Here’s some records, EP’s and tracks that I enjoyed in 2014. (Except this first one, which came out in December 2013.) It’s in a vague chronological order, not necessarily by release date but as I recall listening to them.
It’s also my annual reminder of all the stuff I missed, or didn’t give enough time to. Feel free to let me know about those.
1. Sleep Kit – Sleep Kit (Big Scary Monsters)
I spent most of January listening to this record, early in the morning, to shake off the cold and dreary commute. I love the way this EP builds and layers with each track, from the steady grunge-punk of opener Tug of War, to the chaotic screamo of Jarred and personal favourite, the heavy-as title track, Sleep Kit.
You know how certain records just sound so right together? Like they were made to be listened to back to back? Well, I invariably listen to Sleep Kit and Sport alongside each other. It makes sense.
2. Sport – Bon Voyage (An impressively long list of labels. But huge props to Good Post Day.)
2012’s Colours was a really great breakthrough record for Lyon’s Sport; a record you could fall for on first listen and just about everyone did. And Bon Voyage managed to be even better. I mean, it opens with a Stand By Me sample, and is the best bit of spiky, melodic indie-emo you can dance to by a long stretch. Ulrike Maier was my 2014 jam.
3. Human Hands – s/t (strictly no capital letters/time as a color/cross your heart and hope to d.i.y)
Sometimes, to really ‘get’ a band, you need to see them in the room that smells like a swimming pool in Leicester’s The Shed. It all fell into place at that point. If you like your emo noisy, impassioned and thoroughly miserable in the best way, this is the record for you. One of 2014’s best lyrics, from disease:
“This is my punk rock and you’re a disease”
The temptation to yell it at people you don’t like will loom large for some time.
4. The Hotelier – Home, Like Noplace Is There (Tiny Engines)
It’s been a good year for really solid, accomplished second albums. Three years and one name change later, The Hotelier followed up 2011’s It Never Goes Out and it is killer emo-punk from start to finish. From the bittersweet lyricism of Your Deep Rest, that super catchy guitar line in Among The Wildflowers and the unrelenting screams throughout Life In Drag, Home, Like Noplace Is There is deserving of every bit of hype it received.
5. Ratking – So It Goes (XL Recordings)
So It Goes from NYC’s Ratking is one of the most incredible hip hop records I’ve heard in recent years. Experimental, beautifully produced and a great summertime record; from the heavy blow of Canal, the hazy chill of Snow Beach, to the slick as anything So It Goes.
6. Perfect Pussy – Say Yes To Love (Captured Tracks)
This is the best straight-up punk record I’ve listened to this year. It’s angry, loud and unabashedly messy. The ever-awesome Meredith Graves’ frenetic vocals throw up so many great lines. From Driver:
“Lies like ‘I will be protected’
Lies like ‘death might forget me’
Like ‘home is where I’m never invited’
Like ‘my voice provides a light’
Like ‘I can have everything I want before I die'”
Standout moments include the jangly noise-punk of Big Stars and the feedback-soaked poetry that is Interference Fits.
7. Baton Rouge – Totem (Purepainsugar/Adagio830/Bakery Outlet/Long Legs Long Arms)
I guess this completes the trifecta of excellent European emo on this particular list. Unfortunately I missed them when they were in the UK, because I was not, but Totem was kind of a surprise for me this year, it seemed to take emo in a direction I hadn’t heard from many others. Standout tracks are Côte du Py, a lovely little slice of catchy indie-mo; and the slow burn of Cours Tolstoï with those dark, crashing drums toward the end and the gorgeous Train De Nuit.
8. Tree – Probably Nu It (Scion AV)
I heard this in a changing room and it became one of my favourite songs of the summer. Try not doing body rolls all the way through it. TRY.
9. Dikembe – Mediumship (Tiny Engines)
I’ve harboured a huge soft spot for Dikembe for a while, but wasn’t sure where they would end up going with the second record. 2013’s Broad Shoulders was in itself a fair departure from their earlier output, and Mediumship changed it up again; darker, more introspective, matured.
Whilst I can’t say the Jesse Lacey comparisons aren’t still valid, Mediumship is a compounding record that, for me, sets Dikembe apart from a lot of their peers. I can get punchy, youthful music elsewhere. Give me that perfectly executed loud/quiet dynamic, those guitars that wander and wind, the dreamiest vocals in emo, and don’t skimp on the sad.
10. Dads – Chewing Ghosts (6131)
I didn’t really listen to the whole record enough to include it here, but this track charmed the hell out of me for weeks.
“We could be drunk together, we could be punk together, we could be friends again.”
11. Joyce Manor – Never Hungover Again (Epitaph)
This is my record of 2014. Coming in at a no-fucking-about 20 minutes, like the previous two records, Never Hungover Again has perfected the art of cramming in all of those vocal harmonies, joyfully awkward lyrics and heavy Smiths influences whilst leaving nothing (but kind of everything) out.
I didn’t think I could love a song more than Constant Headache from their 2011 s/t debut, but then I heard Falling In Love Again and now I don’t know how to feel. It sounds like falling in love, between giddy and forlorn, feeling it in the pit of your stomach. When those synths come in, my god. Other standout tracks include End of the Summer, Schley, Heart Tattoo and Catalina Fight Song, which is without doubt the most fun you can have in 65 seconds.
Okay, I knew you wanted some Beyoncé.
12. Beyonce feat. Nicki Minaj – Flawless remix (Columbia)
We talked about Flawless in my 2013 post, and the only way it could have been more perfect is by adding Nicki Minaj (like, hardlines, no fucks given Nicki.) I’m still fiercely advocating for a Watch The Throne-style collab record. Appease me.
13. Punch – They Don’t Have To Believe (Deathwish)
This year, everyone’s favourite raging feminist badass Meghan O’Neil left Punch, but thankfully with this total banger of a record. Selfish, I know, but I’m gutted I didn’t see them live, because getting to scream along to Worth More Than Your Opinion was on my list of life goals. File this with the many super important lyrics she’s written:
“Our looks, our bodies, are none of your fucking business.”
Then lose your mind to Personal Space.
14. Run The Jewels – Run The Jewels 2 (Mass Appeal)
I could probably just not write anything about this record because someone on Soundcloud already nailed it (re: Blockbuster Night Part 1.)
The lyrical interplay between Killer Mike and El-P throughout RTJ2 is, as ever, unfuckwithable, and we covered the beats already. The first time I heard Oh My Darling Don’t Cry I had to go back and listen to the first 30 seconds about 10 times before I could continue, then got to 2:32 and had my mind completely blown.