by Jesse Morgan
Jesse Morgan is a Baltimore expatriate whose prime regret in moving was leaving such a rad and varied music scene.
You know the deal: some zerson you know from around town tells you about some jams that came out this year that ze wants you to buy. This is by no means all inclusive; this is literally what I thought of a week ago when a bunch of other persons were doing the same thing on Facebook.
Beach Slang, "Cheap Thrills On A Dead End Street" 7"
I never gave a shit about Weston when they were a band, so reading back during the spring that the singer had a new band didn’t stand out for me. However, one of the joys of the Internet in 2014 is being able to sample damn near anything. So when Vice piqued my interest with a stream of this 7”, I checked it out. And I’m glad I did. Old man punk pop that’s equal parts Lemonheads and Hot Water Music.
Clay Davis, "3 Songs" CD
A prelude to their 2015 release, this is one of my favorite grind records of 2014, as well as the next step in a little-appreciated lineage of Baltimore grind/PV bands. I’d be stoked to see this two piece get out of the basements of North Baltimore and out on the road in 2015.
Crimson Wave, "Say/Calling You" 7"
I’m a long-time backer of this Baltimore dream pop quartet, so to see this slab of wax hit the shelves made me so goddamned happy. This record is great night driving music.
empire! empire! (i was a lonely estate), "You Will Eventually Be Forgotten” LP
I stand at odds with a lot of my friends over emo, and the emo revival of the past few years. That’s cool; I’ve come to terms in my late 30s that one man’s Smiths is my Braid. E!E!, between their recorded output and their label, stands at the vanguard of this revival with 11 songs that are equal parts Leonard Cohen, Mineral, and Jeff Buckley.
Gas Rag, "Beats Off” LP
Someone poked fun at me recently for suggesting this as one of the great records of 2014. Sorry, I liked when fast hardcore came back in 1999. “Beats Off” is a totally accessible ripper: 11 songs in a little under 11 minutes. Circle pit heaven.
Hive Bent, "Dyatlov” cassette
Everytime I listen to “Dyatlov”, I think of me and Mac McCormick standing as close to the speakers as we can, banging our heads. This nerdy 2-piece noise rock band from Baltimore is worth losing your hearing for. I’ll bet you your hips start swinging to this tape.
Hurula, "Vi Är Människorna Våra Föräldrar Varnade Oss För" LP
Ex-member of Masshysteri makes the best pop rock record of 2014. I hear this went top-10 in Sweden. America, can you please be more like Sweden?
Jawbreaker Reunion, "Lutheran Sisterhood Gun Club” cassette
Some smart human is going to press this on vinyl in 2015, and make a few shekels. With a mix of re-recorded old jams and new songs, this twee punk group goes to Bard College and sounds like a more fun Bratmobile.
Lost Tribe, "Solace” LP
I give full credit to Dana Murphy for turning me onto this Richmond goth-punk group, via U+N Fest in 2013. I generally don’t dig on stuff from that Cvlt Nation world, but this strikes a real chord with me. It’s the sound of smoke machines, Amebix t-shirts, and sketchy situations.
Old Lines, "No Child Left Behind” LP
Are they a crust band? A hardcore band? Who cares?!? Four rad dudes making some of the most brutal D-beat I’ve heard in years. It’s great seeing these guys turn into road warriors and show what they’ve been bringing to Baltimore over the past couple years.
Pianos Become The Teeth, "Keep You" LP
I know a number of folks were dubious of Pianos’ transition away from screamo revival, but repeated listens to “Keep You” prove that Pianos are on the right track. Easily the record I listened to the most in 2014, which is a neat tricks, considering it came out in October.
Roomrunner, "Separate" 12"
Every year, we get a new Roomrunner record. And every year, they’ve gotten a little better, come a little further into their own. Some of my favorite records ever were recorded by J. Robbins; this year, “Separate” got added to that list. This is a killer rock record, regardless of the band’s influences.
Ryan Adams, "1984" 7"
I can’t think of any superlatives for this. It’s just a really well-written, well-recorded, well-performed 7” of Ryan Adams rock n roll songs. It’s the record I expected I was buying when I bought “Gold” 10 years ago.
Thou, "Heathen” LP
Tip of the cap to Hasan Ali for being a constant booster of Thou. “Heathen”, along with Thou’s other 2014 releases, is the exception to most doom/sludge releases for me. I feel like this is a gateway band for me; I’ll go check them out at a show, then spin off and learn about a new world of openers, influences, etc. And that’s pretty rad.
The new D’Angelo is this year’s December surprise. Digital only so far; I look forward to tracking down a copy on thick, 180gram vinyl so this shit can crackle and snap as well as my favorite Issac Hayes records.
Discogs says that Self Defense Family appeared on seven different releases (1 LP, 5 EPs, 1 comp). I’m of the opinion that each of these is well worth acquiring, as they each show a band in constant creation, expansion and growth far beyond the standard hardcore/indie rock progressions. Plus they manage one of the best Tumblrs ever. If you want to start in one specific spot, pick up the “Indoor Wind Chimes b/w Cottaging” 7” on Deathwish.