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2014 Year End Best Of

Minion Name:

Well, here i am. Another year end wrap-up for this site. 2014 was not the best year for EvilSponge, truth be told.

Most of the staff have headed into their own lives. Indoor Miner now has a blossoming music career. Malimus has a job that has him travelling across the globe. Inspector Jason spends a lot of time running very long distances. Tracers is an executive with very little time away from the office.

And i, well, i spend too much time around screaming children nowadays. To be honest, when i am not with them i often enjoy sitting in blissful silence, the promotional emails piling up in the inbox. Silence can be a gift, you know?

The presence of those little people in my life also means i am distracted from this website. In 2014 i spent more time eating at pizza joints than going to shows and spent more time hearing about Minecraft than discussing music. That's a pretty accurate summary of my year.

Although in general i approve of the changes that have happened in my life, i admit to missing music. I miss going out to shows and spending time in record stores, searching for that next new sound that will thrill me. And i miss writing reviews.

2014 was the year that Real Life overwhelmed EvilSponge. Will we survive another year? I certainly hope so, and i plan to work harder at this site. But we'll see what happens.

Life does, in fact, get in the way.

I didn't really make it to very many shows this year, and the only film i saw in the theaters was The Lego Movie, which both i and the little people in my life enjoyed. So i am only going to discuss some records and books that i enjoyed this year.

  1. Warpaint by Warpaint.
    Definitely the album i listened to the most this year. This is simply gorgeous and rich, with lots of interesting things going on. Warpaint continues to impress.

  2. Heartbeats by Steffaloo.
    This came out towards the very end of 2013, but i didn't really have a chance to get into it until after year end lists for that year were done. This probably should have been towards the top of the 2013 list. Itís a very diverse album, with Steffaloo collaborating with several different producers, who each take her voice and run with it in a different direction. There is so much to like here.

  3. So Happy Itís Sad by Spirits and the Melchizedek Children.
    One of my personal accomplishments for 2014 is that i can now spell Melchizedek without having to think about it, and i also know what the term means! Esoteric religious concepts aside, this is a gorgeous album. This local band makes music that is, simply, beautiful.

  4. Run The Jewels 2 by Run the Jewels.
    I listen to a lot of diverse stuff, including hip-hop. That genre is so well covered on the Internet that i don't feel that i need to review it, and to be honest, most of it these days is generic, mass-produced pop bullshit. But Run the Jewels is different. You see, Killer Mike rhymes wisdom, making deep thoughts over a catchy beat, then following it up by talking about how he likes to get high. When this act is on, as they often are, they are one of the best acts out there right now, period. Plus, the record is free, so what the hell are you waiting for?

  5. Say Yes to Love by Perfect Pussy.
    Look, an honest to goodness SxSW buzz band on an EvilSponge end of the year list! Wow, i really must be off my gameÖ But still, this is a short, noisy, fun record. I like what this band is doing, even if Googling the name will get me in trouble with the Internet Security team at my office.

  6. Glow and Behold by Yuck.
    This came out in the fall of last year, but i only heard of this band in spring of 2014 when i came across their cover of a New Order song. A little while later, or about a year after the record came out, i came across a copy and picked it up. Wow. This band makes amazingly catchy new wave influenced indie pop. Where have Yuck been all my life?

  7. Am I Vertical? by The Callas.
    Another 2013 album that i did not get into until early this year. It was the soundtrack to the early summer for me, the repetitive rhythms and strange accents blaring when the weather turned from Simmer to Broil here in the South. Catchy and fun.

  8. Easy Pain by Young Widows.
    Kentuckian punk-metal makes me happy. I should have gone to see these guys just before Memorial Day. Oh well.

  9. Beauty & Ruin by Bon Mould.
    I have been listening to Bob for a long time, but i thought he kind of lost the plot with that album where he played over disco beats. Well, this is the old Bob back to us, playing silly pop songs over roaring guitar and thunderous drums. The best Bob album since Copper Blue, in my opinion.

  10. Fifteen Quiet Years by Rodan.
    This is a compilation of older music that was released in the middle of 2013 by a band that has not existed for a dozen or more years, but i still say that it counts for my Best of 2014 list, so bite me. This is math-rock done the right way. Just go and listen to it.

  11. Atomos by A Winged Victory for the Sullen.
    Stars of the Lid plus Devics equals a hell of great ambient project. There is a lot of absorb here, but itís worth it. This duo are doing things no one else has thought of yet.

  12. Flourish // Perish by Braids.
    I continue to enjoy this band, and this is a scattered, bizarre record that takes weird twists and turns. I love that they keep the listener on their toes.

  13. Shriek by Wye Oak.
    This is catchy, not as good as their previous record, but still a damned fine pop album.

I might not have really gone to shows of movies, but i do sit around and read a lot. This is the fiction that i enjoyed most this year.

  1. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman.
    Gaiman's latest is a lovely retelling of old folk tales, with monsters and powerful witches. A fun read.

  2. Parasite by Mira Grant.
    This is a fast paced creepy thriller about biotech run amok. I can't wait for the sequel, which comes out shortly.

  3. Firebird / Coming Home by Jack McDevitt.
    One of the best authors of space opera mysteries, it is always a pleasure to read McDevitt. Firebird is slightly older, but Coming Home came out in the fall. Two Alex and Chase novels in one year! Yay.

  4. Lens of the World / King of the Dead / Belly of the Wolf by R.A. MacAvoy.
    This is an older trilogy that i revisited this year. It revolves around the adventures of the multiethnic dwarf Nazhuret and his attempts to prevent three separate wars. The last book feels a little forced, but they are all good reads.

  5. The House of Rumour by Jake Arnott.
    This is an odd book, and i am not totally certain what it is about. Something to do with Anton LeVay and Rudolf Hess, but the tale is confusing and odd. It reads great though, the prose really flying off the page.

  6. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson.
    So i'm a little late with this one, but it is a thrilling book, albeit with much creepy description of man's inhumanity to his fellow man.

  7. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad.
    A book which has actually inspired a lot of music (My Latest Novel, Pere Ubu) as well as great cinema (Apocalypse Now). It was a fascinating read.

  8. Saga, volumes 1 and 2 by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples.
    This is a really neat graphic novel series about a brutal and long-running interstellar war, and two people who try to break free from it.

  9. The Land Across by Gene Wolfe.
    This was fun to read, even if it was confusing at times. It tells the story of a travel writer who gets waylaid in a former communist country. Interesting.

  10. Lock In by John Scalzi.
    The latest Scalzi novel is, like all of his work, fun to read. A sci-fi mystery novel involving people with robotic bodies.

  11. Last Plane to Heaven by Jay Lake.
    This is the final book by Lake, who died of colon cancer in June of this year. He wrote stories that were often weird and kooky and had a bizarre logic to them, and although some of the stories in this collection are weaker than others, it is still a great read. Lake will be missed.
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