[Renaldo Matadeen is a staff reviewer at Punknews.org.]
Itâ€™s the Renaldo here! Hope this year treated you guys as awesome as it did me! Following a
torrid 2013 filled with a broken love and a severe bout of suicidal depression, I really enjoyed
this year and Iâ€™m chalking this down to the "emo revival" that everyone either really loves...or
really hates...talking about. 2014 saw the reappearance of emo in a major way, with some really
kickass new bands and some surprise oldies re-emerging on the scene. Truth is, it didnâ€™t die. I
think we just stopped listening. All in all, there were a lot of records for me to fall in love with this
year...and so said, so done. My social anxiety withered bit by bit and sprinkling some sick punk
and hardcore records over my cake this year also helped. So many bands helped widen my
musical spectrum and when itâ€™s all said and done, I really canâ€™t speak highly enough about the
quality out there. The music this year continued to be my healing potion and my emotional
therapy. Just wanted to let you readers and all the staff know how much I love ya suckers,
especially Blackjaw and eazyd2!
Hereâ€™s to wishing all yâ€™all a brilliant 2015 and remember, stay Classic!
Jordan Dreyer continues to bob and weave between spoken word and the
apprehensive, anxious nature of his bandmates as they chart yet another powerful piece to add
to their catalog. Itâ€™s as expressive as youâ€™d expect and as gutting as you figured it would be. Still
it doesnâ€™t stick to the normal sandbox affiliated with the band as it feels a bit more experimental
and abstract -- also touching on a huge theme in broken relationships -- dealing with the objects
that people once shared. And the emotional weight surrounding this sentimental value. These
objects, much like Dreyer's words, allow one of the group's most haunting and honest layouts to
date. Emotive to the core.
Swedish indie-rock meets dream-pop meets the dark, inner recesses of the human
mind? Yep, this is for you. Maja Milnerâ€™s voice resonates as she spews on innocence lost and
bares her soul trudging through the emotional roller coaster of her life. And there's nothing
worse than the fury of a woman scorned. In this case, said woman vents beautifully and through
one of the most melodic, head-bobbing pieces of music this year. It's a lot to take in but it's quite
digestible and shockingly relatable. Candid and full of spunk! A must-listen for young teens!
In terms of brutally honest and emotional math-indie-rock, it rarely gets better than
Dads. Theyâ€™re as focused and as bold as ever while playing off their strengths. While they mix
genres as youâ€™re accustomed to, they do throw some wrenches in the spokes by tossing in
some punk flair when needed. This helps to remind you how well they can dirty it up. But when
push comes to shove, it's their songwriting and passion that make them such a driving force to
be reckoned with. This record is no different and feels like the culmination of years of frustration
bottled into one big crescendo and one which continues to stress on why Dads aren't a band to
sleep on. Extensive touring hasn't hurt them as yet and clearly, Dads have proven more mature.
Older, wiser and more importantly, very willing to buck the trends we associated them with in
LP2 was always gonna be tough to follow. While it's one of the most unbeatable
records I've ever heard, its successor valiantly takes a shot at showing how good Restorations
are at follow-ups. They fall short this time but all in all, it's another loud, guitar-centric and open-spaced ambiance which they love to flourish in. In true rock 'n roll fashion, Restorations
continue their sage narrative on Philly via these post-rock jams but this time, they do so a bit
slower and in a much more clinical fashion. It's a more methodical record and less liberal as
their older stuff but all in all, it's amazing how these factors don't really hold their progression
back. They let loose in doses and highlight why they're always going to be a band to take note
Yeah, I really need this in my life for the next four years. Geoff Rickly gets to unleash
the fucking rage and chaos he couldn't do with Thursday and he has a few members from
Pianos Become The Teeth to help push this notion through. Angry and chaotic. It's an album to
amp you up and is one of the most breathless, screamo/post-hardcore explosives tossed at you
in 2014. Violent and glorious!!! Rickly needs to ditch the side-project with the Lostprophets
dudes and really stick to this.
A couple years ago, Jon Dmitri helped make State Lines what contemporary pop-punk
should be. Then, he switches up the game to place main focus on osoosooso. Then...well I
don't know which musical iteration he's up to now but all I can say is this album is one of the
best summer records I've heard. Itâ€™s made for chilling with the top down, grabbing a few beers
for a bonfire and heading down the highway...enjoying the breezy fun! So catchy, so anthemic
and so infectious. Too many big jams to choose from but all I can say, is that this is a fucking
Alex Pennie's gruff voice got me going here because there are so many elements from
my favorite bands on tap -- Touche Amore, PBTT, Departures and, of course, Defeater. However,
these dudes are more rough cut and less polished, which works wonders in their favor. From
melodic lulls to relentless screamo, this record never lets up as it spreads itself on anguish and
a lot of loud sprawls. The diversity in sound beckons well for fans of Balance and Composure
and also Title Fight, as this group really puts on a versatile yet hard-hitting show. One of the
sleepers this year that feels like a cold slap in the morning! Itâ€™s gritty and then some.
As Kyle Durfey channeled his father's death and his own rage into making one of the
best screamo/post-hardcore bands to date, you recognized that he was hurting big time. Now,
witness PBTT drastically shift their sound to a more swoony, glossy, post-rock feel. Durfey
totally loses his screamo sound and unleashes something weâ€™re not familiar with when it comes
to these Baltimore gents. This album feels like "I'll Get By" meets "Hiding" and is a great bridge
from The Lack Long After to a huge turning point in Durfey's life -- his marriage. He's
more content and happier. His lyrics, while still pained, do reflect that he's more optimistic about
life and this depth is quite apparent in his lyrics. He's finally let go of the past and veered off
course, exploring musical avenues we never thought PBTT would. Very introspective and
hauntingly soothing album. A major yet divisive change but one that works nonetheless.
It's one of the scariest beasts this year. Feels like black metal. Feels like post-metal.
Feels like shoegaze. But what's signified here is very simple. And very loud. If you didn't think
shoegaze could be aggressive with some of the most flexible, cutting and sharp-shooting
guitarwork around, you've got another think coming. It's a frenetic album that rips you into
pieces and leaves your mind jaded, yet better with the wear. The panic and turmoil this record
induces is made for your enjoyment and bet your bottom dollar, you damn well will!
The attitude's intense here. Gripping and very fucking intense. Post-hardcore and
screamo/skramz help craft Frameworks' own brand of melody-driven hardcore which comes off
dramatic a la Comadre, Barren Womb and Life In Vacuum. However, there's more of a raw vibe
and an edgy, passionate, no-fucks-given atmosphere that help establish this record as a huge
statement from a band that has the chops to go the full distance. It's a loud sound that swallows
you. Whole. And it feels good being devoured by it.
Warm. Tear jerking. Heartbreaking. It's an assured indie-pop-punk record that'll have
these gents climbing the tallest ladders around. It's fearless and in this genuine sincerity, as well
as spot-on musicianship, Modern Baseball have stamped their authority down! It feels like
theyâ€™ve finally lived up to their potential and really comes off as the most complete record their
past work hinted at. Upbeat when need be, mid-tempo when called upon; and slower when you
need time to freeze. Highly underrated piece of magic.
This is a fast and furious work of art. Done in a punk gallery where Mish Way burns
everything to the ground. No disrespect to the band but she steals the show, as expected. Her
vocal prowess and frontwoman presence is beyond captivating. Such confidence and poise on
the mic. Her aggression deserves warning signs though because it's scary how well she
hammers her vocal nails into you. You're left bruised but loving it by the time she's done with
I'm a sucker for Anika Pyle's nasal vocals. With this layered onto the cute, bubbly pop-
punk that Chumped's been well known for, let's just say that they're cooking with all the right
ingredients. It's faster and much more frenzied this go around but Chumped make it work. So
well too. It's a huge step forward in their evolution and for all the flair on display here, there's still
so much substance as they trod along dipping in and out genres. Infectious and very sing-along
as well, It's a remarkable addition to their resume!
If you're a fan of Pity Six, Tigers Jaw and Silversun Pickups, you want this. Dreamy,
distorted, hazy and fuzzy indie-pop done right. There are a lot of throwbacks to the niche emo
genres of the '80s and '90s as well to supplement a melodic and at times, soft-spoken crooning
piece of joy. Then when you're in a comfort zone, the album shakes you up as if to remind you
how tough life is. It has a great emotional tether to it and flows nearly seamlessly. One of the
more easy yet poignant listens this year. Loud yet one which manages to simmer into a low-
tempo when the call of duty rings out. Very profound. Very bubbly. Yet strikingly vulnerable.
When it comes to this band, Andy Hull's a major pull for them. His lyrics, delivery and
overall style of storytelling makes it all worthwhile. The approach they've taken to past records
isn't altered that much as it's heavy on guitars and very much straightforward in terms of hooks
and bang. While most of their older works followed this similar pattern, Simple Math to
me felt more commercial a few years back. Now theyâ€™ve rectified these minor kinks, dug deep,
went back to their grassroots and struck a fine balance with their old-school hard-rock intricacy
and the new found mainstream appeal they've got. "Top Notch" is the best selling point of this
album and if you think it's just a flash in the pan, "Every Stone" takes you back to Hull basics.
Posture & The Grizzly: Busch Hymns
Punk. Pop and abrasive mixed in with one careless attitude. And this kind of
punk...well, it's never sounded better. This band is one under-the-radar band that possesses all
the elements that keep you ticking in terms of just what it means in life to be punk. Not in any
skateboard and hardcore manner but instead, it's about subverting the order and in a manner
thatâ€™s poppy yet one that plays off the very harsh realities of the lives we live. As obnoxious as
this album gets, you can't help but sing and mosh and thrash to all the anthems on offer. See
"Jordan Michael's Space Jam" for reference...
Punk. Indie. Shoegaze. Pop. It's one fucking bipolar record that can't seem to find its
footing or its own voice. And this disorder doesn't really upset the listener. In fact, this is one of
the rare cases where the incoherent nature of the record works in its favor. It's a frenetic,
pounding and at times, calming, tune set that works its way under your skin and leaves you
clamoring. In short, it's a fucking trip that's made for punk fans on a Saturday night! This album
grew on me after a few spins and then dominated my player. Quite an unexpected gem!
It's one of the records that kicked off 2014 but also one which set the stage for the
barrage of emo records to come. It's a heartwarming and gut-wrenching array of songs that
really helped make this year the flagship for "emo revival." Setting the tone for a year of feels.
Honest. Caring. Open. Some of the sweetest tracks this year come off this album and it's a soul-
piercing look into the mirror. Their rebranding has led them down a righteous path and whatever
they drop next, I'm fairly certain it'll be some of the most anticipated music of its time.
"Heart Tattoo." "Schley." "The Jerk." This is Joyce Manor back to their pop-punk glory
days. It's pure bliss as it reminds us what helped make their name stand out on debut. They
went back to the fundamentals and didn't even have to keep the record as short as we all
thought they would have. The songwriting is more exploratory and amid all the anti-stage-diving
issues, one thing you can't deny is how indelible this album is. This point's rammed home by the
bass-ridden, '80s tribute "Falling In Love Again" which feels like they channeled their inner
Robert Smith. Brave and in-your-face. While sticking to their stylistic strengths. They're as
fearless, charismatic and in command as ever. Their best album yet!
Emo? Post-punk? Post-rock? Iâ€™m struggle to label this album. It boasts the best guitar-
work I've heard all year long and amid intricate finger-picking/solos, it's the way the jams all
barrel into huge crescendos that gets me. Prawn's grown from strength to strength by the record
and if they top this, theyâ€™ll be Gods to me. The recordâ€™s consistently awesome and with the
soothing horns to complement, youâ€™re left dazed. "Halcyon Days" and "Prolonged Exposure" are
majestic examples of this visceral journey of self-discovery and comfort. A metaphor for love
and life, lost at sea. It crashes down like waves which wash you up on the shore. And when it
ends, a heavy bout of catharsis hits you flush and leaves you gasping for air. You just
experienced a record that'll forever change your life. It's fucking astounding.
Special mentions: Cayetana (Nervous Like Me); The Shell Corporation
(Mandrake); Baby Ghosts (Maybe Ghosts); Dead Ending (DE 111); Code
Orange (I Am King); Field Mouse (Hold Still Life); Single Mothers (Negative
Qualities); Little Big League (Tropical Jinx); Braid (No Coast); Bayside
(Cult); osoosooso (osoosooso); Somos (Temple of Plenty); Tiny Moving
Parts (Pleasant Living)
Renaldoâ€™s Top Tracks of 2014:
1. Somos - "Dead Wrong"
2. Joyce Manor - "Heart Tattoo"
3. Lee Corey Oswald - "Progress"
4. Prawn - "Prolonged Exposure"
5. osooosooso - "A Bunch Of Things I Donâ€™t Know"
6. Floor - "Sister Sophia"
7. Posture & The Grizzly - "Jordan Michael's Space Jam"
Park's return can be best described as triumphant. Not only have they recaptured the
essence of what made them tick in the late '90s and early 2000s but they also managed to
dance through genres like emo, punk and indie to create a more modern, progressive rock
sound which fits them perfectly. It's a bit of a shake up at first and takes some adjusting to but
after a couple listens, you can see where they're heading and it seems to be in a great direction.
If you're jonesing for a new Strike Anywhere album, this band is an apt placeholder in
the meantime. Vocals by Thomas Barnett (Strike Anywhere) backed by the likes of guitarist
Chris Chasse (Rise Against), bassist Joe Saucedo (Set Your Goals) and drummer Kyle Profeta
(Comeback Kid) bring forth one of the most rabid and kickass punk records of the year. If
youâ€™re looking for a quick shot of adrenaline, this is what you want!
One part emo. One part indie. Another part post-rock. Both bands bring a warm, fluent
vibe in just two songs each to continue to build the DIY community and also, set themselves up
for longer records to come. Have Mercy had a pretty solid 2014 in terms of another full-length as
well as major touring stints but it's Daisyhead who surprised here. They snuck in so many
tones of Daylight or Balance and Composure to give a dirty, muddled yet hard-hitting sound.
Both bands contrast yet mix so well.
Donovan Wolfington : Scary Stories You Tell In The Dark [EP] (2014)
Been craving more? Well, here you go! Many influences fuse together to churn out a
jarring and evocative outlay. In short, itâ€™s just what youâ€™d expect from this band. They mix and
match their older style with new punk dimensions to give their most assertive and focused
record to date. Dramatic? Yes. Worth it? Totally. A major step up from their past works, which
already held enough water on their own.
This definitely couldn't be left off my list. JDV's one of the most underrated emo acts
around and joining forces with a band that no doubt takes the mantle as my favorite band this
year in Prawn definitely warrants a spot on the Classic Renaldo's list. It's a short but sweet split,
so tight and so emotionally compact, yet musically, you have enough time to breathe and soak
in the awe.
The broody indie-emo-punk vibe of Whirr meets the aggressive shoegaze of Nothing.
Kinda says it all right? Two great bands and yet another album that my only complaint will be "I
wanted more!!!" The fact that both of these bands put so much out in 2014 really bodes well for
fans like me who couldn't get enough.
Adventures / Run, Forever: Split [7-inch]
No Sleep Records
There's a high degree of empathy for fans of both bands here and if you're looking for a
passionate burst of raw, soul-piercing rock in under ten minutes, look no further. The energy's
very harrowing when you ingest the melodic emo at hand but what it signifies is that both bands
deserve much more recognition than they've gotten in the past. Underdogs in the emo game but
ones that bark very loudly.
Dads meet Interpol. That's how I can best describe it. Post-hardcore influences unfurl
here in the most melodramatic fashion and this helps the powerful storytelling at hand.
Remarkably so. Definitely a sleeper hit record this year.
Some see these dudes as a one-trick pony but if you're a modern day Goo Goo
Dolls...I'm a take what I can get. Loved the stuff these guys put out this year. Perfect for fans of
The Replacements and the '90s in general. Simple, catchy and very entrancing.
Six tracks. 15 minutes. Grungy. Made for fans of The Pixies and rock n' roll in general.
It's chock full of big hooks and unconventional sprawls that never let one particular kind of
sound set in. This kind of unexpected blowout is what made this so memorable. Punk. and so
many more other genres mashed into one big bag of noise.
Four songs that just get better with every listen. "Rush" and the self-titled track are
enough for you to understand just why this is one of the best bands out of the UK at present. Indie,
punk and a big take on emo. Whatever these guys do, their exposed style of delivery will
definitely take them far!!!
Florida does it again. Love Dikembe? Get into these dudes. Feels like a one-off piece
of music but when you listen to "Bitt Will Fitt," you'll understand why I'm praising these dudes.
Four smooth as silk emo tracks made for a Friday night by the bonfire.
If you're home from work -- pissed as fuck -- slip this on. Tucker Rule from Thursday's on
the kit so you know there's a lot of rage behind the drums. This album's loud and the furious
double-kicking is just one aspect of why this could well be one of the best hardcore pieces this
year. It's got that little extra metal vibe in case you wanna do the Fred Durst and break stuff too.
Vent to this. You won't regret it.
Erica Freas continues her aggressive punk opining on the mic and what she does is
further reinforce why she's got that lure on the mic. Driving and very dramatic. It's what RVIVR
do best! You've got another prolific and beautifully constructed punk gem on your hands. The
Beauty Between has its deserving successor.
Both songs were supposed to be on the Kingfisher LP and how I wish they were.
There's not a single thing this band does wrong in my book. More than just a guitar-intricate,
horn-filled emo act. "Built For" is that kind of crescendo that music deserves to have. Rock gold!
Touche Amore: Live On BBC Radio One: Vol 2 [7-inch]
Jeremy Bolm continues with his high energy live performances and as a fan of Is
Survived By, it was most pleasing to hear his throaty post-hardcore spills alongside on their
best (and longest) tracks in "Gravity Metaphorically." This album's another fine example of how
enigmatic they are and also, how amazingly they convey their energy and well-thought out
messages on life.
"A Lovely Mess" is one of the most heartbreaking and honest songs this year. It's
about love, imperfections and continues to show why this acoustic act is more than just strums
on a guitar. Four songs in and there's no real noise to affect you. Just words sinking in,
depressingly at times, but ones which no doubt you can relate to. Another soul-warming effort
that leaves you pondering Life's mysteries.
Comadre lives on. Post-hardcore screamo tapered unto eclectic guitars, rasping drums
and a musical heft that speaks volumes and shreds your fucking soul apart. Pristine chaos with
musicianship a la At The Drive-In. You need this in your life because it's where you channel all
frustration into. Get it out. Release the anger. One of the most impactful records of the past few
One of the most memorable and soul-searching emo/indie records this year. It's
introspective and reflective in the most soothing post-rock manner. I'm still enamored with
"Ocean" to this very day and when it comes to these dudes, they're more than just melodic rock
done right...they're about making you question everything you believe in. Depth. Plus
For fans of The Gaslight Anthem, Restorations and Against Me!, Nightmares For A
Week need to be on your radar. Whether it's acoustic as in "Dead Will Stay" or catchy pop-
punk a la "Bleached Blonde," this band has something for everyone. They show this in spades
here on a split which shows how a split should be done. Five songs each. Like God meant it to
be. Then queue Banquets. Their brand of punk remains so unique yet technically simple. I love
how non-complex they are. "The Engineer" and "Come Home Ragged" are prime examples of
this. One of the most astonishing splits I've ever heard.