Tag Archives: the menzingers

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

PNE152_Cover-1024x1024

Favorite Track: “What’s in the Box?”

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

a3796499768_10

Favorite Track: “American Girls and French Kisses”

03. The Color and Sound – Peace of Mind

a3776451707_10

Favorite Track: “Cigarettes”

02. Allison Weiss – Remember When

url

Favorite Track: “Remember When”

01. The Front Bottoms – Rose

front-bottoms-rose-art

Favorite Track: “Jim Bogart”

25 FAVORITE ALBUMS

25. Andrew Jackson Jihad – Christmas Island

unnamed-3

Favorite Track: “Temple Grandin”

24. Rx Bandits – Gemini, Her Majesty

rxbanditsnewlp14

Favorite Track: “Wide Open”

23. PrawnKingfisher

a3526674265_10

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

22. Somos – Temples of Plenty

a3302873863_10

Favorite Track: “Dead Wrong”

21. Tiny Moving Parts – Pleasant Living

11183_JKT

Favorite Track: “Boxcar”

20. Have Mercy – A Place of Our Own

Have_Mercy_-_A_Place_Of_Our_Own

Favorite Track: “Spacecrafts”

19. Tigers Jaw – Charmer

a1565690816_10

Favorite Track: “Nervous Kids”

18. Hostage Calm – Die on Stage

a3439420076_10

Favorite Track: “Your Head / Your Heart”

17. Taking Back Sunday – Hapiness Is…

tbshappinessis

Favorite Track: “Better Homes and Gardens”

16. The Gaslight Anthem – Get Hurt

Get_Hurt_Deluxe_Edition

Favorite Track: “Dark Places”

15. Manchester Orchestra – COPE/HOPE

manchester

Favorite Track: “Cope”

14. Say Anything – Hebrews

say anything

Favorite Track: “Kall Me Kubrick”

13. PUPPUP

140226-pup-album-cover

Favorite Track: “Reservoir”

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

you blew it

Favorite Track: “Award of the Year Award”

11. Driver Friendly – Unimagined Bridges

driverfriendly_unimagined

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

10. Joyce Manor – Never Hungover Again

homepage_large.8c20479e

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

la dispute

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

modern baseball

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

against me

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

fire works 1

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

i am 1

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

cult

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

a0568906257_10

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

MEZ1

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

url

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”

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

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”

Leave a comment

Filed under retrospective

The Best from the First Half of 2014

by Vasilis

It seems like just yesterday that we were ringing in the New Year, and yet the calendar has already found July. With the year already half-over, it’s that time to look back at some of the best the music world has had to offer us, and there sure has been a lot of great albums. There are still a number of promising albums anticipated for the months between July and December, but it’s going to be tough to live up to the incredible first half of music we had in 2014.

As always, this list is completely subjective, so you may not like the albums I’ve picked and may not even know who they are. Additionally, there are plenty of great albums that were released outside of the genres I normally listen to, but this list will be fairly contained within my personal favorite genres and artists. Still, I stand by every one of these pieces of music being important and worth your time and attention. So without further delay, I bring you my 10 favorite albums from 2014 (so far).

10) Tigers Jaw – Charmer

 a1565690816_10

The band’s newest full-length was originally supposed to be their last after their supposed break-up last year, but the indie-emo favorites are not done yet. After such a solid and complete work, that’s good news.

09) Manchester Orchestra – COPE

manchester

            Open the windows up and crank the volume up to eleven on COPE, Manchester Orchestra’s awaited follow-up to Simple Math. Focusing primarily on guitar, this album features some great lyrics and aggressive songs from “Top Notch” straight through the closer, Cope.

08) Say Anything – Hebrews

say anything

            A rock album with no guitars may not sound enticing to many, but the always-inventive Max Bemis makes it work on the unapologetic, insanely brass Hebrews. Max invites his friends and fellow musicians to sing along on this album, which takes risks and features some of the band’s most aggressive and inventive work, as is evident on songs like “Hebrews” and “Kall Me Kubrick”.

07) You Blew It! – Keep Doing What You’re Doing

you blew it

            You Blew It! put together one of the best emo albums of the year so far by enlisting the help of Evan Weiss (The Progress, Into It. Over It., Their/They’re/There, Pet Symmetry) as producer. It does wonders, as the sound and vocals are noticeably is crisper and less muddled than on their debut. Songs like “Award of the Year Award” and “Better to Best” are catchy and fun while remaining emotionally heavy and relatable.

06) Modern Baseball – You’re Gonna Miss It All

modern baseball

You’re Gonna Miss It All is the fun, care-free college-aged emo you grew up with. The band waxes poetic about iPhones and Instagram accounts but still find time to get serious when necessary and think about the future. It’s an entertaining album about growing up from a young band that still has a lot of growing up to do.

05) Fireworks – Oh, Common Life

 Fireworks-Oh-Common-Life-264x264

Fireworks remain one of the most creative and talented bands in the pop punk scene which is often oversaturated with mediocrity and bands mimicking one another. Oh, Common Lifeis the latest addition to a solid discography and builds on their best album Gospel. Dealing primarily with the death of vocalist Dave Mackinder’s father, the album is a dark look at everyday life built with solid instrumentation and heartfelt lyrics.

04) Against Me! – Transgender Dysphoria Blues

imgres

Transgender Dysphoria Blueswill not go down as the best album of the year, but it certainly will go down as one of the most important. It’s open and honest in a way we’ve never seen about being transgender, a topic so few know about. Laura Jane Grace’s personal experiences throughout her life build a solid foundation, and the music and lyrics are urgent and in-your face. This album shows the band still has a lot left in the tank and serves as one of the best of their career.

03) I Am the Avalanche – Wolverines

Iamtheavalanchewolverines

It was great to only have to wait two and a half year for a new I Am the Avalanche album as opposed to the six-year wait for their sophomore album. Wolverineshas a sharp bite to it, as Vinnie Caruana’s screams are as harsh as ever. The album focuses on what the band does best: blue color punk/hardcore with relatable lyrics and that classic New York style to it. Songs like “177” and “Anna Lee” are some of the best in the band’s catalog.

02) Bayside – CULT

url

“Bayside is a Cult” has been the rallying cry for as long as the band has had their well-established fanbase. On CULT, the band’s sixth studio album, the group draws influences from their whole catalog to create a complete work with a little bit of everything that makes Bayside great. Just another solid release for the boys from Queens, New York.

 

01)  The Menzingers – Rented World 

imgres

            The task of following up an album as impressive and acclaimed as On the Impossible Task is no easy feat, but Philadelphia punk band The Menzingers succeed in proving they’re up to the task with Rented World. Though not as memorable, it improves upon the sound they crafted on the last release and continues their knack for punchy tunes and relatable songwriting. “In Remission” and “Rodent” are two of the best songs I’ve heard so far this year.

Leave a comment

Filed under album review, editorial, Vasilis

April 2014 Roundup

Image

Apache Relay – The Apache Relay (reviewed by Cherie)

Not content to be written off as “just another Mumford inspired band”, indie folk/rock band The Apache Relay have managed to completely reinvent their sound for their second, self-titled, album. From the first track of the album, Katie Queen of Tennessee it’s clear that this album has a much different sound then their largely folk inspired debut album, American Nomad. The band plays around with various melodies, layering them to create a lush sound that will draw the listener in completely. The songs are fuller, more mature, and the band seems to have solidified a sound that is uniquely their own. Its a clear evolution in sound for the band, both lyrically and melodically. Fans of the bands older work will be delighted to find that the band retains, at its core, the same heart and soul of American Nomad. The track “Don’t Leave Me Now” in particular sounds like it could have almost been lifted off the bands first album, but it has found a home on the second album instead and helps to serve as a bridge between the two albums. This is a must listen for anyone who is interested in indie rock music, especially for fans of nu-folk.

Image

Cope – Manchester Orchestra (reviewed by Vasilis)

Manchester Orchestra announcing that their fourth studio album COPE would be released on April 1st seemed like a cruel “April Fool’s” joke. Luckily, this was no act of deception and the group finally released their long-awaited album. While it doesn’t quite surpass the band’s first two albums, it is a significant improvement over Simple Math which, while enjoyable in its own right, is regarded by many as the band’s weakest full-length effort. The band cranks up the volume to 11 on COPE, as the album ditches a lot of the slower, glossier indie-influenced tracks in favor of straight-forward, Southern-friend hard rocking tunes. The band follows a similar formula throughout of hushed verses carried by Andy Hull’s classic crooning vocals before building up to head-banging choruses with the distortion turned all the way up and the guitars blaring. Manchester Orchestra debuted “Top Ocean” and “Cope”, two of the album’s best tracks, on their short headliner in November to the delight of fans, and the tunes fit right in with their impressive live set and instantly won the crowds over. While the first half of the album is certainly great, if not slightly monotonous at times, the second half of the album is where the band really shines and includes some of their best work to date, including the brilliant “Indentions” and the raucous closer “Cope”. COPE is a welcome addition to the Manchester Orchestra catalog and a must-listen for anyone who enjoys music with driving, forceful guitars. – Vasilis

Image

Imaginary Enemy – The Used (reviewed by Kevin)

Imaginary Enemy is The Used’s sixth album and clocks in at about 54 minutes. It comes across as a blatant political album on some songs such as “Revolution,” “El-Oh-Vee-Ee,” (you guessed it, the spelling of LOVE…), “A Song to Stifle Imperial Progression”, and “Force Without Violence” (Don’t even begin to get me started on the punk-rap that ends this song…)” but that passion seems to fizzle quickly on the later tracks. Regarding the political lyrics, little is left to the imagination: “Drill a hole and fuck the ground and spend the cash and print some more,” “You’ve got your black gold. You’ve got your pipeline. Capitalism. But we’ve got love.” I get it. You have love, and love concurs all, and “yay for love.” That’s great and all, but it’s been done before. The message portrayed in the lyrics is black and white where as the real situation is gray. I think the most prominent problem with the album is that it doesn’t seem to follow through on one particular aspect. It does everything in mediocrity, but nothing has truly succeeded. Some of the songs are legitimately catchy, but the lyrics don’t inspire or cause any sort of true feeling for the listener. The political statement comes across in many of the songs, but is done in an ignorant and unconvincing fashion (and completely left out in some songs). Overall, the album is a mildly interesting listen for fans of the band; it is about what you would expect from a political album from The Used. However, for everyone else, it’s an easily passable and forgettable album.

ImageRented World – The Menzingers (reviewed by Vasilis)

I said all I could say about the new Menzingers album Rented World in my review. The album is a punk tour-de-force that builds off the band’s stellar album On the Impossible Past. I hesitate to call their latest album a “grower” because the term often carries the negative connotation of not being good and requiring time to sink in. However, this album does get significantly better with every listen, which does constitute it as a “grower”. The production as well as the band’s songwriting continues to improve on every album. The vocals sound crisper and the music more refined but still raw and emotional. Songs like “I Don’t Wanna Be an Asshole Anymore”, “In Remission”, and “Rodent” are just two of the tracks that are sure to become fan favorites and staples in the band’s setlists for years to come. Rented World is another album that proves that The Menzingers should be talked about as one of the active best punk bands.

Leave a comment

Filed under album review, musical roundup

The Menzingers – Rented World Review

by Vasilis

Image

At what point does a band’s body of work become so impressive that you have to begin looking at them as one of the best in their genre? How many acclaimed albums does a band have to release before it becomes unsurprising and expected? While both questions are arbitrary and subjective, The Menzingers are a band worthy of such high praise. Their debut, A Lesson in the Abuse of Information Technology, expertly wove together elements of folk, punk, and hardcore to form a raw album that was a lot of fun to listen to. Chamberlain Waits was the complete opposite of a sophomore slump, a punchy piece of punk rock music that wowed with its simplicity and straightforward urgency.

Then came On The Impossible Past. The cohesive, larger-than-life album took the scene by storm and became a staple at the top of many “best of” lists at the end of 2012. The album was awe-inspiring, a romanticized ode to the simple things the band held dear like their favorite coffee shop diners, drinking and getting high, and American muscle cars. The album was rife with nostalgia, an unexpected masterpiece that has since become their magnum opus and put them on more people’s maps. Following up their third album is a tall task, something vocalist/guitarist Greg Barnett admits was a concern in an interview with Exclaim! Magazine. However, if you’re worried the pressure may have broken the band down, Greg alleviates those fears by proclaiming, “The only care was that the songs would mean as much to people as they did on the last record, but we were confident that we were onto something good.”

That “something good” is the band’s fourth studio release, Rented World (out on April 22), a brazen and unapologetic look at the world through the eyes of four guys who are trying to make sense of life. The album includes 12 songs teeming with bravado that explore everything going on in their lives, taking you through every emotional peak and valley with pristine precision. The vocals are noticeably more polished than in the past but still boast a harsh and scathing bite. The guitars, bass, and drums are each more refined thanks in part to the group’s maturation as musicians and the glossy production. The music kicks off from the get-go with the adrenaline-charged “I Don’t Wanna Be an Asshole Anymore”, a stirring self-examination of past failures and transgressions. Greg wails, “I won’t lie no more about where I’ve been/And I won’t pry no more over the people that you’re hanging with/You’re the only lover that I ever miss/And I’ve been hopelessly in love with/Look at this tangle of thorns/I don’t wanna be an asshole anymore,” lyrics that feel sincere and bold. The sing-a-long chorus begs “baby baby I’ll be good to you, I don’t wanna be an asshole anymore”, driving the song and lodging deeper into your head with each listen.

 

Fans worried about the band sacrificing their edge for a glossier sound have absolutely nothing to worry about. Building off the boisterous opener, the band churns out rowdy and relatable punk songs with ease. “Rodent” is one of the album’s biggest triumphs, a thunderous track with crunchy guitars that erupt over the steady, pounding drums. The lyrics are humorously self-deprecating but no less authentic and genuine as Greg relates his desire to remain discreet to the rodent living in his walls. The anthemic bridge lends the listener to raise their fists as the line “I am only bad news” repeats with confident authority. “The Talk” is an lightning-quick track that clocks in at just over two minutes and sounds like Insomniac-era Green Day made sweet love to Jawbreaker’s 24 Hour Revenge Therapy, while “My Friend Kyle” is an upbeat shot of energy that includes a catchy, thumping chorus.Lead single “In Remission” features a clear 90’s inspiration, effortlessly infectious and insightful with short quips sung with an almost visible half-smile. Greg bluntly muses, “Maybe the future’s just a little bit weird/maybe the God you love is all I have to fear/life’s a terminal illness in remission/so I took the weight of it all and then I drank/and then we drove back drunk through the busy city streets.”

The Menzingers takes every opportunity to showcase their improvement as songwriters, opting to experiment rather than remain comfortably coddled by a conventional punk blueprint. “Where Your Heartache Exists” slows things down, opening with a thick bassline and a clean guitar riff that builds to a head-bobbing chorus. “Transient Love” will come as a shock to the listener, further reaching unchartered territory by cracking the five minute mark. The song boasts a driving bassline, hypnotic drumming, and a smooth and calculated lead guitar presence, while the vintage scowl is noticeably absent from the vocals. The pleas of “All I ever wanted was to make things right/over and over in my head I’ve tried/but all I’ve ever wanted was to make things right”, evoke a palpable sense of torment and longing. The band breaks out the acoustic guitar for the somber closer “When You Died”, which plays like a Bob Dylan-inspired Against Me! track gone acoustic. Greg solemnly wonders, “Where do people go when they die/how do you keep them alive?/How do you make sure that something like this/won’t ever happen again?” It’s a dilemma without a definitive answer, but one that invites serious reflection. “When You Died” is an appropriately open-ended conclusion to an album that addresses everyday issues that don’t have an obvious solution.

Rented World is the result of realized talent and potential that is blossoming in front of our eyes. The group’s music has progressed in a way that feels natural while maintaining a strong grasp on their identity, different enough musically to build a larger audience but familiar enough to appeal to old school fans. Greg admits in an interview with Blare Magazine that he does worry the punk community shunning them as they continue to evolve, a fear which has been proven time and time again with many punk bands. While they cannot control how people will react to their maturation, they can continue to focus on releasing the best music they possibly can, and that is enough to be proud of. Following Rented World, it’s easy to expect The Menzingers can do anything they put their mind to. So instead of wondering, “what’s next”, it’s probably better to just hop on the bandwagon and enjoy the ride.

Image

Leave a comment

Filed under album review