Kevin’s Music Reviews: Top Trending Albums of the New Year

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Two-thousand fourteen is just a wee baby still, but there’s no shortage of good tunes to be heard. This week I’ll be sharing some recent/new albums that are kind of a big deal at the moment or stuff that isn’t so much a big deal that is still worth checking out.

Alcest – Shelter
An album to hold on to until the snow begins to melt, Alcest’s latest offering Shelter sees him eschewing the black metal component of his sound in favor of a deliciously breezy shoegaze approach. Glowing and warm in a way that’s closer to Sigur Ros than Burzum, Shelter is shining with the same bittersweet sentiments that Alcest has been expertly crafting since his debut Souvenirs d’un Autre Monde, with a heavier inclination to the “sweet” this time around. A polarizing release thus far from fans and critics alike, it’s nonetheless worth a listen.

Against Me! – Transgender Dysphoria Blues
Folk-punk group Against Me! have for you a personal journey through singer Laura Jane Grace (born Tom Gabel), and her struggles growing up knowing she was born in a wrongly-gendered body and her recent gender-reassignment operation. Playing with Barbies growing up, harassment at school and society’s tendency to be intolerable and heartless are all chronicled here in this aggressive, emotionally-charged gem of an album.

Actress – Ghettoville
Set to be released on the 28th of January, London electronic producer Darren Cunningham plans his latest LP Ghettoville to be the grand finale under the Actress alias. According to a press release, the album is designed as a sequel of sorts to his 2008 album Hazyville. If that’s an indication of anything, it’s that we can expect Ghettoville to be a deliciously dark, minimal soundscape that’ll give IDM fans something good to gnaw on for the first chunk of 2014.

New Dreams Ltd. Initiation Tape – Isle of Avalon Edition
Vaporwave is a funny little genre that has made a flash in the pan at the start of the new decade, drawing influence from everywhere from hotel lobbies to early-day Sega Dreamcast games. Some are saying the genre has already died a while ago, but many music “corporations” (read: artists) continue to quietly churn out their personal take on the chopped-and-screwed/elevator jams trend. Vekroid, a key player in the vaporwave movement, who works under spearhead monikers such as Macintosh Plus, Prismcorp Virtual Enterprises, and 情報デスクVIRTUAL, kicks off the new year with some fresh material under the alias New Dreams Ltd. Initiation Tape. Ise of Avalon Edition, as it’s called, is an entity that does little more than perpetuate the life of this niche genre for adoring fans, but simultaneously yields a little bit of everything the genre has put on offer thus far, like a summary album, if you would. The album can be downloaded for free off of Vektroid’s bandcamp page here.

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