UTG LIST: The Best Releases You Might Have Missed From The First Half of 2014


If there’s one thing 2014 has brought us thus far it is an array of fantastic music. It seems as though every week there is a new record released that needs to be thrown into the consideration for album of the year. For our mid-year review at Under The Gun, we wanted to bring you a list of records that we feel contain some of the best material released so far this year. However, we decided to focus on those that you might not have had a chance to hear yet due to being the works of (currently) lesser-known acts.

Follow the jump to dig into what we consider to be the 20 best ‘under the radar’ releases (in no particular order) that the first half of 2014 has had to offer. If you think we missed something that you feel is flying unnoticed, make sure to let us know in the comments below.

Mimicking Birds – EONS

While there was a four-year lapse between Mimicking Bird‘s debut self-titled release and this year’s EONS, the wait has surely found itself appreciated. Adding more layers, more textures, more ambition, and a collective approach to songwriting, EONS takes every emotional bit from Mimicking Birds and groups it with haunting sounds, moving vocals, and varied instrumentation so that the work presented back in 2010 soars to new levels of transcendence. EONS can, and will move you. — Drew Caruso, News & Review Writer

Ásgeir – In The Silence

This may be a bit of a stretch, but it has been a long road for Iceland’s Ásgeir. Dawning his debut LP to Icelandic audiences a few years ago, it was only up until early 2014 that US audiences were given an English translation of the much loved Dýrð í dauðaþögn. Growing up in an Icelandic village with a population of 40, Ásgeir’s music was dying to reach ears. Featuring lyrics from his father’s collection of poems, the translated version is sure to find itself in constant rotation with English speaking audiences, for Ásgeir channels the atmospheres of Bjork, Sigur Ros, Bon Iver, and many more. Culminating in a clash of electronic and folk sounds, In The Silence is Ásgeir’s introduction to a much wider audience, and it sure is a great first impression. Garnering a physical release on January 27, and reaching YouTube in February, it wont be long until everyone is improperly stating Ásgeir’s name to friends. But, there is truly only one word that can simply describe In The Silence, and that is “beautiful.” — Drew Caruso, News & Review Writer

Margot & The Nuclear So and So’s – Sling Shot To Heaven

As a very DIY outfit, Margot & the Nuclear So and So’s tend to fly under the radar, even despite the following they’ve accrued since their 2006 debut, The Dust Of Retreat. Many fans seemed kind of blindsided by the change in sound found on their 2010 effort Buzzard, a trend that continued onto 2012’s Rot Gut, Domestic. But those fans that may have abandoned ship for the past few years will be pleased to find that the band’s newest effort, Sling Shot To Heaven, boasts more of that original sound that many felt was the Margot sound. Sling Shot to Heaven brings back a lot of the fuller instrumentation that had been stripped away and that overall mellowness that you could easily get lost within. Richard Edwards’ esoteric–and at times downright odd and confusing–lyrical content never really left though; it’s as prominent as ever on Sling Shot, and the album’s all the better for it. I never quite ditched Margot altogether but I will admit that their earlier albums never left regular rotation for me. Their newest release was a welcomed change of pace from their past two and it makes for one of the best albums of the year. — Brian Lion, Co-owner / Editor / Head Of Staff

Cult Leader – Nothing For Us Here

Salt Lake City’s latest and greatest purveyors of heavy music formed when three-quarters of grindcore outfit Gaza rose from the ashes to become Cult Leader in 2013. The band quickly signed to Deathwish, who released Cult Leader’s debut EP Nothing for Us Here in April. The EP manages to run the gamut of hardcore, sludge and grind — all within a matter of just 17 minutes — but the real surprise is the intensely impassioned, angry and cathartic vocal delivery of Anthony Lucero, who actually played bass in Gaza. I can’t wait to hear more, but I’m not sure my mind and body are prepared for it. — Kevin Blumeyer, News & Review Writer

No Nets – Affable and Ready For Small Talk

New York City’s No Nets emerged this year wielding a record with indie rock sensitivity and punk rock swagger. Cleverly mixing genres to create a sonic treat the likes of few others, Affable and Ready For Small Talk has an awkward groove to it that makes you want to come back for more. It’s not quite normal alternative music, but it isn’t exactly strange music, either. It hits a state of aural limbo that is oddly addicting and makes for a fun listen. The band have created the type of record you can truly sit back and get lost in — which you should do immediately. — Matthew Leimkuehler, Music Editor / Interviewer / Feature Writer

Raleigh Ritchie – Black And Blue EP

I had been listening to Raleigh Ritchie for at least four months before I realized that the man behind the project, Jacob Anderson, was actually an actor on one of the biggest series currently on television. Raleigh Ritchie plays Grey Worm, the commander of the Unsullied, on HBO’s Game Of Thrones. I’d like to say that this little factoid doesn’t matter, but realistically, it will indeed bring this up-and-comer an army of new followers. His two EPs from this year (one being remixes of the other) are actually really good, though, and that fact will speak for itself. As I said, I enjoyed his music before ever realizing who he was. I saw comments on his social media pages referring to him as Grey Worm and I just thought it was funny because he looked like him. Turns out, it was him, and as a massive GoT fan, I’m of course even more intrigued by his music. But if you like R&B in the vein of The Weeknd and Jaymes Young with stellar production then there’s no reason that you won’t like Raleigh Ritchie, regardless of what show he may be on. His lyrics may be a little mushy/cheesy at times but Grey Worm actually has a really smooth vocal delivery and some catchy hooks. Expect him to blow up in the next year. — Brian Lion, Co-owner / Editor / Head Of Staff

The Appreciation Post – Slip Away EP

Prior to this year, I had never heard of The Appreciation Post, but upon a first listen of their newest EP, Slip Away, I was immediately hooked. My once lost love for pop-punk has been fighting its way back into relevance for me in the past year and The Appreciation Post are in the vanguard leading the charge. Mixing some of my favorite elements from early to mid 2000s pop-punk, TAP have unleashed six tracks full of bouncy rhythms, quirky and highly relatable lyrics, and choruses that will drill themselves into your head, never to be forgotten. If you were ever a fan of acts like The Starting Line and Motion City Soundtrack, then imagine a band that sounds like some kind of mixture of the two and you’ll fall in love with The Appreciation Post. I anxiously await a full-length from these guys. — Brian Lion, Co-owner / Editor / Head Of Staff

Young Fathers – Dead

Young Fathers could be likened to nearly no other act. Shabazz Palaces is about the only one I can think of that boasts this kind of unconventional production and delivery in their verses. Is it abstract hip-hop? We’ll go with that because I’m not gonna wrack my brain trying to pin down a label. This Scotland-based experimental trio have brought forth a ridiculously unique effort in Dead. There’s darkness, creativity, intrigue, and lots of energy, all wrapped up in spastic beats, samples, and sounds in general that will take repeat listens to wrap your head around. Dead‘s one of the smartest releases of the year but I can see it not getting the attention it deserves because it’s not easily accessible. If you have an open mind, though, dive into it. You won’t regret it. — Brian Lion, Co-owner / Editor / Head Of Staff

Northernmost – Northernmost

Northernmost‘s debut self-titled LP was a pleasant surprise for me this year. Never hearing of the band before, and constraining my first listening experience of them in a critical mindset, the twelve-track debut is a colossal eruption of emotion, noise, melody and melancholy that was not expected. Sure to attest to fans of Balance and Composure and Brand New, with Northernmost being their debut LP, color me excited for what is next. — Drew Caruso, News & Review Writer

Astro Safari USA – Trapman

If you’ve been sleeping on Trapman you’ve probably been sleeping on Astro Safari USA in general, which is a total shame. JP and Jayce are two of the most creative minds in the pop-infused hip-hop game, both with roots deep in the rock music scene. If you’re looking for not-so-serious catchy tunes that are perfect to bump this summer, Trapman is what your life is missing. There’s nothing better than clever and snarky white boys having a little fun at the microphone. Besides, who else has ever written an in-depth tune about a sexual relationship using purely professional wrestling metaphors? Exactly my point. — Derek Scancarelli, Photographer / Interviewer

S. Carey – Range of Light

Is there a reason you haven’t listened to Range of Light yet? If there is, it most likely isn’t good enough. Presented as a massive piece of art, illuminated by the companion of the natural world, Range of Light boasts tracks that encompass all adventures of natural exploration and enlightenment. With a song for any occasion, and an eerie aptitude for showcasing new textures and layers with every listen, my short time with Range of Light has been one of the most transcendent experiences of not only 2014, but my past few years. I cannot fully express my love and appreciation for this wonderful exploration of the contrasts between nature and humanity. — Drew Caruso, News & Review Writer

Bones – Garbage

Bones is somewhat of an enigma in the rap realm, and I’ve admittedly only been privy to his material as of recent weeks, but I’ll be damned if I can’t stop listening to his newest mixtape, Garbage. Somewhat of a Tumblr-born sensation, the combination of hearing the veteran-like skills in this Los Angeles-based youngster’s music and seeing what he looks like, simultaneously made for somewhat of a mind-blower for me. Regardless of all that, the VHS-style visual aesthetic he seems to have taken to accentuates his works quite ideally as his fluttering high-hat rolls, heavy beats, ominously dark themes, and deep vocal delivery seems wholly inspired by the ’90s material of hip-hop acts such as Three 6 Mafia and Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. With 17 succinct tracks (not one breaching 3 minutes in length), a handful of guest appearances, and some truly supreme sample usage, Bones has delivered his best work yet with Garbage. If you’re into alternative (t)rap, there’s still time to get ahead of the curve on Bones before his inevitable rise–that is if he chooses to ditch the DIY model and take the offers that come his way. — Brian Lion, Co-owner / Editor / Head Of Staff

Ghost Stories / Armslength Split

Ghost Stories is a band I am carefully watching. Having released a wonderful EP called Dumb Luck in May of last year, it has been about a full year since we have been granted new tunes. With the loss of a singer, but the addition of heightened ambition, Ghost Stories return with “Dizzy,” and “Physical Bodies,” two tracks that find themselves less aggressive than most of the work found on Dumb Luck, though with a greater grasp on melody and texture. Sonically conscious to Pedro The Lion, the two tracks on Ghost Stories’ side are the perfect palate cleansers for what the band has in store next. Not forgetting their friends in Armslength, the other side of the split is quite complimentary to Ghost Stories’. Faster, louder, and more aggressive, Armslength’s side creates the perfect contrast between the entire piece, balancing it out perfectly. Both of these bands are ones to watch, and I suggest you start now. Drew Caruso, News & Review Writer

Creepoid – Creepoid

Creepoid was a rare instance where I walked out of the record store with it in hand not knowing what I was getting. It was an early afternoon after a short shift at work, and I had been meaning to check out Armageddon Records in Cambridge, MA for the first time for a few weeks now. I parked far enough away where I could enjoy the easy spring day walk along the Charles, and when I finally got to the store, there was something about the album that caught my eye. Pleasantly surprised by the brown marble variant hidden inside, what I had essentially bought was a beautiful record hidden in the ‘new punk arrivals’ section. The band, hailing from Philadelphia (who isn’t these days?), beautifully and vividly grasp elements from the ’60s all the way to present time, culminating in a lusciously full release that has thus far been criminally underrated. This band deserves your time. Drew Caruso, News & Review Writer

Stitches – No Snitching Is My Statement

If you have any sort of finger on the pulse of the internet’s hip-hop community, it’s almost guaranteed you’ve had a glimpse of the viral music video for “Brick In Yo Face,” a coke and rage-fueled trap banger courtesy of Stitches, Florida’s own blow selling, AK-47 tattooed mad man. While his standout appearance and vocal delivery are what sent the rapper from unknown to internet sensation over night, there’s also a genuine level of catchiness within his music that is either unheard or purposefully ignored in favor of keeping the performance under a taboo branding. Thus, Stitches’ debut mixtape, No Snitching Is My Statement, has not received anywhere close to as much press as one would assume in correlation with the popularity of its lead single — an unfortunate fact that prevents one of 2014’s most exciting releases from being heard by all of the ears it warrants. Providing a diverse array of sounds stemming from all across the hip-hop scene, with everything from the expected brash bravado to slow and slick jams with a more accessible flow (at times even in vein of Stitches’ noted favorite rapper, Juicy J), there’s simply no excuse to ignore No Snitching Is My Statement for any longer while it remains free on DatPiff. So cop a download and prepare for an enjoyable ride. — Michael Giegerich, News & Review Writer

NO – El Prado

NO are an indie rock group based out of Echo Park, California. The first time I saw them live was at a show my friend and I happened to stop by to see another relatively local group perform. I loved what I heard and scoured the internet to figure out who they were. At the time, only their EP was out, so I picked it up. Earlier this year they released their debut full-length album, titled El Prado. It has beautifully written lyrics that will easily get you hooked. The frontman’s voice is mellow and soothing, which is balanced by ambient guitars and a solid drum beat. If you like one song, it will be easy to like them all. — Kriston McConnell, News & Review Writer

Möngöl Hörde – Möngöl Hörde

Before Frank Turner became a critically acclaimed folk-punk troubadour–leading communal sing-alongs and penning songs that define the lives of those of us who wear our hearts on our plaid sleeves worldwide–he was the frontman of decidedly left-wing post-hardcore protagonists Million Dead. Nine years after he let go of a scream in anger, Frank is letting rip on the world again fronting his new hardcore project Möngöl Hörde. And what a glorious return to form it is! A ferocious 35-minute exercise in hardcore that calls to mind the likes of Refused, Norma Jean, and yes Million Dead, the self-titled debut full-length from these Londoner’s is one of the finest hardcore records released this year and is testament to the fact that the fire still burns wildly inside Turner, drummer Ben Dawson (Million Dead) and guitarist Matt Nasir (The Sleeping Souls). Featuring a lyrical approach that Turner has described as “depraved,” the album will have you throwing down in reverence while laughing at the words being shouted out at you. A truly massive sounding record that is highlighted by “Tape Worm Uprising,” a song about Natalie Portman’s tapeworm leading an uprising that overthrows Hollywood. Möngöl Hörde is an absolute triumph. Make way for the Horde! — Brenton Harris, Review Writer

Inanimate Existence – A Never Ending Cycle Of Atonement

Firstly claiming one of the most alluring album covers of 2014, Santa Cruz, California’s Inanimate Existence can also claim the rights to having released one of this year’s best metal albums as well. Featuring newcomer Riley McShane (from fellow Santa Cruz outfit Son Of Aurelius) on vocals backed by technical leads, blastbeats, ethereal keyboards, and some heavy groove, A Never Ending Cycle Of Atonement offers some of the finest moments in metal so far in 2014. Fans of acts such as (earlier era) The Faceless and (current) Fallujah should take to this album with ease. The effort features 45 minutes of impressive tech death spread across 8 tracks that should launch Inanimate Existence toward the top of the progressive metal echelon. — Brian Lion, Co-owner / Editor / Head Of Staff

Cardinal Cardinal – Distant Lover EP

Over the past couple of years Dads have blown up exponentially within the punk/indie/emo scene. American Radass (this is important) and Pretty Good were favorite releases of 2012 and 2013, respectively, and their Woman 7″ was one of the most sought after releases for Record Store Day this year, and for good reason. The thing that kind of irks me, though, is how underrated (or unknown) drummer John Bradley’s other project is. I’d argue that Cardinal Cardinal is much more accessible within the aforementioned genres and would appeal to a much larger fanbase. Distant Lover is hands down one of my favorite EPs released so far this year. It’s not too much of a departure from Dads but it is a more folky–and ofttimes dramatic–approach that would appeal to fans of everything from Good Old War to The Republic of Wolves to Person L. There are still 7″ copies available from No Sleep. $6 is nothing for a truly great release. — Brian Lion, Co-owner / Editor / Head Of Staff

Bloom – Thousand Yard Stare

Bloom (a side project from Better Off’s Luke Granered) came out of nowhere with their debut, Thousand Yard Stare. Lush tones within slow-strummed chords, emotional and heartfelt lyrics, and a simple, kind of straightforward approach makes their own brand of emo-tinged rock stand out amongst the recent resurgence that’s begun flooding the internet. Thousand Yard Stare is ostensibly mellow for the most part with no major frills beyond the addition of some keyboard elements, but it somehow manages to carry so much weight in its delivery that you can’t help but feel its passion oozing from every line, every contemplative hook. — Brian Lion, Co-owner / Editor / Head Of Staff

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