Oh, you haven’t made your mid-year “best of 2014” list yet? You’re late. This is a thing we do now–we, the population of people who believe albums are still important and love to hear ourselves talk about them–in effort to digest the multitude of MP3s, streams and YouTube videos that have been firing at us since January. Above all it’s a chance to play catch-up, as you should promptly do with these five albums from New York bands that still flew under the radar on too many of those take-stock lists in recent weeks. Let’s fix that.
Amen Dunes – Love (Sacred Bones)
It’s uplifting that Damon McMahon’s clearest, most accessible record by miles is titled Love. Like it’s proof that being in it opens you up to share your innermost feelings and experiences, no matter how damaged they may be. Washed clean of about six of the seven layers of static that obscured McMahon’s previous work as Amen Dunes, Love sees him (and guest contributors from Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Iceage) musing on what he described in a VICE interview as the “deep elegance of failure.” He teeters between happy and sad over warm, seesawing melodies–reminiscent of Edward Sharpe’s hippy-dippy euphoria if it were balanced out by downers–giving us the sense we have a reliable narrator on our hands, never too thrilled or too depressed to overtake his thoughts. You believe him when he sings, “Today my love is gone,” but also when he sings, “I will surely figure it out.”