The year 2014 is coming to an end, and even though there were only a select few musicians who made it platinum (props to Taylor Swift, and Echosmith) there are still a lot of bands who made huge impacts and impressed all of us here at AMN.
We decided that all of us writers would get together to discuss which bands stood out to us the most this year, and which bands we expect will have an even bigger 2015. The below eight categories and selections have nothing to do with billboard charts or statistics in particular, these are just the bands that, to each individual writer, made the biggest impact and made themselves more noticeable to us in the sea of fantastic musicians out there.
Being completely honest, these were some hard decisions because in spite of our list there are way more than eight fantastic bands that stood out this year. Alas, we had to pick one… (or… eight, rather)
Read the list of awesome bands below, check them out and let us know if you agree or who would pick instead and why:
Breakout Band of the Year – Silent PlanetCategory Written by Rob Clark
2014 has given me plenty of choices for bands that are making an impact. My choice is Silent Planet Not only did they release a well-reviewed EP called Lastsleep (1944-1946) and debut record The Night God Slept on Solid State Records. They toured around the country with Sleeping Giant, Phinehas, Those Who Fear, Fit For A King, ’68, and The Ongoing Concept. Their music is impressive instrumentally, vocally, and lyrically. They have a unique melodic sound, lyrics that tell stories of heroic women, songs that make you think and want to grow closer to God, live shows that are personal and energetic, and they take time after their set to talk and pray with every fan. They have me hooked and you will be to! Be on the look out for this band when they come to your city. You won’t want to miss their set.
Sleeper Band of 2015 – Modern BaseballCategory Written by Jacob Andrew
This past summer, I was taking a road trip up to Dallas, TX for Warped tour. I had my trusty pop/punk playlist playing on Spotify. Spotify is pretty good at suggesting songs by similar artists and slipping them into your playlist, so I wasn’t surprised when an unfamiliar song came on. I was instantly captivated by the sound of this song. It wasn’t the typical “generic pop/punk” sound, this was different. Unique sounding vocals, lyrics that hit deep, and catchy choruses. I quickly looked at my phone to see who it was.
Formed in 2011, Modern Baseball started as an acoustic duo. Shortly after they went off to college, where they met their drummer and bassist, and began playing house shows around the university. In 2012, they released their first album “Sports” which they had recorded in the campus studio. They decided to set college aside to focus on their music. This year they were picked up by Run For Cover Records and put out a second full length album entitled “You’re Gonna Miss It All” in February. In March they went on tour with The Wonder Years & Real Friends, which began a busy schedule of non-stop touring. In September they headlined a tour with Spraynard in the UK followed by a US headlining tour with Knucklepuck.
From their start, Modern Baseball has been blowing up at an exponential rate. Going from playing local house shows to touring with bands like The Wonder Years, Real Friends and The Story So Far, to headlining tours in the UK, you can see how much they’ve grown in just two short years. If they continue at the pace they are going, they are on track to take over the pop/punk scene! That is why Modern Baseball is my sleeper band for 2015. Check out their music video for their song “Your Graduation” above.
Best Music Video of the Year – “I Won’t Let You Down” by OK GOCategory Written by Meredith Boyum
Let’s be honest, here. We all know OK Go are the kings of music videos. It’s practically a superpower. Think back to the mid-2000’s when the age of the viral video was newly emerging with the growing popularity of Youtube. Remember those lovable treadmill dancers? You can bet your concert money that was OK Go. They’re the best thing to happen to our eyes and ears since MTV.
Their most recent video release, “I Won’t Let You Down” (above) is perhaps their biggest venture to date. The video was filmed in Japan, and was shot by a camera on a drone. The video’s resources are awe-inspiring, including hundreds of dancers and crew members, futuristic tech provided by Honda, and meticulous mass choreography. This music video was skillfully planned, unique, jaw-droppingly creative, and accompanied by insanely catchy music, making this the best of 2014. Don’t hold your breath waiting for OK Go to release a bad video. They just “won’t let you down.”
Best Single of the Year – “Take Me To Church” by HozierCategory Written by Adra Johnson
When I was given the task of finding what could be sufficiently labeled “Best Single of 2014”, it took only a few minutes for a particular track to come to mind. A masterpiece created outside of the typical chart topping mindset, Hozier’s “Take Me To Church” stood out as the indie-rock leader in a sea of typically danced vibe songs. Turns out, a good part of the world agrees with me – “Take Me To Church” reached #2 on the iTunes chart, #3 on the Billboard Top 100 and is currently up for nomination as “Song of the Year” at the 2015 Grammy Awards. It has also gained attention from artists such as Ed Sheeran, who recently did an acoustic cover, and has been performed live on Saturday Night Live and this year’s Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show.
With soul and depth that exceeds that of an every day 24 year old musician, Hozier haunts with a cathedral like piano tone and choir vocals; as well as lyrics such as “offer me that deathless death”, and “the only heaven I’ll be sent to is when I’m alone with you”. The forbidden metaphorical blending of romance and religion immediately captures it’s listener, and leaves the feeling of euphoric desperation long after the last chord ends. In a recent interview, Hozier has stated his inspiration for the song as, “I found the experience of falling in love, or being in love, was a death of everything.”
Ultimately, “Take Me To Church” undoubtedly stands as one of the most captivating songs of this year, possibly of this age, and I am proud to announce it as my choice for the best single of 2014. You can catch Hozier on his 2015 US Tour, dates and ticket information found at www.hozier.com
Best Album of the Year – “Death Sentence” by Those Who FearCategory Written by Jeff Walker
I will be the first to admit that I buy a lot of music. When the opportunity arose to talk to readers and music fans about my favorite album of 2014, my mind froze. That is a tough call because this year I have been through some life altering events and changes. Most changes were for the better and some not. Music definitely assisted me through this rollercoaster of a year. Understand that my choice in this small article reflects a personal experience that I’m proud to share.
August 15, my brothers in 70times7 attended a Sleeping Giant show at Walter’s in downtown Houston. We obtained VIP passes and arrived an hour early because I did not want to miss anything. After arriving, we were blessed with the opportunity to assist the members in Those Who Fear with their mechanical needs on their tour van. Multiple trips were made to the local parts store and I got to connect with their guitarist, Luke Healy. We even prevented a little crime in the process near the venue. I was blessed with the opportunity to chat it up with Matt Weir and Tommy Green of Sleeping Giant. After work was completed, I noticed Luke’s brother John was being interviewed by the infamous AMN writer Rob Clark. After light chatting with Rob, I finally made it in to the show (missing the VIP opportunity and the first act). I caught up again with Rob and had an awesome conversation about music, which eventually led to me joining the AMN family a month later. Luke showed up shortly after our conversation, handed my brothers and I a cd and some shirts for helping out.
Those Who Fear put on a show that blew me away and had me wanting to hear more. For an abnormal amount of time, Those Who Fear’s “Death Sentence” did not leave my cd player. It has my vote, personally, as being the best album of the year for multiple reasons. Friendships and connections were made with this album and it reminds me of that when I blare it in my van. Thank you AMN for allowing me this opportunity to join such an awesome family and sharing my experience! Merry Christmas and lookout 2015!
AMN Dream Interview – Sufjan StevensCategory Written by Marcellus Coleman
I first discovered the music of Sufjan Stevens from talking with another artist. He recounted how on drives to shows they would put the All Delighted People EP on full blast and talk about life and music. I remember not being impressed until I ran through his discography and was floored by songs like “John Wayne Gacy, Jr.,” “Vesuvius,” “To Be Alone With You,” the controversial “I Want To Be Well” and “The Transfiguration.” I then dove into finding different interviews, articles, feature spots, and other projects he was a part of. Not to mention having the record “Enjoy Your Rabbit” on repeat for about a month straight.
If I were to interview him, I’d pick his brain about his writing process. What it was like taking apart and having Royal Robertson as his main inspiration for “Age of Adz.” Also: what in the WORLD happened to “Crooked River” and why he vowed to make a record for every state. I think my biggest question is how he found, and got comfortable with, his sound. There’s so many questions and curiosities that I can’t articulate here, but it really would be a dream come true.
In the mean time YouTube surfing, his discography, and his personal Tumblr will suffice. (Is this stalker territory). Check out his newest cover of Arthur Russell’s “A Little Longer” (with Red Hot). And if you’re in New York, check out Justin Peck’s ballet which features music from Stevens.
Best Photo of the Year – Lindsey Stirling by Adam ElmakiasCategory Written by CeeCee Hood
This photo of Lindsey Stirling by Adam Elmakias is just absolutely amazing. I remember when I first saw it while scrolling through my newsfeed on Facebook I was just blown away. I gawked at it for a good minute after I already “liked” it on just about every social media it was posted on. The colors and contrast are just so nicely edited and it’s a unique silhouette/crowd shot that isn’t seen often.
Lindsey started off as just a simple YouTube artist because every time she tried to reach out to the music industry they never saw her style of music and her performance as something that would fill a theater. She’s come so far despite the obstacles and this photo beautifully illustrates that. I just love this photo.
Most Creative Band of the Year – The Color and SoundCategory Written by Jeremy Boyum
Hands down, the most creative band I have had the pleasure of listening to this year is The Color and Sound. With what I can only describe as a fusion of pop/punk, folk, and indie/alt-rock, everything this band comes up with gives me raging-goosebumps! I discovered these gems on AbsolutePunk when they premiered their single, “Cigarettes”, and I have been incessantly listening to their “Spring Tour” EP ever since. (Just ask my wife, she’ll concur) Of course this was shortly after they got signed to Black Numbers (Real Friends, Tiny Moving Parts) and shortly before they released their new album, “Peace of Mind.” (WOO! More music!) And to answer your question, yes, they are available on vinyl; we got the blue one and the pink one.
The Color and Sound is in my opinion the most creative band of the year because they’ve just taken all of the elements that everyone loves about pop/punk and delivered it in a completely new way. They incorporated really powerful, beautifully-written lyrics and put equally powerful, fitting music behind it. Not only that, they wrote it in a way that everyone can experience it together which is exactly how pop/punk is supposed to be written. All of this doesn’t even cover they’re surprisingly non-orthodox selection of miscellaneous instruments. But to keep it short, they just nailed it!
Bishop and Rook put it perfectly when they said: “As skeptical as one can be when keyboard, xylophone and banjo appear together at a punk rock show, the infectious romp stomping celebration and high velocity stage presence of The Color and Sound are extraordinarily successful in raising one’s adrenaline level.” As much as I love this quote, I feel like it equally applies to simply listening to their music on any sort of auditory device! The reason I say that is that I have not yet been to this bands live performance but my adrenal glands are certainly well exercised thanks to this six-member ensemble. My fingers are crossed to make the dream of seeing The Color and Sound live in concert a reality some day within 2015; I suggest that every one of you reading this right now do the same! Let’s just put it this way, not every band in the world gets nominated for Boston Globe’s “New Artist of the Year” award.