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It’s that year-end list time again. A solid year for music, let’s take a peek at what I spun the most from what was released this calendar year. As always, it’s just alphabetical, not ranked, because trying to compare albums isn’t my thing.
Clutch – Psychic Warfare
I didn’t even really get into Clutch until seeing them late in 2013, and I subsequently went and got the entire back catalog, and really liked the direction they took on Earth Rocker. This one is even better! Firebirds and Quick Death In Texas are favorites.
Finger Eleven – Five Crooked Lines
This album surprised me, both in how much the sound changed and how much I liked it. I’d been down on Finger Eleven for awhile, but once I wrapped my head around the fact that the Tip/Greyest sound wasn’t coming back, I appreciated the last couple albums a bit more. But this one doesn’t sound like those either! It’s completely different, and it works for them.
Halestorm – Into The Wild Life
Another departure from a band’s signature sound, and I dug where they went. They could have maintained the “rock girl” track and it would have been fine, but these songs are more, I don’t know, serious? Darker? Lizzy still belts it out.
Lamb Of God – Sturm Und Drang
After all of Randy’s issues and the long layoff between albums, you knew this one was going to be a rager. It didn’t disappoint. And then on the other hand, the first hint of Randy clean singing? A Chino Moreno cameo? For all the heavy, there’s some true melody here too!
Papa Roach – F.E.A.R.
I’ve liked all of Papa Roach’s albums, and I really enjoyed the electronic flair on The Connection. This one expands on that sound, and it continues to work for them. “Gravity” especially stands out because of the duet with Maria Brink, and I don’t even like In This Moment at all.
Saint Asonia – Saint Asonia
The Three Days Grace / Staind combination worked out beautifully, as Mike Mushok gets his riffs out, and its plain to see Adam Gontier was the driving force behind 3DG (their new one, Human, was nowhere near as good as their other albums with Adam). These tunes are just heavy enough (can probably thank Corey Lowery’s bottom end for some of that), but catchy enough as well. Very solid debut from the “supergroup”.
Shinedown – Threat To Survival
There’s been a lot of fan backlash to this album for some reason, and I don’t quite understand it. They tried to make Sound of Madness Part 2 with Amaryllis, and almost got there; do people really want to hear that type of stuff yet again? Threat to Survival is an evolution to be sure, but it still sounds like Shinedown, and sounds like a natural progression. Cut The Cord is as heavy as anything they’ve ever done, and then you have the more nuanced stuff like State of my Head and Thick as Thieves, and then the tweeners, like Black Cadillac (which I really dig).
Sons of Texas – Baptized In The Rio Grande
This year’s entry for “found out about them on Music Choice”, these literal Sons of Texas are trying to be the heir apparent to Pantera, with a bit more polished and radio-friendly sound, and it makes for a fun listen. The title track was the lead single and hooked me in, but the rest of the album hits pretty heavy (Never Bury The Hatchet, Pull It and Fire), there’s a couple ballads (Breathing Through My Wounds, September) and enough of that southern groove to get your head nodding (The Vestryman, Texas Trim). I spun this one quite a bit.
Will Hoge – Small Town Dreams
One of the few Tiff and I can always agree on, Will Hoge just keeps putting out consistently great albums. He leans more and more country and less and less rock with every passing release, but I’ll allow it (LOL!). They Don’t Make Em Like They Used To is a highlight, as is Guitar or a Gun.
36 Crazyfists – Time and Trauma
Five years is a long time to wait between releases, but 36CF came back better than ever. Also Am I was the first song released and is still my favorite on the record; Sorrow Sings and Time And Trauma are also standout tracks.
And then, not released this year but in my heavy rotation for 2015:
Gemini Syndrome – Lux
My friend Dave kept telling me to check these guys out, and once I finally did – WOW. It came out in 2013, so I was a little late on them. I’m not sure exactly what makes me like this record so much, but it’s got heavy, its got melody, its hooky, its got enough screaming to keep it interesting, there’s some great riffs, just a great radio-metal album. Basement, Pleasure and Pain, Babylon, and Left Of Me are my favorites. Excited to hear the new one slated for 2016.
Nothing More – Nothing More
A band I’d heard a bunch about, but took awhile to finally dive into, and boy am I glad I did. It’s got enough of that electronic edge that I like, but it’s metal enough to have your head banging. Johnny Hawkins has a unique delivery, almost shrill at times, but you can tell its 110% effort on every note. This Is The Time, Mr. MTV, The Matthew Effect, If I Were, and Jenny are top of my list.
Just missing the cut this year for various and sundry reasons:
Chris Cornell, Disturbed, The Dreaming, Five Finger Death Punch, Matthew Good, Sevendust, Tremonti, Trivium.
2015 was a pretty good year concert-wise, with 17 shows under the belt this year! I always have fun, so its hard to pick shows that are “better” than others, but on the other hand there’s always moments that will stick out above the rest. With that in mind, here’s my top 5 shows (and an extra!) of the year:
5. Powerman 5000 @ Montage Music Hall (July 7th) – For a band I’m not even really a fan of, I had a really really great time. Their set had me grinning from ear to ear the whole time, and I’ve never seen a frontman jump this much. Ever. MUCH FUN. SUCH WOW.
4. Hatebreed with Hate Machine @ Montage Music Hall (May 14th) – Hatebreed headlining in a 300 cap room, plus springing for the VIP meet and greet beforehand? Oh, and did I mention this was part of the band’s 20th anniversary tour, so they played everything off of Under The Knife, and a big chunk of Satisfaction? Good times.
3. Will Hoge @ Buffalo Iron Works (June 5th) – One of the rare shows that Tiffany and I attended together, one of our favorite singer-songwriters in a small place, with a super-long 23 song set, and Will comes out into the crowd to play the last song of the encore. Yes please.
2. Machine Head @ Town Ballroom (February 5th) – “An Evening With” Machine Head was exactly that. No openers, two-plus hours of just MH playing the “hits”, the deep cuts, and a little something off of every album.
1. Slipknot, Lamb Of God, Bullet For My Valentine, Motionless In White @ Darien Lake (July 29th) – This one was a no-brainer for the top spot. Show of the year hands down. Both MIW and Bullet were interesting enough as openers, before we got to the real deal. I had a pit ticket, so being able to go berserk during Lamb of God’s set at a place like Darien was awesome, and then Slipknot put on a hell of a spectacle as always. When you close with a run of (sic), People = Shit, and Surfacing, you’re going out on top. Summer’s Last Stand indeed.
…and because the one set was so good I have to mention it, the plus-one:
Deftones @ Darien Lake (August 2nd) – Part of a dual-headliner with Incubus, but Deftones blew them out of the building, let alone the stage. A great mix of tunes, and then concert moment of the year for me: Going absolutely BONKERS with a couple dudes in the aisle during “Headup”.
The Hip @ CMAC (July 4th) – A fun hang with friends, Fully Completely from start to finish, but small crowd and Gord was a little off early.
Coal Chamber / Fear Factory / Jasta @ Water Street (August 8th) – Meet and greet with Jamey, fun nostalgia trip
The Tea Party / Big Wreck @ Artpark (July 16th) – We got the old gang back together, bands sounded good, but sitting that far back sucks, and Tea was better at the Ballroom the prior November.
Let’s see what 2016 brings!!
As I saw someone put it, if you downloaded *anything* between 1997-2006, it was probably sourced from this guy. Incredible.
Even this metalhead dad can’t hate on these moves!! (This is also Nate’s new favorite song of the moment https://t.co/bG0G4YREK2
I. JUST. TOUCHED. GAVIN. ROSSDALE. All you 30-something ladies can envy me now. #swoon
As a lover of music and quality television… I’m watching the 30 for 30 about the Russian perspective of the Miracle on Ice #GRAMMYsSUCK
Just like on last years list, I couldn’t limit it to only 10… and again, they’re in alphabetical order, because trying to rank albums or pull an overall favorite is just too damn hard.
2014 felt like the year of comebacks. Fuel, Moist, Slipknot, and the Tea Party all released albums after some interminable waits, Theory of a Deadman returned to proper form, while Chevelle and Nonpoint continued the positive momentum they started on prior albums. Beyond those, there were just some really solid albums released by some of my usual suspects this past year. So without further ado, these were the albums that tickled my fancy in 2014:
Black Label Society – Catacombs of the Black Vatican
I spun this one quite a bit at work. It’s just more of the classic BLS sound. “My Dying Time” and “Beyond The Down” were highlights.
Chevelle – La Gargola
After what I consider a couple of mediocre albums in the middle of their career, Chevelle has really stepped up their game between 2011’s Hats Off to the Bull and now La Gargola. This one has more than a handful of tracks that go hard; the entire run of “An Island”, “Take Out The Gunman”, “Jawbreaker” and “Hunter Eats Hunter” is especially good.
Crosses – Crosses
This almost doesn’t count, because EP 1 came out in 2011, and then EP 2 in 2012, but it took until February 2014 to get the full album (both EP’s plus some new ones) out. Regardless, this is way more chill than 95% of what I normally listen to. Chino Moreno of the Deftones, and Shawn Lopez from Far put this project together for fun, and Chino put it this way: “minimal and soothing and it’s sort of like the stuff I like listening to when I’m not screaming my head off.” I love “This Is A Trick”, “Bitches Brew”, “Blk Stallion”, and I get “Prurient” stuck in my head all the time.
Every Time I Die – From Parts Unknown
I have to admit, I didn’t like Ex-Lives nearly as much as some of the others, especially coming off of New Junk Aesthetic, but this one brought me right back. It’s funny, the one track that kinda sticks out like a sore thumb, “Moor”, is the one I like the most, along with “El Dorado”.
Fuel – Puppet Strings
It took 11 years and a complete lineup turnover to get another Fuel album with Brett Scallions singing on it, but it was worth the wait! This album shows that Brett can certainly do his own thing without any of the signature Carl Bell riffs. There’s a couple of instant Fuel classics on here that can slot in right beside the hits catalog, like “Wander” and especially “Cold Summer”, which apparently had been kicking around in one form or another since before Natural Selection. “Time For Me To Stop” is another favorite.
Machine Head – Bloodstone and Diamonds
Don’t ask why it took me forever to really, *really* get into these guys. I was always aware of them, even saw them twice as openers, and yet never invested the time until early last year, when Robb Flynn started his blogs about the 10th anniversary of Through the Ashes of Empires. I finally gave it a good listen and was like “YOU @#$%ING MORON WHY DIDN’T YOU DO THIS SOONER??”. Went back and got the whole catalog (even The Burning Red and Supercharger LOL), and was excited as hell for this release. Needless to say, they didn’t disappoint. This album is fantastic! “Now We Die” starts it with a bang, and it goes from there. “Night of Long Knives” is a cool track, and I like “Game Over” as well.
Moist – Glory Under Dangerous Skies
As if 11 years between Fuel albums wasn’t long enough, it had been FIFTEEN years since Mercedes Five and Dime was released before Moist put out this new album. “Mechanical” is easily my favorite, as it’s the first song, first single, and track personally voted “most likely to sound like ‘Push’ had been updated for 2014”. There’s some classic-sounding Moist on here, like “Broken”, and “The River”, and then there’s some stuff that could easily be on a David Usher solo album. Pretty solid overall though.
Nonpoint – The Return
“The Return” may as well be the theme of my whole list, and while its the album title, it’s not like Nonpoint hasn’t been putting stuff out consistently. However, looking at 2012’s self-titled and now this one, they indeed have returned to prominence. “Pins and Needles” starts it off hot and heavy, and the album never really quits after that. Lots of good tunes on this one, including “Breaking Skin”, “Misery”, “Forcing Hands”, and “Never Ending Hole”.
Sevendust – Time Travelers and Bonfires
Not that there was ever any doubt that these guys could do their own Jar of Flies type album, especially in light of how good Southside Double-Wide was, but they proved it and then some with the original acoustic (and acoustic-esque) songs on here. “Come Down” is fantastic, “The Wait” is as heartfelt as anything they’ve ever done, and I really like “Upbeat Sugar” and “Bonfire” as well. It’s a role-reversal of sorts, as I’d love to hear these songs fully plugged in! The six new tunes would have been enough to land this on my list, but then there’s six acoustic versions of the heavier songs, including “Denial”, “Crucified”, and “Karma”. My one minor gripe is that we’ve already heard “Trust” and “Black” on SSDW, and they could have picked two more songs we’ve never heard acoustically, but that’s splitting hairs; they still sound great here.
Slash – World on Fire
I’ll trot out my old chestnut again: Myles Kennedy could sing over my cat’s screeching and I’d love it. Singing over a second whole album with Slash and the same band? Yes please!! I liked Apocalyptic Love a lot, and this one beats the pants off of that. The title track is amazing, as is “Wicked Stone”, “30 Years to Life”, and “Bent To Fly” is fantastic. Really, the whole album is; it’s what a modern straight-up rock record should sound like.
Slipknot – .5: The Grey Chapter
Sure, lets continue with the comeback stories. Six years after All Hope Is Gone, and after the death of Paul Gray and the departure of Joey Jordison, the nine lunatics come back with an album that blows AHIG out of the water, and rivals anything else they’ve ever put out. It runs the gamut from the atmospheric and downright creepy to the full frontal assault you’d expect. “Sarcastrophe”, “The Devil In I”, “Custer” and “The Negative One” are the heavy, and the tribute to Paul, “Goodbye”, is unlike anything they’ve ever done, except maybe “Snuff”.
The Tea Party – The Ocean at the End
One more comeback story! Ten years after the less-than-stellar Seven Circles, the trio got it right with this one. Back to the world music and blues influences that makes the Tea the Tea, this is solid from front to back. “The Black Sea”, “Cypher”, and “Submission” are early favorites, and “The Ocean At The End” is as great as any of their epic tunes.
Theory of a Deadman – Savages
Less of a comeback, more just a return to form after the generic radio-fare that was “The Truth Is…”, “Savages” is Theory getting their snarl back. “Drown” and “Savages” may be two of the heaviest songs they’ve ever done, while “Panic Room” and “World War Me” are solid TOAD tunes as well. There’s the requisite ballads and the country cross-over, but I’ll forgive those in light of how much I like the rest of the album.
Clutch – Summer Sound Attack
This doesn’t really count at all, as it’s an online-only compilation put together for Clutch’s summer tour. Clutch is another band I was Johnny-come-SUPER-lately on. I saw them last December at Montage on a whim, and loved it. Got all the albums, and have been listening to them all year. Earth Rocker came out in 2013, so it’s not making the list, but this compilation of Earth Rocker tunes and a couple of “hits” from mainly the latter half of their catalog (Spacegrass the notable exception) will stand in nicely. Besides, if nothing else, this will make the list because every time I play “Electric Worry”, we follow up “Bang Bang Bang Bang” with Nate flipping out singing “DOMINOES DOMINOES!”
No, they’re not on here:
Black Stone Cherry (not as good as the prior three), Godsmack (same album for the 6th time), Hellyeah (it’s okay), Linkin Park (better than the last two, but eh), Mike Doughty (just missed the cut), Nickelback (LULZ), Seether (it’s growing on me, but see Godsmack)
Getting on stage during a show is one thing. Getting on stage during an Every Time I Die show is another. Getting on stage during an Every Time I Die show and then trying to take a selfie with Keith will result in Jordan going all Karate Kid on your phone.
Stage selfies = look at me look at me I didn't get enough attention as a kid and can't handle 5 people here getting more attention than me
— Jordan Buckley (@JordanETID) December 6, 2014
But it has a happy ending!
— Jordan Buckley (@JordanETID) December 9, 2014
I’m trying to get back to the free-floating music thoughts on here, in addition to just the CD’s and show reviews. Again. For the umpteenth time.
Anyway, I’ve long been a fan of cover tunes. I like when bands put their own spin on songs, for the most part. (See the rant about Florida Georgia Line destroying Black Stone Cherry’s “Stay” here.) There’s a ton of covers that are readily apparent, and the longer it goes, we’re now getting into songs I knew and loved the first time around getting covered (some good, some bad). What’s more interesting to me is when I hear songs by one band, and only find out much, much later that the version I knew was actually a cover!
I bring this up now because just last week, listening to Chris Jericho’s podcast with Slash, they talked about Slash working with Michael Jackson, and how he’s associated with playing on Black or White during live shows, while in reality, on the album, he played on Give In To Me. I’m thinking, that’s interesting, I didn’t know that, I don’t know that song, I’ll go check out that song.
I hear the opening notes, and its one of those “Heeeeyyyyyyyyy I DO know this song!”. But I know it because Three Days Grace covered it on Transit of Venus, not because of MJ. It was just another song on the 3DG album, and I didn’t think anything of it. But an MJ song? That’s not exactly obscure. It’s like, how did I miss that one?
It’s happened to me a couple of other times in the past too, notably with Finger Eleven covering Depeche Mode’s “Walking in My Shoes“, and Oleander doing The Cure’s “Boys Don’t Cry”. There’s probably a bunch more waiting in the wings for me to discover. I kind of like it when bands just slip songs in there and don’t call too much attention to them, just waiting for the sometimes-unobservant fans like myself to find them.
In which Eric hears a terrible cover of an okay song and flies off the handle…
Every once in awhile you hear something that makes you stop and say “WHAT IN THE BLUE HELL IS THAT?!?!”. I was the unwitting victim of this today, strolling through the music section at Target. As everyone probably knows, they have a couple of TV’s that cycle video clips from whatever albums they’re trying to push. I walked by one this morning, and heard some familiar lyrics…
“But if I told you I loved you, would it make you want to stay?”
…and I’m like, “Wow, Black Stone Cherry? That album’s almost three years ol… HEEEEYYYYYYYYYYYYY THAT’S NOT BLACK STONE CHERRY THAT’S A TERRIBLE COUNTRY KARAOKE VERSION OF STAY WHO THE HELL MASSACRED THIS WTFOMGBBQ!!!” I literally stopped dead in my tracks. Nate’s stroller probably could have used an airbag (poor kid, all that *and* he had to hear this too). Come to find out, whomever or whatever a “Florida Georgia Line” is (looked them up and found out they’re also responsible for that insipid “Cruise” song too) decided they would cover Black Stone Cherry’s “Stay”. I’m all for covers, hell, Black Stone Cherry does their share on their albums too (The Yardbirds’ “Shape of Things” and Marshall Tucker’s “Can’t You See” to name two), but this here cover is BAD. Really bad. Really, really bad. Michael Jackson is hearing this from the grave and is like, “nope, you guys are Bad; I can’t hold a candle to this.” Like, Eric going to a country karaoke bar, deciding to mock the entire pop-country genre by picking this BSC song, and singing it in the most ridiculous, obnoxiously twangy way possible bad. If I sang this song like these guys do, they’d throw me out of the bar (into PUBLIC). How this made it onto an album, let alone #1 on the country charts (I fell out of my chair when I saw that), is beyond me. I mean, a cover is usually some sort of homage to the song, not the poster child for every reason I can only stand like 30 seconds of current country music. Yikes.
And honestly, as big of a BSC fan as I am, their version of “Stay” isn’t exactly blowing the doors off either. There’s plenty of better songs on Between The Devil & The Deep Blue Sea (see White Trash Millionaire and Staring At The Mirror, for starters).
But you don’t have to take my word for it (thanks LeVar Burton!). In the interest of fairness, and because misery loves company, here’s both tracks linked so you can do your own comparison. You only need the first 30 seconds of each. Probably less for the FGL version (my ears started bleeding).« Previous Entries