@ShaunSJohnson’s April 2015 Playlist!

April 2015 Playlist
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Every month since January 2011, Shaun Johnson has been making monthly playlists of his favorite music. As soon as the last couple days of the month roll around, Shaun starts a new playlist for the next month with whatever music he is jamming out to at that time. These playlists include any music that Shaun loves and are not confined to any specific genre or release date. The playlists usually include new music, but they can also include tracks from bands that Shaun is planning on seeing live that particular month.

These write-ups are solely for Shaun to promote the music he loves and to give him an outlet to write about music in a consistent manner! Don’t be afraid to send him your thoughts on his write-up or playlists on Twitter: @ShaunSJohnson

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I had the privilege of interviewing CHON’s Drew Pelisek in Omaha at The Slowdown at the Circa Survive, Balance and Composure show. It was one of the best concerts, let alone be experiences of my life. Pelisek was one of the coolest band members I have ever met in my entire life. My media production class at Iowa State University demanded a project every single week for the last 6 weeks of class. The main stipulation of the assignments was that they have to have something to do with an event in Ames. It can be a feature on a future event, too. This was particularly rough for me since I lived in Des Moines, Iowa.

I tweeted at Pelisek a few days before their show at The Slowdown in Omaha with Circa Survive and Balance and Composure about a possible interview to preview their Iowa State University show just a few weeks later. He said, “yeah” and I was excited. The tweet was completely on a whim and a final attempt before I would have to do some sort of lame preview of something I don’t care about in Ames.

The next few days before the show I was jamming to CHON’s new album, Grow, nonstop, along with all of their other tracks. I listened to CHON and only CHON for the first week of April because of all the editing I put into the video.

The beginning of April I was watching Transparent on Amazon Prime. I had just finished The Walking Dead’s season five and Better Call Saul’s first season, so I needed to move onto something else. When deciding I watched a couple trailers of shows. Transparent was one of those shows. In the trailer, they used Vance Joy’s “Mess Is Mine”, which is a phenomenal song that fit very well in the shows trailer.

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Sufjan Stevens masterfully crafted some of the most heart-wrenching songs of the year with one of the best albums of 2015 with Carrie & Lowell. There are a bunch of great songs on the album, including “All of Me Wants All of You”, “Fourth of July”, “No Shade In the Shadow of the Cross” and more. The album is truly wonderful and will be on my end of the year list, for sure.

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Madeon also released a new album in 2015 with Adventure. It is a good album, but somewhat forgettable, overall. I do enjoy the tracks where he collaborates with a solid vocalist most. The track with Passion Pit, “Pay No Mind” is probably the best on the album.

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Death Cab for Cutie’s Kintsugi was released in April, also. It falls short of most of their other works. It’s a shame because of how great I know that Death Cab for Cutie can be. This was also their last album together as the same band that released the fantastic albums in their catalog, like Plans and Transatlanticism with Chris Walla’s departure.

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The third single from Passion Pit’s Kindred was released mid-month. It was “Until We Can’t (Let Go)”. If I were to rank the tracks on the album in terms of best to worst, I would put it in the middle of the album overall. A lot of Kindred is really solid, songs like “Lifted Up”, “”Whole Life Story” and “Where the Sky Hangs” are close to the quality of Gossamer’s tracks. I think that Gossamer is nearly perfect overall, so Passion Pit had a lot of work to capitalize on that album. Overall, I think Kindred fell short of that, but it is still a solid album.

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Earl Sweatshirt released I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside at the end of March. Although, I haven’t given it enough time, I really like the first half of it. Tyler, the Creator released the Cherry Bomb in April, too. This year has been a really great one for rap and hip-hop albums. I think Tyler released a good album. The two singles, “FUCKING PERFECT” and “DEATHCAMP” are really great. I also love “SMUCKERS” with Lil Wayne and Kanye West. Lyrically it is heads above Wolf, but I don’t think the album is better at this moment. I connected with songs like “48”, “Awkward” and “Answer” off of Wolf. Tyler, the Creator really has a lot going for him and I think he will be around for a long time.

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I threw some Run the Jewels on the playlist because they were announced as one of the headliners at this year’s 80/35 in Des Moines. I cannot wait! The show will be absolutely bonkers. Earth Wind & Fire’s “September” was on the radio at work and I found myself grooving to it.

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The Bully and JEFF the Brotherhood show was at Vaudeville Mews in Des Moines on April 11th. It was a great show and got me even more excited for Bully’s first full length, Feel Like on June 23rd.

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The Brand New, Circa Survive show was on April 25th and both bands were absolutely unreal. Brand New sounded very good and were everything I expected them to be. They opened with their new song, “Mene”, too, just as I predicted. Seeing Circa Survive twice in the same month was pretty neat. Anthony Green is one of the best frontman and performers of all-time. He looks healthy, vibrant and sounds clean. I’m happy for Green and the rest of the dudes in Circa Survive.

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I became somewhat reminiscent of Electric Forest and some of my friends in my “forest family”. Before Electric Forest, I had never listened to Tycho. At Electric Forest, after we got our camp all set up and the schedule of performances poster put up, we all sat around the poster discussing who we wanted to see. The only person in the group that said anything about Tycho was my friend, Danyiel Turner. There was so much to do and see at Electric Forest but none of it meant much unless I was experiencing it with my friends. So, I told him I would tag-a-long with him for Tycho. And I’m glad I did, since they put on one of the best performances of Forest. Now nearly a year later I’m still listening to their debut album Awake. They would definitely be up higher on my end of the year music list, too.

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Episode 003 of The EZPZ Podcast is ready for your earholes!

The EZPZ Podcast Episode 003

The lemon heads are back this with episode 003 this week! Your co-hosts Shaun Johnson, Nick Gandy and Dan Brown start off by gushing about how awesome the Brand New, Circa Survive were at 7 Flags Event Center. Then they chat about the issues with the venue and the problems with “will call” attendees. *Interlude: “Welcome to Bangkok” by Brand New The Mayweather-Pacquiao fight was Saturday, May 2nd. The only lemon head that watched it, #StealthModeDan, found it online for free. We chat about the some of the attendees, the celebrity that wagered and lost $250,000 and how Mayweather is a smart, skillful, piece of shit. *Interlude: “Hot Jazzybelle” by Kaytranada After the discussion about the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight, we realized we were recording the podcast on #StealthModeDan’s MacBook Pro mic instead of our Snowball mic. Dan put his sound engineering skills to good use and cleaned it up to make it sound pretty good. We apologize, but hey, who said we were pros? Then we dove into a discussion about the Avengers and the new movie, Avengers: Age of Ultron. Shaun went to see it with Lydia and thought it was pretty solid. Nick told us about how much he loves big, muscular superheroes and Mortal Kombat fighters. *Interlude: “Bombay” by Damn Kids The lemon heads then discussed the awesome technology that Tesla announced at their keynote in Los Angeles, California. The dudes discussed what they thought about the Powerwall and how Elon Musk is the baddest mother fucker walking the face of the Earth. *Interlude: “Rain” by Singularis Make sure you all keep the #StealthModeDan hashtag going! It’s going to be our little thing for a while. We let the listeners know about how we actually recorded our third episode on April 25th, but trashed it since it wasn’t up to par with episode 002. The Story So Far, Four Year Strong and Terror show is on Saturday, May 9th at Wooly’s in Des Moines, Iowa. Shaun and Nick are going to the show, so we discussed the bands on the bill. We also get a little nostalgic and chatted about August Burns Red and Bring Me the Horizon. *Interlude: “I Don’t Fuck With You” ft. E-40 by Big Sean That wraps up episode 003! Thank you for all of your support. We are working hard to iron out any kinks. We are learning as we go, but we are always happy to hear how we can improve our show. You can send us your letters at TheEZPZPodcast@gmail.com The EZPZ: Website: TheEZPZ.com Twitter and Instagram: @TheEZPZ Spotify playlists that Nick makes for every episode can be found here: https://open.spotify.com/user/ncgsxe Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/theezpz Shaun’s Twitter and Instagram: @ShaunSJohnson Nick’s Twitter and Instagram: @bazookaxnick Make sure to post our hashtag on every tweet and Instagram photo: #StealthModeDan

The EZPZ Podcast Episode 002

https://soundcloud.com/shaun-steven-johnson/the-ezpz-podcast-episode-002

The EZPZ Podcast Episode 002

Your hosts, Shaun Johnson, Nick Gandy and Dan Brown are all back this week for episode 002 of The EZPZ Podcast. The lemonheads started off the episode with our weekly re-cap. The dudes chatted about the JEFF the Brotherhood/Bully show in Des Moines. Dan asked Shaun how his first 5K went.

Then the dudes dove into some listener letters and comments. Huge shout outs to Kyle (@kyle2314), Hunter (@Hunter_Whyle) and Nick (@TheFamousNickH) for the feedback! Shaun briefly spoke about the Omaha Maha Music Festival that “super fan” Nick asked about.

* http://www.mahamusicfestival.com

The Maha Music Festival is happening on the weekend August 15th the same weekend as the Summer Set Music Festival. Summer Set’s line-up was released this week and the lemonheads discussed their favorite artists on the list and some issues the festival has, according to past-year attendees.

* http://summersetfestival.com/2015/

HBO’s Game of Thrones came back this week with season five. We briefly (without spoiling anything) discussed our thoughts on the episodes and the fact that nearly half of season five leaked online. We briefly went into a Tyler, the Creator tangent with his new album, Cherry Bomb, which was released this week. Poor ol’ George “Rail Road” Martin got some “shade” from Shaun just before we got into a discussion about all the boobs and dick that is in Game of Thrones.

We hopped back into talking about Tyler, the Creator’s Cherry Bomb and how he hasn’t completely matured yet. Then we somehow fell down the rabbit hole of taboo words. Even though we aren’t social experts by any means, we made an attempt at discussing these forbidden words.

Tyler, the Creator’s “Smuckers” (feat. Lil Wayne, Kanye West) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0axc_WEPTt8

We closed out the episode with chatter about Brand New. They officially released a new track this week! The track, “Mene”, is wonderful and we all love it. We then discussed the possibility of them releasing a new album this year. Listen to us gush about the sold out Brand New/Circa Survive show that is on Saturday, April 25th at 7 Flags in Clive, Iowa.

Thanks for listening! You can send your letters to us at: TheEZPZPodcast@gmail.com

EZPZ Playlist: February 2015

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February arguably started off better than any other months will this year. February is the month that Title Fight released their third album, Hyperview. The album leaked at the end of January, but that is not what I cared about. After a few listens to the leaked version, I realized I needed a higher quality version than the 128-kbps leak. I wanted to buy the 320-kbps version. Title Fight chose to go with an extremely different sound than their fast-paced punk from yesteryear. This time they were making their sound the most important aspect of each song. Without the best quality tracks, the album did sound a little muddy. I had to turn to read the lyrics to truly enjoy it to its fullest. Beside the vinyl, the 320-kbps was the best version to truly enjoy it. With producer, Will Yip, I knew the album was going to be nearly perfect. In 2012, their second album, Floral Green, was my album of the year. Even after having some sort of version of the album for over a month, I still need to let it settle in my stomach. Sure, I love it and it is easily my album of the year, at the moment, but that could all change within the coming months. Three of my favorite artists: Kendrick Lamar, Kanye West and Radiohead are all due to release albums this year.

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After a conversation with my friend, Nick Gandy, about 2015 being the tenth-anniversary of Armor For Sleep’s What to Do When You Are Dead, I had to revisit it. I usually spin a couple Armor For Sleep songs on a regular basis, but for some reason, it had been months. The album holds up impressively well. I still got goose bumps during tracks like “The Truth About Heaven” and “Remember to Feel Real”. Both of those songs are complete bangers. When “Basement Ghost Singing” flows into “Walking At Night, Alone”, I melt into a puddle of 17-year-old happiness. I’m very happy I managed to catch them on their farewell tour in 2012.

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At work, we listen to the radio. Usually, I hear the same shitty top 40 songs over and over and over again. Sometimes I don’t have very much patience for the pop-stations and I change it to oldies of some sort. One of my favorite songs that would play moderately frequently is a song called “Bennie and the Jets”. At the beginning of the month, I was having a rough time at work and then that song came on and my mood did a 180. I downloaded it later that night only to find that it’s an Elton John song. I didn’t hesitate to check out more of his stuff. I knew he was talented, but I had no idea how many older songs I liked were by him. What a talented man.

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I made a New Year’s resolution with myself to see some friends outside of the usual weekend alcohol binge. I made that promise true in February with a few of my good friends. I didn’t pressure anyone to join me because I had been drunkenly telling everyone I wanted to do something like this for what seemed like years. After reaching out to a few friends, I was happy to hear that all three would love the idea of getting lunch or coffee during the workweek.

The first friend I got coffee with was my good friend, Dan Brown. Dan and I met in March of 2013 at a mutual friend, Tyler’s birthday party. The night I met him also happened to be the night I met a good chunk of my current friends and my girlfriend, Lydia Hagins. There was something about him that made me almost instantly respect him. Before I got to know him at all, I respected him and I have no idea why. Maybe it was just the way he presented himself. He seemed eager, driven and far from content. At that moment, I think I felt the same way. It was an eerie feeling being in the same proximity as someone else that you could just tell felt the same way as you.

Even though I made a New Year’s resolution doesn’t mean that I actually planned on following through. Nobody as follows through with those, do they? Maybe it was actually something that I would bring up, drunkenly with friends just to make myself feel better. Dan Brown didn’t operate that way. He reminded me about it the follow Monday after his birthday in mid-January. We genuinely were hanging out at least once a week in February, just him and I, chatting about any and everything. I almost forgot how important it was to have a friend to just spill your guts to from time to time.

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In our conversations, he recommended I check out a record label from LA, Soulection. I didn’t really take him seriously right off the bat. I knew he had at the very least a decent taste in music. He liked some of The Chariot’s stuff, which I totally respected, and he also is the person that got a lot of people into RL Grime. One of the best conversations I have ever had under the influence was with him after the RL Grime show in Omaha, Nebraska in July 2013.

A couple days after he recommended that record label, Soulection, he sent me a text about one of their newly signed artists, Same Gellaitry. Gellaitry is from Ireland and he’s only 18-years-old. On February 17th, Soulection released Gellaitry’s debut release, Short Stories EP. His Short Stories EP instantly set my brain ablaze. I got halfway through the second track, “Reflectionz”, on Soundcloud and bought it off of Bandcamp moments later. The EP is that good. I haven’t been able to go a day without listening to it. I am very excited for what the future holds for “Synth-E-Sam”.

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It was only a matter of time before someone uploaded on a remix of one of Gellaitry’s tracks on the Short Stories EP. When the 16-year-old from the United Kingdom, Oshi, uploaded a remix of “To Earth and Back”, Dan Brown made sure to ship the Soundcloud link my way. I thought to myself, “What do you know? Another talented child.” The track is almost better than Gellaitry’s effort. The second drop is way smoother on Oshi’s remix. I decided to check out his Soundcloud and Facebook page and get some tracks to jam out to on the go. I really like “I ❤ u” by him. I also think that his attempt at a fresh remix to Justin Timberlake’s “Suit & Tie” isn’t half-bad.

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Adventures released their debut album, Supersonic Home and unfortunately for them it was on the same day that I was introduced to Sam Gellaitry’s Short Stories EP. A good week into March and I still haven’t given the album the fair amount of spins they deserve. I really liked the single and music video that accompanied it earlier in the February, but like I said, I just cannot stop listening to material from Sam Gellaitry and Oshi. I hope to give it a fair spin in the March or April.

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At work, when I don’t give a fuck and I get really sick of the radio, I’ll just put my phone on shuffle. It may not seem like a big deal, but with a bunch of co-workers around me, they can hear everything I am playing. It’s weird, literally everywhere else in my life I try and promote the music I love. I wear band t-shirts (almost exclusively, I have music tattoos (almost exclusively) and if you follow me on any of my social media accounts, you will get an weekly update about music (at the very least). I mean these blogs about my monthly playlists are evidence enough that music matters a lot to me. So, why is it that I am always trying to hide my music tastes at work? I don’t know. I’m not a psychiatrist. Anyway, on the last Sunday of February, I put my phone on shuffle. The last two tracks of Circa Survive’s Juturna played and I was instantly sent into a rush of my 16-year-old self. What a perfect album. I ran through the album, passively, a couple times that day. It still holds together really well.

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The following Monday, the last of February, I decided I should actually check out some of Paper Diamond’s stuff. Especially since my friends and I were planning on seeing him in Kansas City on Saturday (2/23/15). I went to his Facebook and downloaded an EP or two and his 2014 Summer Tour mix. The mix was especially good. Paper Diamond samples some really outstanding tracks. Spoilers: the tour mix plays a huge role in the beginning of my March playlist. See you all next month with my March playlist!

December 2014 Playlist

An announcement came at the beginning of December that got led to my most anticipated album of 2015.  One of my favorite bands, Title Fight, was releasing cryptic clips on their website for the last couple weeks of November. The clips were weird and had night vision type overlays. I was hooked! Title Fight’s Floral Green was my “album of the year” in 2012 and I’m sure Hyperview will not disappoint. Check out the details of the album here. Their first single, “Chlorine”, was released on December 2nd. I loved the song so much, it cracked my “top ten songs of the year” in just a couple weeks. Everyone should be on the lookout for Hyperview, come February 3rd.

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December is hectic when it comes to music. It’s the month I have to cram a bunch of albums in so I can make absolutely sure I did not miss anything for my “end of the year” list. Although, listening to albums this way is not ideal, it has to be done. I listened to Circa Survive’s Descensus, Run the Jewels’ Run the Jewels 2 and FKA Twigs LP1. All three albums are extremely good and made my end of the year list in some sort of way. Although Circa Survive was the only album to crack the top 10, all three could have if I had given them enough time.

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One of my biggest mishaps for music last year was not listening to Childish Gambino in any sort of way. He is one of my favorite rappers now after I gave his first album, Camp, a listen way back in January. Although, better known for his comedy and acting, Donald Glover has a lot going for him as rapper. Break the Internet is a little different than Camp. Glover has developed into a more mature person after his Instagram-therapy incident and Break the Internet seems to display that side of him just fine.

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After my friend Brandon’s Ugly Sweater party, we had a dance party and listened to an assortment of wonderful music. The dance “party” consisted of myself, my girlfriend, Lydia and friends: Alex and Brandon. The main songs that I remember dancing to were from Glitch Mob. So, I added some Glitch Mob to my list.

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As far as working out, I usually jam out to The Chariot and Every Time I Die to shed as much weight as possible before the end of the year. Instead, this month I jumped back and bumped to Code Orange’s Love is Love/Return to Dust.

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I find myself diving into Circa Survive’s Juturna at least a few times a year. December is a perfect time to do this because of the long nights and cold days.

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End of the Year 2014 List!

Top Albums of the Year

1. Every Time I Die – From Parts Unknown

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Every single year I put Every Time I Die on a list, they’re near the top or they flat out top it. 2014 is no different. Looking healthier than ever, the boys from Buffalo, New York released a real ripper and my favorite album of the year, From Parts Unknown. Kurt Ballou, a true metal God, from the band Converge produced the album. It starts with an explosion from “The Great Secret” and ends with arguably the band’s greatest ending to a record, “Idiot”. Songs like their second single “Decayin’ with the Boys” keeps my blood boiling while the piano-led, eerie pseudo-ballad, “Moor” and banger “Exometrium” stitch the album together perfectly. The boys toured the United Kingdom with A Day to Remember, multiple United States tours and Canada with Expire. One of the United States tours was the entire span of the Vans Warped Tour. I made a trip out to Vans Warped Tour just to see them. I probably would have skipped the 8-hour-combined trip and a hotel stay in Minneapolis, MN if it was not for their presence on the tour. So, I’m glad Kevin Lyman got them on the tour. Funny tidbit: the band has it in their contract that Keith and Jordan Buckley’s father barbecue for the entire Warped Tour staff at the Buffalo, New York stop! The barbecue along with their insane live show must be why they have been on the Vans Warped Tour six times already!

2. La Dispute – Rooms of the House

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One of my biggest fails of the year was that I did not get to see La Dispute live. I even bought two tickets for their tour in Minneapolis but when the friend I was going with made a last minute cancellation and I couldn’t find anyone to go with me, I just sucked it up and stayed home. I will not miss the band in 2015! Especially since they recently announced a tour with one of my other favorite bands, Title Fight. I wish the tour wasn’t in Chicago on a Sunday in April, but nonetheless, I will try and make it out to see some of the songs on Rooms of the House. The album is wonderful from start to finish. My only complaint with their previous album, Wildlife, was that at times it seemed like it was droning on just a little bit. This is not the case with Rooms of the House. The album feels complete like Wildlife and never felt like it slumped like Somewhere At The Bottom Of The River Between Vega And Altair. Although, La Dispute had a wonderful year, I cannot help but worry for their future works since their guitarist, Kevin Whittemore, left the band after their tour supporting Rooms of the House.

3. Code Orange – I Am King

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Also produced by Kurt Ballou, I Am King by Code Orange was easily my biggest surprise of 2014. A year ago, my friend Kyle Ewing recommended then named Code Orange Kids to me. I shamefully shrugged off the recommendation and proceeded to move on with my life. The band’s unique name stuck in my head and after I stumbled on their first release from 2012, Love is Love/Return to Dust, in July of this year, I was hooked. College is a real bitch sometimes. I know I am supposed to be happy and grateful that I even get the chance to attend college but it does cuts into my concert fund and time. Code Orange barreled through the midwest in late September on a co-headlining tour with Twitching Tongues just after I started classes and couldn’t make the 7 hour round trip to Kansas City and back. Code Orange had a truly insane year! They released one of the best albums and even cut the word “Kids” from their name. I will definitely make it a high priority to see them in 2015. Who knows, I may even come out of mosh-tirement for songs like “My World” and “Unclean Spirit”.

4. Phantogram – Voices

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5. Tigers Jaw – Charmer

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6. Pianos Become the Teeth – Keep You

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7. ’68 – In Humor and Sadness

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8. Circa Survive – Descensus

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9. RL Grime – VOID

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10. Flying Lotus – You’re Dead!
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11-20 Top Albums of 2014

11 Run The Jewels – Run the Jewels 2

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12 Manchester Orchestra – HOPE

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13 The Hotelier – Home, Like No Place Is There

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14 FKA Twigs – LP1

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15 Brian Altano – Misanthrope 

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16 Foster the People – Supermodel

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17 Tycho – Awake

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18 ScHoolboy Q – Oxymoron

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19 Thom Yorke – Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes

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20 The Fighting Yawns – Montauk

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Top Songs of 2014 (released in 2014)

1. “Fall in Love” by Phantogram

2. “Woman (In Mirror)” by La Dispute

3. “The Great Secret” by Every Time I Die

4. “Woman (Reading)” by La Dispute

5. “Idiot” by Every Time I Die

6. “My World” by Code Orange

7. “Howling at the Moon” by Phantogram

8. “Chlorine” by Title Fight

9. “Best Friend” by Foster the People

10. “Tell Me” by RL Grime

Band of the Year: Every Time I Die

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*Editor’s Note – Josh Newton is no longer in the band. Stephen Micciche replaced him in 2011.

Tour of the Year: Every Time I Die, The Ghost Inside, Architects, Hundredth and Back Track in Minneapolis, MN at Mills City Nights on December 6th, 2014.

This is a live performance from the best tour of the year.

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Honorable Mentions (in no particular order):

Various Artists – Guardians of the Galaxy O/S – This soundtrack tied into an amazing storyline and crafted one of 2014’s best movie releases.

Childish Gambino – Kauai EP – Artsy EP that has me excited for Childish Gambino’s next album.

Aphex Twin – Syro – I didn’t get to spend near enough time with this album but from the couple spins I have given it, I think it’s a good album.

Submerged – Don’t Be A Gurn (In Huss We Trust) – Des Moines’ own, Submerged, released a really solid album that I will drunkenly mosh to for years to come.

Chon – Woohoo! EP – Chon opened for Animals as Leaders in Des Moines and I was blown away. These dudes have huge potential to become something extraordinary.

Foxing – The Albatross – Even though his album was originally released in 2013, it was re-issued in 2014. It would have made my list in 2013 if I had a chance to listen to it then. I don’t include re-issues in my list or I would have put it somewhere in the top 20.