Mr. Gnome- "The Heart of a Dark Star"
Singer-guitarist Nicole Barille and drummer-pianist Sam Meister aren't the first married couple in recent memory to craft blissful pop tunes (see: Tennis, Mates of State), but their work as Mr. Gnome might be the oddest on that list. Their fourth album, "The Heart of a Dark Star," maintains a high-octane energy throughout its forty minutes.
By blending bubblegum melodies with Barille's layered vocals and a flurry of sounds both familiar and experimental, "The Heart of a Dark Star" is one of 2014's most memorable end-of-year records.
Johnny Marr- “Playland”
“Playland,” the second solo album from Johnny Marr, arrives 30 years after the debut LP of his former band The Smiths, yet his guitar prowess shows no signs of slowing down; of course, when Fender names a guitar after you, we wouldn’t expect that to happen anyway.
As with last year’s “The Messenger,” Marr is again eager to take the vocal and songwriting spotlight after decades playing second fiddle in post-Smiths acts like Modest Mouse, Electronic and The The. “Easy Money” is Marr’s latest attempt at an infectious guitar pop hit, but “Playland” is also rife with songs in the post-punk mold for which he is known, like “Candidate” and “25 Hours.”
Wax Tailor- "Phonovisions Symphonic Orchestra"
Wax Tailor's latest is a celebration of the French trip-hop producer's 20th anniversary in music and 10th anniversary of his first release. It's a party of sizable proportions: a two-CD and DVD recording of his performance in Lille, France with a symphony orchestra over two days last May.
"Phonovisions Symphonic Orchestra" certainly shows off the Wax Tailor's formidable DJ scratching chops, but he works to incorporate the classical music talent of his accompanying musicians by including pieces from Edvard Grieg's "Peer Gynt."