My Top 13 Albums of 2016

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We have finally come to the end of this godforsaken year. And with that, everyone makes their ends of the year lists. And I am not too different in that sense. Primarily speaking I talk about movies on this blog, but since I haven’t seen that many 2016 releases, you will not see any “Top ___ Movies of 2016” from me any time soon. But I could at least make this type of list since it’s easy to listen to music thanks to free (and legal) services like Spotify and Youtube. With that said, let’s go over some of the ground rules here.

Rule #1: This is my list, featuring MY opinions. It’s not my list, featuring YOUR opinions. So don’t bitch and moan over what is featured on this list. I encourage friendly discussion, but bitching and moaning… get that shit out of here.

Rule #2: No “This artist’s greatest hits” albums will be featured. Would be a bit of a cheat to feature that since it would only be made up of older songs by the artist. Only new stuff.

Rule #3: I am not including any soundtracks or original scores here. Otherwise this list would be impossible to limit to a reasonable amount.

Rule #4: No live concert albums will be featured here. I kind of basse this on the same reason as rule #2, since it’s never made of only original material. That said, I am giving an honorable mention to Joe Bonamassa’s “Live at the Greek Theatre” album, because it’s pretty great.

Now that we’ve laid the foundation for this thing, let’s get started! Ladies and gentlemen, these are my Top 13 Albums of 2016!

Number 13: David Bowie – Blackstar (Sample: Lazarus)

Kicking off the list is the final album by legendary entertainer David Bowie who unfortunately passed away very early this year. Bowie of course is known for making a ton of great music throughout the years, as well as wearing some very interesting styles of clothing/makeup. Safe to say, he is missed. And hwile I don’t think this is one his best albums, it is still good (it’s on this list for a reason). Bowie did some very experimental stuff with this album, and while I am not the biggest fan of it all, I at least appreciate that he tried something so different and interesting with it. But I do have to say, the track featured in this post, “Lazarus”, is absolutely fantastic and one of the best songs of the year.

Number 12: Sabaton – The Last Stand (Sample: The Last Stand)

Here we have the latest album by Swedish metal band Sabaton. Several of their albums tend to have some interesting themes explored, which tends to make for some pretty epic metal songs. The theme of this album is “famous last stand battles”, hence the album title. If you’re not a history buff, you might not know which battle each songs is about, so I recommend reading up on the album on wikipedia. But I am a big fan of Sabaton, and this album is pretty badass.

Number 11: Doug Seegers – Walking on the Edge of the World (Sample: Walking on the Edge of the World)

Mixing it up at number 11 with some country. To be specific, it is American country musician Doug Seegers, who not too long ago was just a street musician. Then Swedish musician Jill Johnson found out about him and made him famous. And now he’s a pretty big artist. And like his first album, “Going Down to the River”, this album is really good… not much else to say.

Number 10: Leonard Cohen – You Want it Darker (Sample: You Want it Darker)

Here we have the final album by legendary singer/songwriter Leonard Cohen, who died not too long after this album was released. Not to reopen wounds, but 2016  was a really awful year to be a fan of great entertainers. Oh well… c’est la vie. But as I said, this was the final album recorded by Cohen, and it kind of shows. It’s dark, contemplative, interesting, haunting… it’s a really great album and a perfect way for his career to wrap up.

Number 9: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Skeleton Tree (Sample: Skeleton Tree)

Wow, 2016 was filled with interesting and haunting music. This is the latest album from teh critically acclaimed Australian band, and it’s definitely another solid album from them. It’s interesting to kind of read up on the album and find out some of the behind the scenes stuff. Mainly speaking, how the album was pretty close to finished when Nick Cave’s 15-year-old son died, which as you might expect, halted production. And this of course changed a few things in the album. Not exactly sure what, or how much… but some things got added. If you listen to it and look at the lyrics, the theme of death and tragedy is explored, which might have been triggered a little bit by the unfortunate passing of Cave’s son. His son is never explicitly mentioned, but it might’ve had some effect on it. Either way, this is a great album.

Number 8: Eric Clapton – I Still Do (Sample: Alabama Woman Blues)

So for the number 8 spot we have the latest album from Eric Clapton, one of my personal favorite musicians/songwriters. Clapton has always had one foot firmly in the blues genre, and this album clearly shows it. And yeah, it’s another win from Clapton. I wouldn’t say that it’s as great as “Slowhand” (his best album), but it’s still pretty damn good.

Number 7: Rick Astley – 50 (Sample: Angels On My Side)

You think I’m joking? I swear, this is serious. The man who for a while was one of the biggest internet memes, released a genuinely great album. I am not necessarily the biggest fan of pop music… but this shit is great. Astley’s vocals sound fantastic, even better than they did 30 years ago, and everything is overall very well composed. Really, it’s a great album.

Number 6: Shawn James – On the Shoulders of Giants (Sample: Hellhound)

To tell you the truth, I discovered Shawn James very recently. First time I ever heard one of his songs was through the “Last of Us Part II” trailer, which was released at the beginning of this this month. So I of course looked up the song used in the trailer and then began listening to more of what Shawn James had to offer and by god, he is awesome! His raw, smoky voice is great, and combined with some great instrumentals makes for some awesome music. And really, his 2016 album (which is the topic of this thing) is another win from him.

Number 5: Skillet – Unleashed (Sample: Feel Invincible)

I am not a very religious person. I’ve been baptized, I’ve gone through confirmation… but I am not particularly religious in general (my foul language should be a very clear clue). But I also go by the philosophy that you don’t have to be very relgious to appreciate good music that has a religious subtext. As long as the music sounds good and is well composed… then who gives a shit if it’s based in relgion. And that’s basically my way of justifying why I love Skillet, an American Christian rock band. I have been a fan of these guys for years now, and I was of course incredibly hyped about their new album “Unleashed” being released. And when it came out, I thought it was great. Not their best album, but it was still pretty great (Again, it’s on this list for a reason).

Number 4: Santana – Santana IV (Sample: Forgiveness)

I’ve been a fan of latino rock band Santana for quite some time, so seeing that they came out with a new album this year of course got me incredibly happy. Like with previous albums, it’s filled with some cool beats, some nice vibes, and Carlos Santana’s god damn guitar playing. Seriously, that man knows how to play a guitar like a boss. Really, his guitar playing is the main reason why I love the band. Yes, there are other great things too, but that guitar, man… it’s so amazing!

Number 3: Airbourne – Breakin’ Outta Hell (Sample: Breakin Outta Hell)

Sometimes you don’t need a deeper meaning or experimental instrumentals to make good music. Sometimes all you need is some passion and a guitar. And by that I mean, Airbourne is just a straight-up hard rock band that don’t seem to give two shits about what anyone thinks. They just play the music they love… hard rock (clearly inspired by AC/DC and a little bit of Judas Priest). And that’s what I love about these guys. They have over the past few years become one of my favorite bands of all time, and when their new album was announced… boy, was I hyped. And then it came out aaaaand it was fucking awesome!

Number 2: Joe Bonamassa – Blues of Desperation (Sample: Mountain Climbing)

And at the number 2 spot we find the latest (non-live) album from American blues musician Joe Bonamassa, who I didn’t know about until some time in fall of last year. And now he is one of my favorite artists of all time. And this new album by him is pretty damn great. From some of the slower ballads like “Drive”, to the fast stuff like “You left Me Nothin’ But the Bill and the Blues”, to the heavy and badass “Mountain Climbing”… all of it is so amazingly good! Or at least that’s what I think.

NUMBER 1: Metallica – Hardwired… To Self-Destruct (Sample: Hardwired)

If you were surprised by this, then you clearly don’t follow me on twitter (@TheMarckoguy) or you’re just very new here. I have talked about Metallica a whole bunch of times (at least… 5) on this blog, and I have tweeted about the band a few too many times before (I am not sorry). They are my second favorite band of all time (Number 1 is AC/DC), so I might have some slight bias with this placement. But that’s okay, because it’s my list and I can do whatever the hell I want to. But I have listened to this album a lot of times to try to get the feel of it and I came to the conclusion that I absolutely love it. It’s a great return to form for the band, and a real treat for long time fans of the band. It also feels great to have another Metallica album out, since the last one before this came out in 2008. So yeah… this is my favorite album of 2016.

What are your thoughts? What’s your favorite album of 2016? Leave any and all thoughts in the comments!
Have a good one and happy new year!

 

Great Music #4

Hi guys. Here again to share some great music (Because I can). This time I am sharing the beautiful (and tear-jerking) song “Tears in Heaven” by the masterful songwriter/musician Eric Clapton. He made the song as a tribute to his son who at a very young age died after falling from a very tall building. I love this song and I hope you do too.
Enjoy (the tears).

Movie Review: Lethal Weapon 4 (1998)

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Finally, we are here. The fourth and final part in this action movie franchise. Not that I had any planned reviewes for these. I really saw the first one pretty much on accident (a happy accident) and then the sequels have been sprinkled into my life at pure random. But now we are at last here, the last movie in this awesome franchise.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Lethal Weapon 4”.

Once again we get to follow the craziness of LAPD detectives Riggs (Mel Gibson) and Murtaugh (Danny Glover). And in this one they have to try to stop a deadly Chinese crime lord that is related in one way or another to immigrant smuggling and counterfeiting. Just like all the other movies, the premise is simple. And just like the sequels it is also executed in a pretty simple way. The first movie had surprising depth to it, but all sequels (including this one) stay really simple in style and execution. And while I don’t mind too much because of the fast pace and entertainment factor of the plot, it is sad that it didn’t feel a little more… deep. The only thing put in here that sort of raises the stakes is the fact that Lorna (Rene Russo) is pregnant in this movie, but that isn’t too prominent in the movie. But to sum it up, the plot is entertaining, but not really that great.

The chemistry between our two leads is just as great as ever. You know, despite it being six years since the third movie came out. So yeah, their chemistry is still great. And their performances are still great nothing else to say there. Also, I’m glad to see that newcomer Jet Li fits into teh plot perfectly and also gives a great performance as a really badass guy. We also get another newcomer in the form of Chris Rock who I can say was servicable at best. Look, I got nothing against him, I think he is overall a really funny guy, but he didn’t fit that perfectly in this movie. It is also a shame that Rene Russo isn’t the badass woman she was in “Lethal Weapon 3”, instead she is thrown to the side and pops up every now and then. Oh well, she at least gives a good performance whenever she’s in front of the camera. But I swear, if I ever have to listen to Joe Pesci (as Leo Getz) say “Okay” one more time, I will hurt something. Overall he was fine in the movie, but he was also annoying. This movie lost a little in character compared to the other ones, but it is still not bad.

Once again, the score was done by Michael Kamen, Eric Clapton and David Sanborn. And once again it is pretty fucking great. Perfectly creating tension for the action scenes, perfectly lighting the mood when the we need to chill out and jsut perfectly capturing every feeling/style it needs to capture. It is really a terrific score that we got here, but that is something that has stayed consistent throughout all of the movies.

I think it’s safe to say that if you give Richard Donner (R.I.P) a camera and a pretty big budget, he’s gonna make something great. “Lethal Waepon 4” from a technical standpoint is pretty amazing. The shots look great and everything is steady and nice. Which segues me perfectly into what I wanted to mention next which is the action. Yeah, it is as awesome as ever. Like I said, it is all very steady which is great because we actually get to see what’s going on. The action gets a lot better thanks to the inclusion of some martial arts in this one. The action is one of the aspects which bumps up “Lethal Weapon 4” quite the bit as a movie. Also, the comedy in the movie worked really well, I really did laugh at it a lot.

This movie has gotten some pretty mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 52% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 37/100. Roger Ebert gave the movie 2/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,6/10.

“Lethal Weapon 4” is pretty much everything I expected and wanted from a “Lethal Weapon” movie. A decent story, fun characters, great music, great directing & action. While two of the actors might be slightly annoying (Rock and Pesci), everyone else did a great job. I also can’t deny the fun I had with this movie. Time for my final score. I’m still too old for this shit. My final score for “Lethal Weapon 4” is an 8,54/10. I do think it’s worth buying.
Worth buying

My review of “Lethal Weapon 4” is now completed.

Despite this being a good movie, I still found a serious lack of Gibson-mullet.
tAjEJHH

Movie Review: Lethal Weapon 3 (1992)

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You might remember that I reviewed the first two “Lethal Weapon” movies a while back, you might also remember that I liked them quite a bit. Well now after several months, it is time to review the third one in the franchise! So… here we go!

Sirs and madams please stand back, because this is… “Lethal Weapon 3”.

Once again we follow LAPD sergeants Riggs (Mel Gibson) and Murtaugh (Danny Glover). Murtaugh only has a week until retirement, but that doesn’t stop him from getting dragged into aonther giant case, this time he and Riggs together with an internal affairs officer (Rene Russo) have to try to take down an arms dealer (Stuart Wilson) who used used to be an LAPD officer. And from that… chaos ensues. While the plot is really fun to follow I feel like it isn’t as interesting as the previous two movies. In this movie they focus less on character development and focus more on chases and explosions and extreme action. Don’t get me wrong, I love all of that shit, but it just isn’t as interesting as the previous movies since they had really good character development. Also, for some reason they decided to shoehorn in Leo Getz (Joe Pesci) into this movie. In the previous movie he was a fun character that was integrated into the plot in aa good way, but here he just feels forced.

I think it is pretty fucking obvious at this point that Mel Gibson and Danny Glover have excellent chemistry. In the first “Lethal Weapon” they were great together, in “Lethal Weapon 2” they were even better and in this it has reached it’s peak. Their chemistry in this movie is fantastic, you notice that these two actors have a lot of fun working together. Newcomer Rene Russo is also really good in the movie and have really good chemistry with our two heroes, especially Mel Gibson who she banters with excellently. And Joe Pesci as Leo Getz is fine, he just feels so shoehorned into this movie. And I swear to fucking god, if I have to hear him say “Okay” again, I will snap! But overall the characters in this movie are all good. Sure, the villain is not that great, but everyone else makes up for that.

Once again the soundtrack was done by Michael Kamen, Eric Clapton and David Sanborn. And once again it is great wit ha great mix of typical action movie songs, smooth jazz and some rock n roll. There were also two tracks made for the movie. One is called “It’s Probably Me” which was done by Eric Clapton and Sting, the second one was “Runaway Train” by Eric Clapton and Elton John. And both were great songs that fit the movie in different ways.

Okay, my research now gives my feelings about Leo Getz feeling shoehorned in some much needed evidence. Apparently he wasn’t even in the original script. All scenes he were in were written in after the script was completed. Why they had to put him in the movie, I do not know. But now I at least know why he felt forced. Moving on! Once again Richard Donner steps up as director after the two first ones. And once again he is triumphant at making the movie fast, fierce and really well-directed. The camera work is great and the action scenes are awesome as always.

This movie was received decently. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 56% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 36/100. Roger Ebert gave the movie 3/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,7/10.

“Lethal Weapon” has a plot that isn’t too interesting, a meh villain and a forced in Leo Getz. But it makes up for a fair amount of that with fun action, great characters, great music and great direction/camera work. Time for my final score. Jeff! Where’s the freaking envelope!? *Envelope flies into face* Ouch! I’m too old for this shit! My final score for “Lethal Weapon 3” is an 8,54/10. It is definitely worth buying.
Worth buying

“Lethal Weapon 3” is now reviewed.

You have the right to remain unconscious. Anything you say ain’t gonna be much.

 

Movie Review: Lethal Weapon 2 (1989)

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Sequels. Love them, hate them, don’t give a shit about them. There are many sides to how it can go for a sequel. Most times sequels can never live up to the original. But then we have a few gems that actually surpass the original like “Terminator 2” or “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”. Today we are taking a look at a sequel for a movie I review a few weeks back. Is it as good as the first or will it fall flat? Let’s have a look!

Cops and robbers… “Lethal Weapon 2”.

Riggs (Mel Gibson) and Murtaugh (Danny Glover) are back! Set one year(ish) after the first movie it follows our heroes as they have to protect someone who has been involved with some South African diplomats who are up to shady shit. This man they to protect is the eccentric and kinda rich Leo Getz (Joe Pesci). At the same time they have to find a way to stop these South African diplomats who use their diplomatic immunity as cover to carry on with their shady shit. Now while this story works for the movie I feel that it somehow is less inspired than the original one. It might be my skepticism against sequels in general, but it doesn’t have the same time of *boom* as the first one had. Although I did find this plot functional and entertaining.

To compensate for the not overly inspired story we have some great characters. The chemistry between Riggs and Murtaugh is just as good as last time, if not even better. The supporting characters are also great and fill their roles well. I can however see how some people would maybe get a little annoyed by the character of Leo Getz, but I didn’t mind him, he worked in my opinion. Sure, the villains aren’t as interesting as Gary Busey & friends from the first movie, but they do well for this movie.

Once again the soundtrack was done by composers Michael Kamen, Eric Clapton and David Sanborn. And once again it was good and fit the different parts of the movie. There was a good use of general orchestra like most action movies with great guitar work by Clapton and great saxophone pieces by Sanborn. I really have nothing special to say, the music was pretty much the same as the first movie (in style). And I like that music!

Richard Donner was back to direct this movie and once again he shows that he is a good director with good camera work and overall direction. The action was also just as good as in the first movie. It was fast-paced, visceral, thrilling and badass. And there is a part late in the movie (no spoilers) that I swear they made a reference to in “Grand Theft Auto Five”. There were jsut too many similarities that I couldn’t let it slip, it was too similar to not think about. You who have both seen the movie and played the game know what I am talking about.

This movie was pretty well-received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 83% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 70/100 (Sidenote: That is higher than what the first one got). Roger Ebert gave this movie 3,5/4 stars saying this;

“Lethal Weapon 2” is that rarity – a sequel with most of the same qualities as the original.

And on imdb.com it has a 7,2/10. The movie was also nominated for 1 Oscar in the category of Best sound effects editing. 

“Lethal Weapon 2” is entertaining, I will not deny that. I feel however though that the story was slightly less inspired (even if it worked) and that the villains weren’t as intertesting as in the first one. However the action is still great, thechemistry between the leads I would call even better than the first one and the music is still good. So time for my final score. *Explosion* My final score for “Lethal Weapon 2” is an 8,76/10. It is worth buying.
betala-kassa-butik

“Lethal Weapon 2” is now reviewed.

Whatever you need, Leo gets!

 

Movie Review: Lethal Weapon (1987)

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Every once in a while I like to mix things up when it comes to my movie watching. For the most part I watch dramas or sci-fi with a pretty good amount of brain. But sometimes I just have to sit down and watch something with little brain and much awesome. And for that I go to 80’s and 90’s action movies. They usually have the right amount of awesome (and perhaps some cheese) that it just keeps me entertained. Today we are taking a look at one such movie… although it does have moe substance than you’d expect.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Lethal Weapon”.

This movie is set in Los Angeles and follows Detective Roger Murtaugh (Danny Glover) who just turned 50 (Sidenote: He is too old for this shit). He gets forced to work together with suicidal cop Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson) to find out who murdered the daughter of a friend of Murtaugh’s. They also have to go stop a gang of drug smugglers led by a man named Joshua (Gary Busey). Simple premise… I love it. Action movies don’t need a lot of story since they pad it out with a bunch of cool and badass situations. “Lethal Weapon” is such a movie. I do like however that they add layers to the story with backstories to the characters which we’ll get to in 3… 2… 1…

The characters! They are all pretty great. They all have motivations for what they’re doing. Okay, fine the villain (Busey) simply does his shit to be the bad guy of the movie. But he does it so well because he is Gary Frickin’ Busey. Murtaugh is basically just a family man/cop who does his job (and is too old for this shit). But he works because he acts like a normal human being should(ish). But Riggs… Martin Fucking Riggs is awesome. First off, Gibson got great chemistry with Danny Glover and fits the character perfectly. After the death of his wife he is on the verge of suicide (but never commits said suicide). He is also awesome in a lot of scenes because he is pretty much out of his mind. He is crazy and I love that, it gives great contrast to Glover’s straight up family man. Overall the characters in the movie are great.

The soundtack is done by a nice mix of people. The score was done by Michael Kamen (Highlander, Die Hard). The saxophone part of Murtaugh’s theme was done by David Sanborn. But the most interesting part (for me at least) was who did the guitar playing for Riggs’ theme. It was none other than the one and only Eric Clapton. It all comes together for a nice action movie score.

The shots in this movie are truly great (for the time at least) and the cinematography is great. Sure, it isn’t as good as something by Roger Deakins, but it sure as hell looks great. A fun fact about this movie is that it was written by Shane Black (Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang, Iron Man 3). I don’t know why it’s fun, I just do. Also, this is technically a christmas movie since it’s set around christmas… so that’s fun. The action in the movie is also good. Good ol’ classic 80’s action.

This is a movie that has been really well-received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 84% rating with a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a 67/100. Roger Ebert also seemed to like it since he gave it 4/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a 7,6/10. “Lethal Weapon” was also nominated for 1 Oscar in the category of Best Sound.

“Lethal Weapon” is an action classic. It got a good story, good characters with perfect chemistry between Gibson and Glover, the score is great and the action is really good as well. Now for the final score. Where’s the envelope? No, Riggs… you can’t kill yourself with that… give it here! My final score for “Lethal Weapon” is a 9,65/10 which of course gives it the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”
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Review of “Lethal Weapon” is completed.

I’m too old for this shit…