It’s that time again. One of my favourite times actually. Nothing to do with Christmas or excessively over eating. It’s the time of end of the year lists. I love reading them and finding hidden gems I have never heard of or not bothered to listen to because they have terrible artwork.
So, here is a disclaimer; These are my favourite albums of this year, several were not released this year but I didn’t get round to listening to them last year, some of them are EPs and I don’t care, they’re my favourites. Hope you enjoy reading my opinions and send me a message with any comments or your lists! I love lists!
1. The Hotelier – Home, Like NoPlace is There
As soon as I heard the first few words and notes of this album from the band formally known as The Hotel Year I knew this would be a favourite album. The more I listened to it, the more I loved it. It has the feel of early Jimmy Eat World and such raw emotion in places it’s heartbreaking especially on Your Deep Rest. I love the way his voice breaks when singing loudly and there is incredible intensity in the 9 songs. There’s is not an ounce of filler and if this spearheads a revival of late 90s style post-hardcore/emo/whateveryoucallit I am ready!
Best Song: Housebroken
2. The Wonder Years – The Greatest Generation
This album came out in 2013 but I didn’t listen to it until half way thorugh this one. I had heard their first album when it came out and the production had been so rubbish and the lyrics slightly childish that I was put off listening to this one. But I wish I had, I was missing out. These guys have matured and turned their pop punk, into a real emotional rock sound.
It’s a dark record, talking a lot about death, regrets, ancestors and ghosts but the lyrics are brilliant, with so many sing-along choruses that I really hope they tour Europe soon so I can be in the middle of the crowd singing out of tune (as always).
Best Song: The Devil in my Bloodstream
Side note – Front man Dan Campbell released an album this year under the moniker Aaron West & the Roaring Twenties, it’s a semi-acoustic concept record about divorce, and while it’s great, it’s depressing as hell and not something I could listen to every day.
3. The Menzingers – Rented World
The Menzingers are currently my favourite band. This changes every few years, but right now, their music is what connects with me at this point in my life more than any others. There will always be Springsteen, Brand New, early Gaslight Anthem and others on my mind, but right now I could listen to the Menzingers all the time.
So why would their latest album be only number 3?
Because while it’s good, really good, great in fact; It’s not On the Impossible Past. For those who don’t know OTIP is their previous album, released in 2012, and in my opinion a near perfect album, I listen to it a few times a week every week and there’s nothing I would change about it.
So Rented World is great, it has great lyrics, they have progressed musically and written a follow up album that most bands would kill for. But for me it was spoiled by that it wasn’t a second perfect album.
Best Song: I Don’t Want to be an Asshole Anymore
Side note – I got to see them live this year, one of my favourite gigs, in my favourite venue in Hamburg, Hafenklang.
4. Augustines – S/T
The Gaslight Anthem have been one of my favourite bands of the last ten years. And this year they released their 5th album, Get Hurt. What a massive disappointment it was. Luckily, this year Augustines released their second album and it filled the gap that Gaslight had left.
Previously called We Are Augustines, I had heard of them but never actually listened. And now I’m so glad I did. Their self titled album has an almost religious to it, their are big organs, choir sing alongside and plenty of Woah-ohs. There isn’t one bad track on the album and at least 4 or 5 are exceptional. I feel this will be an album I will listen to long into the future. William McCarthy’s voice has a well travelled feel to it and the lyrics are instantly singable. I really can’t wait until they tour again, I think their live show would be an almost spiritual experience.
Best song: Nothing to Lose but Your Head
5. Front Bottoms – Rose EP
The first EP on my list but these 6 songs sound as good to me as many full albums and there’s definitely no filler.
Named after the lead singer’s grandma and the first in what is meant to be a series of grandparent EPs, I don’t think any of these tracks are particularly new but that doesn’t stop them being tremendous.
For some people these guys might be putting off for two reasons; 1, their terrible name and 2, the lead singer’s voice is very american and come across as a little whiny but for me neither is a problem.
The lyrics are, funny and heartbreaking at the same time and the tunes are catchy and foot tapping, and the track twelve feet deep contains my favourite lyric of 2014: “Since when did ‘I wanna hear your voice’ not become a good excuse, calling you at 3 in the morning, laugh at sleep we’ll both lose.”
Their album Talon of the Hawk was one of my favourites of last year so if you haven’t heard either, check them out.
Best Song: Twelve Feet Deep
6. Cro – Melodie/Materia – Zum Glück in die Zukunft II
When I moved to January at the beginning of the year, one thing I didn’t realise was how massive German HipHop is. The only German acts I really knew were Rammstein, Lena and one track by Peter Fox that was covered (ripped off?) by Plan B.
So, much to my delight I started getting recommendations from friends and the magic of Spotify.
These two albums, by two different artists, while probably poppier than my normal hiphop taste have the best tunes and choruses of all the albums I’ve heard. And seeing as I still don’t really understand all the lyrics then this what I judge them by the most.
Cro is a panda-masked rapper from Baden-Württemberg, with an unashamedly poppy style, his music is fun and the choruses great to sing along to. (Even if you don’t understand the lyrics, which I do now, mostly, thanks Google translate).
With a great sense of humour in the songs and his music videos, I’ve listened to some of his songs more than any other American or English hip hop artist.
Best Song: Meine Gang(Bang Bang)
Marteria is a gravel voiced ex footballer, model and currently rapper from Rostock. Slightly more serious than Cro, slightly less accessible as he raps a lot fast and his vocals often quieter in the mix. But still I love the feeling of the album and the first couple of tracks on the album are catchy as hell. When I moved to Germany the adverts for this album were on every billboard so my inquisitive nature brought me to listening to it.
Best Songs: Kids (2Finger an den Kopf) or OMG!
7. FKA Twigs – LP1
I didn’t know what to expect when I first listened to this album. I don’t even remember why I did. I’m a big fan of The Weeknd and this has a very similar feel. But where I can’t listen to one of his albums all the way through without drifting off, this had me all the way through!
It is very stark and almost basic comprised mostly of beats and Tahliah’s vocals. But the pacing and atmosphere is excellent and nothing like anything else released in 2014.
Best Song: Two Weeks (seriously, stop what you’re doing and listen to this)
8. Beach Slang – Cheap Thrills on a Dead End Street/Who Would Ever Want Anything So Broken
Beach Slang haven’t released their debut album yet, but these two EPs released in 2014 have gotten me so excited about it. Sounding like a cross between Blake Schwarzenbach’s Jets to Brazil and Jawbreaker. With lyrics reminiscent of the first Gaslight Anthem album and some great choruses, I can’t wait to hear what these guys do next. They released both EPs on Tiny Engines, the same label as The Hotelier’s Home, like NoPlace is There.
Best Song: American Girls and French Kisses
9. Run The Jewels – Run The Jewels 2
Every hipster’s favourite HipHop duo who give their albums away for free and are recording the best rap music around. El-P and Killer Mike deliver an absolute banger!
There is no better way to describe this than angry! It’s focused, immediate and in places catchy. Run the Jewels aren’t about choruses and sing alongs, it’s antithesis of all that and that’s what makes it so great.
Best Song: Zac De La Rocha makes an incredible comeback as a guest on “Close your Eyes (And Count to Fuck)”
10. Punch – They Don’t Have to Believe
19 minutes of vicious, female fronted hardcore/power violence. Absolutely incredible musicianship with lyrics mostly focusing on feminist issues. They really remind me of American Nightmare who happen to be one of my favourite bands, so that’s a good thing. This sadly seems like their last album though as lead singer Meghan left the band just after the album was released. Still, a good way to sign off!
Best Song: Not Sorry
11. Autre Ne Veut – Anxiety
12. Every Time I Die – From Parts Unknown
13. The War on Drugs – Lost in the Dream
14. Great Cynics – Like I Belong
15. Jamie T – Carry On The Grudge
16. Modern Baseball – You’re Gonna Miss it All
17. Hundred Waters – The Moon Rang Like a Bell
18. Against Me – Transgender Dysphoria Blues