Best albums of 2014

This year, for my “Best of” lists, I decided to do something a little different. Instead of listing 10 albums, I went with 14 (because it’s 2014, obviously…); and, instead of just making a list, I put them into completely made-up categories, that sort of hint at why I consider them the best of this year, along with my favourite song.

Without further ado:

A favourite band’s new album that took a while to grow on me:

Cavalier Youth – You Me At Six

Latest incarnation of a talented singer:

Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness – Andrew McMahon (in the Wilderness)

Concept album/sequel to another concept album:

The Resistance: Rise of the Runaways – Crown the Empire

“Sing-alongs and headbanging are unavoidable”:

Happiness Is… – Taking Back Sunday

Scottish album that took forever to come out, but it was worth it:

The Great Divide – Twin Atlantic

Country-style old school rock ‘n’ roll:

Big Skies – Nick Santino

“Finally new music from these guys!”:

Losers & Kings – The Downtown Fiction

Dance all night:

The Bad & the Better – The Ready Set

If all female-fronted bands sounded like this, I would listen to female-fronted bands more often:

White Noise – PVRIS

Unapologetic pop-punk (from a Welsh band, no less!):

Wishful Thinking – Neck Deep

Final album from a band that’s been around for over a decade:

Lowborn – Anberlin

Solo music from a guy in a popular (fun.) band:

Strange Desire – Bleachers

Pure pop-rock:

Oh, What a Life – American Authors

Guilty pleasure:

5 Seconds of Summer – 5 Seconds of Summer

BONUS:

Most magnificent/unexpected single:

Centuries – Fall Out Boy

This list doesn’t even include those albums released in 2014 that I haven’t listened to in full yet, such as This Wild Life’s Clouded, not to mention any re-releases (The Maine’s deluxe edition of Forever Halloween), or albums by bands that I love(d) that left me feeling a little “meh” (Breathe Carolina’s Savages).

You make breaking hearts look so easy

Last week, our tattooist was listening to Anberlin while working on us, and I was reminded of how much I enjoy Anberlin. Then I felt sad because I remembered that they are disbanding by the end of this year.

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It is incredibly difficult to find a picture that tells me who’s who. The singer (in the middle) is Stephen.

I don’t know how to describe their sound. I guess you could say they are very similar to the other pop-punk bands of the late ’90’s/early ’00’s, like Taking Back Sunday and Midtown (who were, coincidentally, the bands that we had just gotten into when we started listening to Anberlin a few years ago).  The first song we heard that we instantly loved was “Breaking”:

Much to our chagrin, we have yet to hear this live.

Anberlin is one of those bands where a lot of older fans (by “older”, I don’t mean “age” so much as when they started listening to the band) seem to think that after a certain album, the band kinda lost whatever it was that made them special. In this case, people tend to cite 2007’s Cities as the quintessential Anberlin album, and then ignore the 3 albums that followed. I am personally more of a fan of their later work, and I do think that each album brings something different to the table. They don’t drastically change their sound on every recording, but there are always 2-3 songs that really stand out to me.

My favourite track from 2010’s Dark Is The Way, Light Is A Place.

So far, we’ve seen Anberlin twice and, now that I think about it, they seemed to have lost fans in between albums. The first time we saw them, in 2010, they played the Sound Academy (3000 people capacity) and I remember being in a fairly large crowd. The second time, last April, they played the Opera House (850 people capacity); towards the end of the set, Stephen (the singer) actually invited the crowd to join the band on stage. And almost everyone standing in the pit area managed to fit. I’m not sure why the crowd diminished so much, but it’s a shame because they really are a solid band.

From 2012’s Vital.

This January, Anberlin announced that they would be breaking up. Determined to go out with a bang, they promised one last album and a farewell tour. They’re also playing Warped this summer, so I don’t know if they’ll make it back out to Toronto for a final show, but either way, I’ll definitely be in the crowd.