The Iceberg Tip Sheet: The Best of 2014
With the Winter holidays looming, CD Baby is offering fans of independent music a great deal: one cent shipping on all CDs purchased on Cyber Monday or the two days after. What a great way to wrap up 2014, a year when CD Baby drastically grew revenue streams by the millions for independent artists as its YouTube monetization program (CD Baby Sync) and publishing service (CD Baby Pro) really took hold. During this same year, CD Baby announced a 12% increase in physical sales!
To celebrate our final Iceberg album tip sheet of the year and the Cyber Monday deal, here’s the cream of the releases distributed by CD Baby this year. Many you’ll know; some might have slipped under the radar. But all are worth your attention, especially with one-cent shipping… which simply means more sales for independent artists.
Aan, Amor Ad Nauseum
Three years in the making, strong elements of soul mixed with songwriting that takes strange, enticing turns. Imagine a cross between the loudest Animal Collective songs and the quietest Big Black songs.
Acid Baby Jesus, Selected Recordings
Acid Baby Jesus purvey their highly twisted brand of psychedelic primitivism mixed with the folk history of their homeland, the solos lysergically stretched to breaking point and dazed in reverb. It’s what psychedelia was intended to do.
Gordon Ashworth, S.T.L.A.
Compositions that blur the lines between the soft melodies of folk and the abstractions of musique concrete, everything textured by the field recordings Ashworth made working as a cab driver.
Their most ambitious outing yet, brought to life by 180 musicians, including the powerful beat of 10 percussionists, a compelling choir of 80 voices and the commanding force of a 90-piece orchestra.
These film composers gave 17 of their most identifiable pieces to their favorite remixers and gave them a free hand to reconstruct the music exactly as they wanted. The results? Stunning, beautiful, even scary.
Willis Earl Beal, Experiments in Time
Beal made news by walking away from his record label deal to release his own work, and this strips away the record business makeover gloss to return to the sound that first captured attention.
Black Milk, If There’s A Hell Below
Elegant samples and rhythms that startle and mix with a rapid delivery and a positive message, Black Milk once again lays a blueprint for others to follow, while he stays ahead of the game.
Julie Byrne, Rooms With Walls And Windows
Truthful, simple music, built by a clearly expert hand – a whole world visible through the shades of perfectly arranged guitar and vocals, like the love child of Leonard Cohen and Vashti Bunyan.
Byrne and Kelly, Live in Australia
Plenty of Irish favorites to build on the success of their hit debut, showing the pair to be just as strong in front of an audience as they are in the studio.
Cataldo, Gilded Oldies
A paradox. The music here is more accessible than Cataldo’s earlier work, but the lyrics are much darker, exploring the gulf that separates expectations from reality.
Chaos Chaos, Committed To The Crime
Seattle duo Chaos Chaos offers a glittering exploration of electro-pop and hip-hop. Memorable melodies and hooks that tug at the brain, dance-floor friendly, big yet still intimate and glossy without coming close to slick.
Jeff Coffin and the Mu’tet, Side Up
The Mu’tet’s sixth outing of mutated music won’t fit into a pigeonhole in its journey around the fringes of music. Unifying and often mesmerizingly beautiful.
Dead Conspiracy, Abomination Underground
The welcome return of Portland’s first-ever, death-metal band, this vinyl release brings together the old – their original 1987 demo – and the brand new.
Escort, If You Say So
The follow-up to their Chameleon single is dynamic, ambitious, and danceable, as a jumping-off point for their own voyage across the ballroom that loves the past but looks very clearly to the future.
Faded Paper Figures, Relics
Electro-synth trio Faded Paper Figures have never tried to be a typical band. Since 2008 they’ve lived and worked bi-coastally, bringing in sitars, old analog synths, and an intensity of expression.
Mary Gauthier, Trouble & Love
Gauthier’s first studio release in more than four years includes her recording of “How You Learn to Live Alone,” a co-write with Gretchen Peters for the hit ABC show Nashville.
Ghost Owl, Say Goodbye to Finland
This debut album from Ghost Owl offers a mix of concise arrangements and futuristic soundscapes that bring to mind the best British musical innovators, from Pink Floyd to Doves to Radiohead.
Saúl Hernández, Mortal
Half-studio, half-live, this album tells its stories by juxtaposing the everyday and the magical, a soundtrack to the walk we all take through life.
Lovelife, Feel EP
2014 has been good for Lovelife, the band that splits its time between Brooklyn and London. The new EP features “Your New Beloved,” a pair of new songs and one track from their previous release, Stateless.
Aimee Mann “I’m Cured” – Single
“I’m Cured” is a love song, but a twisted one, sung by Aimee Mann as the common cold to the man who invented the cure. The whole project benefits the One Kid One World Foundation.
Charlotte Martin, Water Breaks Stone
Praised by Details magazine as “a born storyteller and affecting vocalist,” the ninth album from the California singer-songwriter is the release to catapult her to the major artist category.
OCD: Moosh & Twist, Living Out Loud
The debut commercial release from the Philadelphia duo known for their unique brand of hip-hop, with its lightning-fast rhymes, always full of wit and classic, feel-good production style.
Neal Morgan, Neal Morgan
Intimate music for drum and voice that manages to catch the fine balance between challenging and irresistibly catchy, with lyrics to all the songs are spoken, rather than sung.
Nicholas Payton, Numbers
Payton sticks mostly to Fender Rhodes on this outing, with only a few flourishes of the horn, to make what he calls “the hippest, funkiest Play-A-Long album that's ever been documented.”.
Haley Pharo, Haley Pharo
Pharo has recorded with Michael Jackson and will.i.am. Her debut, a collection of pop, rock, and dance music, contains nine powerful, confessional, and infectious pop gems.
Grammy-winning East L.A. Chicano rock band Quetzal returns with a look at the world through the eyes of the animals, with cumbia roosters and bossa nova squirrels.
Mike Sempert, Mid Dream
The former frontman for Birds & Batteries, Sempert brings an intimacy to his music that can swell to the epic while still retaining the feel of a conversation with a friend.
Shook Twins, What We Do
The Portland duo are longtime fixtures on the folk and roots scene, and move up a gear with this release. Now they’re ready for the big time.
Spottiswoode and His Enemies, English Dream
English Dream has all the flavors of Anglicana, a collection that runs from the pastoral to the scary. Compared to Leonard Cohen, Nick Cave, and Tom Waits, the band is a New York institution.
Various Artists, 2776: A Millennium of American Asskickery
A skewed comedy-musical trip through America’s past, present and future this comes from the twisted minds of Rob Kutner (Conan, The Daily Show), Stephen Levinson (Comedy Central) and Joel Levinson (The Tonight Show).
Whalers, Submarine Sun
The Whalers full-length debut showcases the band’s distinctive dual-guitar attack and the remarkable voice of singer Gus Smalley. Psychedelic pop, slow burners, interweaving guitar melodies.
Work Drugs, Insurgents
Music for dancing, living, yachting and, of course, sexting. With the first vinyl pressing of their Greatest Hits album already sold out, this is a band that’s buzzing.
Miguel Zenón, Identities Are Changeable
Saxophonist Miguel Zenón goes to his own roots, looking at the cultural identity of New York-based Puerto Ricans, basing each of the compositions on conversations, and given life by a 12-piece band.