End of the Year 2014: Our Biggest Disappointments
Don't get us wrong, 2014 was an incredible year for music. But every great year also comes with it's slew of bummers, last year had the letdown that was The 20/20 Experience alongside plenty of others. The following excerpts are our picks for the lamest things that happened in 2014, picked by rock lobsters as well as contributors from the rest of the Athens scene.
Zack Baker, Editorial Director
Dads' I'll Be The Tornado
Ask anyone in Athens who met me through shows, I used to be the "kid who always wore Dads merch." I was obssessed with them, they were just a fun band who had fun songs that also really played to my angsty side, and that was all I needed. American Radass is still one of my favorite albums ever, the mid-set cover of "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" at Castle Genessee (RIP) is still one of my favorite live moments ever, I still laugh at the stupid song titles and sing along when I listen to Radass. But that band seems to have completely disappeared.
Ignoring all the sketchy stuff that's come out about the band being, well, total dicks, the music they put out on I'll Be The Tornado doesn't feel like it can possibly be the same band. All the tongue-in-cheek humor is gone, replaced with self-serious bullshit. I understand that bands want to grow up, but Dads did it in a way that eschews everything that was fun about their band in favor of putting more spotlight on the sophmoric lyricism and drummer John Bradley's once-charmingly rough now-whiny and painful vocals. Nobody likes to see their favorite band die, and I spent most of 2014 watching the trainwreck that Dads have become.
Megan Fair, General Manager & Copy Chief
Hostage Calm Disbanding
When Cmar from Hostage Calm posted a picture to Instagram of the band in suits with the caption, “One Last Time. Hostage Calm. #dieonstage” I had this terrible sinking feeling that Die On Stage was more than just an album name, and this whole “one last time” business was a bad omen that a band whose music helped me grapple with the world around me was about to disband. I even said, “I think Hostage Calm is going to break up.” But lo’ and behold, Die On Stage came out, I bought tickets to see them open for Citizen’s U.S. tour and I thought we were in the clear.
Hostage Calm has always been a band that caught my eye and drew me in, but it wasn't until Please Remain Calm came out that I truly became enamored with the band. The group managed to create music that didn’t sound like anyone else; It was a mix of doo-wop, punk rock and politically charged anthems that managed to capture the struggle of growing up a Millennial, a generation that has been tossed upon an already sinking ship and is subsequently blamed for its capsizing. There was something so relatable, endless solidarity in every hook and harmony, every story and every line. And every song wasn’t for Hostage Calm, it was for every lost child, for every sweaty outcast screaming their lungs out and diving off of the stage as the band performed anthems about same-sex marriage rights and a longing for change.
So you can imagine my devastation when, only a few days into the tour, Hostage Calm announced it was disbanding and would not be performing any other dates on the tour. I couldn’t even go to the show if Hostage Calm wasn’t playing, it would have been too depressing. And to add insult to injury, the day they announced their disbandment, I failed room inspection for having too many decorations on my wall and was forced to take down my Hostage Calm banner. Talk about a freaking bummer, right? And I cried very real tears as they posted an image bearing lyrics from “Don’t Die On Me Now”: “I’ve been a hero, I’ve been a fool and all of it for you.”
While this occurrence was probably one of the most saddening things in music for me this year, it takes the edge off a little that I’ll be able to see Hostage Calm on their five date farewell tour. One last time.
Eric Perzanowski, Programming Director
Exodus’ Blood In Blood Out
Exodus is one of my favorite thrash metal bands of all-time, so naturally, hearing news that there’d be a new Exodus album in 2014 was a cause for excitement. My excitement increased upon hearing that Steve Souza would be returning to do vocals on this album, as he is my favorite of the three vocalists that have been featured over Exodus’ career. Blood In Blood Out isn’t a terrible album, or even a bad one, but it just lacks the edge and energy that albums like Tempo of the Damned has. Fortunately, Souza’s other band, Hatriot, released an album in 2014 that made up in whatever Blood In Blood Out lacked.
Xavier Veccia, PR Director & Managing Editor
Don’t get me wrong, I love me some Bobby Shmurda. “Hot N****” is a dynamite song all around. The biggest problem with it is what is spawned: The Shmoney Dance. For those who can’t Google “Shmoney Dance Vine Compilation,” the Shmoney Dance is like half-bend and snap, half-rotating, half of the effort. And before that was the nae nae, hailing from the We Are Toonz song. I don’t even know if that can count as dancing. Come on, hip hop. What happened to jerking? The Soulja Boy? Hell, even the walk it out allowed for some creativity. In 2015, I expect you rappers to be entertaining with your feet. I want to be more interested in your dance then your crimes (looking at you, Bobby). Let’s not disappoint, 2015.
Abbie Doyle, Reviews Editor
Iggy Azalea Still Being A Thing
I’m pretty bummed about the simple fact that Iggy Azalea is still a thing. She should probably cut the appropriation shit and cut it out soon.
Sammi Nelson, Blogs Editor
I know I'll rave about the Chiodos concert later in the week, but the biggest disappointment for me this year was Chiodos’ Devil. I might be a little unfair in my judgment because I had such high hopes for the band after Craig Owens returned. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the album for the most part, but there were a lot of songs that were too subpar for me. Despite my disappointment, I absolutely love the track “Ole Fishlips Is Dead Now.”
Chris Reinbold, Staff Writer
I have but one word in regards to 2014’s biggest disappointment: Chiodos. Devil was an absolute trainwreck of an album. I remember when I heard news that guitarist Thomas Erak from The Fall of Troy had joined the band, upon original guitarist Jason Hale’s departure. I jumped for joy. Erak’s inventive, twisted, and noisy guitars would bring a much needed heaviness to the Chiodos fold. Craig Owens also made his return after the more lyrically forgettable Illuminaudio, featuring Brandon Bolmer on vocals. I hoped Craig would bring his dark, romantic lyrics back with him… Unfortunately, it’s almost like Craig’s time with D.R.U.G.S. left him unable to write more than one song’s worth of decent lyrics.
Perhaps the biggest disappointment was that Jason Hale’s departure from Chiodos left them with the inability to write original, technical, hooky instrumentals. Not only were Craig’s lyrics puke-inducing, but Erak only pulled out rehashed The Fall of Troy riffs and guitar bits for the album. To make matters worse, not only did the band come to the table with this mess of half-baked material, producer David Bottrill (Muse, Tool, Coheed & Cambria) seemed to give them the A-OK. If he aided them in the writing process at all, then I DO NOT want to hear what they originally brought to Devil’s sessions.
Sam Carroll, Contributor
The behind the scenes of Electric Wizard’s Time to Die
I think Electric Wizard’s Time to Die is one of the better albums the sludge masters from across the pond have put out. It’s also the first album in over a decade to feature front man Jus Oborn working with founding member Mark Greening. That announcement alone was enough to make me giddy like a schoolgirl.
However, the behind the scenes of the album draw out some disappointment. It was the band’s first independent release; it also brought about a lawsuit with Electric Wizard’s previous record label, Rise Above. Apparently it was supposed to be the last album in an eight-album contract with the company.
Greening was sacked a few months before the album was released. The band never released a statement why, and he never exactly commented why.
Neither of these really deterred my opinion about the album until I was able to read Decibel’s feature about Electric Wizard. The name calling, the slanted viewpoints, and contradicting information make the album’s creation shrouded in darkness.
For me, this knowledge influenced my view of the album. I can hear the effort that was put into the music despite the challenges that were presented, but there was so much potential in the line-up that could’ve made Time to Die one of Electric Wizard’s best albums.
Tony Cardwell, Contributor
The Black Keys' Turn Blue
Young Tony Cardwell liked The Black Keys very much. In my day, I thought Rubber Factory was the end all be all and I still hold that record in high esteem. I have a very soft spot for The Black Keys and when I heard Dangermouse was jumping in on this new record again I got hyped. When I read interviews siting the band was going to take a more emotional look at songwriting I lost my marbles. And then “Fever” came out. I liked it okay, but I just knew there would be better content on the full length.
Nope. I counted down the days till the vinyl would be released, anxiously planning my whole day around Turn Blue. The album ruined that day. I obviously had the highest expectations, but still the record was a hot mess, and more recent listens still cannot remedy the pain I feel for this record. The songwriting is predictable, the instrumentation is more of the same and just not compelling, and the honestly it seems like the band didn’t even care about putting heart into this. I couldn’t feel the pain from Dan Auerbach's voice like we were promised. I couldn’t hear the care and love put into the lyrics and the instrumentation that Patrick Carney swore would be there. Turn Blue blew me away… by setting a new level of disappointment I could feel toward an album.
Eric Bishop, Guest Contributor (Ghost Stories guitarist)
Lack of Politically Charged Music
Nothing initially comes to mind because this was a fantastic year for music, especially in the indie/underground scenes. I would say one thing: where are the palatable political artists of our generation? From what I can see, we have no Bob Dylan’s, Fugazi’s, or NWA’s to make sense of our pressing issues (government’s increasing surveillance state, massive religiously motivated violence, systemic police brutality, sensational media) yet the hottest song of the year was “Happy” and things like Buzzfeed, Tinder, and Kim Kardashian’s big oily bum caught our attention instead. Booty had me like Fugazi reunion 2015.