1) “Once More” by Starflyer 59
The newest album from Starlfyer 59 is amazing. Jason Martin has still got it, even after all these years. This might be my favorite Starflyer record of all time, and this song is particularly great. The vintage sounds of the guitar riffs in this track give it both a nostalgic and yet throughoutly authentic feel. Martin knows how to repurpose his musical influences and make them uniquely his own.
2) “Stay Awhile” by New Found Glory
NFG’s newest album maintains the band’s enduring sound as pop-punk kings. They’ve kept that youthful spirit alive, but it comes now with the added bonus of age and wisdom. This song in particular is a beautiful tribute to growing a love with someone. A love song that is less about the steamy passion of youthful infatuation, and the enduring qualities of long conversations, smiles, laughter, and simply being together.
3) “Leave Like a Ghost (Drive Away)” by The Juliana Theory
The band reissued their album Deadbeat Sweetheartbeat this year. It’s a pretty underrated album in my opinion and this track in particular is quality. The song highlights themes of loneliness and the danger of depending on those who don’t support you. Perhaps the song is calling out the notion of selling-out for pop fame, perhaps it’s just raising questions about social influence, or challenging dead-end commitments. In any case, the song is great. The layered instrument introductions in the opening and the catchy chorus make it a super fun song.
4) “I’m A Wreck” by Nate Parrish
When the guitarist from the CCM band Kutless announced that he was releasing a punk rock album I was pretty skeptical. But the results of this little indie project are impressive. The album is straight punk rock, raw and without any hint of that over-produced pop rock sound so common these days. Parrish channels Mike Ness (Social Distortion) in his sound and it comes across without being derivative. The title track has the added bonus of incorporating a sort of Bruce Springsteen quality to it. It’s unique and yet vintage in its presentation.