Punk Out is about the power of music. This past year has given the world some phenomenal songs, with several making a great impact on us. Each Punk Out team member took a look back on 2014's offerings and shared the three tracks that made the biggest impact on us. Here is our list of songs from 2014 that have touched us, and why. Check them out and let us know a song that meant something to you this year.
"An Introduction To the Album" - The Hotelier
This album is about reinvention and self-truth. It begins so bluntly with an introduction, and what has become a reintroduction of a band I wasn't aware of before. The gentle guitar plucking and the raw earnest vocals seem to plea for an audience. It builds and bubbles over with lyrics like, "I searched for a way out // don't we all?," and "I had a chance to construct something beautiful and I choked // choked // I chocked." I can attest it was the best opening to a live show I've seen this year. - Brendan Schaller
"Black Me Out" - Against Me!
I saw Laura Jane Grace perform this acoustically on the Revival Tour in 2012 – before the album Transgender Dysphoria Blues had existed, and before “Laura Jane Grace” was her name. Before she came out as a transgender woman, Grace had already been performing this rallying song. Every time I hear it, I have to stop myself from punching the nearest wall. It makes me want to climb a mountain. It’s a song about being whoever you are, and not apologizing for it. We need more songs like this, and more Laura Jane Graces. - Brendan Schaller
"Dendron" - The Hotelier
Home, Like No Place Is There is an impeccable album. There's zero hyperbole when I say it is one of the most impressive albums I've heard in a long time, and it is an album I encourage everyone to listen to. "Dendron" closes out the emotional tour de force of an album and ever since my first listen, it has stuck with me the most out of any song off the release.
There's a certain level of openness and honest found within all of Christian Holden's lyrics, especially when considering other songs off Home, like "Your Deep Rest" and "Discomfort Revisited," but there's something about "Dendron" that leaves me overwrought with so many emotions that it's hard to truly describe. But hey, that same feeling is part and parcel to the entire album. Check it out. - Brian Rentas
"Divorce & The American South" - Aaron West & The Roaring Twenties
2014 has been officially deemed the year of sad jams for me, thanks in large part to We Don't Have Each Other. It makes me so happy that Dan "Soupy" Campbell has branched out of his pop-punk roots for an acoustic folk album...especially considering how goddamn good it is.
Again, I think this entire album is fantastic, but if I had to boil it down to one song that's always on my mind, it would be "Divorce & The American South." Sure, Soupy is known for his earnest, emotional pleads through any and all Wonder Years song, but I don't think anything could compare to the hitting-a-brick-wall-at-90-MPH feeling that the second verse brings on.
I'm truly excited to see Aaron West live for the first time over the holiday season. I'm already anticipating the amount of tears that I will shed. - Brian Rentas
"Familiar Theme" - Somos
Although my struggles with depression are (hopefully) stuck in my past, it was not long ago that I lived inside the rut of sorrow that comes with mental illness. Escaping this type of monotony is difficult when things like getting out of bed are a challenge and it's clear that Somos understand this. Michael Fiorentino's lyrics hit me hard and remind me to break out of my routines and experience life in an ever changing and always interesting way. - Zac Lomas
"Flicker, Fade" - Taking Back Sunday
I have this uncanny ability to fuck up good things in my life...or rather, I have this uncanny ability to destroy what I create. My life has too many similarities to Sim City's god-mode; I spend countless hours building up structures to meet my visions, I get frustrated with those structures, and then I drop a big volcano in the middle of it all and let it explode. For some reason "I wonder why everything always ends the same." Oh...and I hate that song about "fire and sex" as well. - Michael McCarron
"Heavy Seas" - Damon Albarn
I've never really been a fan of Albarn's work until this solo record. Gorillaz just aren't me nor is Blur. (I'm sorry, I know that's rather blasphemous...) But this song (hell, the entire album) is just so great. It's got a bit of a happy vibe and a sad vibe going on at the same time, which is exactly what my life was like in 2014. Very fitting, I think. It doesn't have a ton of lyrics, but sometimes it's just the mood a song creates that really inspires the rest of your day. I've had it on repeat on some of my best days and some of my worst days this year, and it's helped me get through both. It may be a spark I finally needed to become an Albarn fan, and I totally dig it. - Marie Scarsella
"I Don't Wanna Be an Asshole Anymore" - The Menzingers
There's something to be said about improving oneself to benefit a loved one. It's never easy to cast off the bad traits of one's personality and I certainly fall victim to this difficulty on a consistent basis. However, I do have loved ones who continue to see the best in me and it is for them that I continue to improve for. Every time this song cranks through my car stereo I scream along, think about the important people in my life, and remember why I don't wanna be an asshole anymore. - Zac Lomas
"Lampshades on Fire" - Modest Mouse
Okay, okay, so this one just came out at the end of the year, but I've been waiting for this band to come out with something new for seven years now. It was very well worth the wait. Modest Mouse was one of the first bands I really identified with when I was younger, sort of in the sense that they're weird as fuck, but hey, I'm weird too, and that's totally okay. The fact that this band is still delightfully odd all these years later is extremely comforting, and with this song they showed that they can stay true to their roots, sound-wise, while still progressing. It's everything I hoped it'd be seven years later. - Marie Scarsella
"Mad" - Emarosa
The man I thought loved broke up with me back in January, moved to Ohio, and started a new life. It was tough. I spent the better part of the year frustrated at a loss. But as time wore on, the more I realized that our relationship would have never worked. He never learned to let his guard down. To be honest, he might never let his guard down. Perhaps that is why the lyrics, "Now lie to me or run away and hide how you feel," resonates so deeply. - Michael McCarron
"Mess is Mine" - Vance Joy
As someone who is generally shy and slow to reveal herself to others, a series of dates this summer was just about the most uncomfortable challenge I could imagine. There was a lot of internal debate over how much make-up to wear, a lot of brooding punk songs when I ended up disappointed, a lot of figuring myself out and how I might make sense alongside another person. The beginning of a relationship--whether it lasts a few hours or a lifetime--is like its own kind of mortifying puberty.
But every time I hear this song, I think about the firt time i heard it in September--a perfect sunny day, biking home from work, feeling weekend-leftover butterflies for the first time in a long time. Feeling like I could fly off the pavement, and cracking a smile every time the bridge came around: "Bring me to your house and tell me // 'Sorry for the mess' // Hey, I don't mind. // You're talking in your sleep // All the time // But you still make sense to me // Your mess is mine." It's true that we have to love ourselves before we can really let somebody else love us, but that's not an easy process. We're human and inherently messy. But we shouldn't forget that opening ourselves to another person--with all their own messes and flaws--can be just what we need to see ourselves in a softer, brighter light. Everything else is just noise. Drown it out. - Jessica Weber
"The Old Gospel Choir" - Modern Baseball
I started this year off with a broken heart (how ~ emo) caused by a dude who, in retrospect, wasn't even that important in the long run. I'm the type of person to let undeterred emotions ruminate for far too long, and this took its toll on me after a period of not being able to explain nearly anything I was feelings.
Then this song came along, and the lyric, "Can we act like we never broke each other's hearts // at least mine // I don't know how you felt from the start," came out of nowhere and smacked me in the back of the head several times. Sure, it didn't perfectly describe the entire scenario I found myself in (college crushes are so much worse than high school crushes, yo) but it was close enough.
Sometimes, a lack of closure hurts more than an outright refusal. But don't you fret: Modern Baseball is here to help mend your wounds and provide you with some prime group chant opportunities. Group chants: the greatest medicine of all. - Brian Rentas
"Push Pull" - Purity Ring
I can't get over how beautiful this song is. It's simple, it's airy, it's almost effortlessly produced and it's downright heartwarming. These are all words I would never have thought I'd use when talking about a Purity Ring single, but hey, surprises are awesome and so is this single. - Brian Rentas
"Top Notch" - Manchester Orchestra
Any list of 2014's most haunting songs must include Manchester Orchestra's "Top Notch." The biting opening track off of the Atlanta quintet's fourth LP is a pile-driving rocker that leaves me breathless every time. What was the decision that the two deaf twins made? who did the protagonist see walk into a wall? Why can't the woman wash whatever it is out? Although the answers are fleeting, the questions rarely cease to linger. - Michael McCarron
"Vertigo Chamber" - Hightide Hotel
My friend Dave wrote this song. I was lucky enough to contribute some gang vocals on the title track of their farewell album, Naturally. The song is about one person's struggle with depression and it's expressed in a very real and simple terms. I feel like this song is the definition of what it is to relate to someone through music. - Brendan Schaller