EDITOR KEN’S TOP 10 OF 2014

highwire_top10_2014And it’s time for another Highwire Daze Top 10 List of 2014, compiled by Editor Ken.  Containing everything from the most infectious of pop punk to the nefariously evil strains of black metal and beyond, it was certainly a wild and varied year – at least when it came to what Highwire Daze Online was covering throughout the last 12 months.  All selections are in alphabetical order this year. The full length CD’s were especially difficult to compile, starting off with a list of over 70 in all!  And the EP’s definitely unveil promising artists of all genres that you should be on the lookout for in the New Year.  And now, presenting Editor Ken’s Top 10 of 2014…

The Top Ten Full Length CD’s of 2014

amberiand1Magic Forest by Amberian Dawn (Napalm Records)
The Finnish melodic symphonic metal band Amberian Dawn has released Magic Forest, one of the most spirited, enchanting albums of the year.  Featuring the participation of new vocalist Caprice and a rock solid collection of musicians, Amberian Dawn commence on the next great chapter of their brilliant career.  Highlights include the Abba-like inflections of Cherish My Memory, the sweepingly dramatic title cut Magic Forest, and the gorgeously operatic Green Eyed.  Here’s hoping Amberian Dawn make it to the States next year to present their wondrously glorious songs. (Amberian Dawn on Facebook)

arricar1Wavefunction by Arrica Rose & the …’s (pOprOck records)
With several albums and EP’s to her credit (including the Lucky EP which was on the Top 10 last year), Arrica Rose remains one of the most vastly underrated performers on the Los Angeles scene today.  Wavefunction is a stunning collection of songs, divided into two parts – one on the lively pop side and the other much darker and introspective in scope.  Love You Like That and California On Repeat should be all over the radio airwaves, which her imaginative cover of the Roy Orbison classic In Dreams will haunt you almost as much as the rendition that appeared in the movie Blue Velvet.  A vinyl release only (also on Itunes and limited edition CD).  (Arrica Rose on Facebook)

crowntheres1The Resistance: Rise of the Runaways by Crown The Empire (Rise Records)
The Resistance: Rise of the Runaways presents a future so bleak and hopeless, there is almost no redemption in store for anyone.  “I could wait in the dark for someone to come and save me,” the chorus to Initiation implores at the album’s grim beginning.  Songs such as MNSTR, Machines, and Rise Of The Runaways demonstrate the band’s exciting sense of dramatics.  And then after the bleak expulsions of The Phoenix Reborn, the grand finale ends on note of all out chaos with Johnny’s RebellionCrown The Empire remains one of the most imaginative metalcore bands on the scene today.  (Crown The Empire on Facebook)

delain1cdThe Human Contradiction by Delain (Napalm Records)
Dutch symphonic metal band Delain has unleashed an intensively dramatic album with The Human Contradiction, packed with memorable songs that will haunt your senses long after the disc spins to its staggering finale.  From “the murder of crows” presented within the epic confines of Here Come The Vultures to the unforgettable choruses found within Sing To Me and Army Of Dolls, Delain has clearly composed one of the most vibrant albums of the year.  Charlotte Wessels expressive, unforgettable vocals and the masterful work of the various musicians render this one a genre classic.  (Delain on Facebook)

downfiction1Losers & Kings by The Downtown Fiction (Fearless Records)
This certainly seems to be the year The Downtown Fiction are slated to hit the big leagues, especially if their winning sophomore release Losers & Kings is any indication of what’s in store for this band. The best pop punk summer album since Yellowcard surfed effortlessly through the streets of Ocean AvenueLosers & Kings by The Downtown Fiction presents 12 solid tracks of wildly infectious tunes. After three EP’s and a previous full length entitled Let’s Be Animals, expect this new champion to roar into the hearts and minds of many a music fan.  (The Downtown Fiction on Facebook)

foralliam2No Home by For All I Am (InVogue Records)
No Home is For All I Am’s second full length recording – and first with their new label  InVogue Records. Six Souls kicks the disc off on an overpowering note, with vocalist Aria Yava screaming “I’m fucking losing it” with a fiery intensity, and the shattering sense of urgency permeates throughout the entire recording.  As in life, there are no easy answers to the bitter problems and personal demons that consume us all. And in spite of its many bleak conclusions, No Home is a gripping auditory adventure through the turbulence of the heart and mind that is not to be missed.  (For All I Am on Facebook)

fragilem2Fragile by Midge Ure (Hypertension Music)
The vast and glorious career of Midge Ure features time spent in such notable bands as VisageUltravox and Thin Lizzy. The artist is also known for being the co-writer / producer of the Do They Know It’s Christmas? single for the Band Aid charity project with Bob Geldof in 1984.  Midge Ure also has a distinguished solo career, with Move Me being his last effort of original material released in 2001. Clearly demonstrating that all wonderful things are worth waiting for, Fragile is a fragrant bouquet of goodness that should enrapture both ardent fans and those discovering the magic that is Midge Ure for the very first time.  (Midge Ure on Facebook)

suspiriangh1Suspiria by Nightmares (Rise Records)
Based out of Atlanta, GA, Nightmares is a vibrant collective ready to break out on the national scene in a colossal way. The most exciting and imaginative release Rise Records has presented since Crown The Empire contemplated love at in the end of the world on The Fallout, Suspiria by Nightmares is a stunning debut that is not to be missed. With a lot of the songs named after legendary horror movies combined with hard hitting lyrics and spiraling melodies, Suspiria is a rocking post hardcore journey sure to dazzle the senses of even the most jaded of music critic.  (Nightmares on Facebook)

romuvos2Romuvan Dainas by Romuvos (No Colours Records)
No Colours Records is an absolute legend in the underground metal arena, with such notable acts as Graveland and Nargaroth on their notorious rooster (as well as releasing Dimmu Borgir’s landmark debut album For All Tid). Their releases are pure adventures in sound, and Romuvan Dainas by Romuvos is a stunning addition to their already impressive catalog. The mastermind behind Romuvos is Vilnius, presenting imaginative tales from the days of knighthood and other bewitching Pagan subjects.  While Viking-era Bathory and latter day Falkenbach may be cited as references, Velnias weaves his own mystical sound into the proceedings, and the results are phenomenally breathtaking.  (Romuvos on Facebook)

zgardcon1Contemplation by Zgard (Svarga Music)
There’s black metal, there’s Pagan metal, there’s epic metal – and then there’s the grand and majestic tapestries of the mighty Zgard -combining the three influences, coming up with a masterwork that is absolutely stunning to behold.  Contemplation is the fourth magnum opus presented by Zgard from the mystical and troubled Ukraine, seven absolutely visionary tracks that will set your imagination in flight. Yaromisl is the mastermind behind Zgard, and the compositions he has bestowed upon the world at large present a thrilling auditory odyssey that you’ll want to revisit time and again.  (Zgard on Facebook)

The Top Ten EP’s of 2014

definedadage1Defined by Adage (Pavement Music)
Epic hooks and soaring vocals clearly send Adage into the stratosphere and beyond.  This modern rock collective has issued the high flying Defined through Pavement Records, featuring five powerhouse tunes that should gain the band a good deal of notice above and beyond their Winston-Salem, NC hometown.  With an EP this thrilling, it should be exciting to see what sonic adventures await the listener on a full length Adage manifesto.  Fans of Breaking Benjamin and Three Days Grace will be over the moon when encountering what Adage has to offer the world at large.  (Adage on Facebook)

welikeyouWe Like You by Animal Cloud (Self-released EP)
Animal Cloud is certainly one of the most unique bands on the Los Angeles music scene today, featuring masked individuals delving into a sound of the future that is wondrously endearing.  Their original compositions such Future Receiver and What If are spacey and intriguing, and their haunting rendition of Angel of The Morning is sure to set your imagination in flight.  Featuring Keith Tenenbaum and Trevor Lissauer amongst its membership, Animal Cloud dares to be completely different, and the results will enrapture you like an arcane dream.  We like Animal Cloud and so will all music aficionados looking for something fun and obscure on the LA music scene.  (Animal Cloud on Facebook)

imtehonewhoI’m The One Who Changed by At Our Expense (Self-released EP)
At Our Expense is a hard working collective from the San Fernando Valley who has found themselves on national tours, and has self-released their own recordings over the last few years. Amazingly unsigned at this time, At Our Expense combines the melodies of punk punk with the vibrant intensity of post hardcore – unleashing an auditory exhibition of sound that will captivate the senses.   I’m The One Who Changed shows a band approaching the height of creative prowess, and more than ready to take it on up to the next level.  (At Our Expense on Facebook)

goldenrose1Golden by Delta Rose (Self-released EP)
What a treat it was to see a band like Delta Rose on Warped Tour a few summers ago.  Invading the Ernie Ball Stage, their rambunctious brand of rock and blues is captured perfectly on their self-released Golden EP.  From the jazzy inflections on Chew, on to the swampy overtones of One Is Too Many, and the concluding heartfelt Stones-like Ten Long Years, this Los Angeles based band present six timeless songs that will rock your world.  With a super charismatic vocalist and exceptional musicians playing songs that will remain in your head for ages, a journey on the hard rocking Delta Rose is mandatory listening for all.  (Delta Rose on Facebook)

eviloatjep1Anno. 1666 by Evil Oath (Self-released EP)
We all kneel for Satan’s arrival,” screams the opening testament on Anno. 1666 and with a line like that, you clearly understand the dark entreaties ahead.  Based out of the Nederlands,Evil Oath is a foreboding Black Metal collective ready to leave a lingering impression upon the world at large. Their combustible debut Anno.1666 has been independently released, unleashing an unholy blast of sonic devastation for all whom encounter its malevolent reveries. With the gates of hell wide open revealing such a supremely diabolic masterwork, we’re destined to hear a lot more from the depths of Evil Oath in the diabolic year ahead.  (Evil Oath on Facebook)

manmade1Undeniable EP by Man Made Machine (Self-released EP)
After one well received full-length debut album “Become” on Razor & Tie Records (produced by Chad Gray and Greg Tribbett of Mudvayne/HellYeah), Man Made Machine from Phoenix, AZ found themselves launching headfirst into DIY mode.  The result is the supremely hard hitting Undeniable EP, clearly showing a band at the height of their creative energy.  Songs such as X-Rated, Fight For You, and Bringing Hell will surely launch a whole new chapter of rocking goodness from this hard working collective.  A grand new chapter commences…  (Man Made Machine on Facebook)

postiveboard1The Positive & Negative by My Cardboard Rocket (Self-released EP)
Many actually were introduced to A.J. Garces last year, as he traveled across the country on the Summerfest Tour as a support guitarist for Keep It Cute. Now a solo project has been launched with the moniker of My Cardboard Rocket – and judging by what’s ignited on the debut EP entitled The Positive & Negative, expect Garces and his pop rocking project to shoot straight up into the stratosphere. The Positive & Negative by My Cardboard Rocket  contains five wildly infectious tunes that will remain embedded in your head long after the music spins to its grand finale.  (My Cardboard Rocket on Facebook)

rippipep1Ulvaja by Rippikoulu (Svart Records)
The prodigious Rippikoulu from Finland has been deathly silent since the 90’s, when they released two demos that shot them into an underground legend status. It’s been 21 years, but now Rippikoulu has been gloriously unearthed, and the results are absolutely staggering in scope. This is doom metal of the highest order, relentlessly bleak and morbidly beautiful. Ulvaja may only be three deep cuts of obscure melancholy running a total of 18 minutes in length, but the splendor found within these breathtaking masterworks is wondrous to behold.  (Rippikoulu on Facebook)

OpenHouseEPOpen House EP by Second To Last (True Records)
All I want is to be loved and to give love back,” is the poignant chorus on the gripping Dressed In Black – the track that kicks off the five songs on the Open House EP by Second To Last.  On the more introspective side of the pop punk spectrum, Second To Last from Lodi, CA has delivered a short yet heartfelt collection of infectious tunes. The talented trio who make up Second To Last are Tyson Evans on vocals and guitar, Mike Fairbrace on guitar and vocals, and Russell St Clair on bass. Expect this band to take off in a big and wonderful way, especially if they continue to release tunes this memorable.  (Second To Last on Facebook)

LoveIsAGameLove Is A Liar’s Game by Youth In Revolt (Outerloop Records)
The recent collaboration of Fearless Records and Outerloop Management is resulting in some promising bands well worth seeking out. The new creation known as Outerloop Records has now unleashed their next great discovery – a five piece collective known as Youth In Revolt from New Jersey. Love Is A Liar’s Game is Youth In Revolt’s debut for the label, a thunderously solid EP that should garner the band a good amount of notice. Fans of acts such as Sleeping With Sirens and Memphis May Fire are destined to encounter a new favorite when checking into what the inspiring Youth In Revolt has to offer. Expect a slamming full length from these guys in the New Year! (Youth In Revolt on Facebook)

And thus concludes another strange journey into Editor Ken’s 2014 music collection! See you all on the strange highways of 2015!

(Compilation by Ken Morton)

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