Top 11 Overlooked Dark Horse, More-of-Everything-Else, Future Classics 2014

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Below, please find an additional list of albums which were perhaps unjustly overlooked by a great number of folks, but will undoubtedly be investigated and talked about for years to come. Some are personal favorites, some are last minute fleaflicker moves by record labels. However, all are equally worthy of being recognized and talked about.

Do everyone a favor and add your personal favorites to the list for everyone’s enlightenment and enjoyment.

And have a great New Year listening to, discovering and sharing your own Dark Horse favorites.

1. Jane Weaver – The Silver Globe (Bird)

Sexy, mature, smart, downtempo electronic psych-folk, The Silver Globe feels like some musical equivalent of a CGI Britt Ekland taking a selfie in front of The Wicker Man in an episode of Black Mirror.

2. Secret Circuit – Cosmic Vibrations (Emotional Response) 

Eddie Ruscha’s latest full-length release as Secret Circuit is a super wavy head trip, totally in keeping with his previous work. But, he’s buffed and shined the lo-fi sonics giving this album a sinewy, self-assured feel that feels new.

Like how Tyler Durden IS Floyd too tho…knowwhatimean?

3. Various ArtistsChef OST (Milan)

Full disclosure: I love the dude who compiled this soundtrack. (Editor’s Note: It’s KCRW DJ Mathieu Schreyer!)

But that’s a whole other …whatever. Point is, Jon Favreau’s Roy Choi inspired Cinderella story is an awesome, modern, Jimmy Stewart-ish heartfelt family/food comedy (is that a thing?) that truly soars, in no small part, due to the pitch perfect soundtrack. It should get Grammys and Oscars…but it prolly won’t because…Hollywood. I dunno.

Regardless, everyone should have a copy of this because it has BOTH El Micheals Affair cover of “C.R.E.A.M.” AND one of my most favorite Fania Salsa jams, Roberto Roena’s “Que Se Sepa” so…

4. Jokers of the Scene – End Scene (Throne of Blood)

Full disclosure: I also love these dudes. Even though they’re Canadian. I keed.

JOTS generally/regularly/historically, don’t get enough shine in my humble opinion. “End Scene” in particular is a perfect example. They put out a fantastic album of smart, cinematic, moody head music instead of some kind of obvious body music. This is perplexing to some perhaps but it doesn’t make it any less impressive.

5. Roman Flügel – Happiness is Happiness (Dial)

Flugel’s album plays like an autobiographical This Is Your Life of music.

Each of the tracks visiting, almost chronologically, sounds and styles of eras. From ambience to Kraftwork-esque technopop to slow acidic Weatherall-esque chug to sparkling House, Flugel explores it all with the ecstatic abandon of kid in a high chair with both hands in a chocolate cake.

6. Young Marco – Biology (ESP Institute)

A woozy, beautiful debut album, Biology is exceedingly mature for young Young Marco. In a dance music climate that thrives on BIGNESS, the Dutch DJ/Producer has a deliberately intimate sound. Thoughtful, ambient, melodic slow House which will be fetishized by future generations.

7. White Fence – For The Recently Found Innocent (Drag City)

Admittedly, I’m a sucker for the jangle. And White Fence’s garage-psych jangles like a mother. 40 Minutes of finely tuned kaleidoscopic British Invasion Nuggets vibes in a tightly wound superball of paisley neckerchiefs, incense and peppermints.

8. Shocking Pinks – Guilt Mirrors (Stars & Letters)

Kiwi dude Nick Harte’s Shocking Pinks’ is probably an acquired taste. I dunno exactly because it’s a taste I’ve always been super into.

C86-esque indie-pop with hints of electronic flourishes and infinitely glum lyrics about death, loneliness and desire. I mean, c’mon? How not?

After almost 7 years of radio silence, following a stunning DFA Records album, Harte suddenly appeared this year with a triple album on Brooklyn’s Stars & Letters. It’s a lot, but rewarding as some of these songs are some of the most haunted and hauntingly pretty tracks I’ve heard in 2014.

9. Clark – Clark (Warp)

Chris Clark is on a tear, releasing a new album every couple of years for almost a decade. Although that might not sound like a big deal…the staggering complexity and obvious care he puts into every single production sounds like each one could’ve taken months to perfect. Just listen to his 2006 track “Ted“.

This year, he released his first eponymous album and it’s a melodic, chromatic, skittering wonder. Living in the shadow of Syro couldn’t have been an easy way to go this year…but, assuredly, Clark is Warp’s perfect son.

10. Theo Parrish – American Intelligence (Sound Signature)

As uniquely American an artistic creation/creator as Art Blakey, Miles Davis, Stevie Wonder or Lil Louis, there is no one and never will be anyone else quite like Theo Parrish.

His DJ sets are facemelting events where Parrish is hunched over the mixer surgically remixing his mix in real time making you aware of the possibilities of every range in the mix.

Parrish skirts and visits the edges of Jazz, Soul, Techno and House and the result is a bona fide revelation. Released at the end of this all too harrowing year in America, his latest full length, American Intelligence is right on time.

This the sound of watching a high floating sledgehammer move across an empty warehouse room, only to realize there’s a shimmering blue butterfly at the end of it carrying it, looking for a place to lay it down.

11. D’Angelo – Black Messiah (RCA)

In an arguably unprecedented 11th hour move, R&B enigma/superstar D’Angelo released his first album in over 14 years early this week.

Slated to be his return in 2015, the timeliness of D’Angelo’s truly devastating lyrics prompted RCA to put it out early, thankfully. Black Messiah is equal parts soulful sensual proclamation of virility and uncompromising social commentary about what it is like to be a Black man in America in the early 21st Century.

The power of the album comes from it’s ability to disarm the listener completely without warning. For example mesmerizing album stand out, The Charade, where over a sumptuous perfect Princely Paisley Park groove, D’Angelo declares “All we wanted was the chance to talk, ‘stead we only got outlined in chalk.”

It is a devastating gut punch disguised as a kiss.

This resonates with prescient truth and is about a perfect a portrait of the state of things as one couldn’t have possibly imagined as we watch millions of people walk the winter streets of New York in protest of years of frustrated acceptance of injustice. This is exactly now.