Tag Archives: top 15

Top 15 EPs of 2014

2014 had a lot of great albums, but what about all those EPs? People tend to let smaller releases slip by unnoticed, but at Planet Stereo, the phrase, “nice things come in small packages,” is muttered throughout the year. (…that may be partly because I’m only 5’2″, but hey! It’s a valid argument!) Here are the Top 15 EPs of 2014. Here’s hoping 2015 brings some good ones too!

 

1. Savannah by Nick Santino – released December 19th, 2014.

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A quality EP that displays both artistry and originality throughout. There is pure character in each track, which gives Savannah  a cinematic quality/value. The stripped down sound provides a quiet, almost hushed tone that carries a lofty emotional weight.

2. Waiting For a Sequel by Beat The Heart – released on May 6th, 2014.

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The epitome of indie/rock. There is an almost tangent energy to the EP, fusing together a cinematic, melodic style with the ballad worthy attitude of the 80s.

3. Strangers In Fairyland by Jocelyn Arndt – released October 27th, 2014.

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Jocelyn Arndt perfectly delivers wit and attitude, wrapped up in raw power. It’s a debut EP that showcases the pure talent of Arndt and an effortless mystery behind it all.

4. Sweet Talk by Sinclair – released on November 4th, 2014.

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From the opening notes of Sweet Talk, it is obvious there is something very special about Sinclair. I had said in my review that I believed there was a star in the making; that this wasn’t a debut, “this is an explosion,” and I stand by that.

5. It’s So Much Friendlier With Two by The Millenium – released on February 23rd, 2014.

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“[A] memorable EP. The effort and talent put into just five tracks shines through in every line, but, in a surprising twist, it doesn’t sound forced. This EP flows organically and sounds like the product of a group of very creative people collaborating. One listen, and The Millenium are difficult to forget, not that you’d want to. If this EP is anything to go by, we should all be expecting big things from this group in 2015. ”

6. Nonvesations by Summon The Octopi – released on November 17th, 2014.

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“Summon The Octopi have figured out how to do something many modern artists would deem impossible: they have managed to speak to listeners without having the need of a voice on every song. There is a true originality to every track, speaking for Nonversations, marking it as more than a debut EP, but more as a launch station for a talented group of musicians. ”

7. As You Were by Arc & Stones – released on June 10th, 2014.

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“The more I listen to As You Were, the more I want to see a tour with Arc & Stones and Thirty Seconds To Mars headlining the bill. The EP is an instant classic, and, considering this is the first time I’ve ever listened to Arc & Stones, a perfect introduction. As far as first impressions go, the band has left a fine one on me, and I look forward to hearing what they come up with next.”

8. Commonweather by Commonweather – released on November 25th, 2014.

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“Chicago is known for being home to some of the best artists, especially in the alternative rock arena, but even hailing from such a city, it is a rarity to hear a band that sounds so developed, and so confident in their sound on an EP. Just listening to Commonweather’s EP, it is obvious that we will see big things from them soon, because they already have enough quality in their work to compete with some of their more experienced counterparts. I, for one, cannot wait to see the results.”

9. Nikos by Nikos – released on October 21st, 2014.

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As an introduction to the band, it is a wonderful preview at where they are headed, and how certain they are in their sound already. Their self-titled EP is delightfully melodic, energetic, and hauntingly brilliant.

10. All In My Head by Seaway – released on November 4th, 2014.

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“As a debut, All In My Head is pretty much close to perfection, showcasing what Seaway is capable of musically, lyrically, and even style-wise. It is refreshing to hear a group who so obviously knows the direction they plan to take with their career, without imitating their icons.”

11. Thieves & Lovers by Thieves & Lovers – released on September 23rd, 2014

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“Thieves & Lovers are fiercely talented, seemingly avoiding the over-produced quality that so many artists seem to be floating towards these days. With their self-titled EP, the band definitely stands out, and leaves listeners waiting for a full-length album.”

12. I Woke Up by Nominee – released on October 14th, 2014.

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Nominee’s sophomore release is wonderfully original; a well-made addition to the band’s discography. The EP had an irresistible style, with a dynamic and infectious attitude that further emphasizes the overall quality.

13. Balloons by Ruby My Dear – released on October 14th, 2014.

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There is a soulful beauty to this EP, and every track had something to offer. The music and lyrics of Balloons work together, fitting like pieces of a puzzle; there is not the typical competition of which will win the heart of the listener.

14. At Night by Choir Vandals – released on October 27th, 2014.

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Between the mixture of emotional intensities, explosions of raw power, and a brooding undertone, Choir Vandals are the musical Heathcliffs of the scene…if, you know, stages could stand in the moors. The intricacy of their sophomore EP makes them one to watch.

15. HEART by Alexz Johnson – released on February 18th, 2014.

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“One thing I really enjoy about HEART is the raw, melodic tone each track has. Unwaveringly honest and powerful, this EP encourages listeners to not only sing along, but to feel what is being sang about. Alexz Johnson is an artist who has a very recognizable voice, and her songwriting rivals some of the greats. HEART is more than an EP; it is a statement. It might say different things to different people, but one thing is undeniable: whatever it’s saying is coming through loud and clear.”

 

 HONORABLE MENTIONS

The Acoustic EP by Jake Furia

Move Now by Marshall Crenshaw

Lucy Scholl by Lucy Scholl

Chemistry by Plaid Brixx 

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Top 15 Albums of 2014 (Liv’s List)

This year has been a whirlwind for music releases; week after week, new albums have appeared left and right. Some have been amazing, and some…well, some could have been better (but we won’t name names). Anyway, here are my picks for TOP 14 Best albums of 2014 (in no particular order).

 

15. Lowborn by Anberlin, released on July 22nd, 2014, via Tooth & Nail Records.

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What a fantastic final album; it’s bittersweet, but such a work of art. It’s emotionally charged, with stunningly well-written lyrics, not that I’d ever expect anything less from Anberlin.

14. Cavalier Youth by You Me At Six, released on January 26th, 2014, via Virgin Records.

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The band’s fourth studio album is every bit of fresh, original, and entrancing as their first. You Me At Six seem to get more personal on the album, and approach a more pop-rock sound than on their previous releases.

13. Restoring Force by Of Mice & Men, released on January 28th, 2014, via Rise Records.

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You know an album is good when a band goes the extra mile and records an acoustic version of it in its entirety. There is a raw power throughout Restoring Force, and the brilliance behind it is impossible to ignore. The departure from the modern standard brings ripples to the scene overall, but also showcases the growth and artistic development of each member in Of Mice & Men.

12. Head Or Heart by Christina Perri, released on April 1st, 2014, via Atlantic Records.

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Personally, I adore this album. Not as much as her Ocean Way Sessions album, but it’s definitely up there as far as favorites go. There is so much vulnerability, personality, and vocal power on this album, it demands to be replayed.

11. Vessels by Stellar Young, released on December 16th, 2014.

 

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As said in my review, “Vessels has a sound that I could only imagine the musical lovechild between Anberlin and fun. would. Stellar Young prove to be a wildly talented group, not that there was ever any doubt about that. The album is beautifully executed, with a powerhouse presence and an undoubtable quality to it. ”

10. In The Lonely Hour by Sam Smith, released on May 26th, 2014, via Capitol Records.

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There is so much beauty and power displayed on this album. Every song is enchanting in its own right, launching Sam Smith into the limelight as the true star he is. Finally, the soul has been brought back to pop music!

9. 1989 by Taylor Swift, released on , 2014 via Big Machine Records.

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As someone who has followed Taylor Swift’s career from the beginning, it amazes me to see the personal growth of the songstress, typically known for tearing down her exes and writing every girl’s breakup anthem. On 1989, Swift shows a more mature, poetic approach, with an original artistic flare. There’s something on this album for everyone, including some of the catchiest lines…and the best misheard lyric of 2014. “Gotta love those Starbucks lovers…”

8. Bloom & Breathe by Gates, released on October 21st, 2014, via Pure Noise Records.

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Wow. A debut album that has a cinematic, sophisticated sound to it, and is genuinely a work of art. Throughout the album, the band’s dedication to their craft, and their limitless talent, is obvious. I’m expecting a lot from these guys!

7. Imaginary Enemy by The Used, released on April 1st, 2014, via Hopeless Records.

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If you didn’t rock out to “Cry” at some point this year (especially you Octane Radio listeners/gym rats!), you’re lying to yourself. That single set the spark for this album, and once I listened, I couldn’t get enough. I daresay I’ve played this album more than I should have, but it was worth it.

6. May Death Never Stop You by My Chemical Romance, released on March 25th, 2014 on Reprise Records.

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Another bittersweet listen in 2014; it was brilliant in its musicality and as an overall summary of an amazing band’s career, but so hard to listen to knowing it was the last MCR release. As far as “greatest hits” albums go, I’m voting this as one of the best. “Fake Your Death” is such an anthemic, brilliant new track, and I love delving into my nostalgic side through the older tracks.

5. Forever Halloween (Deluxe Edition) by The Maine, released on June 17th, 2014, via Universal.

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Forever Halloween was amazing; the deluxe edition? INCREDIBLE. As I said in my review for Infectious Magazine, “While Forever Halloween was near-perfect as it was, it is difficult to imagine the album without these extra songs now that they’ve been heard. The Maine continue to show growth and excellence as the years wear on.”

4. Duality by Set It Off, released on October 14th, 2014, via Equal Vision Records.

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Brilliant, catchy tracks, all decorated with the originality of Set It Off. This reminds me of a heavier version of The Cab’s Symphony Soldier in that I just want to play the whole album again and again and again.

3. Talking In Your Sleep by The Cinema, released on December 16th, 2014 [independently released].

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I have so much respect for this album. First off, because it comes from the minds of two very talented men, but also because the album took two years to make, and was accomplished while they both worked on different coasts. Just…wow. It’s an incredible group of songs, and, best of all, it’s another release that avoided the cursed “sophomore slump.”

2. Slow Me Down by Sara Evans, released on March 11th, 2014, via RCA Nashville.

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Catchy as hell, with a poppy, uptempo tone that is impossible not to love. It’s a perfect driving/car-aoke record; I promise, you’ll sing your heart out to basically every song.

1. Heart On My Sleeve by Mary Lambert, released on October 14th, 2014, via Capitol Records.

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Mary Lambert can do no wrong. The songstress has crowds enchanted with her stunning vocals and her fearless way of tackling subjects people don’t want to talk about. With songs like “Secrets,” Lambert has resonated with listeners, and opened up a beautiful story.

 

 

 

HONORABLE MENTIONS

House of Mercury by Ship Captain Crew

Fictionist by Fictionist

All That Gold by James and the Drifters

High Noon by Arkells

Get Hurt by The Gaslight Anthem

 

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