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.

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 #10

Hello, my friends and you other people who may or may not be reading this right now. Once again I’d like to share a bit of music with you.

The song I am sharing is one I’ve been listening for the past few weeks. It is the song “Red Right Hand” by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds from their album “Let Love In”. I am usually not a fan of Nick Cave, but even I have to admit that this song is pretty great. I got introduced to this song thanks to the TV-show “Peaky Blinders” in which this song is the main theme playing at the beginning of each episode. (Shameless plug: go read my review of the show’s first season from a week or so ago). Now, the whole “Red Right Hand” thing is apparently a relatively old phrase which refers to divine wrath. So yeah… technically this is a religious song or some shit like that… weird.
Enjoy!