It’s that time of year where every audiophile, music blogger posts their lists of favourite releases of the current year. People are gonna get judgey on your lists and tell you that you missed an album. People will get mad because you didn’t choose the albums that they also like. I hate that shit. Music fans, sorry, but these lists are not about you. It’s about the bands and the music that the list maker enjoyed that year. SHEESH.
Anyway, I was asked by Scott of 50thirdand3rd if I was going to make a list to contribute to this year’s finding of music. I am always reluctant to make a list, see above reasons and I don’t just buy new releases. I find, or stumble on bands that I have never heard of and then buy their music, despite of when it was released.
As my friend Adam Sewell, who is a seasoned musician and label owner of Stereo Dynamite tweeted out this week “It’s great getting to the age when ‘the best albums released this year’ aren’t as important as the best music you discovered this year.” He couldn’t be more dead on with that statement.
Music is music and it shouldn’t have a shelf life. If you find a band that you like in 2014 but their last release was in 2011, 2012, or 2014 it should still be new and noteworthy. Am I breaking the rules of how people put out their favourite albums list? You betcha! Really the only punk rock rule is that there are no rules, well that and be yourself… or something…
We all have our go to favourite songs, and bands. We all know that I always have Joe Strummer in that go to list, but these albums are albums that I regularly listen to on top of my usual nonsense. A good song should always be based on if it’s repeat worthy.
My top 18 albums/EP that blew me away this year. (This is not in any particular order) Yeah, that’s right… 18. Couldn’t I have just picked two more? No. I couldn’t. Deal with it.
1. Taylor Swift – 1989
Big Machine Records 2014
So you might ask yourself how the fuck does Nikki listen to Taylor Swift. She’s selling out. Well for one, Taylor Swift is actually on an independent label. She just happens to be “popular” … pun intended. The video for ‘Shake It Off’ first piqued my interest. The lyrics are pretty empowering for a pop song. I like it when an artist doesn’t take themselves too seriously and is able to joke, even poke fun of themselves. Have you seen the video for ‘Blank Space’? Definitely some amazing comedy gold in there. With catchy pop hooks and a woman that doesn’t take herself so seriously in the limelight; what’s not to love? We all could use a little more fun in our lives but go on hate it… I dare you…
Fave Tracks : Shake It Off, Style
2. War On Women – Improvised Weapons
Exotic Fever Records 2012
If you like feminist hardcore punk rock that will give you a punch in the face musically and lyrically, then this is a band for you. I was at a RVIVR show last August and that is how I discovered this band.. I was that blown away by their set on stage that I bought the vinyl and a band shirt. War On Women has the same punch as Spitboy, Desiderata and Naked Aggression did back in the 90’s with the heavy bass lines, loud guitars, and crushing lyrics. Sure the album is two years old, but as with a lot of albums, this one holds up to the test of time.
Fave Tracks: Effemimania, I Like Science
3. The Defekters – Violated EP
Self- Released 2013
I found this band via Strummerville’s soundcloud with a track called ‘Little Seed’ they paid respect to the mighty Joe Strummer in that track with a very quick riff of ‘Get Down Moses’ A punk rock, psychedelic, dub,reggae, ska infused band that blends and mixes genres seamlessly in their tracks. I like the complicated bands that have a hard time being put into a genre.
Fave Tracks: Be The Change, Dubrevolution
4. Neighborhood Brats – Dementia
Self – Released Jan 2014
I had a tough time choosing between this EP and their ‘Recovery’ album that was released in Sept. 2014. California punk rock that is hard, fast, with a hint of that surfer punk. And another female fronted band. Whomever said that women aren’t in bands anymore lives under a rock more than i do.
Fave Tracks: Bombay Beach Party Death Camp, Total Dementia
5. The Ballantynes – Liqour Store Gun Store Pawn Shop Church
La-Ti-Da Records 2013
I have been a fan of this band for sometime. From Vancouver, Canada, this soul hip shaking band that puts a fresh and current take on soul music with a punk/rock n roll flare. Not only that, you try saying this album title fast, that shit will mess you up! 2013 was a very busy year for this band with releasing this EP, a single and video.
Fave Tracks: No Love, Sickos… really the whole damn EP!!
6. Beach Day Band – Trip Track Attack
Kanine Records 2013
Beach Day Band are so nice that during NXNE 2013 I saw them play twice, in one day. Yep, not even kidding. I didn’t discover this band until I did my NXNE special where I listened to all the bands to do a podcast or two, or four about it. What’s not to love about an adorable reverb, fuzzy guitar garage, surf rock band?
Fave Tracks: Little Weird, Beach Day
7. Gaolers Daughter – Split Like Cells
Self – Released 2014
I found Gaoler’s Daughter (pronounced Jailers) through Strummerville soundcloud. Just when I was getting into the band, the same day that they released their new album in 2014 they disbanded. A new wave reminiscent alternative rock band that came into the limelight as fast as they left. This is the track that started it all before the heartbreak…Devastated.
Fave Tracks: Split Like Cells, Lady Luck
8. Happy Fangs – Happy Fangs
Self- Released 2013
Yet another find because of the NXNE festival podcast challenge that I took last year. This band has pretty much everything, a little bit of the Horror rock, the heavy bass riff, and fast garagey guitars. “A San Franciscan war-painted and wiry trio of energetic vocals, grit-pop guitar, and hard-hitting beats. Happy Fangs create empowering anthems to make AC/DC, Bikini Kill, and Blondie proud. It’s proof that rock n’ roll is here to stay.” This is the best description I have ever read/heard of a band.
Fave Tracks: Hiya Kaw Kaw, That Activity
9. The Dirty Nil – Smite
Self – Released 2014
In your face shouty loud vocals with shredding guitars on their track ‘The Beat’ made me an instant fan of this band. Then ‘Wrestle Yu to Husker Du’ has a cow punk twang with a head banging metal factor to it. Yeah, that’s what I said… cow punk is also bluesy as well as country so get off my lawn eh? Anyway, this isn’t something that I often hear in newer bands.There’s a lot of diversity in this 5 track EP for it being a “garage, punk rock band.”
Fave Tracks: I already mentioned it in the actual post..
10. Michael Rault – Living Daylight
Pirates Blend 2014
Why the hell this Canadian musician is not getting all the press is beyond me. I first stumbled on him after seeing him open up for Jay Malinowski’s side project ‘The Dead Coast’ (back in err 2011?) . Michael Rault’s first album ‘Ma-Me-O” had the 60’s psychedelic, soul, garage poppy that had me hooked. Over the years, his music took shape to include just more than a 60’s soul sound. This time he has some serious soul, funk, jazz and delta blue beats going on. This album offers a serious range of diversity. No one wants a boring album right?
Fave Tracks: Too Bad So Sad, Lost Something
11. Sam Coffey and the Iron Lungs – Gates Of Hell
Southpaw Records 2014
Yet another band that defies the genres that they describe themselves as. Catchy garage pop reminiscent of 60’s rock n’ soul and some great new wave from the 80’s*. Why am I telling you this? mainly for my readers that are over 35 (like me) to get into something new. And hey you, young whipper snappers Google some old music, you just might find something that you like.
*Please note that the genre New Wave was a very generic term that covered a very, very diverse catalog of music sub genres. No different than the description ‘indie’ now, or alternative in the 90’s. That’s another rant, for another day.
Fave Tracks: Gates of Hell, Get Pumped Up
12. The Editors – Weight of your love
Play It Again Sam 2013
Dark, loomy, and contemporary is what the description is for this, depending on what you read on the internet. Often The Editors are compared with Echo and the Bunnymen, Joy Division, and The Chameleons. To me it’s Tom Smith’s haunting voice accompanied with some amazing piano, reminds me a lot of Peter Murphy, but what do I know. The Weight is one of the best tracks on this album. The intro kills me, and the slow build up of musical instruments and vocals, tells its own story with a beginning, climax and ending.
I am going to go out on a limb and say that The National ‘s ‘ Trouble Will Find Me ‘ would be a great complementary album to this album. Trying to keep it hip and current here with the band names…
Fave Tracks: The Weight, Hyena
13. RVIVR – The Beauty Between
Rumbletowne Recs – 2013
My friend Lyss suggested this band to me. Remember those days when you made mix tapes for your friends to say “hey check this out”. Lucky for us we have the internet that we could share our love of music through bandcamp links, soundcloud, you tube… or just take buzzfeed quizzes
RVIVR has a limited web presence, and before I thought that was a bad thing. However, this band has even traveled to play in Japan, clearly I have this all wrong. Standing up for political, social and gender equality through melodic, pop, punk rock n roll tracks. Another album in this list where a band shows some serious diversity in their tracks. I love that both Mattie and Erica do vocals on their songs. If there ever needs to be a fist pumping anthem that should be sung out loud, Rainspell is a great track for that. Or wait… the crushing guitar series of tracks on Hunger Strike… or… you get my point.
Fave Tracks: Spider Song, Paper Thin
14. The Atom Age – The Hottest Thing That Is Cool
Asian Man Records – 2012
Atom’s Age 2nd album release delivers a sax infused punk rock punch in the face. This band reminds me alot of Rocket From The Crypt Album ‘ All Systems Go’ It’s nice to hear bands still incorporating a windwood component into the punk. We could go all the way back to X-ray Spex for ‘punk with sax’ but I am digressing here. The point is, the catchy hooks with all the sax!
Fave Tracks: The Hottest Thing That Is Cool, Dig The Future
15. Jr.Thomas – Jr. Thomas Meets the Venditions
Self –Released 2013
Soul rocksteady reggae. I don’t know what else to tell you. This album is an amazing fusion of keys , brass, and with a serious catchy bass line hook. If you like The Aggrolites, then you will like Jr. Thomas. Can you have diverse tracks in this genre? Shame on you for even thinking otherwise!
Fave Tracks: Face In The Crowd, Somebody Like You
16. Static Verona – Everything You Knew Before You Knew Everything Self – Released 2014
This album came to me via email. That’s right a band sought me out. I loved their album and begged for it. Dream pop with hints of a revised rendition of shoe gaze and harmonies. I really can’t pin point a band that they are similar to. There are so many different pieces of similar sub genres that they take from and incorporate it into their tracks.
Fave Tracks: Friendly Fires, Bitter Branches
17. The End Tree – Everything Is Strange
Self – Released 2011
TAKE ALL MY MONEY FOREVER! Seeing this band live closed the deal. (this band is also 3/4 of the band The Dead Coast) . Something about a cello playing haunting tunes does something to you. I don’t think I have ever heard the likes of a string trio.The band describes themselves as”Kronos Quartet, Nick Drake, and the Dirty Projectors” Also chamber pop? I dunno know if this is a thing. It doesn’t matter, this is a brilliant EP and I look forward to their new release in 2015.
Fave Tracks: Garden, Where Is She
18. Spider Heart – Under The Gun
Self Released 2013
Spider Heart takes a bit of The Cramps, The Stooges , Patti Smith infuses it with shredding guitars, heavy ladden bass riff rock n roll and a front woman with a fuck you attitude. Coming out of Oakland California in 2011. This album is one of the best of my unsigned gems.
Fave Tracks: Under The Gun, Little Doll
stayed tuned/keep your eyes peeled for the next EatKS rant “5 singles in 2014 that will have us looking forward to new releases in 2015”