The 6 Essential Albums of 2014

Taylor Copeland, Journalist, Photographer

Senior Eric Uhl is all smiles as he listens to Gerard Way’s Hesitant Alien during cafeteria study hall.
Taylor Copeland
Senior Eric Uhl is all smiles as he listens to Gerard Way’s Hesitant Alien during cafeteria study hall.

As release dates for upcoming 2015 albums are slowly revealed to the internet, it’s easy to ignore the records from the previous year. I’ve listened to a lot of new music this year – the good, bad, and ugly – but I’ve narrowed down the most prominent rock albums of 2014 that are definitely worth your time if you ignored them at their release.


Knuckle PuckWhile I Stay Secluded EP

Knuckle Puck has certainly played their cards right in the past year. The Chicago-based pop-punk quintet has released a number of EPs and singled throughout the past two years, but While I Stay Secluded packs an unforgettable punch. The album has caught the eye of Rise Records, who signed the group in December of this past year – a label also home to heavy-hitter bands like Of Mice & Men, Man Overboard and Sleeping with Sirens. Songs like the opening track “Transparency” open with bright, unforgettable guitar riffs and have punchy vocals that provide just the right amount of edge. Powerful lyrics like those in “But Why Would You Care?” are consistent throughout the album and won’t get old any time soon. The EP is light on its feet and provides a refreshing dose of peppy pop-punk, perfect for genre-veterans and first time listeners alike.

Listen To: “Bedford Falls”

Neck DeepWishful Thinking

The debut of their first full-length album earned Neck Deep a hefty following over their summer Warped Tour run. Tracks like “Sweet Nothings” are reminiscent of the group’s 2012 EP Rain in July with chunky distorted guitar riffs and an unmistakable rapid drum beat. Even “What Did You Expect” has been re-recorded for the bands full-length. But Neck Deep isn’t just repeating the past – “Staircase Wit” among others are reminiscent of New Found Glory with their brighter tones and high guitar riffs. They even take a risk with “Zoltar Speaks”, the album’s hardcore tribute, and close the album with “Candour,” an emo-power ballad which serves almost as a part two to the group’s previous hit, “A Part of Me”.

Listen To: “Losing Teeth”

Taking Back Sunday – Happiness Is

If you’re a fan of Taking Back Sunday, then you know that Happiness Is made a lot of noise this year, being the first independent-label produced record the group has put out in 10 years. The album’s lead single “Flicker, Fade” is an automatic anthem with repetitive lyrics “destroy what you create”. Songs like Flicker and the majority of the album feels like TBS circa 2004 and make the track list more relatable to older fans while still remaining fresh. Relevant lyrics and tight basslines in songs like “It Takes More” remind us why Taking Back Sunday held onto a high title in the emo genre for so long. The record has a good balance of both the slow and the fast, bright chord progressions and minor keys, making it a solid edition to anyone’s iTunes playlist.

Listen To: “They Don’t Have Any Friends”

Weezer Everything Will Be Alright In The End

After a rocky couple of years, Weezer has finally put out the album their fans have been waiting for since the debut of Pinkerton in the late 90’s. Opening track “Ain’t Got Nobody” begins with a semi-cliché monologue intro that moves into a classic Weezer-esque tune. The radio hit “Back to the Shack” has instant stuck-in-your-head super powers, followed by “Eulogy for a Rock Band,” and “Lonely Girl” which give a nod to 50’s and 60’s rock with its rising progressions and swaying melody. For fans who bashed the band’s past few efforts Everything Will Be All Right In The End has enough fuel to silence their complaints for a while.

Listen To: “I’ve Had It Up To Here”

Issues Issues

Coming into the scene with nothing but an EP, Issues won over the hearts of many this past year; their unique blend of hip-hop beats, melodic voices and hardcore breakdowns and vocals is a difficult thing to pull off. Their self-titled album holds singles “Stingray Affliction” and “Never Lose Your Flames” with inspirational lyrics and catchy beats that will have you singing them for days. DJ Scout provides record-scratches and synth in tracks like the opening song “Sad Ghost,” “Personality Cult” and “Late” and even has his own track on the album called “Old Dena”.

Listen To: “Life Of A Nine”

Gerard WayHesitant Alien

After My Chemical Romance’s big break-up in 2013, the debut of Gerard’s solo album this past fall was enough to temporarily soothe the hurting hearts of dedicated fans. Hesitant Alien is an indie-fuzz-rock record that’s heavy on guitar pedals, vocal distortion and harmonies that shows nothing less than the breadth of Gerard’s musical tastes. Driver rocker tunes like “Action Cat” and “Zero Zero” give the record an edgy punch while tunes like “Brother” give the album a few slow moments to reflect. Single “Millions” made plenty of noise this year with the release of its pleasantly tacky 1980’s style music video. The tune provides an snappy rock beat, as does “Maya the Psychic” with its near glam-pop tone.

Listen To: “Juarez”