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!

 

My Top 20 Favorite Songs

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How’s it going, guys? I hope you are having a good time doing whatever you are currently doing. I am here to give you another list/countdown/opinion-pile. And this time it is for my personal Top 20 Favorite Songs. You’re probably thinking “Wow, “Top 20 Favorite Songs”, something special must’ve happened!”. And the nswer to that is “No”, nothing special has happened, I just couldn’t figure out anything else to use for today’s list… yeah. So, let’s stop standing here and let’s get the rules.

Rule #1: As I always put as rule number 1 on my lists… this is my list therefore you can’t bitch about anything if you don’t agree with it. Every spot on this list is purely based on my opinion and I don’t mean to say that I give you an objective truth. So no bitching!

Rule #2: This list will probably alter a fair amount over the coming weeks/months, so this is just how I feel at this time. Also, every spot on this list (except for the Top 2) are put kind of willy-nilly.

Rule #3: I’m gonna put some emphasis on the fact that the picks for this list aren’t the objectively best songs in the world, these are just the songs I love listening to the most…ish.

Rule #4: I have kept it to one song per artist/band, because otherwise this list would be about 95% AC/DC songs.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you… My Top 20 Favorite Songs!

Number 20: I am Kloot – Avenue of Hope.

A calm and relaxing song that I actually discovered fairly recently. I head it for the first time when I watched the 2007 sci-fi movie “Sunshine” (Sidenote: Go watch “Sunshine” is you haven’t, it’s fucking great). The lyrics are mysterious yet soothing, the guitar is slow and methodical and that freaking saxophone is just magical. It all culminates into a great song.

Number 19: Andy Williams – Speak Softly, Love.

Next up we have a beautiful love song from a fantastic movie. It is what is usually considered the main theme of Francis Ford Coppola’s mafia masterpiece “The Godfather”. I know, there is a bit of a running theme here with songs first being heard in movies, but that’s just purely coincidental. Anyway, this is a beautiful song with powerful instrumentals and terrific singing from the magic voice of Andy Williams. It is overall fantastic and I think you should listen to it.

Number 18: The Jeff Healey Band – Confidence Man.

Next up on the list is a cool song from the blind blues-rocker Jeff Healey (R.I.P). From Healey’s blues voice to the terrific guitar to the overall cool vibe, this is a pretty great song. Listen to it. Also, when making this list and putting this song in it I remembered that Healey was in “Road House”… strange how life works.

Number 17: Johnny Cash – Hurt.

Of course you need a song by “The Man in Black” in your list, question is though which one you will use. Should you go with the ever so popular “Ring of Fire” or maybe go to jil with the “Folsom Prison Blues”? Well in my case we go with his incredibly powerful cover of Nine Inch Nails’ 1994 song. Fun fact: When Reznor saw the music video for this song, it made him cry, and I don’t blame him… it made me tear up a little bit. Every time I watch it I feel like I just lost a friend. That is how powerful this song (and video) is.

Number 16: Beastie Boys – No Sleep Till Brooklyn.

Going from extremely depressing to extremely fun we have the mid-80’s hit by the white hip-hop trio that actually succeeded at being a white hip-hop trio. Also, I think I know why they have such a guitar/rock-based soung despite the lyrical parts being hip-hop; It turns out they started out as punk band but that didn’t really work so they changed to hip-hop and that worked for them. Anyway, one thing’s for sure: It all worked out for them and they have a unique sound that I fucking love. Also, R.I.P. Adam Yauch (In other words MCA), you are missed.

Number 15: Frank Turner – Peggy Sang the Blues.

Here we have a song from musician Frank Turner who has gotten a little bit of recognition these past few years, especially for his song “I Still Believe” which I also love. But for this list I using his song “Peggy Sang the Blues” which jsut like “I Still Believe” is featured on Turner’s album “England Keep My Bones”. I think this song really says what most people want to believe in through the phrase “It doesn’t matter where you come from, it matters where you go“. I intrepret it as that you background doesn’t matter, but please do something about your life, don’t all mundane, do something with your life! I don’t know, I might be really wrong on that, but until someone comes with a better argument I am keeping by it! But this song hold up thanks to excellent lyrics, great instruments (particularly the guitar) and Frank Turner’s fantastic voice.

Number 14: Toto – Africa.

Here we have the classic synth-rock song “Africa” from synth-rock band Toto. Fun fact: keyboardist Steve Porcaro has been keeping busy these past few years, providing the soundtrack for the TV-show “Justified” (Sidenote: Go watch it). But this spot isn’t really about “Justified”, but much rather about this amazing song from Toto. It just has a classic and overall great feel that I just love. The lyrics are pretty great too, being kind of powerful in the chorus. Go listen to it, it’s great.

Number 13: Green Day – Good Riddance (Time of your Life).

Next up is a great song by punk/pop/rock band Green Day. I was originally gonna go with “Warning” for this spot, but then I thought “Nope, Good Riddance is a much better song, let’s use that!”. And I used it. It may be short, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t leave an impact… because to me this song had a huge impact. A song that can interpreted as “Life can and will suck at times, so have as much fun as possible when you can”. Not in a “fuck the police” kind of way, but rather in a “Go out right now and have fun because you might not get a second chance!”. And that is one of the many reasons that it works.

Number 12: Muse – Knights of Cydonia.

As you probably know by now after I have talked about it about 659,4 times, I am a huge fan of westerns. And this song kind of reminds me of westerns, or at least cowboys. In the style of it and also because there are some horses neighing in the beginning of the song. But this song boasts a feel and a surprisingly badass style that I fucking love. I first discovered it when playing “Guitar Hero 3: Legends of Rock”. And to this day I still can’t beat it on hard difficulty… *sigh*. Song’s great though.

Number 11: Metallica – One.

This might have been one of the more difficult choices for this list seeing as I love Metallica as much as I do. I love most of their songs, not that many on the album “Death Magnetic”, but that’s an entirely different story. But choosing which Metallica song to use was a big challenge, but finally I settled on “One” the song about a soldier… I think. If you look at parts of the lyrics it suggests that and if you look at the video it used clips from the movie “Johnny Got His Gun” which I haven’t seen but want to. Anyway, this is a great song with some excellent guitar, fantastic drumming and the always awesome voice of James Hetfield.

Number 10: The Green Car Motel – Asi Sera.

Time to bring out the motherfucking hipster music. And by that I mean, I don’t think the majority of the world has even heard of this song or even of this band. Which is a sad fact because not only is this song itself great, but the band has made some overall really good tracks that you should listen to some day. A beautiful ballad in spanish filled with excellent/beautiful guitar playing, a great rhythm and by god, that freaking trumpet is fantastic. Oh yeah, the singer’s great too. The entire song is great, listen to it.

Number 9: Steppenwolf – Born to Be Wild.

Get your motor running, head out on the highway! Lookin’ for adventure, in whatever comes our way! Those first few words really what describe what “Born to Be Wild” is all about… freedom. Freedom on the highway. BORN TO BE WIIIIIILD!!!

Number 8: Clint Mansell – Memories (Someone We’ll Never Know).

I never said songs from a movie’s original score was banned from this list! Any song is eligible for this list as long as I write which version of the song I’ve chosen for the list and also that I never use the same artist/band twice. With that said, this is to me (and anyone else who loves this amazing movies) a very emotional song. Hell, I think it might be emotional for anyone who hears it since it is in general a beautiful piece of music. The slow and beautiful piano, the magnificent strings (especially the cello, that shit’s pure magic) and the overall feeling of loneliness and abandonment makes this one of the most beautiful songs I have ever heard.

Number 7: Ted Gärdestad – Himlen Är Oskyldigt Blå.

Hey look, a song from my home country! On a quick sidenote: For those of you who don’t know, I am from Sweden. Now that I got the sidenote out of the way, I love this song so much! Not only is this one of my favorite songs of all time, Ted Gärdestad(R.I.P) is also one of my favorite musicians of all time. This song got everything; Beautiful piano, great intrumental play in general, a great feel and also a fantastic voice to hold it up. There is nothing I dislike about this movie, I love absolutely everything about it!

Number 6: Deep Purple – Smoke on the Water.

Despite this song only being at number 6, it has still had a larger impact on me than any other song on this list. It was the first song I ever played and beat on “Guitar Hero”, it is a song that stuck easily in my mind and it is one of the few songs I actually know the full lyrics to (I recite the lyrics in my spare time a lot). Anyway, I think the main reason everybody knows this song and can recognize it easily is because of that classic guitar riff. A simple layout with a simple execution turned into a worldwide phenomenon. My love of this song go beyond the riff however, I personally love everything about the song. Like I said, the impact it had on me me is massive. I know the lyrics, I know the backstory behind it, I have listened to this song probably more than 500 times throughout my life (which might sound like a little to some, but is actually a huge amount) and I just overall love exactly everything about it.

Number 5: Brad Paisley – You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive.

Hey look, a country song! And a pretty amazing one at that. It is a song with excellent guitar playing, excellent use of all intruments and it also has Brad Paisley’s smooth voice. It also tells a story of Harlan County’s coal industry and how it began. Those are things that make the song as great as it is (to me). Here is how I discovered the song: I was watching “Justified” (Sidenote: Again, go watch it!) and when I got to the season 1 finale this song started playing and I went “Wow, this song’s great, I have to look it up!”. So I looked it up, found out which song it was and I have listened to it and loved it ever since. It is a great song that deserves all the love it gets!

Number 4: Bruce Springsteen – Streets of Philadelphia.

Once again, a song that I got introduced to through a movie (Sidenote: The movie for those of you who don’t know is “Philadelphia”). And boy, am I glad the movie introduced me to this song because it is just beautiful! The drumming is soothing, Springsteen’s voice is soothing and the lyrics some of the most poetic and beautiful I have ever heard. This is one of the few songs that can make me close to tearing up because of beautiful it is. This is a song that I hope will touch so many more people. Even though it is pretty much about gay people who get aids and start dying (go to songmeanings.com and you will understand).

Number 3: Skillet – American Noise.

This is a song that just hit me as soon as I heard it. It comments on society, it has powerful lyrics that resonated with me it is jsut straight up beautiful. Whenever I hear this magnificent song I just want to yell out “I GOT A VOICE!” and then jsut burst into song to make the world a happier place. I remember chatting with my best friend on facebook one day, sending a link to this song to him and he just fell in love with it. I guess that is exactly what this song is… Love. Anyway, even if it for some reason turned out to not actually be love but instead be something else I can for sure say that it is an amazing song.

Number 2: AC/DC – Hells Bells.

This spot might come as a shock for some people since I have stated many times, both here on wordpress and in real life that AC/DC is my favorite band. And holy shit, it was so shocking I gave Jeff a heart attack. Someone call 911. Anyway, uhm… yeah. You’d think that if AC/DC is my favorite band then I’d put one of their songs at number 1, but I am kind of ironic in that sense because I put them at number 2. But despite it not being on number 1, I still fucking love this song (and AC/DC). This is honestly my favorite AC/DC song, I don’t know why it is my favorite by them, it just is. It is pretty amazing in my opinion.

Before we reach number 1, let’s just throw out one honorable mention because I am a dick like that! And that honorable mention will go to “Paradise City” by Guns ‘n’ Roses. Great rock song, fun to listen to, honorable mention over.

NUMBER 1: Ennio Morricone – The Ecstasy of Gold!

THIS. SONG. IS. FUCKING. AMAZING. CAN’T. SPEAK. PROPERLY. But in all seriousness, this song really is a masterpiece. Written and conducted by Ennio Morricone for “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly” (Sidenote: MY third favorite movie of all time), it is an epic song that gives me goosebumps every time I hear it. The intro piano/oboe, the gradually increasing sounds, the woman who sings in it, the brass the… EVERYTHING! This is a song I can just put on repeat at any time and just have a great time with because it is big, epic and brings me so many memories of big and epic westerns. And that is why this is my all time favorite song.

Now that has been my Top 20 Favorite Songs. Let me know in the comments what your favorite song is. I hope you an enjoyable time reading this and listening to the great music.

Have a good one!