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AP.net Staff List: The Best of 2014 So Far

Posted by - 09:40 AM on 07/01/14
Happy July! It is the 182nd day of the year, which means there are only 183 days left, which means we are halfway through 2014 so it is time to make lists. Today we present to you our Mid-Year Report, the very best of what came out in the first six months of the year as determined by your AP.net staff members. In the replies, you can check out our compiled staff list along with our individual rankings, and as always, please tell us what we missed, what's ranked too high or too low, or that you 100% agree with everything we've ever said.
 
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09:40 AM on 07/01/14
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Thomas Nassiff
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AP.net Staff Collective List: The Best Albums of 2014 So Far

1. The Hotelier - Home, Like Noplace Is There


On opening track "An Introduction To The Album," The Hotelier's Christian Holden sings–nay, he yells / shrieks / cries / screams / yelps–"I had a chance to construct something beautiful and I choked, I choked, I choked." From then on, we're launched into a brash, intoxicating earthquake of a record, a near-perfect collection of nine songs, and the undisputed heavyweight champion of this staff's mid-year albums of the year list–The Hotelier constructed something beautiful in Home, Like Noplace Is There, and to be blunt, it's a release that you cannot afford to not be listening to. Even after a hundred times having listened through this album front-to-back, there is nary a point during its 36 minutes that I'm not emotionally invested. There are moments, like on the visceral "Your Deep Rest" or the exceptional closer "Dendron," where even though I know exactly what's coming next, I still tense my muscles waiting for the discomfort of hearing a lyric so excruciatingly intense that I'm tempted to yell it out on a train full of people. It's unfair that the songs offered up here are so catchy given that they are also so deep, well-thought-out and downright devastating. Even if The Hotelier never match this album in the future, Home, Like Noplace Is There absolutely deserves to be their legacy and what we will remember them for, because it's about as straightforwardly good as this punk/emo genre gets. - Thomas Nassiff, Senior Editor



In 2012, the AbsolutePunk.net staff named The Menzingers' On the Impossible Past as the best album of the year. The jury is still out on whether or not the follow-up, Rented World, is quite as good, but there's something about the towering guitar riffs, punchy choruses, and no-nonsense flow of this record that makes it feel more cohesive, consistent, and concise than its predecessor (even though the two album are exactly the same length). Right from the undeniable, Replacements-esque riff that kickstarts "I Don't Want to Be an Asshole Anymore" Rented World is the kind of rock record that the phrase "all killer, no filler" was coined to describe. Where Impossible Past may have had more thematic heft, Rented World matches it track-for-track in nearly every other way, delivering sharper hooks ("Rodent"), more indelible guitar solos ("Where Your Heartache Exists"), and a higher concentration of songs that are just plain fun (the early Green Day throwback that is "The Talk"). By the time the record reaches its weighty conclusion, a sobering acoustic number called "When You Died," The Menzingers are cribbing moves from Dylan instead of Westerberg for a change, a fact that promises even greater things to come for this already top-notch band. - Craig Manning, Senior Reviewer



At the end of "Stay Happy There," one of the more chaotic numbers on Rooms of the House, Jordan Dreyer says in an almost calm voice, "everything's happening at once." That's kind of the thesis statement for the record, which is a masterful song cycle that after a few listens takes on a life of its own, its characters firmly implanting themselves in your brain just as easily as the hooky guitar work. Dreyer examines familial and romantic relationships through the lens of ordinary working class middle America, interweaving stories from his parents' generation with experiences from his own life. Like the personal effects he places randomly, without context on a dining room table in "Objects in Space," the album's final track, the stories on Rooms of the House are presented in a fashion that almost makes one think that Dreyer wrote a novel or short story, copy-and-pasted the best parts, and then arranged them in a random order to make up the record's lyrical narrative. It's an interesting approach, and one that packs quite an emotional whallop. Rooms of the House is La Dispute's best record to date by a large measure, and it establishes Dreyer as a premier lyricist in the post-hardcore scene, even though Rooms of the House pushes far beyond that genre's supposed boundaries. - Chris Collum, Senior Reviewer



On the final track of Here and Nowhere Else, Cloud Nothings mastermind Dylan Baldi tells us "I feel fine." It's a relief, because the rest of the record feels like a panic attack, mind racing and chest beating. The songs come in the form of quick guttural punches, complete with massive, crunchy guitars and mission statements that demand to be yelled right back at Baldi as they pour out of his mouth. Songs like "Psychic" Trauma" take sharp left turns down roads of anxiety, largely led by the lightning fast drums that often threaten to kick Baldi and Co. to the side and steal the show. They never do, though, and the bass and guitars have no problem matching the energy and speed of the drums. Everything meshes together perfectly, creating thick walls of sound like on "Quieter Today" and "Giving Into Seeing" that call back to "Wasted Days," a standout from 2012's Attack on Memory. But unlike that song, and others on that record, the songs here never deviate from the path; they look squarely ahead, moving forward at a breakneck pace toward the finish line. Cloud Nothings met and exceeded all of the very high expectations set for this record by getting back to the root of what makes punk music so appealing in the first place: they wrote songs that beg to be played in the tiniest, most cramped basements all across the country as loudly as possible. This album may launch Cloud Nothings to a popularity level that won't allow that to happen as often, but putting on this record will pretty much take you there. - Jake Jenkins, Contributing Reviewer



It's kind of funny that the problem most people had with Manchester Orchestra's last album, 2011's Simple Math, is the exact opposite of the one they have with Cope. Simple Math was considered a collection of songs rather than an album, lacking cohesion or fluidity in shifting from the airy "Deer" to the dark, heavy "Mighty," to rollicking singalong "Pensacola," and so on. Cope, on the other hand, has been criticized for a lack of diversity (as well as for lackluster production, a complaint with which I can't disagree). But it seems we, as Manchester Orchestra fans, are impossible to please. Cope features some of the band's most single-worthy tracks to date ("Every Stone" and the awfully-titled "Girl Harbor"), one of its sludgiest ("Cope"), and some of its most straight-up anthemic ("Trees," "The Mansion," and the aptly-titled "Top Notch"). And even if it lacked these decidedly dissimilar songs, it's still a collection of inarguably strong songs. Perhaps not the strongest of the band's career, but it isn't expected for each new record to be head and shoulders above the last. On "Choose You," Andy Hull warns us that we "won't determine greatness til you really start to dig," and I need to disagree. You really don't need to dig to see the greatness in Cope. - Zac Djamoos, Contributing Reviewer / Editor



When I reviewed You're Gonna Miss It All earlier this year, my thesis was basically something along the lines of "fuck your guilty pleasures, this is good, listen to it." I still think that. I still think this album is an essential listen for pop-punk fans of all ages–because if you're not directly connecting to the diary-entry lyricism, you're at least yearning for the days you did (if only for 29 minutes). "Your Graduation" is about as much of a "hit song" as you can find in emo's Tumblr underbelly–if you listen to nothing else, listen to that single. The songs are about girl trouble, they're lined with sophomoric humor and it always seems like Modern Baseball is singing about tiny issues that manifest themselves into huge life problems when you're in college. But that's perfectly okay for a band of college kids that have done nothing but show promise and deliver us a ton of fun. - Thomas Nassiff, Senior Editor



The War on Drugs' Lost in the Dream is full of rock anthems that smoked themselves stupid, choosing to burn out and sprawl lakeside somewhere rather than galvanize a stadium. But the songs aren't basking in their environment: they're meandering within themselves, as principal songwriter Adam Granduciel's eyes glaze over while he tries to parse what he's really feeling. And what he discovers is that he's a mess, as "Eyes to the Wind" lays it all out. He isn't completely sure of who he is, what he wants, or who's to blame for his despondency, but he's fully aware that he's got no one to turn to but himself in dealing with it. So he'll keep moving with a bundle full of Springsteen and Dylan records, because if he doesn't, something might catch up to him. - Ryan Dennehy, Contributing Reviewer



One of these things is not like the other. Benji, a masterpiece about life, death, family, and friendship, bears very little resemblance to the punk, emo, and rock records that populate most of this list. You won't find high-wattage guitar riffs, pummeling drums, or caustic vocals here. What you'll find instead, though, it arguably even more affecting. Benji is the year's rawest and most emotionally draining record. Over the course of 11 songs and 62 minutes, Sun Kil Moon mastermind Mark Kozelek delivers strikingly personal confessions about everything from the deaths of relatives ("Carissa") to his own adolescent sexual awakening ("Dogs"). On "I Can't Live Without My Mother's Love" he lets loose about the fears of losing a parent, fears we all carry around with us but are too afraid to put into words. Then again, Kozelek's willingness to say what nobody else will is a defining theme throughout Benji. His lyrics are nearly stream-of-consciousness in their composition, stacking word upon word and spiraling sentence upon sentence for dizzyingly candid poetry that brings us uncomfortably close to the man at the center of it all. The results are often heartbreaking (the 10-minute epic that is "I Watched the Film the Song Remains the Same"), or sometimes even funny (the jealous jazz of album closer, "Ben's My Friend"), but they never fail to leave a mark. - Craig Manning, Senior Reviewer



It's not surprising to see Tigers Jaw on the mid-year top ten list - one of the most beloved bands in the scene overcame the questions and drama surrounding the departure of three band members to release the finest album of its career. Charmer is a dreamy, multi-layered journey through pain, heartbreak, and the bleakness of everyday life. The despondent "Teen Rocket" slowly builds into a earnest, cathartic release from guitarist Ben Walsh in final minute or so, culminating in one of Tigers Jaw's finest moments and a testament to the vocal chemistry between the remaining original members - Walsh and Brianna Collins. Whether this is the end or not doesn't matter, as Tigers Jaw is approaching everything on its own terms. - Drew Beringer, Senior Editor



For a band who has been playing together since 2009, You Blew It! definitely should have been making Top 10 lists long before 2014, but it's hella hard to stand out in a scene that has been producing such strong, young bands recently. You Blew It's Keep Doing What You're Doing dropped in January to rave reviews, and rightly so. The band's sophomore album blends super-90's emo riffs with a newer, more raw sound heard from so many of aforementioned younger bands. The same raw sound is found on the band's 2012 debut release, but there is something so much more mature, grown up, and put together about Keep Doing What You're Doing that keeps your ear and your mind engaged from beginning to end. "Match and Tinder" became an instant ear worm after my first listen, and six months later that itch to listen is still there. "Rock Springs" is chock full of "in your face" former-love lyrics that will drag you back to your last terrible relationship, but in the best way. Keep Doing What You're Doing may have barely squeaked onto this list, but any band that can release a mind-blowing album and a Weezer cover EP over the course of six months gets an A+ in my book.- Caitlin DeWeese, Contributing Reviewer


Jason Tate (random order)
The Lawrence Arms - Metropole
Against Me! - Transgender Dysphoria Blues
The Menzingers - Rented World
Tokyo Police Club - Forcefield
Tycho - Awake
Manchester Orchestra - Cope
The Hotelier - Home, Like Noplace Like Is There
Noah Gundersen - Ledges
James Vincent McMorrow - Post Tropical
Bad Suns - Language and Perspective
Tigers Jaw - Charmer
Chuck Ragan - Til Midnight

Drew Beringer
1. Self Defense Family - Try Me
2. La Dispute - Rooms of the House
3. Seahaven - Reverie Lagoon: Music for Escapism Only
4. The Hotelier - Home Like Noplace Is There
5. St. Vincent - St. Vincent
6. Weatherbox - Flies in all Directions
7. The Menzingers - Rented World
8. You Blew It! - Keep Doing What You're Doing
9. Cloud Nothings - Here and Nowhere Else
10. Emma Ruth Rundle - Some Heavy Ocean
11. Tigers Jaw - Charmer
12. Kevin Drew - Darlings
13. Frameworks - Loom
14. Against Me! - Transgender Dysphoria Blues
15. Say Anything - Hebrews

Thomas Nassiff
1. The Hotelier - Home, Like Noplace Is There
2. The Menzingers - Rented World
3. Manchester Orchestra - Cope
4. Modern Baseball - You're Gonna Miss It All
5. Against Me! - Transgender Dysphoria Blues
6. Somos - Temple of Plenty
7. La Dispute - Rooms of The House
8. Frameworks - Loom
9. You Blew It! - Keep Doing What You're Doing
10. Mongol Horde - Mngl Hrde

Chris Collum
1. The Hotelier - Home, Like Noplace Is There
2. Swans - To Be Kind
3. Fucked Up - Glass Boys
4. Cloud Nothings - Here and Nowhere Else
5. Freddie Gibbs & Madlib - Pinata
6. The War on Drugs - Lost in the Dream
7. Have a Nice Life - The Unnatural World
8. Drive-By Truckers - English Oceans
9. The Antlers - Familiars
10. La Dispute - Rooms of the House

Craig Manning
1. Noah Gundersen - Ledges
2. Sun Kil Moon - Benji
3. John Fullbright - Songs
4. The War on Drugs - Lost in the Dream
5. Coldplay - Ghost Stories
6. Augustana - Life Imitating Life
7. The Hotelier - Home, Like Noplace is There
8. Fireworks - Oh, Common Life
9. The Hold Steady - Teeth Dreams
10. Twin Forks - Twin Forks
EP: Hailey, It Happens - Under the Brilliant Lights

Zac Djamoos
1. The Hotelier - Home, Like Noplace Is There
2. Cloud Nothings - Here and Nowhere Else
3. nouns - still
4. The Year Fifteen - As a World Entire
5. Manchester Orchestra - Cope
6. The Menzingers - Rented World
7. Weatherbox - Flies in All Directions
8. Tigers Jaw - Charmer
9. You Blew It! - Keep Doing What You're Doing
10. James Vincent McMorrow - Post Tropical

Kyle Huntington
1. Bombay Bicycle Club - So Long, See You Tomorrow
2. Tycho - Awake
3. Nick Mulvey - First Mind
4. Lana Del Rey - Ultraviolence
5. Pup - Pup
6. Jack White- Lazaretto
7. The Hotelier - Home, Like Noplace Is There
8. Sun Kil Moon- Benji
9. Wild Beasts - Present Tense
10. Eagulls - Eagulls

Gregory Robson
1. Hooray for the Riff Raff
2. Sun Kil Moon
3. The Hotelier
4. Ray LaMontagne
5. Wye Oak
6. Eric Church
7. Bobby Bare Jr.
8. Ace Reporter
9. Suzy Boggus
10. Augustines

Jake Jenkins
1. Fucked Up - Glass Boys
2. The Menzingers - Rented World
3. Cloud Nothings - Here and Nowhere Else
4. The War on Drugs - Lost in the Dream
5. YG - My Krazy Life
6. Tombs - Savage Gold
7. Swans - To Be Kind
8. Sevendeaths - Concrete Misery
9. Woods of Desolation - As The Stars
10. Future - Honest

Ryan Gardner
1. The Hotelier - Home, Like Noplace Is There
2. La Dispute - Rooms Of The House
3. Against Me! - Transgender Dysphoria Blues
4. You Blew It! - Keep Doing What You're Doing
5. James Vincent McMorrow - Post Tropical
6. S. Carey - Range of Light
7. Mike Mains & The Branches - Calm Down, Everything Is Fine
9. Margot & The Nuclear So and So's - Slingshot To Heaven
9. The Menzingers - Rented World
10. Fireworks - Oh, Common Life

Ryan Dennehy
1. Future - Honest
2. Ben Frost - A U R O R A
3. The War on Drugs - Lost in the Dream
4. Sevendeaths - Concrete Misery
5. Isaiah Rashad - Cilvia Demo
6. YG - My Krazy Life
7. Todd Terje - It's Album Time
8. Goldlink - The God Complex
9. Sharon Van Etten - Are We There
10. Duck Sauce - Quack

Joe DeAndrea
1. Ed Sheeran - x
2. Neon Trees - Pop Psychology
3. The Vamps - Meet the Vamps
4. MKTO - MKTO
5. Lily Allen - Sheezus
6. Dan + Shay - Where It All Began
7. Cher Lloyd - Sorry I'm Late
8. This Wild Life - Clouded
9. Karmin - Pulses
10. Lucy Hale - Road Between

Blake Solomon
1. Manchester Orchestra - Cope
2. Tokyo Police Club - Forcefield
3. Modern Baseball - You're Gonna Miss It All
4. Tigers Jaw - Charmer
5. The Hotelier - Home, Like Noplace Is There
6. Sorority Noise - Forgettable
7. The Menzingers - Rented World
8. The Front Bottoms - Rose EP
9. Candy Hearts - All The Ways You Let Me Down
10. Bad Suns - Language & Perspective

Kelly Doherty
1. Conor Oberst - Upside Down Mountain
2. Tigers Jaw - Charmer
3. Sharon Van Etten - Are We There
4. Bombay Bicycle Club - So Long, See You Tomorrow
5. Modern Baseball - You're Gonna Miss It All
6. McCafferty - Beach Boy
7. Cloud Nothings - Here & Nowhere Else
8. Real Estate - Atlas
9. Sorority Noise - Forgettable
10. St. Vincent - St. Vincent

Anthony Sorendino
1. Augustines - Augustines
2. The Hotelier - Home, Like Noplace is There
3. Somos - Temple of Plenty
4. Young the Giant - Mind Over Matter
5. Tokyo Police Club - Forcefield
6. Tycho - Awake
7. Manchester Orchestra - Cope
8. Augustana - Life Imitating Life
9. The Colourist - The Colourist
10. Kishi Bashi - Lighght

Alex DiVincenzo
1. The Hotelier - Home, Like Noplace Is There
2. Trophy Scars - Holy Vacants
3. La Dispute - Rooms of the House
4. The Menzingers - Rented World
5. Modern Baseball - You're Gonna Miss It All
6. Bayside - Cult
7. Bane - Don't Wait Up
8. Junior Battles - Rally
9. Neck Deep - Wishful Thinking
10. Comeback Kid - Die Knowing

Caitlin DeWeese
1.Weatherbox - Flies in All Directions
2. Pup - Pup
3. The Lawrence Arms - Metropole
4. You Blew It - Keep Doing What You're Doing
5. The Menzingers - Rented World
6. Blacklist Royals - Die Young With Me
7. Parquet Courts - Sunbathing Animal
8. Taking Back Sunday- Happiness Is...
EP: Theives - Colorchange

Jonathan Bautts
1. Coldplay - Ghost Stories
2. Augustana - Life Imitating Life
3. Young The Giant - Mind Over Matter
4. Needtobreathe - Rivers In The Wasteland
5. Switchfoot - Fading West
6. Linkin Park - The Hunting Party
7. Chevelle - La Gargola
8. Jack White - Lazaretto
9. Foster The People - Supermodel
10. The Black Keys - Turn Blue

Deborah Remus
1. Banner Pilot - Souvenir
2. The Menzingers - Rented World
3. Against Me! - Transgender Dysphoria Blues
4. Taking Back Sunday - Happiness Is
5. Junior Battles - Rally
6. Distances - Boulders EP
7. Andrew Jackson Jihad - Christmas Island
8. Bleed American - Bleed American EP
9. The Pack A.D. - Do Not Engage
10. The Lawrence Arms - Metropole
09:41 AM on 07/01/14
#3
Craig Manning
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Best combined list we've ever come up with, imo.
09:45 AM on 07/01/14
#4
ACA
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Need to make my list, I've just been lazy because I've been so underwhelmed with 2014 vs 2013.
09:46 AM on 07/01/14
#5
Jake Jenkins
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i like

music
09:46 AM on 07/01/14
#6
ThaRealNC
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Good list. Seems crazy not to see Architects on a single list, though. Their new album is incredible.
09:47 AM on 07/01/14
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Very surprised Against Me! didn't crack the top 10 but I'm stoked that The Hotelier made number 1. Great list altogether.
09:47 AM on 07/01/14
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I don't get how Menzingers can even make anyone's top 10 considering it's pretty subpar.
09:48 AM on 07/01/14
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Thomas Nassiff
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if the every time i die and aaron west and the roaring twenties records were already out, those would probably both make their way into my top 5. also haven't sat down enough with cloud nothings or the war on drugs, but i really like our staff list
09:48 AM on 07/01/14
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I don't get how Menzingers can even make anyone's top 10 considering it's pretty subpar.
Listen again.
09:48 AM on 07/01/14
Jake Jenkins
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I don't get how Menzingers can even make anyone's top 10 considering it's pretty subpar.
maybe other people


dont think its



subpar
09:49 AM on 07/01/14
Vance Mook
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Really great list and write-ups; I always love checking here to see what I've missed (Cloud Nothings, the War on Drugs and Sun Kil Moon) as well as whose tastes I seem to be lining up with this year. Also, I've just always enjoyed scoring/ranking things and list format haha. My list (completely subject to change) is as follows:

1. Weatherbox - Flies in All Directions
2. Seahaven - Reverie Lagoon: Music For Escapism Only
3. Fireworks - Oh, Common Life
4. La Dispute - Rooms of the House
5. the Hotelier - Home, Like Noplace is There
6. Self Defense Family - Try Me
7. Manchester Orchestra - Cope
8. You Blew It! - Keep Doing What You're Doing
9. Say Anything - Hebrews
10. the Antlers - Familiars

Awesome feature, guys!
09:50 AM on 07/01/14
The Escapist
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OH MEIN GOTT !
Great list. I needed this !
09:50 AM on 07/01/14
ACA
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Good list. Seems crazy not to see Architects on a single list, though. Their new album is incredible.

My first thoughts, as well. It's probably my favorite heavy release of 2014.

I don't get how Menzingers can even make anyone's top 10 considering it's pretty subpar.

Haven't listened to the new one yet, but if their past records are any indication, then you're probably right.. completely unimpressive band in the studio, even if they are a great live band.
09:51 AM on 07/01/14
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Sun Kil Moon : yes guys, yes.

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