Another half-year has passed, so it’s time for AP’s annual mid-year report, where we break down the best of the best so far, with the cut-off date of June 30. Stay tuned for our reports on best albums, videos and our most anticipated albums of the rest of the year.
This article is presented by Full Sail University
AGAINST THE CURRENT - “Paralyzed”
Every music writer stands accused of making the “Paramore comparison” a few too many times, and I don’t wish to continue that trend. But! When that guitar rhythm starts chopping away and the soulful vocals of Chrissy Costanza kick in, it’s hard not to think, “This is the next one. The next Paramore. Finally. These guys are going all the way.” Costanza manically sings, “I can't control myself, don't know who I've been/And who is this monster wearing my skin?” Against The Current have made a true smash with “Paralyzed,” and it’ll be exciting to see where Fueled By Ramen can take them. —Matt Crane
ANNABEL - "Having It All"
Kent, Ohio's Annabel signed to Tiny Engines, had their album produced by Into It. Over It.'s Evan Weiss and will soon embark on a tour with the Appleseed Cast. What do they have to show for it? The best song of the year so far. The title track from their Tiny Engines debut, “Having It All” is a charged, propulsive emo anthem, a three-minute catharsis nugget of that perfectly captures what it feels like to be young, angsty and trying on new identities as often as new band T-shirts, searching to find which one is really you. On "Having It All" Annabel are equal parts wistful and galvanizing, encapsulating the mindfuckery of figuring out what the hell it means to be a "young adult." It's a song meant to be bellowed at a basement show, your arms around your friends. As someone who's done just that, I can tell you how special it feels. —Lee McKinstry
COLISEUM - “Dark Light Of Seduction”
Anxiety’s Kiss is exactly the kind of masterpiece hinted at by Sister Faith, Coliseum’s acclaimed bridge-over-post-punk waters album prior. Louisville hardcore veteran Ryan Patterson initially launched the trio as a back-to-basics sonic assault full of vindictive bile, but amazingly, the noisecore collective have evolved into something even greater. The sexily moody “Dark Light Of Seduction” is a transformative journey, offering new revelations with each listen. The strength of the relationship between Patterson and producer J. Robbins (Against Me!, Clutch) is evident throughout, which makes sense, given Robbins own history as a diverse performer in Jawbox, Burning Airlines, Government Issue and Scream. —Ryan J. Downey
THE FRONT BOTTOMS - "West Virginia"
“West Virginia” is an intricate journey through the Front Bottom's unique breed of punk-induced indie-folk-whatever. The quartet vacillate between driving verses and a bouncing chorus, all the while backed by unrefined guitars and their talk/yell/sometimes sing vocal style. And can we just take a minute to appreciate the group's over-specified, yet entirely relatable lyrics? “But I have learned that the direction I was walking was so wrong and I just need a little help here, man, to find the path I should be on.” Now, slap that on top of some sanguine instrumentals and you have the bliss that epitomizes the Front Bottoms. Seriously, does it get any better than that? —Tyler Sharp
GERARD WAY - "Don't Try"
Gerard Way And The Hormones delighted European audiences on their winter 2015 tour with the debut of three unheard songs. While two of them (“Kid Nothing” and “Cheap Lights”) are brand new, “Don’t Try” was a remnant from the Hesitant Alien sessions he has said he's considering revisiting following positive response to the song, which he has continued to incorporate in his live encores throughout the year. Had the song made the album, this rhythmic anthem most certainly would have been a musical standout with lyrics oft-quoted on Twitter. —Cassie Whitt
TWENTY ONE PILOTS - "Tear In My Heart"
I've played this song so many times in the office, I have narrowly escaped death by scissors via Miss McKinstry. While that is the kind of tear in my heart I certainly want to avoid, I still can't shake the poptastic charm Tyler Joseph conveys on this track. From the way Joseph's voice slightly strains (when singing "ever been") to the Ben Folds-ian everyman vibe in the bridge to the beaten-up-by-love ending and the butcher/carver metaphors, "Tear In My Heart" sounds great at 80db on the car stereo and at slightly lower levels during those moments when you are firmly ensconced in the arms of the one that you love. —Jason Pettigrew