2014: A year that changed the stereotypical modern day music

Nicholas Miller

Whether you love or hate modern music, you would be hard-pressed finding an argument to dispute that 2014 was quite the year for music.

Last January saw the release of James Mercer and Danger Mouse’s “After the Disco” under the duo’s five-year-old moniker, Broken Bells. Kid Cudi, The Fray and ScHoolboy Q all released albums on Feb. 25, while Chet Faker released his genre-shattering debut album, “Built On Glass,” in April.

Although last May seemed to be a slow month for music in the U.S., The Black Keys released its eighth studio album, “Turn Blue,” during the month and widely impressed critics (including myself!)–yet another shout out to The Black Keys’ producer, Danger Mouse.

The latter half of the 2014 also gave way to successful releases, starting with Rise Against’s critically-acclaimed, “The Black Market.” Other well-received hits included albums by The Kooks, Maroon 5, ¡MursDay! and Alt-J.

Many promising young bands releasing epic debut albums included 5 Seconds of Summer’s self-titled album that released in June, Aaron West and the Roaring Twenties in July and Catfish and the Bottlemen’s “The Balcony” that dropped in September. Meanwhile Jack White’s “Lazaretto” found its way to No. 1 on the Billboard 200, claiming its spot as the best-selling vinyl record since Pearl Jam’s epic “Vitalogy” in 1994.

The year finished strong with Weezer’s release of “Everything Will Be Alright in the End” and Musician/ Director/ Producer Dave Grohl kicking off his new HBO series, “Sonic Highways.” 

Angels & Airwaves, Logic, Hozier, Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran, Bush, You+Me, Aer, Spoon and Thom Yorke (amongst plenty of others) also released albums throughout 2014.

But with all of the hype around last year, how does 2015 stack up? With the first quarter of this year already in the books, let’s take a look at what we’ve heard so far and what’s to come in 2015.

Although Kendrick Lamar’s “To Pimp a Butterfly” has dominated the charts over recent weeks, the early winter months of 2015 saw positive reviews of Fall Out Boy’s “American Beauty/American Psycho,” Title Fight’s “Hyperview” and Imagine Dragons’ “Smoke + Mirrors.” 

And while it’s rare for more than a handful of artists outside of the hip-hop or pop world to break the Top 40, lately it seems that the alternative rock scene is going to be taking over the new year.

Modest Mouse’s “Strangers to Ourselves” (released on St. Patty’s Day) is a surprisingly wonderful derivation from some of the band’s roots, reaching No. 3 in the Billboard 200 during its opening week. From the hit-or-miss gritty synth solos of “Pistol” to the old-school folky gang vocals in “Coyotes,” Modest Mouse seems to try something new on this album without reinventing itself. 

Love it or hate it, the album is heartfelt, unique, and far from pop. Truth be told, this album is not up to the caliber of 2007’s “We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank,” but front to back it is still an album that only Modest Mouse could’ve made, and that’s exactly the way we should want it. Considering this is the band’s first album release in eight years, any Modest Mouse is good Modest Mouse.

Death Cab For Cutie also put out an album at the end of March. “Kintsugi,” the Japanese art of fixing broken pottery and name of Ben Gibbard’s newest brainchild, is Death Cab’s first album produced by someone other than the band’s lead guitarist Chris Walla. 

The decision to hire an outside producer came after Walla (who has been referred to as the band’s secret weapon countless times) announced he was leaving the band last fall, leaving many skeptics questioning if DCFC could still prove itself as a pioneer of modern alternative rock.

Although early internet reviews have used words like “cliché,” “nonsense” and “hackneyed” to describe the band’s new album, “Kintsugi” is not a far departure from past successes like “Codes and Keys” or “The Photo Album,” which should please many hardcore Death Cab fans. 

While the album hasn’t exhibted a timeless hit like “I Will Follow You Through the Dark” that could break through the ugly cloud of pop-laden fluff streaming from the radio waves to find its way onto iPods of the masses, this album is as imaginative, metaphoric and heartfelt as you might expect. Surely a summer staple for anyone parting from their Villanova sweetheart for the next three and a half months.

Missed out on any of these awesome albums? Be sure to check out some of the new music set to release in 2015 by all of the following artists!

The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Radiohead, Biffy Clyro, The Wombats, Brandon Flowers, Built to Spill, My Morning Jacket, Florence + the Machine, Of Monsters and Men, Kanye West, Kid CuDi, Lil Wayne, The XX, Chance the Rapper, Frightened Rabbit, Muse, Adele, Albert Hammond Jr. and Metallica.