4. Crying - Get Olde // Second Wind
(November 2014 Run For Cover)
What is arguably the most unique inclusion in my top 10 list is also perhaps the most accessible: ecstatic chiptune melodies frosted like sugary icing atop twee-pop tunes that lie somewhere between the kawaii-punk spirit of Tiger Trap and Belle and Sebastian's cozy melancholia. Crying's debut double-EP, released in two installments over the course of the year, is consistently satisfying and addictively catchy, its breezy instrumentals pairing perfectly with Elaiza Santos' nearly spoken-word vocal delivery. Capturing the upbeat sense of fanfare that might be injected into an anime's opening theme, Get Olde // Second Wind is full of hopeful energy, making for a refreshing and fun listen.
3. seventeen years - runner
(May 2014 Self-Released)
The distortion-laden spawn of My Bloody Valentine and Pinback, runner is a noisy outlier in the discography of Kansas City-based solo act Seventeen Years, but it is also the project's most engrossing release to date, a synthesis of scattered ideas, all sprinkled with chorus effect and laden with reverb. The music on the LP lacks cohesion, but in a way that does not detract from the listening experience; rather, it guides the listener along. Its patchwork construction becomes its aesthetic, in the vein of Guided By Voices' Alien Lanes. Over the course of the album, you'll move from the writhing post-punk slither of "Pool Song" to fibrous guitaristy on "Lyrae", more than a little reminiscent of American Football. "Blue Cross" is a sleek bit of pop, its warped and whispery vocals carried by layers of choral guitar, while "Cassie" basks in its lo-fi glory, its baroque arrangements intensely downcast and riveting.
2. Perfect Pussy - Say Yes To Love
(March 2014 Captured Tracks)
Though missing just a bit of the primal aggression tucked into last year's explosive demo tape, Perfect Pussy's 2014 debut is a brief, volatile and beautiful effort, harnessing shoegazy atmospherics and running them through a gauntlet of punishing percussion, howling feedback and the menacing crunch of Meredith Graves' distorted vocal delivery. The violent surge of "Driver" echoes the streamlined punk ethos of early hardcore acts like Bad Brains and Minor Threat, while tracks like "Interference Fits" bring a more avant-garde twist to the genre. Just barely over 15 minutes in length, Perfect Pussy crams as much ferocity and catchiness as possible into a small digestible portion.