I am really not sure where the last 6 months went, but I definitely stoked on the music that has come out in that time. While some of the genre’s heavyweights released new favorites, I am mostly impressed with the younger bands whose 2014 releases launched them into the spotlight. It’s awesome to see hardworking, deserving bands get the attention they deserve.
Before I get into releases, here is a ranking of my Top 5 Shows of 2014 (So Far):
5. Touche Amore & Mewithouyou Coheadliner @ The Union Transfer – Philadelphia, PA
4. Saosin Reunion Show @ The Union Transfer – Philadelphia, PA
3. Manchester Orchestra w/ Balance & Composure, Kevin Devine and The Goddamn Band @ The TLA – Philadelphia, PA
2. La Dispute w/ Pianos Become Teeth, Mansions @ The Union Transfer – Philadelphia, PA
1. The World is a Beautiful Place and I am No Longer Afraid to Die, The Hotelier @ Suburbia – Brooklyn, NY
I am also a huge fan of splits so it wouldn’t be right if I didn’t include the best splits of the year in this post. I was going back and forth between my two favorite splits, trying to pick a favorite. Turns out – I just couldn’t. So although I hate doing this and not making a definitive decision, there is a tie for Best Split of 2014 (so far):
Daisyhead/Have Mercy Split: To put it simply, the Daisyhead/Have Mercy Split is full of bangers. Before this released, I hadn’t heard of Daisyhead before and this is quite an introduction. Beginning the split with their two tracks “Dishonest” and “Wonder,” this EP kills it from the start. Of course, Have Mercy brings the sads with their contribution to the split “Pete Rose and Babe Ruth” and “Pawn Takes Rook.” These tracks hit you HARD in the best way possible. These tracks also appeal to a large audience, making their appearance on dayside WTSR programming and being a big hit with those who classify themselves as “indie rock fans.”
Old Gray/ Tiny Moving Parts Split: I cannot say enough great things about this album. Unlike the Daisyhead/Have Mercy split, it isn’t necessarily an easy listen but each track has such a strong impact. For more details, check out my full review of the split, published right after its release.
Now let’s get to the nitty-gritty and talk Best Albums of 2014 (So Far)!
10. Tigers Jaw – Charmer: I was extremely surprised by how much I like this album. By far, this is the best release their discography has seen. Brianna Collins and Ben Walsh compliment each beautifully with strong harmonies and brooding lyrics. They are a cool band. I wish I had better words to describe it but they are cool people making cool music.
9. Fireworks – Oh, Common Life: In both Don’s and Craig’s Mid-Years, they mention how people often forget about Fireworks and how unique they are within the round of pop-punk. Up until this release, I was one of the people they were calling out. I finally hopped on board for Oh, Common Life and I am glad I did. This band is making sustainable pop-punk for us older fans who don’t need to hear more music about high school girlfriends or drinking beers with their friends. Attacking the genre from a more mature point-of-view, Fireworks nailed it. I would also like to point out they have the sickest album art in the game.
8. Bayside – Cult: With each new album, Bayside comes closer and closer to obtaining the status of being the perfect band. Their sixth album is a great mesh of both angst and hope, satisfying their wide fanbase. Pulling in a lot of fans with their self-titled released in ’05, many of them have stuck around, even if their music tastes have strayed away from punk rock. Yet, with releases like these, their music still resonate with new, younger fans. They just seem to have it figured out.
7. You Blew It! – Keep Doing What You’re Doing: When You Blew It!’s Keep Doing What You’re Doing dropped, buzz surrounded the album, getting rave reviews from acclaimed music sites such as Pitchfork and Stereogum. To be honest, I was a little confused by it all, wondering why the band that wrote Grow Up, Dude was getting all this attention from these notable critics. After getting through one track of the album, it all made sense. I wouldn’t be surprised that this move up on my list by the end of the year. Catchy melodies and relatable lyrics get you from the start and continue strong through all 10 tracks.
6. Sorority Noise – Forgettable: This album is incredibly moody and angry and I love every second of it. Heavy distorted guitars mark this album as a cross between 90s emo and garage punk, having more of a grunge influence than I would normally go for but is too well-done to not like. The songs are pretty short, ranging from a minute and a half to three minutes. But that’s just long enough for Cameron Boucher’s lyrics to make you feel a whole bunch of feelings and then leave you sit and think about it for a while. If you listen to any song on this album, check out track #3 – “Dirty Ickes,” which is a contender for Song of the Year!
5. Modern Baseball – You’re Gonna Miss It All: If there is any band that has grown immensely in the past year, it’s Modern Baseball. Much of it has to do with the release of this honest, self-deprecating album that still has all the quirkiness fans have grown to love. Seeing them in March 2013 with MAYBE 25 other people who wouldn’t even stand up to seeing them sell out a 600+ venue in NYC last month, I’d say this album is recognized as a success across many genres. Read my in-depth review here.
4. Manchester Orchestra – Cope: Everything about this album is HUGE. That’s the only way to describe it. The instrumentals are massive, the vocals – haunting. The only thing that’s bigger than the album itself is the lighting that accompanies Manchester Orchestra’s live set. This album is just on an entirely other level of rock.
3. The Menzingers – Rented World: This was one of my most anticipated releases of this year. Yet, I was slightly nervous, wondering if I would be left disappointed if The Menzingers could not write an album as good as On The Impossible Past. When the first single “In Remission” came out, things were looking bright but it wasn’t until the full album was releases until I realized Rented World is a monster in its own right. The album is equal parts powerful, vulnerable, and downright honest. Other punk bands need to start taking notes.
2. La Dispute – Rooms of the House: There was a time that I was convinced La Dispute was done making music due to months and months of silence after some touring. Turns out, they were making one of the most innovative albums in post-hardcore the genre has seen in years. I could go on and on about how important this album will be to the future or why La Dispute is the best band in the genre but you can just read up on that through my full album review. I’ll just say that this album absolutely kills it and may very well make its way onto my list of favorite albums of all time.
1. The Hotelier – Home, Like No Place Is There: Speaking of favorite albums of all time, here is an album that I can confidently say has already made it on that list, although being release just this year. This album came out of nowhere, following a name change from the band who was formerly known as The Hotel Year. With a new name and a whole lot of passion, The Hotelier released one of the most heart-wrenching, thought-provoking, and all out devastating albums I have ever heard. Most of the album revolves around vocalist Christian Holden’s lyrics and his grappling attempt to understand a friend’s suicide. Perhaps, you expect to eventually come to peace with it all but as with the album’s ending “Dendron” and the harsh reality for many of us who struggle with the same hardship, the hurt doesn’t diminish, the understanding doesn’t appear, and instead thoughts just seem to quiet down. This is going to be an album that people continue to talk about for a long time. I can see critics talking about it 15 years the same way we currently credit American Football’s self-titled as being one of the most influential albums this genre has seen, whether it be about the storytelling, the earth shattering lyrics, or the appropriate contrast the instrumentals create. Only time will tell exactly how Home, Like No Place is There changed the game, but I can say for sure things are different now because of it.