DS Staff Picks – Best Albums of 2014 (Midwest Punk)

Hi, I’m Ben (in the hat, not the weird-looking bald guy; that’s Brandon from Well Aren’t You Precious), and below you will find my impossible list. As it always is, picking out just 10 albums from this entire year of music is just too damn hard! I’ve experienced so much amazing music over the past year, through my writing with Dying Scene, my contributing at The Fat Wreck Wiki, working on my label, Coastless Records (shameless plug: new release from Well Aren’t You Precious in the new year!), and going to tons of shows. With all that music, I couldn’t pick just 10 and leave it at that…

So first, here’s my “honorable mention”, in no particular order: The Rebel SpellLast Run, Me First And The Gimme GimmesAre We Not Men? We Are Diva!, Masked IntruderM.I., Antarctigo VespucciSoulmate Stuff, Swingin’ UttersFistful Of Hollow, The MenzingersRented World, BracketHold Your Applause, CounterpunchBruises, Bear TradeBlood And Sand.

“Best” Albums of 2014:

10) Cayetana – Nervous Like Me (Tiny Engines)

When the Hot Dad Calendar 7-inch came out, I knew I was going to like the forthcoming album from this Pennsylvania trio. I, however, didn’t realize it was going to be THIS good. This album has me pretty excited about what’s to come from Cayetana.

9) Red Scare Industries10 Years Of Your Dumb Bullshit (Red Scare Industries)

Some people think compilations shouldn’t be included on “best albums” lists, but I think this release shows exactly why they should be included. Over the past 10 years, Red Scare has put out some of my favorite releases of all time, from bands like The Lillingtons, Teenage Bottlerocket, Direct Hit!, The Copyrights, Cobra Skulls (I could go on). Now put new songs from those bands and more all on one album, and try to tell me not to put it on my list. On top of all that, I got to see many of the songs performed live at one of (if not THE) best shows of 2014, at Red Scare’s 10th anniversary show in Chicago. Congrats on 10 years, Toby, here’s to 10 more!

8) The Holy MessComfort In The Dischord (Self-released)

This album caught me a bit off guard, as seems to be the case for at least one album every year. I somehow didn’t even know this album was coming out until I saw the video for “Spencer Reid”. When I heard that song, I knew right away this album was going to be a contender for my list. The rest of the band’s sophomore album was just as great, and I can’t believe I’m not ranking this even higher on my list.

7) The Lawrence ArmsMetropole (Epitaph Records)

I’m growing old, and it seems The Lawrence Arms are growing old right along with me. What more can I say, they just find a way to keep putting out awesome music that I can relate to. To me, the band and the album epitomize Midwest punk rock.

6) Andrew Jackson JihadChristmas Island (SideOneDummy Records)

I could listen to “Kokopelli Face Tattoo” and “Children Of God” on repeat for hours, and still be singing along at the end. Add to that song titles like “Getting Naked, Playing With Guns” and lyrics like “we’ll set it off like Microsoft in ’94” and “with eyes as red as a dog’s asshole when you see it shitting” and you have folk-punk at its finest. Sean Bonnette is some sort of genius, or at least he’s just strange enough to trick us into thinking he’s one.

5) LagwagonHang (Fat Wreck Chords)

Lagwagon has been one of my favorite bands for just about as long as I’ve been listening to punk. But for me, even my favorite bands don’t automatically get onto my “best of” lists just because of who they are. With that said, this album deserves a spot in the top 10, and was well worth the wait of nearly a decade for a new Lagwagon full-length. It’ll be a sad day when these guys call it quits, but for now I’m going to enjoy the ride and pretend they’ll just keep on going forever.

4) Against Me!Transgender Dysphoria Blues (Total Treble Music)

Here’s another example of one of my favorite bands of all time living up to their name/reputation. This album was one of the first albums of the year, and it lasted the whole year as one of the best. It hooks me in with the drums in the very beginning of the title track, and it just keeps me going all the way through the big “fuck you” of “Black Me Out”. Laura Jane Grace proves that no matter what changes you make on the outside, you’re still the same beautiful person on the inside. I love this album. I love this band.

3) PEARSGo To Prison (Self-released/Anxious and Angry)

From two of my favorite bands of all-time to a band I didn’t even know existed at this time last year. I feel like I’m jumping on the bandwagon or something with this album, because it seems it’s on just about every list this year. But you just can’t deny giving credit when an album is this damn good. I’m not usually a huge hardcore fan, but Go To Prison just has a different feel, in a very good way. It just might be my favorite hardcore punk album, and I find myself listening to it almost every day. I somehow managed to miss these guys live three times within a three-hour drive for me this year, but I’m determined in 2015 to catch what I hear is an epic show. I’m super stoked to find out what’s next from PEARS. (Side note: I know it’s pears, but does anyone else always see a dead ant on the album cover?)

2) Morning GloryWar Psalms (Fat Wreck Chords)

I can’t exactly put my finger on why I love this album so much, but I do… so there. I’m not saying “Standard Issue” is my favorite song of the year, but it’s definitely in the discussion for me, and several songs on War Psalms are right there with it. I just feel “right” when I listen to this album, and I couldn’t see myself putting it anywhere outside the top five in 2014.

1) The CopyrightsReport (Red Scare Industries)

I’m a Midwest pop-punk at heart, and for my money, these guys do that sub-genre just as good as anyone else ever has. Report is fast, frantic, and perhaps most important to me, it’s real. I feel like many of the songs describe my life, my thoughts, my feelings, and I find that a key factor in what makes an album good in my eyes and ears. That’s my two cents… “keep the change.”

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