10. Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett – Cheek To Cheek

I swear this album was supposed to come out on New Years of 2014. I’ve always been a sucker for jazz music and the combination of Lady Gaga and jazz is too good. I wish Lady Gaga would make a solo jazz album or something stripped down and not poppy like her usual stuff because it showcases her incredible voice much better.

9. Mastodon – Once More ‘Round The Sun

Once More ‘Round The Sun is the first record from groove metal band Mastodon I was able to play straight through and enjoy. Mastodon has always been a band where I can recognize how good they are but when I listen to them for long periods of time every song melds together. That’s not the case with Once More ‘Round the Sun as every song has its own identity. The groove is very much alive.

8. Rise Against – The Black Market

After how dissapointing Endgame was for Rise Against, The Black Market is a very good, much needed bounce back album. Tim McIlrath sounds the best he has since The Sufferer and the Witness and I’m super glad he incorporated more screaming.

7. Machine Head  – Bloodstone and Diamonds

Machine Head are another band that keeps surprising me with each release. Maybe it’s because the past couple I didn’t even know were out until months later so I went in with no expectations, but Machine Head has been making some really solid albums lately. Bloodstone and Diamonds is another solid release, but suffers from a case of being too long. If all your songs are like 6-8 minutes long, either you write the best songs ever, or it gets hard not to get inevitably bored halfway through listening. Luckily “Now We Die,” “Killers and Kings,” and “Night of Long Knives” are all memorable songs that have gotten stuck in my head for days on end.

6. Foo Fighters – Sonic Highways

Initially I was unhappy that this album didn’t sound like Wasting Light and thought it wasn’t as good as a result, but after giving it some time, Sonic Highways is neither worse nor better than Wasting Light, just different. “Subterranean” and “I Am A River” are both highlights, while “What did I do?/God As My Witness” is the best and the most memorable.

5. Weezer – Everything Will Be Alright In The End

Everybody has guilty pleasure listens. Weezer has never been known to make groundbreaking music that pushes boundaries, but what they do is make catchy as hell songs and sometimes that’s all you need at times to put a smile on your face and bob your head. I love the simplicity of Everything Will Be Alright In The End. “Foolish Father” has to be the easiest song to want to sing along to I’ve heard all year.

4. Avenged Sevenfold – Waking The Fallen: Resurrected  

I used to hate this record. I thought the vocals and mixing were crap and all of the songs were super boring, Fast forward more than 10 years and Waking the Fallen has gotten a re-release, and is now one of my favorite albums ever. The only thing that would make Waking the Fallen better is if it would have gotten a remastering to sound like the demo of the title track.

3. Linkin Park – The Hunting Party

After years of becoming disinterested in the band, Linkin Park released their best album since Meteora and what I had wished would have come out after that album ten years ago. The Hunting Party sounds like a logical progression of what the band should have released. Instead of the alternative, soft, U2-esque rock Linkin Park has been releasing since that album, they mostly return to their roots this time around and it pays off. Watch any recent live videos and it looks like they’ve rejuvenated themselves. While the Hunting Party won’t be heralded as a classic itself, songs like “Guilty All The Same,” “War,” “Rebellion,” “A Line in the Sand” are some of the bands best to-date.

2. Between the Buried and Me – Future Sequence: Live At The Fidelitorium

I don’t know why I keep being surprised with this band, when it’s been three albums now where it’s taking me a long time to actually “get” the record and love it. This time around it took me a good two years to get into Between the Buried and Me’s The Parallax II: Future Sequence record and the band’s latest live album, Future Sequence: Live at the Fidelitorium, was the catalyst. Instead of them playing in a venue to an audience, they’re playing in a recording studio like a jam session which lends itself better. There were times when listening when I’d think “Hey, I should listen to the live version of this song instead, it sounded pretty good before,” only to realize I already was listening to it because of how close they come to sounding like the initial studio recording. Between the Buried and Me are so good at what they do it’s crazy.

1. Thomas Giles – Modern Noise

Like his solo album debut back in 2011, Tommy Rogers (lead singer of Between the Buried and Me) surprises me again with how good his songs are on this sophomore effort. Very much unlike his work in Between the Buried and me where an average song could be 15 minutes long, Tommy proves that a succinct 4 minute long song can be just an impactful and exciting as the long ones. “I Appear Disappear” is easily my song of 2014.

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