2014 in Review: Day 14 – Album of the Year

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[The 2014 in Review Series]

1. Introduction and Best Album Art
2. R&B and Soul
3. Rock and Alternative
4. Rap and Hip-hop
5. Dance and Electronic
6. Pop and Ballad
7. Folk and Country
8. Jazz and Blues
9. Crossover and Other
10. Best Collaborative Work
11. Rookie Artist of the Year
12. Artist of the Year
13. Song of the Year
14. Album of the Year
15. Staff Picks
16. Storylines and Other Recognition
17. Concluding Remarks

Album of the Year 2014

Danpyunsun And The Sailors - Animal

Danpyunsun and the Sailors – 동물 (Animal)

Yesterday, I focused a bit on the raw and ferocious side of Danpyunsun and the Sailors. That’s certainly a unique strength of this band, but Animal is so much more than that. Broadly, it’s an experimental work that blends folk-rock, country, gypsy, Korean traditional, and several other strands. Harsh guitar strumming, visceral cajon snares, bold bass, and intricate violin are the main ingredients, and the band crafts some spectacular, unpredictable, unforgettable vistas with them. From pastoral “A Hundred Years” to passionately frenetic “Yellow Room” to adventurous “Hill” to nostalgic “Wasteland”, each minute of Animal is at once vastly different from the last and undeniably tied together. That latter part’s due to the consistently compelling vocals, incredible attention to detail (more than any other album from 2014, Animal rewards close listening with exhilarating instrumental flourishes), and arrangements that change in mood but retain the same vitality. This endlessly creative and flawlessly executed album is the can’t-miss effort of the year.

Runner-up Album of the Year 2014

Han Seung-seok & Jung Jaeil - Bari, Abandoned

Han Seung-seok & Jung Jaeil – 바리abandoned (Bari, Abandoned)

Oral folklore, reinterpreted by a playwright, sung by a pansori master, accompanied by a multitalented musician. That’s what Bari, Abandoned is when it opens. The shamanic legend of Princess Bari, who was abandoned at birth by an heir-seeking king but bravely travels to the underworld and back to save his life, inspires the titular track – a 12-minute epic exploring the trauma of abandonment in archaic language. The incredible thing about this album is that that’s just the beginning. Bae Sam-sik‘s lyrics transcend past and present as the trio give voice to the plight of immigrant workers in Korea (Ama, Ama, Mero Ama”), have Bari travel through sub-Saharan Africa, war-torn Middle East, and Tibet (“건너가는 아이들” (“Crossing Children”)), and give the most philosophically rich treatment of laundry of all time (“Wash”, parts I, II and III). At times, Bari, Abandoned is abstract and filled with literary imagination and allegory. At others, it draws deeply from the social and humanitarian issues of our time to color Bari’s sojourn. Han and Jung, with their respective guttural vocals and refined arrangement and play, make fine companions to guide her along.

The Next Ten Out/Honorable Mentions

Lee Jung-ah - Undertow

3. Lee Jung-ah – Undertow

Hollow Jan - Day Off

4. Hollow Jan – Day Off

Lee Won-sul - Into the Time

5. Lee Wonsool – Into The Time

Alshain - Natural Hi-Fi

6. Alshain – Natural Hi-Fi

B-Free - Korean Dream

7. B-Free – Korean Dream

Lee Sora - 8

8. Lee Sora – 8

Loro's - W.A.N.D.Y

9. Loro’s – W.A.N.D.Y.

Gonne Choi - I Was, I Am, I Will

10. Gonne Choi – I Was, I Am, I Will

Seo Taiji - Quiet Night

11. Seo Taiji – Quiet Night

Koh Sang-ji - Maycgre 1.0

12. Koh Sang-ji – Maycgre 1.0

Sources: Photos – Daum Music

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