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Top 25 Albums of 2014 (As Picked By Vas)

by: Vasilis

Better late than never! I have been making “Best Of” lists since 2008 and it is always one of my favorite parts of the year. I love spending copious amounts of time in November and December combing through the releases I loved, the releases I may have slept on and missed entirely from being too busy, and even the releases I didn’t like at first (two of my top 15 albums this year were records I did not like after the first few listens earlier in the year). With that said, 2014 was a great year for music and, next to 2011 (the best year of music in this decade by a mile), this is probably my single favorite top 10 I’ve put together in terms of pure quality of the releases and the bands doing the releasing. I could even extend this to my top 13 albums, all of which hit me especially hard at one point or another.

As always, this is a personal list and is not meant to reflect the 25 best albums released this year; I do have a very specific and select taste in music and do not pretend otherwise. You will not find Taylor Swift, St. Vincent, or FKA Twigs on this list, as their music does not appeal to me (it doesn’t mean it’s not good, it’s just not my thing). Also, I stand by all 25 albums (and 5 EPs) on this list and would recommend them very highly. Without further adieu, here they are! My 25 top albums of 2014.

5 FAVORITE EPs

05. Four Year Strong – Down In History

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Favorite Track: “What’s in the Box?”

04. Beach Slang – Cheap Thrills on a Dead End Street

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Favorite Track: “American Girls and French Kisses”

03. The Color and Sound – Peace of Mind

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Favorite Track: “Cigarettes”

02. Allison Weiss – Remember When

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Favorite Track: “Remember When”

01. The Front Bottoms – Rose

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Favorite Track: “Jim Bogart”

25 FAVORITE ALBUMS

25. Andrew Jackson Jihad – Christmas Island

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Favorite Track: “Temple Grandin”

24. Rx Bandits – Gemini, Her Majesty

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Favorite Track: “Wide Open”

23. PrawnKingfisher

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Favorite Track: “First as Tragedy, Second as Farce”

22. Somos – Temples of Plenty

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Favorite Track: “Dead Wrong”

21. Tiny Moving Parts – Pleasant Living

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Favorite Track: “Boxcar”

20. Have Mercy – A Place of Our Own

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Favorite Track: “Spacecrafts”

19. Tigers Jaw – Charmer

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Favorite Track: “Nervous Kids”

18. Hostage Calm – Die on Stage

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Favorite Track: “Your Head / Your Heart”

17. Taking Back Sunday – Hapiness Is…

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Favorite Track: “Better Homes and Gardens”

16. The Gaslight Anthem – Get Hurt

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Favorite Track: “Dark Places”

15. Manchester Orchestra – COPE/HOPE

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Favorite Track: “Cope”

14. Say Anything – Hebrews

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Favorite Track: “Kall Me Kubrick”

13. PUPPUP

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Favorite Track: “Reservoir”

12. You Blew It!Keep Doing What You’re Doing

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Favorite Track: “Award of the Year Award”

11. Driver Friendly – Unimagined Bridges

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Favorite Track: “Stand So Tall (ft. Dan Campbell)”

10. Joyce Manor – Never Hungover Again

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If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Joyce Manor’s third album Never Hungover Again follows the mold of short songs but is their best work yet. The songs are fun, fast and strike you immediately and display improved musicianship and songwriting. The band hit home on every emotional note, especially on album highlights “Heart Tattoo” and “Schley”.

Favorite Track: “Heart Tattoo”

09. La Dispute – Rooms of the House

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Warning: Never listen to La Dispute when in a fragile emotional state. The band’s music is saturated with powerful human situations and speak of suffering and pain. Each track is its own story and combines to form the novel that is the band’s third album. Look no further than opener “Hudsonville MI 1956” and “Scenes from Highways 1981-2009” to be brought to the edge of tears.

Favorite Track: “Hudsonville, MI 1956”

08. Modern BaseballYou’re Gonna Miss It All

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This album, 10 months after its release, is still a ton of fun to listen to. Sung with an almost noticeable goofy grin, the band’s music doesn’t it take itself too seriously (despite being classified as “emo”) with lyrics about iphones, graduating, and watching TV and brainstorming tattoo ideas with your friends. It’s the album written for 20-somethings by 20-somethings, and it’s a real blast from start to finish. Full Review

Favorite Track: “Your Graduation”

07. Against Me! – Transgender Dysphoria Blues

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This album is important, there’s no other way to say it. Laura Jane Grace sings about her experiences as a transgender woman in a way that is eye-opening and empowering to the LGBTQ community. She shines a light on her pain and problems while also speaking of hope and can be a huge stepping point for the community in the punk scene. It doesn’t hurt that the music is edgy and in-your-face, one of their best albums yet. Full Review

Favorite Track: “Black Me Out”

06. Fireworks – Oh, Common Life

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Dave Mackinder uses Firework’s third album to pay tribute to his late father (who passed away while the band was on tour in 2011), creating a dark, poppy punk record built around heavier use of keyboards and mellower guitar tones. The band’s fun sound isn’t compromised though (as is evident on the upbeat “Play ‘God Only Knows’ at My Funeral” and “Flies on Tape”). This album builds off the band’s incredible sophomore effort Gospel and takes their sound to places it’s never gone before. Full Review

Favorite Track: “Run, Brother, Run”

05. I Am the AvalancheWolverines

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Sporting a ferocious bite (much like the band’s sophomore LP Avalanche United), Long Island’s I Am the Avalanche present a personal and heartfelt punk album. Wolverines is an ode to life, including the good (friends getting married on the feverishly quick “177”) and the bad (becoming addicted to pain killers on punchy “The Shape I’m In”). The band continues to improve with every release and have found their niche. Full Review

Favorite Track: “Young Kerouacs”

04. Bayside – CULT

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CULT is a celebration of everything Bayside have accomplished over their career (the band turns 15 in 2015). The album is a “greatest hits” of sorts, combining elements of each of their five prior studio albums to create a perfect snapshot of the band’s classic sound. Album highlights include the explosive opener “Big Cheese”, the sweet and sincere “Transitive Property” and the introspective “Objectivist on Fire”. Full Review

Favorite Track: “Objectivist On Fire”

03. The Hotelier – Home, Like Noplace Is There

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Sometimes a band comes seemingly out of nowhere and sweeps the scene off their feet. The Hotelier was that band and Home, Like Noplace Is There was that album in 2014. Stunningly sincere, personal, and brilliant musically and lyrically, this album is a masterpiece reminiscent of a veteran band and not a group that is releasing their sophomore album. Home, Like Noplace Is There has the chance to define the “emo revival” genre for years to come. Opener “An Introduction to the Album” and closer “Dendron” are two of the best songs of the year and wonderfully bookmark this album.

Favorite Track: “The Scope of All This Rebuilding”

02. The Menzingers – Rented World

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At this point, no one should be surprised at all at what The Menzingers can do and instead should wonder what can’t the band do? Their fourth album follows their 2012 magnum opus On the Impossible Past and is well-crafted and personal. Opener “I Don’t Wanna Be an Asshole Anymore” and lead single “In Remission” are two of the best songs the band has written, and the acoustic closer “When You Died” is an unexpected wonderful change of pace for the band. Full Review

Favorite Track: “In Remission”

01. Aaron West and the Roaring Twenties – We Don’t Have Each Other

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There’s not much I can say about this album (or Dan Campbell from The Wonder Years) that I haven’t said in my many reviews of his work. His storytelling is impeccable and he continues to push his capabilities further with every album and project. Full Review

Favorite Track: “Carolina Coast”

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2014 Musical Superlatives

Every January the staff at Lyrically Addicted sits down and tries to hash out the top albums from the previous year. We spend house analyzing and dissecting our favorite albums trying to put them in some kind of order that we can be happy with. But what often gets overlooked in such a process is the individual songs themselves. Maybe we fall in love with a b-side that doesn’t make it onto the album proper, or we stumble upon a live version that’s better than the original. The point is these individual tracks often get overlooked in favor of the albums themselves and we don’t think that’s fair. This year we decided to shine a light on some of these lesser known tracks.

                                 Best B-Side:
Vas’s pick: Fireworks – “Oh, Common Life”

Cherie’s pick: Frank Turner – “Sweet Albion Blues”

                                 Best Cover:
Vas’s pick: Allison Weiss – “Call Your Girlfriend” (Robyn cover)

Cherie’s pick: Gabrielle Aplin – “A Case of You” (Joni Mitchell cover)

                                 Best Acoustic Version:
Vas’s pick: Manchester Orchestra – “Girl Harbor”

Cherie’s pick: Passenger – “Scare Away the Dark”

                                 Best Music Video:
Vas’s pick: The Front Bottoms – “Backflip”

Cherie’s pick: Bombay Bicycle Club – “Luna”

                                 Best Collaboration:
Vas’s pick: Say Anything featuring Los Campesinos – “Judas Decapitation”

Cherie’s pick: Billy the Kid – “This Sure As Hell Ain’t My Life

                                 Best Single:
Vas’s pick: The Menzingers – “In Remission”

Cherie’s pick: Laura Marling – “Short Movie”

                                 Best Live Version:
Vas’s pick: Koji – “Matches”

Cherie’s pick: Beans on Toast – “I Can’t Get a Gig at Glastonbury”

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SXSW 2013: One Year Later (Better Late Than Never)

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In light of the horrible tragedy that took place in Austin on March 13, we would like to extend our deepest condolences to the victims and their families. We hope everyone at SXSW stays safe.

by Vasilis

One year ago, I experienced one of the most unforgettable weeks of my life. On March 13, 2013, I flew down to Austin to work the music portion of the two-week long festival as a project coordinator for Royal Media Group. When I was told that I would be heading down to Austin, I was as excited as I was anxious, as it had been seven years since I flew anywhere and my first time traveling solo. Still, it was an offer no person could say ‘no’ to.

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My boss flew me down to San Antonio on Wednesday and rented a car for me to make the 90-minute trip to Austin. Though it was terrifying driving so far by myself in a state I had never been, it was also exhilarating and let me take in the scenery. I only had half hour to settle into the rented house before making my way into the heart of the city. As someone who lives in New York and has seen Times Square at its busiest, I can say that Austin during SXSW is unrivaled in its complete chaos. While I expected a big crowd and had heard stories about the famed 6th Street, I was still overwhelmed. The streets were littered with bar-hopping millennials, music journalists, amateur musicians, promoters, and event fliers leading people to where they needed to go. Though most people probably picture Texas as an ultra-conservative Bible-thumping state, the very-liberal Austin felt more like a warmer Williamsburg. You couldn’t take a step without your ears being filled with music; to put it lightly, it is every music lover’s dream.

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My company was stationed in a rustic venue called Swan Dive on 615 Red River Street, right off 6th Street. Though old and worn down, it had its own charm and glowed with a rich past full of famed performers and shows. Our company was working with a Canada-based company called Planet Quebec (who are focused on promoting talent from Quebec), which was an odd endeavor that presented a nice challenge and allowed me to meet some interesting people and observe some unique talent. Wednesday and Thursday were primarily spent on promoting the acts and working the shows. On Thursday morning, I was able to overcome a mishap with my alarm that forced me to wake up late and attended a meeting filled with some of our company’s artists and Pandora executives. I was able to learn a lot, eat some great Texan food, and get take in a beautiful Austin view from their office. Throughout the week, the work kept on coming but it was extremely rewarding and in many ways did not feel like work. Though there were ups and downs, many of the events the company put on (including one showcasing Cirque Du Soleil) were well attended and well covered.

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Luckily, it was not all work and no play. I made sure to highlight every artist I wanted to see along with their set times and locations, and made a point to catch as many artists as the Lone Star State had to offer. I was able to catch Pentimento, who were coincidentally playing an 11pm set Wednesday night in the patio right behind Swan Dive (as part of the Weapons of Mass Creation Showcase). This was only my second time seeing Pentimento perform but reaffirmed that they are a can’t-miss, high-energy live act. One of my favorite sets of the festival happened on Friday night, when I saw Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls play a set at 12:50am at Blackheart Bar and Grill. After completing a long day of work, I sprinted down to the bar – which was far off from the heart of the festival – to catch the always incredible Frank Turner. Blackheart is a small bar with a spacious backyard patio that created a brilliant setting to watch the show. Frank looked like he could not be having more fun as he drunkenly played through a 13-song set and playfully bantered with the crowd in between songs.

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On Saturday, the big Alternative Press day-long showcase at the radiant Red 7 venue was the highlight of my trip. Featuring both an indoor and outdoor stage, I was able to fit in Pentimento, Air Dubai, What’s Eating Gilbert, Allison Weiss, and headliner Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls. Though this set was a lot earlier (he performed at 6pm), the crowd was equal to the task of the previous night’s performance; Frank made sure to switch up the setlist and the crowd danced, swayed, partied, and sang along. After my final day of work, I finished off the Frank Turner trifecta at Cedar Street Courtyard, where he performed alongside The Revival Tour. Although I missed Chuck Regan and Jenny Owen Youngs, I made it in time to catch Matt Pryor (The Get Up Kids) play some classics like “Close to Home” and “I’ll Catch You” and Chris Carraba (Dashboard Confessional, Twin Forks) perform Dashboard anthem “Hands Down”. Frank’s final set offered a different spin as he took the stage minus the Sleeping Souls and played a handful of his hits along with covers from artists ranging from Blink-182 to Bruce Springsteen. For the final song, the entire Revival Tour joined Frank onstage and closed out SXSW in a glorious fashion, capping off my unbelievable week.

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As I look back one year later, I cannot begin to say how lucky I was to be able to participate and take in the sights and sounds of SXSW. It is truly one of the most remarkable festivals in the world and gives fans the opportunity to experience so many talented individuals in so many different fields in such a short amount of time. I would highly encourage everyone to attempt to make the trip down at least once in their lifetimes. With the proper preparations, research, and performances, you could be creating memories that will last a lifetime.

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Top Albums of 2013 (as chosen by Vas)

Band – Album – “Favorite Song”

  1. The Wonder Years – The Greatest Generation – “I Just Want to Sell Out My Funeral”

  2. Streetlight Manifesto – The Hands That Thieve – “Your Day Will Come”

  3. Balance & Composure – The Things We Think We’re Missing – “Keepsake”

  4. Frank Turner – Tape Deck Heart – “Plain Sailing Weather”

  5. Kevin Devine – Bulldozer/Bubblegum – “Redbird”

  6. Into It. Over It. – Intersections – “Contractual Obligation”

  7. The Front Bottoms – Talon of the Hawk – “Backflip”

  8. Arctic Monkeys – AM – “R U Mine?”

  9. Citizen – Youth – “Roam the Room”

  10. The World is a Beautiful Place and I Am No Longer Afraid to Die – Whenever, If Ever – “Getting Sodas”

  11. Fall Out Boy – Save Rock and Roll – “Save Rock and Roll”

  12. Saves the Day – Saves the Day – “Ain’t No Kind of Love”

  13. The Swellers – Light Under Closed Doors – “Got Social”

  14. Mixtapes – Ordinary Silence – “Elevator Days”

  15. Sainthood Reps – Headswell – “Headswell”

  16. Allison Weiss – Say What You Mean – “One Way Love”

  17. Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City – “Unbelievers”

  18. Have Mercy – The Earth Pushed Back – “This Old Ark”

  19. Polar Bear Club – Death Chorus – “WLWYCD”

  20. Paramore – Paramore – “Anklebiters”

2013 Top 5 EPs:

  1. Vinnie Caruana – City By The Sea

  2. Pentimento – Inside the Sea

  3. Their / They’re / There – Their / They’re / There

  4. Misser – Distancing

  5. Why Bother? – This Isn’t Very Good

 

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“Wait For Me” – Allison Weiss

by Cherie

Good music is all about telling a story for the listener. Whether its a literal story or just painting a picture for the listener, music is, at heart, an interactive experice. Allison Weiss’s new video for “Wait For Me” takes that idea to a new level. The concept for the video is simple, the song plays in the background while a woman, Josee, listens to it for the first time on headphones. As the song plays we get to watch the Josee’s reaction, but we also learn something about her life story as well, thanks to subtitles on the screen. The combined experience is touching and beautiful, and for three and a half minutes you can immerse yourself in someone elses life story. It’s almost as if the song were written for Josee.

Honestly, this might be my favorite video of 2013. Its a great song by itself by the genuine nature of the video make it that much better.

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December 23, 2013 · 10:59 pm