Leave a comment and let me know what you loved this year!
Broken Prayer - "Broken Prayer" (Sorry State)
Broken Prayer released its debut LP just in time to be placed on this list. Broken Prayer is a Chicago hardcore punk band that's unapologetic on heavily using a synthesizer. "Wow" employs pleasant dissonance along with sarcastic vocals. While the album contains songs from the self-released demo, the re-recordings are even more driven and astonishing than the originals. This LP will not be collecting dust on my turntable.
Converge - "All We Love We Leave Behind" (Epitaph)
Converge's eighth studio album is a sensible follow up to the 2009 release, "Axe to Fall." This fluid album features great attention to detail. "Aimless Arrow" is technical without being overbearing, causing the head to bob steadily and fists to clinch. This is one of those albums you find yourself constantly turning up after each song until you physically can't bear the pain in your ears.
Dinosaur Jr. - "I Bet on Sky" (Jagjaguwar)
There is nothing like the music of Dinosaur Jr. The band is always instantly recognizable due to its somber vocals and shredding guitar and bass lines. "I Bet on Sky" is the third studio release of the original lineup since the classic 1988 release "Bug." "Watch the Corners" makes for a perfect track for a nature walk. While the album is a bit slower and quieter than previous releases, don't let that fool you; this band still knows how to grab you with catchy lyrics and glorious hooks.
Double Negative - "Hits" 7" (Sorry State)
During a time of lineup changes, this 7" is the first to feature Bobby Michaud of Brain F≠ on drums and the last with KC on vocal duties. Clocking in at five minutes with just three tracks, you experience the intensity of this band's chemistry. "Fire Trap" is pleasantly hypnotic and infectious. Sunn-powered instruments and East Coast angst are a perfect combination. Also, the 45 is on yummy colored vinyl.
Godspeed You! Black Emperor - "Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend!" (Constellation)
This album remained a secret until about two weeks before the set release date. Godspeed's first record in 10 years proves to be impressively beautiful. The two main compositions "Mladic" and "We Drift Like Worried Fire" are revamped version of pieces played live at shows since 2003. Each track amplifies many different moods through the various "acts" of the song. It is best if you have time to enjoy the songs in their entirety rather than bits and pieces.
High on Fire - "De Vermis Mysteriis" (E1 Music)
Welcomed immediately by an intoxicating drum fill, "Serums of Liao" erupts with fury in just five seconds. High on Fire frontman Matt Pike brings in elements of his old trio Sleep, but creates material that is heavier and faster. The album seems to have more in common with the sophomore release "Surrounded by Thieves" than the recent records, though the band's entire catalog is worth exploring. Don't stand too close because this bite could be fatal.
Japandroids - "Celebration Rock" (Polyvinyl)
The album title says it all. This could very well be the soundtrack to your upcoming New Year's party; just be sure to have the right speakers to do "Celebration Rock" justice. "Fire's Highway" is guaranteed to morph "restless nights" into "restless years." This Canadian duo may be lumped in with indie-rock duos, but they have a full sound that tricks the listener into believing there are more than two involved. "Celebration Rock" is a solid album from start to finish and will dazzle your ear drums.
The Men - "Open Your Heart" (Sacred Bones)
Brooklyn's the Men has gained a lot of popularity since its second release "Open Your Heart"; it's easy to see and hear why. This album may be considered more accessible than the other two studio albums, but it still contains the same amount of creativity. "Please Don't Go Away" may be simple in the lyrical department, but the complexity is confirmed by the instrumentation. "Open Your Heart" is a definitely a must have for any road trip.
Torche - "Harmonicraft" (Volcom)
Miami's Torche, for me, is one of those bands that can release just about anything, and I'm bound to enjoy it. Torche is a sludge-metal band that effortlessly blends in pop-styled vocals, making it difficult to categorize at times, but appealing to music fans from all backgrounds. Of Torche's releases, "Harmonicraft" pushes furthest in the pop direction, but don't let that drive you away; the band isn't playing anything you'll hear on mainstream radio stations. "Letting Go" faintly reminds the listener of "I Want Candy" while "Walk It Off" will have your mouth salivating for actual candy -- and of course more jams.
White Lung - "Sorry" (Deranged)
With three women and one dude, this Canadian quartet is one of many bands this year that offer hope for the future of punk music. "Sorry" is the sophomore release by White Lung and hopefully isn't the last. Offering straightforward DIY punk, the record is full of enticing guitar leads and wailing screams. "Thick Lip" bangs away, causing the listener to crash from wall to wall. Registering at 19 minutes, it is short and sweet, but has more to offer than your average punk record.