I just completed my 2014 "Year in Music" on Spotify, and here's what I learned: I listened to more than 25,000 hours (about 18 days) of music, I listened the most on Thursdays and I listened to an alarming amount of Ke$ha. But I'm OK with that.
Through Spotify, I was also able to identify my favorite albums of the year. Out of about 25 new releases I really enjoyed, the following five topped my list:
My favorite release of 2014 was Ben Howard's I Forget Where We Were. This album breaks every stereotype about the average singer-songwriter. When I hear "singer-songwriter," I think of a dude with a guitar singing shitty songs. Howard's release has a deep and complex sound, semi-reminiscent of Pink Floyd-type space-rock, but with gorgeous melodies and darkly complex lyrics.
My most played album on Spotify in 2014 was Manchester Orchestra's Cope. The band captures a post-hardcore vibe, mixed with melodic rock, pop-punk and bright-indie alternative. Cope is the definition of the depth in rock today.
A very underrated and overlooked piece in 2014 is Bombay Bicycle Club's So Long, See You Tomorrow. The album evokes a sound that is currently popular on modern-rock radio — like Vance Joy and Walk The Moon — but does it better, while begging to be discovered. Haling from England, the band gives us a bright-rock style with songs that are too catchy for their own good.
In a year where hardcore releases (for the most part) didn't stand out that much, Bearthooth's Disgusting is 12 straight tracks of anger and fury — all in a good way. Similar to Every Time I Die, Beartooth has nailed harder music with its pumping guitars, screeching vocals and non-stop, fast-paced, in-your-face rock that remains consistent. There isn't a bad track on this album, there isn't a dull moment and Disgusting destroys genre stereotypes. It's the best hardcore release I've heard in the past three years — it's a real game-changer for the genre.
Finally, Say Anything's Hebrews was a great release because the album tells a story — and the music is a bit eccentric. As longtime fan of frontman Max Bemis — after straying on his prior release (Anarchy, My Dear) — he seemed to have found himself again. Hebrews features a long list of guest artists, including Andy Hull of Manchester Orchestra, Aaron Weiss of MeWithoutYou, Tom Delonge of Blink 182 and at least 10 others. This extravagant piece has the complexity, grandeur and fun that usually follows Bemis.
And no, 5 Seconds of Summer did not make my list. Sorry to disappoint.
Caleb Dennis writes "The Scene" for Colorado Daily every Thursday. Follow him: Twitter.com/TheWriterCalebD.