Henderson’s Top Albums and EPs of 2014

Posted: by Henderson

1) The Hotelier – Home, Like Noplace Is There

The Hotelier’s new album was one of my most anticipated releases of 2014. I had long awaited their next work after becoming enamored with their 2011 debut, It Never Goes Out. Somehow they surpassed even my expectations. Emotional, engaging, and authentic, this album changed the way outsiders viewed the genre. They just do everything right. Punk rock is supposedly unpolished and full of simple songs. That’s bullshit and this is the perfect counter to that drivel.  The band varies their style throughout, drawing upon diverse influences, and no song misses. The lyrics are meaningful first and catchy second. I was lucky enough to catch them live and it was a whole new kind of awesome. A second perfect album from a young band, and I’m excited for whatever is to come. Listen to this.

2) Free Throw – Those Days Are Gone

I am a sucker for breakup albums. The feeling of being sad/mad is a very particular emotion and it’s difficult to capture for a song, let alone an album. Free Throw grabs ahold of that feeling in this album and never lets it go. Some people don’t want breakup songs but I do. Emotions are for cool kids. For instance, Two Beers in PERFECTLY conveys the feeling I get when an ex shows up to a party and I’m like get the fuck out I thought I threw you in a blackhole. The vocalists vocals sound like they could shred mid lyric at any moment. The guitars are tight. It’s everything I didn’t even know I wanted from a Free Throw record.

3) Pup – Pup

My first exposure to Pup was their video for “Reservoir” in 2013, I wasn’t quite hooked yet, but I already knew I wanted to catch a show (Watch for yourself and tell me you don’t want to see them). As more and more songs from the album began to emerge, my jaw hit the floor. Its legitimately creative, has awesome guitar parts, the drums that never stop driving. These are all ingredients that make for a great punk album. Yet Pup distances themselves from other bands by riding a slip n slid along the border of hardcore. These songs punch you in the face over and over with Bruce Lee speed, but then suddenly they’re smooth. Even within a single track, you never know what might come next. Now I’m hooked.

4) Rozwell Kid – Too Shabby

I could just write “Like Weezer but better” and that might be enough to get my point across (no offense to Mr. Cuomo). Rozwell Kid builds upon the foundation built by bands like Weezer and expands in new directions. Kinda like how Charizard had wings and could use Fly and Charmander could not. Maybe not like that. The point is that these songs are fun as hell and catchy and did I mention fun as hell. Approaching rock from a silly angle, these guys are right up my alley. Disappointed in myself for not finding them earlier (their first 2 LPs are also sweet, although I like this best).

5) Run The Jewels – Run the Jewels 2

In the first Run The Jewels album El P and Killer Mike created a style of their own. Part adhd El P beats/bars and part Killer Mike’s dominating intellectual flow. In the second Run The Jewels album, they perfected this style, while adding in a few surprise twists (Zach De La Rocha). It isn’t a perfect album, and I don’t think every track is a gem, but RTJ is doing something pretty unique in the hiphop world and doing it extremely well. Its gotten to the point where RTJ has become the defining work of both rapper’s career to this point. Cant wait for #3.

6) Joyce Manor – Never Hungover Again

Joyce Manor took huge strides with this short album. It’s actually pretty refreshing to see a band unbothered by barely having a track touch the two minute mark, although I can’t say I don’t wish there was more to it. Each song is quick explosion of a distinct style. No track over stays its welcome and most leave you wanting more. This is an album that has a bunch of different jams for different moods and some of the most memorable lyrics of the year. All tightly packed into 20 nearly flawless minutes.

7) I Can Make A Mess – Growing In

Ace Enders was a little too soft for me during The Early November’s heyday. Certain tracks were undeniable classics, but for the most part his catalogue seemed to be designed for someone who was not me. This began to change with The Early November’s last album which I think provided a little more mature look at their prior sound.  Growing In, Ace’s most recent work, is an even further evolution of his own distinct style and I have to say it is aging like wine. Definitely make sure to listen to his solo album and get excited for the upcoming The Early November release that we should see in 2015.

8) Wayne Szalinski – Black Mirror

Wayne Szalinski are not for everyone, but they are for me. With a unique vocal style and complex interesting tracks these guys don’t sound like anything else. That’s the way ahuh ahuh I likeeee it ahuh ahuh. 

9) Prawn – Kingfisher

There were a bunch of guitar driven emotional rock albums this year but I dont think anyone nailed it better than New Jersey’s Prawn. 

10) Viewfinder – Do You Even Want Anything?

I’ve listened to this fuzzy gem straight through countless times. The debut from Viewfinder includes songs about moving to Canada and ghost hunting. For whatever reason this album just sat right with me. It’s simple sure, but it’s fun and catchy. I’m excited to see what else these guys feel like singing about.

11) Such Gold – The New Sidewalk
12) You Blew It! – Keep Doing What You’re Doing
13) Ratking – So It Goes
14) Oso Oso – S/T
15) Left N Right – Five Year Plan

16) Dikembe  – Mediumship
17) Freddie Gibbs & Madlib – Pinata
18) Somos – Table of Plenty
19) Nothing – Guilty Of Everything
20) Crying – Get Olde/Second Wind

21) Two Inch Astronaut – Foulbrood
22) Code Orange – I Am King
23) Manchester Orchestra – Cope
24) Posture & The Grizzly – Busch Hymns
25) Aviator – Head in the Clouds, Hands in the Dirt

Hendo’s Top 10 Eps

1) Sundials – Kick

I dont have the time to write something about all of these great albums and EPs but I feel like I need to say something about this Sundials record. Not only is this EP a good listen with 6 hook laden tracks that would certainly be worthy of a full length, but the album also discusses social anxiety (a problem I and many other suffer) in detail through the lyrics. Mental anguish and the “Dealin'” that goes with it are difficult topics for anyone to discuss. By putting these feeling to such great music Sundials have done more with this EP for individuals with anxiety than I thought was possible. Or maybe I’m the only one that this connected with. Either way its incredible and my EP of the year. 

2) Nai Harvest – Hold Open My Head

3) Donovan Wolfington – Scary Stories You Tell In The Dark

4) Vince Staples – Hell Can Wait

5) Special Explosion – The Art of Mothering

6) Diarrhea Planet – Aliens In The Outfield

7) Whirr/Nothing Split

8) Tall Tall Trees – The Seasonal EP

9) It Looks Sad – S/T

10) Donor – Ache Through My Bones