1. Against Me! – Transgender Dysphoria Blues
Without a doubt the most confrontational and controversial ‘punk’ album in years. Laura Jane Grace defies EVERYTHING to deliver a knockout blow to hish-school jocks, homophobia, the close-minded punk community and anyone who wrote them off, myself included, after the underwhelming White Crosses.
Standout track – Black Me Out
2. Architects – Lost Forever, Lost Together
Whilst watching what Sam Carter described as ‘their best ever set’ at Reading, my mate Rob (who isn’t exactly known for a love of heavy music) declared that it was one of the Top 10 gigs he’d ever been to. For me, that is endorsement enough. This is the sound of a band with years of experience and potential finally coming into their own and leaving ‘metalcore’ firmly at the door.
Standout track – Gravedigger
3. The Hold Steady – Teeth Dreams
After 2008’s somewhat patchy Heaven Is Whenever, this was the epic masterpiece the Brooklyn five-piece knew they had to make. Which is why it took them so long to do it, but it’s a spectacular return to the form for the band who command the most ridiculous fervour from their ‘unified scene’ of hardcore fans.
Standout track – On With The Business
4. Beartooth – Disgusting
I genuinely worry about how obsessed I would be with this album if I was ten years younger. Disgusting is an absolute monster. Stand-out track Beaten In Lips could well the best teen rock anthem since Last Resort. This is the sound of your children revolting indeed.
Standout track – Beaten In Lips
5. Twin Atlantic – Great Divide
Whilst 2011’s Free hinted at the greatness to come, nobody predicted the runaway success of 2014’s The Great Divide. And now they’re only bloody playing Brixton next year. How long until arenas come calling?
Standout track – Brothers And Sisters
6. Manic Street Preachers – Futurology
Plenty of other bands would have used the 20th anniversary of an iconic album to rinse their fans, tread water and trade on past glories. It’s telling that whilst the Manics did announce a tour to play 1994’s The Holy Bible in full, this was within 18 months of the release of two of their career best albums. 2013’s melancholy Rewind The Film, and this, the angular, European-tinged Futurology.
Standout track – Europa Geht Durch Mich
7. Marmozets – The Weird And Wonderful Marmozets
I think it’s fair to stay at the start of 2014 most people had these guys down as being great in the live arena, and not much more. Their debut full-length blew that out of the water as we discovered how much depth there really is to this Yorkshire five-piece. Oh, and there were some amazing live shows aswell.
Standout track – Cry
8. LostAlone – Shapes of Screams
Queen meets musical opera meets Biffy Clyro with the ludicrously talented Steven Battelle at the helm. Now split up, this album is their epitaph.
Standout track – GUILTY
9.The Gaslight Anthem – Get Hurt
Quite a gear-change for Gaslight, as apparently there’s only so much singing about cars, girls and old movies one band can do. It does take a few listens to get your head around one of your favourite suddenly sounding like Queens Of The Stone Age, but once you do, it’s a triumph. Get Hurt ensured their longevity and showed the world there are plenty of strings to their bow.
Standout track – Get Hurt
10. Of Mice And Men – Restoring Force
There’s nothing I like more than a band who I’ve written off as being generic and bland make me eat my words with a storming gear change full of deafening riffs, soaring choruses and anthems for the pit whilst leaving their reliance on breakdowns at the door. Remarkable.
Standout track – Public Service Announcement