Top Ten 2014

Top Ten 2014

At the end of every year, our staff and a few friends are invited to get together and reflect on the year’s tuneage. A handful of editors, contributors and photographers put together a list of their favorite things – albums, songs, photos, shows – whatever they feel like compiling.

That said, we wouldn’t be here without the love of friends like you. Thank you for your support and cheers to 2015!

Johnny Wilson - Founder, Editor In Chief

Johnny Wilson - Founder, Editor In Chief

I’m not going to go into great detail as to why I loved all the albums I loved this year. I truly believe music is about a certain time, frame of mind, place, etc.. It’s all about the discovery, what you need at that time and a million other circumstances that are a very personal and unique experience.

I guess the most I can hope is that my list can enable someone else to enjoy any of these albums the way I have this past year and my time trying to think of what I enjoyed most will be worth it 😉

1. Pears – Go To Prison (Self-released / Anxious & Angry vinyl)
2. Survival Knife – Loose Power (Glacial Pace Recordings)
3. Versus You – Moving On (Bomber Music UK)
4. PUP – “Dark Days” from PUP (SideOne Dummy)
5. Morning Glory – War Psalms (Fat Wreck Chords)
6. The Lawrence Arms – Metropole (Epitaph Records)
7. Giant Eagles – Giant Egos (Shield Recordings)
8. Uke-Hunt – Uke-Hunt (Fat Wreck Chords)
9. Cayetana – Nervous Like Me (Tiny Engines)
10. Chris Cresswell – One Week Record (One Week Records / Fat Wreck Chords)

There are also a couple of albums that I can’t really relate to this year, but they still consumed a lot of my time.

Dwayne – Dwayne (Paper + Plastick)
This isn’t released quite yet, so I can’t affiliate it with 2014, but fact is, I’ve listened to this thing a million times! Stay tuned for news on that release.

Lemuria – The Distance Is So Big (Bridge 9 Records)
This actually came out in 2013, but I don’t care, I discovered it in 2014 and it consumed my year.)

Wringer – Bullfighter (Death to False Hope Records)
Holy shit how this album consumed my year. Thank you Kendra!

Johnny’s FtLP Profile

Krista Gjestland - Managing Editor

Krista Gjestland - Managing Editor

Death to 2014! Long live 2015! Here are my favorite records from this wretched year.

ASTPAI – Burden Calls (Jump Start Records)
I first fell in love with Astpai through our fearless FtLP leader, Johnny Wilson, when I first joined the site. Since discovering the Austria-based band, I haven’t been able to get enough of their gruff vocals, stand out bass lines and quick energy.  Burden Calls was easily my most anticipated album of 2014 – I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. Better yet, ASTPAI didn’t disappoint. Poignant lyrics, fast riffs and great melody make this my favorite record of 2014.

The Shell Corporation – Mandrake (Paper + Plastick)
If you like political punk, you need to know about The Shell Corporation. In post-Bush era punk, this California band is busy making smart, provocative lyrics cool again. Set that on top of some crazy good musicianship and I foresee The Shell Corporation developing as a major voice in our community as we move forward.

Lagwagon – Hang (Fat Wreck Chords)
Dang, this record is so good. A lot more metal-tinged than I usually lean toward, but I found myself wholeheartedly enjoying everything about this album. Even the multiple references to bees.

Chris Stowe – Hollow (A-F Records)
Grab a box of tissues before you tear into Chris Stowe’s Hollow. This album rips out Stowe’s heart and presents it to the listener. What makes this record so poignant is Stowe’s ability to cut through his emotional trauma and make it yours in one 30 minute album. He’s able to voice feelings of depression and despair that ring true with most of us, which is a difficult and impressive feat.

Masked Intruder – M.I. (Fat Wreck Chords)
No, I am absolutely not tired of the schtick just yet. It’s packed full of everything that made me fall for Masked Intruder during their debut album: Fast, sugary sweet, funny and I can’t get enough of it.

Chris Cresswell – One Week Record (One Week Records / Fat Wreck Chords)
It comes as no surprise that The Flatliners’ frontman would turn out to be a phenomenal solo artist. Through his solo debut Cresswell proved his talent ten times over. That man’s vocal control and range is totally unmatched in the punk world. It’s the record I’ve found myself putting on the most while doing everyday tasks – cleaning, driving, writing.

I usually don’t include EPs in my year-end lists, but three EPs came out this past year that I cannot stop listening to and are making me so incredibly stoked for 2015. Check these out, you fools!

Reuther – Reuther (Self-released)

Barons – Barons (Underground Communique)

Remainders – Fine Exits (Between The Days Records)

Krista’s FtLP Profile

Madeline Bridenbaugh - Assistant Editor

Madeline Bridenbaugh - Assistant Editor

The Interrupters – The Interrupters (Hellcat Records)
Best ska punk album. The first night I heard this entire record, this record was played six individual times. That was kind of a lot.

Pears – Go To Prison (Self-released / Anxious & Angry vinyl)
Best hardcore punk album.

Iron Chic/Low Culture 7-inch Split (Dead Broke Rekerds and Dirtcult Records)
Best album that is also a split. Our albums review editor asked me to try to pick up a test press of this for him at Fest. I got the last copy off of the table then walked away from that table thinking, “Man, I wonder if I listened to this split if I wouldn’t want to give it to Ross?”

The Dirty Nil – Smite EP and Cinnamon b/w Guided By Vices (Self-released and Fat Wreck Chords)
Best distorted rock & roll releases, collectively.

The Bennies – Heavy Disco EP (Poison City Records)
Best “Psychedelic Reggae Ska Doom Metal Punk Rock from Hell” album. This band is hella party, I’m all about it.

The Copyrights – Report (Red Scare Industries)
Best pop punk album.

The Great Apes – Playland at the Beach (Asian Man Records)
Best concept album. The album is “built around San Francisco’s history, culture, and current state of rapid change, with each song being narrated from the perspective of a building or landmark.”

PUP – “Dark Days” from PUP (SideOne Dummy)

Best music video, and a super solid album.

Swingin’ Utters – Fistful of Hollow (Fat Wreck Chords)
Best album put out by an old school band with a rotating line up I have rarely (if ever) not liked.

Me First and the Gimme Gimmes – Are We Not Men? We Are Diva! (Fat Wreck Chords)
Best cover album since at least the last Me First album. We went to eat breakfast at a bar at like 11 a.m. that was playing a pretty solid mix of ABBA and country music, I put on this album and nobody murdered me.

Madeline’s FtLP Profile

Ross Hostage - Reviews Editor

Ross Hostage - Reviews Editor

Since I started writing for FtLP, I’ve always agonized over my year end list. Usually, determining who sits in the number one slot is easy enough, but then it’s damned near impossible to rank all the other albums that were the soundtrack of my year. So, because I hate doing the same thing all the time, I’m not assigning numbers this time around. Check out my 2014 Yearbook Superlatives!

The Hotelier – “An Introduction to the Album” (From Home, Like No Place Is ThereTiny Engines)
Best Track One

Cayetana – Nervous Like Me (Tiny Engines)
Best Debut

Such Gold – The New Sidewalk (Razor & Tie)
Most Time Signature Changes

Homewrecker – Circles of Death (A389 Records)
Album That Will Frighten Your Parents

Pears – Go To Prison (Self-released / Anxious & Angry vinyl)
Album That Makes Me Spazz Out Like An Idiot

Chumped – Teenage Retirement (Anchorless Records)
Album Most Likely to Succeed

Teledrome – Teledrome (FDH Records)
Best Album If Your Favorite Things are Devo & The Breakfast Club

The Shell Corporation – Mandrake (Paper + Plastick)
Best 2014 Album That I’ve Had Since 2013

The Human Project – Origins (Self-released)
Best 2013 Album That I Didn’t Hear Until 2014

ASTPAI – Burden Calls (Jump Start Records)
Best Use of Samples About Pizza in Between Badass Songs

Bracket – Hold Your Applause (Head2Wall Records)
Best Orchestration/Arrangements

The Copyrights – Report (Red Scare Industries)
Best Pop Punk Album For Bike Rides

Lagwagon – Hang (Fat Wreck Chords)
Best Resurrection

Madjive – Keep Quiet (Self-released)
Best EP of 2014

PUP – PUP (SideOne Dummy)
Best Album of 2014

Ross’ FtLP Profile

Adam Gecking - SAY-10 Records / FtLP BFF

Adam Gecking - SAY-10 Records / FtLP BFF

The first rule for my top 10 is that in order to make my top releases of the year the album has to be purchased on LP. The second rule is that I will not include any of the Say-10 albums, but you should all have Divided Heaven and Entropy NY in your year end lists.

1. Single Mothers – Negative Qualities (XL Recordings)
The sassiest band around. Their self-titled seven inch lived on my turntable for years. It has now been replaced.

2. Pears – Go To Prison (Self-released / Anxious & Angry vinyl)
This album is so good I keep begging them to let me reissue it.

3. White Lung – Deep Fantasy (Domino)
This will be the best 23 minutes of your week. I promise.

4. Doomsday Student – A Walk Through Hysteria Park (Three One G)
Accidentally saw these guys on the left coast… Pre-ordered the album the next day. Chaotic as fuck.

5. Cory Branan – The No Hit Wonder (Bloodshot Records)
Cory writes songs that you catch yourself humming two weeks later at work.

6. Cayetana – Nervous Like Me (Tiny Engines)
Something about this album reminds me of the Breeders, but with punk leanings. This album rules hard.

7. Chumped – Teenage Retirement (Anchorless Records)
I hate to call anything cute for fear of someone else dismissing it, but these guys make the absolute cutest music ever.

8. The New Pornographers – Brill Bruisers (Matador Records)
Neko Case could fart onto a snare drum and I would still buy the LP of it. Everything she does is magical.

9. Tweens – Tweens (Frenchkiss Records)
If someone were to rewrite Germ Free Adolescents in 2014 it would sound just like the self titled Tweens album. That is enough for me.

10. Candy Hearts – All The Ways You Let Me Down (Bridge 9 Records)
Imagine Taylor Swift singing for your guilty pleasure pop punk albums of the 90s. Seriously so catchy.

Kendra Sheetz - Chicago Overlord

Kendra Sheetz - Chicago Overlord

Top Albums of 2014
1.Unwelcome Guests – Wavering (Dirt Cult Records)
I knew when this album was released in January that it would make my list. There are so many times when I get bogged down by punk, pop or otherwise. Many bands have the same sound and sing about the same issues. I can quickly become burned out as I spend my free time combing through albums to review. However, this album has been my safe haven again and again. The music, based in folk punk, is more complicated than your run of the mill punk. The lyrics are beautifully crafted with enough lack of specificity that you can inject them with your own meaning.

Favorite tracks that I swear were written about me: “Tattered Old Flag” or “Caution Will Be the Death of Me”

2. Bad Cop/Bad Cop – Boss Lady EP (Fat Wreck Chords)
When a band I have known and loved for years signs to a label of larger scale, I always worry that they will water down their sound. But Boss Lady is pure, unadulterated Bad Cop through and through. Each facet of the music is strong and the lyrics are even stronger. There are few things that I am truly excited for anymore (see: jaded and aging) but, their LP’s future release gives me hope for 2015. Although I love all four songs, “Rodeo” has triple the amount of plays as the other tracks.

3. Capitalist Kids – At A Loss (It’s Alive Records)
This album is pop punk perfection from beginning to end. It starts with “Not ‘95,” a song which lightheartedly mocks the genre, moves into topics of a political nature, throws in some modern day issues and sprinkles in a few love songs. As I stated above, so many bands nowadays are putting out pop punk albums that bands become muddled together in the grand scheme of things. A band needs to work harder than ever to put out something that will be remembered in this genre. At A Loss does just that and more.

Favorite track: “Beginner’s Finnish”

4. The Mons – Fighting Over a Knife (Underground Communique Records)
It’s short. It’s fast. It’s snarling. It’s Midwest. It’s just how I like my punk rock. Although the album came out in December of 2013, I’m adding it to this year’s list as a tribute to the disbanding of the group. The Mons were a band consisting of Chicago punk veterans who knew how to entertain a crowd not with mere shenanigans but with an energetic, well executed live show. This EP is filed under the list of albums which quell those who believe punk is for the unskilled. The Mons consisted of musicians skilled enough to play in any genre, but who chose to write one minute songs.

Favorite track: “Burned Out and Bleeding”

5. Pears – Go To Prison (Self-released / Anxious & Angry vinyl)
Have you ever loved a band with all of your heart, finally got the chance to meet them and found out that they were total assholes who didn’t care about their fans or other bands on that night’s bill? Now, imagine the exact opposite of that and you have PEARS. Not only did they put out one of the best and most solid albums this year, they also have an awe inspiring live performance and – my favorite part – are some of the nicest, most down to earth, grateful humans you will find in this scene. The album consists of 10 fast, thrashy punk tracks where guttural screams are backed by melodic harmonies. It reshapes typical punk, making it interesting once again.

Favorite tracks (because I couldn’t choose just one): “You’re Boring,” “Sycophant,” “Judy is A Punk” (Ramones cover)

6. Sugar Stems – Only Come Out At Night (Dirtnap Records)
This band can do no wrong in my eyes. Their second LP, Can’t Wait, made my list last year and I counted down the days until this year’s release of Only Come Out at Night. Sugar Stems gracefully step over any doubts about this album not being as strong or catchy at the previous, then turn around and flash their middle fingers. The songs have just as much energy and pop sweetness as their first LP. It’s a home run through and through.

Favorite track: “Only Come Out At Night”

7. Good Shade – Good Shade (Smellhound Records)
Try to think back and remember the first time you heard the Marked Men or Radioactivity. It’s punk, but it’s not. It’s garage, but it’s not. It’s jangly, treble heavy and hard to resist. Now imagine if the Marked Men were able to produce the same sound with half the members. And with that, you have Good Shade. Good Shade is the brainchild of former singer/drummer of Tight Bros, Shane Natalie. With Evan Wolff (Vacation, ex-Tight Bros) on bass, these two have turned out not only amazingly catchy melodies but also one of my favorite albums this year. They parallel that Denton punk sound while straying just far enough to not be clumped in as another copy cat band.

Favorite track: “We Think”

8. Rad Payoff – The Good, the Rad and the Ugly (Let’s Pretend Records)
I often get into conversations with my friend and photographer, Patrick Houdek, regarding how Chicago is taking punk to a new level. There are bands in this city which stretch the word and its definition to the limits while still retaining the heart, soul and energy of the genre. Rad Payoff is, without question, one of those bands. The band sports an A-list roster of members from groups like Sass Dragons, Elephant Gun, Das Kapital and Treasure Fleet. Their sound is spacey and entrancing, yet powerful; it’s almost like jam-punk… if that’s a thing.

Favorite track: “Sunglasses”

9. Nervous Passenger –Way Too Weird (Artistic Integrity Records)
At a show earlier this year, Nervous Passenger’s singer/guitarist Steph Jurgovan pulled me to the side and warned me that their new EP was headed in a different direction that last year’s release, Songs About Things and Stuff. He wasn’t lying. With the addition of a second guitarist (Rat Hammer’s Johnny Wilson), the band has begun to move out of their fast and powerful punk niche and into something all their own. There is not quiet anything like them in today’s Chicago scene. Each member of this band is a talented musician. This can clearly be seen within these five new songs. Jurgovan’s song writing remains similar enough that it will not alienate previous fans. Overall, the EP is a brilliant success.

Favorite track: “It’ll Probably Never Happen”

10. The Brokedowns – Life is a Breeze (Red Scare Industries)
This album needs no explanation of why it made my list. All hail The Brokedowns!

Favorite tracks: “Like is a Breeze” and “Joliet, The Maui of the Midwest”

Top 10 Songs of 2014

1. Dierks Bentley – “Drunk on a Plane” (from Riser)
The Murderburgers and Rational Anthem introduced me to this amazingly hilarious country song one drunken Chicago night, which turned into a drunken Chicago day, and then a handful of drunken days at Pre-Fest and Fest. This song now seems to follow me everywhere I go. I can’t escape it, nor do I want to. More than any punk song this year, it reminds me of faraway friends and great times.

Favorite lyric: all of them

2. Sam Russo – “Small Town Shoes” (from Split the Tip EP)
This song has been my personal life saver. It reminds me that I have no control over the mean, hateful things that others say and all I can do is rise above. Let them talk; I’ll be over here living my life and giving them something to talk about.

Favorite lyric: Well, I’d rather make an enemy/than fake it all just to make a friend

3. Needles//Pins – “I’m a Drag” (from Shamebirds)
This song puts my most inner thoughts of self-worthlessness to a jangly tune. It serves as a theme song for those occasional low points we all have.

Favorite lyric: I can’t quite explain/but there’s something about being misused

4. The Creeps – “Cancer” (from Eulogies)
Eulogies would have been #11 had I one more spot on my list. I love The Creeps for a number of reasons. But, the one thing that I noticed with this album was that their lyrics moved away from dark actions and began concentrating more on dark thoughts. I spent most of April and May living one long panic attack stemming from causes unknown (I like to assume it was from general ennui). This album and this song were two of the very things which reached me.

Favorite lyric: She said, “You’re staring out the windows/you’re just screaming at the walls/you’re just crawling out of your skin now/and there ain’t nothing there at all

5. The Falcon – “We are the Bald” (from Red Scare Industries: 10 Years of your Dumb Bullshit)
The Falcon is my favorite band. This is their first song in eight years. I now know the sounds of this song better than I know my mother’s own voice.

Favorite lyric: It doesn’t really matter. The lyrics could be senseless mumbling (and some think they are) and I would love them all the same.

6. Junior Battles – “3 Whole Years” (from Rally)
I came late to this band. Although their sect of the genre is not one that I frequent, I enjoyed every song on Rally. If you haven’t figured it out by now, my preference for many songs is based largely on the lyrics. What do you expect? I’m a writer, if only in my mind. Anyway, this song is no different. My love stems from the lyrics; the rest ranks a close second.

Favorite lyric: Have you never felt alone/in a room full of people/with everybody on their phones seeking some validation?/They’ll never get it

7. Lawrence Arms – “Drunk Tweets” (from Metropole)
When I first heard this song, I hated it. It was fast and full of energy, much like a track off Oh! Calcutta! which I loved. However, the overly gratuitous usage of the word “fuck” in addition to what my friend Avery calls “the Bad Religion riff” (which rears its head around :21) turned me off. Then I saw BK perform this song live, acoustic and without the fucks. I was literally able to read between the lines and realized what amazing, hard hitting lyrics this track really has. I began to play it all the time, half because I fell in love with it and half because Avery still hates it and I love to mess with him.

Favorite lyric: I’ve got a Raskolnikovian gloom/Six moves ahead but still fully consumed/I am what I am and I do what I do

8. PUP – “Reservoir” (from PUP)
I know, I know, this album is on everyone’s lists this year. But honestly, it just didn’t do it for me. As I type that I’m already preparing for the massive mob forming against me at this very moment. However, I will say that what I feel PUP is lacking on their recording is more than made up for with their live show. I just wish that their entire album was more like this song.

Favorite lyric: I’m letting go/and I will stay afloat

9. Rational Anthem – “I Wish I Could Be Happy” (from Emotionally Unavailable)
Having Rational Anthem move up to Iowa from Florida has been one of my favorite parts of this year. They are three of the nicest, talented, most fun people I am lucky to spend time with. I have dubbed this song yet another one of my personal anthems. Musically, it’s pop punk perfection. Lyrically, it touches on the typical expressions of discontent that is associated with many songs in the genre. However, it is written in an existential manner, proving that those Rat Ant kids are wise for their years.

Favorite lyric: And I can’t convince myself that I’m happy/as I could up the ways/I take everything for granted./Does it matter anyway?

10. Beach Slang – “Dirty Cigarettes” ( from Cheap Thrills on a Dead End Street)
And here we have another heavy hitter of 2014. Beach Slang put out two EPs this year, each near perfection. When asked about their sound, many are quick to mention early Goo Goo Dolls, Swervedriver and The Replacements. All members are veterans with previous band experience. Those years are brought both to their song writing and to their live performance and it shows. Of the 8 tracks they released this year, this is my absolute favorite.

Favorite lyric: I write a lot/It’s mostly lies/I fall in love/to pass the time

Kendra’s FtLP Profile

Patrick Houdek- Photographer

Patrick Houdek- Photographer

I’ve been asked for the top 10 photos I’ve taken this year. First, there’s so many for me to pick from (that’s right, I’m that damn good) that if I did this list on another night, others would replace some of these photos. Second, two of these photos were actually taken in 2013 but after I turned in last years list. If you’ve read any of my reviews here on For the Love of Punk you know that I don’t play by anyone’s “rules” on how to review something and I’m not going to follow anyone’s rules on how to do a top 10 list either!

These photos are in order of band name (not including “The”)

88 Fingers Louie – Concord Music Hall, Chicago, Illinois – December 21, 2013

88 Fingers Louie

This was the last band I shot in 2013 and this shot was a good way to end the year. I used the lens that I use 99% of the time, a cheap (under $100) kit lens that you get when you buy the most basic Nikon DSLR camera package. If you think you must have an expensive lens to get good shots, you’re probably not that good.

The Bollweevils – Concord Music Hall, Chicago, Illinois – December 21, 2013

The Bollweevils

When Daryl isn’t singing in The Bollweevils he’s a doctor and father of three – the rest of us need to quit complaining about being “old.”

Iron Chic – Township, Chicago, Illinois – April 1, 2014

Iron Chic

I couldn’t handle being up front for much more than a couple of songs, that’s what happens when you get old (ignore what I wrote above), so I just sat on the stage and would occasionally stand up to take some shots. The crowd was non-stop all night, one of the best shows all year.

La Armada – Township, Chicago Illinois – June 6, 2014

La Armada

I’m just impressed that I got them all in the shot! Don’t talk shit about this band, their logo is a machete (though there’s no reason to talk shit about them, they’re amazing and if you don’t think so you shouldn’t be reading this website in the first place).

The Lawrence Arms – Firehouse Pizza, Normal, Illinois – May 30, 2014

The Lawrence Arms

There were probably less than 100 people at this show and you probably weren’t one of them, dummy.

The Mons – Township, Chicago, Illinois – June 7, 2014

The Mons

The Mons final show before Jay (and Alexis) moved to Portland. Fuck you, Portland!

NOFX – Riot Fest, Humboldt Park, Chicago, Illinois – September 12, 2014

NOFX

My photo of Melvin jumping was the best one of him at Riot Fest, right? Right? Well, I like it.

Pegboy – Liar’s Club, Chicago, Illinois – September 12, 2014

Pegboy

Last year I wrote an article about not going to Riot Fest and instead seeing Pegboy at Liar’s Club. This year I went to Riot Fest but still made it over to Liar’s Club in time to get this shot of Skinny Mike on top of the crowd.

PUP – Riot Fest, Humboldt Park, Chicago, Illinois – September 14, 2014

Riot Fest

Luckily Timmy Eukay and his friend let me split a cab with them to Riot Fest or I wouldn’t have made it in time to get this sequence of PUP.

Sass Dragons – Lindsay Gallup Photography Studio, Chicago, Illinois – October 6, 2014

Sass Dragons by Patrick Houdek

It took months for all of our schedules to work out so I could take this photo of the Sass Dragons. People have told me that this photo is a perfect representation of them. I love this shot, I love these guys, I take photos of punk rock bands because of the Sass Dragons.

Patrick’s FtLP Profile

Amanda DeKalb- Contributor

Amanda DeKalb- Contributor

If anyone knows me, they know my taste in music is restless at best. Picking a top “punk” album list for the year proved challenging: I jump around so much, most of the punk I prefer came out way before 2014 and “punk” refers to more subgenres than it ever has. Either way, I threw together a list of 10 quality “something-slash-punk” albums that fit all moods and genres. They are in no particular order.

Restorations – LP3 (SideOneDummy Records)
These PA boys don’t make bad albums. LP2 was some of the most solid, life affirming music of last year, and LP3 stays true to their rough-around-the-edges rock.

Night Birds – Monster Surf EP (Wallride Records)
Jersey-based Night Birds belong at the top of any “new punk” list and the description by someone as “Beach Boys meets Circle Jerks” is spot on. Instrumental surf punk at it’s finest.

White Lung – Deep Fantasy (Domino)
I’m not normally into feminist punk, but for 22 minutes this blistering and unswerving album grabs you by the balls and takes you for a joyride.

Only Crime – Pursuance (Rise Records)
This “supergroup” bursts with infectious energy, poignant lyrics and great production. It holds me over until that new Good Riddance album drops…

Iceage – Plowing Into the Field of Love (Matador Records)
These Danish punkers are not only trudging their sound into unknown territory but they are actually learning to play their instruments. Lead singer Elias still moans like he’s coming off a pill popping/booze guzzling bender, and just like him, the album is striking and unhinged.

Murder City Devils – The White Ghost Has Blood on Its Hands Again (Self-released)
Spencer Moody and Co. return with a howling mix of straightforward songs steeped heavily in a “live show” mind frame.

Survival Knife – Loose Power (Glacial Pace Recordings)
Several members of 90’s band Unwound made a direct, meaty and dissonant post-punk album.

Tigers Jaw – Charmer (Run For Cover Records)
This album feeds my need for catchy yet cynical indie rock.

The Copyrights – Report (Red Scare Industries)
This album feeds my need for basic yet well-crafted pop punk.

PUP – PUP (SideOne Dummy)
I tried to deny it but I couldn’t avoid the addictive vortex that is this album.

Honorable Mentions: Pears (Go To Prison); Life in Vacuum (5); Iron Reagan (The Tyranny of Will); Sick Of It All (Last Act of Defiance); The Brokedowns (Life’s A Breeze)

Best Reissues
Toxic Reasons – Essential Independence
Coliseum – Coliseum
Unwound – No Energy and Rat Conspiracy
Jawbreaker – 24-Hour Revenge Therapy
Slint – Spiderland
Plow United – Plow United
Bob Mould – Workbook 25
Husker Du – Warehouse: Songs and Stories
The Velvet Underground – White Light/White Heat and The Velvet Underground
Joey Ramone – Don’t Worry About Me

Best Shows
What a year in shows! Out of the 40+ I attended this year here are 10 that really stood out, with special honorary titles.

The Toasters at Moon Room 1/23: Worst Sound and Crowd
The sound at the Moon Room that night was just like the crowd: juvenile and mutant. But hey, we’re all juvenile mutants and The Toasters were fantastic!

Naked Raygun at Summit Music Hall 1/31: Most “Oooh’s” and “Whoa’s” In A Set, Gangliest Lead Singer
This was one of the best shows of the year, thanks to Jeff Pezatti’s manic energy and their kick-ass Chicago punk sound.

D.R.I at The Gothic 3/22: Fastest Paced, Biggest Sausage Fest
D.R.I. live was an unrelenting, amphetamine-induced power punch to the dome.

The Queers & Angry Samoans at The Bluebird 4/25: Most Ironic Lineup
Both main bands were approximately twice the age yet half the maturity of their audience, but angsty aging punkers singing about homework and farts can never be bad.

H2O/Cro-Mags/Judge at Summit Music Hall 5/25: New York-iest and Hardcore-iest Lineup
H2O was my fave but everyone delivered lively, raw and aggressive sets.

Dillinger Four & Pinhead Circus at Summit Music Hall 8/9: Most Booze Soaked, Most Memorable For The Wrong Reasons, Only Show With An X-Rating
Pinhead Circus dodged many a stray PBR can during their killer set. The audience dodged the image of Paddy’s Penor during D4’s barely four songs. You can’t un-see that!

Riot Fest, namely Face to Face, Bouncing Souls, Bob Mould, NOFX, All, The Descendents, Radkey, Slayer, and WuTang 9/19-21: Most Bucket List Bands Checked Off In One Day
The second annual event was a success and I much prefer parking lots to dust bowls.

Hank III at The Ogden 10/6: Rowdiest and Fullest Crowd, Longest Show
Another best of the year, Hank drowned the whiskey drunk crowd in everything he had to offer for four straight hours. Yeehaw!

The Slackers at The Bluebird 10/21: Most Consistently Great Live Show, Most Danceable
Their setlist may differ each year but they are always incredibly fun.

Title Fight at The Ogden 11/20: Weirdest Group of Youngsters In One Place
The weirdo kiddies were there to see Circa Survive, I was there to catch Title Fight’s sweet show and make sideways glances at the bizarre future of this world like an old curmudgeon.

Amanda’s FtLP Profile

Brad Petrik - Contributor, Photographer

Brad Petrik - Contributor, Photographer

Top ten albums of 2014
Joyce Manor – Never Hungover Again (Epitaph Records)

Fantastic album by an up-and-coming band. Hits all the points for topping a EOY list. Joyce Manor is one of those bands from this wave that will be around for a while.

Weatherbox – Flies In All Directions (Triple Crown Records)
Crazy imagery? Check. Fantastic literary references? Check. Crossing of the streams with Manchester Orchestra? Check. Fantastic album. Fuzz punk at it’s best.

Against Me! – Transgender Dysphoria Blues (Xtra Mile Recordings)
This album will live well beyond any on this list. We will look back at this decade and see this album topping lists then.

The Hotelier – From Home, Like No Place Is There ( Tiny Engines)
A surprise second effort by this band that put them above everyone else in this wave. They smartly dropped the pop-punk sound of The Hotel Year for something much, much better.

Taking Back Sunday – Happiness Is (Hopeless Records)
A return to form. One of the best albums I’ve heard in a while. Taking Back Sunday found their new role as the leaders of adult-emo.

Circa Survive – Descensus (Sumerian Records)
Just like Taking Back Sunday, a slight return to form for Circa Survive. Seems as if they’re taking the best parts of all their albums and bringing them together now.

Manchester Orchestra – Cope (Loma Vista)
Fantastic return by one of the best bands in the last 10 years. Cope chews you up and spits you out.

The Gaslight Anthem – Get Hurt (Island)
Somewhat disappointing that it’s a continuation of Handwritten when the band had tried to tell people it was weird and different but still a solid album that will age better than The 59 Sound. I’ll always love this band.

Braid – No Coast (Topshelf Records)
I don’t even know where to start with Braid. It’s hard to describe a band that writes a new album after 14 years and picks up right where they left off.

The Lawrence Arms – Metropole (Epitaph Records)
We waited eight years for this album but holy shit it’s a banger.

Top photos
The Gaslight Anthem
Taking Back Sunday
The Gaslight Anthem
Neon Trees
The Wonder Years
The Wonder Years
Real Friends
Modern Baseball
Bayside
Bayside
Four Year Strong

Brad’s FtLP Profile

Chris Roob - Contributor

Chris Roob - Contributor

I can not be more thankful for the great music that was released in 2014. Although it is a bit biased towards a specific genre…I still stand by my choices. These are seven albums that I have listened to consistently throughout the year and not grown tired of.

  1. Planet Smashers – Mixed Messages (Stomp Records)
    Although this album is a little different from The Planet Smashers’ previous albums, it still hits the spot with groovy jams and easily the most danceable tunes of this year. Some songs to get your feet moving: “Tear It Up” and “Scientific Explanation”….plus the other 11 songs.
  2. The Potato Pirates – Raised Better Than This (Warbird Entertainment)
    Perfection. Brutality. Heart. Honor. Anthemic. Polished. Punx. Passionate. Legendary. This album is the epitome of hard work, talent, and diversity. Denver should be proud to be the hometown for these dudes. Not to mention…they are the nicest guys in the scene. Buy this album. Before every hockey game I play, I crank the volume to 11 on “I Will Defend,” “March On,” and “Dead to Me.” Those songs will jack you up.
  3. The Interrupters – The Interrupters (Hellcat Records)
    This record is fantastic. Aimee Allen on vocals and the three Bivona brothers backing her up for the rhythm section are the greatest new ensemble of ska-punk. If this debut album is a sample of what The Interrupters are going to produce in the future, then I have something to look forward to forever. Songs to be played on repeat: “Liberty,” “This Is the New Sound,” and “White Noise.”
  4. Be Like Max – Just Tryin’ to Fit In…Ur Mom (Self-released)
    Upcoming ska warriors from Las Vegas released their sophomore album in early 2014 and it set the tone for the great year of music ahead of us. With key tracks like “Wang Out,” “Bring On the Suits,” and “You Grew Up,” this album was destined for greatness.
  5. The Last Slice – Underground (Self-released)
    Also upcoming ska warriors, these homies from Tulsa, Oklahoma released this gem of an album in the late summer and it was the perfect soundtrack for the fall. Steady trombone and that border between the second and third wave of ska make this album delectable. The key ingredient was the intro track, “Sea of Unknown.”
  6. Mustard Plug – Can’t Contain It (No Idea Records)
    This album released by ska veterans further exemplified their knack for concocting a perfect jam of a record. Mustard Plug stayed true to their roots on this record; “What Does She Know?,” “Gone and Faded,” and “The All-Nighter” are all tracks that prove Mustard Plug may have gotten older, but still haven’t lost their heart in the music.
  7. Pitch Invasion – Russian Roulette (Rum Dummy Records)
    Denver punk rock heroes. They finally released this second album and it is a punch in the face of skate punk. “Russian Roulette,” “Chubby Chaser,” and “Soul Rebel” are the perfect songs to spike your morning cup of coffee with to start your day.

Chris’ FtLP Profile

Damon Workman - Contributor

Damon Workman - Contributor

2014 was a fantastic year for new music. This list is definitely in no kind of preferential order. In my opinion they are just all fantastic albums and all deserve your attention

Sick Of It All – Last Act of Defiance (Century Media Records)
All you little breakdown kids, this is the real deal. This is hardcore.

Lagwagon – Hang (Fat Wreck Chords)
How could I forget this one?

Chris Stowe – Hollow (A-F Records)
Acoustic punk. Raw nerves exposed, emotional and flat out brilliant.

Roll the Tanks- Broke til Midnight (Epitaph Records)
Just a great album.

Mercy Music – When I Die I’m Taking You With Me (Squid Hat Records)
What happens when you mix smart lyrics, pop punk sensibility, a little country and a whole lot of energy? A fantastic album.

New Cold War – New Cold War (Self-released)  
Out of the Vegas desert comes New Cold War. There is nothing I can say that will do these guys justice.

Carlos Danger – The Fire Swamp (Self-released)    
This is emo pop punk and You will sing along. Yes, you will.

Surrounded by Thieves – Surrounded By Thieves (Squid Hat Records)
Old school punk done right. And lets face it, when they write a song about a local punk icon (Tocci) what is there to not effin love?

Masked Intruder – M.I. (Fat Wreck Chords)
Power pop punk about criminal activity. I know, right?!

Sounds of Threat – Creature of Habit (Squid Hat Records)
A band built solidly on house shows and live performances. Fast, fun, loud.

One Year Later – Life Between the Lies (CI Records)
Because every list needs a badass metal-core album.

Duck and Cover – Duck and Cover (Susspool Records)
Just a damn fun album.

Damon’s FtLP Profile

Jackalynn Howell - Contributor

Jackalynn Howell - Contributor

The 5 Best Covers of Crappy Popular Songs in 2014

1. Lorde – “Swinging Party” (Originally recorded by The Replacements)
Okay, so The Replacements aren’t crappy. And neither is Lorde. But she played her cover of The Replacements’ “Swinging Party” live during her 2014 tour, and is included as a bonus track on the deluxe edition of her 2013-released album, “Pure Heroine,” and it kicks as much ass as the original, with the unique style and grace that is Lorde, which makes it the best cover of 2014.

2. Skyway Traffic – “Shake It Off” (Originally recorded by Taylor Swift)
Just admit it: you know all the words and even become a steering wheel musician when “Shake It Off” comes on your radio. Skyway Traffic stays true to that bouncy sound that makes you burst out into song when you hear it, but they have added the perfect amount of pop-punk to make it way less embarrassing. And tolerable.

3. The Animal In Me – “Burn” (Originally recorded by Ellie Goulding)
This cover is the best cover of 2014’s crappy pop songs because number one, it’s not the same version heard a million times over on every radio station. Although Goulding’s voice is of a unique talent, the EDM-style arrangement takes away from the justice her voice delivers to the lyrics’ power. The Animal In Me bring that power back through their hardcore arrangement alongside the original electronic beat. It is the use of their gritty sound blended with the light and airy electronic original that makes this an awesome cover of a crappy 2014 pop song.

4. I Prevail – “Blank Space” (Originally recorded by Taylor Swift)
The music video for Taylor Swift’s second single from 1989, “Blank Space” was one of the smartest parallels to lyrics of this whimsical pop song. But I Prevail take the power to another level with intensity that makes “Blank Space” a non-guilty pleasure.

5. The Last Sleepless City – “Let It Go” (Originally recorded for Disney’s Frozen)
That song that got stuck in everyone’s head, whether they had seen Frozen or not, all through 2014 was “Let It Go.” The Last Sleepless City takes that catchy Disney musical tune and has made it seem as though it is a pop-punk hit, making it the fifth best cover of a crappy song in 2014.

Jackalynn’s FtLP Profile

JoJo King - Contributor

JoJo King - Contributor

Of the three Top 10 lists I’ve done for FtLP this, by far, has been the most challenging. There were so many excellent albums released this year from bands that run the label gamut, it was extremely difficult to choose 10. My list of potential best-of albums began at 31 (including EPs) and I found myself reducing that list down to 12, so obviously a lot of worthy albums have been left off.

Top 10 (plus 2) of 2014

1. Morning Glory – War Psalms (Fat Wreck Chords)
Record of the year. Ezra Kire is no longer a singer-songwriter; he’s a composer in the same vein as Danny Elfman and Trent Reznor and it shows in this record. Listen do the double-sided vinyl and tell me it doesn’t play like a four-act play.

2.PUP – PUP (SideOne Dummy)
A wonderful debut full-length from a band that’s simply spectacular. Great live performance as well.

3. Lagwagon – Hang (Fat Wreck Chords)
When you take a 10-year hiatus from full-length records, it’s a good idea to come out with something explosive. As an aging individual past his prime, this record spoke volumes to me.

4. Pears – Go To Prison (Self-released / Anxious & Angry vinyl)
Just when you thought 80s hardcore has gone the way of the geriatric Dodo, Pears emerge with the energy and instrumental efficiency of a band that’s been around for years.

5. ASTPAI – Burden Calls (Jump Start Records)
Didn’t think they could top Efforts and Means, they did. One of my favorite bands, I’ve yet to see live. Maybe they’ll head to the Rockies someday…maybe.

6. The Holy Mess – Comfort in the Discord (Self-released)
The only thing surpassing my joy of this being made, was how fucking good it was.

7. The Lawrence Arms – Metropole (Epitaph Records)
An excellent effort from perennial favorites.

8. The Menzingers – Rented World (Epitaph Records)
Melodic. Catchy. Extremely entertaining. There isn’t much to say about The Menzingers that hasn’t already been said.

9. The Brokedowns – Life Is A Breeze (Red Scare Industries)
I’m starting to think Red Scare Industries can do no wrong. Thanks to Adam for turning me on to these guys.

10. The Great Apes – Playland at the Beach (Asian Man Records)
The other favorite band I have yet to see live. Everything they do is awesome. This EP is no exception.

11. The Smith Street Band – Throw Me In the River (Poison City Records)
It’s no longer a crush. I’m in love with Wil Wagner.

12. The Hotelier – From Home, Like No Place Is There ( Tiny Engines)
The record, much like the band, took off this year and with good reason.

Honorable mentions: Lipstick Homicide (Out Utero), Hostage Calm (Die on Stage), Against Me! (Transgender Dysphoria Blues), Masked Intruder (M.I.), Banner Pilot (Souvenir), Potato Pirates (March On), Knuckle Puck (Why I Stay Secluded EP), Swingin’ Utters (Fistful of Hollow), Rancid (…Honor Is All We Know)

Top 5 Adult Contemporary Albums of 2014
1. The Dead Milkmen – Pretty Music For Pretty People (BMI)
2. The Buzzcocks – The Way (1-2-3-4 Go! Records)
3. OFF! – Wasted Years (Vice)
4. The Afghan Wigs – Do to the Beast (Sub Pop Records)
5. 7 Seconds – Leave a Light On (Rise Records)

Jojo’s FtLP Profile

Merne Judson - Contributor, Photographer

Merne Judson - Contributor, Photographer

Nick Taylor - Contributor

Nick Taylor - Contributor

Cayetana – Nervous Like Me (Tiny Engines)
I’ve been having a personal riot girl/female punk/female vocalist renaissance, but I can say without bias that Cayetana put out one of my favorite records this year. The fuzzy guitars, outstanding bass playing, and the indie-inspired feel kept it playing on my stereo long after it was my job to listen to it for review! Plus, I can finally be cool and say that a band I like was featured on NPR.

AM Taxi – King of the Pond (Self-released)
AM Taxi are an offshoot of one of the greatest Chicago pop-punk bands of all time, Lucky Boys Confusion. They employ a Springsteen-esque approach to pop punk and have seriously written some of the catchiest songs I’ve ever had the pleasure of hearing. The four tracks on the King of the Pond EP are no different, with lead single “Central Standard Time” and soulful cover “Sorry You’re Sick” being the highest points.

Joyce Manor – Never Hungover Again (Epitaph Records)
When I was on vacation in Portland, the land of coffee, food trucks, and record shops as far as the eye can see, I of course stopped in 2nd Avenue Records, the greatest punk record shop in the Pacific Northwest. I stumbled upon a vinyl copy Never Hungover Again. The clerk described Joyce Manor as a band who “sounded like Jawbreaker, but with better production values.” Indeed, their brief songs and 90s punk style evoke vintage Jawbreaker, album highlight “Victoria” would sound welcome on punk classic 24 Hour Revenge Therapy.

Chuck Ragan – Till Midnight (SideOneDummy)
There are a lot of punk frontmen who have made solo folk projects, but none as successful or prolific as Hot Water Music’s Chuck Ragan. Till Midnight is by far Ragan’s most fully realized and varied LP, sounding sure and soulful as ever. His smooth but gravelly vocals carry over his band’s fantastic instrumental output, with the fiddle being the standout. Moreso than other alt country/folk punk acts, Ragan’s songwriting is unequivocally a gateway to the genre.

Banner Pilot – Souvenir (Fat Wreck Chords)
Banner Pilot’s fourth full length proves that the band is constantly improving. So often, it seems a band hits a second or third release slump, losing creativity or changing the things that made them great in the first place. Banner Pilot have consistently written solid albums and Souvenir is their crowning achievement with a few of the best songs of their entire catalogue: “Effigy” and “Hold Fast.”

Nick’s FtLP Profile

Tiffiny Kallina - Contributor

Tiffiny Kallina - Contributor

Against Me! – Transgender Dysphoria Blues (Xtra Mile Recordings)
This album was released in January and instead of fading into obscurity, has soundtracked my year with many, many plays. It’s gotten me through some serious ups, downs, and sideways.

Andrew Jackson Jihad – Christmas Island (SideOneDummy)
I’ve been a big fan of this band for some time now and this album is some of their best work. The lyrics are as intense as ever and make ‘Christmas Island’ essential listening.

Antarctigo Vespucci – Soulmate Stuff (Quote Unquote Records)
I knew this project would be great with two of the best musicians in the world involved (Chris Farren and Jeff Rosenstock), but this album was so much more. It’s poppy, sentimental, vulnerable, and everything that I could want in a record. (As a bonus, Antarctigo Vespucci also released an EP in 2014 called ‘I’m So Tethered’- pick it up as a companion to ‘Soulmate Stuff’.)

Billy the Kid – Horseshoes & Hand Grenades (Xtra Mile Recordings)
‘Horseshoes & Hand Grenades’ is a lovely and heartfelt album with some extreme weight to it. The world is a better place with Billy Pettinger’s music in it.

Chris Stowe – Hollow (A-F Records)
This album was a long time coming and is absolutely unforgettable. It’s one of the most honest, intense things I’ve ever heard. If you’ve gone through some major heartbreak in your life, you’ll relate to this record.

Ducking Punches – Dance Before You Sleep (No Panic Records)
This was another early release that’s stood the test of time. It’s a raw album, full of moments that hit me in all the right places (heart/gut/head). ‘Dance Before You Sleep’ has an absolutely gorgeous presentation as well.

Hard Girls – A Thousand Surfaces (Asian Man Records)
This band, and this album, are so goddamn good I have trouble articulating anything worthwhile. It’s a cliche, but really, just listen. You won’t regret it.

The Menzingers – Rented World (Epitaph Records)
This album took awhile to grow on me, but grow it did. I’m absolutely entangled in it these days. “In Remission,” “Where Your Heartache Exists,” and “Transient Love” are some of The Menzingers’ greatest work.

PUP – PUP (SideOne Dummy)
This band released one hell of a debut. It was the album seemingly everyone I knew was talking about and it absolutely lived up to the hype.

The Smith Street Band – Throw Me In the River (Poison City Records)
‘Throw Me In the River’ is a powerful album with stark and sincere lyrics that I waver between rocking the fuck out to and feeling like I’ve just been punched in the gut. It’s painful and glorious at the same time, which makes it one of the best 2014 has to offer for me, of course.

Tiffiny’s FtLP Profile

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