2014's been a HUGE year for KSPU! We had our largest Spring Concert ever in partnership with STUB's Shapadooah (s/o Pickwick, Laser Fox, and TP&TCCM!), we redesigned our website & started this blog, and we were voted as SPU's Outstanding Organization of the Year!
2015 has a lot in store for KSPU as well, but before we move forward we wanted to reflect on some of our favorite music that came out this year. Here's our staff's picks for the the top albums of 2014.
Jacob (Station Director)
- Huckleberry by Sam Lachow - Sam & his team put a lot of work into this album & it shows. The production from Sam & John Martin coupled with Sam's rhymes & energy are what makes this album stand out & translate to an awesome live show.
- Wonder Where We Land by SBTRKT - IMO, the best sounding album of 2014. My first real introduction to SBTRKT, I was entranced by his beautiful, dissonant production & hooked by his excellent selection of features (IE: Raury & Sampha).
- School Daze by Dave B & Justo - Very wavy summer music. I was excited to see a full-length drop from Dave & am always a fan of Justo's (of The Physics) production. It's a great pairing & I'm excited to see what they both do in 2015.
- Soundtrack To A Death by Mura Masa - Mura Masa is probably my favorite artist discovery I've made in 2014. I was hooked by his remix of "Who Booty" and singles from STAD. Here, he creates lush soundscapes that build and crash over you.
- G I R L by Pharrell Williams - G I R L was so catchy, I definitely overplayed it when it first came out in the spring, but it was an end-of-summer soundtrack for me (and hopefully most of the world) when I revisited it. So funky.
Honorable Mentions: Run The Jewels 2 by Run The Jewels, In Return by Odesza, Voices by Phantogram
Spencer (Broadcast Manager)
- The Night God Slept by Silent Planet - The record label debut album showcases Silent Planet's atmospheric and ambient take on metalcore. The thinking man/woman's metalcore with lyrics drawing inspiration from literature such as Fyodor Dostoevsky, Edgar Allan Poe, C.S. Lewis, "Paradise Lost", Franz Kafka, Albert Camus, Plato, and Nietzsche as well as from bands such as Thrice, UnderOath, and mewithoutyou. Topics ranging from the mistreatment of Native Americans to our personal culpability in the sex trade through the viewing pornography, this album requires introspection of its listeners. Silent Planet is a band to watch this next year. Recommended tracks: XX(City Grave), firstwake, Tiny Hands("Au Revoir").
- Slave to Nothing by Fit For A King - The third album from metalcore quintet turned quartet outfit Fit For A King shows the band's evolution as they lose a guitarist as well as replaced their clean vocalist/bassist. The band retains the heaviness and ever-so-constant breakdowns from their previous albums while balancing it more with the melodic side of their new clean vocalist, with unclean vocalist Ryan Kirby even trying a shot at cleans on the track "Forever Unbroken." They even branch out into some Linkin Park-inspired music on the track "Final Thoughts of a Dying Man." A worthy follow-up to their breakout album "Creation|Destruction", "Slave to Nothing" continues Fit For A King's rise to fame with For Today vocalist Mattie Montgomery lending his voice on the title track. Look out for them in early 2015 on the Frozen Flame Tour supporting metalcore heavyweights August Burns Red. Recommended tracks: Final Thoughts of a Dying Man, Young & Undeserving, Slave to Nothing.
- Lowborn by Anberlin - The final album from "alternative rock" band Anberlin, Lowborn is everything you want in an Anberlin album: Stephen Christian's soothing voice, Nate Young's impeccable drumming, McAlhaney and Milligan shredding those guitars, and Deon Rexroat bringing the beat on bass. It's Anberlin, it's always album of the year. Recommended tracks: ALL OF THEM, IT'S ANBERLIN YOU FOOLS.
- Rest & Let Go by The Overseer - One of the most underrated albums this year, the sophomore album from the post-hardcore quartet has The Overseer establishing themselves as a band worthy of your attention. It might take a while to warm up to, but every song on the album is great, from heavy hitter "Fragile Wings" to the soft male/female duet on "Deluded" to the more ambient "Death March" and finally ending on the social commentary, "Everyone blames but nobody's blameless...everyone's used but nobody's useless!" on "Depraved." Recommended tracks: The Structure/The Foundation, Depraved, Paper Thin Houses.
- Ixora by Copeland - The fifth album from Copeland after a 6-year hiatus has them back at the top of their game. Aaron Marsh's soothing voice blends beautifully with the piano and guitars as has come to be expected from Copeland. Described as 'ear candy,' Copeland, and specifically "Ixora" is an album that is best listened to while sitting in your biggest chair next to a quiet fire with your favorite tea cupped in both hands while rain is gently hitting the windowpane. An album that induces daydreams and the closing of eyes, "Ixora" is a beautiful album that is perfect for those days with nothing to do and nothing to care about. Recommended tracks: Erase, Chiromancer, In Her Arms You Will Never Starve
Honorable Mentions: While I Stay Secluded EP by Knuckle Puck
Kharis (Events Coordinator)
- Evergreen by Broods - I'm a sucker for brother-sister duos, and this debut album is a perfect mixture of raw, heartbreaking emotion and fun, upbeat electronic sounds.
- Post Tropical by James Vincent McMorrow - I've been a fan of JVM for a long time, but this one hit me straight in the feels, with a perfect mixture of upbeat electronic and soft, melodic acoustic. Plus, throughout the album, it pairs emotionally honest lyrics with themes from nature, expertly weaving the two until they become indistinguishable. And Mcmorrow's ethereal falsetto takes me right to heaven.
- Hozier by Hozier - Hozier's debut album has substance, lyrics hitting straight in the gut and awakening us to some very real and painful issues about LGBT rights, religion, and rape culture. But in the mix of that, he places his heart and soul, with very personal songs and a musical style that is a mixture of R&B, Southern Soul, and Black Keys-style blues, tinged with his own Irish Roots. Plus, this man has one powerful voice.
- STN MTN / Kauai by Childish Gambino - Donald Glover aka Gambino's mixtape/EP is being included on here because it's just so damn good. It's listenable in every way, bringing up nostalgia with beats from the past, and yet mixes it with simple hooks and advanced song structures and the melodic pop vibes from Kauai. Plus, Gambino is a lyrical genius, serious and intentionally comedic all at once. And not only is he a hell of a rapper, he's a good singer as well.
- Remnants by Jack Garratt - This is an album I was fairly recently introduced to, and I can't seem to stop listening to it. This sad and poignant album is Garrat's debut work, but filled with such strength, both musically and vocally, I found it hard to believe he hadn't been at this for a long time. I'm expecting a lot more greatness from him in the future!
- Borderland by John Mark McMillan
- Ars Moriendi by The Collection
- i by Kendrick Lamar
- Strange Desire by Bleachers
- Islands by Bear's Den
I know "i" is just a single, but it stands out against most albums released this year.
- Run The Jewels 2 by Run The Jewels - Killer Mike and El-P are back. Lyrically sharp with challenges to humanity and ways of thinking, this is an album that has talent and wit. RTJ2 reflects two gifted artists working together creating one of the best hip-hop albums of 2014. Already looking forward to RTJ3.
- In Return by Odesza - Odesza returns, and I might be biased considering they're Seattle natives but they deserve to be on the list. Smooth synth tones, surprising beats and vocal twists combined with the up and coming artists we know creates a rare but incredible sound. I can only hope for more singles in the coming months.
- Voices by Phantogram - Fall in love. I can't get over the combination of vocals, instrumentals and rhythm. Gritty edges, mesmerizing beats, this album is one for the year.
- Blue Film by Lo-Fang - Classically trained, Matthew Hemerlein has the talent. Dramatic swells of the violin with the perfect taste of bass and vocals with lyrics that blow you away. Watch out Sufjan Stevens! Lo-Fang is gold.
- Sylvan Esso by Sylvan Esso - A duo that's reminiscent of Purity Ring and Ratatat with a synth-pop sound that I can't get enough of. Their song Coffee is hot and fully caffeinated. Addicting beats and an original sounds make this album one of my favorites this year.
Honorable Mentions: I Never Learn by Lykke Li, LP1 by FKA Twigs, This is All Yours by Alt-J
Liz (Faculty Advisor)
- The Way by Buzzcocks - The ninth studio album from these punk survivors does not disappoint.
- Beauty & Ruin by Bob Mould - More strong guitar rock from the most genuine man in the business.
- Too True by Dum Dum Girls - Nothing stupid about the strong songwriting on this hazy record.
- Live at Ken's House by Mike Doughty - Finally the Soul Coughing songs how they were meant to be from a healthy Doughty.
- Empty Houses by Scarves - Local band showing with unique style why they deserve to go far.
Honorable Mentions: // by NAVVI