding recording quality and overall tone, sentiment and beautiful song writing. There’s never a dull moment on here, but if you want to show off your system try Morning, Unforgiven, and Don’t Let it Go. Oldschool Beck fans might complain that its all too grown up and beg for another Mellow Gold/Odelay/Midnight Vultures-esque record, but I don’t mind at all if Beck keeps going on this path.

2. Elbow – The Take Off and Landing of Everything

elbowElbow’s sixth studio album really hit a cord with me from the first listen. Their 2011 album Build a Rocket Boys! made 3rd place on my Top 10 list and I’ve enjoyed this record even more so it deserves to jump a position and make it to #2. Hearing Elbow live for a second time this year was a concert highlight for me, especially when they played Scattered Black and Whites which they hadn’t played live for years. Stand-out tracks are plentiful but Charge, Fly Boy Blue/Lunette (it’s so good when Lunette kicks in at 3:11) and Colour Fields would be my picks if I had to pick. Check this record out, and if you haven’t heard much of Elbow go back through the catalogue and you won’t disappointed. This is seriously good music that gets missed in a world of mass produced forgettable pop.

1. The War on Drugs – Lost in the Dream

41f440f9#1 on many top album of 2014 lists, and for good reason. The War on Drugs have produced an album that appeals to so many, and in doing to have firmly put themselves on the musical map. With an 80’s rock flavour, this collection of ambient yet melodic rock songs is one that you never tire of, it can be played over and over, and at the end of each time, you’re glad its starting again. The opening 3 tracks are killer, but my favourites also include Eyes to the Wind (Live) and In Reverse (Live Acoustic), but the second track Red Eyes (Live on Letterman) would get my vote for song of the year. I can’t say it better than Pitchfork, so here’s what they wrote:

The album is loaded with songs whose greatness is revealed slowly, where the simplest, most understated chord change can blow a track wide open and elevate it from simply pretty to absolutely devastating.

You can listen to the full album here, I recommend you do so right now.

Bring on 2015, we can’t wait to see what new music comes out, especially when a new Radiohead album is being worked on…

10 new songs we’re loving right now

The War on Drugs – Red Eyes

Liam Finn – Burn up the road

Angus and Julia Stone – Heart beats slow

The Neighbourhood – Sweater Weather

Beck – Say Goodbye

Big Data – Dangerous

Ryan Adams – Gimmie Something Good (Album due in September)

Mr Little Jeans – Good Mistake

Damien Jurado – Metallic Cloud

And probably my favourite track of the year so far:

Elbow – Charge

Stereotype Top Albums of 2013

2013 has been a huge year for great new music. Maybe it’s just that I feel like I’ve listened to more new music than last year, and the number of new albums that I enjoyed made forming this top 10 a very difficult task. As always, I don’t claim this as a definitive “best of 2013” list, but rather a “Stereotype favourites” list. It’s impossible to call something the best when you’ve only experienced a small percentage of what was released in a given year. So while the supply us high, the great thing is that the demand has never been higher. The resurgence of vinyl keeps bubbling away and on that note we’ve seen great demand for the new range of Music Hall turntables which in our opinion offer the best performance in their class. Digital downloads and streaming are now the normal – even if I feel like I am the odd one out who still likes to buy CDs, let’s hope the likes of iTunes/Spotify/MySpace/Xbox Music etc. keep pushing for better quality files. At the moment the quality is pretty low, and unfortunately brilliant services like HDtracks don’t have the range, but this is improving. While I still buy CDs I do find myself streaming music via my Micromega MyDAC more often that spinning discs. I guess the most important thing is to not really get that hung up about the format, it has never been more affordable to get a high quality source regardless of whether that’s analogue or digital, and for me they all have a place.

lonebellow10. The Lone Bellow – The Lone Bellow

The debut album from Brooklyn based based Folk group The Lone Bellow came up in my recommendations list shopping on Amazon. I gave it a quick listen and thought, now there’s a brilliant vocalist. The album has country and gospel influences in places, tracks Tree to Grow and Teach Me to Know are the stand outs, while the opener Green Eyes and a Heart of Gold doesn’t do it for me and You Don’t Love Me Like You Used To is too country for me. Some gems in here, recommended.

daftpunk9. Daft Punk – Random Access Memories

Without a doubt the most hyped album of 2013, featuring the most played song of 2013. But does it live up to the hype? Does the rest of the album have anything worth listening too? Thankfully yes. It’s a fantastic recording and The Game of Love became a go to demo track. However, my favourite song is Instant Crush featuring The Strokes’ Julian Casablancas.

repave8. Volcano Choir – Repave

Indie darling Justin Vernon’s side project Volcano Choir released their follow up album to 2009’s Unmap. Repave is less experimental, which makes it more listenable, and no doubt more appealing to the Bon Iver fans. There are three stand out tracks for me and they are back to back on the album; Byegone, Alaskans and Dancepack. All different, all genius. However, Byegone is an epic song that I would have put either as the opener or closer to this great album.

amok_7. Atoms for Peace – AMOK

Every time I listen to this album I hear something new, there are so many layers, and so many background sounds that sneak up on you that you weren’t expecting. I unashamedly pretty much love everything Thom Yorke touches. If you’re intrigued, checkout Default and Judge Jury Executioner which are two of my favourites. One of my most listened to albums of 2013 as its great to work to with your headphones cranking.

fandango6. The Phoenix Foundation – Fandango

The Phoenix Foundation made our 2010 list with Buffalo, and Fandango carries on nicely with playful adult pop at its best. Clever lyrics, catchy riffs and NZ made, what’s not to love here? Thames Soup should’ve got NZ Song of the Year, but of course someone ruined that for the boys. Support your local, buy it!

articmonkeys5. Arctic Monkeys – AM

I never got into earlier Arctic Monkeys songs but when the single Do I Wanna Know was released I couldn’t get enough of it. I bought the CD on the basis of this track expecting to be a little disappointed with the rest and to my pleasant surprise this a bloody good rock album. And just when you thought you’d figured out the album, they drop rock ballad No.1 Party Anthem that will be turning the Gallagher boys green.

mazzystar4. Mazzy Star – Seasons of your Day

A new Mazzy Star album was exciting news for me. In my book lead singer Hope Sandoval can do no wrong. She could sing the dictionary and it would be amazing. Fade Into You is one of my all time favourite songs and Massive Attack’s Paradise Circus which features Sandoval, was one of my favourites from 2010. Pour a glass of Pinot, turn the lights down, listen and enjoy.

thenational3. The National – Trouble Will Find Me

It took me a few listens before Trouble Will Find Me stood out as a truly great album. The opening track I Should Live in Salt and the track Heavenfaced show off lead singer Matt Berninger’s voice beautifully. In my 2010 list, The National’s High Violet made it to the #1 spot, so it was a tough act to follow, but they’ve proved there’s plenty more in The National boys, I can wait three years for the next album if the quality remains this high. Highly Recommended.

boyandbear2. Boy and Bear – Harlequin Dream

Aussie band Boy and Bear produced a crackingly good album this year, you’ll probably be familiar with the opening track Southern Sun if you listen to Hauraki or presumably other Rock radio stations. Bridges and Back Down the Black are the stand out tracks for me, and if they left off the country influenced End of the Line this album would be perfect!

localnatives1. Local Natives – Hummingbird

The more I listen to this album the more l enjoy it! Hummingbird was an early favourite for the top spot and it held on. It’s hard to pick stand out tracks but Three Months, Heavy Feet (which has a brilliant video featuring visually impaired model aeroplane pilots) and Mt Washington would be my favourites. Really the whole album is outstanding apart from perhaps Black Spot that I finding myself skipping over. Album of the year for me, so yes I think you should rush out and buy it.

Well there you have it, what was your favourite?

Merry Christmas from both Tiens and I, thanks for the continued support and we look forward spending many more hours listening to great music on great sounding Hifi in 2014.