2013 is still my contender for best (recent) year of music releases, so 2014 had a lot to live up to. By that logic there should be a shortage of exceptionally great music, but many new bands filled that void. The theme of 2014 is quality over quantity, as some of these releases (top 3 in particular) would’ve made making last year’s list a whole lot more challenging. On the whole I’d still rate 2013 » 2014 but here’s my favorites of the last 12 months, in some sort of particular order:
1. Bloom & Breathe - Gates
The only LP I’ve ever pre-ordered (up until yesterday for You Blew It’s new EP coming out next January) and I couldn’t be happier. Simply blew me away the first listen and continues to do so now. So proud of these Jersey boys for finally releasing a breathtaking full length that is most certainly AOTY material.
2. Descensus - Circa Survive
Not only did I not expect a new Circa record this year, it almost didn’t happen. After Violent Waves and a tumultuous year, (read the link, it changed my perspective on the band, in a good way) they come back on Sumerian with one of the hardest hitting and most melodic Circa LPs ever. Do listen to.
3. Keep Doing What You’re Doing - You Blew It!
I couldn’t have been more excited for YBI’s sophomore album, the first release of 2014, and it still exceeded my expectations. Tanner and co can certainly write melodies and harmonies like no other. Pair that with the best song title ever (“Award of the Year Award”) and you’ve got a winner that I’m still infatuated with almost 11 months later.
4. I Lost Myself Again - Forever Losing Sleep
Definitely the sleeper artist/album of this list, for I would’ve never heard of them if I didn’t purchase a used Telecaster from this kid in Jersey. He happened to like the band so I saw their posts and viola. Emo 2014 love at first tease of “Trophied”. Simply amazing, just wish it were longer than 8 songs.
5. The Dream Walker - Angels & Airwaves
Tom DeLonge is back ladies and gentlemen, and better than ever, accompanied with multi-instrumentalist Ilan Rubin. I love the stylistic nature of the duo, it blends so beautifully and cohesively. After 2 okay-ish Love records, I’m glad to say that Angels & Airwaves are back to form; this feels like the true successor of I-Empire and that is a wonderful thing.
6. Alaskan Summer - Haverford
A band I wish I discovered much earlier, but boy am I glad I found them after their debut album last year. Technically only an EP, but these 6 songs really capture emo at its finest: honest lyrics with near perfect guitar and rhythm sections. Shout out to these Long Island (or should I say Strong Island) boys.
7. Loom - Frameworks
More Florida love here, but in a completely different genre. Side-note: last year’s #7 was also a hardcore-ish release.. Coincidence much?? Anyways, Frameworks does awesome things, yes much awesome. Live not so much. But studio-ily flawless. Bonus points for the die-cut vinyl album cover, and for being from Florida.
8. You’re Gonna Miss It All - Modern Baseball
I still prefer Sports but you can’t help but be amazed by the talent these college kids have. The musicianship and lyrics are clearly on-point, and the music is expertly crafted. Probably one of the hardest working bands out there, they deserve everything that has happened to them this year.
9. Joie De Vivre / Prawn split
Prawn has slowly crept up to becoming one of my favorite bands (although Kingfisher could’ve been better), so I was very excited for any new material and they for sure delivered. But Joie De Vivre though, holy shit! “Tenstopet” is amazing, love me some trumpet jams. Best split of the year.
10. Never Hungover Again - Joyce Manor
Pre-2014 I honestly hated this band; the voice, the music, the everything. Come summer and I noticed their new LP (a full 18 mins of music) and I kind of blocked it out until I heard “Falling In Love Again”. Damn. I still may dislike their older material, but the majority of this album is gold. Never judge a book by it’s terribly sung cover.
Recall my glorious top ten from 2013, one of the hardest lists to compile ever simply because there were so many amazing albums. 1-3 could easily be swapped around:
1. Whenever, If Ever - TWIABP
2. Everything Between Paint and a Wall - Grandview
3. The Things We Think We’re Missing - Balance and Composure
4. S/t - Moving Mountains
5. Summer Death - Marietta
6. What You Don’t See - The Story So Far
7. The Difference Between Hell and Home - Counterparts
8. The Earth Pushed Back - Have Mercy
9. Pretty Good - Dads
10. Magnolia - Turnover
Okay so finding a cool title for this show review was easier than I thought, and fricken clever if I do say so myself (a You Blew It song with Modern Baseball hidden in there hehe). But enough of the jokes, time to do a quick blog entry/show review of last night [July 1] in Cambridge, MA at The Middle East Upstairs which featured Mixtapes, You Blew It, Light Years, Modern Baseball, and a local opener called Agree to Disagree.
First of all, let's talk about the venue; it has a small basement show feel to it while housing 194 occupants, a mini bar area, and merch tables. For those who don't know of/have never been to The Middle East, I will be the one to inform you that they have a strict no stage diving/crowd surfing policy despite the fact the stage is 2 feet tall and has no barrier. As a result of this, any punk/hardcore shows that have potential to be intense rompits of fun become lame push pits with amounts of head bobbing (I would say head banging but it doesn't quite reach that level). Luckily for this particular show, it was just shy of being punk with a nice 90s emo flair which always produces a special, intimate crowd and this evening was no different.
I'm going to say this now, if you live in the greater Boston metropolitan area and did not go to this show, you severely missed out. In fact, you blew it by not going (see what I did there?!). For $10, about $13 with surcharges, it was more than worth it to see Modern Baseball alone. Throw in 4 other awesome bands as well? Geeze, talk about a steal. Speaking of the Philly locals, those dang college kids (one of whom recently graduated) put on an amazing set of 9 songs in a mere 30 minutes. And my gosh was it the best set of the night, they deserved to headline with those performances. The throwback of "My Best Friend" in the middle of it all made the crowd go nuts and I was especially excited when things slowed down for "I Think You Were In My Profile Picture Once" as Cambridge sang along. You could immediately tell that the band (Jake first and foremost) were super stoked to be playing Boston for the first time, they were so into it and enjoying themselves, to which the crowd responded positively. Upon the ending of "Re-done", a pool of sweat engulfed the venue and it was apparent that Modern Baseball absolutely stole the show, an impressive feat considering they were the first band to play.
After seeing a pop-punk 46yr old lead Light Years (he's only 30 don't worry), I was more than impressed by their performance. At first it seemed pretty cookie cutter but there were a few hooks that helped them stand out, especially on the heels of a debut LP. Don't forget the pick up the super rare limited tour press, you can get like $45 for it in ten years!! But the only thing on my mind was seeing You Blew It so I could get my 90s emo fix, and they did not disappoint. In a similar fashion and length of MB's set, the crowd really got into it for these Floridian "twinkle-daddies" from a simple notice of their first song being about Christmas, and "Medal of Honor" began with the entire crowd yelling I'm not a fucking trophy/but to you I might as well've been. The stage presence and intensity of the members was glaring, they were having just as an amazing time as we were and this kept well throughout the set. YBI had a special surprise near the end as well, throwing in a track from their recent 7" split with Fake Problems (which I picked up at the show) as well as a brand new song they just finished recording in Chicago for their next full length. Things slowed down a bit with Tanner doing his thang on "The Fifties", with the crowd swaying and singing along. At this point, you could feel things starting to get rowdy, as with the end of a You Blew It performance comes their swan-song, and it was given perfectly, with a burst of stage dives and a guest appearance at its culmination. If there were any complaints to be had, it was purely because they didn't play "Good for Bond, Bad for You", a song I was hoping for.
My favorite thing about this show was that every single band was hilarious, they were all full of jokes. Brendan's little comments against YBI served as a great prelude to the ending of "Terry v. Tori", which he provided guest vocals and spent some time amongst the crowd (and I got a video of it). You Blew It accidentally mentioned Chicago to a venue full of Bostonians still pissed off at the result of the Stanley Cup Finals which was hilarious to me (sorry for your loss). And Light Years kept a running gag about being 16yrs older than they really were, only to be noticed by the crowd listening intently to the lyrics. Mixtapes delivered a solid set (cut short by some string cutting and lack of a backup guitar in standard tuning) that was mostly by request of the fans, something you don't normally see in today's scene. It's a true homage to punk and how everyone is involved, not just the bands, but all of the supporting kids who go out to shows and buy merch. All around awesome show, it was great to see friends and see two amazing bands for the first time.
Modern Baseball's set:
Tears Over Beers
Hours Alone In the Snow
My Best Friend
See Ya, Sucker
I Think You Were In My Profile Picture Once
You Blew It's set:
Medal of Honor
Grow Up Dude/Pinball House
The One With David
The One With Marc
Terry v. Tori
Fake Problems//You Blew It Split 7" - Coke Bottle Green (out of 300)
Modern Baseball "Mom, I Swear This Is Soda" Beer Coozie
Sports 12" - Translucent Blue (out of 300)