2017, A year of turmoil and good music.

As the title indicates, this was a tumultuous year for my family and for the world around us.  It was a year for learning and growing and just dealing.  Music for me is always an escape and 2017 was a great year for new music to wash away all the pain and fears.  (Just for the record everything is looking up and we are in a very good place now!) 

This year my musical tastes were all over the map.  Seriously, quite literally everywhere.  I knew I have diverse taste, but after creating my preliminary list of albums I really saw the vast pool of genres I submerged myself in this calendar year.  I listened to rock, alternative, indie rock, indie pop, pop, country, folk and metal to fame a few.  My list started out with 23 albums, which are all listed here.  I’ll only comment on the top 10 or so, but you all should really check them all out.

Without further ado…

Grizzly Bear – Painted Ruins

This was easily my favorite album this year from one of my favorite bands.  From beginning to end this one talks to me.  I love how this one flows, and love its slight indie pop sensibility.  Although is does have its upbeat moments, this a great album just to sit and chill with.

Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile – Lotta Sea Lice

This was an interesting release for me.  Kurt Vile, a quite popular singer/songwriter/indie artist, teamed up with the much newer but very similar artist, Courtney Barnett to record Lotta Sea Lice.  Being the indie music nerd that I am, you would have thought I would have a long musical relationship with Vile, but the truth is that this album is my first real contact I’ve made with him.  And it is awesome!  Both artists have an uncanny tongue in cheek way with lyrics and both share a very down trodden tone to their vocals that are a perfect match.  I look forward to discovering more of Kurt music in the months and years to come!

Wolf Alice – Visions of A Life

Visions of a Life itself is a little bit eclectic.  Wolf Alice, in its very short historywould best be considered alternative rock or shoegaze.  Although this record is definitely a little of both of those, it also dips its feet into pop rock, electronica and punk.  It has brutal harsh moments followed by soothing melodic moments.  You can band your head to one track and dance you butt off to the next.  It one reason I loved it so much, I feel like just as I was getting settled, it would give me a sucker punch.

 Avatarium – Hurricanes and Halos

Thanks to my fellow Four Northmen, I can enjoy the bellowing vocals of Jennie-Ann Smith and Marcus Jidell’s wailing guitar licks.  This one always gets me howling away with a fist in the air!  To me this is quintessential heavy metal.

Bell Witch – Mirror Reaper

What a slow burn!  Every moment of this one had me anxiously waiting for the next.  This is not for the faint of heart, or for one looking for a catchy tune.  The single 83-minute track meanders its way through a dark, dreamy landscape that never really takes off.  Its treasure is in that slow melodic burn.

Aldous Harding – Party

Party was a substantially late addition to my top albums.  I discovered this album from an end of year top albums list posted by Rough Trade in early December.  Again, I was drawn into a landscape that is a bit darker and more melodic.  Vocally and musically Aldous reminds me a bit of Joanna Newsom, although quite a bit more melancholy.  I found myself singing some lyrics for days.

Father John Misty – Pure Comedy

Another interesting adventure for me.  There was quite a bit of promotion swirling around before the release of this one.  I hadn’t really followed the former Fleet Foxes drummer since he had gone solo and really didn’t really know what to expect.  I took a shot and upon my first listen I was quite underwhelmed and confused.  I mean he certainly wasn’t bad, but I didn’t think he was doing anything special.  If anything, I thought his songs were overly weighed down by lyrics.  But then I listened again, and again…and again!  Now I amazed he spins an very clever web of lyrics that submerges itself into our present turbulent world.  It has me excited to see where his song writing travels in the future.

Lana Del Ray – Lust for Life

The beautiful Miss Del Ray’s breathy vocals have always made me weak in the knees.  I’ll claim my hipster moment by saying that I’ve flowered her since her “Video Games” Myspace breakthrough back in 2011.  Yup, I heard of her first!  (haha, well maybe not…)  I’ve heard others claim this is more pop sounding album than her previous outputs, but I’d argue she always had a very pop tilt to her unique style.   Like much of what I like this one is a bit more low key and requires a bit more dedication to really get it.

St. Vincent – MASSEDUCTION

Oh my god I love St. Vincent!!  I got to see her live at the House of Blues in Boston this year (free tickets even!).  She has to be one of the best performers (and guitarists) alive today!  MASSEDUCTION was so much different then what I expected.  I expected an indie rock album, dripping with guitars. What we got was a crazy indie art pop album with minimal dripping guitars.  I found this album much more upbeat and bright as anything Annie Clark has ever done. Albeit different, still a masterpiece.

Beck – Colors

Beck surprised with a unexpectedly good pop album.  If anything, this was my guilty pleasure for the year.  Beck being a guilty pleasure sounds absurd considering his status as an alternative music legend, but that just shows how far from familiar this Beck record was.  I couldn’t stop listening to it in the weeks after its release.  I’ll be interested in seeing how this one holds up over time for me.

The Shins – Heartworms

I was surprised I did not see this one on more year end lists.  I even heard a few music aficionados comment they were disappointed with this album.  Due in part to it being released early in the year it was the album I listened to the most this year.  Classic Shins songwriting if you ask me.

 


 

Man, I could go on and on.  Some of the honorable mentions below I love dearly.  But since I’ve already covered 11, here are the rest of my favorites:

Primus – The Desaturating Seven
Wolves in the Throne Room – Thrice Woven
Filthy Friends – Invitation
Elder – Reflections of a Floating World
Arcade Fire – Everything Now
Haim – Something to Tell You
Fleet Foxes – Crack-up
The Weeks – Easy
Feist – Pleasure
Lorde – Melodrama
Thurston Moore – Rock N Roll Consciousness
The XX – I See You
Margo Price – All American Made

So…this blog is pretty defunct at this point.  I now only use it to post my year-end lists.  If any of you stumbled upon this page and want to follow me and counterparts in our quest to spread our love of music, you can follow us on Facebook here à @FourNorthMenOfTheRockpocalypse.

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Crow’s Short List 2016

metal-music-fan

Andy had a very metal year.  List is also short and sweet!

1. Metallica – Hardwire … Self Destruct

2. Anthrax – For All Kings

3. Testament – Brotherhood of the Snake

4. Opeth – Sorcerss

5. Hatebreed – The Concrete Confessional

6. Devin Townsend Project – Transcendence

 

2016 List of lists…

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Hello all, time for my yearly blog post.  This time my good friend Andy is going to post his top ten list long side mine.  If your reading this you already know how awesome a year it was for music.  Most might even say it was the only good thing to happen this year, but that opinion I’ll leave to you.

My year in music was jam packed and diverse.  Seems every year I open up to more forms of music.  I actually took a course related to classical music this past fall.  It was very interesting indeed.  Well with out further ado…

Radiohead’s A Moon Shaped Pool  and Aurora’s  All My Demon’s Greeting Me as a Friend.  

These two albums were most definitely top albums of the year.   Radiohead as always put out an amazing album.  Anyone who knows me isn’t surprised that this album is here.  Aurora was a new artist I discovered in the wake of the death of David Bowie.  YouTube suggested her cover of Life on Mars.  I was immediately in love with her powerful voice.   I was lucky enough to get to see here this year down in Boston and even go a poster and record signed!

Fruit Bats’s Absolute Loser and The Glory of the Fruit Bats

Yes, that is two separate releases from Eric D. Johnson.  Absolute Loser was a more traditional release, while The Glory of the Fruit Bats was a Record Store Day exclusive.   I found myself leaning pretty heavy on the Alt Country sound this year.

Bon Iver’s 22, A Million

It took me a little time to get into this one, Justin is pushing into some interesting territories.  It seems something new unravels each time I listen to this.

Andrew Bird’s Are You Serious

This came out in April but I didn’t really give it a listen until late in the fall.  It has by far been my most played album in the last few months of the year.  I’m still kicking my self for not seeing him when he came to Portland!

Frightened Rabbit – Painting of a Panic Attack 

Got to see them live this year!  Amazing intimate show at Port City Music Hall.

Car Seat Headrest – Teens of Denial

Late dicovery from most the end of the world end of year lists,  amazing guitar driven album!  I gotta get the on vinyl soon…

The others:
Hinds – Leave Me Alone
Mitski – Puberty 2
Eleanor Friedberger – New View
Juliette Lewis – Future Deep
Lady Lamb – Tender Warriors Club
Metallica – Hardwired…to Self Destruct
My Dying Bride – Feel the Misery
Suicidal Tendancies – World Gone Mad
The Temper Trap – Thick as Thieves
Wilco – Schmilco
Xiu Xiu – Plays the Music of Twin Peaks
Paul Simon – Stranger to Stranger
Weakend Friends – Crushed
Beverly – The Blue Swell

I could write a lot about the above, but I’ll spare you.  Check them all out!

See you next year!

KidAJoe’s Top Picks for 2015

2015-12-12 11.43.30

Here we  go with another edition of my favorite albums of the year. Unlike how I felt last year, this year was full of great music. This year had a bit more of a female flavor, which is just fine with me.

Top 10:

  1. Lady Lamb, After – One and two are pretty interchangeable in my book.  I pushed Lady Lamb into the top spot for a couple reasons.  Mastermind, Aly Spaltro is from Brunswick, Maine, so I have to root for a local artist!  Second reason is that my two beautiful six year old twins girls love her as much as I do.  Check out Cal and Mal singing Violet Clementine CalNMal sing Lady Lamb.
  2. The Staves, If I Was – I didn’t know much about these ladies until I read that Justin Vernon was producing  their new album.  I took some time to listen to Dead & Born & Grown.  I instantly fell in love with their harmonies. Based on my Last.FM account The Staves outplayed the next artist on my list by over 150 scrobbles.  That must say something…
  3. Courtney Barnett, Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit – Discovered Miss Barnett via a NPR’s live stream from this years Courtney Barnett – SXSW Music Festival Down in Austin Texas.  This raw performance and amazing lyrics drew me in. Her Aussie drawl also adds another small piece that makes this record so cool.
  4. Screaming Females, Rose Mountain – Sometime big things come in little packages!  That is certainly the case with Marissa Paternoster, the petite lead singer of this trio.  I had the pleasure of catching them live at the Space Gallery in Portland.  I was blown away by both her powerful vocals as well as her impressive guitar skills.
  5. Sleater-Kinney, No Cities To Love – This was certainly a return I was excited about.  I had previously dabbled in the world of SK, but No Cities To Love enabled me fall completely in love with these ladies.   The first time my girls heard them, I told them about SK being an all female lineup.  They both just looked at me with puzzlement in their faces.  I then gave them a short and sort of basic lesson in the Riot Grrrl movement.  It all starts somewhere!!
  6. Florence and the Machine, How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful – My wife had already referred to Florence as “your girl” whenever a song of hers came on.  Well ‘my girl’ put out probably my favorite record yet!  Such a good mix of songs that sometime pull at your emotions and other times just make you want to dance.
  7. Alabama Shakes, Sound & Color – Again another strong entry from a band I had previous love for.   A lot of people rave about how powerful Adele’s vocals are, but I personally think that Brittany Howard blows her away.
  8. Will Butler, Policy – Will finally breaks the girl party that is my top seven.  (other than a few band members)  This was one of the records I grew into a bit.  Of course coming in the shadow of big brother Win Butler isn’t exactly easy.  (Will is a member of his brothers band, Arcade Fire, for those out of the loop)
  9. Joanna Newsom, Divers – This is another album that probably needs multiple listens to really open up.  I’m still unwrapping this one otherwise it might have actually pushed itself higher on the list.
  10. Wilco, Star Wars – In another year an album this strong would be near the top.  Mr. Tweedy surprised us with another strong record.  But then again Jeff might just have the Midas touch!
Honorable Mentions:

Lower Dens – Escape From Evil, The Myndabirds – Lover Know,  Noun – Throw Your Body On The Gears And Stop The Machine, San Cisco – Gracetown, Metric – Pagans in Vegas, The Dead Weather – Dodge and Burn, Bjork – Vulnicura

Crow’s Tiny Tunes 2014

Here is my list for 2014,  It was a tough decision on what to include and not to include.  My list is not in any order .  It ranges from Death metal to rock and some in between.   Let me know what you think 🙂 Check out
Alcest you will probably like it .   They have moved away from metal much like Opeth which is also made this list.
1) Iced Earth – Plagues of Babylon

2) Alcest – Shelter (former black metal band )

3) Beck – Morning Phase

4) Opeth – Pale Communion

5) Wolves in the throne room – Celestite

6) The Black Key – Turn Blue

7) Arch Enemy – War Eternal

8) Jack White – Lazaretto

9) Karen o – Crush Songs

10 ) Pink Floyd – The endless river

11) AC/DC – Rock or Bust

12) Neil Young – A Letter Home

13) Neil Young – Storytone

14) King Diamond – Dreams of Horror

The weird wonderful world of 2014. (Best of)

2014 Top Two Albums

Great googly moogly!  Another year gone and another busy January.  Thanks to Blizzard 2015, I have the time today to finally post my favorite albums from the past year.  I really had a hard go this time around.  I really didn’t find this to be an overly strong year.  Either way, with out further adue…

St. Vincent – Eponymous:  Annie Clark created a masterpiece.  She combined her artier indie cred. with some pretty catchy pop hooks.  She also is a pretty interesting and talented guitarist to boot.  This one and First Aid Kit were by far the most played albums on this list.

First Aid Kit – Stay Gold:  As mentioned above this album was in heavy rotation.  I love these girls voices and harmonies.  Based on what I read of all the other top 2014 lists, this was the most underrated album of the year in my opinion.

Metronomy – Love Letters:  This one definitely falls into the indie pop category.  Much like there first album the songs are very catchy.  The thing I love about these guys is that they seem just a little of kilter.  I love weirdos!

Beck – Morning Phase:  Beck’s new record was one of my most played records of the first half of the year.  At some point it seemed to not draw me in as much.  The fact that is a pretty mellow album probably didn’t help, as I was frequently in the mood for something more upbeat.  Still makes it at the top because I do return to it and enjoy it greatly.

The remainder of this list really falls into the category of albums that I spent some amount of time with but couldn’t really say I loved enough to call them favorites.   I guess the fact that I didn’t repeatedly come back to them signaled to me a lack of true love.  Maybe with some more time a few of them will stand out a bit more…So the honorable mentions are:

Conor Oberst – Upside Down Mountain, Jack White – Lazeretto, The Bots – Pink Palms, Triptykon – Melana Chasmata, Deerhoof – La Isla Bonita, The Unicorns – Who Will Cut Our Hair When We’re Gone?, Agalloch – The Serpent & The Sphere, Broken Bells – After The Disco, tUnE-yArDs – Nikki Nack, Thom Yorke – Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes, Perfect Pussy – Say Yes To Love, The Flaming Lips – With A Little Help From My Fwends, Luluc – Passerby

What do you think?

Crow’s Favorite Albums for 2013

Sorry for the delay…70 hours work weeks get old!  Here is my buddy Andy’s top albums for 2013.

1) Dream Theater – Dream Theater   –  I have gotten into prog metal in the last few years and this album shows just how good they are.   Dream Theater still puts out amazing albums
2) Neil Young – Live at the Cellar Door –  This album is pretty cool and of coarse a live album.  I dont know if the album was recorded in 2013 but it was released in 2013 .

3) La Yo Tengo –  Fade –  A indie rock band from Hoboken, New Jersey which I have love for a long time.  I was listening to them back in high school before I got into punk rock.

4) Deicide –  In the Minds of Evil  –  A Death Metal band that is right up there with Cannibal Corpse who paved the way for America Death Metal bands.   This album starts off kind of thrash metal and by half way its pure death metal.

5) MGMT – MGMT – Another great album by indie band.  Its not my favorite MGMT album but Its good if I am in the mood to listen to it.

6) Bad Religion – Christmas Songs –  Traditional Christmas songs

played punk .

7)  Steven Wilson – The Raven That Refused to Sing (And Other Stories)   Porcupine Tree are one of my favorites and Steve’s solo work is amazing.

8) Suicidal Tendencies – 13 –  I am surprised you didn’t pick this one.  Pretty solid album.

9) Yeah Yeah Yeahs  – Mosquito –  I also agree that this album is great to see Yeah Yeah Yeahs more back to there roots.  I was not impressed with much of there electric period.

10) Iron & Wine – Ghost on Ghost – Just recently started to listen to this album and like it.

11) Christopher Lee – Charlemagne: The Omens of Death – That’s Correct the Actor from Lord Of the Rings Movies plays  Heavy Metal. Should I mention he is the oldest to play this form of music (91 years old).

12) Black Sabbath – 13 –  I am very surprised this did not make anyone list.  How could this be missed.  This album is a true master piece with Sabbath returning to there dark sound.