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).

Now we’re swinging from the stars we were reaching for

Our last concert of October was last night: The Ready Set with support from Metro Station, Against the Current, and The Downtown Fiction.

For some unfathomable reason, the show was moved from The Phoenix (approx. 1100 people capacity) to El Mocambo (According to Google, it can hold 400 people, but I wouldn’t want to be there when it’s sold out ). On the one hand, El Mocambo is not my favourite venue (I don’t care if The Rolling Stones used to play there back in the day, it’s still tiny and sketchy!), but I ended up about 6 rows from the stage, so that was a bonus.

The first band to go on was The Downtown Fiction.

Wes, David, Cameron, and Kyle.

I’m surprised I haven’t done a “Music Monday” on them yet, but I will one day.  Because the line to get in moved incredibly slow, I was worried we’d miss them. By the time we got inside the doors (but not yet into the venue), they came out, so I was happily able to see (or at least hear) their full set.

TDF are catchy and fun with a hint of old school rock & roll, and I was really looking forward to seeing them. I last saw them in 2011 (also opening for The Ready Set, oddly enough); since then, they’ve released an EP and an album, this years’s Losers & Kings. They played a lot of songs off the new album, but they also included “I Just Wanna Run”, one of their first singles off of 2011’s Let’s Be Animals, as well as the song that first turned me into a fan, “Thanks for Nothing”.

Sidenote: I also managed to meet Cameron Leahy, the singer (or “Ol’ Blue Eyes”, as I like to call him…obviously not to his face) who was super nice and unexpectedly huggy, thus crossing him off my list of “musicians I would love to meet”.

Next up was Against the Current who I saw in August when they opened for Paradise Fears. I still haven’t looked them up, and I still don’t love their cover of The 1975’s “Chocolate” (I’m just biased though, they do a passable job), but they continue to be boppy.

Metro Station came out around 8pm. I actually blamed them for the venue change because very few people eagerly admit to being MS fans, but there was a surprising amount of people there who were stoked to see Trace Cyrus and what’s-his-face prance around on stage. I’ve never loved Metro Station – I saw them open for Fall Out Boy in 2009 and spent most of their set cringing and wincing, though it did give me a chance to rest my throat after almost losing my voice during Cobra Starship and All Time Low’s back-to-back performances. The only song I ever liked was “Shake It”, and that’s what they predictably closed with.

Finally, it was time for The Ready Set aka Jordan Witzigreuter.

Jordan!

I’ve talked about him before. He’s fantastic. This was the fifth time I’ve seen him live, and I was very excited to hear more from this year’s release, The Bad & the Better, particularly my favourite song off the album, “Carry Me Home”.

I also absolutely love “Fangz”, which was the highlight of his Warped set for me this summer – the bass in that song works its way into your soul and it’s hard not to throw yourself around, flailing like a maniac.

By the time he was done, I was sweaty and my legs kinda hurt, and my voice was almost gone, but it was so so good. The Ready Set is one of my favourite acts to see live because of how energetic and amazing his live shows always are.