Because there aren’t enough “best of” end-of-year lists out there, I figured I’d throw my hat in the clickbait ring with my favorite albums of 2014. Originally I planned to limit the list to 10 albums. People like that number. It feels safe and warm and cozy. But then I thought, “10 isn’t a lot. Especially with all the music I added to my iTunes this year.” (106 albums, EPs and splits to be exact.) So I’m going with 15 albums. Cause punk. Cause anarchy.
Note: These aren’t ranked, just listed alphabetically. It was hard enough picking only 15.
1. Most influential album of the year
Against Me! – Transgender Dysphoria Blues
A while ago I wrote a blog post the day Laura Jane Grace came out as transgender. Fast forward two years and she’s taken the experience and created one of the best albums of the year, and easily the most important album Against Me! have made.
2. The album that makes me wish AIM still existed so I could make 10 away messages that correspond to each of its songs
Andrew McMahon In The Wilderness – Andrew McMahon In The Wilderness
Chances are you listened to Something Corporate and Jack’s Mannequin in high school. If it’s been a while since you’ve heard from Andrew McMahon, pick up his debut solo album. It will remind you why you fell in love with his songwriting all those years ago.
3. The best pop album made by a couple of punks
Antarctigo Vespucci – Soulmate Stuff
Once upon a time, Chris Farren (Fake Problems) and Jeff Rosenstock (ex-Bomb The Music Industry!) got together, became BFFs and wrote seven killer pop songs. Good dudes making good shit. The end.
4. The album I never expected to like
Beartooth – Disgusting
I know what you’re thinking: “Wait… Beartooth. Isn’t that the new band from Caleb Shomo, former king of crabcore/Attack Attack! vocalist?” It is indeed, but no crabs were harmed in the making of Beartooth’s debut album. On Disgusting, Shomo took all the bits and pieces of metalcore and washed out all the bullshit that makes people roll their eyes at the word “metalcore,” leaving listeners with an album that’s heavy, catchy and at times inspiring. Side effects include: Sudden desire to go to the gym and get your swole on.
5. One of many awesome 2014 releases from Tiny Engines
Cayetana – Nervous Like Me
Tiny Engines is the little record label that could. This year they released a zillion awesome albums. (I rounded up.) Philly band Cayetana’s debut album, Nervous Like Me, is on that roster of awesome (along with Somos, Dikembe, etc.). Listen to it, become totally smitten with lead singer Augusta Koch and her tales of adorable awkwardness then give it to your girlfriends—or boyfriends! We’re all-inclusive here.
6. Best pop-punk album for people who don’t like pop-punk
Chumped – Teenage Retirement
I love a good old pop-punk jam about hanging with my friends, hating my hometown and listening to Saves The Day as much as the next person, but change can be good. I adore Chumped’s 2013 self-titled EP, but their debut full-length blows it out of the water. There’s a reason Teenage Retirement is turning up on everyone’s best albums of 2014 list.
7. The sophomore album that didn’t disappoint
Have Mercy – A Place Of Our Own
Go ahead and keep talking about the “emo revival.” While you’re doing that, I’ll be over here listening to Have Mercy’s latest album on repeat.
8. Another phenomenal release from Tiny Engines
The Hotelier – Home Like Noplace Is There
Tell you what: Just go to tinyengines.limitedrun.com and listen to everything in the label’s catalog. But only after you finish reading this list.
9. Best album to definitely not under no circumstances stage dive to
Joyce Manor – Never Hungover Again
Whether or not you agree with Joyce Manor’s views on stage-diving, there’s no denying this album is 19 minutes of fun punk sing-alongs. (Just go with it.)
10. Best album by a band that successfully changed their sound
La Dispute – Rooms Of The House
Granted, La Dispute didn’t change their sound so much as tone it down. As someone who was quite of fan of frontman Jordan Dreyer’s pained, ragged vocals, it took me a little time to get used to his quieter side on Rooms Of The House. After several listens though, I soon realized Dreyer’s voice may be subdued but the passion behind it isn’t.
11. Best album by a band that everyone will be talking about two years from now
Marmozets – The Weird And Wonderful Marmozets
Marmozets remind me a lot of Paramore, and not just because they both have female singers. It would come as absolutely no surprise to me if in the year of our lord 2016 everyone is talking about this band. Just remember: You heard about them here first.
12. Best album by a band whose lead singer is the musical son of music’s great frontmen
Plague Vendor – Free To Eat
I have such a major crush on this band. Frontman Brandon Blaine sashays around the stage like a young Mick Jagger/James Brown/Iggy Pop—and he’s got the chops to back up the swagger. His fellow band members weild their instruments with just as much skill, melding punk, soul and rock ‘n’ roll into a sound that’s unique, refreshing and a hell of a lot of fun.
13. Best album by my favorite band
Say Anything – Hebrews
Time to come clean: In 2012 I did a list of my favorite albums of the year. One of them was Say Anything’s Anarchy, My Dear. Truth be told, it wasn’t one of my favorites of the year. I just couldn’t bring myself to make a list and not include my favorite band. Two years later, I can say with 100-percent honesty that Hebrews is indeed one of my favorite albums of the year.
14. Best album to silently weep/sing loudly to in your car
This Wild Life – Clouded
It reminds me of being 15 years old and totally in love with the way Chris Carrabba sang. *swoon*
15. Best album by my favorite new band
Tiny Moving Parts – Pleasant Living
I still remember the first time I heard Tiny Moving Parts. It only took two lines before I said, “I loveeee this. It reminds me of Say Anything and La Dispute.” I also remember my friend replying (with a big dose of snark), “This is what I imagine you listening to while you’re in your bathtub staring at a poster of Ryan Gosling.” Maybe…. maybe….