This Has Been A Weird Year, So Here’s My Favorite Music From It

 

It’s been a big year for music, and seemingly not much else. I decided to take my time (aka procrastinate) on this list because at first I wasn’t entirely sure where to even start. The list might not be as eclectic as I had hoped, but it is what it is. Below you will find my top ten along with honorable mentions and five EPs I enjoyed throughout the year.

Jimmy Eat World – Integrity Blues
Jimmy Eat World instantly had me hooked with their singles off of Integrity Blues. It wasn’t until I saw them perform live for the first time that it was solidified that this would be my favorite album of the year. It was an instant buy on vinyl, and for me, that’s when I know I’m really enjoying a release. After Damage, I didn’t have too high of expectations with whatever the band did next. While I thought Damage was fine, it left me feeling fairly neutral in general. Integrity Blues is a much, much better album. I regret not reviewing it when it was released because I just found it to be a wonderful release. I could review it now, but that might do a disservice to the rest of this list (and make this entry way longer than it really needs to be). This was one of the 2016 albums I listened to the most since its release, so it’s really no surprise that this is where it landed on my list. You can grab a copy of the record here.

Kevin Devine – Instigator
Normally the number two pick is instantly the “runner-up,” which I would disagree with in this case. This album could have easily been the top album, but with Jimmy Eat World I had that live element to boost their album to the top of my list. Instigator was every bit as enjoyable; I just didn’t get the chance to see these songs performed live. Should that factor in? Maybe not, but I considered it. It’s safe to say that this is another album that found its way into my record collection. This one I did take the time to review, which you can read here. It’s a fun, upbeat album that hits all of those personal areas that make it worthwhile to listen to. Kevin Devine is an artist I’ve really only gotten into the past two years. His songwriting abilities are undoubtedly great. This album is more like a 1b on my list than a 2. You can grab a copy of the record here.

Maren Morris – Hero
Hero is by far and away my favorite country album of the year. I’ve been fairly bad at keeping up with the more mainstream country releases this year, but this one caught my attention. Maren Morris is fairly new to the scene, but this is not her first album. It’s just the one that caught on and blew up quickly. Songs like “80s Mercedes” and “My Church” landed in heavy rotation on country radio. “My Church” as the lead single was the song that got me to check out the full album. Its punchy lyrics and fun vibe are what kept me listening to it. While I don’t have this on vinyl yet, it’s on my list. You can grab a copy of the album here.

Yellowcard – Yellowcard
It was a sad day when Yellowcard announced their final album. I wasn’t super impressed with Lift A Sail, but that didn’t deter me one bit from instantly checking out this album. It’s everything I love about the band and I don’t think I could have asked for a better goodbye from them. I did also get the chance to catch one of their many sold out shows on their tour. While they played much more than just the songs from this album, it made me want to go back and listen to many of their albums all over again. This was a solid goodbye and if this is truly the last album we get from the band, they ended their career on a great note. My full review can be found here and you can grab a copy of the album here.

Bayside – Vacancy
Bayside is a band that I never really dug into. I’ve enjoyed songs and albums here and there, but never explored their back catalog. This album made me realize that I needed to change that. It’s another album that I reviewed when it came out. The album paired heavy lyrics with an upbeat rhythm so well that no matter how sad the album was, you’d want to keep listening to it. For my full thoughts on the album, you can check out my review. You can grab a copy of the album here.

All Get Out – Nobody Likes A Quitter
I was honestly surprised at how much I enjoyed this album on first listen. I absolutely have Bad Timing Records to thank for getting me into this band even before they released this record. Movement was the first piece of work I heard from All Get Out, and it impressed me. That said, I wasn’t sure what would be coming next from the band and this album was a fantastic listen. It’s hard to even consider this an ordered list at this point since the albums have all been greatly enjoyable. This is yet another release I had the chance to review this year, so more of my detailed thoughts can be found here. I even got quoted in the Bad Timing newsletter, so that was a cool thing to happen. You can grab a copy of the album here.

Brandy Clark – Big Day In A Small Town
This album just might have the most attitude out of this list. This album quickly grew on me. Brandy Clark can write the hell out of a song and it really shows on this album. It’s only her second studio album, but she’s been in the country scene for quite some time now. She even earned herself a Grammy nomination for Best Country Album with this release. Her songwriting credits go back to 2005 and it’s nice to see her taking time to not only write, but get her own voice out there for everyone to hear. This album is a must listen for anyone who is remotely a country fan. You can grab a copy of the album here.

Into It. Over It. – Standards
Evan Weiss is someone whose projects I will always pay attention to. It helps when you’ve had a chance to meet the guy and you know how humble he is to be making music. While seeing him on tour, I bought the record and he kindly wrote out my full name on the back and signed it. That moment was the one that gave me even more of a reason to continue listening to this album as the year went on. This release might have come earlier in the year, but when I listen to it now, I still enjoy it. You can check out my review for a more in-depth look at the album and you can grab a copy of the album here.

Fossil Youth – A Glimpse of Self Joy
This is the last album in my top ten that I reviewed this year. This is one of those bands that more people should be paying attention to. They made their way out to the west coast in support of this album and while they weren’t playing huge venues, they brought out a dedicated crowd (including myself). I’m hoping to hear more music from them in 2017 simply because once I listened to this album, I instantly wanted to hear more. Instead, I just listened to the album some more to curb the wait. Scottie Noonan also did a podcast with me for MIssaligned and we had the chance to talk about the album and what went into it. Needless to say, I recommend checking that out. The album is full of energy and you can feel it with every song. You can grab a copy of the album here.

Brian Fallon – Painkillers
This album just snuck it’s way into my top ten when I gave it another listen recently. I don’t know how I missed it before, but this album just hits hard. It probably would have been higher on the list had I given it a few more listens, but I did wait until the last week of 2016 to finalize my list, so that didn’t leave me with a whole lot of time. You can feel the pain and struggle through these songs and still find reason to enjoy them. It seems we like to revel in sadness, doesn’t it? If you haven’t given this album a listen, you should stop whatever you’re doing and fix that. You can grab a copy of the album here.

Honorable Mentions

These are the albums that might have made my top ten had I actually listened to them more. I enjoyed each and everyone, but just didn’t make the time to listen to them over and over again. Some are quite long, others are not, but you should give them a listen either way.

Miranda Lambert – The Weight of These Wings
The Pooches – The Pooches
Lost In Society – Modern Illusions
Pinegrove – Cardinal
Tiny Moving Parts – Celebrate
Modern Baseball – Holy Ghost
Joyce Manor – Cody
Microwave – Much Love
Green Day – Revolution Radio
Owen – The King of Whys
A Tribe Called Quest – We got it from Here… Thank You 4 Your service
American Football – American Football
Butch Walker – Stay Gold

EPs

Rocky Votolato – Sawdust & Shavings
The Starting Line – Anyways
Frank Turner – Mittens
No Better – …Forget Me Not
Hiding Place – Hiding Place

AOTY Lists: Corporate Hearts

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To end 2014, we have album of the year lists from Craig and Zack Needles of Corporate Hearts! Check out their lists and have a great New Year’s Eve. We look forward to what’s to come in 2015!

Craig’s Top 5:
Code Orange – I Am King
Bleachers – Strange Desire
Banner Pilot – Souvenir
Beach Slang – Who Would Ever Want Anything So Broken? EP
Real Friends – Maybe This Place Is The Same And We’re Just Changing

Honorable Mentions:
Old 97’s – Most Messed Up
The Holy Mess – Comfort In The Discord


Zack’s Top 5:
He Is Legend – Heavy Fruit
Run The Jewels – Run The Jewels 2
Cannibal Corpse – A Skeletal Domain
PUP – PUP
Every Time I Die – From Parts Unknown

Honorable Mentions:
St. Vincent – St. Vincent
Cloud Nothings – Here And Nowhere Else
Say Anything – Hebrews
TV On The Radio – Seeds

AOTY Lists: Ashley Kuhn, Lauren Marquez

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Next up to list their favorite albums of the year are Ashley Kuhn and Lauren Marquez. Huge thanks to them for taking part in this. Check out some of their favorite albums from this year!

Ashley Kuhn:

War On Drugs – Lost In The Dream

Ryan Adams – Ryan Adams

Against Me – Transgender Dysphoria Blues

Mac DeMarco – Salad Days

Kitten – Kitten

Alvvays – Alvvays

Lauren Marquez:

Honorable Mention: MisterWives – Reflections EP

Rocking indie-pop group MisterWives proved that they’re one to watch over the next year with their Reflections EP. A unique voice and exciting horn arrangements add to already catchy rhythms and keep you hungry for more. Listen to: “Imagination Infatuation”

10. Lucius – Wildewoman

Two beautifully paired voices highlight Lucius’s debut album Wildewoman. With a healthy dose of Americana influence, the band offers a special brand of female-fronted country-tinged pop that both fans of soft ballads and brash guitars can agree on. Listen to: “Hey, Doreen”

9. Glass Animals – ZABA

Ambient, echoing vocals paired with hard hitting beats and jungle noises allow Glass Animals to carve out the perfect chill space with their debut Zaba. There’s an exotic air to it, adding to the mysterious and seductive vibe found throughout the record. It’s certainly a fresh and interesting style; here’s hoping these indie rockers stick around. Listen to: “Pools”

8. Chromeo – White Women

Sometimes you just gotta groove, and Chromeo knows this well. Each song from White Women will have you bobbing your head, tapping your toes, and singing along with  the group’s smooth vocals. Retro sounds and funky rhythms drive this remarkably fun album, so if you want to dance, Chromeo has you covered. Listen to: “Lost On The Way Home (ft. Solange)”

7. Jenny Lewis – The Voyager

Six years after her last solo album, Jenny Lewis came back stronger than ever with The Voyager. She manages to put out a seemingly cheery collection of storytelling and twangy guitar pop that, when you listen to the lyrics, shows that she’s still not afraid to speak her mind. With a good variety of styles throughout the album, it’s easy to listen to again and again. Listen to: “She’s Not Me”

6. Sam Smith – In The Lonely Hour

Despite probably being the saddest record of the year, Sam Smith’s debut produced mega-hits that managed to climb radio charts and reach the hearts of millions of people worldwide. His powerful vocals juxtaposed with soft instrumentation perfectly capture the heartache that’s so evident in these personal-yet-universally-relatable songs, making In The Lonely Hour one of the most successful and popular albums of the year. Listen to: “I’ve Told You Now”

5. Taylor Swift – 1989

This is what pop music should sound like. Longtime fans will welcome Taylor Swift’s love stories with open arms, but even newer listeners can appreciate 1989 and its endless catchiness. There’s a refreshing sense of maturity to the album that makes you realize that, hey, you really do love Taylor Swift, and maybe you don’t want those songs to get out of your head, and that’s okay. Clearly, she’s doing something right. Listen to: “Style”

4. How To Dress Well – “What Is This Heart?”

The latest project from How To Dress Well perfectly balances intricate production and layers with minimal instrumentation and silence, causing this album to hit you right when you least expect it, and in the best way possible. While no two songs on the album are too similar to each other, there’s something unifying about “What Is This Heart?” that pulls each track together as part of a single, beautiful story. Listen to: “What You Wanted”

3. Lake Street Dive – Bad Self Portraits

Lake Street Dive can do no wrong. With everything from multi-part vocal harmonies to distorted double bass, all four band members showcase their insanely impressive musicianship and songwriting skills on each track on Bad Self Portraits. Fantastic production only enhances the natural talent of this folk-tinted soul-pop quartet on their sophomore album. Listen to: “You Go Down Smooth”

2. St. Vincent – St. Vincent

Buzzing guitars and infectious beats are found throughout St. Vincent’s latest release, showing off a bit of a new sound compared to previous albums. Her eccentricities stand out more in terms of the music, lyrics, and presentation (check out her recent performances and music videos), but these only make her more lovable and make the eleven songs on St. Vincent even more intricate and interesting. Listen to: “Rattlesnake”

1. Clean Bandit – New Eyes

Adding classical and orchestral stylings to modern electronica, Clean Bandit has created a sound unlike any other artist out there on their amazingly fun debut album. With a talented ensemble of guest vocalists, New Eyes is probably the biggest party of 2014 and is definitely the most impressive and unique pop album of the year. Who would have thought that violins and cellos could make you want to dance so much? Listen to: “Extraordinary (ft. Sharna Bass)”

AOTY Lists: Dave Thorne, Sam Pita

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Next up on our AOTY lists we have Dave Thorne and Sam Pita. Huge thanks to them for participating in this. Check out their top albums below! 

Dave Thorne:

1. Hotelier – Home, Like No Place Is There
This album is so well put together and broken up at the same time. The pacing is what really made this album for me. The music by itself, of course, is excellent. But it really takes a lot to make such a cohesive album without any truly weak tracks these days.

2. Death From Above 1979 – The Physical World 
Speaking of incredible music, how can you be gone for this long and release something that isn’t just relevant, but better than most releases of the year? DFA1979’s crunchy, punchy, and powerful release is definitely something that shouldn’t have been (and probably wasn’t) overlooked.

3. The World Is A Beautiful Place and I Am No Longer Afraid To Die – Between Bodies
I can’t think of a better spoken word record since Listener’s Wooden Heart. Both are heavily influential albums for me and compelled me to write for the first time in a long time. Just shut your eyes and play this.

4. Modern Baseball – You’re Gonna Miss It All
I want so badly to somehow be tired or jaded from the music that Modern Baseball makes, but it doesn’t happen. This sophomore release is everything I could have wanted. This band evolves so well with their music. Even if I didn’t know the members, I wouldn’t like this album any less.

5. OK Go – Hungry Ghosts
OK Go manages to be “experimental” and in the mainstream simultaneously. Somebody will get upset by that statement on either end. They’re pop in the best way, though. Each album has its own style, but they all scream OK Go. Hungry Ghosts is no exception.

6. LIGHTS – Little Machines
I would call LIGHTS my guilty pleasure if I felt any guilt at all listening to the music.

7. Kishi Bashi – Lighght
I can’t say anything bad about Kishi Bashi or Lighght. It’s cleaner than 151a and somehow gets better with every listen.

8. The Color & Sound – Peace Of Mind
This reminds me of if the pop-rock music from 2006 was still cool.

9. Charli XCX – SUCKER
Its not the only pop I love, but the lyrics and playfulness of the music make me feel better about it.

10. Die Antwoord – Danker Mag
Danker Mag makes me laugh and sometimes leaves me speechless. I’ll say no more.

Sam Pita:

St. Vincent – St. Vincent
The Hotelier – Home, Like Noplace Is There
Manchester Orchestra – Cope/Hope
Beyonce – BEYONCE
Julian Casablancas + the Voidz – Tyranny

AOTY Lists: Andrea Castro, Perry Longo, Alex Rudisill

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Seeing as I already posted my AOTY list, I thought I would extend this out to friends of the site and we may even have a band or two participate. These will be running over the next week or two. The first people up are Andrea Castro, Perry Longo, and Alex Rudisill. Check out their lists below. 

Andrea Castro:

(in no particular order):
The Front Bottoms – Rose EP
Sorority Noise – Forgettable
Banks – Goddess
Childish Gambino – Kauai
Jesse Denaro – Dear, Love
Turnover – Blue Dream
The Menzingers – Rented World
Animal Flag – Animal Flag
Porter Robinson – Worlds
The Color and Sound – Peace of Mind
11. Anything Drake decides to put out between now and New Years
Perry Longo:
1. Banks – Goddess
2. Sharon Van Etten – Are We There
3. Sam Smith – In The Lonely Hour
4. Hozier – Hozier
5. Ed Sheeran – X
Alex Rudisill:
1. St. Vincent – St. Vincent(Loma Vista)
2. Nothing – Guilty of Everything
3. Joyce Manor – Never Hungover Again (Epitaph)
4. Mac DeMarco – Salad Days (Captured Tracks)
5. Lana Del Rey – Ultraviolence (Interscope)
6. Every Time I Die – From Parts Unknown (Epitaph)
7. Young and in the Way – When Life Comes to Death (Deathwish Inc)
8. Perfect Pussy – Say Yes To Love (Captured Tracks)
9. The Amity Affliction – Let The Ocean Take Me (Roadrunner)
10. FKA twigs – LP1 Turk)

HiFi Noise’s Albums Of The Year

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As 2014 comes to a close, I (Deanna) wanted to make a list of my favorite albums. I made this list based on what albums I seemed to listen to most and my honorable mentions are albums I wished I had listened to more, but were great when I did listen to them. I also added in my top five EPs of the year. This list will also appear on PropertyOfZack sometime in the near future without the write ups on the albums.

As a side note: I run a label, Wreck It Records, and elected not to include those releases even though I really enjoyed them. Corporate Hearts Deathwishers was released before the band signed to the label. 

Top Ten (in no particular order):

Sam Smith – In The Lonely Hour
This was hands down my most listened to album this year. I listened to it on Rdio, iTunes, and on vinyl. Sam Smith had a hell of a year and I enjoyed every minute of this album.

Manchester Orchestra – Cope/Hope
I slightly cheated and combined these two since it’s the same songs, different vibe. I think I enjoyed Hope more, but Cope was the first time I really got into this band and I’ve seen them live twice since then. I definitely plan on listening to their whole discography now.

Andrew McMahon In The Wilderness – Andrew McMahon In The Wilderness
I’ve listened to Andrew since he was doing Jack’s Mannequin. Yes, I missed out on Something Corporate, but I’ve listened to them since. I though this was a great, catchy pop album and it’s awesome to see Andrew doing so well. 

The American Scene – Haze
I hadn’t listened to this band a whole lot before, but this album was fantastic and I found myself continually listening to it. It’s another album that got a good amount of spins on vinyl. 

You + Me – rose ave.
This was a great, unexpected project from P!nk and Dallas Green (of CIty and Colour). I found this album extremely relaxing to listen to and there were a lot of times this year that I needed exactly that. 

Moose Blood – I’ll Keep You In Mind, From Time To Time
This is the first of two bands on my list that I had never heard of prior to this year. No Sleep Records does such a great job with signing bands, and Moose Blood is no exception. This album was perfect for fall and will give you all the feels. 

Bleachers – Strange Desire
Jack Antonoff really knows how to write anthemic songs. “I Wanna Get Better” was one of the best songs released this year. I was lucky enough to see Bleachers at Outside Lands this year and Jack put on a great, energetic performance and all I wanted to do was keep listening to this album. 

Sir Sly – You Haunt Me
Sir Sly is the second band I had not heard of before this year and this release. Another great album for fall listening. I have Jason Tate to thank for this band, since he recommended it on Chorus.fm.

Pianos Become The Teeth – Keep You
This was a good year for me to get into bands I normally didn’t listen to before. PBTT is one of those bands and I’m glad I got into this release. Like Manchester Orchestra, I’ll have to go listen to that back catalog. 

Miranda Lambert – Platinum
I’m not going to lie, this album barely made the cut. I actually really love country music but this year I seemed to focus mainly on various rock and pop genres. However, this album reminded me why I love country music (and especially Miranda) and I thoroughly enjoy listening to the whole album.

Honorable Mentions:

Taking Back Sunday – Happiness Is

From Indian Lakes – Absent Sounds

Future Crooks – Future Crooks In Paradise

Run The Jewels – RTJ2

Lucy Hale – Road Between

Copeland – Ixora

EPs:

Plainview – Plainview

Corporate Hearts – Deathwishers

Steady Hands – Brandy of the Damned

Front Porch Step – Whole Again

Noah Gundersen – Twenty-Something