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Best New Music

Various Artists - Two Way Tie for Last [cassette] (Cover)
Various Artists: Two Way Tie for Last [cassette]
Baldy Longhair/ Fleeting Youth
The punk compilation was formed in the late 70's as way to introduce listeners to bands that they might not know about. Let them eat Jellybeans, Bullshit detector, and Hell comes to your house forged this tradition and really, help set the pantheon of punk legends by merely including bands in their grooves. This tradition continued with force well into the early 2000's with the famed Fat Music, Give em the boot, and Punk-o-rama comps. Perusing any of those tracklists is a review of who's who in the punk scene (with a few lesser deviations). [more]
RVIVR - Bicker and Breathe [EP] (Cover)
RVIVR: Bicker and Breathe [EP]
Rumbletowne Records
Over a year later and I still can't get "Paper Thin" out my head. The Beauty Between cemented itself as the RVIVR record I was waiting on -- stamping its authority as one of their most ambitious and energetic punk diatribes to date. But more so, it really felt like the most wholesome piece of work in their catalog and one especially meant to leave its mark on doubters who felt they weren't living up to their billing. [more]
Beach Slang - Cheap Thrills On A Dead End Street [7-inch] (Cover)
Beach Slang: Cheap Thrills On A Dead End Street [7-inch]
Tiny Engines
Beach Slang are worth the hype. If you want a band that seamlessly combines indie, emo and pop-punk and which manages to fit the bill for fans of The Replacements, Jawbreaker, Superchunk and Japandroids, then this is for you. By now, the biggest comparison though is to the sound of the Goo Goo Dolls. Vocalist James Snyder's low-brow and stifled delivery really sells this and continues to push the aching sentiment that Who Would Ever Want Anything So Broken? left us with earlier this year. "All Fuzzed Out" opens things up to pick up right they left off. Fuzzy, frustrated and feedback galore but embedded in a musical style that Snyder thrives on. [more]
Manchester Orchestra - Hope (Cover)
Manchester Orchestra: Hope
Loma Vista
Cope signified a definitive landmark in Manchester Orchestra's career. It proved the crowning statement that defined what past albums such as Simple Math and Mean Everything To Nothing built towards and culminated the years of heart, soul, blood, sweat and tears poured in by Andy Hull and his team. As an all-out rock band, dancing from folky to alternative to heavy grunge at times, their guitar-driven disposition often defined them, accompanying the soothing yet pained words of Hull. [more]
Tiny Moving Parts - Pleasant Living (Cover)
Tiny Moving Parts: Pleasant Living
Triple Crown Records
Tiny Moving Parts are a great example of "if ain't broke, don't fix it." This Couch Is Long & Full of Friendship to me deserved more hype in 2013 but even if it didn't register with the masses, it was one of the year's more endearing and genuine albums that really connected personally. Seeing that the transition into Pleasant Living come off so smoothly is even more pleasing as it seems lyrically, they've grown, and in this maturity, the experience factor kicks in -- whether it's because of the road or life in general. [more]
Deafheaven - From the Kettle Onto the Coil [Digital Single] (Cover)
Deafheaven: From the Kettle Onto the Coil [Digital Single]
Adult Swim
The Adult Swim singles series is on a roll this year, with great contributions by artists as diverse as Captain Murphy and Future to the more punk rock-centric Speedy Ortiz and Diarrhea Planet to heavier acts like Sleep and a collaboration between Mastodon and Gibby Haynes of the Butthole Surfers. So who better for a spot in this unique and wonderful collection than the Internet's simultaneously most celebrated and despised metal band, Deafheaven? The San Francisco-based group's first material since last year's highly acclaimed Sunbather is a little less, well... sunny, right down to the cover art. [more]
Pallbearer - Foundations of Burden (Cover)
Pallbearer: Foundations of Burden
Profound Lore
Every year in heavy music, there seems to be one album that stands out from the pack and dominates the conversation: Liturgy's Aesthetica, Baroness' Yellow & Green, Deafheaven's Sunbather, and so on. This year, somewhat strangely, that album appears to be Pallbearer's Foundations of Burden. I say "Strangely," not because there's anything wrong with the record (in fact, quite the opposite is true), but because those other records were so shocking and new. They were either radical reinventions or bold introductions. Foundations of Burden by comparison is relatively safe. [more]
Mannequin Pussy - Gypsy Pervert (Cover)
Mannequin Pussy: Gypsy Pervert
Tiny Engines
Epic band-name aside, Mannequin Pussy really have taken an album, divisive in its nature, and used it to kick the punk game in its ass. Not every track is full-fledged punk but those that are...are punk as fuck. Half the album embeds itself in a relentless, grungey-punk theme while the other fixates in wispy, fuzzy shoegaze-pop. Despite spreading their roots wide, Mannequin Pussy even things out pretty well. They even combine genres to marvelous effect on a couple tracks, which like the majority of the album, fit the taste-buds nicely- Especially for folks with a diverse palette. [more]
Code Orange - I Am King (Cover)
Code Orange: I Am King
Deathwish
Dropping the 'Kids' from their name doesn't stop how massive, heavy and full of rage Code Orange's I Am King shapes up to be, staying in line with what the band has always done best. In case you're still wondering what that is, well, in a nutshell, they pack enormous anger into hardcore pipe-bombs and drop them with no restraint, no afterthought and no care. This kind of liberal fury is exactly what the doctor ordered. And no shocker that Deathwish delivers this remedy. At first glance, I'll admit parallels are drawn to Norma Jean. Some parts of Code Orange's sound here feel worn out and charted already but many other segments cover more expansive territory. [more]
It Looks Sad - It Looks Sad [EP] (Cover)
It Looks Sad: It Looks Sad [EP]
Tiny Engines
"Ocean" is a great summary of what this band is about. It's without a doubt my favorite track of 2014 and with good reason. Not only does it signify how much progress has been made and the direction that It Looks Sad is heading in but it adds degrees of musical solidity to a band that channeled a lot of effort into finding their definitive sound and overall, their voice. They sifted and sifted and this self-titled EP seems like it's the perfect fit. "Ocean" was the first song I heard off this and it stirred something in me. Oddly enough, it caps off the record but I took it in a few times before letting the album play out. [more]
Greys - If Anything (Cover)
Greys: If Anything
Carpark Records
Genres are imperfect, and the label of "post-hardcore" betrays Toronto punk quartet Greys more than it helps them. The term implies too many post-Refused quirks that went sour in practice over the last 15 years, and none of that need burden this band or this record. Greys are fundamentally uncomplicated with the caveat that they're not going to constrain themselves to by-the-books hardcore. They foreshadow some cool future directions on this record but don't yet go down that road. That's entirely different than whatever post-hardcore supposedly means these days. There's a certain elegance to If Anything. [more]
Cayetana - Nervous Like Me (Cover)
Cayetana: Nervous Like Me
Tiny Engines
Cayetana could not have picked a better bunch of songs for their debut LP. Nervous Like Me embodies many of the snippets we've seen from them in the past yet it proceeds to fully flesh out the band's direction holistically. In doing so, this record brings forth so much of Cayetana's musical character and emphasizes how driven they are. If you had high hopes for this album, consider yourself appeased. The all-female trio absolutely destroy it here, again showing why their indie-brand deserves big recognition. In the realm of modern indie-punk, Cayetana definitely stamps their authority. [more]
The Dirty Nil - Smite [10-inch] (Cover)
The Dirty Nil: Smite [10-inch]
Self Released
At this juncture, Smite, a 10" EP with five songs and a running time of around 12 minutes, is the longest contiguous chunk of music the Hamilton (well, proudly Dundas) based Dirty Nil have released. This is a trio that's built a sizeable following in the Ontario independent music scene strictly as as singles band (if that). Between the handful of intermittently available 7" releases there are songs to be found here or there on splits, compilations or streaming from the archives of half a dozen blogs. The amount of digital archeology one must undertake to start assembling this band's equivalent of a Singles Going Steady can be daunting. [more]
Bad Canoes - Sisterhood is Powerful (Cover)
Bad Canoes: Sisterhood is Powerful
self-released
What makes Bad Canoes' debut EP so exhilarating it that it embodies the very spirit of punk rock itself without falling prey to any of the trappings. Rarely do debut come this fully formed. Featuring Marissa Paternoster of Screaming Females on vocals, the band eschews the traditional guitar/bass/drums set up of standard punk and leans more towards the frantic, spastic, side of early Sunset Strip punk. Songs aren't presented as morality lessons or even as coherent tales. [more]
Prawn - Kingfisher (Cover)
Prawn: Kingfisher
Topshelf Records
Prawn have always been one of those ensembles whose musical spread shimmered as a sound on the cusp of greatness. Their knack for rendering such organic, sincere tones in their storytelling while mixing up tenacious emo-based tunes really laid the groundwork for personal and emotive connection. Amid their dramatic commentary, they managed to come off instinctive in their sonic direction and as a band that really wasn't a copy of any other. Even better, their output helped build them as an entity that isn't anything too groundbreaking but still one that's hard to imitate. [more]
Chrome - Feel It Like a Scientist (Cover)
Chrome: Feel It Like a Scientist
King of Spades Records
Feel it like a scientist is Chrome's first album in 12 years but it feels like it was released right after 1979's classic Half Machine Lip Moves. So, that is to say, due to the band's sci-fi trappings and avant-garde nature, the album still sounds far ahead of its time. The classic 70's run of Chrome found founding member Damon Edge balancing his abstract, experimentations against the hard rumbling, proto-metal smashing of guitarist Helios Creed. Since Edge's 1995 passing, Creed has continued to Chrome mantle. [more]
Calculator - This Will Come To Pass (Cover)
Calculator: This Will Come To Pass
Count Your Lucky Stars
Calculator have taken lead from many influences yet they've always managed to add their signature flair and distinguish musical characteristics that ultimately prevail as their own sound. Harnessing leads from a wide array of genres, safe to say, they've found their sound and it's these traits that highlight how well they mix and mash (in dynamic fashion) threads of punk, hardcore, screamo and, of course, post-hardcore. This Will Come To Pass is by no means subtle and is in fact, one of their most rapid and angry outlays to date, but what it really signifies is that Calculator's stable has grown and more so, is ready to stand on its own as a band that's unlocking its potential. [more]
Field Mouse - Hold Still Life (Cover)
Field Mouse: Hold Still Life
Topshelf
Hold Still Life is album that is cast in stone as one for the brokenhearted. It's right up there with the collective of summer records that won't be known (and subsequently, praised) for their optimism or upbeat tones, but, instead, for a steady stream of beautiful, bruised soul-searching elements glazed over with heavy (and I mean heavy) tones of melancholy. It's charming, melodic and as their sophomore debut, it's as fresh as they could have hoped for. Usually, bands like this, rely on a formula for churning out wispy, romantic and strikingly dark dream-pop but when it comes to Field Mouse, they're consistently good at breaking the mold they've set themselves. [more]
Various - A Comp For Mom (Cover)
Various: A Comp For Mom
No Sleep
No Sleep Records label founder Chris Hansen's mom recently passed away while he was prepping a comp to pay tribute. "A Comp For Mom is a special project I planned over the past month of my mom's life, to release in her honor and to help raise funds for her medical bills. Now it will be released in memory of her. 100% of the proceeds will be going towards any medical bills/other expenses incurred after her passing, after that 100% of the proceeds will go into a Linda Hansen Memorial Fund," he stated. First off, our extreme condolences to Hansen. Secondly, hats off for bringing together such a neat litltle cadre of musicians who embody so much heart and so much togetherness. [more]
The Dwarves - The Dwarves Invented Rock 'n' Roll (Cover)
The Dwarves: The Dwarves Invented Rock 'n' Roll
Recess Records/Greedy Records
The Dwarves Invented Rock n' Roll seems to be an instinctual reaction against its predecessor. As much as the band members argue that their lyrics and music come from a cerebral place, Invented Rock seems to be primarily a product of the gut and the balls. 2004's The Dwarves Must Die was the band's last album before an extended break. Sort of a daring exhibition, the band brought everything from Hip Hop to techno to pop into their mix to prove just how far they could stretch their sound- and to make the argument that punk rock isn't a method, it's an ideology. [more]

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