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The Meltdown 3.162

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This week I’m counting down my 30 favorite releases from 2019.

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The Meltdown 3.124

This week it’s our yearly top 30 countdown. My favorite favorite records of 2018!

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Top 30 of 2018

2018 take 2

Honorable Mentions:
Dashboard Confessional – Crooked Shadows
Nanami Ozone – Alone Too/3 Mile Drive
Envy – Alnair in August
Burning House – Tracer
Long Neck – Will This Do?
Doe – Grow Into It
Young Scum – Young Scum
Double Grave – Empty Hands
Damien Jurado – The Horizon Just Laughed
Camp Cope – How To Socialise & Make Friends
Open – Sudden Terrors
Deadens – Queen/Underflow
Infant Island – Infant Island
Michael Cera Palin – I Don’t Know How To Explain It
Clearance – At Your Liesure
Sollunar – Formation
I Me Mine – ELLIPSIS
awakebutstillinbed – what people call low self-esteem is really just seeing yourself the way that other people see you
Sleeping Giant – I Am

30: The Mighty Mighty Bosstones – While We’re At It

Ska: The skacore legends return with their first album new album in 7 years.

29: Mouse On Keys – Tres

https://topshelfrecords.bandcamp.com/album/tres
Instrumental: Tres is an almost slow jazz version of post rock.

28: Jeff Rosenstock – Post-

https://jeffrosenstock.bandcamp.com/album/post
Punk: Rosenstock dropped Post- on New Years day. The album almost reminds me of early Green Day.

27: Mxpx – Mxpx

Punk: Mxpx doing Mxpx things and giving us another gem!

26: Foxhole – Well Kept Thing

https://fxhl.bandcamp.com/album/well-kept-thing
Post Rock: Foxhole’s first new music in 12 years is easily their best. And it’s now a Grammy nominated record!

25: Wild Pink – Yolk In The Fur

https://wildpink.bandcamp.com/album/yolk-in-the-fur
Indie Folk: Yolk In The Future is a more matured and full vision of what Wild Pink showcased on their self-titled debut. Just a warm record.

24: Illuminati Hotties – Kiss Yr Frenemies

https://illuminatihotties.bandcamp.com/album/kiss-yr-frenemies
Power Pop: 1. Illuminati Hotties is an A+ band name. 2. Kiss Yr Frenemies is full of catchy pop tunes!

23: Giraffes? Giraffes! – Memory Lame

https://giraffesgiraffes.bandcamp.com/album/memory-lame
Math Rock: Memory Lame feels like a collaboration between Don Cab and Battles with more chaos thrown in.

22: Scrunchies – Stunner

https://scrunchies.bandcamp.com/album/stunner
Punk: Stunner has an old school feel to it that I love.

21: Saves the Day – 9

Punk/Emo: Some people complained about the lyrical content of 9, and I get it, but the vibe of the record is fun and self aware and it fits perfectly in Saves the Day’s catalog.

20: Hammock – Universalis

https://shop.hammockmusic.com/album/universalis
Ambient: Another beautiful record from Hammock.

19: El Ten Eleven – Banker’s Hill

https://fakerecordlabel.bandcamp.com/album/bankers-hill
Post Rock: El Ten Eleven always delivers a unique spin to post rock with the way they use loops. Banker’s Hill my favorite record they’ve released since 2007’s Every Direction Is North.

18: Lifted Bells – Minor Tantrums

https://liftedbellsmusic.bandcamp.com/album/minor-tantrums-2
Math Rock/Emo: The Bob Nanna project returns with its most mathy and technical effort to date.

17: Thrice – Palms

https://liftedbellsmusic.bandcamp.com/album/minor-tantrums-2
Post Hardcore/Emo: I didn’t instantly connect with Palms the same way I have previous Thrice albums, but once it clicked, I feel in love.

16: CHVRCHES – Love Is Dead

Pop/Electronic: Why I have not listened to CHVRCHES before? Definitely a worthwhile listen.

15: The Out Circuit – Enter The Ghost

https://theoutcircuit.bandcamp.com/
Ambient/Indie: Nearly 11 years between records will shift your sound, for sure. The Out Circuit follows up a post hardcore masterpiece with a more ambient approach and it’s still just as brilliant.

14: Fine China – Not Thrilled

New Wave: So many bands returned in 2018 to deliver their best new music in years and Fine China was no exception. Not Thrilled has the band’s catchiest tunes yet.

13: Foxing – Nearer My God

https://foxingtheband.bandcamp.com/album/nearer-my-god
Emo/Indie: One of the staples of the emo revival stepped out their comfort zone to deliver their best record yet.

12: Pohgoh – Secret Club

https://pohgoh.bandcamp.com/album/secret-club
Emo: Pohgoh returns with their first album in 21 years.

11: Hop Along – Bark Your Head Off, Dog

https://hopalong.bandcamp.com/album/bark-your-head-off-dog
Indie Rock/Singer Songwriter: How Simple alone was going to have Bark Your Head Off, Dog on my list. Lots of great pop songs delivered with Frances Quinlan’s cutting vocal delivery.

10: Cursive – Vitriola

https://15passenger.bandcamp.com/album/vitriola
Emo/Post Hardcore: Cursive returns with a harder edge. I didn’t hate their more arty work but it didn’t connect the same way as their early material. Vitriola comes back with that youthful aggression.

9: Pool Kids – Music To Practice Safe Sex To

https://poolkidsband.bandcamp.com/album/music-to-practice-safe-sex-to
Emo: If you like 90’s American Football, Braid, Cap n Jazz, this album is for you!

8: Good Game – Good Luck Have Fun

https://goodgameband.bandcamp.com/album/good-luck-have-fun
Math Rock: Stumbled across this record accidentally and was an instant fan. Great noodlely guitar work with lots of starts and stops.

7: Death Cab For Cutie – Thank You For Today

https://deathcabforcutie.bandcamp.com/album/thank-you-for-today
Indie Rock: I’m not sure what Death Cab would need to do for me to not love a record they put out.

6: Restorations – LP5000

https://restorations.bandcamp.com/album/lp5000
Post Hardcore: I’m only just getting on the Restorations bandwagon but LP5000 was a perfect record to hear first!

5: mewithoutYou – [Untitled]

https://mewithoutyou.bandcamp.com/album/untitled
Post Hardcore: I have yet to fully take in mewithoutYou’s latest record. There’s a lot of interesting and complex lyrical themes to dive into and all the vocal and musical layers. On it’s face, it’s a fantastic record.

4: Deafheaven – Ordinary Corrupt Human Love

https://deafheavens.bandcamp.com/album/ordinary-corrupt-human-love
Black Metal/Shoegaze: I really wasn’t prepared for the beautiful moments of Ordinary Corrupt Human Love. Deafheaven stepped up their game big time!

3: Pianos Become The Teeth – Wait For Love

https://pianosbecometheteeth.bandcamp.com/album/wait-for-love
Post Hardcore/Emo: Pianos Become The Teeth took the shift in sound from 2014’s Keep You and improved upon the more melodic elements. Great hooks on Wait For Love.

2: In Parallel – Broken Codes

https://inparallelband.bandcamp.com/album/broken-codes
New Wave/Shoegaze: Somewhere where Joy Division meets Nine Inch Nails and Depeche Mode, you’ll find In Parallel. Broken Codes is brooding and beautiful.

1: Hopesfall – Arbiter

Post Hardcore: Hopesfall returned with a perfect follow-up to Magnetic North. It would’ve been a perfect follow-up to The Satellite Years. The way the band blended the atmospheric and spacey side of their sound with the heavy, works perfectly. And Jay has never sounded better on vocals. A perfect record start to finish!

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The Meltdown 3.87


The Meltdown – The Meltdown 3.87

This week I am counting down my favorite records from 2017.

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Favorite Records of 2017


Honorable Mentions:
Slowdive – Slowdive
Demon Hunter – Outlive
The Movielife – Cities In Search Of A Heart
Frail Hands – Frail Hands
Golden Streets Of Paradise – World War (Re-release)
Cayetana – New Kind Of Normal
Heat – Overnight
Ratboys – GN
SNST – Turn Out The Lights
Sollunar – I & II
Smidley – Smidley
Sinai Vessel – Brokenlegged
Shallov – Concrete & Glass
Hundred Suns – The Prestaliis
Circa Survive – The Amulet
Rozwell Kids – Precious Art
How Water Music – Light It Up
Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Luciferian Towers
Brand New – Science Fiction

30.Benjamin Gibbard – Bandwagonesque

We have to wait until 2018 for the new Death Cab For Cutie record, but 2017 gave us frontman Ben Gibbard covering Teenage Fanclub’s Bandwagonesque. And it’s glorious!

29. People Like You – Verse

One of many excellent releases from Topshelf Records this year. Emo/Indie/Jazz/Classical fusion that just works! https://peoplelikeyoumusic.bandcamp.com/

28. Comeback Kid – Outsider

One of the few heavy records that caught my attention this year. Comeback Kid has always been in a league of their own. Outsider sees the band take a slight metal turn. https://comebackkid-hc.bandcamp.com/album/outsider

27. Del Paxton – All Day, Every Day, All Night

New wave emo revival at it’s finest! https://delpaxton.bandcamp.com/album/all-day-every-day-all-night

26. Football, Etc. – Corner

In its simplicity Corner is full of catchy melodies and hooks. Reminds me of the mid-90’s emo scene without sounding like a knock-off. https://footballetc.bandcamp.com/album/corner

25. Land Of Talk – Life After Youth

I saw Land Of Talk open for American Football and was blown away.I picked up Life After You that night. https://landoftalk.bandcamp.com/

24. Minus The Bear – Voids

My favorite Minus the Bear record since their debut, Highly Refined Pirates. Worth a buy for Call the Cops alone! https://minusthebear.bandcamp.com/album/voids

23. Racquet Club – Racquet Club

The new project from Blair Shehan picks up right where The Jealous Sound left off, injecting a little bit of Knapsack’s punk attitude.

22. Jeremy Enigk – Ghosts

We waited 8 years for Ghosts and it was worth it! Jeremy Enigk never disappoints. https://jeremyenigk.bandcamp.com/album/ghosts

21. Julien Baker – Turn Out The Lights

On her sophomore record, Julien Baker adds a richness to her sad songs. It’s still simple and heartfelt but the added lushness to the soundscape provides a warmth that you didn’t know Baker’s music was missing.

20. Prawn – Run

Prawn’s third full-length is an epic masterpiece. The band continues to expand and build on their brand of emo. One of the best bands to come out of the emo revival! https://prawnnj.bandcamp.com/album/run

19. Echo Lad – Echo Lad

The best record you didn’t know existed this year! Philadelphia’s Echo Lad delivered pure gold on their math rock infused debut LP. https://echolad.bandcamp.com/album/echo-lad

18. Mastodon – Emperor Of Sand

Having finally gotten over wanting to hear Crack the Skye part 2, I was finally able to enjoy a new Mastodon record.

17. Quicksand – Interiors

Quicksand’s first new record in 22 years did not disappoint. https://quicksandnyc.bandcamp.com/album/interiors

16. Lights – Skin & Earth

Lights is a pop powerhouse. Skin & Earth didn’t get the recognition it deserves, as Lights never does, but this is what pop music should be!

15. Oso Oso – The Yunahon Mixtape

Reindeer Games has been my favorite song of the year ever since the Yunahon Mixtape released in January. https://osoosoband.bandcamp.com/album/the-yunahon-mixtape

14. Gingerlys – Gingerlys

Power pop at it’s finest. A late year release that deserves your attention! https://gingerlys.bandcamp.com/album/gingerlys-2

13. Eisley – I’m Only Dreaming

I’ve been a huge Eisley fan since the band was originally Moss Eisley. Even with some restructuring and member changes, Sherri Bemis’ voice shines and keeps the band moving forward. https://eisley.bandcamp.com/releases

12. Diet Cig- Swear I’m Good At This

Diet Cig’s Alex Luciano is what a ball of energy in human form looks like. Power pop meets punk rock. https://dietcig.bandcamp.com/

11. Sorority Noise – You’re Not As ___ As You Think

The emotion and heartache that comes through on every single song makes Sorority Noise’s third full-length an absolute gem. https://sororitynoise.bandcamp.com/album/youre-not-as-as-you-think

10. The Menzingers – After The Party

After The Party is a record for all of us aging punks! “Where are we gonna go now that our 20’s are over?” https://themenzingers.bandcamp.com/album/after-the-party

9. Tigers Jaw – Spin

Admittedly, this is my first time giving a Tigers Jaw record a spin (no pun intended) and I love it!

8. At The Drive-In – Inter Alia

Tons of great reunion records this year. At The Drive-In’s return was the one I was most concerned about but the band delivered a return to form! No Mars Volta hangover here!

7. Lo Tom – Lo Tom

David Bazan making a rock record with Jason Martin sounded in good in real life as it did on paper. Great to hear Bazan’s voice over guitars again! https://lotomlotom.bandcamp.com/

6. Able Baker Fox – Visions

Able Baker Fox deliver a dose of post hardcore nostalgia. https://ablebakerfox.bandcamp.com/album/visions-2

5. Pet Symmetry – Vision

Evan Weiss does not release bad records. Vision is fun. I saw Pet Symmetry live and they were having more fun then any band I’ve seen recently. Catchy catchy rock and roll! https://petsymmetryband.bandcamp.com/album/vision

4. Charly Bliss – Guppy

Charly Bliss took everything good about post grunge alternative and infused it with upbeat pop hooks and the result is an sugary infectious record that’s love at first listen. https://charlybliss.bandcamp.com/

3. Rainer Maria – Rainer Maria

Rainer Maria’s first new record in 11 years is full of blistering riffs from Kaia Fischer, carried by William Kuehn holding it down on the drums, and of course Caithlin De Marrais’ soaring vocals. They sound refreshed and like they have a lot of life left! https://rainermaria.bandcamp.com/album/s-t

2. Wild Ones – Mirror Touch

I picked up a Topshelf Records subscription this year and while the label released great music all year, the gem of their 2017 catalog is electro pop act Wild One’s Mirror Touch. The record is catchy as hell and each song has a unique element that keeps you on your toes. https://wildones.bandcamp.com/

1. Paramore – After Laughter

Paramore just straight up makes good records. Everything since Riot has been a solid album of the year contender. Change of sound and style doesn’t matter. The songs are all hits!

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The Meltdown 3.86


The Meltdown – The Meltdown 3.86

This week I am counting down my favorite ep’s and 7”s from 2017.

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Favorite EP’s/7″‘s from 2017


There was a TON of great music in 2017. I personally listened to 168 new release this year. And I had 70 records competing for my Top 30 favorite albums. So this year, for the first time, I have a separate list just for EP’s and 7″ records.

Honorable Mentions:
Petal – Comfort
Strengthen What Remains – 2017 Promo
Teen Divorce – Almost Heaven
Zao – Pyrrhic Victory
Household/Infinite Me – Split

15. Colder Planets – Sad Nature

Sad Nature is 3 songs of Rainer Maria inspired twinkly slow jams. https://colderplanets.bandcamp.com/album/sad-nature

14. The East – Lipstick & Moonshine

The two songs from Italian emo outfit The East are soaring anthems that excite me for more music from the group. https://bethshalomrecords.bandcamp.com/album/lipstick-moonshine

13. Blind Lion – Spring

Spring was the third ep from Blind Lion in their seasons series (Bummed we never got the Summer ep) and it was easily the best of the series. https://blindlion.bandcamp.com/

12. No Vacation – Intermission

California surf rock meets dream pop. https://novacationgrrl.bandcamp.com/album/intermission

11. Madison Minor – The Not So Evil Robot

The second of three ep’s released by Australia’s Madison Minor is full of upbeat, 2000’s style emocore. RIYL Hawthorne Heights https://boyonastringmusic.bandcamp.com/album/the-not-so-evil-robot-ep

10. Lightcliffe – Mistakes I Seem to Make

London’s Lightcliffe released 2 songs earlier this year that remind of American Football, if American Football was a straight forward rock band. https://lightcliffe.bandcamp.com/

9. Hands – New Heaven/New Earth

It’s nice to see Shane Ochsner go a little heavier this time around. And it’s nice to have another Hand’s 7″.

8. Expert Timing – Selective Hearing

Expert Timing falls somewhere between power pop and emo. The songs are hook driven pop gems! https://experttiming.bandcamp.com/album/selective-hearing

7. Dear Seattle – Dear Seattle

Hook driven rock that sounds like Nirvana inspired emo. https://dearseattle.bandcamp.com/

6. Better Than Mending – Treatments

One of two ep’s released by UK post hardcore band Better Than Mending. This is the more melodic of the two records. Both are worth your time! https://betterthanmending.bandcamp.com/album/treatments

5. For Everest/Carb On Carb – Split

For Everest follows up last year’s brilliant We Are At Home In The Body with two fantastic songs on this split. They teamed up with New Zealand’s Carb on Carb. https://foreverest.bandcamp.com/


4. Citysick – Thanks For Trying


Thanks For Trying came out in January and remained one of my favorite ep’s throughout the year. https://citysickca.bandcamp.com/album/thanks-for-trying

3. Old State – Weight

Old State is carrying the torch of bands like Thursday and Thrice. Beautiful quiet, introspective moments that explode into full-throated screaming emotion. https://oldstate.bandcamp.com/

2. Glacier Veins – Dreamspace

Glacier Veins was my love at first listen band last year. An artist not to miss. They had to albums on my favorite releases list. This year they signed with Common Ground Records and released a fantastic ep called Dreamspace. This band has yet to disappoint me. https://commongroundrecords.bandcamp.com/album/dreamspace


1. Baggage – The Good That Never Comes


A band from Michigan writing about how Flint has been left for dead and donating all the proceeds of that album to get clean water to citizens in Flint. Oh, and the songs will blow you away. Baggage just opened for Jimmy Eat World! This ep is incredible and blew me away instantly. https://baggageband.bandcamp.com/

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The Meltdown 2.108

Best of 2015


The Meltdown – The Meltdown 2.108

It’s My Favorite Record of 2015!

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The Best of 2015

It’s that time of the year again when I share what I consider the best records of 2016. This list only includes records that I listened to. I listened to almost half the amount of records I usually do in a year, so you’ll have to forgive me if I missed something. It should probably be my favorite records of the year, but we’ll stick with the best.

Honorable Mentions:

Crystal Lewis – Crystal Lewis
Levv – Arrow
Doug Burr – Pale White Dove
Carly Rae Jepsen – Emotion
Emery – You Were Never Alone
Sufjan Stevens – Carrie and Lowell
Boysetsfire – Boysetsfire

 

25. Deafheaven – New Bermuda
a0622773824_10This record could just as easily be higher on the list. Fast and vicious, yet featuring these absolutely beautiful moments that make the musician in me smile. New Bermuda is less lush and more raw than Sunbather, but it also has more musicianship and technical prowess. A great record for the music geek and the metal fan.

 

24. Strengthen What Remains – Justice Creeps SlowBAI060_1500xJustice Creeps Slow is straight up the heaviest hardcore record I’ve heard since Point of Recognition’s Day of Defeat. Just heavy tough guy hardcore. Not frills, all fight!

 

23. The Ongoing Concept – Handmade11141205_10152998987894118_318439366170224581_nIf a band says they’re going to make all the instruments for their new record, you’d applaud them and call them crazy. That’s what the Ongoing Concept did for their sophomore record, Handmade. While I thought Handmade was less interesting than Saloon, it’s more consistent and concise. Plus, they make the best of list just because they made their own instruments!

 

22. Soft Lions – SpellbreakerSoftLions-SpellbreakerSpellbreaker is a great ep. It could just as easily be the soundtrack for a 1950’s zombie beach movie. It’s got punk spirit with the lo-fi indie vibes. A band to pay attention to!

 

21. Moving Mountains/Prawn – Split EPMM_PRAWN_SPLIT_1024x1024I wasn’t sure we’d ever hear new music from Moving Mountains, so I was super excited when this split was announced. I actually like both of these Moving Mountains tracks more than the bands previous self-titled full-length. And both the songs from Prawn ring of emo’s glory days!

 

20. Alert 312 – The Upside Eternal12046756_10153750986869529_1768712839276259843_nI find myself seeing this cycle where Alert 312 releases this super creative and innovative eps and their full-lengths don’t seem to have the same punch to my ears. And that was my first impression of The Upside Eternal. I still liked the record, but it just didn’t strike me the same way that Singular Vision did.But upon further listens you hear the intricate layers of sound and the hard work that went into the beats.

 

19. Ivadell – Maybe TomorrowBCR-052_Cover_1500Maybe Tomorrow has more depth than just another emo revival album. The arrangements are intricately simple. Interesting, but not overly complex. The dynamics on this record are great. When the band wants to sound huge, they’ve left plenty of room for the sound to grow and overwhelm your speakers. An absolutely stunning record.

 

18. Five Iron Frenzy – Between Pavement and StarsFIF_BTPASMore great music from Five Iron Frenzy on their second go around. B-sides from Engine OF A Million Plots, but most of these songs are good enough to have made the record. I’m really glad Five Iron is back!

 

17. Zao – Xenophobe/Fear Itselfcover Yes, a 2 song 7″ was good enough to make the top 25. And if these songs are an indicator, Zao’s 2016 full-length will be an album of the year contender. The rawness and insanity from The Fear Is What Keeps Us Here is back and I’m not sure Zao has ever sounded better.

 

16. Fireflight – InnonaInnovaI’ve always liked Fireflight and their brand of hard rock. But I never thought I would’ve fallen in love with them as a pop group. I said when I reviewed Innova that I thought it had all sorts of commercial radio friendly singles on it, and I still believe it. This should’ve been a huge record for the band.

 

15. Envy – Atheist’s Corneaenvy2Atheist’s Cornea is a great record that seems to span most of Envy’s career. Less post rock and more of the hardcore sound that was featured early in the band’s career. But Envy provides a sound that is unique to them. Beautiful and chaotic at the same time.

 

14. Sollunar – The Observatorya2136106054_10I love post rock. And the solo effort of Florida artist Josiah Bibb was a surprise for me. The best post rock record I heard this year.

 

13. Slow Meadow – Slow Meadow11168915_923398681053340_6452009618947456584_nThe first release on Hammock’s new label is an absolute gem. A beautiful ambient record that you would expect Hammock to release.

 

12. Eshon Burgundy – The Fear of GodEshon+Burgundy+-+The+Fear+of+GodStraight up gospel rap. Beautiful Eulogy and Daniel Steele’s production just knocks it out of the park. It’s the type of record where the music is so good that you just want an instrumental version. That’s not to take anything away from Burgundy. The verses are strong and I really love his flow on this record.

 

11. Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Asunder, Sweet and Other DistressGodspeed You! Black Emperor - Asunder, Sweet, and Other DistressI was not a huge fan of GY!BE’s reunion record, ‘Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend! It just didn’t strike a chord with me. Not so the case with Asunder. The record had me hook from its first note. The shortest Godspeed record to date, which is sad because it’s my favorite record from the band.

 

10. Better Off – MilkfolderI already like Better Off a lot. But when you write a record that sounds like Jimmy Eat World and The Promise Ring, you’re speaking my musical love language.

 

9. Owl City – Mobile OrchestracoverI’m a sucker for Adam Young’s brand of electro-pop. There’s a fun innocence to it and the songs are always super catchy.

 

8. Haste The Day – CowardCowardHaste the Day’s reunion produced the best of the band’s career. The interplay between Jimmy and Stephen’s vocals are perfect. There are moments where you hear the natural evolution of the band, and also the potential evolution had Jimmy never left.

 

7. Defeater – AbandonedDefeater - Abandoned (2015)The concept behind Abandoned is so compelling and the way lyrics intertwine between songs makes it a record you have to really pay attention to. It’s a killer hardcore record, but it’s really the lyric concepts and themes that make Abandoned a worthwhile listen.

 

6. Beach Slang – The Things We Do To Find People Who Feel Like Usa2813479087_10A shoegazey punk rock record. Tons of fun. The music feels like Smashing Pumpkins 1979 music video. Reckless and fun.

 

5. Dustin Kensrue – Carry The Firedustin-kensrue-carry-the-fireCarry The Fire is the post-Thrice record I’d been waiting to hear from Kensrue. Dirty, bluesy rock and roll. Plus we get the catchiest hooks Kensrue’s ever written.

 

4. J Givens – Fly ExamFlyExamAnother Humble Beast release where the beats are super unique. Unlike The Fear of God, this beats are more minimal and leave a lot of room for Givens unique delivery style. It’s a record I had been waiting for a year to hit shelves and it didn’t disappoint.

 

3. Josh Garrels – Homeoriginal-coverHome would make the top 25 for Born Again alone. Every time that songs plays, it’s like chicken soup for the soul. I’ve admittedly been a little lukewarm on Garrels, but this record is an absolute thing of beauty. Bluesy and soulful. A wonderful work of love.

 

2. Bandit – Of LifeBandit-OfLife-CoverWe’re splitting hairs between number 2 and number 1 because both records have been on my turntable constantly since they’ve been released. Of Life is a perfect indie rock record. Another record with terrific dynamic range that creates these beautifully chaotic moments when the songs explode, yet mellow out for Angela Plake’s vocals to shine.

 

  1. mewithoutYou – Pale Horsesv600_Pale_Horses_CoverPale Horses is epic. mewithoutYou hasn’t abandoned their indie rock tendencies, but they bring back their post-punk fury and explode all over Pale Horses. The lyrics are some of Aaron’s most indistinguishable as he blends multiple themes and ideas in each track. So this creates this abstract work of art that matches the ever shifting nature of the music. I’m glad this version of mewithoutYou is back!

 

 

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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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