Tag Archives: Better Off

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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Better Off – Milk

While the emo revival seems to be hitting a fever pitch, Better Off looks like the seasoned vet compared to some of their nostalgic peers. Alright, maybe not completely. Yet even as emo centric as Better of is, at times it seems like Milk is veering more into my alternative rock territory.

There are some big bombastic guitar tones on the record that remind me of the early to mid-90’s alternative bands. With a healthy dose of 90’s mid-west emo. Empty Handed’s opening riff is huge and a stellar intro to the record. But the song mellows out when the verse hits. That opening riff reappears on the hook of the song but sounds less ballsy when sung over. Dresser Drawer feels like a song ripped from Clarity, which I LOVE! Keeping with the Jimmy Eat World theme, the intro to Suicide Island sounds more like something off Bleed American but that quickly disappears as the bands veers into a more punk sounding track.This Day WIll Never End and Unhappy are both pure emo bliss! You’re Alright, again, sounds like it’s been inspired by Jimmy Eat World. Which if you have to choose a band to look up, Jimmy Eat World is a damn good one!

The Interlude (that’s what the songs called) sounds like some good old fashioned rock and roll! Even the Foo Fighters couldn’t do it this well! It’s a short track but it kicks into Whatever I Don’t Care, which feels more like 90’s alternative rock than emo. Bella Disorder feels like it’s inspired by Pedro the Lion in all the best ways! Like straight off of Control! Dark and haunting. The lyrics are dark in a way different way from Control, and the music is still heavier and nothing like Pedro the Lion, even though I hear that influence. Spinning sounds like the greatest song The Promise Ring forgot the write. Mary Chains kicks it back to the post-alternative sound. The record ends with Myself In A Pill, another song that puts The Promise Ring to shame.

I hate to like a record or band because it sounds like bands I already like, but Better Off manages to remind me of Jimmy Eat World, The Promise Ring, Smashing Pumpkins, and Pedro the Lion, all on the same record, and it never sounds like a different band is performing the songs. What’s not love! 5 out of 5 Stars!

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Better Off Announce Milk

Post-emo/emo revival outfit Better Off have announced their new record Milk. Milk will be out in stores on September 11th via Equal Vision Records. You can listen to the records first single, I Don’t Care, below.

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Better Off – (I Think) I’m Leaving

There are people who say emo like it’s a curse word. And I get that. If emo invokes thoughts of Fall Out Boy, skinny jeans, and swoop haircuts, I understand the hatred. But emo brings to my mind bands like Sunny Day Real Estate, The Promise Ring, Mineral, Braid, The Get Up Kids… You get the idea. Emo brings to mind the post-hardcore, right out of high school version of myself (before emo got MTVized).

Very few bands pull off emo the right way these days. Better Off’s first ep (as the band Friends) was a throwback to fun early 2000’s emo/pop punk. A name change was sure to bring a new focus and a new sound.

Better Off’s full-length debut is a beautifully crafted emo record. Late 90’s emo. The good kind.

Songs like The Price Is Never Right, A Fool Walks Into a Bar, Letting It In/Making It Go, and Inside with their familiar rhythms and melodies that seem welcoming. Or tracks like Sick, Sad Sons, Keeping Watch, and Next Step Is Out The Door  with their punk tinged influence. Even the great, slightly off kilter rhythms in 1991 (Alive) remind me of the great emo bands of old. The album closer, Garden State of Mind with it’s upbeat verse and chorus before going into a beautiful extended instrumental outro (American Football’s Honesty, anyone?) is just the perfect way to close out this gem of a record.

When nostalgia hits, it’s nice to know that there are new bands making great records that fit in a catalog of what was so good about the late 90’s. (I Think) I’m Leaving is a great record.

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Better Off Signs with 6131 Records

Better Off (formerly Friends) has signed with 6131 Records.

6131 Records have announced the signing of Nashville, Tennessee alternative indie rock outfit BETTER OFF to their label roster. The band will be releasing their debut effort, a full length entitled (I Think) I’m Leaving, via the label on August 27th.
The members of BETTER OFF are no stranger to the Nashville alternative rock scene, having played in various other projects in the area in recent years, but this new incarnation undoubtedly sees this group of musicians at their peak… or on their way to it. The album they’ve created in (I Think) I’m Leaving feels remarkably mature and developed for a debut release, sure to excite fans of a wide range of tastes. Comparisons to the likes of Jimmy Eat World, Brand New, and Knapsack seem fitting, yet BETTER OFF provide enough of their own take on the sound to create their own brand of emotional rock. These are stirring, well-crafted songs that get reveal themselves more and more on each subsequent listen.
BETTER OFF have plans for touring throughout the Southeast U.S. (dates below) with more extensive tour expected to be announced soon.
06/06 Nashville, TN @ The Owl Farm
09/02 Tampa, FL @ Ball Pit
09/03 Pembroke Pines, FL @ Talent Farm
09/05 Atlanta, GA @ WonderRoot
09/06 Chattanooga, TN @ Sluggo’s
According to Blood and Ink’s twitter page this will be a joint release between the two labels. I was a huge fan of Friends’ debut “Better Off Alone” and I’m pretty excited for the Better Off’s debut. 

This is the band’s first single from (I Think) I’m Leaving. 

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