Albums of the Year – 2016 – Part 3

6,5,4,3,2,1, go!


6. Primal Scream – Chaosmosis

“More Light” was the dark, brooding, brass knuckle side of Primal Scream.  Chaosmosis is the Technicolor, grooving, silk shirt wearing side.  It’s fun, dancy and easy to take for granted from your first listen.  From the first track, in fact.  “Trippin’ on Your Love” is laced with Haim backing vocals and I would hate to be caught listening to it in public.  But the song’s wah wah guitar keeps the whole thing grounded and launches the album from the get go.  Bobby Gillespie is obviously in a good phase here.  It’s hard not to be there with him.


5. The Cult – Hidden City

The best Cult record since “The Cult” and a direct descendant as well.  The one-two punch of “Hinterland” and “GOAT” anchor the middle of the record.  Before and after those songs is a mix of “Love” like balladry and slightly scuffed “Sonic Temple” arena rockers.  There’s no real reason this band should be out there doing this except for the fact that nobody does a great Cult record like the Cult.


4. Sturgill Simpson – A Sailor’s Guide to Earth

What a head fake, Sturg.  Just when everyone thought they had you pegged as the ultimate classic country revivalist, you go and do a late-career Elvis Kung-fu move – complete with brass.  This is an album to be devoured in one sitting.  It starts with a tender, almost schmaltzy song directly addressing his son and continues as a chronicle of the life of Sturg.  Along the way it passes ports of call, drug busts, and Nirvana.  Simpson is a young guy so it seems premature.  That said, it’s only a guide to earth.  Maybe other planets will follow.  After this there’s no reason to believe they won’t.


3. Hamilton Leithauser + Rostam – I Had A Dream That You Were Mine

I told my wife this should have been called “The Three Quarters” album.  That’s because save for “1,000 Times” none of the songs kick in until ¾ of the way through.  That and the fact that the show stopper of the album for me, “The Bride’s Dad”, roughly hits around ¾ of the way through the album.  Fractions aside, this is a barn burner of an album from the talents of The Walkmen and Vampire Weekend.  It could have been recorded in 1955 or 2055 and it would still be as remarkable.  Not an album that takes hold without some commitment but when you put in the time, it returns in spades.


2. Iggy Pop – Post Pop Depression

When I saw this album start to appear on blogs and music sites on the internet, I didn’t think much of it.  I didn’t know who Josh Homme was, nor had I paid attention to Iggy since “Brick by Brick” when my mom asked me if he had just said he had to “scrape the concrete off of his dick”. Yep, Mom.  But when I finally got around to listening to this album, something inside me lit up.  It was a hell of a submission to a hell of a catalog.  Start to finish, it’s an album by a punk who never stopped being punk and who just, well, never stopped.  Iggy’s 69 now and no less ferocious that he was when he recorded the song, “1969”.  This album forced me to reexamine his whole career, album by album.  This was also the year I got to take my girls to see him.  Had it not been for Iggy, this year would not have been nearly as rock and roll as it was.  Had it not been for David Bowie, this album would have been number one on this list.  Of course, had it not been for David Bowie, this album would have probably never happened.  Fitting to have the one and two slots on this year as they are.


1. David Bowie – Blackstar

There’s not much that can be written about this album that hasn’t already been written 1000 times.  There’s just no way to top it this year.  It was the whole performance piece.  From the release, to the music, to the packaging and the disappearance of the Starman and/or Black Star, himself; this will never be matched in my lifetime.  The album is a haunting, bittersweet, perfectly executed meditation on mortality.  David Bowie was a genius until the end.

Part One Here

Part Two Here




Doves and Gomez Lightning Reviews

I used to run a site that did nothing but CD reviews.  I loved it at the time and I had more time to really keep up with it and dig in.  Also, I wasn’t faced with the glut of music that I am now.  Yes, I’m complaining that I have too much music to listen to.  Heck, I have too much media, too many e-mails, too many blogs to read and a family that likes to see me from time to time.  So, my music time is a bit limited.  I really have to make the stuff that I listen to count when I give myself the chance.  Most of the time that chance is in the 20 or so minutes each way to and from work.  Even that won’t let you listen to a whole album back to front.  So, it really takes some good tunes to cut through the pack and rise to the top.  The two discs below have begun to do just that and deserve mention here.

Kingdom of RustThe first disc I’d like to talk about is Doves Kingdom of Rust.  This is a solid Doves effort with a little more energy than their last album.  There is a sense of experimentation and even references a bit of 1960’s production on songs like “House of Mirrors.”  Still, the album manages to walk the line between spacey, arena friendly, and sincere without spreading itself too thin.  Doves are an excellent British band in the vein of Elbow and (sigh) Coldplay with way more talent (in my opinion) than the latter and almost as much as the former.  If you’re a Doves fan, you should have this already but if you’re not, this is a pretty good one to start with.

A New TideNumber two on my list of albums that have caught my interest is Gomez’s A New Tide.  I have to admit, this one was a sleeper for a few weeks.  I never gave it a full chance.  But after a few focused listens, it really revealed itself.  This wouldn’t have sounded at all odd being their third album after the lauded Bring it On and Liquid Skin.  There’s some really good electronic stuff gurgling under the sparse acoustic instrumentation and gentle vocals on this disc.  They’ve rediscovered their ability to surprise the listener in different parts of the song.  There are actual peaks and crescendos this time out and none feel contrived as they may have in the past couple of discs.  Undoubtedly, the band have mellowed and they would probably deserve the “dad rock” moniker being thrown about in indie music circles but, as a dad, I don’t see that as a bad thing.

Check ’em out here and here.