Great Music #34

Well hello there, friends. Time for the first Great Music piece of 2020. Are y’all excited? I know I am.

So to kick off a new year of me obnoxiously telling you all what songs I like, I might as well ease y’all into it. And by ease you into it I don’t mean some soft, radio-friendly ballad. No, but ease into it I mean that we take a song from a band that everyone knows. Iron fucking Maiden.

I adore Iron Maiden, they’re one of my favorite bands, having made a ton of songs I love. So there were a lot of options for me to choose from. But like I said, to ease us into a new year of these posts, I thought I’d go with what could be considered their most accessible song… “Wasted Years”. It’s a song about how fleeting time can be. It’s something we all can relate to on some level, which is partly what could make it one of the band’s more accessible songs for anyone that hasn’t really given the band much of a shot. The structure of the verses and chorus is also the closest the band has ever really gotten to a typical power ballad sound, without fully sacrificing their own sound in the process. Bruce Dickinson gets some really good vocal sections, Steve Harris still of course has some damn fine bass licks, and the guitar work is as good as it’s ever been. Guitarist Adrian Smith did a wonderful job in writing this song, creating what might be my favorite tune from the band… well, it’s either this or “Run to the Hills”, I kind of go back and forth from day to day which I like more. Either way, “Wasted Years” is a wonderful song.

Have a good one and enjoy.

My Favorite Albums of 2019

Well howdy there, ladies and gents, I hope you’re all doing great. It’s that time of year again. That time when I go over my favorite albums from the year that’s recently passed. It’s a yearly tradition on this blog, and I have no intention of stopping it yet. So, let’s go over some rules first.

Rule 1: Please keep it civil. These are my picks. If you don’t agree with them, that’s fine. If you want to have a discussion about good music from last year, then I’m very much open to it. All I ask is that you keep it civil. Be kind and respectful.

Rule 2: No movie soundtracks/scores. I love listen to movie music, but if I included any of those albums, this list would go on for days, and no one has time or patience for that.

Rule 3: No “Greatest Hits” albums. I think that explains itself, no compilations of a band’s best songs. That’d be cheating.

That should about cover it. Now, without further ado.. my favorite albums of 2019!

Number 15: Rival Sons – Feral Roots (Sample: Do Your Worst)

Kicking off the bottom of the list (bottom does not equal bad, just means least awesome) is the latest release from Californian rock band Rival Sons. These dudes have a very old school approach to their style that I appreciate, since good ol’ fashioned hard rock doesn’t dominate the airwaves as much as it once did. So it’s good to hear a band keeping that sound alive. It’s a fun album.

Number 14: Dream Theater – Distance Over Time (Sample: Untethered Angel)

At number 14 we got the latest release from long running  prog-metal band Dream Theater. It’s a slightly more stripped back and focused affair than some of DT’s other releases… but that doesn’t stop it from being a fun, epic, and frankly fun album to listen to. It doesn’t really do much to seem like something new in the band’s discography, but it also doesn’t need to, because it’s still a badass album.

Number 13: Whiskey Myers – Whiskey Myers (Sample: Die Rockin’)

At number 13 we find the latest release from Whiskey Myers, an American country/southern rock band from Texas. I actually discovered them earlier in 2019 when I heard two of their older songs in an episode of “Yellowstone”. Obviously liking what I heard, I of course started checking out the band more (like their previous album/social media). And that’s when I found out they were releasing a new album, which had me interested. And when I listened to it… well, the inclusion of it on this list should be a dead giveaway as to my feelings on it. The band is like a heavier version of Lynyrd Skynyrd, and I really like that sound, which is why this is on the list.

Number 12: Beth Hart – War in My Mind (Sample: Bad Woman Blues)

Next up we have the new release from American blues singer Beth Hart. In this release, Beth strikes a nice balance between blues, funk, and soul to create a sound that is simply magical. I’ve enjoyed Hart’s music for a few years, and this album doesn’t disappoint at all, it is a blast to listen to.

Number 11: Phil Campbell – Old Lions Still Roar (Sample: Rocking Chair)

Coming in at number 11 we have the solo album debut of former Motörhead guitarist Phil Campbell. Even with the experience as guitarist in one of the greatest metal bands of all time, you never know how well your solo stuff might turn out. But Campbell (along with his many guest acts) really knocked it out of the park. Some are more stripped back affairs like “Rocking Chair”, but then you also got tracks like “Faith in Fire”. But one thing one notices throughout it all is that Campbell is quite contemplative in his tunes, which makes for a rock album that pleases both poetically and in terms of being fun to listen to.

Number 10: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Ghosteen (Sample: Bright Horses)

Now we’re getting into the meat and p’taters of this list, the top ten. And kicking off this section is “Ghosteen”, the new release from Australian artist Nick Cave, and his band, The Bad Seeds. It’s a direct follow-up to their previous album, “Skeleton Tree” (which also made it to my best of the year list when it came out). In that album, there were moments where Cave was dealing with the recent death of his son, and Ghosteen is him fully embracing that dark and contemplative process, making for a beautiful and haunting album that, while not something I’d put on at any time, still had a lasting effect on me thanks to its beautiful production, and Cave’s soulful and pained vocals.

Number 9: Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown – Truth and Lies (Sample: Shock & Awe)

At number 9 we have “Truth and Lies”, the new album from blues-inspired hard rock act Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown. If you like heavy blues-rock, then this should be right up your alley. I certainly like that sound, and I really like this album, it’s cool.

Number 8: Lana Del Rey – Norman Fucking Rockwell! (Sample: Norman fucking Rockwell)

Every year there’s usually at least one album that sneaks onto my list that I didn’t expect in the fucking slightest. And this time, it’s the latest release from American pop singer Lana Del Rey. It’s a soulful and cleverly written album which features Lana discussing some interesting stuff, all while a beautiful strings and piano-based production backs her up. And it’s all great, making for an enjoyable trip that I wouldn’t mind listening to again.

Number 7: Neil Young with Crazy Horse – Colorado (Sample: Olden Days)

More like Neil Old, am I right? Joking aside, how the fuck is Neil Young still releasing good music. Sure, his voice isn’t quite what it once was. But the fact that the songwriting still hits me and his voice still conveying every emotion perfectly is testament to his skill. Combine that with his first teamup with Crazy Horse since 2012, and we got a really well produced album that finds Young still knows how to reach into my heart and make me think.

Number 6: Bruce Springsteen – Western Stars (Sample: Western Stars)

From one old legend to another, at number 6 we have the latest release from The Boss himself, Bruce god damn Springsteen. And he hasn’t lost his touch yet, “Western Stars” is a beautiful country/soft rock album that shows Springsteen at his strongest once again. I don’t know what else to say here, Bruce Springsteen making good music shouldn’t really be much of a surprise to anyone.

Number 5: Airbourne – Boneshaker (Sample: Burnout the Nitro)

From nice and soulful, to high octane rock n roll. This was seriously one of, if not my most anticipated album of the year. I am a huge fan of this band and their AC/DC-esque sound. A new Airbourne release is always fun to listen to, because they just make some badass rock n roll. When I first listened to it, I wasn’t the biggest fan of this one. I thought it was fine, not making much of an impact. But further listens have made me appreciate it more. It’s not groundbreaking, but it’s certainly… a boneshaker.

Number 4: The Highwomen – The Highwomen (Sample: Redesigning Women)

At number 4 we have a self-titled album from all-lady country band The Highwomen. Sound-wise, it’s a classic country sound, showing that “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. Where it stands out however is in the lyrical department, making some interesting commentary on society and women’s role in it, which I find quite fascinating and engaging, especially when paired with the beautiful country composition.

Number 3: Leonard Cohen – Thanks for the Dance (Sample: Thanks for the Dance)

We’re getting into the nitty-gritty now, y’all. In the bronze position, we find the new release from the late, great Leonard Cohen, which he of course recorded before his passing in 2016. Produced by Cohen’s son, Adam, this is a beautiful, emotionally charged, and soulful experience that sees Cohen at his finest. It’s a nice posthumous send-off for one of the greatest songwriters ever.

Number 2: King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – Infest the Rat’s Nest (Sample: Planet B)

Well, this is certainly a leap in genres. In second place is the newest release from Australian rock band King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard (possibly the greatest band name ever). And it’s an old school thrash metal album, hearkening back to mid-80s Metallica or Slayer, while still putting in some minor flourishes of their own to make it stand out. And good god damn, I am in love with this album. I only heard it for the first time very recently, and yet it has made quite an impact for me. Partly because of the interesting storytelling concepts throughout the songs, but mainly because I am a big fan of old school thrash metal, and this is one of the finest takes on that genre.

NUMBER 1: Gangstagrass – Pocket Full of Fire (Sample: You Can Never Go Home Again)

In previous years, I’ve had a rule against including live concert albums. But I decided to loosen that rule this year because 1, this my blog (so I can do whatever I want). And 2, I really really really wanted to mention this. What we have here is American hip-hop/bluegrass band (yes, that mix does work) Gangstagrass at various live venues, playing their songs, and making it all sound fantastic. Seriously, these are some of the best and most head-bobbing recordings I’ve heard of these songs. So yeah, my number 1 is technically cheating my own rules, but I also don’t care, because great music transcends everything.

So those were my favorite albums of 2019. But now I’d love to hear from your guys, what are some of your favorites? Let me know in the comments.
Have a good one.

Great Music #33

Well howdy, ladies and gents. You all doing okay? Anyway, time for me to ramble on once again about music I like. Which I last did in… September. I’m getting better at keeping semi-regular intervals with this series, it seems. Oh well, let’s chat about a tune.

The year is 1967. A group of people come together to form a band. This band was called Soft White Underbelly. This name wouldn’t last too long however, as in 1971 they would change their name into what we know them as today… Blue Öyster Cult. Best known for their legendary super hit “Don’t Fear the Reaper”, from the band’s 1976 album “Agents of Fortune”, the band went on to become fucking huge in the rock/metal scene. But today we’re not talking about that one song that needed more cowbell. We’re talking about an earlier track of theirs. It’s the final track from their 1974 album, “Secret Treaties”. This is “Astronomy”.
The song opens with a little piano piece that makes the listener go “Hmm, what’s this?”. It’s slightly mysterious. Then it gets more mysterious. Then Eric Bloom opens his mouth and starts telling a tale… and by the end, it has given us one of the band’s best songs. Though that maybe doesn’t say a lot considering how many great songs they have. But if it wasn’t for “Don’t Fear the Reaper”, then “Astronomy” would be my favorite song by Blue Öyster Cult. From Bloom’s engaging vocals, to the eclectic instrumentation, to the absolutely perfect structure and pacing. The song is a beautiful crescendo, starting with that simple and mystic opening, to a somewhat bombastic, yet dramatic-sounding finale to cap off the album. Again, this is my favorite song from the band… if you discount the cowbell song.

What are your thoughts on “Astronomy”? And what’s your favorite Blue Öyster Cult song that isn’t “Don’t Fear the Reaper”? Leave any and all thoughts in the comments.
Have a good one and enjoy.

Great Music #31

Well hello there, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome back to Great Music, the series where I just talk about music I like. Last time we did this was back in April. I’m not good at keeping up a consistent release pace for these posts. Oh well. Here we go.

So what’s on the menu this time? Bit of old school rock? Something from a famous movie? Nah, neither. This is a bit more… revolutionary (you’ll know why in a bit). Let’s first get something god damn straight: I don’t like nazis, they’re the fucking worst, get them the hell out. But since those sons of bitches don’t seem to go away any time soon, at least I can imagine it and get some catharsis from it… thanks to “Wolfenstein”. First released in 1981, “Castle Wolfenstein” was a stealth game with some shooting elements. Then in 1992 it saw a reboot of sorts with “Wolfenstein 3D”, a revolutionary (no, that’s not the part I meant earlier) game that really brought the first person shooter to the mainstream. Cut to 22 years and god knows how many games later, and we get “Wolfenstein: The New Order”, another reboot of sorts that shared some stylistic and thematic elements with “The Man in the High Castle” and “Inglourious Basterds”. That game was a huge hit among fans and critics (yours truly included). Then three years later, in 2017 we get the sequel, “Wolfenstein: The New Colossus”, a not quite as good, but still fairly enjoyable action game with some standout moments and characters. Now, the music of “The New Order” was good, but you can still tell that it played it a little bit safe, with composer Mick Gordon testing the waters a bit. After then making the acclaimed music for the 2016 reboot of “Doom”, you could tell that he had found his style and wouldn’t shy away from exploiting it like a motherfucker. Cut to “New Colossus”, where he (along with co-composer Martin Stig Andersen) brought his fucking A-game and gave us some of the best video game music of all time. I could’ve talked about any track from the OST and been just as happy, but I felt like I needed to pick one of the more unique tracks from it to truly justify this post. And that’s why I chose “Horton Hears a Revolution” (THERE IT IS!).

In the game, you play as American resistance fighter William Joseph “B.J.” Blazkowicz (voiced by Brian Bloom) as he tries to fight back against the nazi regime which had taken over the world in 1946, and still rules with an iron cross 14 years later. But he can’t do this alone, he has to gather allies. And at a point in the game he travels to New Orleans to try to recruit a resistance group led by southern preacher Horton Boone (voiced by Christopher Heyerdahl). And as he comes to their base, they start discussing the situation they’re in, which is accompanied by a bit of nice clarinet jazz… and Mick Gordon’s heavier-than-metal guitars and drums. You see, Mick likes to approach his compositions a bit differently compared to your John Williams or Michael Giacchinos of the world. Instead of the typical orchestrations of brass and woodwind, this crazy son of a bitch uses instruments typically found in heavy metal bands (and the occasional synth for good measure). It creates a heavy sound that fits the often satirical but still brutal style of the story and writing. And the way it is used to coincide with the jazzy clarinet is absolutely frickin’ wonderful, creating a mesmerizing chaos that honestly just takes my breath away every time I hear it, while also making me want to start a revolution against some nazi assholes.

Have a good one and enjoy.

My Favorite Albums of 2018

Hello there, ladies and gentlemen, it’s that time of year again. The time when I share with you some of my favorite albums of the year that recently ended. Took a little longer than usually this time, as I slacked a bit throughout 2018 in listening to a lot of new albums. But now we’re here. And I’m excited to start writing, this is one of my favorite things to do each year. Just a few stipulations between us.

Rule number 1: Please be nice. If you don’t agree with my picks, that is fine, I encourage discussion. Just don’t be a dick about it.

Rule number 2: I am not including any film scores/soundtracks, as that would make this list go on for way too long. Also, this is just to celebrate the music in its own right, and not have it clouded by any positive cinematic experiences.

Rule number 3: I don’t do EPs or singles. This is for those fully referred to as ALBUMS. So if there’s an EP that you liked that isn’t here, now you know why.

That should be it. Though I will also give an honorable mention to “Campfire” by Kasey Chambers and The Fireside Disciples. The few tracks I’ve heard from that album are incredible, but due to some licensing bullshit, I can’t listen to the full album since I’m not in Australia… and importing is too pricey, so I’m not gonna hear it anytime soon. But I guess an honorable mention is fine.

Anyway, with all that out of the way, now is the time for me to share my favorite albums of 2018!

Number 13: Luke Westaway – Short Songs With Long Titles (Sample: I Took a Week Off Work and My Brain Didn’t Know What to Do With That, Clearly).

Kicking off this list is an album with a very self-explanatory title. From Luke Westaway, most known for his hosting gig on the OutsideXtra youtube channel, comes “Short Songs With Long Titles” an album all about short songs with long titles. It’s a charming little thing that just puts a smile on my face. It’s not musically complex, it’s not emotionally charged… it’s just a guy having a bit of fun, and that is quite infectious, for me at least.

Number 12: Ry Cooder – The Prodigal Son (Sample: The Prodigal Son).

Next up is “The Prodigal Son”, the latest album from musician Ry Cooder. It has an interesting sound in how it blends a bit of rock and folk and blues and a tiny bit of country. And it blends together to make something really cool that I enjoy listening to.

Number 11: Kacey Musgraves – Golder Hour (Sample: Slow Burn).

At number 11 we have the latest release from pop/country artist Kacey Musgraves. When I first heard of Musgraves I dismissed her as another pop artist (like an asshole). But then later I started hearing murmurs of her actually being a country artist, which had me intrigued. And I decided to give her newest release a chance. And I’m glad I did, because it’s pretty damn good (evidenced by its inclusion here).

Number 10: Buddy Guy – The Blues is Alive and Well (Sample: A Few Good Years).

I think I’ve made it clear on this blog a few times that I’m a fan of blues. So the fact that such an old school blues album can be released in 2018 just makes me happy. Hell, that album title just summarizes my thoughts perfectly. The blues is indeed alive and well.

Number 9: Florence + The Machine – High as Hope (Sample: 100 Years)

First single digit entry is the latest from alt-rock/pop outfit Florence and The Machine (that “and” often stylized as a +). And with this, Florence Welch (who fronts the band) lays herself bare, talking about pain, suffering, sadness, and other such fun subjects. I already enjoyed the band to a certain extent, and this album is another reason for me to do so.

Number 8: Greta Van Fleet – Anthem of the Peaceful Army (Sample: Lover, Leaver).

At number 8 we have the latest release from legendary rock band Led Zeppelin. *Smack* Ouch, okay, fine, I’ll be serious… dick. So yeah, it’s impossible to talk about Greta Van Fleet without mentioning their similarity to Led Zep. I mean, Josh Kiszka’s voice is a dead ringer for a young Robert Plant. Anyway, similarities to Markus’ favorite bands aside, how does it stack up on its own as a rock album? It’s great (the inclusion on the list should’ve been a dead giveaway). It’s great to hear this kind of old school rock still being played in our current days. And who can complain about hearing a bit of new Led Zep material in 2018/2019? *Smack*.

Number 7: Shemekia Copeland – American’s Child (Sample: Ain’t Got Time For Hate).

Buddy Guy said it. Blues is alive and well. Copeland comments on a lot of current issues within the United States, and her message comes through beautifully through her strong vocals, and use of the blues genre. Blues is great for telling genres, so using it to send a message about some of the fucked up stuff going on in the world is a brilliant idea. Plus, it’s just a damn solid listen overall.

Number 6: Beth Hart & Joe Bonamassa – Black Coffee (Sample: Give it Everything You Got).

Man, 2018 was one hell of a year for blues. Even better is that this is a collab by one of the best duo’s in the genre. Hart and Bonamassa have done a couple albums before that I really liked, so I was already excited to hear another one from them… and man, it did not disappoint. Hard-hitting instruments, Hart’s fierce voice, and an overall sense of the various crew members’ skill makes this one hell of a good time.

Number 5: Steve Perry – Traces (Sample: No Erasin’).

Man, was this the biggest surprise release of 2018. I was just chilling out and browsing twitter a bit, and suddenly I just see “Journey’s Steve Perry to release new album in a couple days”, which of course had me reacting like “Fucking what?”. Perry’s been relatively quiet on the musical front since leaving Journey in 1998. Then suddenly 20 years later he releases a new solo album… and it’s great? Talk about one of the most pleasant surprises in recent years. But yeah, if you like a lot of his old Journey stuff, you’ll most likely enjoy “Traces” too.

Number 4: Father John Misty – God’s Favorite Customer (Sample: Hangout at the Gallows). 

“If Radiohead had sex with The Beatles” a youtube comment described this song. It’s not entirely wrong. I can certainly hear a little bit of that in Misty’s sound, though I also think he’s still created something entirely his own within the sort of indie/folk/alt-rock sounds that he clearly resides within. His voice, the instrumentals, and the lyrics all make for one really great album.

Number 3: Joe Satriani – What Happens Next (Sample: Energy).

Rock and motherfucking roll. Coming in with a bronze medal, we have the latest release from acclaimed rock guitarist Joe Satriani. I’ve been a fan of his for years, so I was of course excited for his new album which was an early 2018 release, and I was listening on day 1. And man, it was so badass. Badass solos, slick licks, and and Satriani’s overall sense of how to keep purely instrumental songs fresh and unique makes it one of the best of the year. Plus, the background work by Chad Smith and Glenn Hughes gives it an extra edge too.

Number 2: Judas Priest – Firepower (Sample: Firepower).

Wow, was the inclusion of this quite surprising. Bands that have been working for as long as Judas Priest shouldn’t sound so good so far into their lifetime. And when I first heard the album, I kinda dismissed it as another half-decent, fairly catchy, pretty well done metal album. But since then it’s really grown on me, and I have realized just how good it is. “Firepower” is as old school as metal gets, and I’d say that it might be the band’s best since “Painkiller”, maybe even since “British Steel”. Like, what the fuck, this is way better than it has any right to be. Oh well, I’m not gonna complain about a bit of awesome music.

Number 1: Joe Bonamassa – Redemption (Sample: Redemption).

Anybody who knows me should not be surprised by this. I’ve said so many times on this blog, on twitter, and in real life how much I adore Bonamassa’s music. And with “Redemption” he has once again given us a musically impressive, catchy, and overall solid blues-rock album. His vocals are the best we’ve heard from him, and the guitar work is still absolutely stunning. Bonamassa is one of the most hard working musicians out there, constantly touring and putting out content and just overall kicking musical ass. “Redemption” is my favorite album of 2018.

So those were my favorite albums of 2018. But now I wanna hear from you guys, what have been some of your favorite albums of last year? Either leave a comment or make a blog post of your own as a response to this, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Have a good one.

My Top 20 Favorite Albums of 2017

Ladies and gentlemen, it is once again time for me to ramble on about music. To be more specific, it’s time to once again talk about my favorite albums of the recently ended year. 2017 as a year in general wasn’t great. Terror attacks, a less than desirable person becomes president of the United States, people die, people turn out to be sexually assaulting scumbags… there’s been a fuckload of horrible stuff happening in the year. But it has had some bright spots. Mainly in the world of entertainment. We’ve seen some great movies, shows, and games be released over the year. And the topic we’re talking about today is of course no exception to that. So now we’re here to talk about my favorites of the year. Now, there will of course be albums that I missed out on and might discover at a later date, but I don’t exactly have the time or patience to go through every album released just for the sake of this list. So let’s get into it. Some rules first.

Rule #1: This is my list. If you don’t agree with it, then you shouldn’t complain about it. Go make your own damn list. These are my choices.

Rule #2: I will not include any soundtracks/original scores here. This list is all about the albums put out by various bands/artists during the year. So you won’t really see “Baby Driver” or “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” or “Blade Runner 2049” on this list.

Rule #3: Only full-on albums. No EP’s or singles. The only reason why I’m including this rule is because an EP is technically not an album… it’s more like multiple singles. Like a taste of an album. So while I loved Greta Van Fleet’s “From the Fires”, it will not make an appearance on this list. But I do recommend it… it’s awesome.

Rule #4: No live concert albums. Those are not normal album releases. And they often contain older songs from the artists as well. Live concert albums are cool, but they won’t be on this list.

That should cover it. Here we go. These are my top 20 albums of 2017.

Number 20: Pink – Beautiful Trauma (Sample: What About Us)

The first entry on this list is the latest from pop singer Pink. I’m a huge fan of Pink and her music, which might come as a surprised to some of you due to my heavily publicized love of rock and metal. But I do like her. Out of all the mainstream pop artists out there these days, she somehow manages to appeal to me. Maybe it’s the devil-may-care attitude she portrays at times, maybe it’s that voice of hers, maybe it’s the lyrics, maybe it’s the structure of the songs… or maybe it’s a blend of all. And while this isn’t her greatest outing, it’s still a damn fine album.

Number 19: Queens of the Stone Age – Villains (Sample: The Way You Used To Do)

Number 19 is the seventh album from modern-ish rock band Queens of the Stone Age. And it’s good. Not much else I can say about it. It’s another Queens of the Stone Age album. Has distorted guitars, interesting vocals… it’s the stuff you can expect from these guys. It’s a good album. NEXT!

Number 18: Alice Cooper – Paranormal (Sample: Paranoiac Personality)

In this spot we have the newest album from legendary rock artist Alice Cooper. There are fast songs, there are songs with creepy things in them, there’s fun to be had… basically it’s Alice Cooper doing old school Alice Cooper with enough tweaks to make it stand out a little bit. I like Alice Cooper. Which means I like this. It’s a good album. Good ol’ fashioned rock a la Cooper.

Number 17: Neil Young & Promise of the Real – The Visitor (Sample: Already Great)

Neil Young. Musician. Legend. Canadian. In this album we see him collaborating with American rock band Promise of the Real to bring us a cool, ear-pleasing album filled with social commentary. Hell, the sample track I used for this is a jab at Trump’s “Make America Great Again”. It’s a timely album and another solid entry from one of the greatest musicians of all time.

Number 16: Robert Finley – Goin’ Platinum! (Sample: Get It While You Can)

The number 16 spot goes to the newest release from blues/soul singer Robert Finley. It’s a really cool album that shows how you’re never too old to release a fun and asskicking album. Sure, that was more the point of his previous album “Age Don’t Mean a Thing”, but I think it could apply to his newest album as well. It’s filled with fun tunes drenched in old school blues and soul, giving it a unique vibe that you never really hear these days. And that voice of his is just so cool. ’tis a damn good album

Number 15: Samantha Fish – Chills & Fever (Sample: Chills & Fever)

At number 15 we have an album from female blues musician Samantha Fish. Admittedly it is less blues-heavy than her previous albums, leaning more on soul and jazz. But it still kind of works, since the songs are still catchy and a lot of fun to listen to. And we do get some of her guitar playing on the album. She also has a really cool voice that I just love listening to.

Number 14: Gotthard – Silver (Sample: Tequila Symphony No. 5)

Here we have the latest release from Swiss hard rock band Gotthard. And while they don’t do anything outside of their comfort zone, what they do here is still great. Instead of being jacks of all trades, they aim to instead focus on one thing they’re good at and just do that. And I love that about this album… it’s just Gotthard being Gotthard. It’s great.

Number 13: Deep Purple – inFinite (Sample: Time For Bedlam)

From the band behind “Smoke on the Water”, “Highway Star”, “Perfect Strangers”, and many more classics comes a new hard rock album… and it’s good. These old men still got it. It’s definitely not the band’s best album (“Machine Head” still holds that crown), but it’s still a good return to form for them. It’s a good rock album.

Number 12: Otis Taylor – Fantasizing About Being Black (Sample: Twelve String Mile)

At number 12 we have the latest from blues musician Otis Taylor. It’s a very raw album with some cool and damn interesting tracks. Combine that with Taylor’s voice and you get some damn fine music. It’s about some serious and interesting subjects, mainly civil rights and such. And hearing those things sung by this voice makes it almost heartbreaking without actually feeling too emotional or pander-y. It’s a damn good album.

Number 11: Sons of Apollo – Psychotic Symphony (Sample: Signs of the Time)

Halfway through the list and we’re talking a look at the debut album from American supergroup Sons of Apollo. Consisting of people who’ve played with/in/for all kinds of cool artists/bands, this supergroup is based heavily in prog-metal, and it’s honestly pretty awesome. It’s heavy, but it never loses sight of melody or meaning. It’s actually quite impressive. But I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised when you have that kinds of cool lineup.

Number 10: Body Count – Bloodlust (Sample: No Lives Matter)

Starting the top half of this list is the latest album from rap-metal band Body Count, led by rapper/actor Ice-T (Yes, really). When I first heard about them around mid-2017 I had a hard time believing it and even kind of laughed at it. But then I looked them up and listened to their songs (this album in particular)… and I really like them. While this kind of music seems like it would only be about killing people and such, that isn’t quite it. They have shit to say about society and the law and other such things. They’re like a modern equivalent to Rage Against the Machine (which is ironic considering Prophets of Rage exists). But they talk a lot about how people (especially black people) get totally fucked over in society. And it’s true, it does happen. And this album explores such themes very well. That said, they also have a cover of Slayer’s “Raining Blood” which I think they included just for fun.

Number 9: Samantha Fish – Belle of the West (Sample: Blood in the Water)

Surprise, an artist appeared twice on this list! Not gonna lie, I’m kind of surprised as well since most artists tend to only release one solo album at a time. But in 2017 Fish was very active. First “Chills & Fever”, then some touring, then “Belle of the West”. And this is definitely a more blues-y album than “Chills & Fever”, but it also takes a couple cues from country/western. And it’s a damn cool album. I really dig it.

Number 8: Kasey Chambers – Dragonfly (Sample: Ain’t No Little Girl)

The number 8 spot goes to Australian country/pop singer Kasey Chambers. The album is a ride that will take you through several emotions. You won’t necessarily feel all of them, but they are all part of the songs. It has a decent amount of themes going through it, and the instruments combined with Kasey’s amazing voice makes for a great album.

Number 7: Rise Against – Wolves (Sample: House on Fire)

At number 7 we have the latest from punk/rock/metal band Rise Against, a band that always has deeper meaning behind their songs. I’ve been a big fan of them for years, and while it’s not their best album, “Wolves” still didn’t disappoint. It’s another awesome album filled with great instrumentals, engaging lyrics, and Tim McIlrath’s awesome voice. It’s a great album.

Number 6: Blacktop Mojo – Burn the Ships (Sample: Dream On)

At number 6 we have an album from a hard rock band that I had never heard about until late 2017. I was just cruising around youtube, listening to music. Then I saw this cover of “Dream On” in my suggestions and I clicked it and I loved it. So I decided to check the band out which led to this album and I love it. It’s great. It’s exactly what I want in a good hard rock album. Great instrumentals, great vocals, interesting structure… it’s just really cool.

Number 5: Trombone Shorty – Parking Lot Symphony (Sample: It Ain’t No Use)

We’re in the top 5 now. And kicking this part off is this great fucking album from Trombone Shorty. It’s a cool album that takes a whole bunch of genres and uses them to make great songs. There’s hip hop, jazz, soul, R’n’B, and more. All while you have some nice brass going through it all. And it’s just one of the coolest and most unique albums of 2017 in that way. It’s just got so much energy and style that I can’t help but kind of love it.

Number 4: Brad Paisley – Love and War (Sample: Love and War)

At number 4 we find the latest album from country artist Brad Paisley, AKA my favorite country artist. And on this he sings about love, parties, soldiers not necessarily being treated as well as they should… yeah, it’s a great album. And the overall quality would probably not matter much in the long run as I would’ve put it on this list purely because of my love for Paisley. But since it is as great as it is, I could happily put it high up on the list without any “guilt”. It’s also cool to have a bunch of other famous artists featured in various tracks throughout the album, such as John Fogerty and Mick Jagger. It’s another win for Paisley.

Number 3: Robert Plant – Carry Fire (Sample: Carry Fire)

On third place on this list we find the newest solo album from former Led Zeppelin singer Robert Plant. And here you won’t find any of his classic rock n roll antics, oh no. This is a much more reserved Plant. Not saying it’s as reserved and laid back as Mojave 3, but it’s quite reserved compared to his old Zeppelin days. This is a Plant that has taken musical inspiration from several different cultures in this world to combine them and create some really memorable and fantastic songs. This is truly a fantastic album

Number 2: Styx – The Mission (Sample: Gone Gone Gone)

On the penultimate spot we find the latest release from ye olde rock band Styx. And while some of their older stuff could be hit or miss, with entire albums being kind of inconsistent, this is an album that I find myself listening to quite often. While not the most complex album in the world, it’s still a lot of fun to listen to. And it’s also fun to hear that Styx still got it, almost even being better than ever. I also love the space travel concept of the album. I love space and they made some exciting songs about it.

NUMBER 1: Neil Young – Hitchhiker (Sample: Hitchhiker)

Taking the top spot on this list is “Hitchhiker”, the newest solo album from Neil Young. Not only is the album fucking masterful, containing some emotionally charged songs, but it also has an interesting story to it. This was originally recorded in 1976, but for some reason was never released… until 2017. So in some ways I could technically be cheating since it was made in the 70s. But my counterargument is that is wasn’t actually released until 2017. So it’s a 2017 album. And it’s amazing. And that’s why it’s my favorite album of 2017.

So those were my favorite albums of 2017. Now I’d like to hear from you. Did you have any favorite albums from the year that I didn’t mention here? Did you like any of the ones I mentioned? I’d really like to hear what you guys think.
Have a good one.

Great Music #24

Hi there! I’m back to talk about some music I like. So here we go.

So the song I’ve picked today is a metal one. It’s “Confusion” by Metallica, a band I’ve praised about six billion times on this blog and on social media and in real life. But I can’t help it, they jsut make so much awesome stuff. And I have two reasons why I’ve chosen “Confusion” for today. Number 1: It’s a really good song by one of my favorite bands. Two: I want to talk about the music video. Let’s start with the story of this thing. “Confusion” is a song about a soldier who comes home from war and gets an average job and then these two worlds start blurring together because this person has PTSD. Metallica have never eschewed from having deep and serious themes in their song, so this is nothing new. What is really interesting here is the video. Sure, it’s basically just a video version of the song, that’s been done millions of times before. What’s so special about this one? Look at the video. The way it’s shot, the way it’s paced… it’s fucking fantastic. The video for “Confusion” was directed by Claire Marie Vogel, a woman who has done a lot of photography and also directed a fair amount of music videos. And just looking at the video for “Confusion” gives me the impression that she’ has a lot of talent. The video is just under seven minutes, and if she can make something that short as dramatic and intense as it is, imagine what she could do with an entire movie! People are always talking about how the movie industry (Hollywood especially) needs more women making the things. I am all for that. Let’s start with getting Claire Marie Vogel some movie gigs… please.
Have a good one and enjoy!

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!

 

Movie Review: Metallica Through the Never (2013)

Metallica Through the Never

Bands play at concerts, and sometimes said concerts can end up on DVD/blu-ray. That’s really all I can put here as intro. MASTER!!! MASTER!!!

Ladies and gentlemen… “Metallica Through the Never”.

Trip (Dane DeHaan) is a young man who also happens to be a roadie for Metallica. And during one of the band’s concerts he gets sent out on a very urgent mission. What would at first seem like a cakewalk soon turns into a surreal and dangerous adventure. And as we go through the movie we jump back and forth between Trip’s mission and the concert. And let me put it like this… the concert is badass and engaging. However, Trip’s little adventure usn’t really as great. I know it’s not the biggest focus of the movie, but you can tell that the filmmakers really pushed for it to be a thing, so I will therefore judge it. I’d like a bit more of an explanation to the things happening. Sure, surrealism rarely ever explains itself, but I feel like something could be done to explain all the weird things happening to Trip. I was never truly invested those parts, and I think they could have been handled much better.

Dane Dehaan, despite saying like three or four words in the entire movie, is really good in´his role. Yeah, he’s the only one you could really judge from a performance standpoint. Unless we’re including the stage performances by the band, because in that case we got some incredible stage performances from the band who still got it despite having been at this for 30+ years. Really, they are as engaging as ever in this. Yeah, that’s what I could say here… moving on.

The music in this movie can be a divider for people. If you don’t like Metallica, then you’re gonna hate the music in this movie (but you knew that from the title of this movie). But if you’re a fan of the band (like I am!) then yeah, the music is fucking awesome. I did love the music here, but maybe that is because I have a slight bias since Metallica is my second favorite band of all time. But to be honest, when we followed Trip and his adventures while the band was playing… the music fit very well with the chaotic and odd things we got to see.

The movie was directed by Nimród Antal and he did a terrific job. From the concert footage to Trip’s adventures, the movie looks fucking gorgeous. The shots are very well done and the editing is very well handled. The movie is really a visual treat. I also want to mention that there is some CGI in the movie and it looks pretty good.

This movie has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 79% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 61/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,2/10.

If you’re a big fan of Metallica, then “Metallica Through the Never” is kind of a must watch. As for my opinion on the entire thign, it is definitely interesting. It has an interesting if slightly clumsy plot, a really solid performance from Dane DeHaan, some fantastic music, and some great directing. Time for my final score. MASTER!!! My final score for “Metallica Through the Never” is a 9,12/10. So I’d say it’s worth buying… at least if you’re a Metallica fan.
Worth buying

My review of “Metallica Through the Never” is now completed.

You know what’s funny? The movie is called “Metallica Through the Never”, but at no point do they play the song “Through the Never”… MASTER!!! MASTER!!!

Great Music #20

Hello guys, I hope you’re all doing well. So I haven’t done a post like this since mid-September, so I felt like I had to done one now. So let’s talk about music.

I hear you asking “BUT MARKUS… How can you make a post about music during the Month of Spooks?”. Well, it’s simple. Take a song (or at least music video) that have something related to spooky stuff. And what I have picked today is pretty much that. Now, I have made my love of Metallica very clear on this blog… and my twitter (#ShamelessPlug) feed… and my instagram (#ShamelessPlug) feed… and in real life.  So don’t be surprised that I picked a song by them to put here. Now, most Metallica fans might assume that I’d go with “Enter Sandman”, which is a fantastic song with a really creepy video… but that’s not what I’m going with today, though I do still highly recommend it. No, the song we’re going with “Until it Sleeps”, a song about dark themes. But the main reason why I chose it was because of the music video. It features dark, surreal, and downright creepy imagery. From religious stuff, to snakes, to death… it’s some creepy shit. And the song in itself is pretty great, I’d even say that it’s one of the band’s most underappreciated songs. So that is why I chose it. A great song for Month of Spooks.
Have a good one and enjoy!