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 a close friend of Circuit Sweet, a man regularly found in the circuit sweet office telling us what we need to hear. Known also for his writing attributions to the site and a very talented musician. We hand over to half of the fairly new duo A Parliament of Wolves, Simon Gore. As mentioned in our final year feature, we have had the priviledge in working with Simon and APOfW with the release of their flawless debut EP ‘I Am A Knife With Legs’ which saw the light of day December 15th, so just a few weeks ago. The physical copy of the EP will be available in the shop soon. I have watched both Simon and Oli Montez form this band and construct their compositions over a few years but to see their debut release revealed and the positive feedback it’s received makes the hard work they’ve all put in, very much worth it. I love helping musicians work gets heard and this pair are a duo I urge you to support. We now hand over to Simon who is currently on his way to Oslo, to find out more about his year in music…
So I’ve done 11 rad releases (in descending order) because I’m like that so deal with it.
11. Despereaux – Luna Pars Fortuna
I have fallen in love with this EP so much in the past 3 days, I had to revise my Rad Releases and include it. Really it should be a lot further up the list! The best example of the entity that is Scandi-Hardocre I have heard this year. There’s hints of early 2000’s UK alt rock/post hardcore in there with a healthy dose of The Fall of Troy and whatever that really special sparkle is that all Scandinavian music has. It comes as no surprise at all that it is the latest signing to Norway’s legendary Fysisk Format label. It’s unpredictable, fulfilling and outrageously powerful! It has literally been on repeat for 3 days now and I am no where close to being bored with it.
10. Warpaint – Warpaint
My Wife is a long term fan of this band, I admit I was pretty ignorant to their work before she directed my attention to them. They had been one of those bands I had noticed in passing but for some reason never focused enough attention to. What a nob I turned out to be. This album is flawless! Whatever the genre of it is, this band have become that genre. They are well polished masters of their craft and this record is true justice to their collective creativity. I had the pleasure of catching them live in February with my newly pregnated [that’s totally a word…] wife and brother and what an experience it was! They are true professionals with jaw-dropping, effortless technical ability.
9. John Luther Adams – Become Ocean (single)
The best 42 minute single I have ever heard – period. This year I have experienced a few musical revolutions and gained some pretty intense new loves. Ambient/drone based orchestral music is one of them. This is heavily thanks to Harish Jariwala – the man behind Electronic Music Wales, fellow founder of improv/noise project Skeleton House and the producer of my bands 2014 debut EP (A Parliament of Wolves – I am a Knife With Legs). After falling in love with the Solaris album by Ben Frost and Daniel Bjarnason, eerie, soundscape stuff has been a real key focus in my music and the quest for more tunes began. I simply cannot describe this single, it’s so powerful it explains more than words ever could. I urge anyone to give it a chance, ideally at high volume in a dark room
8. Moon Relay – Moon Relay
After being a fan of The Kills for over a decade I have developed an acquired taste for drum machine loop based music. This album is certainly the best example I have heard for a long time. It has the beautiful, Nordic compositional traits that you would expect from a band hailing from Oslo. The production is eye wateringly superior to most other things I have heard this year. Were this a competition for awesome song titles, this album would be top of the chart. It is a mesmerising psych-krautrock hypnosis of effects, noise and rhythmical discordance. It is one of the latest signings to legendary Norwegian Label Fysisk Format and with one listen, you can certainly tell why.
7. Bearcubbin’ – Girls With Fun Haircuts
Loop station orientated bands have ascended to dizzying heights in recent years. Displaying the incomprehensible technical ability of the stereotypical, 1950’s housewife at both their hands and feet. This album has set the bar to an all time high both in technical competence of the musicians and in quality of composition. It doesn’t just sound like a Total Guitar instructional CD. It’s real, enjoyable music for anyone with a half decent ear. Creating such an outstanding release is why this rad band is in my most loved albums of the year.
6. AK/DK – Synth + Drums + Noise + Space
Last year some of my closest friends and I went to Meadowlands festival on my stag party. I chose this event purely because AK/DK were playing. After a hard day of drinking off a 19 tonne hang over we hit the tent just as they started their set. I was in the market for a front row view so I set about carelessly shoving adolescent heads out of my bloody way so I could obtain my spot. I was in an evident state of excessive intoxication which served as instant amusement for Ed and G, the dynamic duo behind the title. By the end of the set I was on stage, helping them give out badges and spent the rest of the weekend hanging out with them. In short, this band are AWESOME! They challenge the 21st century etiquette and convention of making things easy in music. And they have done it with grace and charm. The new album is a true and honest reflection of that. It’s a killer.
5. Black Art – Full Lungs, Empty Words EP
Oh my boys. How I love you. These Foresters are the hardest working and most talented collaborative I know. Their work ethic is incomparable and their sheer ability to churn out Boss-quality jams at a lightning fast rate is other-worldly. This release is an extension and beautiful evolution of their individual sound. Like their deep hearts, they wear their influences proudly on their sleeve without being victims of the carbon copy culture that plagues UK punk and hardcore. Basically, they are better than anyone else on the circuit. Their meticulous compositional detail and humble craftsmanship has always paid off. Teamed with adequately utopian production, this EP is the perfect example of the pissed, stinking monster that is Black Art from the Forest of Dean.
4. Kamikaze a Go Go – Creatures of Habit
I waited 2 years for this album and I am by no means afraid to admit that when it was finally released in September I shed a tear of overwhelming joy. And did it ever live up to expectation. After a Mammoth 3 year ordeal I am moving to Norway in January because of the music scene and surrounding culture. This album is a perfect example of why. My musical heart is with what I call “traditional Post-Hardcore”, something that the Norwegians tend to do completely individually. It is no exaggeration to state that this album is really up there as a milestone with Relationship of Command, All Roads to Fault or Maelstrom. However like all short-lived master pieces, it is littered with tragedy. Guest vocalist Ståle Sntzl Brauten passed away last year. Drummer and founding member Morten Rydland Høyning died unexpectedly this year, just prior to the release. I can’t help but put this album on a sentimental pedestal. It ticks all boxes for me.
3. Sinoia Caves – Behind the Black Rainbow (Soundtrack)
Soundtrack/AV compositions have been my main focus and interest this year. My brother sent me a link to this album one November evening. One minute into the first track and I was genuinely wishing I had written it. This is the perfect trophy piece for my eternal “analog sounds better” argument. After discovering that Jeremy Schmidt, Black Mountains synth wizard is the creative force behind this solo project, you can certainly understand why it is so well composed, arranged and recorded. As far as a fair musical comparison goes, I could only describe it as John Bonham jamming with Popol Vuh (just check out the first track). Although Behind the Black Mountain, the film that this was scored for was released in 2010, the soundtrack was released this year. In the short time that I have been immersed within its power, it has provided a great influence on my own work. A must hear for any experimental electronic music enthusiast.
2. Ben Frost – AURORA
My most paramount musical discovery of 2014. How and why I have not picked up on this genius before I will never know. If I start gobbing about this album I will never stop. Just listen to it!
1.’68 – In Humor & Sadness
I reviewed this album upon request for Circuit Sweet earlier this year. I have listened to it in its entirety most days since. No joke. About a year ago I was catching up with my long term friend Joe Kibble from Black Art at their annual Christmas gig. He mentioned that Josh Scogin had a new 2 piece project that I would probably like. The very next day I investigated this tip off and my obsession started. If a third Waynes World movie was ever made, this album could be the soundtrack, it’s pure party time! And it sure is EXCELLENT! To say that I am a fan of this band would be an understatement bordering on insult. I adore them.
The best show I have played this year.
Last year I had the pleasure of meeting Mr Hervé Girardin. A Swiss, jazz educated musical genius and professional purveyor of the fine, British art that is sarcasm. This year he has been composing and recording a solo album under the stage name Nevsky Perspective. I was honoured that he chose myself as one of his session musicians when he was arranging his live ensemble for the project, along side the entity that is Joel Sinclair aka Loftmind. Only this month we played a live/studio session in the chill out room in Cardiff’s Spit and Sawdust skatepark. It was an emotional event for me as I have had the time of my life as part of this trio and it would be my last performance with them due to my international relocation for January 2015. It was absolutely freezing, I don’t think I have ever performed at such a disgusting temperature. What an fun performance though!
The best gig I have attended
’68 at Static Bar in Swansea. I had the pleasure of interviewing and hanging out with the ’68 guys before the show and met up with my long lost amigo, Luke Lockyer – manager of Stars & Flights and the man behind Ghoulish Records. ’68 certainly left an impression with me! They provide a very, very impressive performance!
Highlights of my year
I sired my good wife, leading to the birth of our first child in September. In January I did an AV collaboration with some fellow University of South Wales students from the Photo Art course at Greygnog House in mid Wales. Our exhibition was a success and our project was used to represent the university for an external examination – not bad for a first year effort. Last week, whilst in a traffic jam I peered down onto the bypass below to see a seemingly somewhat intoxicated gentleman screaming at the ground and shoeing a bush in, on the side of the dual carriageway in Newport. That was pretty rad. And finally, alongside the work of Oli Montez, together we released our first debut EP under our moniker, A Parliament Of Wolves. That was awesome.
Bands to watch for 2015
Nevsky Perspective. It has been an absolute honour to have provided my performance services for this project this year. The album versions of the songs are beyond incredible. I understand the record is due to be released on Swiss label Humus Records and will be available in the UK sometime next year. Trust a brother, it’s rad!
Plans for 2015
I am moving to Oslo, Norway in pursuit of my passion for Norwegian music and culture. I am going to study as hard as I can and try to immerse myself within the scene as much as possible. We are going to work on a follow up release with A Parliament of Wolves and hopefully tour it in the summer. I have had some pretty nice enquiries for session work so I will see where the wind takes me with that. Ideally I would like to play some guitar! All I seem to have done this year is dick about with drum machines and synthesizers. It’s going to be a busy year and I am looking forward to it!
A huge thank you to Simon, who will be landing in Norway shortly so expect some Oslo live gig reviews soon! We love you dude!