Thursday, January 5, 2017

My Favorite Albums of 2016



1.  ANTHRAX - FOR ALL KINGS
Anthrax return once again with vocalist Joey Belladonna and like 2011's Worship Music, make one of the best albums of their career.  This was definitely my "go-to", especially when working out at the local YMCA.  Thanks in part to my favorite of "The Big Four" thrash bands, I ended up losing a big forty pounds this year!   Beautiful packaging too!  Long live physical format!!!

Top 3 Tracks:  ***Zero Tolerance **Defend/Avenge *Suzerain


2.  SUM 41 - 13 VOICES
Wasn't expecting this being so good.  This album marks the return of Dave "Brown Sound" Baksh after exiting ten years ago and he definitely puts his sorely missed heavy metal chocolate back into Sum-41's pop punk peanut butter.  Two of the bonus tracks ("Better Days" and "Black Eyes") on the deluxe edition are also worth your time. 

Top 3 Tracks: ***Fake My Own Death **Goddamn I'm Dead Again *God Save Us All (Death To POP)


3.  TEMPT - RUNAWAY
 Growing up a child of the classic MTV era, I've always had a soft spot for 80's glam rock.  Tempt are a young band from NYC and their debut album Runaway sounds like I put a Ratt or Dokken tape into my 1983 Sony Walkman.    

Top 3 Tracks:  ***Aamina **Under My Skin *Use It Or Lose It


4.  MONSTER TRUCK - SITTIN' HEAVY
Monster Truck owe as much to AC/DC as they do to Lynyrd Skynyrd.  This is their sophomore release and it's got a mean rooster strut with a crispy southern flavor that Colonel Sanders would approve of.  Finger Lickin' Good!!!

Top 3 Tracks:  ***Why Are You Not Rocking?  **Don't Tell Me How To Live *The Enforcer 


5.  BRIAN FALLON - PAINKILLERS
Great stripped down Gaslight Anthem album that's not a Gaslight Anthem album.  Fallon delivers some memorable, moody tunes with great storybook lyrics to sit back and sip Scotch to.

Top 3 Tracks:  ***Honey Magnolia **Among Other Foolish Things *Smoke


6. WHITE LIES - FRIENDS 
I may have missed out on White Lies fantastic 2009 debut ..To Lose My Life if I hadn't been working in a record store.  It was always fun discovering those albums by throwing on the promo copies inside the shop.  Three albums later and though the record store I worked at no longer exists, we get another great album from the UK's White Lies.   Brooding synths that at times can turn into downright jubilant anthems.   Mascara wearing new-wave post punk to dance to Friday nights at Mad Planet in Milwaukee.

Top 3 Tracks:  ***Don't Want To Feel It All **Take It Out On Me *Right Place


7.  DINOSAUR JR - GIVE A GLIMPSE OF WHAT YER NOT
This is the fourth album in a row featuring the original three members of Dino Jr and their streak of greatness continues.  This one definitely feels more melancholy than the standard amount of melancholy on a Dinosaur Jr record.  Reminds me of Green Mind-era a bit. 

Top 3 Tracks: ***Be A Part **I Told Everyone *Knocked Around 


8.  RIVAL SONS - HOLLOW BONES
 The blueprint to Rivals Sons may be rooted in blues based classic rock, but this album in particular really seems to imprint their own identity alongside their heroes.  There is no reason this album, along with the 2014's Great Western Valkyrie, shouldn't be played on mainstream rock radio alongside Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath or the Doors.

Top 3 Tracks:  ***Thundering Voices **Hollow Bones Pt.2 *All That I Want


9.  FACE TO FACE - PROTECTION
The is definitely my favorite Face To Face album in the past twenty years.  It lies somewhere in-between 1995's Big Choice and the self-titled album from 1996 .  Super tight, modern day-classic Face To Face skate-punk anthems with the bass popping like popcorn and plenty of "whoa-oh-oh" sing-along angst to shake your fist at. 

Top 3 Tracks:  ***Protection **Bent But Not Broken*See If I Care


10.  BLINK 182 - CALIFORNIA 
One third Alkaline Trio and two thirds Blink-182 equals the best batch of tunes either band respectively have put out in awhile.  Usually when a major member of a band is replaced I feel the band should change the name to reflect the new project, but Matt Skiba fills Tom DeLonge's spot quite comfortably and I'll be damned if this doesn't feel more like classic dick-and-fart joke era Blink than the last few releases with new more mature Tom.   

Top 3 Tracks:  ***Bored To Death **Sober *San Diego



Other albums I enjoyed in 2016...

 
AUGUSTINES - THIS IS YOUR LIFE

It has just been announced that Augustines are breaking up.  It's a pity, because it's a real head-scratcher how these guys never got bigger.  Three albums in and the lyrics and melodies still give me goose bumps.

Top 3 Tracks:  ***Landmine **Are We Alive? *The Forgotten Way



BLEACHED - WELCOME THE WORMS

These L.A. ladies play sunny, fuzzy (slightly grungy) melodic  tunes laced with some beautiful harmonies.  Feels like a 60's girl group but with a slacker surf vibe.  

Top 3 Tracks:  ***Sour Candy **Wednesday Night Melody *Keep On Keepin On



BIG JESUS - ONEIRIC

This debut had two of my favorite songs of 2016 ("Shards" and "Shrimp") and they couldn't have been any more different.  At times totally brutal with monster fuzzy riffs and shredding solos. Other times completely spaced out, riding a peaceful euphoria before being sucked into the center of a sonic whirlpool.

Top 3 Tracks: ***Shards **Shrimp *Lock & Key
 
DIRTY HEADS - S/T -
The new Dirty Heads satisfied my rasta rap sweet spot in 2016.  I obviously listened to this enough last year since I caught my 3 year old daughter singing in her room "let's all get hiiiiiigh..."

Top 3 Tracks:  ***Red Lights **Smoke & Dream *Moon Tower
GREEN DAY - REVOLUTION RADIO 
Definitely my favorite Green Day album since American Idiot.  This one feels a bit like 2000's Warning to me.  Every track is catchy and solid in a post Lookout! way.  Don't see how this wouldn't be all over modern radio... but then again...



Top 3 Tracks:  ***Youngblood **Bang Bang *Say Goodbye


PULLEY - NO CHANGE IN THE WEATHER                                                                           I've always been a fan of Scott Radinsky's vocals since his days in Scared Straight and Ten Foot Pole.  With his day job being a pitcher and now a coach in the MLB, this is the first full-length from Pulley in over a decade.  The alternating tempos in the riffs on "Syndrome", the final shredding solo at the end of "Farewell" and all the awesome harmonies throughout bring back their signature 90's Epitaph style of skate punk and it feels as comfortable as throwing on an old pair of Fuct jeans.   

Top 3 Tracks:  ***Syndrome **Farewell *No "I" In Team
  

BEACH SLANG - A LOUD BASH OF TEENAGE FEELINGS                               Released only 11 months after their fantastic debut, the new Beach Slang full-length picks up right where they left off without missing a beat.  Same great heart-tugging songs to sing along to.  If you liked the first then grab on to this bratwurst!                                                                                                                                                            Top 3 Tracks:  ***Punks In A Disco Bar **Hot Tramps *Spin The Dial 


WEEZER - WHITE ALBUM

So, I guess the story goes that the guy who produced this album was previously in a Weezer cover band and helped them rediscover that classic Blue Album/Pinkerton sound.  Whatever he did worked, because this is my favorite since the Red Album (C'mon..."Pork & Beans"!!!) 


Top 3 Tracks:  ***Jacked Up **Endless Bummer *Summer Elaine & Drunk Dori

PURPLE - BODACIOUS
The second album from this Texan Trio is a little less chaotic and a little more polished.  The singles "Mini Van" and "Bliss" were stuck in my head for a long time, even preventing me from sleeping.  This was one of those albums I had to take a break from for my own sanity.  As with their debut (409), they dip their toes in multiple genres from hip-hop to funk to punk to reggae to straight up pop.  I'm hoping to get a chance to see them live in 2017!
 
         Top 3 Tracks:  ***Mini Van **Bliss *Pretty Mouth





Sunday, October 9, 2016

This Guy Is Hardcore...SLAYER!!!

Headbanging to Slayer During Hurricane Matthew.  I vote for this patriotic guy for President.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Soul Low - Always Watching Out


I will always have a soft spot for bands from Milwaukee.  I loved this song from the 2015 Sweet Pea EP.  It just came on during the shuffle setting on my iPod and I forgot how good it was.

Friday, January 1, 2016

My Favorite Albums of 2015



1.  FAITH NO MORE - SOL INVICTUS

It's been a long wait.  Almost 18 years to be exact and FNM pick up right where they left off...completely unpredictable and magnificent.  Being my favorite band, it's unusual that I really can't think of any other bands comparable to Faith No More that I enjoy.  That is most likely because no other band really sounds like Faith No More.  I truly believe that the sound they create is extremely unique.  That magical combination of Patton, Gould, Bottum & Bordin somehow sparks this addictive, euphoric chemical reaction in my brain that no other band can duplicate.  By the Sol Invictus May 18th release day, I'd already flown to Chicago to witness the sold out tour for myself, listened to numerous live bootlegs of the new material, as well as gorged on the full album stream provided by NPR the week before.  I  knew this was going to be my favorite album of the year and my ears have been swimming in it ever since..  Everyone shines on this release.  Mike Patton's vocals are brilliant of course, ranging from hushed whispers to the guttural roar of a homicidal maniac as in "Cone Of Shame" ("... I'D LIKE TO PULL YOUR WINGS OFFFFF!!!")   Billy Gould's bass lines and Mike Bordin's beats are as driving as ever, especially felt on the impending doom of "Separation Anxiety".  If there is one song that fully embodies what is Faith No More, it has to be "Matador" in all it's bravado and glory.
 
 Top 3 Tracks:  Separation Anxiety, Matador, Cone of Shame


 2.  PURPLE - (409)
This was definitely the most fun release of the year.  Completely all over the place from sunny to funky and frenzied.  Every track feels different from the next.  Purple (TX) trade off boy/girl vocals,  sharing lead and backup duties and at other times straight up dueting.  It's very 90's weird alternative rock ala Sonic Youth, Muffs, Hole, or No Doubt, but also this hint of southern early 2000 hip hop funk (perhaps the band name comes from Purple Drank aka Sizzurp?)  The last track "DMT" runs 6 minutes and the schizophrenic vocal changes from sweet-n-sassy to a snarling rabid animal would make Mike Patton proud.  Can't wait for the follow up!  New single "Mini Van" is a mind scramble!

Top 3 Tracks:   Double Nickels, Wallflower, Beach Buddy


 3.  CHVRCHES - EVERY OPEN EYE
No sophomore slump for Scottish electronic trio CHVRCHES.  In fact, I may enjoy this one on the whole more than their debut The Bones Of What You Believe (which also made #3 on my favorite releases for 2013).  Completely infectious and there isn't a shabby song to skip over.  Definitely worth seeking out the deluxe edition, as the 3 bonus songs are just as strong as rest of this output (especially "Get Away" and "Bow Down").

Top 3 Tracks:  Clearest Blue, Bury It, Leave A Trace


 4.  WOLF ALICE - MY LOVE IS COOL
Another female fronted alt-rock group in my favorite releases of 2015 that wouldn't have felt out of place on the radio in the 90s.  UK's Wolf Alice switch it up from the haziness of Mazzy Star to the pretty/pretty angry musical dynamic of the Cranberries.  Great tunes to get stuck in your dome.

Top 3 Tracks:  Bros, Moaning Lisa Smile, Your Loves Whore


5.  COHEED & CAMBRIA - THE COLOR BEFORE THE SUN
Real life is the concept for the first non-concept album from prog-rock band Coheed & Cambria.  Lead singer/songwriter Claudio Sanchez is married with children (actually a child) and these experiences provide the basis for some of the best tracks on this album and also in C&C's career.  Are the vocals still an acquired taste?  Most likely.  Sometimes over the top?  Probably.  Sappy at times?  Oh yeah...and ask me if I love it.

Top 3 Tracks:  Eraser, Atlas, Colors


 6.  BEACH SLANG - THE THINGS WE DO TO FIND PEOPLE WHO FEEL LIKE US

Comparisons to the Replacements keep coming in, but as a fan of lead singer/songwriter James Alex's previous pop-punk turned indie rock band in the 90s - I still hear Weston and in a good way.  Amazingly written with tattoo-able lyrics for the millennials from a former pop punker now in his 40's who self proclaims he's "Too young to die, too late to die young."

Top 3 Tracks:  Bad Art & Weirdo Ideas, Too Late To Die Young, Ride The Wild Haze


7.  BACKYARD BABIES - FOUR BY FOUR  
The latest album from Swedish sleaze punkers Backyard Babies at times could be mistaken for the same formula found on Motley Crue's 1989 album Dr. Feelgood (especially the talk box effect ala "Kickstart My Heart" on lead track "Th1rt3en Or Nothing")  One of the originators of Swedish sleaze and some say the band responsible for it's most recent resurgence, Backyard Babies give us a nice, tight package of electric, melodic rock n roll with a "Without You" ballad("Mirrors") thrown in for e-crue measure.

Top 3 Tracks:  Wasted Years, Mirrors (Shall Be Broken), Th1rt3en Or Nothing


 8.  KILL IT KID - YOU OWE NOTHING
I'm actually pretty bummed to hear UK band Kill It Kid recently broke up.  I really liked this release and plan on checking out their earlier material.  Male/Female vocals with a bluesy White Stripes feel, complete with a lot of feedback.  My only complaint on this album is the sequencing, which feels a little too weak on the back-end due to some slower songs being butted together.  It makes you forget how some of the heavier tunes knock you on your ass early on.   

Top 3 Tracks:  I'll Be The First, Caroline, Black It Out


9.   THE DARKNESS - LAST OF OUR KIND
Like one of their most famous singles, I would say the most recent Darkness album has been really "Growing On Me".  Though my favorite 3 tracks are listed below, I would argue that recently "Mudslide" (which I still can't figure out if it's about diarrhea or anal sex) and "Hammer & Tongs" are making choosing a difficult decision.  With this album, more so than the previous Hot Cakes, it seems the boys are more connected and that the creative spark is more alive. 

Top 3 Tracks:  Barbarian, Open Fire, Wheels Of The Machine 


10.  MOTOR SISTER - RIDE
Scott Ian (Anthrax) and wife Pearl Aday's guilty pleasure side project, resurrecting and rerecording hand picked songs from the relatively unknown and now defunct 90s LA hard rock group Mother Superior's catalog.  Original singer/guitarist Jim Wilson sounds like he's having a blast revisiting his old tunes, while Scott Ian, Pearl Aday, Joey Vera and John Tempesta tear them a new asshole.


Top 3 Tracks:   A-Hole, Head Hanging Low, Fork In The Road