By Katy Wilkie
The albums released within the last year proved that pop punk and its encompassing genres aren’t dead yet. If anything, they are starting to make a huge comeback. As an avid fan of the scene, here are my top ten albums of 2014 (in no specific order):
Aaron West and the Roaring Twenties: We Don’t Have Each Other
We Don’t Have Each Other is a surprising side project album from The Wonder Years’ lead singer Dan “Soupy” Campbell. The album tells the story of “Aaron West,” his trials and tribulations through the death of his father and unborn child, his wife divorcing him and the depression that ensued. The first time I listened to this album, I absolutely fell in love with it. It’s like a favorite novel that you can’t put down because you want to hear the story that is brought to life through the lyrics.
Real Friends: Maybe This Place Is the Same and We’re Just Changing
Real Friends did not disappoint with their first full-length album, one that has been my favorite to listen to this year. Maybe This Place Is the Same and We’re Just Changing completely captures the essence of the band as they make a name for themselves in the music world and come into their own. The songs on the album evoke pain, heartbreak, frustration and nostalgia through poignant and vulnerable lyrics and scrappy guitars They’ve created an album that can be listened to years down the road and it will still manage to evoke the same feelings; it’s an album that deals with real life and is relatable for so many people.
Modern Baseball: You’re Gonna Miss It All
I love absolutely everything about this album from its indie-rock-with-a-tinge-of-emo feel to the snarky lyrics that are humourous, relatable and witty. The songs tell stories about relationship screwups and embarrassing moments, among other things to which people in their 20s can relate. It’s only the band’s sophomore album, but it has set the platform for the them to completely take off within the next year.
We Are The In Crowd: Weird Kids
Weird Kids was exactly the record that We Are The In Crowd needed this year. The album features 10 versatile songs that include the trademark “call and response” between lead singer Taylor Jardine and guitarist/vocalist Jordan Eckes. The album has ballads, catchy lyrics and pure, energetic, in-your-face pop punk songs. The band covered their bases with this album; it’s a good listen whether you’re wanting an inspirational song like “Long Live The Kids” or a fast-paced rock song like “The Best Thing (That Never Happened).” This album has something for everyone and clearly displays the band’s growth.
Taking Back Sunday: Happiness Is
Taking Back Sunday released their sixth album this year and it was one of the most anticipated releases for me. They didn’t disappoint. While the band have matured, with deeper lyrics in songs like “Better Homes and Gardens” (my favorite off of the album), Happiness Is also maintains that classic, nostalgic Taking Back Sunday feeling with songs like “Flicker, Fade.” The band took a bit of a risk with their sound on this album, but it beautifully demonstrates that they’ve honed their skills to create a masterpiece of songs that build up more and more with each passing track. There isn’t a single song on the album that I would skip.
Have Mercy: A Place of Our Own
This album played in my car for a solid month before I even considered changing it out for something new. The album has 11 impressive songs that embody that late 90s/early 2000s alternative rock sound that is both familiar and enticing. Lead singer Brian Swindle’s ever -changing vocals are sweet and flowing one second and then harsh and on edge the next, evoking the passion with a punch in each song. The lyrics convey the emotion of the songs in the manner of a musical diary, making it a brilliant album all around.
Neck Deep: Wishful Thinking
For a band that’s only been together for two years, it’s impressive that this Welsh band has not only made a name for themselves across the UK, but have also earned worldwide attention upon the release of this album. The album showcases everything that one could want out of a pop punk album: angry, jaded lyrics, head-bobbing upbeat melodies, winding guitar riffs and gang vocals. While it’s not a groundbreaking record, it does completely surpass expectations and leaves the band only one way to go — up.
Yellowcard: Lift a Sail
Yellowcard has been around for about 20 years now, and Lift a Sail shows the maturity and growth in their musicianship as they’ve reinvented themselves. The songs on the album are personal to the band members, yet relatable to the audience. This album is an ambitious, experimental shift in sound for the band, but it’s exactly what they needed to boost their career forward. The album is more emotional and determined than their previous releases while still featuring the rock and roll vibe prominently with moving ballads and the battle-cry lyrics.
Driver Friendly: Unimagined Bridges
Driver Friendly nailed their unique indie-rock-with-horns sound on their third album Unimagined Bridges. The album perfectly portrays the band’s ability to write great songs and utilize the brass to make their sound both unexpected and spectacular. The track “Everything Gold” is insanely catchy with a great melody. It’s got the great summer tunes but also offers the slow burner “The Conversation,” which gives the album a nice break from the rest of the infectiously energetic tracks. It’s an album that I’m definitely glad I made the choice to listen to.
Handguns: Life Lessons
I first checked out Handguns as an opening band and patiently waited for their new album to drop this year. With their newest release Life Lessons they’ve encompassed the complete essence of pop punk with loud guitars, fast beats, chord changes and memorable lyrics that get stuck in your head days. The album is short and sweet, clocking in at just under 30 minutes, but it’s a fun listen and has everything needed for a pop punk album.
In this article
- a place of our own
- Aaron West and the Roaring Twenties
- driver friendly
- happiness is
- have mercy
- katy wilkie
- life lessons
- lift a sail
- Maybe This Place Is the Same and We’re Just Changing
- modern baseball
- neck deep
- real friends
- taking back sunday
- unimagined bridges
- we are in the crowd
- weird kids
- wishful thinking
- you're gonna miss it all