DS Staff Picks – Meremaid’s Top Ten Albums of 2015

Hello! I’m Meredith, otherwise known as meremaid and I’m one of the newer writers on Dying Scene. This year has been a rollercoaster for me with probably some of the best and worst moments of my life and music has of course been by my side for the entire ride. When there’s nothing else that makes me feel hopeful, I have that and I am forever grateful to the bands and fans in the community that have helped me feel less alone when I’ve needed it most. I’m also so thankful that this music is something my sister and I can share. So many good memories were made this year on mini road trips and in shitty hotels to see shows. My top ten for this year is mostly pop punk, so grab a slice of pizza, get a little sad and enjoy.

You can check out my picks below.

10. Polyphia- Muse

Okay, so technically the original version of this album came out in 2014, but in April 2015 they released a remixed and remastered version and that was when I really got into this band so it’s on the list. As a writer and reader, I‘ve always been one for lyrics, so Polyphia was an unexpected favorite for me considering that they’re completely instrumental, but DAMN. The technicality of their music and the emotion that they convey with instruments alone is amazing. I can admit that tracks like “Aviator” (featuring Chelsea Grin’s insanely talented former guitarist Jason Richardson) and “Finale” have almost made me tear up. I actually spent the morning of my birthday this year driving around and listening to this album and it was the best way I could’ve started the day. Add that to the fact that everyone in this band is twenty-one or under and your mind is blown.

9. Across All Oceans- “Monophobia” single from upcoming full-length Homegrown

I know this is just one track and you’re thinking “Shit, she’s already cheating on this list,” but HEY this is a great song and I can’t get over it. Their last EP is from June 2014, and I loved it. But it was only three tracks and I needed more and guess what? It’s finally coming. “Monophobia” reminds me of the music I wish I’d had right after I graduated high school and spent summer nights writing in my car or laying in the dark on my trampoline. It’s nostalgic and angsty and everything I love about pop punk, and it makes my top ten because if the rest of Homegrown is anything like it, it may make my top ten of 2016 list.

8. As It Is- Never Happy, Ever After

As It Is has been a band since 2013 and had released 3 EP’s, but I never paid much attention. I heard about Never Happy, Ever After, and I listened to it and really liked it, but it wouldn’t have made my top ten if I hadn’t photographed the band at Warped Tour in July. If you know me, you know that live performances are everything to me and this band plays a hell of a live show. Every single person gave it everything they had. Patty Walters and Ben Biss sing with so much emotion and Patty is really a showman, talking to everyone in the crowd and swinging his mic around precariously. I fell in love with this band’s heart and I couldn’t stop playing the album for weeks.  “Speak Soft” is my favorite track hands down, but “Cheap Shots and Setbacks” and “Dial Tones” are also great to sing along to.

7. Senses Fail- Pull the Thorns From Your Heart

Buddy Nielsen gets a lot of flack, but he keeps creating and speaking his mind, and the thing that I love about him is that he uses the band’s following as a platform to talk about things he cares about and things he’s been through, and it ends up helping his fans that might be going through the same things. Some people don’t like when musicians talk about politics or social issues or sexuality and would rather them just stick to music. But talking about that stuff is what punk rock is all about right? Buddy is the only original member left in this band and he is truly the heart of it. I’ve been lucky enough to see them live twice this year, and he threw himself into both shows. And when Pull the Thorns From Your Heart came out, my heart broke. The lyrics on this album put everything out on the table. These are thoughts you would never tell anyone, and it’s totally different from anything Senses Fail has put out before, especially if the last thing you listened to was “Calling All Cars” or “Can’t Be Saved.” One of my favorite tracks is “Carry the Weight.” In it, Buddy sings, “I hope you never know what it’s like to hide a piece of yourself inside or to be so fucking ashamed you’d rather kill yourself than be alive.” And in another favorite track, “Surrender,” there’s a message of hope: “There is so much love and so much kindness. There is so much hope, someday you’ll find it. Take the armor off your heart and let it beat.” I feel like this is an album that could save lives and that’s why it’s so special to me.

6. Mayday Parade – Black Lines

I’ve been a fan of Mayday Parade since I was fourteen and they gave me their first EP for five dollars while I waited in line at my first Warped Tour. I had to put “Black Lines” on here because I believe that this album is their best and most different yet. They changed so much if you compare it to every other album they’ve ever done, but they still kept their undeniable “Mayday Parade sound,” thanks in part to Derek Sanders’ voice. I was blown away by this album because before I listened to it, I was expecting the pop punk, alt-rock guitars and harmonies, and sad, heartbroken feel that Mayday usually goes for, but it is so much grittier and heavier than what they’ve done in the past. My two favorite tracks on the album have to be “One of Them Will Destroy the Other” and “Keep In Mind, Transmogrification is a New Technology.” “One of Them Will Destroy the Other” is the first track and it just punches you in the gut. Dan Lambton from Real Friends does guest vocals and the fucking emotion in that track is unreal. You can tell they wrote and recorded this album with something to prove, and they succeeded.

5. I Prevail- Heart vs. Mind

Considering it went viral, you may have heard I Prevail’s cover of Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space,” and it was EXCELLENT, but if you haven’t heard the Heart vs. Mind EP you’re missing out. “Crossroads” is one of my favorite songs. It’s super inspirational and upbeat and if you ever get a chance to meet the guys you know that they live by the words of this song because they’re all so genuine and nice. “Love, Lust, and Liars,” is another good one and I find myself trying to growl along to Eric Vanlerberghe’s uncleans in my car. It’s pretty embarrassing. And listen to the acoustic “My Heart I Surrender” and try not to sing along emotionally. You CAN’T HELP IT. Look out for a full-length from them in 2016 because I know it’s coming and it’s gonna be sick.

4. Northbound – Death of a Slug

I had never listened to Northbound and then I went to see State Champs on their Shot Boys of Summer Tour with my sister. Northbound were the first openers and I was captivated. After their set, I hurried over to their march table and bought “Death of a Slug” and now here it is, number four on my list. I was just getting into a relationship at the time and the song “The Effort is Never Worth the Outcome” hit me hard because it was exactly how I felt. I just love that this whole album is so honest. It’s like reading the poetry someone writes about their life that they never expect anyone else to read. “You pull me in just to push me out.  I can’t get your bottom lip out of my mouth.  I’m a shade of dark blue, I’m bruising quickly over you.” I mean COME ON, that’s poetry! I’m a sucker for angst because everyone feels that way sometimes, but not everyone will admit it. These guys lay it all out there; self-doubt, heartbreak, happiness, not giving a shit, knowing that you were wrong, it’s stuff that everyone can relate to and I honestly wish I lived closer to Florida so I could catch them live more often.

3. Knuckle Puck – Copacetic

I was on assignment with an alternative music website to take pictures of The Maine on their American Candy Tour and Knuckle Puck were the openers for this one. I’d heard of them, but never listened. Joe Taylor came onstage, quiet and small in a t-shirt and basketball shorts and I never expected him to be as loud as he was once he put the mic up to his mouth. I fell in love with this band and got the chance to take pictures of them again at Warped Tour a few weeks before their full-length debut came out. And then it did, and I had it on repeat for a month.  “Copacetic” is different than anything else that’s out right now in my opinion. The guitars on this album are gorgeous. You can get lost in almost every song. And the tracks are each their own. Some of them are up to seven minutes long and some of them are just barely two but each of them is just as effective. Driving around and listening to this album without even singing along was like therapy to me. “I’m not sad. I’m through sulking. I’m not breaking, I’m not buckling.” Knuckle Puck exploded onto the scene with this and it’s albums like this that give me hope for the future of pop punk. Everyone thought it was dying, but stuff like this makes me think it’s making a comeback. I can’t wait to hear what they do next.

2. Bring Me The Horizon – That’s the Spirit

Alright, I know this is neither punk nor pop punk, but we’ve covered them before and they’re going on here because this album means more to me than I could really put into words. But I’ll try! Oli Sykes described this album as a celebration of depression, and I feel that, but I think it’s more of a celebration of mental health problems in general. It made me feel less alone this year. When I was at the end of my rope and I thought that I was never going to get better, I listened to every word of the song “Avalanche,” and I felt like someone else had experienced exactly what I was feeling before and he is still alive and thriving and that maybe I can get through it too. I know that Oli Sykes is a weird person to say I look up to, but I do. The things that he wrote for this album resonate with me in a way that helped me more than a lot of other things have. And this band is on the top 40 radio in the UK. Getting guitars back in the top 40 is a huge thing, and Bring Me the Horizon has done it. This album tells a story. It’s art, and when you listen to it you can’t really put it into one category. It can reach so many people and span over so many genres. And it means so much to the band. It’s apparent how hard they worked on it and I have to respect that.

1. Neck Deep – Life’s Not Out to Get You

Neck Deep is easily one of my favorite bands. I already have plans to see them on four of the tour dates of their upcoming World Tour with State Champs. But they secured that spot as one of my favorites with this album. Their previous albums are just as badass, and they definitely have a Crucial Dudes feel, but this album is top notch. I listened to it a lot when I was really down about life, and the title of the album is pretty much the message that the songs push. It’s okay to be sad, but there are still good things and life isn’t all bad. You’ve gotta pick yourself up and get better and you’ll get through it. That’s something that I’ve had to remind myself a lot this year, and when I couldn’t do it, they did. Neck Deep’s sound is truer to punk than a lot of pop punk that’s out there right now, and Ben Barlow’s emotional vocals combined with their gritty, ass-kicking, party and enjoy the shit of out life attitude is contagious. When I listen to this album I’m happy to be alive. I wanna jump around my room and it makes me smile. And that’s all I could ask for.

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