Tuesday, December 30, 2014


We know you all have been very patiently waiting our year end list just to see what music we enjoyed in 2014, and what we recommend you check out if you have not yet done so.  There is an apology that needs to be made here, as we feel we have been somewhat neglectful of our blog lately, which was something we really wanted to pay more attention to when Electric Avenue opened.  Most of this neglect can be attributed to the fact that we were coming to terms with running a new business on our own, and one which has also grown over the past year more than expected (in other words, time was spent in other areas).

While we have had little time to think about updating our posts here, we have channeled the time we did have into interacting with many of you face to face.  It has been inspirational getting to know many of you personally in 2014.  We would like to take a moment to dedicate the following post to our friend, Gary Schade and his wife Katherine, who passed away suddenly two days following Thanksgiving in a tragic house fire.  Gary was one of our best and most involved customers here, and while his loss put a huge damper on the holiday season in many ways, his spirit lives on in all he did to help Electric Avenue, whether alerting us to music he liked by ordering and making purchases, promoting us at every opportunity, or doing little simple fixit jobs to help out around the store.  We would like to remember him as an Honorary Electric Avenue Team Member, and he is already greatly missed.

Enough of the sad and depressing...

Now comes the part Gary was looking forward to and would have enjoyed...our year end list.  Here are the records that moved us the most in 2014.  They are not always the top critical faves (sorry Rolling Stone, U2 was not our #1), but they either had something fresh to offer, were great guilty pleasures, or a return to form for artists from the past.  Some you may have heard of, and some not. Some you may have only heard a clip and really need to take in the whole project to get a true picture of the image being painted.  Without further ado then...

Our favorite record of the year was from a little known Baltimore band with a charismatic frontman in Sam Herring.  It proves that electronic pop music doesn't have to be twee or silly, and with reflective lyrics and riveting vocals, every track on Singles feels like a single.


POBPAH released their most confident album in 2014, with Kip Berman handing some of the vocal reins over to Jen Goma of the similarly cool A Sunny Day in Glasgow.  The tradeoff works well, and songs like "Simple and Sure" and "Eurydice" were some of the best songs of 2014 not to be featured in a John Hughes movie.

Days Of Abandon

3  PAUL HEATON & JACQUI ABBOTT--What Have We Become?
Unbelievable that a record as good as this was not released in the US.  Heaton is a UK national treasure, between his work with the Housemartins and the Beautiful South.  Jacqui Abbott was the best female singer in the South, and left when she needed a break to raise a family.  Now, Heaton and Abbott are back together with a band that sounds like an amped-up early Style Council, suiting their barbs perfectly (the album ends with the lyrics "Phil Collins must die").  Worth seeking out!

What Have We Become

4  MORRISSEY--World Peace is None of Your Business
Even with all the personal, tour, and label turmoil in 2014, Morrissey released his best solo album in nearly 20 years.  Worth the price alone for "Staircase at the University", Morrissey is about to reenter the studio to bang out another one while he's got a great band in tow.  Smart move...

World Peace Is None Of Your Business

5  LANA DEL REY--Ultraviolence
Some say overrated, some say underrated.  Regardless, she should be rated as one of the best jazz-rock singers out there now.  This album was decidedly more downbeat and hazy than the debut, but the fractured rock details provided by Dan Auerbach of Black Keys work in Del Rey's favor, even if it was difficult getting these tracks to radio.  Voice of a generation?

Ultraviolence [Explicit] [+digital booklet]

6  BECK--Morning Phase
An early contender for album of the year, Beck's first album in six years was the best Sunday morning album of the year, and featured orchestrations from his dad.  This might just be the album we will all be listening to for the longest time in the future.

Morning Phase

7  WILD BEASTS--Present Tense
The Beasts have similar ethics to those of elder statesmen, Radiohead, yet they still remember how to write a good melody.  Seemingly, their best songs sound like deconstructions of fuller arrangements, and with more keyboard textures and vocals from two excellent singers (graduating from the Peter Gabriel School of Brooding Singers), Wild Beasts have quite a future ahead of them.  Now, if people just knew who they were...

Present Tense

The best album to come out this year from a legendary producer and the lead singer of an electronic band (Underworld), this Eno collaboration was one of two releases to come out from this pair in 2014 (Someday World was the other).  This was our favorite of the two, as the songs stretched close to 10 minutes, and the vocals were more sporadically placed, allowing for breath in the arrangements.  A stunning work reminiscent of Eno's work with Talking Heads on Remain in Light...

High Life

9  NEW PORNOGRAPHERS--Brill Bruisers
Made up of a core trio of amazing artists in their own right (AC Newman, Neko Case, and Dan Bejar of Destroyer), somehow New Pornographers manage to get together and sync up their schedules every few years to make a record, and this one was a corker.  Bejar is such a quirky presence alone, and here he contributes the catchiest track with "War on the East Coast".  Relentlessly catchy!

Brill Bruisers

10  DAMON ALBARN--Everyday Robots
Damon quietly turned in his most intimate album in 2014 away from Gorillaz and Blur.  He sounds like the kind of guy you'd hang around and trade stories with, and this one is what you'd want to hear after stumbling home from the bar late at night.  

Everyday Robots

11  THESE NEW PURITANS--Field of Reeds
How did these guys get this together and make it work?  Quirky British art rock goes cerebral...

12  BRYAN FERRY--Avonmore
His best album in 20 years is so confident and self-assured, he never needs to change style again.

13  SNOWBIRD--Moon
One Cocteau Twin (Simon Raymonde) finds life worth living with wildlife and Stephanie Dosen.

14  MARIANNE FAITHFULL--Give My Love to London
This is the latest brilliant record from the Grand Dame.  Nick Cave, Roger Waters, Brian Eno, etc.

15  SUN KIL MOON--Benji
Mark Kozelek may need an attitude adjustment but this was one of the best albums of the year.

16  TENNIS--Ritual in Repeat
Fantastically hummable album from great married duo--for fans of Beach House and Best Coast

17  KYLIE MINOGUE--Kiss Me Once
Guilty pleasure with best pop album of 2014, executive produced by Sia Furler (#44)

18  JAMES--La Petite Mort
Lyrics about the loss of loved ones meets optimistic music for one of the best in their long career 

19  THE HORRORS--Luminous
Fearless band goes through so many style changes.  Too bad about cancellation of the US tour though

20  SCOTT WALKER & SUNNO)))--Soused
Dark septuagenarian meets metal with songs about dictators and such.  Happy New Year!

21  ROYKSOPP--The Inevitable End
Their last album with many songs about death and the end.  Sad, yes, but production of the year?

22  MR. TWIN SISTER--Mr. Twin Sister
Another incredible production from NY band who have been through tough times.  More to come??

23  MUSIC GO MUSIC--Impressions
ABBA are alive and well and making albums called Impressions.  Addictive!

24  EX HEX--Rips
Riot girls dig up the ghosts of the Runaways and Go-Go's for a fantastic record of short, sharp songs

Dears lead singer does it all alone with more electronics on this visceral project.

First album featuring original 3 members in 22 years!  Worth the wait!

UK dance maven goes acoustic and dark on this Ed Harcourt aided project.  More please?

28  NEIL FINN--Dizzy Heights
Latest change from Split Enz/Crowded House leader, featuring both sons and his wife on bass...

29  2 BEARS--The Night is Young
We love Hot Chip, and 2 Bears featuring Joe Goddard of HC are not far behind.  This one's great!

30  KAISER CHIEFS--Education Education Education & War
Cruelly underrated album of political and societal reflections on the UK.  Catchy stuff!

31  WYE OAK--Shriek
Baltimore band WO pull off moving more electronic due to Jenn Wasner's hypnotic vocals.

32  PREATURES--Planet Blue Eyes
Haim didn't release an LP in 2014, but with records this good, they aren't missed as much...

33  ST. VINCENT--St. Vincent
The more popular Wye Oak, #1 on Entertainment Weekly's list...yeah, it's pretty darn good...

34  LYKKE LI--I Never Learn
Raw and personal album from U2 collaborator, dark and lovely

35  APHEX TWIN--Syro
Qrrky...blip blip blip...what's a syro anywhoo???

36  JIMI GOODWIN--Odludek
Solo record from the Doves leader.  Some great experimental stuff here and help from Guy of Elbow

37  TEMPLES--Sun Structures
Best 60's prog-pop album of 2014.  Can't wait to hear what they'll do for a second act!

38  LA ROUX--Trouble in Paradise
Sadly overlooked return after five years from troubled duo (now single).  NME agrees.

39  FIRST AID KIT--Stay Gold
How can two Swedish teenage girls do Americana better than Americans?  Breathtaking!

40  OWEN PALLETT--In Conflict
Arcade Fire orchestrator finds his voice with this complex and candid album.

41  SPOON--They Want My Soul
Best mainstream indie-rock album of 2014 perhaps?  They hit their stride again...

"I saw my dad f**k a redhead whore, I never thought I would..."  Overlooked fuzzy masterpiece...

43  ECHO & THE BUNNYMEN--Meteorites
Their best album in 20 years.  There, I said it...

44  SIA--1,000 Forms of Fear
"Chandelier" chanteuse who refuses to show her face makes another very good album.  Why Sia??

45  TV ON THE RADIO--Seeds
Hip band returns with their most catchy and polished album to date after personal tragedy

46  WAR ON DRUGS--Lost in the Dream
One of the best breakthough albums of the year even if Mark Kozelek doesn't think so...

47  ELBOW--Take Offs and Landings of Everything
Quietly making another album we'll be listening to in 20 years...

48 JOHN HARLE & MARC ALMOND--The Tyburn Tree
Companion type of album to Marianne Faithfull's exploring the darker side of historic London

49  SWANS--To Be Kind
Visceral, uncompromising, long, tortured, long, St. Vincent, long...

50  SIMPLE MINDS--Big Music
Another great alternative to the new U2 album (they've actually been around longer)

Honorable mentions:

SMASHING PUMPKINS--Monuments to an Elegy
WEEZER--Everything Will be Alright in the End
SINEAD O'CONNOR--I'm Not Bossy, I'm the Boss
D'ANGELO--Black Messiah
RYAN ADAMS--Ryan Adams
TODD TERJE--It's Album Time
ALT-J--This is All Yours
MERCHANDISE--After the End
DAMIEN RICE--My Favourite Faded Fantasy
TOY--Join the Dots
SUZANNE VEGA--Tales from the Realm of the Queen of Pentacles
BOB MOULD--Beauty & Ruin
JACK WHITE--Lazaretto
PRINCE--Art Official Age
PRINCE & 3RDEYEGIRL--Plectrumelectrum
COLDPLAY--Ghost Stories
ENGINEERS--Always Returning
ROYAL BLOOD--Royal Blood
BROKEN BELLS--After the Disco
CYMBALS--Age of Fracture
SAM SMITH--In the Lonely Hour
ERASURE--The Violet Flame
FRESH & ONLYS--House of Spirits
VISAGE--Hearts & Knives
U2--Songs of Innocence

Happy New Year!

Monday, June 16, 2014


Talk about long overdue!  We're sorry we have not been more communicative on the blog as of late.  So many things got in the way this spring with Record Store Day 2014 (Thanks very much to our supporters!) and a full release schedule that seemed never-ending, and now summer is here!  Kids may just be getting out of school, but they'll be going back in about 8 or 9 weeks (not that long, really), and the fall release schedule begins heating up.  Since we were approaching Midpoint 2014, we thought it was a good time to take a look back and reflect on our favorite records of 2014 up to now.

It's been an odd year in some ways, with a certain hangover of big releases from last year (Arcade Fire, Arctic Monkeys, etc.), and some big releases this year that got a lot of buzz, but maybe haven't captured that rabid fandom those others have.  There have been releases from heavy hitters like Beck, Black Keys, Jack White, Coldplay, Neil Young, the Roots, and Bruce Springsteen, that have all had varying degrees of success.  Some say Coldplay was too soft, Springsteen too hard, with Beck being just right if you wanted a Sunday morning record from him.  In any event, we heard a boatload of things we liked, even if they did not all go on to become platinum sellers (What does these days anyhow?).  So many of these were SO good, we think you may want to reassess whether or not you need them in your collection.  Answer...you DO  (We always suggest vinyl but CD would work too).  Now that we've strung you along, here is our latest set of records to revel in, and always remember to support the artists buy purchasing their music...that way they can make more:

1) LANA DEL REY--Ultraviolence
Whether or not you buy into Lizzie as Lana could be a deciding factor for you, but Ultraviolence is quite possibly the album that will solidify her talent as the real deal, regardless of what you think of the persona. Ultraviolence plays like the older, darker sister to 2011's Born to Die, and a good comparison would be the Cure's Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me as Born to Die and Disintegration as Ultraviolence...It's that much darker, heavier, murkier, and bleaker, mostly due to Dan Auerbach's (Black Keys) production.  He manages to bring these songs haunted arrangements to frame her ghostly vocals around while giving her a more mature palate to draw from.  Whether fractured and frail ("Sad Girl") or tortured and possessed ("Money Power Glory"), there is a certain despair that exists in these songs that was not present in her past work to this extent.  Fortunately the mood changes with songs like "West Coast", which sits nicely in the middle of the record as a great single with a shuffling beat and time change featuring a guitar-line quote from the Beatles' "And I Love Her", making the song all the more nostalgic and poignant.  An even bigger musical debt falls to "Old Money", which almost directly lifts the Love Theme from "Romeo & Juliet" ("A Time for Us" by Nino Rota), that brings on the heavy Godfather vibes (anyone for pasta?).  It's an ingenious thing to do, but without the chanteuse to pull it off, it would be much less.  (Imagine Jennifer Lopez or Britney Spears performing this song--cringeworthy!)  Song titles like "Cruel World", "Pretty When You Cry", and "F**ked My Way Up to the Top" really say it all, like Eminem by way of Billie Holiday.  I can see David Lynch calling her up shortly for a cameo, guest appearance, or theme song...

As much as I have talked this record, people seem rather reluctant to embrace it.  My goal is not to oversell, my goal is to spread positivity when I feel strongly about something.  I feel strongly about this.  It's sort of derivative and like Belle and Sebastian without the Scottish emotional baggage, but it features some really top-notch alt-pop songwriting and arrangements, and there is something so carefree infused in the jangle that would make even Morrissey happy.

One of the best bands from Baltimore that isn't Beach House, Samuel T. Herring has not only mastered the art of duck-and-cover dance moves, he has also mastered some pretty great songwriting.  Singles, produced by Chris Coady, takes their sound to elevated levels, yet finds a balance to retain some of their quirkier and edgier material.  A song like "Fall From Grace" goes full throttle when Herring wants to stress how deeply he feels about something.  It's like technopop voiced by a black metal singer, and the fact that Herring has this ability to shift his tone is remarkable.  This should be just the beginning of a big new career for them, and shows how to make fans of metal, mainstream, and hipster all happy about something simultaneously.

4) WILD BEASTS--Present Tense

5) THESE NEW PURITANS--Field of Reeds

6) SUN KIL MOON--Benji


8) THE HORRORS--Luminous

9) TEMPLES--Sun Structures

10) BECK--Morning Phase

11) KAISER CHIEFS--Education, Education & War
12) JOHN HARLE & MARC ALMOND--The Tyburn Tree
13) NEIL FINN--Dizzy Heights
14) KYLIE MINOGUE--Kiss Me Once
15) ST. VINCENT--St. Vincent
16) BRIAN ENO & KARL HYDE--Someday World
17) WYE OAK--Shriek
18) WAR ON DRUGS--Lost in the Dream
19) SWANS--To Be Kind
20) LILY ALLEN--Sheezus
21) DRIVE-BY TRUCKERS--English Oceans
22) BLACK KEYS--Turn Blue
23) LYKKE LI--I Never Learn
24) JACK WHITE--Lazaretto
25) FIRST AID KIT--Stay Gold
26) ECHO & THE BUNNYMEN--Meteorites
27) BROKEN BELLS--After the Disco
28) TOY--Join the Dots
29) REAL ESTATE--Atlas
30) BOB MOULD--Beauty & Ruin

Roll on, 2014!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Our favorite records of winter 2014

Let's hope that winter is actually winding down because this one was B R U T A L!  Our first winter open and Mother Nature was none too kind, as we were actually closed for five full days.  March is here, and while it is still under 20 degrees outside, we wanted to look back at the first couple months of 2014 and let you know what our favorite releases so far have been.  These records were easy to miss if you haven't been out and about, but there may be two or three you feel worth adding to your want list.  By the way, each one of these albums works better when listened to as a whole rather than as single tracks.  Take our word for it.


Mark Kozelek has been recording for 20 years now, whether solo, collaborative, or as a member of Red House Painters or Sun Kil Moon.  Benji (whose title was inspired by the dog movie from the 70's) is one of Mark's most personal records to date.  While there is plenty of storytelling going on, this one includes riveting tales of people who have died.  Whether stories of mass death relating to 9/11 or the Newtown school massacre, serial killers and their victims, or family members like is mother, father, cousin and her father, all are riveting when put through the Kozelek blender.  There are also stories of his first teenage sexual conquest and trips to visit the head of his former record label in Santa Fe (Ivo Watts-Russell of 4AD Records, an Englishman who actually does currently reside in Santa Fe).  While Mark sonically cribs from the Neil Young school of acoustic records, there is enough of his personality here to show what a true and unique voice he has.  The future will likely find Mark as one of the most talented writers of this generation, and Benji as one of his best albums.

Possibly the definition of "critically acclaimed", the third album by These New Puritans is not for everyone.  It's not really anything like traditional rock music.  In fact, it may even be it's own new genre of music.  The closest relation would be something like Robert Wyatt or the later Talk Talk albums, a hybrid of jazz, classical, and English folk with a dark side.  Choirs, brass, bells, organs...plus a male lead singer with a conversational voice and a Portuguese female singer who appears more like a guest artist, words are used sparingly and poetically here to convey a feeling of hazy love and searching for life connections.  This is definitely the record for people who are looking for something different and prefer their music with a healthy dose of art.

WILD BEASTS--Present Tense
Returning with their fourth album, Wild Beasts have an interesting sound, and Present Tense is their strongest effort to date.  Every one of their albums presents something different, and they have changed a lot over the years, from a sort of somewhat noisy indie rock band, to a darker, smoother, post-Radiohead styled art rock band with a penchant for sexual themes and male singers with high voices.  The voices we speak of are Hayden Thorpe (the higher voice), and Tom Fleming (the lower of the two--a bit like Guy Garvey or Elbow or Peter Gabriel), and whether solo per song or weaving in and out of each other's voices, Wild Beasts is a riveting example of a less-is-more approach.  Present Tense feels like a record that originally had many more layers that were stripped away as it was mixed, as lone guitar textures or singular synth lines resonate now with importance and clarity.  Not the most immediate record, it's the kind of album that rewards on repeated listenings, and bodes well for the future of the band.


ST VINCENT--St Vincent


BECK--Morning Phase

NEIL FINN--Dizzy Heights

TEMPLES--Sun Structures


TOY--Join the Dots

BROKEN BELLS--After the Disco


CYMBALS--Age of Fracture
BOMBAY BICYCLE CLUB--So Long, See You Tomorrow
SUZANNE VEGA--Tales from the Realm of the Queen of Pentacles