Friday, December 23, 2016

The Top Ten Rock Albums of 2016

Some rock harder than others. Some girls mothers are bigger than other girls mothers. the definition of metal has changed over the years some might have qualified for being metal back in the seventies, so artists on this list rocked harder in the 70s and are now laying back for a more reflective view on their arts. In the end this list is pretty self explainitory and boils down to what I listened to the most as providing the inspiration to indluge multiple listens is the goal of every great album others are forgotten as time goes on. These are really ranked by what survived the  year the longest in my iPod. So enough talk lets get to the Top 10 Rock Albums of 2016.

10-Hammers of Misfortune- "Dead Revolution"

The first song off Hammers of Misfortunes new album is much more aggressive than what I remember hearing from them in the past. The more prog moments haven't gone any where. The production sounds more organic and helps to give the guitar a rougher edge and a little grit to the otherwise smooth vocals. Joe Hutton who also sang on their "17th Street " album is manning the mic again. He sounds pretty strong and on the title the band continues to keep the chug alive as it falls somewhere between Deep Purple and Motley Crue's "Looks That Kill.If you just like prog rock that is heavy on the retro then this is also worth your time. If you have likewise pined for these guys to be more of a metal band you have also gotten your wish, if your definition of metal includes bands from the 70s.

9-Skunk anansie - "Anarchytecture"

If you aren't familiar with this band you are more than likely American or born after 1990. In the states the brushes with mainstream came from Skin lending her voice to a Deftones song and Kevin Bacon singing along to them in the car in the movie "Hollow Man" .The openers is smooth electro rock with a cool vocal hook that made me forget the harder rock elements of "Post Orgasmic Chill" are not still intact and this is perhaps more along the lines of the Gathering's current state of the union. Electronica has always been an influence they have just made more of transition. The guitar than is present is hardly over-driven until the second verse of "Victim". It all is riding on Skin's voice, which is a good place to hedge your bets from. She isn't flexing her pipes in the quite as a dramatic manner as she once did , but she still has the goods

8-Kyng- Breathe In the Water

These guys are an interesting mix ball busting riffs set agains catchy melodic sections that are not unlike those of say Red Fang. Eddie Veliz's vocals are the high light as he takes a Chris Cornell approach, though no where as Robert Plantish in his upper range. In some way the are more like a pumped up harder version of Bad Company.  In terms of song writing these guys are strongest on a song like the title that takes more melodic nuances and sets them against the burlier riffs in a more Queens of the Stoneage manner.

8-Kidney Thieves -" the Mend"

It sounds like no time has passed and they are picking up where they left off. When you are ahead of your time then this is fine. Free Dominguez is obviously a vampire since her voice has not aged. "the Co-dependent Song" finds them letting up on some of the more industrial strength aggression very early on and putting them in a zip-code much close to Guano Apes.This new kinder, gentler version of Kidneythieves closes out the album with an even more atmospheric piece.Id you are a fan then this will make your day, because even a more pop minded version of this band is better than most of the other shit out today and a reminder that music was once better. They Kick Starter'ed this so there was no labels pressuring them to go one way or another.

7-Iggy Pop-" Post Pop Depression"

 He is the last man standing from a by gone era of Punk. For me losing Iggy would be a bigger blow than Lemmy. I got a ton of play out of both the Stooges and Motorhead in the 8th grade, but started listening to Iggy first and as this album shows, Pop still has it in him while the last Motorhead album, saw Lemmy already waning. Iggy sounds better than he has in sometime. I'm sure Homme's sense of production, doesn't hurt. The first song sounds like you would expect from Iggy Pop, playing with Queens of the Stoneage. While I disliked Queens of the Stoneage's last album, this coupling has injected new life into Pop. His croon is more careful and Josh's backing vocals work well with his voice. Iggy sounds almost as good as he did on "Blah Blah Blah".
6-Subrosa - For This We Fought the Battle of Ages"

 I am not the biggest fan these days of songs tipping the scales at over ten minutes, they make the most with the powerfully dynamic opener. The violins weep against the slabs of sludged out distortion. The vocals are generally pretty delicate. A thick bass line leads you into "Wound of the Warden". There is more motion in the ocean on this one . Not quite metal in the way it builds up in the first couple of minutes, while riding a similar groove.Often bordering metal by even using harsh vocals the over all feel is something more expansive

5-Hexvessel- "We Are Death"

 Way more rock n roll than I thought it would be, 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 . So perhaps Kvohst is a time lord and he hops back and forth from the 80s to the 60s collecting melodie. The folk has been dialed way back on the opener. This eases back into a mellower psychedelic trip on the second song, but the rock element are still dominate over the folk, which is not a complaint, perhaps if you are really invested in these guys being a neo-folk then it might need more time to grow on you , but the songs really handle the slightly morose melodies well. This is not totally happy hippy music that is just the undercurrent. It is totally groovy, but a lava lamp is not a requirement.Then things really ease back for "Cosmic Truth" that has more of a Moody Blues feel. There is more of a straight up 60's rock feel to "When I'm Dead" .

 4-Wovenhand- "Star Treatment"

 Being a big fan of Eugene Edwards, expectations were high, but  I can say I ever doubted his ability to deliver as he has been very consistent over the years. It opens with a pounding rock gallop that pretty much picks up where "Refractory Obdurate" left off. Things take a turn for the weird on "Swaying Reed" that sounds like the acid kicked in at the same time the Holy Ghost descended upon them in the studio. This does capture the same abstract tone the Doors touched upon, but strikes me as more of an interlude than an actual song. "the Hired Hand" struts in with a ghostly western feel. Edwards' resonant baritone is commanding as it is emotive. What different this time around is more trippy space like sounds zoom out of the corners of the song. A more deliberate rock inspired stomp haunts "Crystal Palace" though the intervals of the melody in the back hearkens back to tribal music of the American Indians.  This album is certainly more atmospheric, though it's reined in to serve the songs

3- Dinosaur Jr - "Give a Glimpse of What You are Not" 

 They come back strong and rocking out of the gate. It sounds like a slacker version of the Foo-fighters holding no aspirations of gaining radio play and more power to them for this attitude. They surprised me on the first song, but will they be able to hold the momentum is what I wonder during the jangle of the second song. They let up on the attack in favor of a more garage like sound, that still holds hints of the more sonic barrage of alternative rock this band is known for.The production on this album is generally on point, lets face it these guys are old pros so they are not going to let that slip. The guitar tones is great and Mascis really cements his place as one of modern rock's best guitarists on "Mirror". The song carries enough a groove to create the illusion it's not as melancholy as it. The last song is pretty dynamic, while also being some what laid back in it's solid groove.

2-Black Foxxes- "I'm Not Well" 

 This band is interesting as it's hard to imagine that they did not come from the late the 90s. While middle of the road when it comes to how hard the they do or do not rock,  I can appreciate the role the vocals play in their sound. As the opener builds there is more of  an early Pearl Jam like angst to the grit added in the vocals. They lock into a more traditional rock role on "Husk". When they ease their foot off the gas it offers a more dynamic glimpse at the band , but flirts with a more emo side than I am not sure I was ready to see yet on "Whatever Let's You Cope" .  There is an androgynous quality to their sound that doesn't glam it out like Placebo, but is there. They narrowly edged out Dinosaur Jr , I think I listened to this one a little more.

1- David Bowie - "Black Star"

 It was the Thin White Duke's 25th album. He released it on his 69th birthday. Then he died and most of you made me sick the way you ran out to get this looking for clues if he was hinting that he knew the time was coming. So lets talk about the music's vulgar I know but some body has go to do it. The lead single and title track opens the album, finding 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. Not his best album ever, or even post-"Lets Dance" I think "Outside" is way better and "the Next Day" might be as well, but it's Bowie so no one can really compete making this almost a no contest.

1 comment:

  1. "...but it's Bowie so no one can really compete making this almost a no contest."

    Nailed it.