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.
Continuing our Rad Releases is good friend of Circuit Sweet and talented multi instrumentalist Josh Lamdin. Josh is of course well known to us due to his involvement with Aulos and his incredible drumming skills, not only that Josh is a key writer for our site and he’s one of that hardest working musicians we know. This year has been a rewarding one for Josh playing various shows, headline shows, an album launch and more. He’s been in the studio recording his first solo debut which is why we chose Josh as our artist to watch in our own rad releases. Josh really is a talented musician and individual, we hand over the site over as he chats about his most loved records of the year…
You’re Dead – Flying Lotus
A couple of years ago I placed Flying Lotus’ ‘Until the Quiet Comes’ as one of my top albums for 2012. Since then I have highly anticipated his next release, my expectations only raised by his side escapades as Captain Murphy. Fortunately, ‘You’re Dead!’ met and exceeded my hopes on all fronts. The central theme of death in all it’s forms is strongly represented in the records title, artwork and musicality. While arguably his most musically dense record yet, FlyLo’s ability to seamlessly blend and speak his inﬂuences is at its strongest and most ambitious, from electronica and hard bebop to progressive rock and hip hop. While the tracks themselves are generally quite short, they stitch and interlace together a cohesive, yet complex and theatrical record. Fast paced percussive rushes are broken up and complemented by subtle, airy, beautifully vocal passages.There’s a lot of information for at 39 minutes, quite a short album, but no less dynamic and engaging for it.
I Am King – Code Orange
After seeing Code Orange (then Code Orange Kids) support Circle Takes the Square and getting pretty gripped by their debut ‘Love is Love// Return to Dust,’ I was intrigued to hear more. ‘I am King’ is cold, aggressive, and unrelenting in both regards. Kurt Ballou’s production takes no prisoners and this record is not short of crushing riffs from beginning to end. Dynamically this record moves between ferocious blasts to dissonant ringing layers of air,7 to slow, sludge driven climaxes. Screams, shouts and occasionally a moment of singing, are wrapped around biting, hammer like, guitar tones. But if theirs any fault to this record it’s at these denser moments that the lyrics get a bit inaudible. However given the context and the clear amount of aggression being portrayed, how crucial is that? For me Code Orange aren’t moving forward hugely in terms of composition from their last record, rather taking a step further into it. Which is no bad thing, ‘I am King’ is abrasive and punishing in the best ways possible.
CLPPNG – clipping
Fractured, glitch driven, industrial arrangements carve through every frequency between which MC Daveed Diggs weaves lyrical webs with an impressive technical ﬂow. From crackling, metallic, high ends to stomach swelling lows CLPPNG is a big departure away from the typical aesthetics of current hip hop. Heavy experimentation with found sound in the backing leave the listener with something that’s deﬁnitely hip hop, but deﬁnitely different. Lyrically this record revolves around themes more synonymous to Gangsta rap, under Daveed’s capabilities we hear a lot of the egoism removed and are left with a really illustrative portrayal of those subjects. ‘Story 2’ is a perfect example of clipping’s ability to tell a story and build on a tension, whether musical or lyrical/ thematic. This ability stays pretty consistent across the hour of music on this record, and while perhaps a challenging listen initially, it’s clear clipping have secured their own niche in experimental hip hop.
III – BADBADNOTGOOD
This year Badbadnotgood brought out their third album and ﬁrst of completely original material. While still heavily engaging their hip hop/ jazz sensibilities, BBNG have upped their composition, incorporating a few new sounds and dynamics and what at times feels them moving into areas of nu jazz, reminding me of Tortoise or Portico Quartet but with beats that wouldn’t sound out of place on a J Dilla record. There isn’t a massive stress on virtuoso leads on this record and it feels as though the time has been spent on the transitions and the space between. However we do hear some great saxophone melodies, a ripping bass solo on ‘Kaleidoscope’ and there is some really fantastic drumming through out. The arrangement is sensitive and emotive, strings adding another really effective texture to the BBNG sound. BBNG have made an effort to mature into more composed, tangible songs and in my opinion shone. While I miss some of chaotic nature that featured pretty heavily on BBNG2, III is for me instrumental master piece.
So It Goes – Ratking
I ﬁrst encountered Ratking live in Bristol supporting Death Grips. A couple of years on, the initial intensity and aggression that greeted me I have rediscovered, more developed and more realised on So It Goes. Raw, aggressive and really characteristic ﬂows ride big, bold, chaotic and colourful instrumentals that come together to scream true to east coast hip hop roots. The energy in the vocals provided by Wiki & Hak starts high and keeps going from beginning to end. Lyrically Ratking succeeds in painting a picture of current Harlem & New York. Covering subjects of police harassment, the making of the record itself and more playful tracks like ‘Puerto Rican Judo’ where we hear more biographical themes. The instrumentals, created by other half of the group Sporting Life & Ramon, are glitchy, dark, psychedelic and gritty. These soundscapes weave over strong, heavily syncopated beats. The drum sound is crisp and aggressive while the overall sound and arrangement is wide and rich from heavier moments like the opener and Bug Fights to softer points like ‘Eat’. Ratkings brand of earthy progressive hip hop is embodied strongly on this latest offering and has me excited for more.
Best Show Played This Year
The few Aulos shows we got to do this year were by far the most rewarding and most cathartic for me personally. So I’d have to say all of those. Particular highlights were the JT Soars show in Nottingham with Aeroplane Flies High, Chiyoda Ku and Needle, and the Holy Roar records show in Worcester.!!
Best Gig Attended
Badbadnotgood in Bristol, at the Exchange. The energy they created in the fairly small, dark venue was exhilarating. To watch the trio on stage and see their communication between each other you quickly got the impression that here were three musicians who really knew how to play as a band. Everything grooved. One of the tightest bands I’ve ever seen, and the Flying Lotus cover was a treat.!
Artist to Watch!
Bristol based band LEG are deﬁnitely ones to keep an ear on. They had an EP this year that was really awesome. Guitarist Ben Harris has some solo material he’s working on which I can’t wait to hear released. Another Bristol band Iyabe are recording an EP pretty much as I write this, I can’t wait to hear that. Having seen them live a couple of times I can’t wait to hear those songs recorded, they can really draw an intensity. Of course my band mates project A Parliament of Wolves is sounding awesome and I can’t wait to see them doing some live stuff.
Plans for New Year
Just music and keeping food on my table. Fuck everything else. I’ve got my ﬁrst solo record and an album in the works with a new band to release. A new Aulos record is on the agenda as well as tour plans for that and the new band. Currently doing live guitar session stuff for a hip hop group which should be performing in the new year. Livewire should be happening again, as well as some other teaching things. There’s some collaborations and remixes I’ve been keen to do as well. Wherever that takes me after that I suppose.
A huge thank you to Josh, we cannot wait to hear this debut solo record!