McCafferty – McCafferty Is Dead (2012-2014) I’ve a lot of love for McCafferty. The band’s debut full-length record BeachBoy was the first release I got around to reviewing this year, and I still listen to it frequently seven months on. When the band announced their split via Facebook last night I was understandably sad, moreso when I found out that the band had lost all the final drafts of songs they’d lined up for their next release, with only the rough drafts remaining. Those rough drafts feature on 35-track compilation McCafferty Is Dead… along with every other song the band have recorded. McCafferty as I know them are no more, but the money from this compilation will go to future projects, with hopes of buying a new recording set-up to replace the one which was damaged. It goes without saying that I’d highly recommend buying this $7 compilation; it features 35 excellent tracks, and it also helps out a group of musicians who pour everything into their music and have released everything for free up until this point. If you’d like to read about the band in some sort of detail my original review of BeachBoy can be found here, and the compilation can be purchased or streamed below. If you’re a fan of The Front Bottoms and feelings you’ll undoubtedly enjoy everything McCafferty have to offer, but if you did choose to purchase the compilation you’d ultimately be supporting a talented group of musicians who could use your help, and that matters just as much as the music does.
Forever Came Calling – Contender With the release of Real Friends’ debut full-length Maybe This Place Is The Same And We’re Just Changing right around the corner I’ve spent some time revisiting one of my favourite pop-punk debuts in recent memory, if only to say for sure whether Real Friends top it or not. They’ have to produce something pretty special to do so, because for me Contender ticks all the right boxes as far as the genres concerned – it’s ridiculously catchy, somewhat angsty, energetic, hook-filled and generally an all-round good-time. If you’re a fan of the genre and have yet to hear this (I find that hard to believe) you should check it out – it’ll likely be your new favourite record.
Jamie T – Don’t You Find It’s been your years of waiting, but Jamie T is finally, finally back, and he’s returned on a high. It’s pretty rare that I sit down next to a radio and wait for a song to be played (I prefer to just YouTube it a few hours later), but I made a conscious effort to tune into Zane Lowe’s show on Monday, badly wanting to hear what one of my favourite artists was bouncing back with. Don’t You Find wasn’t what I expected, but I sure as hell liked it anyway. In keeping with Jamie’s experimental style it’s a slight curveball, a slow, initially reserved piece of music laced with atmosphere, dense and brooding, adding layers as it progresses. It’s a change, a new vibe, but I’m definitely looking forward to more, and the news that a third record could soon follow only adds to my anticipation. Check it out below.
How To Dress Well – What Is This Heart? I don’t listen to a whole lot of R&B, if any, and with What Is This Heart? I probably won’t need to search for anything else from the genre this year. American singer-songwriter Tom Krell’s third album is absolutely incredible, soulful and painfully heartfelt. From the sparkling pop of aptly titled Repeat Pleasures to the haunting Pour Cyril it’s a digital feast, with Krell’s vocals impeccable alongside truly gorgeous production. I couldn’t rate this album any higher, it’s a spectacle to behold, a sublime treat for the ears.
Weatherbox – Flies In All Directions I only recently stumbled across this record, and I haven’t stumbled upon many albums which have captured me as firmly as this one has this year. In terms of storytelling in their music very few do it better than Weatherbox, and the record as a whole is a scintillating enigma, a strange record which sounds all the better because of its off-kilter but focused nature, a punk record at heart. Vocalist and lyricist Brian Warren is as compelling as a narrator can possibly be, and at times he reminded me greatly of Is A Real Boy… era Max Bemis, which in my mind is quite the compliment. The spiraling, lyrically astounding The Devil And Whom is a highlight, and the record as a whole is one of the best I’ve heard this year, a sharp, complex, intricate, and often spellbinding piece of work.
Brand New – Deja Entendu Easily my favourite record I own, and one of my most prized possessions full-stop. Rarely a week goes by when I don’t listen to this album at least a few times. It’s one of those releases that never ages for me, I always feel like I can go into it and love it just as much I did upon first hearing it, and I normally do. Deja Entendu is as good as it gets, and I find myself comparing a lot of album I review to it without realizing I’m doing so – it’s the benchmark for a lot of the music I listen to, and only a few releases have come anywhere close to competing with it over the last decade – at least for me. A true masterpiece, and one which I hold in skyscrapingly high regard.