2017 was a year of musical deep dives into old discography. It’s safe to say that at times I got buried completely in the depths of various artist’s back catalogues. So much so that a few albums on this list were the only things I listened to for weeks at a time. Yes, I’m 100% that person. Here’s a little glimpse into of some my most played this year. Albums Of The Year will be posted very soon so make sure to check back for that.
A Will Away: Bliss (2015)
Just to set the record straight, A Will Away is by far my favorite new find this year. The only reason I even listened to them in the first place was because they opened a tour I went to in March. On a whim, I decided to be a responsible concert goer and give these guys a shot about a month before the show. Not only did I fall head over heels in love, I fell really, really hard.
Bliss is exactly what it sounds like. This EP is about as feel good as it gets. It’s the type of music I want to listen to on warm summer nights with the windows rolled down. It’s passionate, honest, and clever. From the opening, optimistic notes of Play Dead, to the end build of Be Easy, Bliss hits perfectly.
On a side note, I’ve seen A Will Away three times this year, and they put on one of the best live shows I’ve ever seen. No bells or whistles, just a bunch of dudes playing instruments, and raw, flawless vocals. This band is extraordinarily talented and it’s refreshing.
Listen To: Play Dead, Be Easy
Trade Wind: You Make Everything Disappear (2016), Suffer Just to Believe (2014)
So here we go again with music that virtually came out of nowhere. I’m 100% not sure how I found Trade Wind, but I’m so glad I did. This was another slow burn that was beyond worth it.
You Make Everything Disappear: Is this an album? It’s eight songs, does that count?Either way, I’m sold. This is probably the most diverse release on this list. Heavy, guitar driven tracks, looped electronics, and a minimal acoustic track. It’s a journey of an album, and there’s a little something for everyone.The most impressive part of this album is that it’s heavy without needing to scream in your face. There’s a bit of drained feeling I get after listening. It’s not exhausting though, more of a release if that makes sense. Either way, there’s something very special about this album. I’d love to see these songs live one day.
Suffer Just to Believe: The bands first and only EP. This is more straight up rock with a little grunge and dirt. It’s heavier than the album, and is perfect for a dark, bitter rainy day. This EP makes being in pain a little more enjoyable. It sounds ridiculous, but I’ve listened to Suffer a lot during bad chronic pain days and I feel a little more okay about my traitor of a body.
Listen To: Radio Songs, Dead Leaves
The Dangerous Summer: Golden Record (2013)
Here we are again with music that seemed to come out of nowhere at the perfect time. Let’s start out by saying that this is far from a perfect album. The reason it’s on this list is because when it gets it right, it’s very right. There’s a handful of songs that feel so deeply nostalgic, I couldn’t tare myself away. We all need some emo music every so often, and songs like Sins, Anchor, and Miles Away really fill that void. I didn’t listen to this album all the way through much, but those songs got a lot of plays this summer and are definitely worth checking out.
Listen To: Sins, Anchor
Sleep On It: Lost Along The Way (2016)
If you were looking for a short, sweet, play it again option, you’ve found it. Five songs of catchy, anthemic hooks. I’d imagine writing an EP is a bit like writing a short story. Not a ton of content, but it’s so easy to get it all wrong. Lost Along The Way manages to get it all very right. This is the type of music I’ll throw on when I’m not really sure what to reach for. It’s easy listening, and it’s fun. For me, the brightest point of the EP is the final song, Let Me Go. I love a good build, and by the end of the song, the only thing I want to do is start the whole thing over again.
Listen To: Unspoken, Let Me Go
Trophy Eyes: Chemical Miracle (2016)
There was a period of time this year where I couldn’t find the right level of heavy. Nothing was hitting the spot and I wasn’t ready to dive into a totally new musical world with hardcore or metal. I give you, the album I’m still not sure how I missed last year. I’ve tried to get into Trophy eyes before, I’ve seen them live. It wasn’t until this summer that something finally clicked. If I’d payed attention when it came out, it would have been an album of the year contender, easily. This is a masterpiece. It’s truly heartbreaking in the best way. There’s nothing to hide behind on songs like Miracle and Daydreamer. Lyrics are straight to the point and they cut deep. So deep that after a little while, they started to fill the never ending void in my chest, if only for a few hours at a time.
The real standout lyrically is that there’s no mention of a happy ending. Instead, things are wrong and that’s the way they are. In a world saturated with stories of making it to the other side, it’s important to give voice to pain that isn’t over yet.
Listen To: Chlorine, Nose Bleed
The Wonder Years: The Greatest Generation (2013)
Maybe it’s the fact that we happen to share a home town, but there’s something so comforting about this album. To be perfectly honest, it’s taken me far too long to properly get into this gloriously familiar band. Pop Punk gets a lot of crap for being a particularly unintelligent genre of music, but if you’re looking for a little more substance, this is the album to work on. This isn’t just an album, it’s an event. Thirteen brilliant songs, ending with arguably one of the best closing tracks ever. In fact, if you didn’t want to listen to the whole album, it’s a nice TL;DR for the whole thing. But you really should listen everything. It’s poignant, sad, nostalgic and hits close to home.
The Wonder Years shine very brightly when it comes to lyrics. Each song is an fantastically honest short story, and it’s very easy to become fully submerged. During uncertain times, The Greatest Generation brings a little bit of welcome stability.
Listen To: Dismantling Summer, The Devil In My Bloodstream
Can’t Swim: Death Deserves a Name (2016)
This EP took me a while to get into. When I first saw these guys last year in a tiny little 450 cap room, I wasn’t really sure what to think. Then I gave it time, came back a few months later and listened to these five songs over and over again. The simplicity of Death Deserves a Name works because of it’s execution. It’s really not complicated. Angry self reflection steeped in a good measure of atmosphere. Just give it a chance, this one takes time.
Listen To: Your Clothes, Death Deserves A Name
The Xcerts: There Is Only You (2014)
I’m not sure how this band wound up on my radar, but gosh it was a nice, light find. A bit reminiscent of Moose Blood and Beach Weather, it’s accessible, infectious, life affirming British pop rock. What I love about this album is that it doesn’t try and be anything but what it is. There’s nothing deep or pretentious about this band, and that’s nice once a while. A few stand out tracks include the apply named Pop Song, and unabashedly hopeful Live Like This. My favorite is the epic two-tracks-in-one final song There Is Only You. You’ll just have to give this one a listen to hear for yourself.
Before we move on, let’s put our hands together for the album on this list that sound the least like it’s cover.
Listen To: Pop Song, There Is Only You
The Maine: Pioneer (2011)
Ah, hello old friend. This is my album. For all intents are purposes, this is the one. It’s not flashy, or fancy or anything other that what it is. A monstrosity of a project, all fourteen songs come in at just over an hour. In case you weren’t paying attention, that’s a long album.
I’ve never really gone into why this album is such a big deal, so let’s talk about that for a minute. The Maine, and Pioneer came into my life during the the most miserable summer of my life. The summer of antibiotics which lead to the whole lose twenty pounds in four weeks scenario. I was so weak, so done, so incredibly empty.
Although I first fell in love with The Maine during their Forever Halloween cycle, songs from Pioneer were what stuck with me when I saw them live for the first time. That was four and half years ago, and since then, I’ve slowly wrapped myself in this album to the point that this is what I reach for when I need to remember why I love music.
Pioneer is another album that’s probably not perfect. What I love about it is that it feels very honest. It’s pure creativity, risk taking, ideas, new beginnings, memories, apologies. There’s a song for every mood, and it covers a very wide range of what it means to be a human being.
This album has grown with me, and somehow remains relatable in a way that is completely unique. Pioneer is hot summer nights, campfires with old friends. It’s the peace of solitude, the quiet of internal reflection. It feels the most right, the most okay of anything on this list, even after four years.
If you just so happen to listen all the way through that fourteen minute song at the end, it might be the best musical decision you ever make.
Listen To: Like We Did (Windows Down), Misery, Identify
I hope you enjoyed part one of my musical year in review. Albums Of The Year will be up very soon. What have you re-discovered this year? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.