Top 10 Albums of 2015

Once again here are my top releases of 2015. I’m putting these in the order that they were released (mostly). There is always so much new music to check out so this list is based solely on what I heard in the past twelve months.

Sleater-Kinney – No Cities to Love

I wouldn’t even call this a reunion album but I guess it is. Such a great album. Still feels like Sleater-Kinney yet pushes their music forward. My favourite track is A New Wave. Great chorus.

 

Andrew Bird – Echolocations: Canyon

I got a lot of plays out of this release. It was produced for a sound installation for the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston. The album itself is a great soundscape which I like to put on when I’m working. You can read more about the piece here.

 

Alabama Shakes – Sound & Color

This is a band that never caught me with their first album so I was surprised to find out Future People was from their new album. Brittany Howard has a unique voice and I really like the guitar in this song. The title track is really great too.

 

And so I watch you from afar – Heirs

The only reason I checked out this album was because of the cool cover art done by Sonny Kay. I was pleased to find out the music held within was right up my alley. Rory Friers is a fantastic guitarist and great performer. I was lucky enough to catch them come through town in early October.

 

Faith No More – Sol Invictus

Without a doubt the most anticipated release of the last decade for me. I love Faith No More. In the lead up to the release, my pregnant wife and I traveled from Vancouver to Seattle and then Portland to catch three consecutive live shows. The opening three dates of their long awaited first North American tour in ages. They did not disappoint and neither did this album. I think my favourite track is Matador but the track that I first fell in love with, after hearing it three nights in a row, was Sunny Side Up.

 

Foals – What Went Down

The name of this blog comes from a Foals song (Black Gold, 2009). I was really looking forward to this release from the Oxford, England based band and I’m happy to say that it didn’t disappoint. This is a band that consistently gets better while evolving their sound. I keep waiting for these guys to explode and become huge. I think they are doing pretty good in the UK while in North America they remain a bit under the radar.  So many great tracks on the album but A Knife in the Ocean is my favourite (for now).

 

Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats – Night Creeper

First off, these guys have a crazy website. Second, this isn’t my favourite album by the band but it still kicks ass. DOOM METAL! I didn’t even realize I liked doom metal until I was reading about the band and saw them classified under that genre label. Think of early seventies Black Sabbath and that is what you have with Uncle Acid. Nothing new here but I still enjoy this album.

 

SEXWITCH – selftitled

This was a surprise album for me. Natasha Khan and Bat for Lashes are not my radar. It’s a cool ambient album composed of covers of 70’s psych-rock songs from the middle east. Cool shit.

 

Jennylee – Never

Jenny Lee Lindberg, the bass player from Warpaint, releases a solo album. How cool is that? And it’s good! An eighties gothic throwback.

 

 

Beirut – No No No

Another great release from Zach Condon and Beirut. His music and this album are just a pleasure to listen to. Their sound has evolved over the years, exploring things other than Balkan Brass (which I love) and they keep me coming back to check out every new release.

 

 

The Other top albums of the year

Ought – Sun coming down

 

Die Goldenen Zitronen – Flogging a dead frog

These German dudes have been around for years. The new album features some of their older songs rearranged in English. If I Were A Sneaker is a reworking of the bands song Wenn Ich ein Turnschuh wär, which appeared on the 2009 album Lenin. Even more topical than it was six years ago. See below and check out their 1994 album Das bißchen Totschlag. It’s so good.

 

Favourite Single

Warpaint – No Way Out / I’ll Start Believing

Great couple of songs from one of my favourite bands. Especially I’ll Start Believing. I love this song and the video is cool! Can’t wait for a new album.

 

Savages – The Answer

This song kicks ass! I can’t wait for this album to come out in January.

 

Pity Sex – What might soothe you?

I like the sound these kids are rocking. Kind nineties in a way. Like SuperChunk or something. Album comes out in 2016.

 

Best re-release

Ginger Johnson and His African Messengers – African Party

Ginger Johnson, a popular bandleader from Nigeria, played with a lot of different folks back in his heyday, including the Rolling Stones. I really like a lot of the music that came out of Africa in the seventies, specifically Nigeria and Ghana. I’m always on the lookout for re-releases and new compilations and was happy to find this album. African Party is a great listen.

 

Top 10 Albums of 2014

Here are my favourite albums of 2014. No serious journalism here or even bug surprises for people that know my musical taste. Some disappointments, namely the new Interpol album, although I haven’t really been into the last couple albums.  For some reason I was looking forward to the new one. John Garcia of Kyuss released a solo album which ended up being boring and not really my thing. To be honest, even the Antemasque record was a bit of a let down. In no particular order;

Warpaint – Warpaint
The biggest release for me in 2014 was definitely the new album by Warpaint. Without a question it’s my most listened to album this past year. I was also fortunate enough to see them twice on this tour. Warpaint are just so damn good.
 Fugazi- First Demo
This came out last month and is really cool. The versions of songs all fans know well have a sound different enough to be unique. A really cool musical history artifact that also kicks ass. I miss those guys…

…And you will know us by the trail of dead – IX

Trail of Dead are one of my favourite bands. After three amazing albums (self-titled, Madonna, Source Tags and Codes) they released three albums which were a huge disappointment to me. They returned in a great way with Tao of the Dead and Lost Songs. Those two albums put the love of the Dead back in me. SO it was with great anticipation that I looked forward to IX, there ninth album. It’s not as strong as their past two efforts but it’s also not a Century of Self.

White Lung – Deep Fantasy

This band kicks ass! This is their third LP and I am loving it. Really dig Kenneth William’s guitar sound. I saw the band play a home show here in Vancouver on the weekend and it was killer.

Perfect Pussy- Say Yes to Love

The band with the worst name to Google. Great little album. I missed an opportunity to see thehttps://fnwiutb.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=200&action=editm a few months ago and regret it. I worry this may be a band that could self destruct so I want to see them before they do. I’m probably totally wrong but one thing is for certain, this band kicks ass.

Antemasque- s/t

This album came out of nowhere. I had no idea Omar and Cedric were playing together again. It seemed liked after the last Mars Volta album these two long time collaborators were finished with each other. Expectations were high and to be honest there were not fully met. Omar’s guitars are awesome as usual but Cedrics vocals are different here and not always in a good way. Still some fine tracks on this recording.

Death From Above 1979 – The Physical World

Another reunited band with a new album. This one gives you exactly what you want, classic DFA1979 sound. It’s as if this album was recorded a year after You’re a Woman, I’m a Machine instead of ten. Some of the songs are pretty cock rocky but there is some killer riffs on it.

Leonard Cohen- Popular Problems

This dude! Releases an excellent batch of songs in his eightieth year. With all Leonard albums, it’s always about the lyrics and this one is no different. I find that in the last five years his voice is becoming more and more like Tom Waits.

Cymbals Eat Guitars – Lose

Good album with a more mature sound than their past records, granted I never really got into Lenses Alien. I was captured by their first album a fair bit and saw them tour that album. This new album is a decent one.

Priest – Bodies and Control and Money and Power
New band with a classic riot grrrl sound. I’m digging it. Gotta see this band when they roll through town.
Favourite single and anticipated release of 2015.
Faith No More- Motherfucker
I’m a huge Faith No More fan and am super excited to hear new music by the group. The first single Motherfucker is great. Plus it’s a rant against Foie Gras which is always good in my books.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=glr878X82PE

Top 10 Albums of 2013

Everyone likes making lists. Below is a list of my favourite albums of 2013. This year was a really good one for music. A few new artists, or at least new bands and a bunch from my favourites. I actually got a chance to see 7 of my top ten this year, including King Krule who plays tonight. When I get a new album I tend to obsess over it, listening to it endlessly. All the albums on my top 10 were those kind of albums. In particular Bosnian Rainbows, Lorde and Marnie Stern really feel into the obsessive category. Lorde is someone I never thought would have resonated with me so much. I easily dismissed her upon hearing her hit single Royals everywhere on the radio. I gave her album a listen on rdio and gradually, okay quickly became a fan.  Now in no particular order;

Lorde – Pure Heroine

Bosnian Rainbows – S/T

Marnie Stern – The Chronicles of Marnie Stern

Chelsea Light Moving – S/T

Deftones – Koi No Yokan

Crystal Antlers – Nothing is Real

King Krule – 6 Feet Beneath the Moon

Mudhoney – Vanishing Point

Vista Chino – Peace

Foals – Holy Fire

The other albums I enjoyed this year.

Arcade Fire – Reflektor

Zaz – Recto Verso

Pearl Jam – Lightning Bolt

Polvo – Siberia

Curve and why I never belonged to a scene

Okay, I’ll admit it. I like guitars. So am I a rocker? I guess so but despite being in love with the guitar there is some variance to my musical tastes. They are, however, very strong well defined tastes. I know what I like and what I like is the best. So while I love bands live Fugazi, Sonic Youth, Crystal Antlers and the like, I also really love bands like Curve.

Curve were an electronic/alternative rock band from England that was comprised of Toni Halliday on vocals and Dean Garcia on bass, guitar, drums, programming. Their first release came back in 1992, back when being an Alternative band still meant something. I first heard the band on the Canadian TV channel MuchMusic (our MTV). They used to have this program called MuchMusic Spotlight where for a half hour they would play videos of the spotlighted band starting from their early videos up to their latest. They would also add any interviews they had into the mix. I caught the Curve episode early on in the day and was therefore able to record on VHS the repeat broadcast. This was in 1993 when the album Cuckoo came out. Below is one of my favourite songs from the album, Superblaster.

Man, I had such a crush on Toni…still do. I can’t say  that without sharing a video that I really love, Horror Head from the album Doppelganger.

Anyway, they broke up the year after the album came out. When I moved to Vancouver in 1995 to go to collage I was given an email address and access to the internet. The internet was a different beast back then but you were still able to connect with people that shared similar likes. I joined a Curve newsgroup (also joined a Nina Hagen one too) and through this group I met someone from the States who actually made me a cassette tape of all the B-sides and rarities the band had released over the years. He even printed a nice cover for the mix and I still have the tape all these years later. The band eventually got back together and released another album. Finally in 1998 I was lucky enough to see them play the now demolished Richards at Richards. Below is one of the B-sides that was on the cassette, Mission from God.

When I lived in my little dorm room on the BCIT campus, I would love to lie on my bed with my head between my two stereo speakers and listen to my 12″ of Cherry at a high volume. I loved the way the song grows in volume, the way the swirling guitars come into a maelstrom of sound, the ambient noises in the back, immediacy of Toni’s vocals. I once made the mistake and told someone this. Their response was, “Why don’t you just use headphones?” I felt a little silly but at the same time I was thinking “It’s not the same thing!” Granted I was probably pretty stoned when I used to do this.

While Curve was more popular in the Goth scene I was never part of that scene. I used to go to some of the Goth/Industrial clubs in Vancouver (Twilight Zone) but would also go see Punk shows. I was just at home at a Rage Against the Machine show as I was at an Ani DiFranco show. There was a period in my late teens where I dressed  in what you would call a Grunge manner. Long dyed hair, army pants and boots but really I haven’t changed my look too much since the mid Nineties. Part of that is because I never belonged to any particular scene. I prefer to call my look Timeless. In the past two weeks I went to see Kyuss and a few days later Bosnian Rainbows. I can almost 100% guarantee that I was the only person at both those shows although I will admit I feel more at home at a Bosnian Rainbows show these days.

As this blog grows and I explore my musical tastes, it will become more evident that my tastes are fairly broad. Well-defined but broad. A friend of mine once told me that I like my music to be soaked in a Vat of Guitars. While I think that may be the case a lot of the time, I can still be full of surprises. Here is another one of my favourite Curve songs, No Escape From Heaven.

 

Bosnian Rainbows Live at the Biltmore – Sept 14/13

On Saturday I went to see Bosnian Rainbows make their Vancouver debut. Going into the show I was set on standing as close as I could to the stage, directly in front of Omar Lopez Rodriguez so that I could watch the man play guitar. The show was at the Biltmore so this wasn’t hard to do. The stage is only half a metre high so if you are not up front, you kind of lose something. Plus the roof is low so the sound in the back is a bit shitty. As soon as the opening band was done my wife and I heading straight to the front, stage left, where Omar usually plays. I saw a guy kind of hoping to do the same but didn’t want to barge in, so I called him over and made a spot for him. Nice guy and we chatted music. The video I’m including in this post was taken by him. I never take any photos or videos at shows, the last time being in 2008. With the internet it’s near impossible not to find some great photos or video of every single show now ever performed.

I had every intention of focusing all my attentions on Rodriguez as being three metres away from one of the greatest living guitarist was a dream come true, but once Teri Gender Bender walked on stage that all changed. Teri looked small and very young as she stood in front of her microphone. She looked very nervous as she placed her hand over her chest, as if trying to slow the beating of her heart. The opened with “Eli” and she very quickly became a different person. It was almost as if she was over compensating for her stage fright by acting in the most maniacal , extroverted way possible. Teri’s performance was electrifying…making Iggy Pop, Mick Jagger, Eugene Hutz and Dennis Lyxzén all look like static performers. Combining what looked like ballet moves with rooster impersonations, miming and interpretive dancing she was hard not to focus on.

The band played the entirety of their debut album, front to back with the exception of “Red”, probably because of the 10:30 curfew (club was turning into a….club). Rodriguez’s guitar work was stellar as was Deantoni Parks’s drumming while handling bass lines on a keyboard.

I was seriously thinking about driving down to Seattle to see the band play again tomorrow, but I have a work function. This is a can’t-miss-band and I look forward to their next album which I hear will be an all Spanish language affair.

Vista Chino (Kyuss) visits Vancouver

This past Monday I went to see Vista Chino play here in Vancouver. Last time the band played Vancouver they played under the moniker Kyuss Lives. That was in late 2011. Since then two former members of Kyuss successfully sued the band for use of the name and the original bass player is either in Jail or on parole. They have also found the time to record and release a new album under the name Vista Chino.

The album is pretty good. The best material John Garcia and Brant Bjork have put out since the last Kyuss record in 1995. I was excited for the show, especially to heard the new songs. Like every Kyuss fan I was hoping to hear some of the old material and the band did not disappoint. They played One Inch Man, Gardenia, Asteroid, Supa Scoopa and Mighty Scoop, Hurricane, Thumb, Green Machine, Freedom Run, Whitewater and Odyssey.

As for new stuff they started the show with Adara, one of my favourite songs on the new album but only played three other Vista Chino songs. One of the new songs they performed was Planets 1&2 which saw Brant Bjork take vocal duties. This song is the one weak point on the album. When you have Garcia to sing vocals, you let the man sing. I’ve read that the reason for Bjork leaving the band was that he wanted more creative control and input where Josh Homme wanted it all. So I guess you gotta give the guy something. I like Bjork’s solo work but this one just doesn’t work for me.

Guitarist Bruno Fevery is good but he is no Homme. Lets face it, Homme is one of the best rock guitarist out there and there is a clarity in his playing that I don’t hear in Fevery’s.

The show was pretty solid and had me and my lady humming Kyuss songs for the following days. That’s always a good sign.

Studio Mistakes that stay

So I’ve been listening to the new Bosnian Rainbows album a lot these days. It’s a great album, yada, yada, yada. What I want to quickly touch upon today is the song “Turtle Neck” . A song that starts out slow, could perhaps be considered a ballad before Omar starts ripping it up with a solo. At 4:09 into the song Teri Gender Bender comes in singing again, except at 3:47 you can hear her sing “Once”, which seems like a false start…like she came in to early. They decided to keep it and I thank them for that, it seems real, it works. I wonder if they tried to record a few other takes but that ended up being the best. I have tickets to see them play here in Vancouver next month and I wonder if she will keep the slip in the live performance of the song. I guess it wouldn’t be a slip then would it.

Bosnian Rainbows- Turtle Neck

The only other instance of this coming to mind is the first song off of Fugazi’s End HIts called “Break“. It happens at around the 1:00 mark. You can hear Ian mumble something which in my ears sounds like he is starting the verse. I could be wrong. Judge for yourself.

Fugazi – Break

Can you think of any other instances of this happening on record?