Tuesday, June 14, 2016

the Top 10 Pop/ Rock Albums of 2016... So Far this Year

The year is at it's half way point so it is time once again to take a look at what has been the best pop and rock releases of the year so far. Pop and rock are being used to sum up everything that isn't metal, it includes some industrial and post-punk too. This one was much easier than the metal list which is still battling it out as a work in progress. These are based on how well made and performed the album is along with what I have actually been listening to. Rather than put streams or video with each entry there is a link to the full review that contains those.

 10- Death Index
 Carson Cox came out swinging with a more punk take on what he does than what we have heard from Merchandise in recent years.Overall there hasn't been a punk album dark enough to do much for me in sometime so it was good to hear something fresh from a voice I know and love.
9 Alaric - "End of Mirrors"

 I've been a fan of this band since the whole death rock revival came into my consciousness. Now five years later, my fears that they might have broken up are put to rest making this a very welcome return. All the things that have made them work in the past are in place here. Like a doomed out version of Killing Joke the band plows into the post- apocalyptic wasteland their music conjures. http://abysmalhymns.blogspot.com/2016/04/alaric-end-of-mirrors.html br />

8- Hex Vessel - "When we are Death" This is way more rock n roll than I thought it would, but this band is fronted by Mat McNerney who we also know as Kvohst the lead singer of Grave Pleasures / Beast Milk. This album finds this project now occupying a more similar sonic space as Grave Pleasures , just dipping into a another decade . http://abysmalhymns.blogspot.com/2016/01/hexvessel-when-we-are-death.html

7-Purson- "Desire's Magic Theater"

I've owned the band's previous EP and like what I have from them thus far. While summoning a retro vibe is part of their sound there was more of a hard rock under current to their sound which this new full length turns away from in favor of something that is supposed to be a rock opera aiming for Sgt. Pepper and Ziggy Stardust. Right from the get go it feels like it has more in common with T-Rex before colliding into more of a folkish hippy section midway into the opening song. There is more trippy Beatle like orchestration that meets with the band's previous Jethro Tull like prog leanings well. "Electric Landlady" not only has a clever title, but it pretty convincing trip into the 60's. These guys have more than their fair share of chops to make you a day dream believer. http://abysmalhymns.blogspot.com/2016/04/purson-desires-magic-theater.html
6- Future- "EVOL"

 This one I never reviewed, but I have listened to a ton, so I am not sure why I didn't review it as I have reviewed plenty of rap and hip-hop on here before, so why not trap rap. The song he does with the Weeknd " Low Life" is enough to earn a place on this list by itself.

5- Eagulls-"Ullages"

 The Sophomore effort by the British Post-punk band finds them maturing into a more melodic sound. Their debut had more of a punk energy to it and "Ullages" embraces lush textures of guitar and sharpened sense of song writing that brings a greater emotional depth to the table. The punk in the post-punk equation is taking a back seat much like it would as fellow Brits the Cure would.
4-Savages- "Adore"

No sophomore slump as this album enjoys the benefits of better production than their debut. The bass is thicker and Jenny Beth's vocals are up front and unencumbered by the mix. "Sad Person" hits a sweet spot between groove and punchy rock. The guitar still flirts with surreal layers leaving the hammer of the bass to carry the weight, but at other times the guitar takes on a much more rock feel than they had before, making this album harder than their first.

3-Swans- "the Glowing Man"
 This is the last album by this incarnation of the re-vamped Swans. It opens with a darker elegance and a get deal of sonic texture. Gira's croon is a little more refined and less like the rants of "To Be Kind". This comes a little closer to what I want from the band though I enjoyed the albums of this phase of the band, the only thing I haven't liked it the hipster hippie crowd that began to show up post- Bonnaroo thinking they were a jam band and Gira's perhaps unintentional indulgence of this.My only real complaint being the length of  the songs that touch the twenty minute mark, the song writing could have been more efficient  and still gotten the point across, allowing them to jam it out more live if they so choose. Even with the twenty minutes songs Gira remains a master of his domain.

2- Youth Code- "Commitment to Complications"

 Heavy enough that it could have made it on the metal list, but the lack of guitars keeps it here/ Production wise things have stepped up another level along with the song writing. After a melodic and perhaps dramatic synth intro the kick into the first proper song which kicks more like a rock song energetically than your typical industrial. Unlike your typical industrial there is not an obligatory layer of 90s thrash metal guitar over it. The synths are capable of summoning their own heft. . Ben from Goatwhore lends his snarl to the title track and doesn't really have to switch it up in order to feel at home, but it's over a bunch of hammering synths.


1-David Bowie- "Black Star"

 Its sadly funny how the review of this album was posted before his death, and then after his death everyone was changing their profile pictures to the album cover, when they showed little interest in it before he did, or did not even have the awareness of it's release. The lead single and title track opens the album, and found Bowie in a darker and more surreal place than his last album. There is a very experimental ambiance to things that will delight fans of his Brian Eno years. His collections of musicians  ranges from LCD Soundsystem to avant garde jazz , with the jazz contingent weighing more heavily. Now people have tried to look for clues that Bowie was warning people he was about to die. I find it sits nicely along side his body of work and while I still get more spins out of "Young Americans" I never skip past one of these songs when they pop up. http://abysmalhymns.blogspot.com/2016/01/david-bowie-black-star.html

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