This is the last of three posts with my favorite albums of the year. Music is subjective, like all other pieces of art. I picked these albums because they were the most entertaining to me. I will start out with my Top 30 Rock releases.
30. Major League-Hard Feelings
I was pleasantly surprised by this album in its straight forwardness. It is just really catchy pop punk. Plain and simple no frills, electronics or breakdowns. They are a pop punk band and proud of that distinction. This is the type of album I used to listen to all the time but haven’t heard in a long time. I am glad to have this. Check out “Hard Feelings”, “Homewrecker”, and “Final Thoughts”.
29. The Mars Volta – Noctourniquet
Quirky art rock isn’t a genre with a ton of rock stars but this band is definitely one of them. I have really enjoyed their previous work and was excited to hear what they were going to come up with next. Upon hearing a live version of “Dyslexicon” I knew I was going to enjoy this album. I was right. Jazzy, progressive art rock that other bands wish they could emulate.
28. Sea Wolf-Old World Romance
Folky indie rock with a little bit of electronic mixed in is what Alex Brown Church delivers and it is great. This is his third full length album and it is another firecracker packed into ten beautiful tracks. I especially liked “Old Friend”, “Blue Stockings” “Priscilla”.
27. Fun. – Some Nights
I liked this band better when they were called the Format…or on their previous album…or before I heard “We Are Young”. Seriously though Fun. was everywhere this year! I actually really liked “We Are Young” until it became overplayed. The rest of the album is a really memorable experience as well. Also check out “Some Nights”, “Carry On” and “All Alright” too.
26. Alberta Cross-Songs of Patience
I am so glad I saw these guys open for Portugal the Man. This album has more of their patented indie folk goodness. The band have a good ol’ southern rock sound that is so inviting, full and warm. Go figure that a band of Canadians would create that kind of album. This album has a lot of cool tracks like “Magnolia”, “Money For The Weekend”, and “Life Without Warning”.
25. MxPx-Plans Within Plans
After all these years MxPx can still write a really catchy pop punk album. That is exactly what they have done on Plans Within Plans. Try to not tap your foot and sing along to “Aces Up”, “Best of Times” and “Lucky Guy”. I bet you fail. Other fledgling pop punk bands should take some notice. This is how it’s done.
I have always enjoyed Metric but I really loved this album, especially the title track, “Synthetica”. The sounds on this album and Emily Haines’ mastery of them makes this album unforgettable. Her voice is beautiful and powerful and has always been the strength of the band, it still delivers here as well. Don’t miss out on the sweet sounds of “Breathe Underwater”, “Lost Kitten” and “Youth Without Youth”.
23. Bruce Springsteen – Wrecking Ball
The Boss is back with another great album. I have become more and more familiar with his work as new releases come out and he is amazingly consistent. New Jersey’s own delivers another set of good old fashioned American rock and roll songs. Some of these songs like “We Take Care of Our Own”, “Jack of All Trades”, and “Wrecking Ball” could be classics one day.
22. Japandroids-Celebration Rock
I didn’t want to like it. Hype tends to bug me. I always ask myself, “Can this really be this good?” The answer to that question here is YES. This album was suggested by many friends and other reviewers. It was everything they all said it would be. Fuzzy, energetic guitar driven rock. Listen to “The House That Heaven Built”, “Continuous Thunder” or “The Nights of Wine and Roses” and try to deny the awesomeness.
21. Walk the Moon-Walk the Moon
This album was such a fun surprise. It is unique but catchy with hooks that it feels that you could have heard and love from somewhere else. “Anna Sun” and “Quesadilla” are standouts among an impressive group of tunes that will stick in your head and might cause you to break out in dance in public.
20. The Killers-Battle Born
I really like the Killers but I wasn’t sure how I would come down on this album. Some people were saying that they had fallen off. I wholeheartedly disagree. I think this album is awesome. First single, “Runaways” was a good first indication but once I heard the rest of the album I was sold. Tracks like “Deadlines and Commitments”, “Here With Me”, and “Be Still” did the trick.
19. Anthony Green – Beautiful Things
What is essentially more beautiful acoustic tunes from Mr. Circa Survive is dressed in a beautiful soundscape on this album. The songs are more layered and have little accents and additions that help make them even more engaging. Of course the most important instrument here is Mr. Green’s voice. He sounds as amazing as ever. Just listen to “Lullaby”, “Love You No Matter What” and “Just To Feel Alive”.
18. Right Away, Great Captain-The Church of the Good Thief
This album is such a thrilling and satisfying conclusion to the trilogy, and just goes to show just how talented Andy Hull really is. It is amazing to me how Hull can start with such simple acoustic songs and add a few layers to them or even leave them bare and create such a brilliant result. This album features everything you expect from a Hull album, beautifully written songs with intelligent lyrics and melodies that soar. Highlights are “Blame”, “Fur Stop Caring”, and “Memories From The End Pt. 2”.
17. John K. Samson – Provincial
Whether he is rocking out, like on the single, “When I Write My Master’s Thesis” or if he is taking it slow on “The Last And”, Samson is a master of his craft. This solo album is like getting a new the Weakerthans album and it sounds just as good. So many memorable hooks and beautiful bridges. Also check out “www.ipetitions.com/petition/rivertonrifle/” and “Cruise Night” as well.
16. Anti-Flag – The General Strike
This band is on the forefront of speaking out about all of the injustices and wrongs in the world. I like that they use their global platform to inform kids that things could be better in their world. Songs like “The Neoliberal Anthem”, This is the New Sound” and “1915” are catchy but also spotlight things that are well deserving of our attention.
15. Greg Laswell-Landline
Greg Laswell is back with another amazing acoustic guitar driven set of gems. “Another Life to Lose”, “Landline”, and the scintillating duet, “Come Back Down” featuring Sara Bareillas. Laswell has the gift of crafting unbelievably catchy and beautiful songs.
14. Circa Survive-Violent Waves
I always enjoyed Circa Survive but this was the first album where I think I fully got it. Lead singer Anthony Green, whose solo album makes an appearance on this list, has one of the most unique and amazing voices I have ever heard. This is the first album where it felt like more than a vehicle for Anthony Green to me. Tracks like “Birth of the Economic Hitman”, “Suitcase” and “The Lottery” you can hear just how amazing their sound is.
13. Stick to your Guns- Diamond
Very few bands can match their relentless positivity and energy. This band is as catchy and melodic as it is furious and heavy. Tracks like “Diamond”, “We Still Believe” and “Against Them All” are examples of the band’s signature sound.
12. The Early November-In Currents
When I started out listening to emo/punk, Drive Thru records was the premier label. I loved pretty much everything they put out, especially Hammonton, NJ’s own, the Early November. For the last few years they have been less active and I kinda lost interest in them somewhat. With this album they came roaring back! Just as tight, catchy, and irresistible as before. Listen to “In Currents”, “Call Off The Bells”, “Tell Me Why”.
11. Coheed and Cambria- The Afterman: The Ascension
Many of the band’s long time fans were disappointed with their last release, Year of the Black Rainbow. It isn’t my favorite release from the band but it does have a few good tracks. With this new release and the return of original drummer, Josh Eppard, this band feels like it is back on track. This album really delivers with songs like ” Key Entity Extraction I: Domino The Destitute”, “Goodnight, Fair Lady” and “The Afterman”. This is the sound from this band that you have long been waiting for.
10. All Time Low- Don’t Panic
It is a shock that All Time Low made my list, let alone my top 10 but this album was just that entertaining. Lyrically it isn’t the most compelling stuff ever. The album’s strength is its undeniable hooks and catchy songs. Songs like “The Reckless and the Brave”, “Outlines” and “Paint You Wings” are undeniably catchy.
9. Bad Books-II
This second album is even better than their stellar debut. The band seems even more cohesive and confident. Their brand of indie rock can be slow and beautiful sometimes and bouncy and poppy at others. The key is that it is always good. All of the songs are great especially “Forest Whitaker”, “Lost Creek” and “It Never Stops”
8. Jukebox the Ghost- Safe Travels
One of my favorite songs of the year is their song, “Adulthood”. This album is probably my favorite find of the year. A really catchy band that has a great catalog of previous releases that were opened up once I found out about them. This piano driven rock trio is so catchy and fun. I also enjoyed “Everybody Knows”, “Somebody” and “Say When”.
Anberlin is one of the most consistent bands I know. All of their releases are solid but this one felt like a step up from their previous album. The energy and melody returned that was missing from the past release. Paired up with Stephan Christian’s beautiful voice and their knack for catchy songwriting, it gives this album what the last one was missing. Check out tunes like “Self Starter”, “Someone Anyone” and “Intentions” as evidence of that.
6. Matt Pryor – May Day
This album took me by storm when it was released. Just extremely catchy indie folk and acoustic rock. This album is awesome from start to finish.The harmonies on this album are unforgettable just check out tracks like “As Lies Goes… This One is Beautiful”, “Where Do We Go From Here” and “I Was A Witness”
5. Yellowcard-Southern Air
Two awesome albums in two years? Sure it’s possible but it isn’t exactly probable. Especially from a band that just had their comeback last year after being on hiatus and some lineup changes over the years. This album is more of everything that you have come to expect from this band. Catchy upbeat tunes like “Awakening”, “Ten” and “Always Summer”.
4. Lit-View From The Bottom
I haven’t felt so excited to listen to a new album in YEARS. After the long break of their black self-titled album and death of drummer Allen Shellenberger, I though Lit was done. They did their former bandmate proud. This album reminded me how great they are at creating memorable hooks. “The Broken” is one of my favorite songs ever. The CD was a great tribute to their fallen brother especially on “Here’s To Us”. Also listen to “C’Mon” and “Miss You Gone”. Well done gentlemen!
3. The Gaslight Anthem-Handwritten
Do these guys sound like Bruce Springsteen? Yep. Is it still awesome? Absolutely! Another amazingly solid album from these NJ natives. Songs like “Handwritten”, “Howl” and “Too Much Blood” are great new additions to TGA’s already impressive discography.
2. Billy Talent-Dead Silence
People didn’t like III. Well whatever change that sparked was well worth it. This album takes all of the things people loved about the first two albums and brought it back here and made it better. It is more energetic, catchy, and well written than before. Check out tracks like “Viking Death March”, “Hanging By A Thread” and “Don’t Count on the Wicked”.
1. Motion City Soundtrack – GO
I love this band. This is the very definition of maturity. It has all of the signature elements of the band but turned up a notch or two. Justin Pierre’s signature vocals and quirky lyrics, the incredibly tight rhythm section, cool synth lines and guitar solos. This band try some sounds they might not have tried before but it all really works. “Everyone will Die” is pure beauty. “Happy Anniversary” is a complete tune, dark but extremely catchy. Also listen to the really catchy, “True Romance” and the poignant, “Timelines”. They have always been one of my favorite bands and they prove why once again on this one.