Thursday, December 31, 2015

Top 5's of 2015 - Bete Smith!

Next up is Fredericton├Ęs Bete Smith. His list is always a nice change of pace since he is a big fan of Hip-hop as well. Enjoy!

I couldn’t narrow this list down to any fewer than ten and I could easily have done a list of 20, given all the quality releases this year. Here are my picks:

Album of the Year (three-way tie):

Oddisee – The Good Fight {It’s a hip hop record, but it brings to mind Stevie Wonder and Curtis Mayfield in its approach and subject matter – Oddisee is an incredibly talented producer and lyricist and doesn’t get enough recognition)

The Internet – Ego Death {I could listen to this anytime, anywhere, and not skip a single track. Funky R&B with a live band and a great vocalist.}

Kamasi Washington – The Epic {Does what it says on the tin – three hours of all-over-the-map jazz by a group of virtuoso musicians. I am amazed by the consistent quality of this album, despite its enormous scope.}

EP of the Year:

Nao – {I can’t wait until Nao releases her debut album in 2016 (supposedly, at least). For the time being, this EP and her latest single “Bad Blood” will be on constant rotation.}

The rest (in no particular order):

Mutoid Man – Bleeder {Rippin’ rock and roll! These guys get in and get out – they remind me of Zeke in that way.}

Rapper Big Pooh and Nottz – Not your typical hip hop album, nor should it be. Pooh is a gifted lyricist, and Nottz absolutely steals the show with the production on this – the drums on this one are ridiculous!}

Hiatus Kaiyote – Choose Your Weapon {An album that is hard to categorize, in the best way. Talented musicians and a standout vocalist.}

Archy Marshall – A New Place 2 Drown {Great voice, interesting and varied production; an album that flows naturally from beginning to end.}

Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp a Butterfly {I’m sure this album has been analyzed a million times. It is very, very good.}

Baroness – Purple {I was pleasantly surprised by this, as I wasn’t a big fan of their last record (Yellow and Green), having really enjoyed their catalogue prior to that. Great guitar work and vocals on this one, and lots of twists and turns in the melodies.}

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Top 5's of 2015 - Keltie Harding!

Good ole Keltie, he has been a huge supporter of my site from the very beginning and never fails to provide his year end list. I always look forward to it:

THEE NUMBER ONE! - Ghost - Meliora

2 - Bob Dylan - The Cutting Edge , The Bootleg Series Vol. 12. (I bought the 2 Disc "best of" & downloaded the complete 18 CD set. )

3- Outtacontroller - Televusion Zombie

4 - Zaum / Shooting Guns - Split LP.

5- Moonsocket - Eurydice

6- Chris Page - Volume vs. Voice

7 - Elvis Presley - My Happiness / Thats When Your Heartaches Begin (Third Man replica of his first acetate

8- Daniel Romano - If Ive Only One Time Askin'

9 - The Weather Station - loyalty

10- The Beach Boys - Live In Chicago 1965 (digital download only)

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Top 5's of 2015 - Chris Doyle!

It's been a weird year for music for me, as I have kind of returned to my east coast roots for a lot of my music listening, a lot of it thanks to the great work put together by Paddy Quinn and the gang that do East Coast Countdown. The bottom of my top 5 are a couple of Canadian bands that have albums that I've enjoyed a pile as well.

1. Fortunate Ones - The Bliss 

2. Alan Doyle - So Let's Go 

3. The Ennis Sisters - Stages (check out the cover of Lennie Gallant's Peter's Dream on this one, it is killer. 

4. Marianas Trench - Astoria

5. Hedley - Lost in Translation (Give this one a chance, Back to Basics is the standout track to me on this album)

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Top 5's of 2015 - Shawn Williston!

1. COURTNEY BARNETT: Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit

"Put me on a pedestal and I'll only disappoint you," Courtney Barnett sings on the fiery rocker "Pedestrian At Best"; maybe she'll make good on that someday, but it sure isn't this day. Her debut full-length is packed with scrappy tunes that reach back to the '90s alt scene and, while that seems to have become an emerging trend, what sets Barnett's songs apart is her uncanny ability to spin observations of mundane, ordinary life into pure rock bliss.

Check out: Pedestrian At Best, Depreston, Kim's Caravan

2. CLUTCH: Psychic Warfare

While other bands their age have already put out records with diminishing returns, disbanded and eventually reformed to hit the county fair circuit, Clutch have very calmly and methodically gone about their business. Those expecting bands to be shells of their former selves by the time they release their 11th album aren't usually all that wrong, but Psychic Warfare proves that Clutch is not only immune to such criticism, but indeed one of the most dependably thrilling rock bands on the planet.

Check out: X-Ray Visions, A Quick Death in Texas, Noble Savage

3. DEAD SARA: Pleasure To Meet You

Epic Records reneged on their contract with Dead Sara upon hearing this record, likely let down that they hadn't conformed to a mainstream train of thought and become a Pretty Reckless or Halestorm clone. Instead, what Dead Sara delivered is a fiercely combative, incendiary rock rager of a record. Emily Armstrong continues to establish herself as one of rock's most formidable, intense vocalists, running the gamut from cooing songbird to roaring monster. This year also saw a happy ending for the band, as they've now earned another major label deal (this time with Elektra) and didn't have to compromise their sound to do it.

Check out: Mona Lisa, Radio One Two, Blue Was the Beautiful You

4. ROYAL THUNDER: Crooked Doors

Just as Baroness did with Yellow & Green in 2012, Crooked Doors aims to challenge your preconceived notions of what a hard rock/metal band should sound like. By expanding their sonic palette and drawing from a wide array of influences, Royal Thunder have graduated from sludge/stoner also-rans to an accomplished, full-blooded rock group with no need of pesky labels to define what it is that they do. 

Check out: Time Machine, Forget You, One Day

5. TITUS ANDRONICUS: The Most Lamentable Tragedy

Never ones to shy away from conceptual tendencies in the first place, Titus Andronicus went all out for their fourth album. A five-act rock opera that stretches out past the 90-minute mark, TMLT ebbs and flows throughout the course of its story, using the music to convey the protagonist's struggles and triumphs. Even with all the disparities in tone and emotion (there's everything from a blistering punk rock suite to a Celtic-inspired section that features sloppy covers of both The Pogues and Auld Lang Syne), this sprawling double album never strays too far from its core objective, which is to make you feel the power of rip roaring, life affirming rock n' roll.

Check out: Fired Up, Dimed Out, Lonely Boy

6. SLEATER-KINNEY: No Cities To Love

In the timeless words of hair metal greats Cinderella, "You don't know what you got 'til it's gone". Adding to the point in regards to Sleater-Kinney, perhaps we didn't know what we had until they left for a decade, only to return with their most vibrant, focused and most important feeling record ever. 

Check out: A New Wave, Surface Envy, Fade

7. FAITH NO MORE: Sol Invictus

Speaking of bands that went away for a long time, the unexpected return LP from Faith No More is about as potent a record as a band that ceased production for 18 years or so can be. Not content to simply rehash the past, Sol Invictus sees FNM merely using previous exploits as a jumping off point from which they push themselves forward in search of uncharted musical territory to conquer.

Check out: Superhero, Cone of Shame, Motherfucker

8. VERUCA SALT: Ghost Notes

I'm still not sure what I'll remember 2015 more for, the high quality of records released by female artists or the high quality of records released by comeback artists. Like Sleater-Kinney, Veruca Salt falls into both categories beautifully; after an ugly split before the turn of the century, Louise Post and Nina Gordon reunited for their first music together in 18 years. The resulting record doesn't shy away from old wounds, but sees them looking to heal rather than reopen them. It also doesn't hurt that the sharpness of their songwriting and unmistakable natural harmony are as intact now as they ever were. One of the year's most shamefully overlooked gems.

Check out: The Museum of Broken Relationships. Laughing in the Sugar Bowl, Empty Bottle

9. GHOST: Meliora

Fusing nefarious imagery, sinister melodies and evangelical bombast, Ghost can seem like a silly sideshow at a passing glance. I certainly chuckled and chalked them up to novelty at first blush, but on third record Meliora, I'm not chuckling anymore. Such are the chops this band has developed that this record is consistently thrilling without so much as a glance at the artwork or lyric sheet. As an added bonus, they push their sound into some very interesting places without sacrificing their integrity as musicians and songwriters.

Check out: Cirice, From the Pinnacle To the Pit, Spirit

10. THE DEAD WEATHER: Dodge & Burn

Jack White is typically so busy being in the news for his exploits both on and off record, it hadn't really registered for me that Dodge & Burn is the first Dead Weather album in five years. That absence of time resulted in a slightly more refined but no less adventurous record; together with Allison Mosshart, guitarist Dean Feritita and bassist Jack Lawrence, White has crafted a less pensive, more explosive record than we've gotten used to from him in recent years.

Check out: I Feel Love (Every Million Miles), Three Dollar Hat, Open Up

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Top 5's of 2015 - Kent Fackenthall!

Jason Isbell - Something More Than Free - Astounding. Gotta be the best singer-songwriter going right now. In no way a slouch on the guitar either.

Matthew Good - Chaotic Neutral - I'm a long time Matt fan, so biased, but I think this is is a solid record.

Faith No More - Sol Invictus - Great new record from these guys. They still have it in spades.

Failure - The Heart is a Monster - Good record from this post-grunge cult favorite. Is great to hear them making music again.

Ian Fletcher Thornley - Secrets - An outstanding record from Ian. Great variety and guitar playing/licks.

Gary Clark Jr - The Story of Sonny Boy Slim - Gary kills it. Super variety of tracks/styles/moods here. And the guitar chops as always are top notch.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Top 5's of 2015 - York and Brenda!

I always look forward seeing what York and Brenda have been listening to! They have been metal fans from the very beginning, and you know if they recommend it, it's really good!

Here is York's list, they are all 2015 releases:

Absolva - Never A good Day to Die

Metalord - Speed of Light

 Thunder Steel - The Exorcism

 Satan - Atom By Atom

 Enforcer - From Beyond

While Brenda enjoys the new stuff, she has been sticking to the classics in 2015:

Deep Purple

The Moody Blues

Janis Joplin

Black Sabbath