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Wednesday, December 25, 2019

THE BEST MUSIC OF 2019

ALBUM OF THE YEAR

NICK CAVE & THE BAD SEEDS - "Ghosteen"

More like Nick Cave and Warren Ellis, never has an album
about loss sounded more elegiac and majestic and haunting. It is the third part of a trilogy in which Cave mourns the loss of his child
and it feels like his soul is searching high and low to find a shady
corner where it can find some peace and solace. But it will never happen and I'm sure he knows it. You just cannot quantify loss...





SWEVEN - "Red Giant To White Dwarf"

A fresh progressive rock band from France with psych and stoner
influences, very methodical in the build up of the songs. Once it gets under your skin, it remains there. They recorded and uploaded on bandcamp. No promotion, thus, criminally deprive the music community of a near masterpiece. How many bands can keep you fully engaged for the duration of a 27 minute song? "Lift High The
Veil of Maya" does. Outstanding!




LA DISPUTE - "Panorama"

Jordan Dreyer pens lyrics true to his life experiences. And with a vocal to back them up, creates a cocktail of poetic emotion. Can't
really box them in the post-hardcore category as there are so many
other influences floating about in their music. Bottom line, honest
lyrics and heartfelt performance will strum your heartstrings...






WOLF PRAYER - "Echoes of the Second Sun"

Debut album from German desert/stoner rock band. At times atmospherically chilled at times fuzzily heavy it keeps chugging along setting a blueprint for things to come. Impressive...








BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN - "On Broadway"

If Springsteen never existed, US culture would be poorer by
at least 10%. What he pulled off with his stint(s) on Broadway
is nothing short of amazing...








THE NEIL MORSE BAND - "The Great Adventure"

If your best album is the double/concept"The Similitude of a Dream" you gotta have huge brass balls the size of melons to
produce a 2LP/concept sequel. Neil Morse is a genius on par
with Arjen Lucassen. And quite prolific. Absorbing...







WHISKEY MYERS - 'Whiskey Myers"

With the Eagles, Lynyrds, Allmans all but done this exciting southern rock band is moving in to fill the void...this is their fourth album.








REIGNWOLF - 'Hear Me Out"

Even before Jordan Cook released this, his debut LP, he was drawing in the crowds with his exciting stage presence. The
7"ers he released prior to this cost an arm and a leg to buy.
REIGNWOLF is an exhilarating experience...







THANK YOU SCIENTIST - "Terraformer"

Unusual for a prog band to feature sax, violin and trumpet but
it sets then apart from others. Could be the proggiest of them all...









WILY BO WALKER & ED BRAYSHAW - "The Roads We Ride"

Second part of a concept trilogy, this endearing blues rock saga is
heartfelt and sincere. Fabulous vocals and musicianship...
"the roads we ride where our dreams collide
 are all we can ever call our own..."







MONO - "Nowhere Now Here"

I have a soft spot for these pioneering post rock pioneers from Japan, probably the best instrumental rock band in the world. Their music stands triumphant in soundscapes that bleed the euphoric and the tragic...








TOOL - "Fear Inoculum"

Never any doubt...










WHEEL - "Moving Backwards"

Well...if you like Tool...










LOCAL SCENE

MARLIA PROJECT - "PalisanĪ“ros"

Marlia's mesmerising spiritual music will soothe your soul.
She attempts for the first time to sing a couple of songs in
her native Cypriot tongue with staggering results. As she is
experimenting with her vocals, Marlia has found the difficult
task of harnessing the dynamics of her voice to be a mere simple exercise! Amazing vocal control and a passion for spirituality, she is so unique. The dearest hidden gem...




CELESTIAL IRIS - "Solaria"

A fist attempt from Christos Themistocleous, this EP is a welcome
breath of fresh air. Armed with a cajon and an acoustic guitar (layers upon layers) he's made an old skool new age record that is
bleeding rock n' roll. Kudos...

Saturday, January 5, 2019

BEST MUSIC OF 2018

                                                      ALBUM OF THE YEAR - RIVERSIDE 'Wasteland"

Most bands will create a pompous intro to their albums because they don't have Mariusz Duda's balls who kicks off this masterpiece
a capella, signifying the emptiness of loss. The loss of bandmate, guitarist Piotr Grudzinski. Riverside redefine their sound as Duda picks up rhythm guitar duties and experiments singing in a lower register descending deeper into melancholia.
Somehow, this album reinstates my belief that the purpose of life is to improve one's self, chisel away on his personality, better him/herself until he/she becomes someone he/she likes and maybe, create a better world in his vicinity. Maybe Duda believes (consciously or subconsciously) the same. NEVER have a heard in 
 this generation of rockers a voice so eloquent, gentle and wistful.
                                                      "I am wading through the desert To the promised land You burnt to 
                                                       to the ground"  Duda is THE dude...
                                                    
                                                       https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=001IMO53JwY


 EMMA RUTH RUNDLE - "On Dark Horses"

The 4th solo outing for MARRIAGES singer and RED SPARROWES member is a dark, heavy and emotive affair. Here is an artist with a good understanding of dynamics in music. In todays indie rock scene female artists tend to copy Bjork or attempt tepid electro-pop. The real alternative is Emma Ruth Rundle along with Chelsea Wolfe.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1JKAoIYGhX8                                             




KHEMMIS - "Desolation"

How many times have you listened to a doom album and felt that it "dragged" on? Khemmis have introduced more heavy metal riffing and contemporary ideas to their music and made an album that will
appease stoner, doom and metal fans alike. I will be surprised if this work doesn't catapult them to the creme-de-la-creme division of the genre...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xZd2liHm8P8



BIG BLOOD - "Operate Spaceship Earth Properly"

Discovered this husband/wife indie band only recently. Still trying to get my hands on the 20 or so albums they released over the last 12 years. This one offers heavier psychedelia than previous ones but you really cannot pigeonhole them. Strange and captivating...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Plx4uYTrJYk






ORPHANED LAND - Unsung Prophets and Dead Messiahs"

Based on Plato's "Allegory of the Cave" the Israeli band has probably produced the best "oriental" prog metal album ever! This is a tour-de-force with JUST the right amount of symphonic pomp and bombast. Unparalleled production values and kudos to Jens Bogren who mixed this monumental recording...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZIrVRgSLM58





ANNA VON HAUSSWOLFF - "Dead magic"

Cosmic dirges from Swedish goth composer. Elegiac and enigmatic excursions into the subject of mortality. It will leave you breathless...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nre0hcDz5TI







MARCUS KING BAND - "Carolina Confessions"

Marcus King, singer, songwriter, guitarist is only 22. Everything is coming together on his 4th album, a southern gothic rock future classic...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VPIAy13xzjA







EARTHLESS - "Black Heaven"

A change of label and...what is this...songs lasting less than the 15-20 minute cosmic jams? But wait...in the hands of 3 of the finest musicians in today's rock music (Isaiah Mitchell/guitar, Mario Rubalcaba/drums and Mike Eginton/bass) the results are as exciting as ever. Stoner album of the year from a band that isn't stoner...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0QvV3J5buvk





KAMASI WASHINGTON - "Heaven and Earth"

Clocking in at a little less that 2hrs 30mins, it does have some forgettable passages but when the saxophonist hits high gear, he is exhilarating! Using a large canvas, Kamasi draws from many musical territories. Rightly, the most recognisable name in jazz today...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LdyabrdFMC8





SARAH SHOOK AND THE DISARMERS - "Years"

There's a disarming honesty about her songs and delivery. With a cooking band supporting her, this alt country artist is the closest thing to the old generation of "outlaw" country artists...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=paaU1Qewcss







HOSTBLOD - "Morkrets Intag"

Thanks to John Mayo for the shout...this is heartfelt, atmospheric,
proggy, post black metal. Underground album of the year...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F7BxM0kicfM








ANTHONY GOMES - "Peace, Love & Loud Guitars"

Purists may forgive Gomes for taking a rock direction throughout his 8th release because this the feel-good blues rock album of the year. No fillers, great guitars and vocals and wonderful production...
Unfortunately, no vinyl yet...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lZ52Rm3osfk






REISSUE OF THE YEAR - SONGS:OHIA "Love & Work : The                                                                                
                                                                         Lioness Sessions"

There was the Strummer box set, the multi-coloured reissues of the early King Gizzard LPs but this transitional album from Jason Molina, his "romantic" record originally released in 2000 tops the lot. Lovely packaged with insight from his wife Darcie and others who knew or worked with him. Expanded to include 11 previously unreleased tracks, it cements his status as one of the most important artists of the last 30 years. Check out also Erin Osmons Riding With The Ghost biography which is very well researched and sheds light on the dark passages of this most unique artist/tortured soul.    

                                                      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wxAaf16xXRk


SONG OF THE YEAR - BRIAN FALLON "If Your Prayers Don't
                                                                        Get To Heaven"

Infectious, catchy, danceable. Heir apparent to Bruce Springsteen?

"And when I was a child, a dream came to me
 Well, every soul hanging low found its piece of dignity
 'Til that dream gets to heaven you can ride this train on me
 And we're gonna run so fast they'll never fin us again"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MVTSAUZYRz8



EVENT OF THE YEAR - Springsteen on Broadway

A testament to the enduring qualities of the Boss. Just watch the Netflix special. Vinyl box set scheduled for February 19.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4D1smUCqEEw


Friday, April 13, 2018

THE DEPRESSING SAMENESS OF HYPOCRITES

"Gassing civilians is unacceptable" according to democratic leaders.

I'm led to believe that these people find killing humans through more conventional means, bombs and bullets IS acceptable. Because, so far, they have not reacted, but once poison gas is mentioned they are mobilising.

I must've lost a meeting with civility...since when did the act of taking a life is secondary to the means used? You just bomb them or shoot them in the back-it's OK, but sarin gas or chlorine gas?

Same with someone throwing a hand grenade to the other side, and the other side replies with a barrage of rockets...."The analogy of the response was disproportionate" is their jargon.

They put a price on everything. Unfortunately, the price they put on human life is too low...


Well I hope you live long now, I pray the lord your soul to keep
I think I'll be going before we fold our arms and start to weep
I never thought for a moment that human life could be so cheap

'Cos when they finally put you in the ground
I'll stand on your grave and TRAMP THE DIRT DOWN


"Tramp The Dirt Down"     (ELVIS COSTELLO)





History is short, the sun is just a minor star
The poor man sells his kidneys in some colonial bazaar
Que sera sera
Is that your new Ferrari car
You don't have to be a Jew to disapprove of murder
Tears burn my eyes
Moslem or Christian, Mullah or Pope
Preacher or Poet, who was it wrote
Give any one species too much rope
and they'll fuck it up...
"Too Much Rope"                 (Roger Waters)

Friday, March 2, 2018

THE SIGN OF A MADMAN

So you think the majority of politicians are smart people?
Actually the majority of politicians are conniving halfwits and unless they take and publish IQ tests, I can't be arsed to spoil my Sunday plans for a trip to a polling station...

Consider this...if the Turkish Cypriots demand to share the spoils of the natural gas that exists in the Greek Cypriot "zone" of the Cypriot EEZ, doesn't that defeat the purpose of the bi-zonality terms of the sought after solution?
Just a question from a simpleton...to the conniving halfwits from both sides.

When you plan politics it is important, if not crucial, to take into consideration the factor of TIMING.
Maybe the timing is wrong for a solution to the Cyprob?
What with the despicable dictatorial NeoSultan Erdogan who is slowly (but surely) descending into the realm of madness.
The most half assed coup in the history of the world...we're still laughing are asses off all the way to Kingdom Come.

And then a few days ago...          
"She has a Turkish flag in her pocket. If she becomes a martyr,
inshallah, we will drape the flag on her. She is ready for everything" 
Deranged Tyrant Erdogan

Well, why don't you strap a bomb on her fragile chest, while you're at it you scum-of-the-earth, and shove her all the way to Afrin... you scumbag...
                                                        

If this is not the "sign of a madman losing his control" (Demon)......
After the dogs have feasted on what is left of his flesh (that has been previously ripped off by his own people), that would be the right timing (I categorically deny fandom to horror movies). Historically, most dictators had the same fate...

"History repeats the old conceits
  the glib repeats the old defeats
  keep your finger on important issues
  with crocodile tears and a pocketful of tissues"

"Beyond Belief"          (ELVIS COSTELLO)



"Madman Across The Water" includes one of the best songs Elton John has written. "Tiny Dancer"...but the geographic madman across the water,  the world can do without. And all we can do is await for his inevitable demise...

"Someday even grey walls crumble
  And every idol ever raised falls"


"Ashes To Ashes"        (STEVE EARLE)


                                        

                                         Revisit the mighty leader's song...









Wednesday, January 3, 2018

BEST MUSIC OF 2017


Album of the Year

MOUNT EERIE "A Crow Looked At Me"

There have been many albums about loss but none like this. Phil Elverum who mostly lives and creates "far from the madding crowd" like a hermit, lost his wife Genevieve to pancreatic cancer.
Instead of describing the pain (like others do) he just recollects vignettes of his life together with Genevieve or sends shivers down the spine when he comes across one of her personal everyday items, like a toothbrush...
The LP lulls you into its world and you are teetering on the thin line between cold reality and perpetual trance-like grief. Plaintive vocals and spare guitar.
Phil is now raising their little daughter and the memory of his partner still lingers in the air, the sunshine, the rain, the fog...

Sweet kid, we were watched and followed and I thought of Genevieve
Sweet kid, I heard you murmur in your sleep
"Crow" you said
"Crow" I asked
"Are you dreaming about a crow?"
And there she was...


EXQUIRLA "Para Quienes Aun Viven"

One of the outstanding european bands, Toundra (Spain) team up with flamenco singer Nino de Elche to form Exquirla, a project that creates a new direction in progressive rock, passionate, modern and yet, primordial at the same time. Exquirla is nothing less than exquisite...






THE DEVIL AND THE ALMIGHTY BLUES "II"

Heavy Blues Almighty, Amen! Classic heavy rock with flourishes of psychedelia from Norway. On this second album they have tapped on newfound potential which bodes well for the future. Astonishing LP and "These Are Old Hands" is a monster...







SUN KIL MOON "Common As Light And Love Are Red
                                Valleys Of Blood"

Mark Kozelek has definitely found his voice in recent years.
His unique stream-of-consciousness lyrics and rat-tat-tat delivery is unmistakeable an, at times, chilling...






ROGER WATERS "Is This The Life We Really want?"

The question is : "Is this the production to a Waters LP we really want?" What a terrible choice for a producer. Godrich may have worked wonders for Radiohead but this is Roger Waters. Totally different class! Don't get me wrong, Radiohead are good but do not belong in the Pink Floyd stratosphere. Lazy production has turned great songs into merely good ones. Washes of synth strings sound cheap and undeveloped. FX that have already been worked to death in the past. So much for originality Mr Godrich...
Lay Down Jerusalem (If I Had Been God) became Deja Vu and reduced to a dwarf and, if you're familiar with the full poem "Is this
the life we really want?" which is epic in its scope and length...well,
I cringe at it's final duration. I shall refrain from discussing absent
guitar solos. A potentially stunning album reduced to Good LP
status all because (with Waters' consent) the producer "didn't like
his or that bit". Maybe he has a short attention span and can't
follow a 12 minute song. Maybe he don't like guitar solos. Maybe
Mr Godrich doesn't agree with great moments in music history...


REBECCA KARIJORD "Mother Tongue"

This LP is heavily influenced by Rebecca's experiences of pregnancy and the premature birth of her child. Glad to hear that she has moved away from her previous more "pop" direction to make this album which, despite its minimal instrumentation shows a great depth once the listener immerses into this masterful singer/songwriter's world.




ARRAYAN PATH  "Dawn Of Aquarius"

I know the boys in the band personally. This is their 6th album. What I'm trying to say is I could've included any of their previous releases in my year-end list. I did not, I'm not biased (I think)...
There is so much fake passion, overblown posturing, pompous
mediocrity and inane lyrical approach in metal these days. Arrayan Path have progressively reached the pinnacle of their career. They are seasoned musicians making mature music. This album will reveal more with each listening session. Musically it sounds effortless. Lyrically it makes sense storywise but the words are
placed in such a way that they become weapons in frontman's
Nicholas Leptos' armoury. He bites on them, chews them up
and spits them out -dead- on the pavement. One of the greatest
vocalists in metal music today. This album shows that strong
melody is still relevant to power metal. This album has the
character to devour your senses with its haunting melodies.
Nicholas once told me that he would like Arrayan Path to be
remembered by its haunting melodies, well, my friend, I think
you and your cohorts have achieved it!
Kudos to all involved. Bravo! (although I doubt you will be
knighted by her Majesty) Well done Pitch Black Records too...


LARKIN POE "Peach"

The Lovell sisters excel whether it is stunning renditions of blues standards or striking new compositions, all delivered with the urgency of a garage band. Gritty vocals from Rebecca and gripping lapsteel guitar from Megan, these girls are going places...







ROBERT WALKER & THE CENTURY BAND "Year of the Dog"

Walker, a little known blues rocker based in Germany, has been kicking about since the 90's. Accomplished songwriting and stirring musicianship feature in one of the unnoticed gems of the year. I think was only released electronically.






 GRETA VAN FLEET "From The Fires"EP & "Black Smoke          
                                                                            Rising"EP

Young exciting band, sort of like a "baby Zeppelin". They released
two EPs in 2017. They will be massively huge by 2020. If they can keep their feet on the ground...








SONG OF THE YEAR : RAY DAVIES "Poetry"

The legend that is Sir Douglas Raymond Davies (The Kinks), from his 2017 solo LP "Americana".
Great songwriters never fade...they just get better with age.

                                    "Maybe I'm missing something but I'm too blind to see
                                      She settled for someone who isn't too hard to please
                                      Where is the poetry?"





Tuesday, February 14, 2017

BEST MUSIC OF 2016

ALBUM OF THE YEAR

"Sorrow" (COLIN STETSON)

I do have a soft spot for Gorecki's Symphony No3 and this bold and
radical reinterpretation by saxophonist Colin Stetson is a risk well
taken. A piece written for a 60 piece orchestra is tackled by a 12
player ensemble featuring Stetson's sister mezzo soprano Megan
and members of Arcade Fire and Liturgy among others. This remarkable meditation on sorrow and loss is updated by Stetson in an exquisite and RESPECTFUL way.


"The Ghosts of Highway 20" (LUCINDA WILLIAMS)

LW has never made a bad album in her career. Not even a mediocre one. Awash with vivid storytelling and, oh, the best guitar work recorded in 2016. Bill Frisell and Greg Leisz create ghostly soundscapes that invigorate Lucinda's evocative songs.

*Check also LW's song heart wrenching "I'm Crying" on the soundtrack of "Free State of Jones". Not included on the album.




"Folklore"  (BIG BIG TRAIN)

British band's best do far. A work of beauty, prog rock that is soulful, accomplished, mysterious and instantly classic...









"Pearls to Swine" (ADAM TORRES)

Where Torres resurfaces after 11 years in the wilderness and captivates with his songwriting and voice...









"Animam" (GUSTAVO SANTIAGO)

Brazilian wonderkid Gustavo santiago, at 17, composed, arranged,
produced and played on this fascinating prog album in a masterful way that belies his age. Released only electronically it has remained underground and the question, I guess, is, hasn't anybody signed him yet?






"Acid Crusher/Mount Swan" (EARTHLESS/HARSH TOKE)

No one does heavy psych space jams better than EARTHLESS.
Guitarist Isaiah Mitchell, drummer Mario Rubalcaba and bassist Mike Eginton have spearheaded the burgeoning heavy psych scene of San Diego which includes exciting bands like Harsh Toke, Joy and Sacri Monti...






"Skeleton Tree" (NICK CAVE & THE BAD SEEDS)

The expression of loss. In the powerful, atmospheric, eloquent and poetic way of Cave...









"III : Trauma" (HARAKIRI FOR THE SKY)

Magnificent, focused, powerful. Offers unusually poetic lyrics for a post black metal album, acute songwriting and fabulous guitar work. Another one born out of pain?








"You Want It Darker" (LEONARD COHEN)

No sentimentality in this choice. As you can see Bowie doesn't make my list. Even to his last album he has managed to remain sexually spiritual. And his eternal search to understand the existence of a God reaches an end. In the past he has been eloquently sarcastic, here he is venomously sarcastic. I think he reached his conclusion before he passed away...





"Sacri Monti" (SACRI MONTI)

Another from the exciting San Diego scene. Solid debut...










"Hoka" (NAKHO & MEDICINE FOR THE PEOPLE)

HOKA is a call to action (I think), Nakho having Puerto Rican, Apache and Filipino blood running through his veins. The music has changed probably to accommodate the band and it's very successful concerts. Politically poetic and upbeat...







"Feathers & Flesh" (AVATAR)

Concept : An Owl takes on the world. One of the most musically inventive bands in Metal...









RE-RELEASE OF THE YEAR
"Pretty...Slow" (FUCK) vinyl

With all the big name re-issues of the year (Pink Floyd etc) this little gem of lo-fi indie americana from 20 years ago deserves to be
discovered by a new generation or the ones who missed it first time around when it was released in a handmade clamshell box with various tidbits thrown in along the CD. A long lost gem...






SONG OF THE YEAR  : "The Eagle Has Landed" (AVATAR)