With 2014 over it’s time to look back at the outstanding music that made this another great year for music.
Today we’re bringing you best of lists from Ashleigh Matview (PIV managing editor), Rob Kemerson (Safely), Jonas Vece (Safely), Lance Wells (PIV writer, ex Faded Grey), Ian Caramanzana (PIV/Vegas Seven writer, Acid Rain/Take Care), Sal Giordano (TheCore., No Red Alice, Revive Vegas), Chris Duggan (Unfair Fight, TheCore., PIV sound) Allan Carter (SquidHat Records), Tom Monahan (PIV alumnus), Stu Folsom (Folsom), Cash Colligan (rapper) and Jazmin Boulton (PIV writer).
1. Joyce Manor – Never Hungover Again
At just under 20 minutes – this if my favorite record of the year because I’m physically capable of jogging to it. And also because it is fantastic. And also because I agree that stage diving is dumb.
Favorite track: “In the Army Now”
2. Modern Baseball – You’re Gonna Miss It All
I arrived a little late to the Modern Baseball party, which is a socially awkward party I feel I’d fit right into. “Trying hard not to look like I’m trying that hard, failing miserably at everything including that. Making plans in my head right before I go to sleep, trying to think of who could make a better me than me” from “Two Good Things” is my sad girl jammy jam.
Favorite track: “Two Good Things”
3. Against Me! – Transgender Dysphoria Blues
We’d been hearing Laura sing “Black Me Out” live for a long time before this record came out, and having memorized all the lyrics to that perfect hate jam, you could tell that what they were working on was going to be a deeply personal record. Transgender Dysphoria Blues is somehow simultaneously heartbreaking and uplifting and empowering, and Laura’s physical transformation aside, I have so much respect for a band that continues to unapologetically mature over the years.
Favorite track: “Black Me Out”
4. Antactigo Vespucci – Soulmate Stuff
Bomb the Music Industry and Fake Problems are two of my favorite bands – so when I heard that BTMI frontman Jeff Rosenstock and verified Twitter celeb/Fake Problems leader Chris Farren were working on a project together, I knew it was going to be genius. These guys are experts at earworms and I dare you to listen to this record and not be humming the tunes for days.
Favorite track: “Don’t Die In Your Hometown 2”
5. I am the Avalanche – Wolverines
I’d listen to Vinnie Caruana sing a transcript of a parking ticket and still be engaged – but this record is seriously deserving of praise. The news that The Movielife is active again has the Punks in Vegas household all aflutter – but I’m wondering what this means for I Am the Avalanche given the fact that while Wolverines was critically loved, it seemed to be met with less fanfare than expected. Time will tell.
Favorite track: “The Shape I’m In”
6. Tigers Jaw – Charmer
I thought I had my list all nicely buttoned up when the hubs reminded me that this record came out this year and threw everything deliciously out of whack. Because I’ve been living under a rock where I shake my fist at what the kids are listening to, this record was my first introduction to Tigers Jaw, and it was love at first listen. I, like every other fan of the band, am interested to see where they go after losing the majority of their lineup – but I have high hopes for future greatness.
Favorite track: “Hum”
7. Masked Intruder – M.I.
Gimmick aside, Masked Intruder sounds amazing, always. I’m generally a “stand in the back and tap my toes and drink my beer” kind of gal – but these dangerous dudes are an exception. I’ll be up front making eyes at Green every time. (Sorry Steven).
Favorite track: “Almost Like We’re Already in Love.” The most straight forward love song the band has released, I actually put this on a mix for my mom. I hope she never looks any further into their discography.
8. Menzingers – Rented World
I’m a bit surprised at how far down my list Menzingers landed this year since they’re a consistent favorite of mine – but there’s just been too much great stuff this year. The record is still super solid though, and these guys are pros at what they do, which is making me want to scream things like “I Don’t Wanna Be an Asshole Anymore” at the top of my lungs. I can’t wait to see them play with Taking Back Sunday here in February.
Favorite track: “I Don’t Wanna Be an Asshole Anymore”
9. Mercy Music – When I Die, I’m Taking You With Me
Anytime someone from outside Vegas asks about the quality of our local scene, I point to Mercy Music. Brendan and Jarred’s previous band Deadhand was great (albeit terribly named – sorry guys), but Mercy Music surpasses great, and delves into some pretty magical rock territory. This trio of incredibly talented dudes deserves super stardom – and I think this record might take them there.
Favorite track: “Fine”
10. The Copyrights – Report
I really don’t know what to say about Report, except that it makes me happy, and my neighbors unhappy because I listen to it really, really loudly when I’m cleaning the kitchen and totally not lip-syncing into a spatula because who does that, right? Right? Missing these guys play Beauty Bar with The Queers and Teenage Bottlerocket last year is one my biggest show regrets. I need to get my priorities straight.
Favorite track: “No Knocks”
1. Front Bottoms – Rose
Front Bottoms are high on my list of top favorite bands right now, and it’s killing me that they never come through Vegas. Why you no love us Front Bottoms?
2. Antarctigo Vespucci – I’m So Tethered
If they’d combined these 4 songs with the 7 from Soulmate Stuff and released that as an LP – this would have been #1 on my whole list, due to “Mystery Pills” alone.
3. Choir Vandals – At Night
“At Night and in the Rain” was stuck in my head for weeks after we filmed a Stripped Down Session with these dudes. Waiting for the EP to come out to hear the full band version was painful, but totally worth it.
1. Copeland – Ixora
The other record that came after an extended break from the artist and exceeded all expectations! I didn’t think it was possible for Copeland to make an album that I liked as much as You Are My Sunshine, but then again I didn’t think they were ever going to make another record period. With Ixora, not only did they create something on the same level as YAMS, they raised the bar! Every song on this record is gorgeous from start to finish. Vocalist Aaron Marsh really brought his A-game for this one and floored me once again with his use of falsetto and melodies that rise and fall like waves. Ixora is overflowing with honesty and emotion seeping through the cracks of every vocal melody, string arrangement, and drum beat. The compositions are deceptively intricate, every listen through this record has me noticing little nuances that I had never noticed before and appreciating the musicianship that much more. If anybody reading this gave the album a shot and didn’t care for it much, I urge you to listen again and take the time to really sit and take it all in. Copeland blew me away with this album by showing me just how much beauty and powerful emotion can be put into a group of songs. It is incredibly inspiring and simultaneously makes me feel the need to immediately get to work on my craft as a song-writer because there is a lot left to be accomplished. I love this record.
Favorite tracks: “Chirmoancer,” “In Her Arms You Will Never Starve,” “Erase,” “Disjointed”
2. St. Vincent – S/T
While not an immediate hit for me, the time this record took to grow on me actually helped me to really appreciate it in the end. It’s weird, like very weird, and that is what I love about it. Annie Clark has a unique approach to everything from guitar playing to lyrics and melodies, her style is all her own and it’s impressive. The perfect use of both beauty and cacophony is displayed on this record with intent. Everything has its place and serves a purpose as a small part of a big picture that takes the shape of whatever Annie Clark decides it should. I honestly cannot say enough good things about her musicianship, and while her style may be off-putting at first, once it clicks with you it really clicks. I absolutely love everything about this album and every album of hers that came before it. Sometimes the albums that take their time and grow on you seem to nestle into a place that impacts you deeper in the long run.
Favorite track: “Huey Newton”
3. The Hotelier – Home, Like NoPlace Is There
This album is one that hit me instantly upon first listen. The moment in the first song that everything really kicks in was the moment that I knew I was in for something special and the rest of the album did not disappoint. The Hotelier tackles some really heavy themes and many different song styles throughout this record and consistently nails them. From the simplistic guitar and vocal driven intro to the fast, heavy, and in your face song “Life In Drag,” everything this band tried on this album seemed to be working for them. This is another lyrically driven album that will spend equal time tugging at your heart strings and shouting its opinions into your headphones.
Favorite track: “Dendron”
4. Run The Jewels – RTJ2
Making my list two years in a row with two different albums says a bit about Run The Jewels’ consistency. What I love about the RTJ records is the energy! You can just hear that El-P and Killer Mike are having a blast creating these songs together and it always translates to me having a great time listening. Not the most serious project either man has been a part of, but sometimes it’s nice to just let go and enjoy the friendly competition between these two great rappers as they pass verse after verse back and forth constantly pushing to one-up one another.
Favorite track: “Blockbuster Night Pt 1”
5. Damien Rice – My Favourite Faded Fantasy
Any time an artist takes an extended break between albums there tends to be concern about whether or not they’ll be able to recapture the magic of the albums that got you into them (hint: another band who took an extended break between albums will show up later on this list). For Damien Rice, that wasn’t an issue with My Favourite Faded Fantasy. While not up there with his most iconic record (2002’s O) MFFF is a gem of an album that carries an almost overwhelming amount of emotion through every song. With only one song on the album not passing the 5-minute mark, it can be a taxing listen to take in at once. However, the fact that they keep your attention throughout and seemingly fly by is a testament to just how great a song-writer Rice is.
Favorite track: “The Box”
6. Hailey, It Happens – Under The Brilliant Lights
This is a band I had never heard of prior to the release of their album this year but it grabbed me instantly. There isn’t a weak song on here in my opinion, and the best part is that this band is just getting started. As strong as this album is, I feel like they are only scratching the surface of what they’re capable of and will continue to impress with future releases. The production is very minimal and makes great use of space throughout the piano/synth driven compositions, but the great vocals and personal lyrics really carry these songs to another level. If you’re a pop/R&B fan, you should really give Hailey, It Happens a listen.
Favorite track: “Cuernavaca”
7. Seahaven – Reverie Lagoon: Music For Escapism Only
I liked Seahaven’s first record, but this was a huge step in the right direction for the band. They ditched the guitar driven rock sound from Winter Forever and replaced it with ambience and a subtlety that grabs your attention and refuses to let it go. I feel like the band made a wise choice with the change in sound as it seems to really play to their strengths and helps them to stand out from the sea of upcoming bands.
Favorite track: “Silhouette (Latin Skin)”
8. Noah Gundersen – Ledges
I’ve been a fan of Noah’s for a while now and he did not disappoint with his first full length. The album is full of his perfectly crafted folk songs with heartfelt vocal melodies, and gorgeous string arrangements. Just a great album through and through.
Favorite track: “Ledges”
9. The Menzingers – Rented World
The Menzingers are an incredibly consistent band. Rented World didn’t feel like a huge progression or step out of their comfort zone, but they do what they do so well that I don’t think it needed to be either of those things.
Favorite track: “Where Your Heartache Exists”
10. Killer Mike – Sunday Morning Massacres
Recorded and shelved in ’08 and finally released this year, this collection of songs captured Mike at a time when he was incredibly hungry and incredibly frustrated with his surroundings. It has a mood to it.
Favorite track: “The Devil Is A Lie”
1. The Quitters – Contributing To Erosion
I realize I am biased, but this is quite simply one of my favorite albums, period. The long journey to the release of this record and the resulting album are icing on the cake. It really shows a band I’ve always admired coming into their own, finding their voice and maturing as performers and writers.
Favorite tracks: “ISWID” and the title track.
2. Mercy Music – When I Die, I’m Taking You With Me
I loved Deadhand, I loved Brendan solo and I really, really fucking love this band, this album and this line-up. The songwriting is top notch and catchy. The band is tight as fuck and the guitar playing is nothing short of inspiring. These guys are the real deal.
Favorite track: “Undone.” Pure, rock n roll heaven in less than 3 minutes.
3. Sounds Of Threat – Creature Of Habit
There is nothing more exciting than seeing an energetic live band capture that live, aggressive feel on record. SOT really delivered with this strong debut album and they continue to amaze me every day. Raw, real punk.
Favorite track: “Yellow Truck” … it’s as pure a punk song as anyone could hope for.
4. War Called Home – Defenders
A solid EP release from a solid band. Great musicality and I really dig this drummer.
Favorite track: “Clocks and Locks.” It’s just good ol’ fashioned fun punk rock.
5. Surrounded By Thieves – Self Titled
We were so happy to release this record and the sweat and passion these guys put into their music really came across. It’s a solid wave of punches to the face. Angry, honest, sometimes brutal. Everything you want in a punk record.
Favorite track: “TKO.” It just has everything I personally look for in a balls-out song.
6. Illicitor – Three For Free
Pure, raw energy and you can never go wrong if Micah Malcolm is playing the drums. I saw him do a three band set at the Bunkhouse playing for Illicitor, Quitters and New Cold War … back to back to back. It was ridiculous. This is a great EP.
Favorite track: “Body & The Dirt”
7. New Cold War – Self-titled EP
The energy that this band brings to everything is absolutely nuts and it’s captured here in 5 frenetic tracks. I like “Growing Down”. It’s the stuff and style I’ve come to love from the Andy Harrison/John Brown one-two punch.
8. Ang Kerfoot & Dana Dau – Kings
This was a pleasant surprise for me. I’ve been a fan of trip hop for years – Massive Attack, Portishead, etc. This album takes the best of all of those elements and adds a really dark edge. The lyrics are powerful and often scathing – with a really focused wit. My favorite track is “Spooky Mouth.” The lyric “I’ll take the dark street solo over a well-known crowd of well Lit peers.” is awesome.
1. 7 Seconds – Leave a Light On
Quite possibly my favorite hardcore band. With elements of hardcore, pop punk, and rock, this new album features a mix of music that represents nearly every era of 7 Seconds’ diverse discography. 30+ years later and still so crucial.
2. Bane – Don’t Wait Up
The final album from Bane and it is outstanding. These guys have given us so much energy, honesty, and passion over the years. A truly special band that will be dearly missed when they finally stop playing live.
3. Bob Mould – Beauty & Ruin
I really enjoyed 2012’s Silver Age, but I like this album even more. Twelve songs of guitar driven “college” rock from one of the masters of the craft. Foo Fighters, eat your heart out.
4. Dead Ending – DE III
The third EP in an ongoing series of raging, political hardcore from members of all your favorite Chicago bands. The song “We Were Always Right” also features guest vocals from Jake Burns of Stiff Little Fingers. Watch for an LP soon.
5. Give – Electric Flower Circus
Revolution Summer inspired tunes from longhairs that love Youth of Today. Sound a little weird? Wait until you see the cover art.
6. OFF! – Wasted Years LP/Learn To Obey EP
I think it’s so rad thatKeith Morris and company continue to release new music instead of resting on their punk/HC laurels. I’ve enjoyed every OFF! release up to this point, but these songs rip harder than the rest. So much more vital than any Black Flag reunion.
7. The Old Firm Casuals – This Means War
Quick disclaimer: I have never been into Rancid, Oi, skinheads, soccer, or violence. That said, every song here is an anthem that is so simple yet so damn catchy. I still don’t back 100% of the lyrics, but I enjoyed this nonetheless.
8. Praise – Lights Went Out
Hardcore from Baltimore that is heavily inspired by classic bands from across the beltway (most notably Dag Nasty and Ignition). It’s great to hear music with melody that still has a punch, and the personal message is cool as well. We need more modern HC bands like this.
9. Sick of it All – Last Act of Defiance
Easily one of the most consistent and relentless bands in the history of hardcore. Over 25 years since the band’s inception, and the lyrics and music are more urgent than ever. These dudes continue to put most bands to shame, especially all of those reunion acts that refuse to write new material or go away.
10. Slapshot – S/T
Choke is the only original member of the band at this point, and yet this still sounds like classic Slapshot. Per usual, the message sways more toward the negative than the positive, but I can relate to the majority of it. Aside from a strange cover to close out the album, this is flawless, no frills hardcore.
411 The Side You Cannot See- LP, EP, and compilation songs remastered.
Bl’ast The Expression of Power- all three recorded versions of this classic LP remastered.
Big Boys Lullabies Help The Brain Grow & No Matter How Long The Line Is At The Cafeteria, There’s Always a Seat! – both LP’s remastered and packaged in gatefold covers with additional photos.
Excel Split Image- remastered OOP LP with compilation songs and demos in a gatefold cover.
Hot Water Music Fuel For The Hate Game – remastered on 180 gram vinyl at 45 rpm with limited silk-screened covers.
Integrity Den of Iniquity- remastered RSD release on 2xLP that includes a lot of hard to find cuts.
Jawbreaker 24 Hour Revenge Therapy- remastered and released on vinyl after being OOP forever.
Rollins Band Lifetime- one of the heaviest records remastered and finally on vinyl again.
Unbroken Life, Love, Regret- remastered 20th anniversary Black Friday RSD version.
Unwound Rat Conspiracy & No Energy- beautiful 3xLP box sets.
1. Lust For Youth – International
It took nearly five years for the Copenhagen project (now a trio) to find its sweet spot. Simply put, International is post-punk/pop brilliance. I’ve hummed just about every synth line and guitar riff on this record to myself daily since its June release. It’s a cohesive masterpiece that’s meant to be enjoyed from start to finish.
Favorite track: “New Boys”
2. Iceage – Plowing Into the Field of Love
There must be something in the water in Copenhagen because the city reeks of talent. Denmark’s punk darlings continued to progress in 2014. They’ve abandoned the twangy buzzsaw guitars on their previous albums for moody country rock. Plowing…is refreshing in that it’s just as ambitious as it is inventive.
Favroite track: “Stay”
3. Alex G – DSU
Remember that super nerdy kid in gym class who refused to take off his hoodie, even in the summer? Well, he just happens to be a songwriter…a damned good one at that. DSU is equal parts Elliot Smith and Weezer, and Alex used the less-is-more approach to craft some of the most memorable tunes I’ve heard this year.
Favorite track: “Sorry”
4. Mac Demarco – Salad Days
From 2012 to 2013, Mac Demarco was the undisputed champion of the indie world. The Brooklyn songwriter showcased his talent, wits, and undeniable personality on 2. These traits are all present in Salad Days, but like the songwriter, they’ve all matured. The result is a stellar album that showcases Demarco’s ability to write a wide variety of songs.
Favorite track – “Chamber of Reflection”
5. Freddie Gibbs & Madlib – Pinata
We finally got an LP from this unlikely pairing in 2014 after they released a few songs in 2012 and 2013, and it’s a fucking banger. Madlib was pretty quiet during the time leading up to the release—probably because he was hard at work on this gem of an album, and Gibb’s gangsta flow is top-notch. Don’t sleep on this.
Favorite track: “Deeper”
6. Merchandise – After the End
Merchandise frontman Carson Cox mentioned in several interviews that After the End is new a beginning in the Merchandise saga. It’s true. The brilliant pop/rock album strays away from their experimental kraut-rock and focuses on their Smiths/New Order influences.
Favorite track: “Little Killer”
7. Perfume Genius – Too Bright
Beauty. Just…beauty. Though it’s incredibly “soft,” there’s something inherently punk rock about Mike Hadreas’ album. I’ll let Pitchfork’s Brandon Stosuy do the rest of the talking: “These songs feel less like songs and more like treasures, ones that fill you with power and wisdom, and as a result, Too Bright seems capable of resonating with, comforting, and moving anyone who’s ever felt alienated, discriminated against, or “other-ized,” regardless of sexual orientation.”
Favorite track: “Queen”
8. Alvvays – S/T
The music world is saturated with female-fronted bands, but Alvvays sticks out in the fact that the band can infuse 50s rock flavor in their indie-laden pop. This is definitely one the catchiest records from beginning-to-end I’ve heard this year. Oh yeah, Molly Rankin is fox.
Favorite track: “Party Police”
9. RL Grime – Void
For one reason or another, I managed to distance myself from punk/hardcore in 2014. What did I use to fill that void? Dance music. I heard RL Grime’s” Core” early in the year and I was instantly hooked. This album showcases the LA producer’s versatility. Sure, he can create hard-hitting (dare I say it) trap, but he can also make some beautiful hip hop instrumentals.
Favorite track: “Valhalla”
10. The Bilinda Butchers – Heaven
The San Francisco quartet gave us 13 tracks of gorgeous anime/Japanese-influenced dreampop. Need I say more?
1. Copeland – Ixora
One of my favorite bands ever. I haven’t been able to get over this album since I got it. Nothing too out of the ordinary happening here. Just a damn good album that ranks among the best in their catalog. Aaron Marsh makes beautiful music with the most sincere and heartfelt lyrics you will ever hear. Seriously, if you can get over halfway through this album without having to take at least one mental health break than you’re a stronger person than me. HIGHLY recommend this.
2. Banks – Goddess
This is an album that you would expect to find much further into her career but this being a debut is almost unfathomable. The stories she tells, the way you immediately get lost in it and feel like you’re experiencing this album from her perspective is a level of songwriting some artists never achieve. Dark. Somber. Most of all beautiful. This has been on heavy rotation for me.
3. Pianos Become the Teeth – Keep You
Some bands try to change things within their style and fail…hard. That said, somehow PBTT released an album so refreshing and such a knock out of the park that it makes you wonder why they weren’t all over this sound the whole time. Very moody and honest album. I suppose those two major constants for the band are what makes a shift this abrupt so easy to accept. Couple that with the mid heavy, sonically rich production and you have the perfect formula for an album that I expect to see on many AOTY lists.
4. Lana Del Rey – Ultraviolence
I was never a fan of hers. I knew of her. I would hear her music in passing. I never cared. Then the video for “West Coast” was released and I needed more. I watched that video all the time and then as other songs began to be released it became an album I strangely found myself anticipating. Lana delivers both subtle and not so subtle punches to the throat on Ultraviolence all wrapped in smooth, rhythm heavy, reverb soaked instrumentals. Because of that production the whole album feels like a dream and I love it.
5. FKA Twigs – LP1
Another impressive debut on this list. LP1 is infectious, extremely groove oriented (though the rhythms can be subtle at times, they’re there and layered very strategically). One of a few primarily electronic albums that has come out that I just stand in awe of. The imagination that went into each aspect of this record is definitely worth a listen.
6. Broods – Evergreen
I was listening to Banks on Spotify and under related artists there was Broods. I clicked on them. Got 3 songs in and bought it right there. Evergreen is one smooth hook after the next (if you can’t tell by now I really love R and B/ soul music).
7. The Antlers – Familiars
I am huge fan of The Antlers. Hospice remains one of my favorite albums ever. That said in the years since Hospice they changed gears a bit and began writing more stripped down songs that, while good, just didn’t sound like they had the same effort put in. On this album they returned to the layercake of sound that was Hospice but without it feeling like a Hospice sequel. Some of the catchiest vocal melodies I’ve heard from the band yet as well as the saddest trumpet sounds I’ve heard maybe ever. Trumpet not just as a here and there thing either. There’s trumpet all over this record and works so damn well. Very pleasantly surprised by this release.
8. Indian – From all Purity
This is the only metal release I put on this list because it’s the only one I heard this year that sounds the way I want metal to sound- dense and oppressing. No other metal album I heard this year, though there were a lot of great ones in their own right, even came close to this level of heaviness. Instant classic for the genre.
9. Tigers Jaw – Charmer
I keep coming back to this. It is rock songs not too much unlike others you may have heard but there is a certain sincerity and charisma there that makes these stories and riffs feel more believable. Very solid release.
10. White Suns – Totem
To me, Totem is an important release. White Suns serve as a very loud and abrasive reminder that music is art, and sometimes art is (and maybe should be) dangerous and free. This album, though a very tough pill to swallow, gives me hope- knowing that there are people out there trying to break the norm and be original. Which, with the amount of subgenres and blueprints that exist these days, is a lot easier said than done. I imagine a live set from White Suns consists more of them trying use their instruments as weapons than caring about technique and structure. If you consider yourself a fan of noise rock or extreme music in any regard I highly recommend that you check this out.
1. Every Time I Die – From Parts Unknown
2. Such Gold – The New Sidewalk
3. Code Orange – I Am King
4. Trap Them – Blissfucker
5. Mercy Music – When I Die I’m Taking You With Me
6. Punch – They Don’t Have To Believe
7. War Called Home – Defenders
8. “Weird Al” Yankovic – Mandatory Fun
9. Comeback Kid – Die Knowing
10. ’68 – In Humor And Sadness
To any friends I may have missed, you can kick me in the balls. #noonecares
1. Black Anvil – Hail Death
2. The Gaslight Anthem – Get Hurt
3. Lagwagon – Hang
4. Against Me! – Transgender Dysphoria Blues
5. Madball – Hardcore Lives
6. Mercy Music - When I Die, I’m Taking You With Me
1. Flying Lotus – You’re Dead!
2. The Horrors – Luminous
3. Joyce Manor – Never Hungover Again
4. Makthaverskan -II
5. Run the Jewels – Run the Jewels 2
6. Sharon Van Etten – Are We There
7. Swans – To Be Kind
8. Total Control – Typical System
9. Todd Terje – It’s Album Time
Sheer Mag 7”
Everybody Row – The Sea Inside
1. Old 97′s – Hitchhike to Rhome reissue
Debut album by one of my all-time favorite bands. Absolute altcountry dynamite. I wore this record out ten or fifteen years ago, had a fantastic time revisiting it.
Favorite track: “If My Heart Was A Car”
2. Lydia Loveless – Really Want To See You
I’ve always followed the Bloodshot Records catalog. I think it was a Wayne Hancock record that I had ordered, that came with a ton of promo swag for this Lydia Loveless album. Fast forward a month or two, sweltering heat and dripping humidity on a back porch, post gig, late night hang in Houston. A dear friend demands that I get this record. I spent about a month with this blasting to and from work on a cdr I had burned with Really Want To See You backed with The Byrds LP Sweethearts Of The Rodeo. Needless to say, I fell in love with this gem.
Favorite track: “Wine Lips”
3. Against Me! – Transgender Dysphoria Blues
My girl and I share a long standing love affair with AM! We flew out to Boston to see Laura Jane Grace play this record acoustically, right before it came out and Mina Caputo opened. Crazy to think that the singer of Life of Agony whose River Runs Red album was in constant rotation when I was an angry teenager is also trans. Don’t put love in a box homey. Awesome record.
Favorite track: “True Trans Soul Rebel”
4. Ringworm – Hammer Of The Witch
I love the Worm. Always have, always will. Metalcore done proper. The Human Furnace still sounds like a demon preaching a fire and brimstone sermon in the deepest darkest pits of hell.
Favorite track: “Hammer Of The Witch”
5. Blacklist Royals – Die Young With Me
Do yourself a favor. Throw on a leather jacket, comb some grease in your hair, stay out late, roll down them windows and crank this shit up.
Favorite track: “Righteous Child”
6. Old 97′s – Most Messed Up
Ever wonder what it would be like if Rhett Miller stripped off his 60s pop sugar coating, got drunk, screamed fuck the world and wrote some jams? Me too. Here it is.
Favorite track: “Nashville”
7. American Aquarium – Wolves
My brother Curtis turned me onto AA and I have devoured their catalog. As I’m writing this year end list I am actually sitting in my friend’s house in Texas, Death Threat and Will to Live are playing tomorrow night. American Aquarium and Turnpike Troubadours (another of my favorite new country bands) are playing Saturday. Life is good. Fuck an a.
Favorite track: “Wolves”
8. Gaslight Anthem – Get Hurt
I know, I know… you stopped listening to Gaslight, they’ve sold out and lost their way. Go Fuck You. I jam everything this band puts out hard. I had some jack ass tell me that this was Brian Fallon’s “break up record” and it was as plastic and soulless as an 80s rock bar band. So….. there is that, I guess.
Favorite track: “Get Hurt”
9. Lucero – Live in Atlanta
Long overdue live record from one of my favorite bands to watch live. I was lucky enough to catch them with some close friends at the Cobra Lounge in Chicago after Riot Fest. Killer.
Favorite track: “That Much Further West”
1. Cash Colligan – HipPOP
A unique blend of rap and modern day pop with a hint of vulgarity. Eminem meets One Direction – www.soundcloud.com/thecashcolligan
Favorite tracks: “Hello, Misses” and “Ashes”
2. Ekoh - Zzyxz Road
Favorite track: “Meet me at the Bottom”
3. Tommy B – various
Favorite track: “So Disrespectful”
4. Almost Normal – Live in Technicolor
5. The Real Ulysses
7. Austin Cain
8. Funk Shuay
Favorite track: “Minutes”
9. King Anthony J
Favorite track: “Find a Way”
10. Otherwise – Peace at all Cost
1. Awkwafina – Yellow Ranger
This Asian female rapper with a solid flow and an even more solid sense of humor captured my heart pretty quickly with lyrics like “I’m like Amanda Bynes in that I don’t give a fuck” and “I believe in karma, when I’m eating shawarma, that some of us were meant to be named after water.” Awkwafina often produces her own music (that is, makes the beats herself) as well. This is her first full-length album, and I can’t wait to see where she’ll go from here.
Favorite Track: “Janet Reno Mad”
2. Be Like Max – Just Trying to Fit In… Your Mom
This album definitely has more of an aggressive punk vibe than “Play in the Mud.” That said, the “ska” part of ska/punk is certainly not missing either. I’ve listened to this album countless times while driving. Fun fact: I was blasting (and may or may not have been skanking in my seat to) “Bring On the Suits” when I was pulled over for speeding on the 95.
Favorite Track: “Chin Up”
3. Sorority Noise – Forgettable
Sorority Noise should have named their latest album “Relatable.” Every single song on it is full of the kind of angsty, teenage heartbreak that tears you down with every line. Some songs are more melancholy than others, but all of them evoke memories of missed chances and failed relationships. Though the album sounds light enough to listen to on a road trip, I recommend that you take the time to listen to it by yourself.
Favorite Track: “Blonde Hair, Black Lungs”
4. Survay Says! – Observations of the Human Condition
You can definitely tell how much the band has grown in this album. The song matter is more serious, the music more cohesive. I’m bummed I missed Survay Says! the last time they were in Vegas, but their newest album almost makes up for it.
Favorite Track: “Cake Eater (Featuring Joe Ragosta)”
5. Watsky – All You Can Do
I’ll be honest, I pre-ordered a signed copy of this album. I was not disappointed. I’ve been a fan of George Watsky for about 5 years now, and I was still blown away. Sometimes he is catchy and charismatic (like in “Whoa Whoa Whoa”), other times his songs break your heart in two (like in “Sarajevo”).
Favorite Track: “Right Now (feat. Lisa Vitale)”
6. Interpol – El Pintor
Interpol is now a trio, and a band that has not quite lyrically matured in ways that its peers have. In spite of that, and the fact that I’m sure many fans would disagree, I genuinely enjoyed this album. It’s certainly not their best album, but it’s not their worst either. It’s a nice, shallow in-between that makes the perfect background music for daydreaming.
Favorite Track: “All the Rage Back Home”
7. Divided Heaven – Youngblood
I first heard Divided Heaven live, at the Artistic Armory. I immediately bought this gem. Soft and folky don’t usually go along with punk, but that’s exactly what Divided Heaven did here. If you could age teenage angst like a fine wine, the result would be this album.
Favorite Track: “Crooked Smiles / Brutal Miles”
8. The A-Oks – Funemployment Benefits
The A-Oks’ signature “partycore” style of music strikes again. There are some great tracks on this album, with the fan favorite probably being “Misfortune Cookie.” Thanks to this band and this album, the Denver ska scene will be sure to see me this summer.
Favorite Track: “Panic Pills and Mayhem Medicine”
9. Hard Pipe Hitters – Revenge, Rebellion, and What Have You
Although my favorite track doesn’t exactly say “break the system” or “stick it to the man,” I highly admire Hard Pipe Hitters for returning to punk’s roots: anarchy and rebellion. The topics of misogyny, abortion, cop-killing, and corporations are complimented perfectly by the hardcore punk nature of the band.
Favorite Track: “Chicken and Waffles”
10 Ex Hex – Rips
I only recently found this album, and I wish I could say otherwise. Comprised of three women, Ex Hex brings back 80’s rock in a way that is neither embarrassing nor dull. Teeming with girl power, most of the songs are fairly short. And the music video for “Waterfall” is priceless.
Favorite Track: “How You Got That Girl”
Les Conards a l’orange – E.P. telephone maison
Little Comets – The Gentle EP
Photo of Allan Carter by Justin Yurkanin. Photos of Ashleigh Matview, Tom Monahan and Ian Caramanzana by Steven Matview. Photo of Rob Kemerson by Tylor Thuirer. Photos of Chris Duggan and Sal Giordano by Aaron Mattern. Photo of Stu Folsom by Aaron Bautista. “PIV Best of 2014″ banner created by Adam Blasco of Adam Blasco Design.