Another year, another ten fantastic albums. My top 5 I was pretty confident on but the back 5 shuffled to and fro for a good couple of weeks. But after much internal deliberation I have arrived at my 10 favorite albums of 2014. This year started with some strong releases in January and never really let up. Much of my list this year is made up of releases from the first half of the year.
I bought a ton of music this year making this one of the hardest lists to whittle down in a long time. After each album I’ll include a link so you can listen to it on Spotify and at the very end I’ll include my top 10 of 2014 mixtape link. I’d love to hear what you think and what albums you loved. Thanks for taking the time to read this.
10. Code Orange – I Am King (Deathwish)
2 years ago Code Orange Kids, now just Code Orange released their debut album Love is Love//Return to Dust and broke new ground in hardcore. I had said that I thought they were trying to blaze their own trail in the genre and would become torch bearers for a new generation but instead on their second album I Am King they decide to break new ground in a different genre. This album is metal and as heavy as it gets. I don’t enjoy it nearly as much as the previous album but you can’t deny they have once again marked their territory and taken over another music scene. This album is worth listening to at least once just to hear a band at the top of their game.
Spotify Link: Code Orange – I Am King
9. Modern Baseball – You’re Gonna Miss It All (Run For Cover)
Every year one pop-punk album burrows its way into my head and since Mixtapes didn’t release an album this year Modern Baseball takes their place. Equal parts Blink-182 and Brand New this band takes the catchyness of Pop-Punk and fuses it together with the heart on your sleeve angst of Emo. So basically The Get Up Kids circa 2014. If all of that sounds good to you this albums deserves your attention.
Spotify Link: Modern Baseball – You’re Gonna Miss It All
8. Self Defense Family – Try Me (Deathwish)
You either love or hate Self Defense Family. Well, or you don’t know anything about them. In which case its time to get caught up. Self Defense Family or just Self Defense or End of a Year(yeah….its a long story)are a collective of musicians who when they get asked if they’d like to release something for a record label will almost always say yes. When it comes time to record whoever is around is who creates the music.
Try Me, their latest full length album is their most uncohesive yet. But don’t take that as a slam because its what makes the band so great. Think of this as less of an album and more of a….greatest hits of songs that were never released. Songs jump genres frequently one minute you’re listening to what could be a Jesus Lizard b-side and then all of a sudden they’re going female fronted alt-country on you. And on the digital versions the music is interrupted by two 20 minute interviews with 80’s porn star Jenna Fine(on vinyl its a second LP). These interviews helped inform the lyrics of the album.
By now you’ve probably made your decision you’re either going to give it a listen or stay far far away. Like I said….love or hate there’s not much in between with this band.
Spotify Link: Self Defense Family – Try Me
7. Perfect Pussy – Say Yes to Love (Captured Tracks)
This album features a lot of feedback and when I finally saw the band live over the Summer they actually had a guy in the band who’s function was to create all that noise. And that’s the best way I can sum up this album. They need a guy to create the noise. Yet, underneath that are incredible lyrics, catchy hooks, I mean almost straight up pop songs in places. There’s hasn’t been a pop album this damaged since Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and that’s the highest compliment I can think of.
Spotify Link: Perfect Pussy – Say Yes to Love
6. Dads – I’ll Be The Tornado (6131 Records)
Dads should be all over the radio right now. Their second album I’ll be the Tornado is full of crushing catchy radio ready alternative rock. In the early 2000’s some bands that were on the radio were called “Emo” but by then the term had morphed to mean the way you dress or the way you do your hair. Dads is an Emo band but they bring with them an album’s worth of songs you’ll want to listen to in your car….loudly. After just a couple of plays you’ll wonder why everyone isn’t listening to this album. Here’s to hoping 2015 continues to elevate this band to the stages they belong on.
Spotify Link: Dads – I’ll be the Tornado
5. Pianos Become The Teeth – Keep You (Epitaph)
Its one thing to try new things in a couple of songs on an album or 7″ but it’s another thing entirely to change your sound completely between albums. In 2011 Pianos Become the Teeth released the screamo masterpiece The Lack Long After. Three years later they’ve returned with a subdued yet still intense new album. There’s no screaming to be heard anywhere just singer Kyle Durfey’s incredible singing voice. Did he always knew he had this in him? And the band? On point almost the entire time. I don’t love every moment on Keep You but I was consistently blown away by the craftsmanship on display and the band’s willingness to completely alienate their fanbase. Maybe that’s why this album is so high on my list because I know what came before and I can’t believe what I’m hearing now.
Spotify Link: Pianos Become the Teeth – Keep You
4. The Hotelier – Home, Like Noplace Is There (Tiny Engines)
I’m a sucker for a well crafted album. Something that feels like every second was planned out in advance. The Hotelier(formerly and still pronounced The Hotel Year)waste no time opening this album with one of the most spine-tingling, explosive songs released this year. If this song doesn’t put its hooks into you on first listen and drag your through the rest of the album I’m not sure what’s wrong with you.
The most impressive thing is the way the songs eat their own tail. The album opens and closes in a very similar way and the middle tracks mirror each other. Its a touch that elevates this from merely a collection of songs to one of the best albums of 2014.
Spotify Link: The Hotelier – Home, Like Noplace is There
3. Tigers Jaw – Charmer (Run For Cover)
Tigers Jaw broke up. I mean….well they did. Kind of. Maybe? Well, not really. This album is born of some strange occurrences. Before even stepping into the recording studio 3/5 of the band quit. Then as not to be dicks they decided to record the album with the other 2 members. They should have phoned it in. They should have sabotaged it. But like I guess they really aren’t dicks because Charmer is one of the strongest collections of indie-pop to be released this year.
If you’re looking for nothing but great catchy synth tinged pop songs you have found the right album. It only takes one listen for you to get addicted to these songs. The pacing is excellent moving effortlessly between ballads and faster paced songs and back again. Charmer definitely took me by surprise as….I along with a lot of people thought the band was done for but instead they resurrected themselves better than ever.
Spotify Link: Tigers Jaw – Charmer
2. United Nations – The Next Four Years (Temporary Residence)
After a six year hiatus Geoff Rickly’s satirical hardcore band has returned. Now featuring a fully fleshed out lineup including 2 members of the as seen earlier on this list Pianos Become the Teeth the band spent a year building up a new mythos for themselves. Saying they had been releasing music in other countries since they were banned from doing so in the United States. The album was originally released as a box set full of these fake releases and artifacts from the intervening six years.
While that may sound interesting and all…how’s the music? Absolutely incredible. United Nations takes aim at everything from politics to their own existence and mocks it at a million miles per hour. The most amazing part is that even as they make fun of their peers and themselves they left every other hardcore band in their dust. Heavy music just didn’t get better than this in 2014. Here’s to the next four years.
Spotify Link: United Nations – The Next Four Years
1. La Dispute – Rooms Of The House (Better Living/Workhorse Music Group)
2014 is the year I fell super hard for La Dispute and it is most definitely because of this album. Sure, I liked them before but now I’m infatuated. La Dispute released one of the best debut albums in the history of punk/hardcore and then followed that up with the sometimes hard to sit through Wildlife. It was obvious that the band needed to take their grandiose ideas and reign them in a bit.
Rooms of the House accomplishes that goal expertly. It was as if they threw their first albums in a simmering pot of water and what emerged was La Dispute stock. It is their vision perfectly executed with never a wasted moment. Every musical twist and turn the album takes feels epic, feels necessary, but never overstays its welcome or fades too soon from your ears.
La Dispute has crafted nothing short of a touchstone album for this generation of hardcore kids. Bands will be formed because a group of kids listened to La Dispute. Rooms of the House is the shape of punk to come.
Spotify Link: La Dispute – Rooms of the House
Honorable Mentions and EPs/7″ etc
Self Defense Family Duets EP
The Felix Culpa/Foreign Tongues split
Moose Blood I’ll Keep You In Mind, From Time To Time
Rescuer Anxiety Answering
’68 In Humor And Sadness
Adventures/Pity Sex split
Adventures/Run Forever split
Newmoon Invitation To Hold
The World Is A Beautiful Place And I Am No Longer Afraid To Die Audiotree Live
Well, that’s it. For those of you who want to hear a taste of each album this is my Spotify playlist featuring a track from each. I hope you enjoy.
Top 10 of 2014 Playlist