These are not album reviews. These are, however, some of my favorite albums from the last year. I've made no secret of the fact that the last 12 months were particularly shitty, but thanks to support from family and friends - my life is now pretty awesome. You could say these albums were the soundtrack to my life on the road to being “okay” again. Hopefully if you’re going through something you'll find some solace in them as well... even if you aren’t - they are great albums in their own right.
Off With Their Heads - “Home” buy it here
For fans of: The Menzingers, Hot Water Music, Polar Bear Club, Punk Rock music in general
This was one of those albums that initially connected with me musically. Ryan Young’s raw, raspy, and urgency in his vocal delivery immediately hit me. Then I started to pay attention to the lyrics and that’s when I fell in love. I found it comforting to hear stories of a broken and defeated man - in a weird way it was comforting to know that other people were going through shitty times and came out the other side “okay.”
Killswitch Engage - “Disarm The Descent” buy it here
For fans of: As I Lay Dying, Unearth, Shadows Fall, Soilwork
Sometime around 1999-2000 an old friend let me borrow their first self-titled CD and from that point forward I was hooked. I stuck with them through a change in singers and eventually their original singer, Jesse Leach, returned to the band and with that they returned to the original sound that I fell in love with. Lyrically the album is very empowering - speaking to themes of overcoming adversity and redemption.
Paramore - “Paramore” buy it here
For fans of: No Doubt, New Found Glory, Yeah Yeah Yeahs
“I’m not bitter anymore, I'm syrupy sweet. I rot your teeth down to their core, If I'm really happy.” That pretty much sums it up. This record is peppy, sugary sweet hooks that keep you humming along for days, but with musical and lyrical depth that show growth and maturity.
Bad Rabbits - “American Love” buy it here
For fans of: Prince, Morris Day & The Time, Boyz II Men, Tony! Toni! Toné!
Unlike the previous three albums I had no real prior experience with Bad Rabbits before 2012. I happened to stumble across them on YouTube one day covering Smashing Pumpkins and Deftones songs, so of course my interest was immediately piqued. Around comes 2013 and we finally see their first full length album. Don’t let the poppy, funky, and sweet melodies fool you - this album has quite the bitter streak…
Stray From The Path - “Anonymous” buy it here
For fans of: Every Time I Die, Rage Against The Machine, Snapcase, letlive
While a lot of my favorite albums were uplifting or therapeutic in certain aspects… this record is one thing and one thing only: very pissed off. While some would argue their intentions, it awoke feelings in me I haven’t felt since I heard Rage Against The Machine for the first time. A lot of heavy music today has restored to cheap thrills and over played gimmicks - Stray From The Path is an extremely refreshing take on a genre that can get repetitive at times. My affinity is in no way influenced by the fact that they are rad dudes willing to have some beers with fans before they put on a killer high energy live show…
Dorean Lives - “A Cold Fire from the One I Loved” buy it here
For fans of: Anberlin, Skillet, Stavesacre, Three Days Grace
Born from a tragic loss this album was 6+ years in the making and boy was it worth the wait. So proud to see guys you grew up going to shows with actually doing something amazing with their art on such a big stage. I found this album to be therapeutic in a very surprising way - it inspired me to start writing again. There’s something about hearing someone you know pour themselves out to inspire you to do the same.
Other notable releases this year:
Jimmy Eat World - “Damage” buy it here
The Civil Wars - “The Civil Wars” buy it here
Korn - “The Paradigm Shift” buy it here
Soul Embraced - “Mythos” buy it here
Living Sacrifice - “Ghost Thief” buy it here
Clutch - "Earth Rocker" buy it here