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Bryce Rudow is a freelance political/pop-culture journalist and he likes music. You can send all hatemail to [email protected] and tweet vitriol at him @brycetrudow.

Go to his website and read interesting things: BryceTaylorRudow.com

 

You know why I hate making ‘Best of the Year’ recap lists? Because I always either forget some group I actually really liked or end up realizing sometime after the fact that I was completely unaware of some hip new artist making awesome things. I always want to go back and give those forgotten heroes their due.

So now I’m doing it.

Welcome to my own personal BIGGEST MISSES OF 2014!

I’m sorry for letting you down. I promise not to do it again.

 

  • GoldLink – The God Complex

I put Diamond District’s glorious return, March On Washington, on the Honorable Mentions list this year, saying that it was “the best DC rap album in years, but sadly that doesn’t necessarily make it one of the 14 best albums of the year.” I even mentioned The 1978ers album People of Today in there too.

Yet somehow I completely forgot about GoldLink and his ridiculous album The God Complex.

Only maybe it’s not entirely my fault?

Sure The God Complex made Pigeons and Planes’ “Best Albums of 2014, So Far” list back in April and SPIN had it as the 16th Best Hip-Hop Album of the year, but this up-and-coming star hasn’t quite gone out of his way to grab the proverbial golden ring.

An article on him posted on Complex in July even starts with the preface, “No one knows who GoldLink is. With the exception of a few producers and a handful of fans, the 21-year-old rapper is anonymous, just a name and some music.”

But that still doesn’t excuse my behavior towards The God Complex.

It isn’t cohesive or precious enough to be considered a truly great ‘album’ — thus why I can retroactively defend leaving it off my Best Of list — but there are stretches of brilliance and greatness throughout it, and it’s far and away the most creative hip-hop DC has seen in far too long.

GoldLink closed out 2014 by supporting SBTRKT on tour and then hopped over for a run in Australia. Maybe 2015 is the year he really capitalizes on all that momentum.

Plus with Facebook posts like this, how can you not root for this guy?

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First Aid Kit – Stay Gold

I remember Bonnaroo Photographer Lindsay (see below) being very excited that First Aid Kit were playing when we went to cover the festival last year, and I wish I could say I remember seeing them play a beautiful set against a gorgeous Tennessee sky that weekend. But sadly that is not the case.

The only thing I remember is seeing two eye-catching hipsters backstage who were adorned in all-black chic clothing and very large hats. They looked so out of place that Mollie and I both felt compelled to point them out and snicker to ourselves, but last week I got to learn that those two eye-catching hipsters were, in fact, First Aid Kit.

Yep. I most likely said something flippant and dickish about First Aid Kit because I didn’t knowing who they were at the time/because sometimes it feels nice to privately demean strangers.

But I’m man enough to admit I was wrong.

Sure I still think it’s silly that Johanna and Klara Söderbergwere were wearing all black in the sun-scorched lands of Manchester, Tennessee, but wow their album is great and I’m kicking myself for not knowing about them sooner.

Stay Gold is beautiful and fragile, but it still carries an attitude that acknowledges that at times, as they on “Master Pretender,” ‘shit gets fucked up.’ Not only could it fill the power vacuum caused by everyone who misses the old Taylor Swift, but it could just as easily sit next to something from Saddle Creek or Sharon Van Etten.

 

  • The Funk Ark – Man Is A Monster

The Funk Ark’s Man Is A Monster was a last minute addition to my Top 14 Albums of 2014’s Honorable Mention list, but something tells me that over time I’m going to regret not putting it higher.

But let me explain myself with a timeline of a series of particular events.

10/14 – 9:00am: The Funk Ark release Man Is A Monster.

12/23 – 2:00pm: Mollie and I listen to Listen Local First’s ‘Best Albums of 2014’ list, which includes The Funk Ark’s Man Is A Monster

12/23 – 2:45pm: We make the decision to drive to Canaan Valley, WV the day after Christmas to go see this new discovery The Funk Ark play a legendary venue there on the 27th.

12/27 – 9:30pm: The Funk Ark take the stage at The Purple Fiddle, a venue in Thomas, WV that is part ice-cream shop, part bar, part DC9-size music venue.

12/27 – 9:42pm: I scream to Mollie over the raucous funk that they are the greatest band I’ve ever seen and want them to play at our wedding. She agrees.

Basically, what I’m trying to say is that Man Is A Monster was probably actually one of the best 14 albums of 2014 and we should probably all bow down to our afrobeat saviors, The Funk Ark.

And go see them live!

 

And now, it’s time for a very special edition of…

AURAL FIXATIONS WITH FRIENDS: Lindsay Hogan Edition

Editor’s Note: Lindsay Hogan has guest-written for the column before and she takes pretty pictures of bands and other photographical subjects.  

  • Moon Hooch – This Is Cave Music

In imitation of the DC musical elite, I counted thoroughly and in 2014, I attended 113 musical “performances.”

Yet despite catching everything from Elton John to Baby Bry Bry and the Apologists, I am not without a handful of tragic “misses.”

The live musical experience means more to me than any other consumption of media, so when Bob Boilen stated at least three times from the NPR pulpit that not only was Moon Hooch a sonic explosion but was the second greatest live show he’d seen all year (out of an inspirational 662 performances in 2014), I’m only left to wonder why the hell didn’t I listen?

So 11:30am, last Tuesday rolls around and I fall into an unintended Moon Hooch music video, and it knocked me at least 9 inches back in my rolly office chair. “Milk and Waffles,” which I’ve chosen to highlight, was the first of 7 (maybe 10) other Mooch Hooch tracks I listened to in hungry succession. (The ache to dance in my cubical like a liberated weirdo was nigh overpowering.)

Granted I prefer the weird and drastically unusual, but Moon Hooch is the kind of radical, brilliantly constructed cacophony that has the force to start its own genre (I can only hope). This comes from the unconventional combination of saxophonist/contrabass clarinetist Wenzl McGowen, saxophonist Mike Wilber and drummer James Muschler’s origins in The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music followed by stint of mega-successful Subway busking.

They’ve already earned my devotion for taking on the risky task of making hipsters dance, but do so by creating complex, anti-establishment, weird AND danceable pieces that feel both punk and Phillip Glass at the same time.

The sound of the saxophone mirrors the deep electronic drops of dubstep in a way that almost shames the listener (me) into remembering what a clever combination of live instruments can do. Not that Moon Hooch isn’t deft enough to work the occasional synth into their songs, but it manages to stay unobtrusive while they let their real talent do the talking (yelling).

I’ll just sit here salivating for my next chance to see them live.

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