i try to keep MFOA as different from your typical 'music blog' as i possibly can, which in the past three year-endings of it's existence, has meant ignoring the tradition of the year end round up of 'best' albums. i covered over 250 great artists this year and in an ideal world you would be listening to all of them and they would all be making a living doing what they love and feel passionate about. but that isn't the world we live in. anyway, this has been hands down MFOA's biggest year, and for that i thank everyone who visits the site, shares the links, buys/downloads the music, and especially all the musicians who send me their work. so, below are some of my most recommended albums from the past year of submissions, in no particular order.
-steve palmer - the unblinking sun-
in a year that was full of releases floating around the genre 'american primitive' (there will be more in this round up!), this was my favorite. at times contemplative, at times mind-blowing, heavy and psychedelic, steve palmer's 'the unblinking sun' combines influences of kraut rock and psych with the fahey-isms and in the process expands the possibilities of this resurgent genre. get it on cassette or digitally from dying for bad music records.
-buck gooter - the spider's eyes-
there is little i can say about harrisonburg, virginia's resident industrial blues demons buck gooter that henry rollins hasn't already. i love these guys and their band and i think that any other band calling itself 'punk' should probably be ashamed. 'the spider's eyes' is a pummeling, cathartic trip that is not afraid to confront the ills of the world head on, both sonically and lyrically. i did an interview here on MFOA with billy of buck gooter recently. get 'the spider's eyes' on sophomore lounge records or feeding tube records.
-nate henricks - apple juice-
nate henricks is a master of bedroom power-psych-pop. his latest album, 'apple juice', builds on his excellent 'neon for no one' (also from this year) with masterful pop melodies buried in weirdness and moments of heaviness that will rattle your bong. get it digitally here.
-pc worship - social rust-
pc worship did not submit 'social rust' to MFOA; this dark, free jazz inflected art-grunge record was coming out of the gate with love from major indie-rock publications. however, i have been posting about pc worship since the beginning of this spot and this record is among their best. 'social rust' shows another step in the progression of pc worship and their mastermind justin frye from freak-folk/improvisational noise collective to 'mutant soul' punk jam band to taught, pounding modern art-rock that sounds like this minute. get it on northern spy records or dull tools records.
-sarah louise - field guide-
north carolinian guitarist sarah louise released another one of my favorite american primitive/guitar soli albums of the year. 'field guide' is a meditative record that carries the musical genes of the hills and hollers of the appalachian mountains in which it was recorded. what made this album stand out sharply for me are the numbers where sarah sings...haunting, droning, dirge like renditions of traditional appalachian hymns that seem to hang in the air like a thick fog in the smoky mountains. get it here. 'field guide' will also be released on cassette sometime in early 2015 on scissor tail editions.
-jay satellite - a record-
the bay area mc formerly known as satellite high put out what i think is his best album yet this year in the form of 'a record'. the album builds on developments from the final satellite high release, including innovative production, recorded bedroom-style with organic instruments, a lot of non-drum kit percussion, and influences varying from prog-rock to metal to ambient, noise and drone. not to mention his agile flow and sharply witty, deeply introspective lyrics that inhabit the atmospheric music fully. get it digitally here.
-dead professional - hard hard hard-
dead professional has grown this year, from a one-man-band to a power trio, and they have released a long awaited EP, 'hard hard hard', the desire for which has been built through a workmanlike live schedule, including opening slots for the likes of ryan adams and bobby bare junior. this is power-pop that effortlessly blends the british wit and coolness of classic period stiff records with the warmth and heart of 1970's american songwriting in the vein of tom petty and bruce springsteen. get the EP here.
-c.m. slenko - moonlight veneration-
i love the approach over at sioux trails records, if i've said it once i've said it a million times, they are fellow travelers. my favorite release over there this year was c.m. slenko's 'moonlight veneration', an atmospheric album of acoustic and electric guitar soundscapes that sounds like it's title. a hazy, mystical dream throughout. get it here.
-salvaticus - hidden mana-
i don't get all that much metal through my figurative door, but i am glad when i do. 'hidden mana' by virginia's salvaticus is a crusty, hill country, black metal bludgeoning. long form, norway-by-way-of-appalachia-sounding compositions that at times settle into moments of acoustic serenity before revving up again to blast the fuck out of you. in terms of the black metal genre, salvaticus manages to bridge the gap between technical prowess and atmospheric gloom. get it on CD on lost apparition records or on cassette on eternal reign records, or digitally right here.
-daniel sage - wildlife-
'wildlife' by daniel sage is a mature sounding debut release, auteur power-pop and song craft with some rougher psyched out edges that seem to owe a debt of influence to the big muff pop-rock of the 90's. i also hear echoes of one of my favorite records, big star's 'third' in some of the pockets of controlled chaos, which makes sense, as 'wildlife' was recorded at the legendary ardent studios in memphis, tennessee. despite that fact, it remains a self-released effort. name your price for it here.
well, that's ten. making a list like this was hard. this is as close to any 'curation' you might ever see here. i could do a top fifty, but i don't get paid for this. you should listen to all wonderful homemade music i post here, and if you hear something you like, support the artist.