I'm very honored to be a part of this this year. I joined the team over the summer and have had a blast so far. I have some big plans for 2014, so hopefully you'll be seeing a lot more from me. 2013 was a great year for music, but I think 2014 will be even better.
Top Albums of 2014
1. Frightened Rabbit - Pedestrian Verse
No matter what mood I was in this year, I never once hesitated to give this album a spin. From the humming bass lines of "Backyard Skulls" to the introverted tones of "The Woodpile" or "Holy," you'll be hard pressed to choose a favorite track off of Pedestrian Verse. The band surrounded this album with two EPs, State Hospital and Late March, Death March, both equally as enjoyable as the full length. The amount of quality content that this band churns out has resulted in one of the most impressive discographies out there. Scott Hutchinson has proved to be one of the most talented lyricists of this age, and the music and melodies that come with those lyrics are always refreshing and memorable. Don't let your guard down when, after 9 tracks you've yet to hit a speed bump. Frightened Rabbit saves the best for last with the gripping, guitar led "Nitrous Gas" and the hopeful "Oil Slick" where Hutchinson closes the album with: "We've still got hope so I think we'll be fine / in these disastrous times."
2. Moving Mountains - Moving Mountains
Possibly my best discovery ever back when Pneuma came out, Moving Mountains has been my go-to "check this out" band ever since. Though, I think Pneuma and Foreword were perfect, Waves had its minor flaws and, admittedly the self titled album has a couple of flaws as well. Honestly, though? I don't care, and neither should you. The songs on this album are right on par with their best (for me: "Lights & Shapes," "Sol Solis," and "Ode"). I think "Eastern Leaves" is the best song in their discography, which is why it's my single of the year. The fact that this may be the last we hear from the band for a while influenced my decision to include them so high on my list. Although I wouldn't have done that if the music wasn't deserving. Moving Mountains will be sorely missed.
3. The Boxer Rebellion - Promises
I haven't listened to London's The Boxer Rebellion since 2009s Union but have been meaning to get back into them. I'm glad I gave Promises a shot, because it was clear after one listen that this was a top ten album for me. With a bit more exposure, Promises could easily sit next to The National's Trouble Will Find Me. Take a listen to the soaring "Keep Moving" the epic "Dreaming" or the catchy "Always" and you'll agree that it makes little sense that TBR's music isn't more exposed.
4. This Is My Suitcase - In The Wake Of Atrophy: A Poignant Album For Heartsick Humans
I came across TIMS back when The Keys to Cat Heaven, an indie-pop/rock masterpiece was released in 2009 and have been hungry for another full length release ever since. In The Wake Of Atrophy is so raw, diverse, and so overwhelmingly sad. When I realized that TIMS was closing up shop with this album, the sadness multiplied. From the rousing "Forty Times" to the frenetic "To Hell If I Know" to the fantastic "With Love From London, Missent to Thailand" the album has everything. It all surmounts into the phenomenal "Our Time," the quickest two minutes and seventeen seconds of the year. Arguably the best song the band has every released, the defeated "whoo" in the beginning of the song shattered me right to the core. Joe Camerlengo has left behind a legacy, and I'm excited to see where life takes him in the future.
Man, what a fun album. Paramore rocked the world with Brand New Eyes in 2009, but after the Farro brother's departure, it was tough to anticipate what would happen next. The result, Paramore was the band's most mature and diverse sounding record to date, and an incredibly enjoyable listen from start to finish. I dare anyone to listen to "Ain't it Fun" and resist tapping your toe or bobbing your head. I love "Last Hope" as well.
6. Kevin Devine - Bubblegum
Devine's entire discography has always alluded me for some reason, but choice tracks of his have been on my iPod for years. It's hard to ignore him because of how potent he is with releases. Especially after one of the most successful Kickstarter campaigns I've ever seen, and Jesse Lacey as a contributor, I had to check it out. There are definitely a few missteps, but I fell in love with closers "I Don't Care About Your Band" and "Somewhere Unoccupied" along with "Fiscal Cliff," "Bloodhound" and "Bubblegum." That guitar and those ga
7. Jimmy Eat World - Damage
Has there ever been more of a solid band than Jimmy Eat World? I've been listening to them since 2001 and they've been releasing quality content ever since. I actually just discovered that the band has had an unchanged line up since 1993 (with one exception in '95). There's definitely something to say about bands that just "had it" from the start.
8. One Republic - Native
I'll admit, the artwork for this album had me hooked from the beginning. Whatever graphic design genius put that together deserves a pat on the back. One Republic has been met with incredible commercial success, but they absolutely deserve it. They're released anthems over the past six years that have been some of the most refreshing tunes to hit the radio. I'm not sure I can find a more spectacular opening lineup for any album than the first five tracks on Native. The album appears front-heavy, but there are still solid tracks in the back half. You'll find something to like in "Light it Up," "Au Revoir," "Burning Bridges" and "Preacher." They end with my favorite, "Life in Color," arguably their best song.
9. The Almost - Fear Inside Our Bones
Despite oozing with talent from all angles, I feel that the Almost can't ever seem to break through. I completely missed 2010's Monster Monster but my love for debut Southern Weather made me come back. I think they released the best album of their discography, but it was missing the slow and intimate songs that Aaron shines so much in.
10. The Dangerous Summer - Golden Record
For me, TDS's albums have always been plagued with sections that just didn't cut it for me. That still didn't stop "Reach for the Sun" and "War Paint" from being some of the best albums over the past few years, the former becoming one of my favorite albums of all time. "Golden Record" suffers from the same plague. Although still bringing some excellent tracks to the table, AJs vocals have taken a turn for the worse, and the fantastic lead guitar and drums that made "Reach for the Sun" so memorable have seemed to disappear entirely. If TDS doesn't wise up, their next album might be completely forgettable.
11. The Wonder Years - The Greatest Generation
Being from just north of Philly, I can't ignore The Wonder Years no matter what they do. For some reason, I couldn't make my mind up about this album for a while. I do have to say that "Funeral" possesses probably my favorite section of any song I heard this year, that still gives me goosebumps to this day (6:21 and on. That guitar riff + Soupy's wailing vocals are impeccable). Undeniably, it's one of the most solid releases from this year.
12. Matt Pond - The Lives Inside the Lines in Your Hand
I was taken aback a year or two ago with Matt Pond Pa's The Dark Leaves. I was excited to hear that he had new music planned for 2013 and when I first heard The Lives Inside The Lines In Your Hand, I was pleasantly surprised. The tracks here have been some of my favorite go to tracks all year. The sounds here can really transform a bad day. That's something you don't see very often these days.
13. The Mowglis - Waiting For the Dawn
Just like with Bastille's "Pompeii," I sold my soul to a single ("San Francisco") and hopped on the hype train. The album's precursor Love's Not Dead was a great EP and I had high hopes for their Island Records debut. I put a little too much hype on it, because the album was a disappointment at first. After time, however, I realized just how good it was. Although nothing stands out as much as "San Francisco," there are solid tracks all throughout Waiting For the Dawn. "Slowly Slowly" is a great second track. The title track's gang vocals. "Clean Light" and "Emily" are good. Its eight band members just having a blast. "Carry Your Will" didn't hit me until this album. It's simply beautiful. That acoustic guitar is played just right.
14. The Front Bottoms - Talon of The Hawk
This was a new band for me this year. After the tremendous buzz that their self-titled debut brought in, I was hard pressed to check them out. Talon of the Hawk doesn't sound like anything else I heard this year, which is why it made my list. I finally understand what all of the buzz was about. The Front Bottoms' music is simply enjoyable and easy to listen to.
15. Into It. Over It. - Intersections
Few albums resonated with me in 2011 as much as Proper. While Intersections didn't pack as much of a punch as its predecessor, it still has what I was looking for: those off-beat guitars, and clever song structures. The duo "Spatial Exploration" and "Favor& Fiction" are exceptional.
16. Bastille - Bad Blood
I don't think any single floored me as much as "Pompeii." No track this year invoked the feeling of "Let's get shit done today" more than "Pompeii." It sounded new, it sounded refreshing, and it made me greatly look forward to the release of Bad Blood. It was a radio friendly pop song, but it sounded different. They did it better than any band this year in the alt-rock genre. Now, while you won't find any more smash hits like "Pompeii" on the album, it's still loaded with quality content. Dan Smith's stellar vocals carry the 80s brand of alt rock. Despite the obvious opener, the album is surprisingly well paced when including the bonus tracks. "Weight of Living" (both) and "Bad Blood" rock. "Pompeii" set us all up just like Imagine Dragons with "It's Time." The difference? Night Visions no longer holds up for me, and the radio did to "Demons" and "Radioactive" what it did to Adele's "Rolling in the Deep."
17. Polar Bear Club - Death Chorus
When I interviewed Will Yip, he was wearing a Polar Bear Club shirt. Phil Nichols was in the room and mentioned how great the new PBC album was. Well, I knew I had to check it out but never got around to listening until recently. It's a great album that satisfies the pop hunger inside of me while remaining fresh.
18. Relient K - Collapsible Lung
Even though I only enjoyed a handful of tracks from this album, I enjoyed those tracks so much, that the downfalls of the album didn't matter much.
19. Jillette Johnson - Water in a Whale
When I came across Jillette's music in a Barnes & Noble, I became obsessed. The album is good, but I haven't gone back to it as much as I thought I would. I got the chance to see her perform live and her performance solidified my obsession even more. Water in a Whale satisfies a very specific mood for me. And whenever I find myself in that mood, I still enjoy the album.
Lord Huron - Lonesome Dreams
One of my greatest discoveries of this year was this album. The night before my plane ride to Punta Cana, I pulled this song from a commercial and found the album to listen to on my flight. Well, this album became the soundtrack to my vacation in November. It had a slight beachy/Caribbean feel to it, so laying down on a deserted beach right after sunrise with this album playing was like magic. It's been a great album for any occasion.
The Menzingers - On The Impossible Past
The past two years I've gotten two of my favorite bands from APs EOTY lists. Last year was Transit, and this year was The Menzingers. My tastes lined up perfectly with the site because these two albums are some my all time favorites from the past few years.
The National - Trouble Will Find Me
Carrying in the now three year tradition, APs top album turned into a late discovery for me.
Greg Laswell - Three Flights from Alto Nido
I wish I could visit my 2008 self and drop this album on my head. It's seriously one of the best album's I've ever heard. Go listen to it. If I don't mention my girlfriend, Mahek, she'd kill me, because she's the one that made the recommendation. Thanks, Mahek!
"Eastern Leaves" by Moving Mountains
"Pompeii" by Bastille
"Miles Apart" by The Dangerous Summer
"San Francisco" by The Mowglis
"News to Me" by Grouplove
"Starlet" by Matt Pond
"Look me in the Eye" by Matthew Mayfield
"Let the Sun Come Up" by Driver Friendly
"Nitrous Gas" by Frightened Rabbit
"Life in Color" by One Republic
"Follow My Feet" by The Unlikely Candidates
"Nothing Lasts Forever" by Transit
"I Just Want to Sell Out My Funeral" by The Wonder Years
"Safe and Sound" by Capital Cities
"Miracle Mile" by Cold War Kids
"Harlem" by New Politics
"Keep Moving" by The Boxer Rebellion
"Our Time" by This is My Suitcase
These three EPs all had the potential to be album's of the year for me.
Driver Friendly - Peaks + Valleys
After being signed late last year to Hopeless, I had high hopes for the band, and they delivered. Peaks miight be the most enjoyable 20 minutes of music that was released in 2013. I'm placing an unfair amount of hope for their major label, full length debut (read below).
Matthew Mayfield - Irons in the Fire
Matthew Mayfield quickly became a favorite artist of mine after my girlfriend introduced me to "Element" a couple of years ago. He's such a prolific artist and his 2011 release Now You're Free was one of the best albums that year. I have high hopes for what Matthew brings to 2014.
Shane Henderson and the Future Perfect - Control
What a fantastic EP from Valencia's Shane Henderson. Whatever Shane decides to do in 2014, I'll be listening.
Transit - Young New England
Oh, big surprise. Listen & Forgive dominated my 2012, completely dominated it. I saw Transit twice since then, and loved them. Maybe I should have picked up on the subtle cues, like including the best Listen & Forgive era song "The Answer Comes In Time" as a b-side, not as a leading single. Regardless, "Young New England" is one of my favorite songs from this year. I travel to Transit's Spotify profile, listen to that song, then some Listen & Forgive favorites, and then move on. I know they have it in them. Just give them time for redemption.
Edit: I just listened to Futures & Sutures. I knew that redemption was coming! Props to Transit for closing the year on a positive note.
Grouplove - Spreading Rumours
2011s Never Trust a Happy Song had some of the best songs of 2011. I dare you to find me a line-up that surpasses the first four songs of that record from that year. It certainly trailed off in the latter half, but it was still a solid album. I had huge hopes for their next release and although "Ways to Go" and "News to Me" are fantastic tracks, no other songs jumped out for me.
There are way too many bands to keep track of, but here are a few that I'm looking forward to.
Young the Giant - Mind Over Matter 1-21-14
I found the Jakes on Purevolume a few years back and purchased Shake My Hand the very next day. Hearing "Cough Syrup" on the radio for the first time made me feel so proud for them. It shows just how volatile the industry is. Their eponymous full length seemed to find the perfect balance to satisfy the thirsts of indie scenes and radio fiends alike. I expect no less for upcoming Mind Over Matter. "Crystallized" is definitely right up my alley, so I'm excited to see what else they have in store.
Driver Friendly - TBA
I'll admit right now that I'm putting more hype and pressure on this band than any other band. The potential I've seen in this band since Chase The White Whale has been unbridled. It's really a shame that their older music isn't available yet, because there are two full-lengths and an EP that are just as good and even better than Peaks + Valleys. If they stick to their bass lines, blaring horns, and creative guitars, then they'll move mountains. They need to stick to their roots, (give us some more Not Home Yet-horns, guys!), try their best not to be phased by label pressures and make the album that they want to make.
Walk the Moon - TBA
After hearing the all-star track "Anna Sun" while driving through Rocky Mountain National Park, I immediately checked out Walk the Moon. They did the impossible; they broke through that single-syndrome and delivered one of the most solid releases of 2012. Packed with toe-tapping tracks like "Tightrope" and "Next in Line," Walk the Moon is such a fun album to listen to. After going through their videos (they made a music video for every track on the album) and seeing them perform live, my love for them multiplied.