This week, Gambit looks back at 2014 in our annual year in review issue. I looked at a few of the big stories from New Orleans' year in music. Below, find a playlist of 25 of my favorite songs from New Orleans artists in 2014 and a look at some of the year's best albums - and who to look for in 2015.
Five albums you may have missed (but really shouldn't):
the bally who?
a pilferer’s patience
After I reviewed this album earlier this year, I couldn't get it out of my head. It's an imaginative, richly layered psychedelic pop-opera based on Roald Dahl's Fantastic Mr. Fox and a companion piece to Arthur Mintz's acclaimed puppet performance-installation also based on the book. (Listen to "Farmers Three" above.)
This is an addictive, lo-fi Prince- and shoegaze-influenced soul-pop EP you wish you heard sooner.
A promising debut EP from a new New Orleans punk and power-pop trio.
This two-song EP from one of Gambit's 2014 artists to watch serves as an intriguing preview for its (hopefully) 2015 full-length. (Listen to "And Again" above.)
This trio's debut is equal parts manic Deerhoof pop and punky New Orleans brass. (Listen to "Happy Birthday to the Dead" above.)
Eight of 2014's best albums:
Feathering a Nest (Community Records)
This is the most focused effort yet from the inventive guitar-and-drum duo. Click here for drummer Sean Hart's interview with Gambit. (Listen to "Stuck" above.)
"No matter how good it sounds, there’s always a thought that it could sound better, or different. I'll never feel like a drum is perfectly tuned. It may be, 'Well, that's where I'll stop for now.' And it might sound different tomorrow, or I may change it. Whenever it sounds good, we'll roll with it. Even if we had a billion dollars’ worth of equipment, we’d still be like, 'Maybe we could use a shitty guitar in there.' It gives it character."
Hurray for the Riff Raff
Small Town Heroes (ATO Records)
This is one of the most important releases of 2014 and easily the best from New Orleans. Read songwriter Alynda Lee Segarra'sinterview with Gambit here
. (Listen to "The Body Electric" above.)
"I do think there’s a lack of... I guess, cultural and political critique in music right now, unless it’s hip-hop. Hip-hop is one of the only forms that's really acting like folk music, telling the story of people’s daily struggle and what they wish the world could be like and what they wish would change. Growing up in the Bronx and being Puerto Rican, surrounded by people who listen to that music, that’s what really steeped into me. If anything, I’d love to have there be a million voices of our generation."
Eyehatehod (Housecore Records)
Heathen (Gilead Media/Howling Mine)
One's a brutal comeback album released a decade after its last album. The other is a gorgeous, ambitious double-album from Louisiana's most prolific metal band. Both include some of the best music they've ever released. (Listen to Eyehategod's "Robitussin and Rejection" above.)
Vari-Colored Songs: A Tribute to Langston Hughes
The Royal Street regular released this Haitain- and poetry-inspired folk album. Read herinterview with Gambit here
. (Listen to "When I Can See the Valley" above.)
"I knew I could make a living (here) doing this, and I could have more time exploring other things and figure out what I wanted to do, and also if I really wanted to be a musician - I'm playing on the street every day, it'll be real clear soon if I like it."
Grown Up Wrong (Inflated Records)
Louisiana natives making warm, psychedelic garage-pop, all recorded to tape. Read the band'sinterview with Gambit here
. (Listen to "Like A Dream" above.)
"I’ve always loved tape, as opposed to digital. I’m just falling deep down the hole now. It’s an instrument on its own. Digital is like a blank slate, but the tape is an instrument you play with your recording."
Floating While Dreaming
New Orleans' all-star hip-hop rookie of the year Pell - who will likely blow up in 2015 - released this impressive debut, a cloud-gazing, spaced-out album meant for your headphones. Get on the bandwagon now. (Listen to "Dollar Store" above.)
Spellcaster II: Death in Space (Pizza Burglar Records)
The Bywater maestro returns with some familiar swampy, organ-driven garage rock and a lot of synth experiments, including the weather-controlledWeather Warlock
. (Listen to "Do the Raid" above.)
Five artists in watch in 2015:
After officially signing a deal with Def Jam Digital earlier this year, this cover star of2013's class of artists to watch
has steadily released a string of videos and singles - but she's overdue for a follow up to her killer mixtapes.
Chase N. Cashe
This up-and-coming young rapper and producer has had a busy year, capped off with December's The Best There Is... He's a favorite of producer araabMuzik, who featured him on last year's "Keep in Motion" and produced this year's hard-hitting "In God's Hands." He also has an entertaining, 'round-the-clockTwitter account
The New Orleans rapper is expected to release the third installment in his name-making Pilot Talk series, but let's face it, the dude will likely release a dozen other mixtapes, which he tends to do on a whim while watching Adventure Time.
Dave Cobb (who helmed acclaimed recent albums from Jason Isbell and Sturgill Simpson) produced the New Orleans country-folk singer-songwriter's February release, Create Your Own Mythology.
The Kid Carsons
This young, country-folk family band - whether performing tributes to Townes Van Zandt and Neil Young or leading gospel sing-alongs (all in 2014) - should be on your concert calendar next year.