The Music That Moved Me In 2014

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This time last year, my life was more hectic than ever before. I was working three jobs, trudging through my final semester of college, and doing my best to prepare for life as a “real adult.” Fatigue was in fashion, uncertainty reigned supreme, and on top of it all, I couldn’t afford to take my foot off the gas. I was burnt out, man.

Likewise, when I set out to write my “best of” list for UTG, I did so with little diligence. To combat a jam-packed schedule, I clung tightly to what I knew without fully exploring all that the past twelve months had offered, and as a result, I missed out on a lot of great releases (Sorry, Daughter).

Very early on in 2014, I decided that I wasn’t going to make this same mistake twice. This year, rather than shunning the unknown, I openly embraced artists I had never heard of, and excitedly welcomed others whom, for one reason or another, I had avoided in the past. I absorbed music like a sponge, and my efforts were wonderfully rewarded. And while the list below may not be the most eclectic compilation you’ll sample this December, I am proud to say that it is, above all else, 110% me.

I’ve learned a lot about myself in the past 365 days. I’ve tried new things, I’ve failed often, and through all the ups and downs, the artists below were there. Regardless of location, occasion, or company, I always felt at home within their words, and I am confident that the artwork they’ve created will far transcend this past year of my life.

While I can’t promise these releases will have the same profound effect on you, I urge you to step outside your own comfort zone and give each and every one of them a chance. I did, and it has made a world of difference.


10. ArchitectsLost Forever // Lost Together

I never understood some people’s obsession with Architects, but that all changed with the release of Lost Forever // Lost Together. Bloodthirsty and hard-hitting, this album dropped back in February and instantly floored me with its fluid songwriting and unreal staying ability. The guitar work is top notch, and Sam Carter is a straight-up animal.


9. PUPPUP

From the moment I heard “Reservoir,” the first single off PUP’s phenomenal self-titled debut, I was hooked. These guys take punk to the next level, pairing radio-ready hooks with dizzying time signature changes, fun group vocals, and delightfully tech-y riffage. Move over Ryan Gosling–Canada has something new to brag about.


8. Twin ForksTwin Forks

As a longtime fan of Chris Carrabba, Twin Forks’ inclusion on this list was almost inevitable. The outfit’s self-titled debut finds the former frontman strutting his lyrical chops once again, but this time in a manner that is entirely jovial and uplifting. Giddy from start to finish, this record is a must-listen for fans of The Lumineers, Mumford and Sons, and other mainstream folk acts.


7. Circa SurviveDescensus 

Though I favor some of Circa Survive’s past releases, I love them all in different ways. By comparison however, Descensus is in a category all its own. Aggressive one minute and passive the next, the Philly quartet’s latest release is their boldest undertaking to date, and in my opinion, their best record yet. All hail, Lord Anthony Green.


6. Run The JewelsRun The Jewels 2

This is the best rap album of 2014, plain and simple. Killer Mike and El-P are a maelstrom of uncompromising wit, happily tackling touchy subjects, and completely decimating anyone or anything that stands in their way. Unyielding, uncensored, and full of attitude, people will be talking about this record for years to come.


5. Andrew McMahon in the WildernessAndrew McMahon in the Wilderness

Laden with the same infectious melody that put him on the map, Andrew McMahon’s latest attempt is chock full of poppy piano ballads that will leave Jack’s fans weak in the knees, and virgin listeners returning for more. Some of the biggest hooks of 2014 can be found on this album.


4. The HotelierHome, Like NoPlace Is There

Though this album revolves around death, anyone who has ever experienced loss in some form of another will find solace in the touching lyrics of Home, Like Noplace Is There. A followup to 2011’s It Never Goes Out, this record dropped nearly ten months ago, and still manages to hit me with some hardcore feels. Exceptionally well-written and heartbreaking to the core, these ten songs aren’t just heard–they’re felt.


3. La DisputeRooms of the House

Sometimes records fall into your lap right when you need them to; so was the case with La Dispute’s third full-length release, Rooms of the House. Dark and complex, this rollercoaster of a concept album centers on a happy ending collapsing, and two lovers coming to terms with their inevitable end. As things progress, vocalist Jordan Dreyer takes listeners on a one-of-a-kind journey dripping with grief and growth. Like a car crash that you can’t help but watch, La Dispute’s poignant plotline plays out in a way that is both gripping and visceral, and will stay with you long after the closing chords of “Objects in Space.”


2. Tigers JawCharmer

I randomly stumbled upon this band back in March, and this happy accident paid off big. Every song on Charmer is impeccably put together and captivating to no end, making for an easy-to-swallow effort that only grows with time. After seven months, I still come back to it regularly, and am still blown away by its stellar composition. Fuzzy chords and haunting dual vocals set the mood, while the Scranton outfit’s wonderfully self-aware lyrics casually ooze emotion. A grungy blend of genres, Tigers Jaw keep things simple yet satisfying, and more impressive still, they seem to do so effortlessly. This is an album that I will spin well into the new year and beyond.


1. Noah GundersenLedges

Out of all the album I’ve sampled this year, none has remained as relevant to me as Noah Gundersen’s debut full-length, Ledges. This 25-year-old singer-songwriter is wise beyond his years, and has a knack for memorable melodies and lofty lyrics. From the contagious hook of “Boathouse” to the sullen refrain of “Time Moves Quickly,” Gundersen and his siblings (who provide almost all of the record’s backing instrumentation) create straightforward folk ballads that, aside from being absolutely beautiful, are incredibly cathartic and relatable. This album has gotten me through a lot already, and I’m confident that it will continue to keep me going for years to come.

Kyle Florence

Kyle Florence is a proud Wisconsinite, a dinosaur enthusiast, and a lover of all things weird and whacky.
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