My Favorite Albums of 2014
I didn't craft a true Best Albums of 2014 list this year. While there’s a few records I adored, anything deeper than a Top 10 would have been largely arbitrary. My hypothetical #26 would’ve been nearly equal to my hypothetical #13. And for the most part, I found many of 2014's offerings to fall into that 6 or 7 / 10 range — good, but not great. Rather than falling victim to silly debates album vs. album debates, I figured I’d just highlight some of my personal favorites of the year in no particular order.
I had full faith that Copeland would return with something worth hearing, but I never expected it to enter debates about the band’s best material. Ixora is gorgeous, dynamic, and easily one of 2014's best albums. Longterm fans will adore the continuation of You Are My Sunshine while new fans enjoy a great starting place for their catalog.
PBTT’s shift in vocal style stole every headline, but the band’s builds won me over — the dynamics are more subtle here, but important. That album’s tonal shift between “Repine” to “Late Lives” is just fantastic — love how the brighter second half accentuates the darker first half, only to end as weighted as ever. Can’t wait for more.
No Coast was my first introduction to Braid (I know, unacceptable), but I’m so glad I finally dove in. Couldn’t believe these guys were vets — the sound’s still so fresh. Guitars with the right amount of noodling, unique vocals that are unlike anything I’ve ever heard, and crisp songs with great bridges. Now I understand why every musician loves these guys.
From Indian Lakes’ Absent Sounds
Following up a perfect record is a tall task — so From Indian Lakes evolved. Absent Sounds isn’t Able Bodies, and it shouldn’t be. The new album shows the band expanding their sound, refining their craft, and cementing what’s sure to be a long career of inspiring musicians and fans alike. Once again, From Indian Lakes have released a beloved album.
I can’t remember ever being as excited for a band after hearing “Mad” — just a sensational way to show the world that Emarosa was back in new form. Versus lived up to the single’s promise, delivering a rock-centric sound that totally works. Whether the true-to-form “People Like Me…” or the slower “I’ll Just Wait” won you over, it’s clear Emarosa have a bright future.
There’s always one post-rock album that takes my breath away. A friend sold me this band as a good MovMou lifeline (which they are), but I grew to love the huge guitar builds — few bands sound this massive. Most three-guitar bands don’t really need the extra axe, but Gates justify it with immense walls of sound. Pretty, powerful, and perfect.
Rock ‘n Roll at its finest. Mega riffs backing huge hooks and occassionally cheesy, but always catchy lyrics. This is Lower Than Atlantis perfecting a formula they’ve been creeping on for years. Rock nthem after rock anthem. Someone put these guys in stadiums, now.
I’m poorly equipped to comment on anything emo-revival, but I really enjoy this album. The guitar runs, the deep layers, the gritty vocals — it all works for me. I barely know how to describe it. Just go listen. It’s great, dynamic record full of wonderful songs worthy of a rainy afternoon.
Yes, I have a nu-metal / R&B / post-hardcore / pop-punk record here — because it’s a great record. Insanely catchy no matter which genre they’re leaning into. It’s popular for critics to abolish this sort of “trendy” sound, but Issues wrote a concise, eclectic album that’s undeniable. Get with it — this band’s on to something and here to stay.
As the scene’s answers to Top 40 sounds, PVRIS came out of nowhere. White Noise is spectacular from cover to cover, completely mesmerizing with tasteful vocals and electronics. Hypnotic tracks like “Holy” resonate as much as singles like “St. Patrick.” It’d surprise no one if PVRIS completely took over the world — it’s a matter of time.
Thoroughly enjoy every album mentioned above, but all of these are worth checking out as well, even without pretty formatting and album art. They’re listed alphabetically so you don’t fight me.
Architects’ Lost Forever // Lost Together — It’s been a long while since I’ve listened to metalcore, but Architects just crushed it with LF//LT.
Artifex Pereo’s Time In Place — Technical prowess with velvety vocals will always win me over. With a few more hooks, Artifex Pereo could take over.
Being As An Ocean’s How We Both Wondrously Perish — Post-hardcore w/ spoken word, screams and cleans balancing & twisting the formula.
Bleachers’ Strange Desire — Jack Antonoff can do no wrong. In a year without fun., Strange Desire delivered everything I loved from Steel Train.
Ed Sheeran’s X — Guys, he writes good songs. Seriously.
Hail The Sun’s Wake — I expected HTS to lean towards a more melodic, accessible sound, but the band stayed true to form (and I’m so glad they did). Concentrated chaos is still their best descriptor.
The Hotelier’s Home, Like No Place There Is — go read every other writer’s opinions on the album, because it’s all been said.
Hozier’s Hozier — “Take Me To Church” is just the tip of the iceberg.
La Dispute’s Rooms Of The House — Just as emotional as you’d expect with more subtlety than previous albums. The band sounds great in this more refined form, though Rooms… is slightly less compelling than older material.
Moose Blood’s I’ll Keep You In Mind, From Time To Time- Emo with some 90's a la Gin Blossoms with a hint of Misser — real good stuff.
Kiven’s Kiven — Young The Giantish and Paper Routish and Happy Body Slow Brainish and worth a listen.
Somos’ Temple Of Plenty — I guess it’s melodic punk? But not fast punk. I don’t know. It’s a good album w/ great flow, clever lyrics, and unique vocals.
Taking Back Sunday’s Happiness Is — I didn’t think TBS had anything left in the tank, but Happiness Is ranks among their best material.
This Wild Life’s Clouded — the tried & true acoustic duo format, perfected.
Weatherbox’s Flies In All Directions — anything that comes from the mind of Brian Warren is sure to be absurd and fantastic — love the guitars.
Wovenwar’s Wovenwar— As I Lay Dying’s musicians + Oh, Sleeper’s Shane Blay = an excellent metalcore sound that should transcend the genre.
You+Me’s Rose Ave — the most interesting thing Dallas Green has released since Little Hell. His voice meshes perfectly with Pink for wonderful folk.