Best of 2014
I always love reading “favorite records of the year” lists, so I’ve asked a few friends to share theirs. I’m posting mine first and I’ll add a new person’s list every day for the next week or two. I’m trying to add links to streaming tunes of all the bands/releases mentioned so you can check them out easily if you’ve slept on any of these.
Feel free to add your own faves of 2014 to the comments section!
Ron Guardipee – Brotherhood, Resolution, Digh Down
Boston Strangler -Fire LP
Red Scare – Demo 2014
The Drip – A Presentation of Gruesome Poetics 12″EP
Baptists – Bloodmines LP
Iron Reagan – Tyranny of Will LP
Paranoid – Crypts of Rays Demo 2014
M.S.E.Y.A.(Massive Straight Edge Youth Attack) – You Break Edge, I Break Legs Demo 2014
Excel – Split Image double 12″ reissue
Ossacrux – NOLA 7″
Hard Time – Demo 2014
Chris Wynne – In Effect Hardcore
Editor’s Note: In Effect has been one of my favorite zines for close to 20 years and the current web-based version is as awesome as the paper version was way back then. Every year, Chris does a super-comprehensive year end recap, which is always a blast to read. The list below is just one small portion of the entire recap. I HIGHLY encourage everyone to click on over to In Effect’s site to read the rest of this incredible post.
1: MADBALL “HARDCORE LIVES” (The Black ‘N Blue Label) – To me, the cream of the crop of 2014 hardcore as Madball spoke to me lyrically, musically and visually with an all around AMAZING effort here. This comes from a guy who always liked Madball but they never had that one album that shook the foundations for me… until now. They start it off with an old style instrumental intro that has you stomping your feet before the title track kicks in with a head nodding type of beat that has some of the slickest and well thought out lyrics I have seen in a while. The intensity of the first 5 tracks on this album is hard to match and carries “Hardcore Lives” to the top of the heap for 2014. STANDOUT TRACKS: “Intro/Hardcore Lives”, “Doc Martin Stomp”, “DNA”
2: SICK OF IT ALL “THE LAST ACT OF DEFIANCE” (Century Media Records) – Still spreading that hardcore reality all these years later is the mighty Sick Of It All showing that they got no quit in their bones 28 years after their formation as a band. “The Last Act Of Defiance” is the type of album that I knew on the very first listen that I was going to love the shit out of and play into the ground (and that I did). Musically there were no real surprises as SOIA pretty much sticks to the blueprint (If it ain’t broke…) that got them here but it’s lyrically where I was impressed with an overall eye opening political take on what’s going on here in the United States of America (and the world) in 2014. Music and message delivered loud and clear. STANDOUT TRACKS: “Road Less Traveled”, “Facing The Abyss”, “Losing War”
3: 7 SECONDS “LEAVE A LIGHT ON” (Rise Records) – Their first new album in 9 years comes out 34 years after they formed as a band. Somehow, someway 7 Seconds keep that youthful flame burning with 14 tracks that rivals some of their best work. If you were never a fan this will not flip you but for those of us who are… wow! STAND OUT TRACKS: “Slogan On A Shirt”, “Leave A Light On”, Heads Are Bound To Roll”
4: BANE “DON’T WAIT UP” (Equal Vision Records) – Leading up to the release of “Don’t Wait Up” Bane announced this would be their last recorded album and if this is true they got as close to a perfect sendoff as you can get with this 10 song banger. From the mixed tempo starter “Non Negotiable” to the classic finale in “Final Backward Glance” Bane holds nothing back with deep tracks that challenge the boundaries of what hardcore is all about. A final record does not necessarily mean that they are gone as Bane played a bunch of shows in 2014 and already have multiple dates set for early 2015. STANDOUT TRACKS: “All The Way Through”, “Hard To Find”, “Final Backward Glance”
5: COMEBACK KID “DIE KNOWING” (Victory Records) – Heavy, melodic and super catchy are all perfect ways to describe CBK’s “Die Knowing”. This album came out earlier in the year back in March and hijacked my iPod right from the get go with probably a months worth of it being on constant “repeat”. Even after that initial bump wore off I still came back to this album over and over and even dug into their back catalog a bunch as I admittedly had slept on this band in the past. WTF was I smoking? CBK is awesome and “Die Knowing” is just one in a line of solid hardcore releases from Winnipeg’s finest. STANDOUT TRACKS: “Should Know Better”, “Wasted Arrows”, “Somewhere In This Miserable”
6: SHEER TERROR “STANDING UP FOR FALLING DOWN” (Reaper Records) – The first new Sheer Terror full length in well over a decade and half showed that the Rev and crew are still a potent force to be reckoned with dropping 11 tracks that showcased the band’s strong music writing diversity. Straight up thrashers like the opener “Heartburn In G” and “Ain’t Alright” are mixed in with more melodic numbers like “Boots, Braces & Alimony”, “Did You Just Meet Me” and slower more brooding tracks like “Coffee, 5 Sugars” which features a catchy horn part that really gets stuck in your head. Like it or not they are here to stay. STANDOUT TRACKS: “Boots, Braces & Alimony”, “Did You Just Meet Me?”, “Heartburn In G”
7: RANCID “HONOR IS ALL WE KNOW” (Epitaph Records) – 2014 marched along with more of the names we have come to know and love taking charge in regards to new albums. Rancid is just another case of the old guard showing that they still got what it takes to win over people from all age brackets and whatever your punk rock lineage is. To me at least, you are cheating yourself out of good music if you just listen to one little niche of hardcore/punk or metal. “Honor Is All We Know” is a great mixed bag of sounds that is obviously rooted in a more traditional punk rock style but some nice tempo changes and cool ska type numbers break things up and separate Rancid from the rest of the pack. A great album that is easily played from start to finish over and over. STANDOUT TRACKS: “Back Where I Belong”, “Raise Your Fist”, “Diabolical”
8: ANGEL DU$T “A.D.” (Reaper Records / React! Records) – A breath of fresh air out of the Baltimore area with members of Trapped Under Ice and Turnstile teaming up to produce some catchy Ramones infused hardcore? If it’s hard to nail down and slap a label on it you know you got something different. 12 songs in 15 minutes makes you want more and although short, Angel Du$t makes a nice statement with “A.D.” showing that hardcore can be melodic and catchy while maintaining a “hard” edge. STANDOUT TRACKS: “Let It Rot”, “Big One”, “Set Me Up”
9: MODERN PAIN “SELF DECONSTRUCTION” (Six Feet Under Records) – The Dallas Kings of amazing EP’s follow up their 2011 “Cast Aside, Left Behind” EP and their 2012 “Reality Of The Pain” EP with their 2014 offering “Self Deconstruction”. Modern Pain again shows their uniqueness with a dirty and raw sound that mixes in elements of punk, metal, grind and hardcore that translates into a one of a kind band doing things their way. A perfect band for those who cry that hardcore has run out of new ideas. STANDOUT TRACKS: “Mind Grinder”, “Self Deconstruction”
10: CAUGHT IN A TRAP “GOODNIGHT NEW YORK” (Dead City Records) – Straight up NYC hardcore out of the Q Borough is Caught In A Trap who follow up their 2007 effort “Rats Get Fat” with a far superior product to its predecessor. In that 7 year gap between albums CIAT actually recorded another album that they felt had no “soul” according to their singer in an interview run on this site earlier this year. They put that album on the shelf and never used it. What we get in “Goodnight New York” is 12 tracks of the type of hardcore you would have been accustomed to seeing/hearing at a CBGB’s Sunday Matinee a long, long time ago. Blue collar through and through with heads up lyrics backed by a pounding beat that screams NYHC. STANDOUT TRACKS: “S.T.F.U.”, “The Daily Grind”, “Envy, Power, Greed”
10A: ALL FOR NOTHING “WHAT LIES WITHIN US” (GSR Records) – 10A? WTF? I thought this was a top 10? Yeah but I declare a tie between Caught In A Trap and “What Lies Within Us” from All For Nothing. Go start your own website if you don’t like it. The 2 year void between 2012’s “To Live And Die For” and this is behind us as Cindy and crew return with another kick in the nutz delivering a nice blend of old school and new school style hardcore DUTCH style!. Cindy’s vocals (and lyrics) again are strong with AFN backing her up with some well written tunes that have crunch, melody, moshability, and an overall infectiousness. Get infected with some AFN. STANDOUT TRACKS: “Five Leaf Clover”, “Burn The Lies”, “Luctor Et Emergo”
Andrew Neufeld – Comeback Kid, Figure Four
I narrowed it down to a dozen. I had to cut a few off.
Backtrack – “Lost In Life” – Started 2014 off with a bang last January!
Mizery – “Survive The Vibe” – Hard new groovy shit. Really excited to see what these guys do with the band.
Afghan Wigs – “Do to the Beast” – Greg Dulli is probably one of my favourite musicians and how consistently he puts out great rock records is impressive. The new Afghan Wigs is no exception.
Partynextdoor – “Two” – Toronto – Catchy as hell.
Angel Du$t – AD – Super fun punk rock songs. Album sounds great.
Banks – “Goddess” – Was waiting for this full length for a while. With all the songs from her previous EP and some new ones. I do think the EP songs are still the best though.
Bane – “Don’t Wait Up” – They know how to capture the feeling in such a unique way. This album was presented perfectly right down to the title and the artwork.. What a send-off for one of the best HC bands of the last decade.
Jeremih – No More EP – “Fuck you all the time Remix” is the sexiest song of the year hands down.
GS9 – Shmoney Shmurda – I really like the rest of this crew not just Bobby. Listened to this a lot this summer.
Travis Scott – Days Before Rodeo – Insane production R&B…
Expire – Pretty Low – I love how thick this record sounds. To me they are such a solid dialed in 4 piece where every member can really have their moments. Especially rhythm section wise.
Ryan Adams – S/T – Chilled out with this
Dustin Packer – Ill Intent, Putrid Brew
There are usually way too many releases for me to select a top 10 every year, so I just make a giant list and post it. There is way too much music to keep up with, but I do my best every year. Hopefully you find something you wouldn’t have heard otherwise and you dig it. These are some records I found myself listening to every day since they came out or frequently enough to remember them.
For the stinky kids:
New Gods – What Did I Say?
Band full of great dudes playing great tunes. A favorite local. Check them out on tour in the new year. Won’t disappoint.
Angel Dust – A.D.
This album makes me want to run around in a circle and hump the air.
The Flex – Wild Stabs in the Dark
I was fortunate enough to see this band this year and they ripped. Greasy.
Hounds of Hate – Hate Springs Eternal
I was late on this band. I need to see this shit live.
Only Crime – Pursuance
The super group not enough people fuck with. Favorite singer of my favorite band playing aggressive/melodic music with some hardcore heavyweights.
For the pitters:
Forced Order – Eternal War
Best new band. Great group of dudes. Can’t wait for the LP.
Sick of it All – Last Act of Defiance
Favorite HC band of all time. Favorite album since Death to Tyrants.
Mizery – Survive the Vibe
Groove. If Wreck refuses to bless us with more music, I will settle for this. Big time.
Punch – They Don’t Have to Believe
Bummer I won’t get the chance to see these songs live. Very fast, and very pissed.
Cold World – How the God’s Chill
I love rap and I love hardcore. Kool G Rap is on this album for fucks sake.
For the sissies:
Real Estate – Atlas
I pissed off every one I worked with by playing this every morning since this dropped.
Nothing – Guilty of Everything
Been waiting for this one since the A389 release. Did not disappoint.
Jaws – Be Slowly
Know nothing about this band. Stumbled on them and feel real good about that.
Whirr – Sway
Honestly didn’t care about this band until this record. This is what they sound like live, which I like.
Dissolve – Self Titled
Haven’t spent enough time with this one, but can already tell it will be one of my favorites. Shout out to Ole and Painter Man Records.
For the half way rockers:
Banner Pilot – Souvenir
This band has been the best substitute for Dillinger Four since they came out.
Fucked Up – Glass Boys
A Fucked Up record would normally be in the stinky kids section, but they are just getting more wild every release. I hope they continue to get weirder.
Cloud Nothings – Here and No Where Else
New band to me. A very upbeat, driving record. Fun.
Beach Slang – Cheap Thrills on a Dead End Street
Short and sweet. Looking forward to a new LP.
The Moms – Buy American
A slower Jersey sound. Fun band.
For the bangers:
Ringworm – Hammer of the Witch
This shit bangs. Hard.
Baptists – Bloodmines
Favorite group of Canadians. Dave Grohl approved.
YAITW – When Life Comes to Death
This band rips.
Triptykon – Melana Chasmata
At the Gates – At War With Reality
Out of all the metal bands not putting out shit, then hitting everyone in the face with a banger… This is my favorite since Carcass last year.
For the heads:
Freddie Gibbs & Madlib – Pinata
Best hip-hop collaboration this year (or ever?)
Cormega – Mega Philosophy
Nice to hear an old favorite over some classic Large Professor production.
Schoolboy Q – Oxymoron
Out of all the new guys, this is a favorite. Starts off hard, ends classic.
Ghostface Killah – 36 Seasons
Forever one of the best. A lot of Kool G Rap and AZ features always welcome. Nice production.
Big K.R.I.T. – Cadillactica
A very fresh sound to come from the south. Nice.
Wayne Ballard – Toxicbreed website
The Coltranes “The Cat Of Nine Tails”: The Punk EP every band wishes they were able to bring to the table. Band has consistently upped their game each release and their new EP is nothing short of amazing.
Yautja “Songs Of Descent”: Absolutely crushing LP from three piece outfit Yautja. May be my favorite full length of 2014 due to sheer replay value alone. Crushingly heavy blend of Sludge and Grindcore.
Pallbearer “Foundations Of Burden”: 2014 has been Pallbearer’s year, with getting endless love being the band to hold the torch of modern day Doom Metal it’s easy to think they’re just another band to fall into the “overhyped” category, but that isn’t the case at all. Perfect full length front to back, perfect for those of you looking for a great modern day Traditional Doom band.
Full Of Hell “Full Of Hell/Merzbow”: Full Of Hell has been one of my favorite bands for a few years now, so to see they were doing a collaboration LP with Japanese Noise king Merzbow I was more than ecstatic. Easily the best Full Of Hell full length to date, perfect production and an incredible use of Merzbow’s noise work.
Coffinworm- “IV.I.VIII”: One of the biggest surprised of 2014 for me, as I have never heard of Coffinworm prior to this full length. Indianapolis Sludge/Doom outfit threw everything on the table with this full length and fully blew my mind with it. Amazing way to be introduced to the band, fell in love with the full length right when Track 1 hit my speakers.
Jeff Caffey- Gag, Odd Man Out, Bricklayer, OIyHC.com
La Misma – S/T 7” (NY) : This bad boy was released in January so it’s a perfect candidate for first on my list of records that dropped in 2014. Infectious and exceeding of their contemporaries from the area. On constant rotation.
Coneheads – Total Conetrol Demo Tape (IN) : The Cassette demo that blew everyone’s minds. My introduction to this was three rough mixed tracks Mark sent me in the mail. Always pushing it; pure gold.
Vacant State – Chains 7” (BC) : One of my favorite bands from the Northwest and they always deliver. Five more stompers from the best in BC. This band does something to me man.
Technicolor Teeth – Can You Keep Me Out of Hell CS (WI) : I fell in love with the Sage 7” when it came out last year in 2013. Technicolor teeth did this cassette for a tour in 2014 which includes the 7” and other amazing tracks. The Midwest is blessed.
Ooze – 7” (IN) : I saw Ooze for the first time in 2012 before they had anything released and they solidified their title in my mind as “best band in America”. So excited they recorded an EP, the world has been waiting. They blow my mind live every time.
Big Zit – Electric Zit vol. 1 7” (IN): I have no words for how great this band is. If you ever have the chance to catch them live don’t sleep on it.
Glue – 7” (TX) : My Texas boys. I don’t have enough good to say about them but like every choice on my top 2014 list they are not to be missed live.
Supercrush – Lifted b/w Melt With You 7” Single (BC) : I’m letting this one get on here because it was technically released on Bedside in 2013 but the Grave Mistake press was 2014. I’ve probably listened to these two songs in 2014 more than anything else. Can’t get enough.
Institute – CS 12” Repress (TX) : Here’s another one that gets in on a technicality because the cassette came out in 2013 but the LP of the same tracks came out this year. I listened to this tape so much when Mose gave me a copy in Texas. Not to be missed.
Tercer Mundo – Ser Nosotros Mismos LP (Mexico City) : I was so inspired by this band’s 7” release in 2012 that I flew them out to the US to play the NW and tour down the West Coast with us. One of the most inspiring hardcore punk bands in recent years for me. The LP of this year, aptly titled, takes a slightly different direction and delivers. So much love for this band.
I know I shouldn’t choose my own bands but I gotta shout out to the BRICKLAYER demo tape (new Grimace) and the BAD BLOOD demo tape (long distance band I started with friends from Chicago) that came out this year. Download them both and all the releases I listed at sudsdenim.blogspot.com! Honorable mentions that didn’t make the cut because they were released in 2013: Violent Reaction “City Streets” LP (UK) and Belgrado “Siglo XXI” Lp (Barcelona), both are so incredibly infectious you’ll find yourself humming them when you’re zoning out. Had to throw those in there because of how much I jammed them. XXX
HIV – Summer Forever LP (WA) : This is a very special release because these tracks were recorded in 2007 and were never released until I put them out this year. Record release show coming soon but LPs are in hand. Dedicated to the memory and love shared between everyone and Samuel Satori Silverstein. He passed away May 4th of this year and will be dearly missed. This is by far one of the most inspirational hardcore releases I have ever heard in my entire life. The energy and passion behind this band will never be matched. Love forever.
John Pettibone – Heiress, Undertow, Himsa
Trap Them – Blissfucker Pure anger, all power!!!
Yob – Clearing the Path to Ascend 4 songs/62 minutes of beautiful heaviness.
Thou – Heathen Thick transcending brutally
At the Gates – At War with Reality Melodic death mastery.
Crowbar – Symmetry in Black Depressive riffs and rage.
Ringworm – Hammer of the Witch It’s fucking Ringworm!!!
Godflesh – A World Lit Only by Fire Fighting spirit and punishment.
Pallbearer – Foundations of Burden Warning worship.
Solstair – Otta Icelandic shoegaze
Bl’ast! – Expression of Power & Brotherhood – Till Death These are together because they’re reissued/re-mastered/repackaged and real important to my life!!!
Ned Russin – Title Fight, Disengage
Cold World “How The Gods Chill”
Maybe I’m biased, but I think Cold World are an important and interesting band. “Ice Grillz” was one of the best 7″s of the last decade, and since that initial push they have seemed to fluctuate between being an active and inactive band. While I like “Dedicated Bebs”, I think they still had some work to do to create the definitive Cold World LP, and HTGC does just that. These songs are better, harder, more diverse, and also sonically a kick in the ass.
Fury “Kingdom Come”
Fury to me seems like the perfect storm. They are band of kids who are willing to throw all ambitions to the wind and tour and write constantly, but they do so with such finesse and power that they cannot be ignored. Their debut 7″ may draw comparisons to other things, but it stands on its own merit as a strong, well-written EP that is full of great moments.
Merchandise “After The End”
This was probably my most anticipated release of the year. When Merchandise dropped “Little Killer” I was floored and wanted to instantly hear more. The album leaked pretty early, but the rip had one song cut in half or something so I waited until the album officially came out some two months later to truly digest their work. Merchandise’s departure into pop territory is a success in my eyes.
Praise “Lights Went Out”
I don’t know if any record is more urgent or honest this year than Praise’s debut LP. This record shows a band at their finest moment of songwriting yet. The lead in “Give Me The Pain” is just sick. That coupled with earnest lyrics makes this record work flawlessly capturing a “classic” style that is rarely seen these days with solid, modern production. Very excited to see what these guys cook up next.
Step Forward “Step Forward”
Step Forward’s sophomore 7″ is a record that has been at the top of my “anticipated records” list for the last 4 years or something. A record that almost was canned a couple times turns out to be some of the best hardcore in a while, but that isn’t a shock coming from this cast of characters. When I first spun the record and read the lyrics I felt somehow empowered and relieved. Here is an adult, a friend of mine, a man of many talents, who shares a passion for straight edge and hardcore well into his adult life and who is unashamedly sincere about it, regardless of the implications or trends. That, to me, is what a best of list should be made of.
Joe Hardcore – This Is Hardcore festival, Punishment, Shattered Realm
- Army of the Pharaohs – In Death Reborn
- Slapshot – s/t
- Bane – Don’t Wait Up
- Behemoth – the Satanist
- Code Orange – I am King
- Madball – Hardcore Lives
- Rude Awakening – Collateral Damage
- Army of the Pharoahs – Heavy Lies the Crown
- Homewrecker – circle of death
- Sheer Terror – Standing up for Falling Down
Cody Hoffman – NWHC Most Valuable Pitter
(in no particular order)
Counter – Shallow Words Crashing Down On Deaf Ears
This just released this month and it is so sick. I was all about this as soon as the first song started.
Reminds me of Culture and stuff like that.
Cold Truth – No Rules
This is my one of my favorite locals. They are great dudes that play some really cool music. I thought the demo was good, then they put out No Rules and blew it out of the water.
Skinfather – None Will Mourn
There’s nothing I can say about this album other than in my eyes, it’s perfect. Anything else would be an understatement.
Mizery – Survive the Vibe
I have been insanely hyped on this band since they released the two song promo.
I could not wait for STV to drop, When it did it was on constant rotation. I really hope these guys make it up to WA soon or I’m going to have to go down there.
Criminal Instinct – Fever
So I never really got into this band until this came out, just because I had never heard them.
The first time I heard Cowards Run I was hooked and this record has been heavily played.
I really hope they’re on Rainfest this year.
Drown – Dispossession
I can’t wait to see these guys three days in a row next month. This record is fucking awesome, check it out and hit the pit for 3 days straight if you’re in the NW.
Earth – Primitive and Deadly
This is some of the heaviest riffs and most beautiful music of 2014. Probably some of the best Album Artwork as well. I put it on as I lay in bed and attempt to sleep, often.
Big Takeover – Big Demo
A demo I feel should have been talked about way more. But I’m sure will get hyped eventually. Hope I hear more from them soon.
Shrapnel – Demo ’14 and Frenzied State
Both are so sick. Definitely my favorite band from the UK. Both releases have a cool mix of Mags inspired parts and some of that new punk vibes to them. It’s just really worth checking out both. Hope they make it to the states.
Greg Bennick – Trial, Between Earth and Sky
- Hollow Earth – “Silent Graves” LP – Panic Records Apocalyptic, heavy, intelligent, crushing. This is beyond hardcore.
- Run With The Hunted – “The Sieve and the Sand” LP – Panic Records Powerfully vulnerable, fast and insightful. I love this band and am sad they are breaking up.
- Ghostchant – various songs Zoli their singer basically built hardcore in Hungary over the last couple dacades. This is his latest band in a legacy of many great projects.
- Kovaa Rasvaa – En Ole Edes Olemassa 12” – Emancy Punx Records RAGING, and I mean raging hardcore/punk from Finland on one of the coolest labels in the world, Emancy Punx.
- Cymeon X – Animal Friendly 12” – Refuse Records How many bands are still vegan/vegatarian and straightedge after just a few years let alone TWENTY like Cymeon X?!? Another great label too.
Andy Norton – Praise, Peace, Champion
Cloud Nothings- Here and Nowhere Else
I thought the last LP they put out had some great songs on it but this record blows that one out of the water. I don’t know how you would categorize them but there are parts that remind me of the Replacements and Husker Du. The recording is perfect and compliments the songs and I love the way the drums sound. Choice cuts are No Thoughts and I’m not part of me.
Pianos Become The Teeth- Keep You
This was one of my most anticipated releases of 2014. I think Kyle is one of the best lyricists around and the lyrics on lack long after were amazing. There were a few parts on LLA and then the split they put out in 2012 where Kyle was starting to actually sing and I thought it sounded great. I was really hoping he would do more of it on Keep You, and he did. The song writing is next level, production on the record is perfect and Kyle’s lyrics are just as great, if not better, than the lyrics on lack long after. Choice cuts are Lesions, The Queen and Say Nothing.
Fury- Demo/Kingdom Come
Ok so I combined these two because it’s a demo and 7″. I was excited about this band before I even heard the demo because I knew the dudes who were in the band were into cool shit. Plus taking the name from two of my favorite bands didn’t hurt. The demo has a little melody and has parts that remind me up Bold, Battery and OC hardcore. Kingdom Come feels like it’s going even more in the OC hardcore direction a la uniform choice (listen to end is nigh). Had the pleasure of seeing them twice this year and are great live too. Choice cuts are Play (BAB), Royalty, and Reality Check.
Ryan Adams- 1984
10 songs. Each a minute long. Great melodies over simple but catchy riffs that sound like husker du and the replacements.
Ryan Adams- S/T
I actually put off listening to this because 1984 was so good. I’ll admit I haven’t had much interest in Ryan Adams since Love Is Hell, but 2014 was his year for sure. This record just feels natural and organic. All the interviews he has done where he talks about recording and writing this record make complete sense while you’re listening to it. Choice cuts are Kim, I just Might and tired of giving up.
True Love- New Young Gods
Another great Detroit band that reminds me of the early 2000s. Heavily influenced by AN and Count Me Out Permanent era. Excellent aesthetic as well. Choice cuts are non places and those days.
Pocketknife- Calluses b/w Freak
Sick single in the vein of late 80s early 90s Seattle bands. The vocals remind me a lot of Mudhoney, as well as some of the riffs with a little Seaweed thrown in the mix.
Step Forward- S/T
What else can I say about this band? Straight edge hardcore played at its finest.
The Pains Of Being Pure at Heart- Days Of Abandon
This record is so fucking catchy. Heavy New Order/Morrissey vibe with male and female vocals. Great production on the record too. Choice cuts are Kelly, Eurydice and Masokissed.
Freedom- Pay The Price
I didn’t really know what to expect from this 7″ judging by the cover of the record I thought it was going to be more in the vein of 86 Mentality or something like that but I was definitely wrong. If anything it reminds of Brotherhood. Fast, pissed and heavy in all the right places. Choice cuts are Voiceless and Life in a noose.
Give- Electric Flower Circus
This was another record I was really anticipating, actually for a couple years now. It was cool to finally hear Sonic Bloom recorded after hearing them play it for so many years. Great aesthetic. Cool riffs that remind me of Fugazi, Swiz and The Cult. Choice cuts are Sonic Bloom, Fuck Me Blind and Waiting For It.
Scott Vogel – Terror
- Freddie Gibbs & Madlib – Piñata
- Bishops Green – Pressure
- Your Old Droog – S/T
- Ringworm – Hammer of the Witch
- Gaslight Anthem – Get Hurt
- Code Orange Kids – I am King
- Bane – Don’t Wait Up
- Run the Jewels – 2
- Sheer Terror – Standing Up For the Falling Down
- Descendants and Nas – Documentaries
Hiroyuki Nagasawa – Stand United, Count of Strength
PRAISE – Lights Went Out
BANE – Don’t Wait Up
RED SCARE – 2014 TAPE
7 SECONDS – Leave A Light On
THE CREW – DEMO 2014
CRUEL HAND – The Negatives
Criminal Instinct – Fever
Die Birth – DEMO 2014
GROWING STRONGER – DEMO 2014
FORCED ORDER – Eternal War
Justice Tripp – Angel Du$t, Trapped Under Ice
Let me preface my list by saying that either I’m a dumbass and missed out on a lot of great releases, or a lot of records this year have just sucked. If it’s the first one, I look forward to seeing everyone’s lists and educating myself. I’ll probably blame it on the fact that I’ve lived in four different states in 2014 and I’m borderline homeless right now. Either way, my list only goes to five.
- Criminal Instinct – Fever Straight up the evilest release I’ve heard from a hardcore band in a long time. I was living with these guys in Atlanta while they were writing the record and it was cool watching it come together. The lyrics are angry but clever, written by a true maniac.
- Freedom – Pay the Price Eight songs in about 9 minutes. Pay the price is fast and manic. Sounds like what getting your ass beat feels like. Freedom is one of the coolest bands to see live.
- Hank Wood and the Hammerheads – Stay Home The only reason this isn’t number one is because I’m a poser and I don’t own a physical copy of the record. Songs are cool and sound like no other punk band ever. There’s like 12 members so you know that they’re not fucking around.
- Basement – Further Sky Only 3 tracks, but I’ll take what I can get. I met this band the first day of a tour we did with them a few years ago. They beat everyone’s ass in the pit every night. Complete gentleman otherwise.
- Mac Demarco – Salad Days I for real have no clue what this shit is about, but it’s rocking. You definitely can’t spin-kick to it, that’s for sure. For fans of jus’ chillin’ and the same riff being remixed on about 8 of the 11 tracks. The artwork is sick, my man just took a selfie and hand wrote his name on it in pink.
Chris Williams’ top 10 – Seekers Of The Core
- Putrid Brew – Return to the Valley LP This record isn’t actually out yet. But I don’t care. It’s so good, I need to put it in this list. This is Dustin from Ill Intent’s other band. When I first saw them, I was expecting to like it, just because I love Dustin, but no.. this band absolutely rules. Musically, it’s somewhere between Buried Alive and Ringworm. “World of Fear” is the track for me. It’s a heavy song about school shootings and other madness in this world. The music fits the lyrical vibe perfectly. I hope this comes out soon (Mindmelt records) because this LP is going to blow some minds.
- Noi!se – The Scars We Hide LP One of my favorite street punk records in years and it comes out of Tacoma! These dudes write some catchy punk hooks. The vocals remind me a bit of Youth Brigade (west coast) and the guitar player who sings occasionally has a more raspy voice, a la Matt from Rancid, which mixes perfectly with the more smooth lead vocals. This record is neck & neck with Putrid Brew for record of the year… and since the Brew’s isn’t actually out yet… I guess that makes this one record of the year, for me.
- Praise – Lights Went Out LP Love this record! These Dag Nasty riffs are incredible. The drum work is awesome. The lyrics rule and the vocals drip with sincerity. The layout is sharp. Everything about this record is perfection. The only gripe I have with it is that in the re-recorded version of “Afraid to Ask” the awesome guitar lead is buried a bit in the mix.
- Expire – Pretty Low LP This band has really found their groove. The title track is my fave here. The guitar break/drum break with the vocals before the end breakdown gets me pumped every time. “I’m at a crossroad where you choose. You either fight or you lose..”
- Cruel Hand – The Negatives LP This record is not what I was expecting it to be. Thought it was going to be more of a Suffer Survive vibe.. and that’s in there.. but this is different. It’s not just a rehash of the No Warning major label effort. This is more rock & roll than nu metal. My favorite tracks are the more rock ones “Pissing – Spitting” and “The Negatives.” But the harder ones rule as well.
- Angel Du$t – A.D. Love this band. They still remind me of early Seaweed (Despised era), though this record less so. I love seeing them live because kids freak out, but it’s not hard pit-warfare… it’s just kids losing their minds and freaking out. I dig that.
- Forced Order – Eternal War Clevo style HC done really well. Heavy and hard. Reminds me of a modern Confront, with some Integrity riffs sprinkled in for good measure. Awesome live too. Favorite track is probably “Cut Deep.” When the vocals cut in on that track they are dripping with emotion. Almost sounds like he’s spitting. Love it.
- Stand United – EP An actual straight edge band from Tokyo! Awesome. This reminds me a lot of the 90s European band Eyeball. “TALKING STRAAAAAAAAIGHT!!!” Fast, youth crew inspired HC, but played hard and pissed, like the original youth crewers meant it to be. Lyrics are in Japanese, so I wish I knew what they were singing about, but I think it’s awesome that they sing in their native tongue, rather than English like so many other non-English bands. One of the best bands in hardcore at this moment, played by some of the coolest kids from Japan.
- Fury – demo This demo is sweet. My only issue with it is the vocals are mixed a bit low and sound kind of tinny. Maybe that was done on purpose to make it sound more vintage.. and it does (which is kinda cool). But I just wish they were up front more. What I’ve heard of the 7” the vocals are up front more and I dig that. I still need to get that 7”… If I wasn’t slacking, that would probably be on my top 10 too. I love that these dudes are doing this style of HC. It’s really cool to hear a fast HC band that is more like Uniform Choice than Youth Crew. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE that stuff too. But this demo is just a refreshing change.
- Beyond Repair – demo I never really listened to Code Red, so not sure how much this differs from these dudes’ previous efforts, but I’m really digging this demo. This won’t mean a lot to many people outside of the NW, but it reminds me of Left With Nothing at times. Maybe comparable to All Out War at times… First track, “At Both Ends” is my favorite. Love the chorus, “You burn the candle at both ends, you played with fire and you got burned, I’ll never fall for your lies again.” Their singer lives in Seattle now, so not sure if these dudes are doing this band anymore, but I hope they are.
Thanks for reading! Check in tomorrow, because I’m going to update this thread with another “best of 2014” list. And again, feel free to post your own in the comments, if you’d like to join in the fun.
116: the Spirit of NWHC
In 2001, before the age of cell phones and gmail groups, Champion made all our band decisions on a private message board that only we had access to. Some of the posts were serious, some were inside jokes and most were a mixture of both. When we finished recording our second 7”, we took to this forum to brainstorm names for the new record.
Count Me Out had recently released the phenomenal “110” LP and someone suggested—jokingly, of course—that we call it “111,” as in, one more than “110.” From there someone joked about calling it 116, for the number of games the Mariners had recently won, tying the all-time record for most wins in a single season.
Backing up this story a bit, the Mariners went into the 2001 season as a unanimous underdog in the AL West. They had some success in the mid to late 90s, but in recent years, they had lost Junior, lost the Big Unit and had just completed the triple threat, with A-Rod skipping town. This team had some nice pieces, but they didn’t have enough firepower at the plate to compete with the A’s and they certainly didn’t have the aces you need in your pitching rotation.
The 2001 season was a magical ride for Seattle sports fans. The feeling in the air was VERY similar to this Super Bowl season for the Seahawks, with the obvious exception that the Hawks finished the job and won the title. But that feeling was the same through the Mariners’ magical 2001 season.
Everywhere you went, the Mariners were the kings of Seattle. I rode the bus home from work and strangers would ask other strangers with headphones if they were listening to the game and what the score was. Mariners shirts were on every back and M’s hats were on every head. It was a thrilling time for the city. Not only was this the best baseball team Seattle had ever seen, but according to win-total, this was (at least tied for) the best regular season baseball team in MLB history. The fact that they were underdogs heading into the season only helped this all seem so much more exciting.
At this same time, the underdog Seattle hardcore scene was churning out wins at a similar pace. Champion was starting to tour more consistently and putting out its first release on Bridge 9, a label that was releasing the best records in hardcore at that time. Stay Gold was talking with the almighty Indecision records. Himsa had a fresh lineup with John Pettibone from Seattle’s legendary Undertow now singing and was blowing up with their refined sound. Left With Nothing was at their apex, Contingent shows were tons of fun, Countless Sins put out an awesome demo and there were lots of cool young bands popping up. Excursion Records was experiencing a bit of a rebirth with a few new bands and its Power of Ten comp 7”s, which highlighted some of those newer bands.
We also had one of the coolest venues ever, in the Paradox (the one of the Ave). There were some incredible shows at this spot. But to give you an idea of the kind of excitement of this time period, Champion’s Count Our Numbers record release show at the Paradox drew 300 people. THREE HUNDRED… for an all locals lineup of Champion, Himsa, Stay Gold, Youth at Risk (a really good skate punk band with members that ultimately went on to Aiden, Murdock and Rat Path) and One False Move (young high school kids playing fast old school HC). It was insane… I remember distinctly, during Himsa, standing on the side of the stage and looking out on this crowd with such a sense of pride and enthusiasm that this many kids came to see five SEATTLE bands.
So with that context in mind, you can probably see how the “116” joke could have picked up legs and that the idea that the Mariners 2001 season could be metaphor for the exciting things happening in the Seattle hardcore scene at the time. We ended up calling our 7” “Count Our Numbers,” but the name “116” was used for the song on that record that was about Seattle and included guest vocals from Chad Repp from Stay Gold:
“And the rain keeps coming. I haven’t see the sun in days. I remember the kids that were there for me when I needed them the most. Because of them I’ll never leave this place. My heart dropped anchor, this is where I’ll stay. This is the one place I’ll never be alone, and the only place I can call my home. Coming from where my love gets its start. These grey clouds more than tattooed on my heart. From 15 kids screaming out loud that we want more. We won’t back down. We want more. I look at you and see how we fill these rooms. Can’t you see that it’s ours? Count the numbers, count the hearts. Can’t you see that it’s ours?”
Maybe a year before that 300-kid locals-only show, we were lucky to get 15 kids out. And since that time, there have been plenty of 15 kid shows. 116 is a song written about a time and a place, but the spirit of 116 is not just about a time and a place. It’s about the heart of this place. There was a lot to be excited about in 2001, but there’s just as much to be excited about right now. NWHC is doing some amazing things. At the top of the list, Rain Fest is one of the best three fests in this country. That means on a yearly basis, kids from all over the world WANT to be in Seattle in May. What?!
There are some great established bands in the NW, like Power, Wreck and Ill Intent and there are awesome young bands like Safe and Sound and Singled out who are starting to do big things. Outlook recently broke up, leaving a whole in Olympia’s heart, but Hysterics and Gag and Blank Boys are carrying that torch and running twice as fast. There are sweet venues from Everett to Centralia, and more and more Portland and Vancouver are doing things with Seattle. It’s not just about Seattle anymore, it’s about NWHC.
Hardcore scenes are a fragile thing. There are so many things that can ruin a blossoming scene: violence, vandalism, trash talk, dishonesty… it takes so much work and so much time to build up a scene, but any of these selfish things can destroy everything in the blink of an eye. Like Jim and Chad wrote in 2001, this scene is ours. With that ownership comes the responsibility to make it what we want it to be. It doesn’t matter if there are 15 kids screaming in a room, or 300.