Top 30 of 2014

Honorable mentions:

Revivalist – Brother EP
Project 86 – Knives To The Future
Flyleaf – Between the Stars
Copeland – Ixora
Jars of Clay – 20
No Punk Influence – Fight Within
House of Heroes – Smoke EP
Jason Barrows – Island Of My Soul
Lexi  Elisha – Rope EP

                                                          30. Bethan – Time Gone By

Bethan’s Time Gone By is everything I love about Velvet Blue Music. It’s a reminder of what made me fall in love with the label and indie music in the first place. Slightly quirky, offbeat, and interesting simple songs with unexpected melodies.

                                                 29. With Increase – Death Is Inevitable

I like hardcore. And I like old school, raw, gritty, dirty hardcore. And that’s what With Increase delivers.

                                                   28. Brooke Fraser – Brutal Romantic

Brutal Romantic is pop music for adults or sophisticated teens. It’s not hooky, bubble gum pop. It’s complicated and well crafted. Each note meticulously placed, creating an album for the casual music fan and music snobs a like.

                                                     27. Demon Hunter – Extremist

After, what I considered, a disappointing outing in True Defiance, Demon Hunter delivers Extremists!  Heavy, fast, melodic. Everything Demon Hunter has done well in the past, all the while continuing to grow and try new things.

                                                           26. Wovenwar – Woverwar

It took a whole for Wovenwar to grow on me. But it finally did. Post As I Lay Dying, the former members have created a metal masterpiece that doesn’t reflect their former self in any way. And that’s probably for the better. Solos galore, great melodies, and a record that breaks the mold of your standard metal fair.

                                                              25. Lakes – Fire Ahead

I’ve never paid Lakes much attention. I wasn’t a Watashi Wa fan, so I wasn’t sure I’d enjoy the indie rock version of that. I was wrong. Fire Ahead has some nice alt-country moments, but it’s mostly, week crafted rock songs. Seth Roberts can craft a tune!

                                             24. Steve Taylor & The Perfect Foil – Goliath

 Cue nostalgia and memories of my childhood and my dad. Which is fine by me. I love Steve Taylor and Goliath feels like a throwback rock and roll record! The perfect follow-up to Squint.

                                                         23. Owl City – Ultraviolet

Adam Young just knows how to make great music! There’s not much that Owl City releases that I don’t love and Ultraviolet is no exception.

                                22. Mike Mains & The Branches – Calm Down, Everything Is Fine

Fun, upbeat rock and roll that at times reminds me of Sunny Day Real Estate. That’s what Mike Mains delivered on his band’s sophomore record.

                                                    21. MxPx – The Acoustic Collection

Acoustic versions of songs from my favorite punk band. I think even my wife would enjoy this! It’s on the lost for Doing Time alone. But new takes on songs like Punk Rawk Show, Buildings Tumble, and For Always make this a must have for MxPx fans.

                                                                20. Gideon – Calloused

Gideon has gotten better on every record and Calloused is by far the band’s best record yet. Heavy with great hooks, Calloused is another progression forward and Gideon is fast becoming one of my favorite bands on Facedown.

                                                      19. Propaganda – Crimson Cord

I wasn’t a huge fan of Excellent, but Propaganda hit back hard with Crimson Cord. The album feels looser and more natural. Props lyrics still hit hard and pick at social issues that sometimes hurt, but ultimately are what him such a great artists.

                                                    18. The Overseer – Rest and Let Go

What Underoath was trying to accomplish on Disambiguation, The Overseer has smashed and perfected over two albums. Beautiful melodies and introspective moments, broken by sheer terror and heavy riffs that create a beautiful soundtrack. Heavy music without boarders!

                                                         17. Living Fire – Dead To Sin

I’m not sure I’ve heard a new punk band that I’ve liked this much in a while. Fast, intense, clean, biting. Everything a good punk record should be. Thumper Punk’s best release yet!

                                                         16. Comrades – Safekeeper

Some had accused Comrades of suffering from Russian Circles syndrome. Well the band addressed that on their first official Blood and Ink full-length. The band has incorporated these quiet moments that create this drama and tension when the band explodes. It’s post rock done well but it’s also post rock done differently.

                                                       15. Household – With or Without

Household is a hardcore band that I’d label emo. Not as melodic or feels like the band intentionally created these “emo” moments as The Frailty of Words, but just as affective in conveying a sense pain and emotion. A great album!

                                                          14. Lights – Little Machines

Little Machines doesn’t have the instantaneous charm of Siberia, but it is still a great pop record. There’s a lot of growth. Lyrically, musically, and production wise, Little Machines is a huge step forward! And the only reason it’s not higher on the list is because, well, I expected it to be this good.

                                                              13. Lecrae – Anomaly

2014 was Lecrae’s year! Anomaly was the number 1 album on the billboard charts in it’s first week and Lecrae got to sit in with The Roots on the Tonight Show. And I loved Anomaly. But I just liked Gravity more.

                                                      12. Wolves At The Gate – VxV

A new vocalist, no problem. It might not always seem “innovative” but Wolves At The Gate always delivers quality melodic metalcore.

                                                                   11. Trip Lee – Rise

Trip Lee gave us his best outing with Rise. Great songs with a maturity that sets Lee up to take the next step. This is the first of many big things in store for Trip Lee.

                                                 10. Islander – Violence and Destruction

Is nu-metal back? Probably not. But if it is, Islander would be leading the charge. Great hooks over riffs you’ve probably heard before, but that nostalgia creates a feel good vibe.

                                                         9. Beartooth – Disgusting

Beartooth is the best new metal/metalcore/hardcore/heavy band out there! Their Sick ep last year was nuts and Disgusting takes that intensity and multiplies it. The band also added some great melodic tracks and created the best heavy record of the year!

                                                          8. Kye Kye – Fantasize

It took a while for me t fully embraced Kye Kye’s second LP, but one day it just dawned on me. Fantasize is great! Hook heavy, 80’s inspired synth goodness. It’s not a step back, but a huge step forward and sideways.

                                                           7. SPZRKT – Bonefire

SPZRKT is an artist to keep an eye on. His self-released full-length Bonfire is a downtempo/R&B masterpiece. Great songs and a great new voice! A label needs to pick this man up!

                                                       6. Alert 312 – Singular Vision

Alert 312’s ep was too short in my book. Each track was full of originality and artistry, that only four was not enough! I kept this record on repeat often! Hip-hop and creativity at it’s finest!

                                                         5. Tedashii – Below Paradise

Sometimes great pain produces great art. And that’s what we got from Tedashii. He turned tragedy into one of hip-hops best records this year! The songs are on fire. Filled with pain, questions, and ultimately love. Below Paradise is not a record to skip!

                                           4. Kings Kaleidoscope – Becoming Who We Are

Kings Kaleidoscope have turned worship music on it’s head! There’s nothing stale about Becoming Who We Are. Jazzy, marching band, indie rock in church. It’s amazing music on it’s own, but as worship music, it’s revolutionary. Not that it will ever be played at your church on Sundays.

                                                        3. Twin Forks – Twin Forks

I love Chris Carrabba. What more can I say. It doesn’t matter if it’s Further Seems Forever, Dashboard Confessional, or now, Twin Forks. Carrabba’s new folk act is great! Each track just as catchy as the one before. The hooks get stuck in your head and you want them there! It’s what a pop record should be!

                                                     2. Jackie Hill Perry – The Art of Joy

Welcome to the hip-hop world! Spoken word artist turned emcee, Jackie Hill Perry’s debut is perfect! Hard hitting lyrics, songs of brokenness and hope, great production, interesting features that compliment what Perry is doing perfectly. In a year full of strong hip-hop albums, Perry’s was tops in my book.

                                             1. Number One Gun – This Is All We Know

I was blown away when I heard This Is All We Know at the beginning of the year and I thought it was the start to a great year in music. I expected that this would be a top contender but that something would come along and knock it off the top spot. But nothing did. Every song on This Is All We Know is perfect. I have no complaints. If it took the band breaking up and spending some time apart to create this album, then I’m glad they did! Rock and roll at its finest!

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