Friday, December 5, 2014

Top 5's of 2014: Matthew Phillips!

I always look forward to getting Matthew's year end list, he always brings it to an entire different level going well beyond only 5. Let's not forget style! I have personally seen Matthew's collection and have never seen somebody take so much pride in how they display. Looks amazing!

So here we go, Matthew Phillips Top 5 of 2014 (and some bonus albums too):

Favorite Albums Of 2014:

This year proved to be another so-so year for my musical tastes and (as with 2013) no KILLER releases were added to my collection. But 2014 did bring some surprises.

A few of my favourite albums came from PledgeMusic campaigns (I’ve made 4 pledges since the end of 2013), and I did discover some new bands.

See also:

If you’re interested in the latest, hip music, or even the most popular hard rock… this is not a list for you. I am a classic rock fan thru and thru.

Here are my favourite albums released in 2014
(in chronological order):

The Vintage Caravan – Voyage (January 27, 2014)

Bought online from

A recommendation from a YouTube music reviewer, I bought this debut album on CD having only heard two of the songs, and I was very impressed with the musicianship considering how young this band is. Hailing from Iceland and sounding like a modern take on Black Sabbath, The Vintage Caravan wrote two of my favourite songs of the year to kick off 2014 with a bang:

The trippy “Expand Your Mind”:

The epic 12+ minute “The King’s Voyage”:

Red Dragon Cartel – S/T (February 18, 2014)

A friend bought for me in Chicago at BestBuy

The return of ex-Ozzy guitarist Jake E. Lee!!!!

Last year I bought a copy of Jake’s original “Badlands” album on vinyl from MaritimeVinyl (thanks Brad!)

The Red Dragon Cartel’s debut album is probably my favourite record of the year, and features Darren Smith on vocals (who also drums for Canadian band Harem Scarem). It also features some guest vocalists like Robin Zander of Cheap Trick, Sass Jordan, and original Iron Maiden singer Paul Di'Anno. I would have preferred more vocals from Darren or Robin, but the first 4 songs on this disc are probably my most listened to songs of the year.

“Feeder” featuring Robin Zander:
The Presidents Of The United States Of America signed CD discography, poster and vinyl version of their latest album
The Presidents Of The United States Of America – Kudos To You (March 4, 2014)

PledgeMusic campaign new album + live album + signed poster + signed discography

Some might consider PUSA a guilty pleasure, especially if you only remember them from 1995’s “Lump” or “Peaches” (which are still great songs, IMO). Since then they’ve released 5 more studio albums (all solid), some rarities collections and a recent live album called “Thanks For The Feedback!”

My first ever PledgeMusic campaign donation was for their latest album, “Kudos To You”, which I got on CD and vinyl (all signed) along with their discography on CD (also signed!)

Although I made 4 PledgeMusic contributions this year, I am still not 100% happy with this method of buying new music. Some of the perks are nice (like signed merch) but ultimately you end up paying WAY more for your music than just waiting for the CD to show up at Walmart. Still, it feels good knowing that most of your $ goes right to the artists.

The Pretty Reckless CD collection and their latest album on vinyl
The Pretty Reckless – Going To Hell (April 19, 2014)

Bought at Bull Moose, Bangor on Record Store Day

The Pretty Reckless are a band I’d heard about but only started listening to this year. I ended up buying all of their discography (2 albums, 2 EPs) in 2014, though their latest “Going To Hell” is definitely the best thing they’ve done. It was recorded twice after Hurricane Sandy flooded their studio.

Taylor Momsen has a great voice for hard rock, and let me just say that their latest album cover also looks great on vinyl J

I regret not being able to see them play live in Portland, ME (at the Asylum) and the Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom back in November. Starting in 2015 they will be opening for Nickelback on a U.S. arena tour.
Helix – Bastard Of The Blues (May 13, 2014)

Bought direct from Brian Vollmer, signed by him

One of Canada’s hardest working bands is still touring and making records (and they just returned from Europe). While Helix will never be counted among my favourite bands, their last 2 full length discs of new material have been very good and I dare say among their best.
Down 'N' Outz – The Further Adventures Of... (May 15, 2014)

Bought online from

A second CD from Joe Elliott’s side project featuring members of The Quireboys, and doing excellent covers from the Mott The Hoople / Ian Hunter back catalogue. Excellent classic rock with a sometimes weird twist.

Album sampler:

 California Breed – Deluxe Edition w/ CD + DVD (May 28, 2014)

Bought online from

From the ashes of Black Country Communion (who split up in 2013) comes Glenn Hughes’ next project, featuring (once again) Jason Bonham on drums and an unknown young guitarist, Andrew Watt.

Unfortunately this band formed, released their self-titled debut album, and dissolved all in the span of a year. Jason Bonham has moved on, and I’m curious to see if Glenn keeps this band going or starts another project.

 Hurstmile – Retrogrenade (June 30, 2014)

Ordered through PledgeMusic campaign

Gary Cherone (the singer from Extreme) and his brother do a pretty convincing Extreme-lite, with a nice variety of fast, mid-tempo and slow songs, just like you would expect on an Extreme disc. This is their second release, a follow-up to their self-titled album from 2011.


Biggest Disappointments Of 2014:

Winger – Better Days Comin'
Since reforming in 2006 (after a 13 year hiatus) Winger have put out 3 albums that have some great tracks but seem to be missing something in the writing process (when compared to their first 3 albums). The music sounds more like Kip Winger solo stuff than full-blown Winger.

Skid Row – Rise Of The Damnation Army - United World Rebellion: Chapter 2
The second EP from Skid Row in 2 years, and not much progress. Still too much punk influence for my tastes. The only one making music similar to early Skid Row is Sebastian Bach with his last two solo discs. His last album “Give ‘Em Hell” almost made it to my 2014 list.

Ace Frehley – Space Invader
This record from the ex-KISS lead guitarist had a lot of initial hype, and the early samples sounded great (like it was going to be a solid, guitar-solo-heavy disc). The song writing just doesn’t hold up. As my friend Tim commented, there is a reason that Ace only had a few songs on early KISS albums.

Slash – World On Fire
Guess I shouldn’t be surprised as his last disc made my biggest disappointment list for 2012. I still keep hoping for an album of material as good as his self-titled album of guest vocalists from 2010.

Devin Townsend – Z2 3-Disc Special Edition
No question my biggest disappointment in 2014 is everything Devin put out in 2014.
It started with a PledgeMusic campaign for “Casualties Of Cool” (a country rock concept album), which I was happy to support but have yet to listen to all the way through.
The extra money Devin got from “Casualties” was poured into the next, very heavy Ziltoid record, “Z2”, and it came with a bonus disc called “Sky Blue” (which feels like leftovers from his terrific album from last year, “Epicloud”). Because it’s Devin, I’m going to give this music many more listens but so far nothing has really grabbed me.
Still I hope this record does really well for him. The packaging and artwork for everything he’s done in the last few years has been impressive for such a low profile artist.

2014 releases I have been meaning to get:
AC/DC – Rock Or Bust - maybe their last?

Big Sugar – Yardstyle - you would have a hard time finding reggae music in my collection, and to be quite honest I will probably hate this album. But as with Devin Townsend, I feel like I owe Gordie Johnson my support.

Ronnie James Dio This Is Your Life – Various Artists

Tom Petty – Hypnotic Eye - I have a soft spot for his 1994 “Wildflowers” album but I haven’t loved any of his music since.

Joe Satriani – The Complete Studio Recordings (Box Set)

Led Zeppelin – I am waiting to see if they release a boxset for all the 2014 remasters
Queensr├┐che – A second disc from the re-invigorated band featuring Todd LaTorre on vocals is in the works on PledgeMusic and being released (hopefully) in early 2015.

Releases I am looking forward to in 2015:
Some favourite bands I am pretty confident will be releasing new music in 2015:

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds

The Darkness

Faith No More - not a fan of their recent “Motherfucker” single that also got a vinyl release for Black Friday but I have yet to dislike one of their albums with Mike Patton.


The Winery Dogs

 … Iron Maiden?

 …Guns ‘N’ Roses?

Some random vinyl I was happy to find this year including:
Brian Wilson's (The Beach Boys) first solo album
Metallica "Lords Of Summer" 12" single from Black Friday
INXS 12" vinyl singles
Joe Satriani 12" EP re-release
Ghostbusters green glow-in-the-dark single for Record Store Day
Devin Townsend "Luck Animals" signed single
Poison "Unskinny Bop" 12" picture disc single

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