5. Cloudkicker - Let Yourself Be Huge
I was a bit disappointed with this album (or EP i guess) upon my first few listens. I was probably hoping it would be a continuation of the metallic/djent post rock genius of Beacons, but Cloudkicker mastermind Ben Sharp had other ideas. Most of the heaviness is gone but his great melodic sensibility is not. The result is a collection of very relaxed, uplifting acoustic and clean post rock songs. I like that he's evolving as a songwriter and leaving his Meshuggah worship in the past. Hopefully his next album continues his musical evolution without completely forgetting his talent for writing amazing riffs.
4. Defeater - Empty Days And Sleepless Nights
I'm not an expert on the hardcore genre, but they are easily my favorite hardcore band. I usually don't pay much attention to lyrics in music but they are some of the best I've heard and are delivered with such emotion and conviction by front-man Derek Archambault. The rest of the band doesn't take a back seat either, with some of the best catchy, melodic guitar riffs I've heard in the genre and solid drumming. The simple guitar melody, cathartic vocals and urgent drumming on "White Oak Doors" creates one of the most gut wrenching, intense musical moments I've heard in any genre. The band then ends the album with four attempts at some acoustic storytelling and not surprisingly they succeed at that as well. I can't wait to hear what these guys come up with next.