Albums and Artists That Will Transcend My Year

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I’d like to close out my first year of music journalism with a short list of short lists in typical end-of-the-year fashion. It’s been a wonderful half-year here at Under The Gun Review and I’ve had the pleasure of working with and getting to know some very talented and passionate journalists in my time so far. On top of that, I’ve spoken to some of my favorite artists, and even got to voice my opinion on some really excellent pieces of music. Of course, 2014 has also been an excellent year full of fresh and inspiring music. At the end of it all, there are a few artists that I’d like to share with our readers that really made my year in music.

I’ve spent a few days re-listening to some of the music that had the greatest effect on me over this past year and ended up with so many great albums that I decided to divide my selections into a few different categories, leaving me with the following groupings: Top 5 Newcomers, Top 5 Short Releases, and Top 5 Albums of 2014. With each artist or album I’ve provided a track that I feel embodies the band and gives first-time listeners the best possible introduction to each artist — or, a song that really hooked me on the album. Nominees are listed alphabetically.

 


Top 5 Newcomers in 2014:

1. Bad Luck

These boys really knocked my socks off with their debut full-length, Cold Bones. The album delivers relatable lyrics over a gritty pop-punk sound, breaking only for a ballad about a girl that will make you look back on past loves. Frontman Dominic Fox’s often straining vocals are unique and powerful, becoming incredibly endearing throughout memoirs of a frustrating youth.


2. Brent Walsh

Though I The Mighty‘s frontman has shifted into heavier music lately, his solo work bears the same catchy and endearing acoustic flavor that Walsh channeled in the early days of the band. 7, his debut as a solo artist, displays his talent for songwriting over a rainbow of unique styles.


3. PVRIS

In recent years I’ve found many of the artists on Rise Records to be sort of…average. That said, PVRIS is anything but. The female-fronted group that combines dark rock elements with electronic pop have created a stellar album in White Noise. The album has been my soundtrack for countless runs and workouts since its release, and certainly many more in the new year.


4. Side Saddle

From the dissolution of This Old Ghost comes Ian McGuinness’ brand new project, Side Saddle. The band’s debut, The Astorian, is an articulate indie-pop record full of songs that feel as cozy as sitting in front of the fireplace during a storm. Plus, it premiered here on UTG!


5. This Wild Life

Two hardcore dudes went off the beaten path and released an acoustic album. Big whoop, right? Wrong. This Wild Life have had an explosive reaction to their 2014 record, Clouded, aiming to strike a chord (heh) with fans of everyone from Dallas Green to Anthony Green.



Top 5 Short Releases of 2014:

1. AdventurerAdventurer EP

These young guys out of Detroit released a great little EP for post-hardcore fans everywhere. The self-titled release is full of complex and catchy songs that provide a fresh take on the genre that does more than impress; especially with just 3 members in the group.


2. BonfiresWe All Talk About Dying Like We’ve Done It Before

In their first year, Bonfires went and released not one, but two EPs that are the epitome of modern pop-punk. Their music is perfectly satisfying and even more fun to sing along to. I’ve spent countless hours singing to their songs in my car this year- you should try it sometime. You can also check out their newly released EP, Nothing To Hold/Something To Keep, on Bandcamp.


3. SianvarSianvar EP

With their star-studded lineup, Sianvar is like a well-crafted fantasy band for post-hardcore fans. With members of Dance Gavin Dance, A Lot Like Birds, Stolas and Hail The Sun putting their heads together, the result is an explosive collection of intricate grooves for listeners to digest. I’ve recommended this release to many of my musician friends and spent countless hours behind the kit trying to emulate Joe Arrington’s drum parts.


4. VisitorsBlueshift EP

Visitors literally gave me chills with their Blueshift EP. It’s haunting and powerful, and would find a cozy home in the hearts of any Circa Survive fan out there. I made some serious changes in my life this year and this album was on repeat during the height of that time. Watch out for Visitors in the new year and listen below:


5. Wild ImaginariesShades EP

Shades is a beautifully crafted piano-pop EP that takes a swing at radio giants like Coldplay without remorse. These guys could tour with Imagine Dragons and fans would eat it right up, I guarantee it. Always a good one to belt while cruising down the highway on a sunny day.



Top 5 Albums of 2014:

1. Hail The SunWake

A highly-anticipated return that did not disappoint, Wake is an incredibly intense venture into Fall Of Troy-inspired post-hardcore that will have your head spinning and feet tapping in no time. Gripping from start to finish, the album rips through 12 incredibly dynamic tracks inspired by extreme greed, deceit, addiction, loss, and wrongdoing.


2. Hoodie AllenPeople Keep Talking

One of the most unique hip-hop albums I’ve ever heard, Hoodie Allen’s sophomore album stands as a towering monument to the power of independent artists everywhere. Musically, it’s brimming with radio-friendly songs packed with witty lyrics and catchy hooks.


3. The HotelierHome, Like Noplace Is There

It only took me about 25 seconds to feel connected to Home, Like Noplace Is There. Honestly, that’s it. The album’s opener drops the raw intensity of vocalist Christian Holden right onto the laps of listeners, and beautifully garnishes it with the band’s soft accompaniment before building into a entrancing collection of upbeat and heartfelt songs.


4. Icarus The OwlIcarus The Owl

A flurry of ghost notes, tapping, and time changes; the third effort from Portland band Icarus The Owl is undoubtedly their best yet. Perhaps the most impressive feat of the self-titled album is how the guys managed to turn some of the most complex instrumentals out there into catchy pop songs without a single scream. The record is an eloquent mix of hardcore elements and sing-along fun.


5. Modern BaseballYou’re Gonna Miss It All

Sure this album is going to make lists all over the internet, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t brilliant. Modern Baseball’s sophomore album plays like the honest soundtrack to your college years, and resonates with you as if the guys were actually there. If you’ve somehow missed this, definitely check it out right away.

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