Big Eyes submitted a list as a collective. Their list is in no particular order.
Crystal Antlers: Nothing Is Real
Audacity: Butter Knife
Yamantaka//Sonic Titan: Uzu
Mikal Cronin: MC II
Dead Ghosts: Can't Get No
Dirt Cult Records
The name of this band, the name of the album and their whole aesthetic makes it seem like this album will be bleak, and possibly bland. However, Canadian Rifle is not just another Midwestern-sounding punk band! These songs are anthemic in a way that brings a smile to my face, with gruff, Leatherface-type vocals, yet high singalongs cutting through some moving melodic hardcore. If you listen closely you can almost hear the spirit of Avail in there… And that, my friends, is a compliment that comes from the Vatican of my heart.
Is everyone on Punknews finally letting the Wonder Years forget "Get Stoked On It!" and realizing that they are a good punk band? No? I'M NOT AFRAID. In the past, the Wonder Years have written humorous yet sad, Hold Steady-like lyrics about growing up and feeling disconnected from party culture and religion, and watching their friends fall into the typical suburban career-wife-kids thing. On this one, the humor is pretty much gone… The lyricist seems to be struggling with these feelings of loneliness even more, and it makes for a moving album. The music feels more serious as well, yet still energetic. On one hand, Soupy expresses feeling left behind while the people he grew up with build families, and the guilt of being "in an airport [while] you're in a hospital bed… What kind of man does that make me?" On another, although he doesn't seem to know where to go from there, he ruminates on OUR generation becoming the "greatest generation," despite a past generation being crowned so, and despite being given "hand-me-downs" with no expectation of greatness. In the end, he decides "we all want to be great men and there's nothing romantic about it. I just want to know that I did all I could with what I was given." Whether you keep being in airports or you decide to be nearer to your friends' hospital beds, you've done something unforgettable, Wonder Years.
They hate music because they're better at it than everyone else.
This album makes me feel like I'm weeping in a bathtub. Stop it, Katie Crutchfield! Get away from my heart!
Jangly, tongue-in-cheek, pop rock 'n' roll songs about getting bad tattoos and other funny stuff you do when you're young. However, besides the "fun" lyrics, there is actual emotional weight in these songs, too, maybe even in their wittiness. Another album with meaning that lies in its simplicity.
Manic, obsessive, chaotic, pop punk jams about the world ending and stories about serial killers. Direct Hit! takes lofty subject matter and makes it fun as fuck and catchy as fuck. The random hardcore song "We're Fucked" is better than the majority of hardcore that came out this year…
"You wake up in the storm… Tired of screaming since the day you were born. But the sky ain't pissing holy water. It makes you wet and it makes you dead, there's no one coming for you." I tend not to listen as much when the songs slow down, but fuck, the energetic songs on this album grab you and shake you at your core. I remember someone on here saying that this album makes them feel like they just heard their first punk record, and I feel that.
Rory Records / Equal Vision
Speaking of Chris Conley, I don't know what the fuck he's been doing since "Stay What You Are" came out -- apparently, making a three album concept thingy?! Or something??? I don't know, I love their classic "hits," but besides that I never followed Saves the Day much. That's why I was so surprised when I heard this amazing, infectious pop rock gem -- I thought Saves the Day was making sad, weird songs! This is not sad. It sounds like a pretty girl in a yellow sundress smiling. A+ 10/10.
Kinder Words: I've Seen Them Given
This is my best friend's band… And they're my favorite new band. The only reason I mention the connection is to explain how I've even heard this album; Kinder Words have played maybe six shows since they started being a band last year and have been working on this album. I'm lucky! For the people who have heard of Kinder Words, it's always been hard for them describe, which is why I think I'm so excited about it. It's anthemic punk, but written over shifting, open chords that are weird in a Lemuria-type way. Some of the songs sound like Face to Face or Dillinger Four would've written them, but the vocals aren't very "punk" -- they're high and clean almost like Chris Conley's. There are a lots of harmonies and even a couple falsetto parts when the songs build to epic bridges, like in the four-minute "Unending." But the long songs aren't pretentious -- in fact, the album's general catchiness, youthful spirit and straightforward lyrics about fear, failure and losing friends seem the opposite, any climax feeling pure-hearted and necessary. I also don't want to mislead you... This album drives straight through, even in the couple longer songs, barely stopping to look down during its 30-minute run time. With awesome lines like, "I'm hoping maybe there's an ounce of what you have inside of me," you wonder if the lyricist is brave enough to slow down. Please listen to this!!!
Modern Life Is War: Fever Hunting
Despite them having been a band for around ten years now, I started listening to Modern Life is War a mere two years ago. Why now? I don't know, since I put them on and casually listened about five years ago, but was bored. I think they're the kind of band who can't be loved when you just casually listen… They're maybe a band you understand less in youth and more in the isolation of having to lose youth. And they're the kind of band that you fucking obsess over when you feel completely alone in life, since you can tell that they, too, feel completely alone… I mean, they're a hardcore band from Iowa, for Christ's sake. You can't be a punk from the middle-of-nowhere and just be a casual punk. It's all or nothing. But anyway, since then, they've probably become my favorite band, so when I found out that they were getting back together, I was more excited than any time I've ever seen a band. And I anticipated this album more than any other album. I was obsessed with the idea of sharing these words that mattered to me with a BAND that still cared about their words. I've seen plenty of reunited bands that I loved, and it was awesome, but I knew they didn't still care about their words. I felt like I knew MLIW wouldn't possibly get back together if they didn't still care -- and my wishes were true! Not only that, but Fever Hunting is fucking amazing. The music is more concentrated and to-the-point than ever, just making the lyrics, which are generally about making sure you don't miss out on life and forget to live with purpose, more powerful than ever. You can feel the vocalist, Jeff Eaton, longing for this time that was lost, and trying to accept that, and it can be a tough listen at times, because this is tough shit to deal with. Listen to tracks 8-11 and fall off your skateboard, y'all!
Honorable MentionsCriminal Damage: Call of Death
Holy: The Age of Collapse