Phil Collins - January 4, 2015
Another year has come to a close and it has been another great year for music. Change the Rotation's three writers (Dave Anians, Steve O and myself) spent the month of December narrowing our favorite albums of the year down to the 32 that competed in this bracket. Those 32 choices were drawn randomly into the bracket. We then spent the better part of four hours hashing out our emotions about each record. Some of these matchups were a 3-0 sweep, while others were grueling 2-1 ordeals. Ultimately I think the right album prevailed, although that final vote was not unanimous. One note: nominations for the bracket were restricted to full-length albums. Check here for some other releases Dave found worthy of checking out this year, here for Steve O's championing of Wasted Potetial's EP as one of his favorite releases of the year and here for some of my top EPs and 7-inches of 2014. Without further delay, Change the Rotation's selections for the best albums of 2014:
The World/Inferno Friendship Society and Martha put out records that were well favored by all three of us this year, so it is no surprise to see them both make the elite eight. The Bruce Lee Band was a tough one for me to see go out early. Their album lived up to the inevitable hype that comes with a band returning from deep hibernation with a fresh supergroup lineup.
Against Me! matching up with Speaker For the Dead in this region final is a David v Goliath battle. Where Against Me! had their days early in their career as David, they certainly are Goliath now. Will Speaker For the Dead be Goliath one day? That seems unlikely, but The Ballad of the Undercrust was one hell of an album and I'm glad it had this good of a showing in the bracket. The Creeps and Lagwagon both had unlucky draws coming up against the best Against Me! album in a long time early on in the competition.
Cloud Nothings versus Iron Reagan and Cloud Nothings versus Punch were two of the most hotly contested matchups in this tournament. We were all really into all three of these records. It took a lot of hemming and hawing to push Cloud Nothings' Here and Nowhere Else through these two rounds. That record's emotional depth seems to be what spurred it into the deep rounds of the bracket. Swimsuit Addition had an unlucky draw coming up against fellow locals The Lawrence Arms in the first round. Metropole was the first Lawrence Arms full-length in eight years. Needless to say, we feel the band still has it.
PEARS' Go To Prison was the surprise of the year in 2014. This band did not exist when we voted on our bracket last year. In a short time, the four-piece hardcore group from New Orleans has claimed a place in our hearts. This was one of the few albums to receive three nominations in the initial phase of listing our favorite albums of the year. Two out of the three of us were very fond of Andrew Jackson Jihad's Christmas Island this year, and that was enough to push AJJ through a few rounds of this tournament. You can read all about our opposing viewpoints on the evolution of AJJ's sound here. White Lung was the unlucky band in this region, drawing a first round matchup with PEARS. That's a shame.
Here we have our final four. The World/Inferno Friendship Society's This Packed Funeral defeated Martha in the elite eight; Against Me!'s Transgender Dysphoria Blues sailed past Speaker For the Dead; The Lawrence Arms' Metropole was too much for Cloud Nothings to overcome; and PEARS' Go To Prison continued its run by beating Andrew Jackson Jihad.
It all came down to Against Me! and PEARS. To this point, Against Me! had not received a single vote against it, while PEARS only had one vote against it (there was one vote for The Lawrence Arms in the final four.)
There you have it. Transgender Dysphoria Blues by Against Me! is Change the Rotation's pick for the best album of 2014. It was a 2-1 vote in the final round. So, now it's time for you to go ahead and let us have it. Did we get it right? Did it all go horribly wrong? Tell us about your favorite albums of 2014.