I find myself saying “this was an excellent year for music”, when in reality, there’s rarely a bad year for it. 2014 proved to be the same in this light. Some of my favorite records of the last five years were released and I got to see the work of some friends grow immensely. I highly recommend everything mentioned in here (obviously) and urge you to check it out. Here’s to an awesome 2015.
Circa Survive is undoubtedly my favorite band in the entire world. When I was told that Descensus, the band’s fifth full-length, was to be the most piercing entry in their untouchable catalog, I was mentally preparing myself for what was to come. What I got was an inventive approach to what they’re all about as a band. Descensus is probably the essential Circa Survive record and is a strong adversary in the band’s arsenal.
I first checked out The Hotelier after hearing countless people rave about Home, Like Noplace Is There. I didn’t quite “get” the hype from an outside perspective because nothing of their back catalog (then The Hotel Year) caught me by surprise. However, upon beginning Home, something took ahold of my ears and refused to let go. The raw emotion in frontman Christian Holden’s delivery alone makes this a top release. The record is an emo punk dream and I religiously listen to at least a portion of it daily.
Keep You takes us down a lighter path, allowing us to come to terms with whatever devastating outcomes may cross our paths down the road. Kyle Durfey’s signature screams were completely omitted and Michael York’s and Chad McDonald’s roaring guitars were replaced by intricate pickings. If anything, hearing “Repine” should have prepared me for the oncoming emotional onslaught of the finished product. Keep You exposes vulnerability and offers a helping hand at the same time, which is really rather extraordinary.
With an impressively atmospheric sound that would make Explosions In The Sky jealous, Gates has successfully won over many people with their first full release, Bloom & Breathe. Their debut EP The Sun Will Rise And Lead Me Home showcased how technical and intricate the band can perform, while last year’s You Are All You Have Left To Fear exploded with how emotional they can appear. Bloom & Breathe molds the sounds of these two EPs perfectly, complete with infectious choruses and chill-inducing guitar swells.
As I stated in our mid-year favorites piece, I didn’t give nearly enough credit to Closure In Moscow in my review of Pink Lemonade. I stand by my later statement that this record is a prime example of modern-day “classic rock.” Upon first listening to the record, you may not know what just happened for the past hour. But that’s when you have to return and pick it apart to really see the hard work and dedication put into it. It’s more than just a weird album; it’s a damn trip.
10.5 Foxing – The Albatross (released in ’13, remastered this year)
11. Manchester Orchestra – COPE
12. La Dispute – Rooms Of The House
13. ’68 – In Humor And Sadness
14. Every Time I Die – From Parts Unknown
15. Xerxes – Collision Blonde
16. Hail The Sun – Wake
17. Copeland – Ixora
18. Stolas – Allomaternal
19. Frameworks – Loom
20. Aaron West And The Roaring Twenties – We Don’t Have Each Other
Top 5 EPs/Splits:
Top 10 Songs:
1. “Happy Days” – Closure In Moscow, from Pink Lemonade
2. “Child Of The Desert” – Circa Survive, from Descensus
3. “Paralytic States” – Against Me!, from Transgender Dysphoria Blues
4. “Among The Wildflowers” – The Hotelier, from Home, Like Noplace Is There
5. “Fair Trade” – Tiny Moving Parts, from split with Old Gray
6. “I Wanna Get Better” – Bleachers, from Strange Desire
7. “Moor” – Every Time I Die, from From Parts Unknown
8. “Highway Blues” – Seahaven, from Reverie Lagoon: Music For Escapism Only
9. “Human Target Practice” – Hail The Sun, from Wake
10. “Award Of The Year Award” – You Blew It!, from Keep Doing What You’re Doing
Best Album Art: Gates – Bloom & Breathe
Top 5 Shows:
1. mewithoutYou‘s Catch For Us the Foxes 10th Anniversary Show with The Appleseed Cast and Hop Along @ The Trocadero
2. The Hotelier and Foxing with Prawn and Little Big League @ The Fire
3. Pegasus Festival (Brand New, Circa Survive, Cold War Kids, Dustin Kensrue, Bad Books, PMtoday) @ Verizon Theatre
4. The Sound Of Animals Fighting with Unwed Sailor @ The Trocadero
5. Neutral Milk Hotel with Elf Power @ Union Transfer
Biggest Surprise: Beartooth – Disgusting
Biggest Disappointment: Chiodos – Devil
Best Comeback: Copeland
Most Anticipated: Brand New (c’mon)