It’s near the end of 2014 and I’m going back and looking at my favorite releases of 2014. I don’t rank albums, but compile the albums that stuck in my regular rotation throughout the year. 2014 was definitely another strong year for Korean bands and I was able to explore a lot more genres that I normally don’t listen to all that often.
At the same time, through these releases I was able to meet and talk with some of these artists and get to understand their music and how hard they work to make music alongside of having jobs or school.
So here it is, my best of 2014 list, in no particular order but it does look reverse chronological.
Yellow Monsters : The Van
Yellow Monsters are on a yearly release schedule. It’s usually switches back and forth between an album and EP and this year was The Van. I always enjoy listening to their music and the EP has definitely raised expectations with the growth of the songs. It’s definitely a step in a stronger direction.
Say Sue Me : We’ve Sobered Up
I really enjoyed Say Sue Me’s album. Busan-based bands are difficult to discover and Say Sue Me was one that was mentioned multiple times from musicians.
Loro’s : W.A.N.D.Y
This album is perfection. No question.
…Whatever That Means : Sixty-Eight, Twenty-Two
2014 was a bigger exploration of punk rock in South Korea. I heard of …Whatever That Means before I listened to Sixty-Eight, Twenty-Two, but then I saw them live and had a fun, drunk talk with Jeff at an after show dinner. That solidified my opinion that the band has its heart in the right place.
Glittering Blackness, Fall : Untitled (2nd Album)
The second album from Glittering Blackness, Fall came out of nowhere. But that didn’t stop it from being a trophy in the post-rock genre.
Oh Heejung : Set Adrift
Heejung is definitely coming into her own as an electronic musician. Set Adrift is a bigger step forward from her debut EP and continues to be a favorite to play.
OOHYO : Girl Sense
As a Bandcamp discovery, I was surprised on how good OOHYO’s EP was. I got an interview
quickly after that, but haven’t heard much news from her since then.
Saebyeok : Rise from the ashes
Saebyeok’s Rise from the ashes is a solid EP. When I met her in San Francisco, I was able to learn more about her background as a session player, but now I expect her next release to be even better.
Dead Buttons : Whoever You Are
Somehow Dead Buttons released one of the tightest sounding albums this year. It’s simple and straightforward, but never gets old. While I haven’t been able to see them live, all the videos I’ve seen have shown incredible presentation.
Dead Gakkahs : Dead Gakkahs
There’s not much to say about Dead Gakkahs other than their fastcore style is aggressive, in your face, and straight to the point. Seeing them live, a lot of people might not like their style but the self-titled EP is insane.
HEO : Structure
Structure is one of the albums that has constantly been in rotation. It’s dark and ominous at times, but by the end you’ve been drawn into an audio journey.
Big Phony : Bobby
Big Phony released two albums in 2014, one with his signature style and one electronic. I really like Long Live The Lie
, but I favor the classic Big Phony style.
The Blocs : Self-titled
I didn’t know what to expect from The Blocs, but what I got was an entrancing album that fits almost any mood. Hopefully I’ll be able to see them live in 2015.
1TON : Tiny Old Tape
1TON’s EP is probably one of my favorite albums of the year. I didn’t know what to expect from it, but it was an amazing presentation of melocore that reminds me a lot of the technical talents of Japan’s punk bands.
Idiotape : Tours
With their new album, Idiotape cement the fact that they can make great music through the use of synth sounds backed by powerful drumming.
Kernelstrip : Walking Through The Galaxy
An unexpected album, Kernelstrip creates audio landscapes with his music. He’s another example of how varied the electronic genre can be and his music can please many an ear.
Romantiqua : Revenge
It feels like forever between Romantiqua’s single to Revenge. But the band proved that they can make an album that never gets tiring, even when the music is almost non-existent during the quieter parts of songs.
Ironic Hue : For Melting Steel
With seven years between releases, For Melting Steel could have been a simple jump back but the album has so many classic and powerful songs that I keep going back to it.
LudiSTELO : Experience
The trio basically teased their way to Experience with three singles, but this album went beyond my expectations. The music is even better when seen performed live.
DIEALRIGHT : Satellite
DIEALRIGHT is attitude encased in rock music. Even though the release is short, the songs are perfect and it’s easy to listen on repeat.
구텐버즈 (Guten Birds) : Reticent X
Passed to me by Mohho when I was in Seoul, I found Reticent X different from their past EP. But the difference was actually a stronger and more precise trio. I really enjoy Guten Birds’ music and wait for a full length.
Little Miss Sunshine : Be Yourself!
Even though it’s only one song, Little Miss Sunshine’s “Be Yourself!” is just a great upbeat song. It quickly gets stuck in your head and soon you’ll be dancing without noticing.
Afro Maria : Febriltember 115
I got to know Afro Maria when I visited Seoul. Basically I hung out with them most of the week. But with their music, it’s melodic pop punk. I don’t think they’ve hit their peak and have a lot of potential, which is shown on the single.
Good Night, Patrasche (굿나잇 파트라슈) : Good Night, Patrasche
Good Night, Patrasche reached out about their music so I wasn’t sure what to expect. But their self-titled single is definitely one of the strongest of the year. It’s melodic rock, but very dense. It has a way of wrapping you inside and you can’t help but listen to every beat and verse.
From The Airport : Chemical Love
From The Airport was one of the early bands that I found on Bandcamp. Their growth has been awesome to watch and it was great to finally meet them in 2014. Chemical Love is the first step into the duo really finding their signature sound. Their single Golden
showed off even more, but I’m waiting for the full length to see how far they’ve come.
2014 was another great year in music. I think fans of any genre could have gotten more than a year’s worth of great music. Here’s to 2015 and what new music will bring.