How has your 2014 been so far? Team knocked out of the World Cup yet? Still not gotten around to listening to the new Lawrence Arms record? Don't worry: SPB has got you covered. There are still six whole months left to go with this year, and our handy lists below will guide you so you can pretend to be up-to-date on what records have shaken the worlds of punk, hardcore and metal (plus more) so far this year. Be sure to let us know below what your best albums of 2014 are so far, too.
1. Coathangers – Suck My Shirt (Suicide Squeeze Records)
Larceny and Old Lace kicked my ass. It’s hard to live up those expectations, but here they are surpassing it with the same unique, powerful sound but more consistent from start to finish.
2. Street Eaters – Blood::Muscles::Bones (Nervous Intent Records)
It’s only their second full-length and I’m already surprised at how much I expect out of this duo. Blood::Muscles::Bones doesn’t disappoint.
3. Lawrence Arms – Metropole (Epitaph)
The Lawrence Arms have never really changed. Wait, that’s not true at all. The new record keeps the same old sound but with an elderstateman point of view that gets goes all meta. That sounds like a trainwreck, but they’ve always been a personal band and it works beautifully—at least for those who have followed the ride for the past decade plus.
4. Tweens – Tweens (French Kiss Records)
This is some fun, bouncy stuff. Turn it up when it’s time for someone at your summer BBQ to throw a trash can over the neighbor’s fence.
5. Against Me! – Transgender Dysphoria Blues (Total Treble)
I lost interest around Searching for a Former Clarity when Grace went from shouting to that weird, harsh speak-sing thing. It just sounded forced, combined with the direct lyrics the songs were preachy instead of cathartic. This record has pulled me in, not due solely to the unique content perspective, but because the rage of the early work is back in a form you can actually shout along too.
Acid Fast – Rabid Moon (Protagonist)
Angst-y, bouncy punk rock. Melodic male-female vocal tradeoff gives it a sense of charm that’s hard to ignore. Close your eyes and let the fuzzy basslines, driving drums, and spirited guitar transport you to some damp basement party in 1993.
Brain F≠ – Empty Set (Grave Mistake / Sorry State)
See above, except the amps have been cranked, the riffs are harder, and the cocaine guy just showed up.
Creative Adult – Psychic Mess (Run For Cover)
Moody, reverb-heavy post-punk/post-hardcore with flourishes of goth and garage rock. Underneath everything lays a pulsing rhythm that allows them to hop in and out of genres while maintaining a cohesive tone.
The Estranged – Self-Titled (Dirtnap)
Striking a juxtaposition of discordant guitar, gloomy vocals, and deep grooves, this is post-punk/death-rock/other subgenres that require hyphenated descriptors that’s rich, textured, un-cold, and, well, kind of fun.
Gas Rag – Beats Off (Beach Pediment)
First The Queers beat off, and now Gas Rag beats off. Soon we’ll be beating off with insert band name here. With a title like that, do I really need to say anything here? Snarling, hurtful, thrashing, D-beaten, and dumb as shit. Basically the best punk rock ever.
Iron Hand – Injected Fear (Safety Meeting)
D-beat hardcore that swims in the Scandinavian / Portland “epic crust” end of the pool; in the instrumentation at least. The vocals lend it some tough-guy-metal-core vibes, but not in a way that conjures up images of varsity logos, sXe calf tattoos, and Nike Cortez’s. Nike Cortez’s are dope though.
Leather – Easy (Self-Released)
Tough sound to pigeonhole. Parts punk, hardcore, noise, and good old fashioned dirtbag rock ‘n’ roll. The vocals are howl-y and weirdly recorded, as if to purposefully antagonize the listener. Yet it has the opposite effect.
OFF! – Wasted Years (Vice)
In the middle of “Red, White and Black” Keith Morris says, “Arrogance is bliss. Who gives a shit?” Fitting, since this comes to us via codgy old timers on a label that’s also a humongous media conglomerate that’s been attempting to steal our scene and sell it back to us for years now. But, you know, who gives a shit.
Teledrome – Self-Titled (FDH / P.Trash)
Dark ‘80s style digi-punk. Zig-zags between glum, watery-eyed new wave and elastic, seductive electro-pop songs. This could be playing during the high school dance scene in a ‘80s teen movie. The driving force is symbol-free drum programming, brain-searing synths, and robotic pronunciations, but there’s plenty of heartstring-tugging basslines and agitated guitars to appeal to punk rock sensibilities.
White Lung – Deep Fantasy (Domino)
Haven’t heard this yet but by all indications, it will be killer. I’ll come back and update this part once it’s out. Or maybe I won’t. Instead I’ll just leave it like this and say I told you so.
1. Anathema – Distant Satellites
The bittersweet edge that imbues Anathema with life is ever more present on their latest opus. The gorgeous strains of Vincent Cavanagh and Lee Douglas' voices combine to create depth, emotion and human energy right from the beginning. Sadness has never sound so beautiful.
2. Behemoth – The Satanist
Who knew that this Polish band had this in them? After frontman Nergal contracted a life threatening illness, it was touch and go as to whether they would be back. Fighting hard meant that Behemoth came back stronger than ever and The Satanist is the pinnacle of their career so far.
3. Schammasch – Contradiction
Switzerland's Schammasch are giving the aforementioned a run for their proverbial money with Contradiction. The record is steeped in old world mystery and the expansive scope of the double disc album is completely consuming.
4. Triptykon – Melana Chasmata
Triptykon are masters of darkness and their second full length Melana Chasmata is an incredible work that takes in every possible angle of solitude, oppression and absolute misery.
5. Woods of Desolation – As The Stars
Australia's Woods of Desolation are fundamentally a DSBM band, yet As The Stars is full of the fading light of spring and the oncoming dawn of the summer rather than the coldness of winter. It's a neat trick and one that WoD have pulled off with grace.
It took me a few listens to really get into Metropole. Initially, each song just kind of came and went. It wasn't really grasping my attention. 6 months later and it's the one album I find myself listening to frequently. The Lawrence Arms made their most mature record while still occasionally clinging to a tongue-in-cheek fashion.
Against Me! are back with one of the best rock records of the year and one of the best in their career. It's not just an important record for Laura Jane Grace, but also an important record for fans to listen to.
I hadn't been following Andrew Jackson Jihad too closely the past couple of years, but their latest output, Christmas Island, has me giving back the attention they deserve. It's their most diverse record, while still maintaining their core sound.
This album means the end of an era. It wasn't easy to say goodbye, but they delivered. Everything about the record is a perfect send off for the band. From the title and cover to the shouts of, "this is my final backwards glance" in its closing track.
5. The Menzingers – Rented World
I haven't spent much time with The Menzingers' latest record, but the spins I've given it are enough to make it into my top 5. I was excited for this one and I'm glad it's fulfilling my expectations. Rented World picks up right where On the Impossible Past left off.
- Aaron H.
The first two Lord Mantis were just a premonition to what would soon follow. The sickening riffs of the band and their intriguing way of combining black metal and sludge are able to bring together one of the best records of the year.
This blackened sludge/doom band comes back four years after their debut album and manage surpass it. IV.I.VIII is a dark album filled with malice. Through its forty minutes, Coffinworm do not allow any hope enter their twisted dreams.
The black metal supergroup returned, with the inclusion of Thurston Moore (of Sonic Youth),for its final release. III: Beneath Trident's Tomb ends up being the most bitter album that the band produced and sadly also their last.
Palingenesis, the acoustic masterpiece of Nebelung is a journey through sadness and melancholy. This album shows how much you can achieve musically with very few instruments.
Jessica Way of Worm Ouroboros and Lenny Smith of Atriarch get together and release a sonic experience like no other. The dark neo-folk nature of the band and their experimental tendencies, make Subtle Cruelties an excellent album.
1. Eyehategod – Eyehategod (Housecore Records)
I'm not really sure what else to say about this record to be honest. Just a killer, killer album from a downright fantastic band.
2. The People's Temple – Musical Garden (Hozac Records)
In under a half hours time, these two sets of brothers from Michigan mine heavily from a deep pool of '60s psych and garage rock and just knock the whole thing out of the park.
3. Indian – From All Purity (Relapse)
While Indian's brand of blackened doom seems more appropriate for the dead of winter when the sky is black, this highly cohesive, borderline claustrophobic feeling album still resonates six months later.
4. Direct Effect – Sunburn (Tiny Engines)
Simply put, this hardcore outfit knows how to hang out big time. The sort of gnarly-sounding record that you want to reach for at both Saturday afternoon barbecues and late night car rides.
5. Drawers – Drawers (Katotoxin Records)
A righteous mix of sludgey riffs, open beers and loud amps, these French dudes made a hell of a racket with this, their self-titled debut.
1. Alcest – Shelter (Prophecy Productions)
Combines shoegaze haze with post-rock profundity on an album full of yearning and beauty. Gorgeous French-language vocal, and moments both serene and explosive.
2. Container – Adhesive (Liberation Technologies)
In a year in which I haven’t been sold on too many of the electronic offerings, leave it to Container to produce another menacing but invigorating noisy mess that seems to replicate with sound what it would feel like to plug yourself into a wall socket.
3. La Dispute – Rooms of the House (Better Living)
The album I wish Owls would have come up with after their decade-long hiatus. Confrontational and sometimes unsettling, but captivating in its intensity.
4. Perfect Pussy – Say Yes to Love (Captured Tracks)
Two-minute bursts of aggressive, feedback-drenched noise punk culminating in a positively destructive batch of live tracks. Yes, it'll probably give me hearing loss down the line, but air drumming along to this thing is so much fun!
5. A Sunny Day in Glasgow – Sea When Absent (Lefse Records)
It’s rare that I enjoy music that’s this overloaded with female vocal acrobatics, but this pleasant psychedelic pop album won me over. Relaxing, eclectic, and very dreamlike, it just might be this year’s definitive summer chill-out disc.
1. Swans – To Be Kind (Young God)
It's Swans most "rocking" album. Really love "Oxygen" and "She Loves Us!"
2. The War On Drugs – Lost In The Dream (Secretly Canadian)
A powerful, magical indie rock dreamscape.
3. Owls – Two (Polyvinyl)
Probably the most underrated Kinsella band. Two is great experimental emo.
4. Behemoth – The Satanist (Metal Blade)
Raw and deadly extreme black metal. Saw them put on a killer show at Irving Plaza back in April.
5. Chad VanGaalen – Shrink Dust (Sub Pop)
Cool, chilled out indie folk.
Guest list: BJ Rochinich (Ancient Shores)
1. Floor – Oblation (Season of Mist)
All over the place and fun. Good song structures and a lack of boundaries make this a good record.
2. Godflesh – Decline and Fall EP (Avalanche)
Pulls your shirt over your head and punches you in the gut. The riffs, the tempos, and the tones create a rough overall sound but very listenable in usual Godflesh ways.
3. Nux Vomica – Self Titled (Relapse Records)
Nux Vomica cover a lot of ground and assemble an emotionally broad record where bands often times don’t give the listener a good feel for what’s going on behind the music. It’s a fun album and I have listened to it a lot.
4. Boris – Noise (Daymare Recordings and Sargent House)
There is a lot of music on this record. Already a fan of Boris, this album does not leave me missing anything that they do well; we get a little of everything. Some really striking Stephen Brodsky-esque clean vocals on this record.
5. Trap Them – Blissfucker (Prosthetic Records)
Really excited about the end of this record. I like the varied feel throughout the record. We may look back and see that these songs bring together the Trap Them universe.
- BJ Rochinich (Ancient Shores)