Feature, Reviews

Rad Releases ’14 – Hunter Ellis

December 30, 2014

As the countdown to the end of 2014 quickly approaches we take a personal look back on familiar names, features and musicians’ best releases of the past 12 months. Circuit Sweet will be featuring the featured artists of the site with their personal top 5 releases of the year.

In our end of year special we let our favorites take over the site to tell us the records that have made their end of year lists, their favorite events/gigs and what we can look forward to from them next year.


Bringing the feature to a remarkable finish, one of our last few artists to take over the site is the inspiring instrumental genius that is Hunter Ellis. We introduced Hunter to the site early this year, Hunter has been writing, performing and recording his creations with his friends since 2003. Known for his involvement with bands called More Creation, The Coma Lilies, The Silent Sex Orchestra, The Gashlycrumb Tinies, SHAT, Mean Girls, My Dads, and Horders. Now Hunter is making a name for his solo efforts. 2014 has been a triumphant milestone for Hunter, releasing his 12 track debut album ‘The Healing Power of Laughter’. A simply intricate release with calculating compositions. This album later became available via the lovely Little L Records. We chat to Hunter to find out more about his most loved releases of the year…

5 albums
Bearcubbin’ “Girls with Fun Haircuts”

The production quality on this album shot the amazing song-writing and performance into the stratosphere. Chris did an amazing job making this complex and at times challenging album a pleasure and joy to listen to. It was on steady repeat throughout the first part of the year. Carpet Needs and Drink Too and Down Buttermilk Road get me deep, every time, speeding me down a freezing highway through a moonless desert night, with the smell of creosote and pine sifting through my nostrils.

Freeman “Freeman”


Aaron Freeman’s (Gene Ween) first original solo full-length since Ween disbanded and he went through rehab makes me a little less sad that Ween is no more. Replete with all the humor, musicianship, weirdness, and poignancy that makes Ween one of my all time favorite bands, Freeman’s eponymous debut is a near-masterpiece. The stark, brutal, insightful honesty of the opening track, followed by balls-out fuck-you rock n roll, sets the tone for a wonderful, personal, and poetic album.
Cathedrals “Harlem”


I usually don’t like pop music. I rarely listen to it, and suffer through it when it is on, optimistically looking for bright spots and clever lyrics. But Bay Area duo Cathedrals’ Harlem is somehow different. It is pop, but carefully crafted, with interesting guitar playing, beautiful but true-to-self vocal harmonies, and pleasantly understated production. I can’t quite explain why, but I like it.

Aphex Twin “Syro”


Nothing can be said about this album that hasn’t been said already. It’s Richard D. James. Using analog synths. Making pretty, soulful, memorable music with machines.

RX Bandits “Gemini Her Majesty”


At an acoustic Bandits show in Long Beach last winter two friends and I were, along with the rest of the crowd, the first to hear that RXB was officially regrouping and would release an album the following year. The high points of “Gemini Her Majesty,” namely Penguin Marlin Brando and Ruby Cumulous, do not disappoint.


Gabe Katz, “It’s Good to Have Friends”


DISCLAIMER: I played 95% of the guitar on this record that came out in January 2014. But I didn’t write any of the songs or the parts—every note is 100% Gabe Katz. I think that amount of separation allows me to listen to album objectively, and I consider myself lucky that I’m able to hear the music for what it is instead of being too entwined with it. Ten instrumental tracks range from funny to funky, energetic to emotional, supple to stark, and everything in between. Over the course of almost two years, Gabe enlisted his friends to record everything but the drums, which he plays impeccably. If I hadn’t played on this cd, it would have definitely been my favorite album of the year. As it stands, I can’t quite separate myself enough to make that claim, but every fan of artistic music should give it a listen.

Best Show I’ve Played This Year:

Unfortunately, I didn’t play a single show this year. Well, that’s not quite true. I played a show in February with my joke-metal-gooshe rock band SHAT. We started a mosh pit, chugged whiskey bottles filled with Iced Tea, broke strings, shredded “Cheap Whore” and fucked up during “Puke on My Dick in Your Ass,” and had so much fun.

Best Show I’ve Attended This Year:


I spent a lot of the year in Alaska and other places where bands don’t play, so I wasn’t able to see as many shows as I’d like. I did manage to catch Propagandhi on their “Magic Mountain or Bust” tour—a one-off in Santa Ana on their way form Winnipeg to Australia. Propagandhi is the best band to see live, every time I see them. Technical, emotional, heavy punk from Canada that they pull off flawlessy each time. Freeman also played an amzing show that I saw in New York, but I already wrote about his album!

Highlights of my Year:

Definitely releasing the album I’d been working on for the previous two years, The Healing Power of Laughter. It felt so good so bring that project to completion and share it with my friends and fellow music-lovers.

Artists to Watch in 2015

Horders will (hopefully) finish their album, which is sounding great so far and I can’t wait to hear in its entirety. Kidcrash should have a new record out soon as well, and it will be good to hear from them. I also heard Battles is working on something new, which I’m excited about. I’m always curious about what Secret Chiefs 3 will release, and They’re scheduled to put out Book of Souls: Folio B some time next year, although “scheduled” has never really meant much to them. And Illumignarly, an instrumental shredding surf band with harmonizing guitars form the North Bay, should have another record out soon. Also Lee Wanner’s next record on Little L records should be great, from the snippets he’s posted on the internet so far.

Plans for Next Year:

I’m continuing to write songs, though I’m not sure what form they will take. I hope to work on a project with my cousin, who produces rad electronic music and writes music that sounds remarkably similar to mine. The idea is for him to take care of the drums and bass electronically, while I record real guitars and strings. Then he will work his sparkly magic and we should have a shiny new EP. So we shall see.

A Huge thank you Hunter, such a pleasure! Looking forward to hearing more from you next year.


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