Yes, yes, these lists are usually ten items long, we know. But, to tell you the truth, we don’t know if we have listened to ten new albums this year, and we will tell you why: because this list of five is just so good that we couldn’t stop listening to them. We are sure that there are plenty of amazing music that was released this year, but we really want to point out just how good these five albums are.
So, let’s get down to it:
Bad Books – Bad Books III
The brainchild between Manchester Orchestra and Kevin Devine saw its return this year when the group, and longtime friends, got back together to create some more music. What they came out with is something soft, yet powerful, which isn’t any surprise given the talent behind it. While their last album, II (notice a pattern yet?), was a fast-paced, rock-filled dissection of love, life, and loss, this one is restrained, opting for a more acoustic sound, rather than a full band. While fans of the sound of their second effort may have experienced some disappointment in that regard, the accomplishment of the album should not be understated. It’s a beautiful record about the state of our world, the connections between people, and how we treat one another. Both artists have shown they like to change it up with every project of theirs, and this is no different. We will always be along for that ride.
Best Song: “I Love You, I’m Sorry, Please Help Me, Thanks”
Bring Me the Horizon – amo
Speaking of a band changing it up, check this album out. You may know Bring Me the Horizon as being one of the icons of the hardcore scene. Albums like Sempiternal cemented them as legends in rock, and it was around this album’s release that we could see their shift coming. Their follow-up album, That’s the Spirit, still maintained some of their hard rock roots, but began to lean more into some pop sounds. Now with amo, you may not even recognize the band anymore. A mesmerizing blend of pop, electronic, and, still, that hard rock, this album is a bold statement from a band who built their name on screams and ripped jeans. It may be different from what they’ve done before, but it isn’t any less remarkable. It never leans too heavily on just one idea or sound, and continually tries to revamp itself and try something new. It’s a showcase of their talent to be able to branch out in their creations, and still pull off something that sounds just so good. Hardcore fans may not be happy with this new direction, but there is absolutely no denying that the band is going that way with confidence and swagger.
Best Song: “wonderful life”
Bayside – Interrobang
There is just nothing quite like a really great rock album. An album that you can put on and just headbang to. Eight albums in, you would think that a band would reach a limit with how they can express themselves creatively, but this NYC band is still putting out absolutely stellar albums. While always being a punk, alt-rock band, this album is definitely one of their heavier, leaning into some real metal styles. Their solos, alone, sound like they could ripped straight out of a Metallica song. But, there is so much more beneath this sound; with songs about mental health, toxic masculinity, and wanting to just give up. Lead singer, Anthony Raneri, continues to give us his brutally honest songwriting, presenting all so authentically, that you can feel everything he has gone through. It’s never mopey or whiney, just honest with a little bit of cynicism and anger thrown into the mix. When setting out to the make the album, they’ve said they wanted to do something that sounded like it was just the four of them jamming together. Well, they succeeded. This album shreds in the absolute best way.
Best Song: “Interrobang”
Say Anything – Oliver Appropriate
This one could have very easily been number one on this list. The swan song of punk rock staple, Say Anything, the album feels like a love letter to its fans. In the album’s announcement, Max Bemis, lead singer and brains behind Say Anything, said that it simply felt like he needed to give it up for awhile, and wanted to give us one last album to go out on. And boy, what an album it is. Stripping away so much of what makes punk rock, well, rock, the album is almost all just Bemis and a guitar. It’s bare-bones, softer, and raw. Serving as a quasi-sequel to the band’s first album, the smash hit … Is A Real Boy, the album follows the story of a man dealing with his sexuality and the fears that come with it. It is bizarre and crazy, as only Bemis can do, but still has heart to it. If there is one thing to say about this album it’s that every moment of it just feels so real. You can feel how much Bemis put into this album, and how much he wanted to give to his fans. He left the door open for Say Anything to return one day, but if this does end up being the last we ever get, then it is a wonderful end to a beautiful ride.
Best Song: “Sediment”
The Maine – You Are OK
We could write pages about this album, but we will spare you that pain. This album is phenomenal, monumental, exceptional, and every other profoundly complimentary word you can think of. This band from Phoenix, Arizona have been known to work hard and never settle for just one sound. They love to experiment and push themselves. Well, they’ve pushed themselves to borderline perfection because this album is, for now, their masterpiece. A beautiful examination of mental illness and how we get through it, the most incredible part of the album is its messaging. It would be easy for a band to write about mental health and how hard it is, imbuing their songs with the pain of experiencing it, and that would be valid and great, but this album doesn’t want you to feel like you’re suffering. This album wants you to know that you are going to be okay and, even more importantly, that it is okay to not be okay. This goes beyond the music and into what the band does too; banners with this phrase decorate their live shows, their merch speaks to knowing that you are accepted for struggling. In a world full of people trying to hide their struggles, it’s important to have someone come out and say that they don’t need to hide it. Mix that message in with some incredible music that speaks to the soul and keeps the body moving, and you have the absolute best album of this year. The Maine have truly created something special, and everyone deserves to give it a listen.
Best Song: “Heaven, We’re Already Here”
We hope you enjoyed this list, and, if anything, feel encouraged to give any of these albums a listen. We promise you won’t be disappointed.