It was a killer year for music; there’s almost too much to talk about! I’ve narrowed it down to 12 records I can honestly say were on constant rotation in my office, car, and ear buds. Some are big names; some are independent; all are incredible records. As always, my hope is that you’ll find something you love here just like I did!
The Fever 333
Strength in Numb333rs
Is anyone surprised that the madmen behind letlive., The Chariot, and Night Verses coupled with the likes of John Feldmann and Travis Barker have crafted a record that feels like fire incarnate?
Start with “Burn It” and “The Innocent.”
Veteran scene giants Bayside really can’t write a bad album. They’re also pushing forward in fresh directions without alienating their die-hard fan base.
Start with “Prayers” and “Interrobang.”
Oh, Sleeper are truly the most underrated heavy act in music today. Bloodied/Unbowed came out swinging after a six-year absence. Hopefully NOW is the right time for Oh, Sleeper.
Start with “Two Ships” and “Fissure.”
Forces of Light
These guys came out of nowhere! Okay, not nowhere; it’s the same three members from the hardcore act Fallstar; however, the trio are now embracing their more post-emo roots. For fans of Thrice and My Epic.
Start with “Heavy Fruit” and “I Come Alive.”
Aaron Gillespie is a master of his craft, whether he’s drumming, singing, playing guitar, or chasing jack rabbits in the desert. The Almost were absent for far too many years, yet they’ve returned with their best work to date.
Start with “Life” and “Tame a Lion.”
Over the Moon
This duo really don’t get enough credit. They’ve been opening for heavy hitters like The Word Alive and Our Last Night, but with the recent release of their Rise Records debut Over the Moon, the hope is that Ashland will soon be a bigger name than their headliners!
Start with “OMG” and “Over the Moon.”
The independent release of the year! You may recognize Brooks Paschal from Tooth N’ Nail act Sullivan (I’ll be sending around a petition soon to get another Sullivan record out in 2020). Natural Disaster is a witty, self-deprecating pop record for those missing the edge of the mid-2000′.
Start with “Tell the World” and “El Salvador.”
The Love Life
It’s almost impossible to pick out highlights from The Love Life because the entire album is so darn good. Much like Cory Wells, Brian Swindle will end up being named one of the best songwriters of the past ten years.
Start with “40oz” and “Heartbeat.”
The Way We Are
(Pure Noise Records)
Dashboard Confessional’s Chris Carrabba is credited with mentoring Wells on this record, and it shows! The Way We Are breaks your heart ten ways from Sunday while somehow maintaining a glimmer of hope that will bring you back to it again and again. Wells is an exceptional songwriter and an incredibly gifted storyteller.
Start with “Wildfire” and “Keiko.”
The Early November
Like Bayside, these veterans can do no wrong. Lilac could easily replace their older material as your favorite record.
Start with “Ave Maria” and “Hit By a Car (In Euphoria).”
New Years Day
Vocalist Ashley Costello goes balls to the wall on Unbreakable, employing genres and experimentation we have yet to see from NYD. The record is a powerhouse.
Start with “Shut Up” and “Come For Me.”
(Pure Noise Records)
Pure Noise Records are turning out nothing but gold lately. Selfish Things will no doubt become their flagship in 2020 with massively positive review for Logos which includes guest vocals by Spencer Chamberlain (Underoath), Ryan Key (Yellowcard), and more.
Start with “Synaptic” and “Torn.”