Playing Favorites 2014

a0748811866_10Hey, y’all, it’s that time of year again. I’m dusting off the old blog, and I’m going to share my favorite music releases of the year. Just for clarification I consider a release anything from a 7″, EP, LP, or a mixtape. Pretty much everything is eligible unless it’s just single solitary song. Last year, I tried the whole song list thing, but it wasn’t me. If you want a decent list of those, go visit Nic’s blog. She’s a song person.

Check out lists from 2009 | 2010 | 2011 | 2012 | 2013

Alright. For the sake of brevity, I made a Spotify playlist for y’all to subscribe to. It contains a single song from every album I mention here. The playlist is located right under this text. You can just listen to the playlist and forego the whole reading my explanation/feelings about each release. Note: There are two releases from Sport and Human Hands that are not on Spotify that made the end of year list. Embedded frames for their albums from Bandcamp can be found later in this post.

Another clarification, these are my favorites. Don’t get upset with me when your faves not on here. Okay?


Beyoncé – BEYONCÉ

This album came out two weeks before 2014, and it didn’t make my 2013 list because it was released so damn late. This is the first Beyoncé album I loved. There is not a skippable song on this thing, and it might be the best thing to happen to the Internet/world since the polio vaccine. I don’t know. Jury’s still out on that.


 

Joyce Manor – Never Hungover Again

I actually didn’t like Joyce Manor when I first heard them a year or two again. I was so surprised when friends of mine were reaching out to me to tell me how great this album was. I fell in love upon first listen. It’s a perfect mix of emotion, solid songwriting, and catchy hooks.


 

Weatherbox – Flies In All Directions

It’s rare to find bands that pay a lot of attention to the dynamics in their music, especially in the “punk” genre. Weatherbox draw you in and blow you away in the span of a single song. It’s really fantastic to see live. I suggest catching them if they roll through your town.


 

Childish Gambino – Kauai/STN MTN

Childish Gambino just went ahead and answered all of his critics with these two joint mixtapes. Kauai is a solid solid release that highlights Donald’s ability to write a great song with personality. STN MTN  feels like a big middle finger to his critics who say he isn’t real enough or street enough. He did the same stuff a lot of rappers are getting tons of credit for in hip hop but better and with more passion. I’m officially a Gambino fan, guys. It finally happened.


 

Two Knights – Shut Up

I love watching this band live. Seriously. Go see them. You can see my head in the back in this video.


 

Isaiah Rashad – Cilvia Demo

I’m definitely excited to see what Mr. Rashad has ahead of him. He’s definitely got the skills to make something of himself.


 

Donovan Wolfington – Scary Stories You Tell in the Dark

Young and energetic are a couple of things I am no more. DW definitely use their youthful exuberance to bring a special kind of light to their music that’s missing from a lot of emo bands at the moment. I’m very excited to see what they do in the future.


 

The Hotelier – Home, Like Noplace Is There

I’m trying not to play favorites with my favorites, but this is definitely a top 5 if not top 3 release for me this year, and I just heard this album this month. I couldn’t believe I missed its release earlier this year. I’m about 10 months late, but I don’t care. This shit bangs.


 

Big K.R.I.T. – Cadillactica

Mount Olympus was the Star Wars trailer of music this year. I just couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I just wanted to hear it over and over again. I was so hype. This album is that feeling in a 17-song pod. Jesus. Thank


 

Run the Jewels – Run the Jewels 2

One of the top albums of the year for a lot of people. This thing is propulsive as hell. You can’t help but dance to RTJ2.


 

Logic – Under Pressure

I was a big fan of this guy’s cypher during the BET Hip Hop Awards this year. It was one of the few bright spots of the entire awards ceremony. I really wanted to check his music out, but I didn’t really know where to start with his discography. Luckily, this album came out shortly after the

BET Hip Hop Awards aired. It’s really a mix of a lot of my favorite things about hip hop at the moment. I strongly recommend listening to this album.


 

Dads – I’ll Be the Tornado

Another emo band. I can’t help myself.


 

empire! empire! (i was a lonely estate) – You Will Eventually Be Forgotten

Empire! Empire! are one of my favorite band. I’ve been anticipating their second LP for a while now. Although it doesn’t hit the heights of What It Takes to Move Forward, it’s a very good record.


 

Dikembe – Mediumship

Dikembe’s sound has changed pretty extensively over the past few years in my opinion. With every release, their sound evolves. Mediumship is the next chapter, and I’m really interested in how they got here from Chicago Bowls. Someone ask them for me.


 

Restorations – LP3

They remind me of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band without the horns and with more punch.


 

Dad Punchers and The Exquisites Split 7″

Dad Punchers wrote the emo song of the millennium for this split. Literally every emo kid that finds this song covers it.


 

Schoolboy Q – Oxymoron

Not going to lie. This album didn’t really meet the lofty expectations I had for it. That might be partly my fault. That doesn’t mean this album isn’t a really fun listen. There are some questionable song choices on this thing, but for the most part, this is a strong release.


 

SZA – Z

Another TDE release. I’m starting to sound like a gd fanboy, but I don’t care. This is a really interesting sound release in a genre that I’m not too familiar with, if we’re being honest.


 

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

I’m still waiting for You Blew It! to release a bad album or even a mediocre album. Hell, even their cover albums are fantastic. All hail You Blew it!


 

Joie De Vivre/Prawn Split

Probably my favorite all around split of the year, Prawn and Joie De Vivre really put some of their best work together for this release.


 

SPORT – Bon Voyage

A French punk band, y’all. They’re sooooooo damn good.


 

Human Hands – s/t lp

I couldn’t buy or download this album for some reason. It wasn’t available to anyone in the US. I commented on a Facebook post about this album mentioning that, and someone from the band reached out to me and sent it to me for free. That’s so goddamn punk and amazing. I couldn’t believe it. Thanks to the people in Human Hands. Your album rules, and it got me through a lot of shit.


 

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2010: My Albums of the Year

Castevet and Into It. Over It. (really just one dude-bro with mad skillz) released, what might be, my favorite split of the year. Both are amazing and worth checking out.

As the year winds down, I thought I’d share my favorite albums of the year. You’ll probably be disappointed by my exclusion of a lot of stuff, but my year was mostly spent reading books/articles on ridiculously specific topics, like Guatemalan Mayans, acculturation, and immigrants’ eating habits. I, apparently, didn’t have a second to spare for Kanye’s new album which still sits in my long “New Music” queue. Also, also, also, I liked the Arcade Fire’s new album for a total of about 5 minutes. I think it was during the first time I heard “Ready to Start”. Also, there are things I’m almost certain none of you will even believe I like or would put on this list, but what can you do? Nothing.

My list might not be as inclusive as many as y’all’s might be. I’m obviously no music journalist. I’m pretty much writing as a fan boi. Be gentle with me. Anyway, all of these things, I feel, are pretty established if we know each other personally. Ramblllllle.

Some that almost made the list were Beach House, The National, Ben Folds’ project with Nick Hornby, and Bob Nanna’s project Certain People I Know. I loved the EP, but will anything ever come out of it? Snowing‘s new album JUST came out. I’m sorta undecided (You should listen to that link regardless because they’re fucking amazing). Anyway. Here we go.

RVIVR – S/T – I’m really bad at explaining what music sounds like or what I liked about music without sounding like a complete moron. Despite this impediment, I’ll say that RVIVR is the punk band I always wanted to be in. They’re gritty, strong, and have a great sense of melody and arrangement. The musician’s personalities shine through their music. It’s something that a lot of people can’t pull off. This isn’t the reason you should listen to RVIVR. It’s just a good reason to root for them. You’ll find yourself singing these songs to and from work.

Circa Survive Blue Sky Noise – This was probably the most surprising album of 2010 for me. I was expecting a giant pile of shit to be completely honest. On Letting Go was nothing in comparison to Juturna, which is one of my favorite albums ever, and I thought the trend would continue. But, something happened. Something beautiful happened. This album seems to have put Circa back on track, and I’m loving it.

Das RacistShut Up, Dude – All I gotta say is, if you sample Billy Joel we can be besties.

Grown Ups More Songs – Probably one of my favorite bands in recent memory. 2010 was the year Grown Ups released their first LP after the promising Songs EP. Although being substantially more polished and missing some of the quirkiness from the EP, the album is a great example of what a great punk band is in 2010.

CastevetThe Echo & Light – The first I ever heard of Castevet was last year after the release of Summer Fences. Their first album was good effort, but it missed something. It missed a sort of cohesion that I feel they gained in The Echo & Light. Maybe it’s because Echo & the Light attacks more that we can hear how tight Castevet’s musicianship really is. I was really impressed.

Joie De VivreThe North End – I’m pretty sure Joie De Vivre got me through my Summer semester. It’s emo at its best. That’s definitely not a bad thing… well, maybe to some of you. They gingerly step through beautifully crafted soundscapes crafted through intricately layered arrangements. It’s really great schtuff, and awesome to read to.

The Tony Danza Tap Dance Extravaganza Danza III: A Series of Unfortunate Events – A silly band with serious musicians, Danza is just fucking brutal. I can’t stress how much I love brutal shit. The more ridiculously bone-crushing and absurdly heavy, the better. Danza is out of control in concert and in the studio. You just have to listen to it.

Shapes Stars Make These Mountains Are Safe – Every time I show someone this band, they immediately mention Explosions in the Sky. I think it’s really unfair. These guys actually make an effort to make their music interesting. It shows too. Their second album is a fantastic study aid. :)

Dillinger Escape PlanOption Paralysis – After I saw Dillinger for the first time this year, I should have just gotten a shirt that said “I saw Dillinger Escape Plan, and then I fucking died.” The musicianship is just incomparable. Calculating Infinity will always be one of my favorite albums of all time, but this Dillinger Escape effort doesn’t disappoint in the slightest.

Alright, well, I hope you guys check some of this stuff out and enjoy all of it! :D Yes, even Tony Danza Tap Dance Extravaganza. I would love to write more about what happened this year in music, but there just isn’t enough time.

Happy Holidays,

dago