Friday, December 30, 2016

Top 20 Albums of 2016

What were the best albums of the year? Here is my top 20.

20. Malibu by Anderson.Paak

It's been more an R&B year for me, no doubt...R&B, rap, hip hop...all of the above. This great record from Californian Anderson Paak has been with me all year. Amazing!

19. Never Enough by Public Access TV

This NYC band makes me feel like it's 1979 all over again and I'm 12 years old listening to my crappy AM radio.

18. Nonagon Infinity by King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard

This Australian band has always been a lot of fun but their new record is dragon level awesome. It's unrelenting...loud...and just plain great.

17. Stay Together by The Kaiser Chiefs

I've been a fan of this Leeds band from Day One. They have a sound, I like it, and they usually stick to it. This record they decided to try something different and it really works. It's soft and ethereal...done right!!

16. Is The Is Are by DIIV

This NYC band shimmery pop is good for just about any mood. Not a bad track on the entire record

15. Midwest Farmer's Daughter by Margo Price

Guess what? I like country again and it's thanks to Nashville's Margo Price. Americana at it's finest!

14. In The Now by Barry Gibb

I can't believe that Gibb is even in my Top 20 but what a stunner of a record. Ah, nostalgia...

13. Ash and Ice by The Kills

Alison is from the US and Jamie is from the UK. Together they make great fucking music and have for the last 16 years. This one is their best. Hands down.

12. Curve of the Earth by The Mystery Jets

You know what this London band knows how to do? Make great records. And they keep getting better. One of the greatest British bands from the last ten years that no one really has ever heard of.

11. Bloom Forever by Thomas Cohen

Holy crap have I been obsessed with this album this year. Very David Bowie-ish but also a really great record to shag to...

10. The Ride by Catfish and the Bottlemen

Another corker from this Wales band. These lads have a very bright future ahead of themselves. Van is a star!

9. Everything You've Come To Expect by The Last Shadow Puppets

Alex and Miles are back with another volume of your father's music. Or is it grandfather's? Either way, it's mega ultra lounge psychedelic cool.

8. Love and Hate by Michael Kiwanuka

This North London gem is another great example of why 2016 will be remembered as the year of great R&B. Paging Marvin Gaye...(thank god, it's been way too long!)

7. Trick by Jamie T

What can we say about Jamie T? He's collar...romantic...and he tells great stories of the UK. Oh, he's from South London. This latest effort sees him going for a more pop sound and it's a massive success.

6. These People by Richard Ashcroft

Fist of god returns after a long hiatus with an absolute marvel of an album. Combining both his Verve sound and his solo sound, RA turns in a 10 song gem. Here's the title track...

5. Hills End by DMA's

I probably played this album too much this year but since it came out in February, it's been in constant rotation. These lads from Sydney, Australia know their Brit rock and capture a nice melange of the La's, Oasis and the Stone Roses.

4. Paging Mr. Proust by The Jayhawks

I was certain that this local Minneapolis gem would fade away and just do nostalgia gigs. Instead, they made the finest album of their career and blew my socks right off my ass! Every track is amazing and if you don't own this record, go buy it now!

3. Blackstar by David Bowie

I thought 2016 was going to be great when David Bowie released this fab record in January. Then he died and so did nearly everyone else. His final work ranks right up there with the rest of his classics and, at the very least, leaves the world with a shining example of his depth as an artist.

2. Viola Beach by Viola Beach

For more information on this record, please click here.

and the best album of the year....(drum roll please)....

1. Blonde by Frank Ocean.

We refer to Frank Ocean in our house as Mr. Ocean because he deserves that much respect. I don't know where to begin with this record. Its stream of consciousness drips over the listener in a melange of trippy wonder. It's unlike anything I have EVER heard and that's saying a lot considering my 40+ years of listening to music. Musicologists will look back on this album as a "Year Zero" type of effort similar to the likes of Sgt Peppers by the Beatles or Is This It? by the Strokes. It's that fucking good.

Mr. Ocean is very good about keeping his music off of YouTube so you have to download it via iTunes if you want to hear it. Trust me. It's worth it.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Top Twenty Five Tracks of 2016

It's that time of the year again, top tracks of the year. I decided to go with 25 this year because there was just so much darn good music.

25 is Nottingham's own Jake Bugg with a super funky number from his latest release, On My One.


24 is Blacksburg, Virginia's own dream pop band, Wild Nothing, with a gorgeous number entitled "Adore" from their LP, Life of Pause. Reminds me of laying in the sun on the beach!

23 is  Llandudno, Wales' Catfish and the Bottlemen with "Soundcheck." This one is from their their second LP, The Ride and is real corker.


22 is a corker of a track from Uckfield's own Rag N Bone Man. "Human" is a great number that hearkens back to those classic days of soul....

21 is "Who Knows" from Jamaican singer Proteje. It's always nice to hear good reggae and this song reminds me of summer...

20 is...I can't believe it's really happening but yes, Barry Gibb of the Bee Gees makes it on my list this year. "In The Now" has that classic Bee Gees sound and even though I have derided them over the years, I can't ignore their contributions to the pop zeitgeist. Gibb's latest effort is a stunner! BTW, those "Negan" looking fellows in his band are his sons!!

19 is Michael Kiwanuka's gorgeous track, "Place I Belong." I've been waiting for a couple of decades for a proper successor to Marvin Gaye and this guy is it! And he's a Brit....North Londoner...

18 is.Sacramento, California's own Deftones, with their crushingly beautiful track, "Prayers/Triangles." It starts off like an air-y U2 type and then suddenly we are into Stone Temple Pilots! Highly recommended for workouts...very triumphant...

17 is North London's own Hunck with the psychedelic pop track, "All Dressed Up."

16 is "Bombay Blue" by the Mystery Jets. I've been a huge fan of this London band going back to 2006. Their latest effort, Curve of the Earth, is a corker and this track is most exemplary of its awesomeness.

15 is"2013" by Sunflower Bean. This melancholy, yet upbeat track from the New York trio is the best on their LP. I like her shimmery voice...

14 is "Hurtin' (On the Bottle)" by Nashville's own Margo Price. I've never been huge into straight up country but Margo does this right. Complete with pedal steel!

13 is "Lazarus" by David Bowie which started off the year quite nicely. Then, he died and it really sucked. I remember watching this video with my wife the day the album came out. We both thought he looked every bit of his 69 years. Little did we know how sick he was...

It's classic Bowie, though, and it reminds of those days so long ago when music videos were all we watched...

12 is "Honeymoon" by East Londoner Thomas Cohen and it is simply magnificent. This ethereal and spaced out track from his LP, Bloom Forever, is most reminiscent of late 70s/early 80s Bowie. Good autumn music as well!

11 is "They Don't Own Me" by his Lordship Richard Ashcroft (aka Fist of god). RA returns with a great solo effort entitled These People. It's been a while since we heard from this giant in Brit Rock but the wait was well worth it!

10 is "Miracle Aligner" by the Last Shadow Puppets. Arctic Monkey Alex Turner and Miles Kane return with a second offering entitled Everything You've Come To Expect. Rooted once again in Burt Bacharach, Italian spy music, psychedelia and Ultra Lounge, Turner and Kane spin more tales of love, lust and intrigue.

8 is "Final Song" by . I caught this Danish singer on Jools Holland a few months back and was completely blown away (that performance is available here). Triumphant...upbeat...anthemic...and just a giant pop song...perfect! Here's their performance of this track at Glasto last summer...

7 is "Charlemagne" by Manchester's own Blossoms. Bursting on the scene last year with their bril mix of pop and synth based beats, Blossoms first full length is yet another example of why all the holiest music comes from the UK

6 is "Beautiful Blue" by Tom Petty's first band, Mudcrutch. When Petty first started in the music business it was with this band. But the record execs wanted him, not the band, thus Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers were born. Petty promised his bandmates from Mudcrutch that they would eventually do something and they finally released their first record in 2008. This track is from their second LP released this year and it's simply gorgeous.

5 is "Two" by Heart. I've been a huge fan of this Seattle band since I was a kid. The Wilson sisters have written their fire in the rock and roll sky for the last 40 years. This latest track, from this year's Beautiful Broken, reminds me of a classic power ballad from the 80s. Here's a live performance from earlier in the year...

4 is "Lovers of the Sun" by local Mpls band The Jayhawks. Taken from this year's amazing LP, Paging Mr. Proust, this beautiful and most summery track is honestly the best track I think they have ever done.

3 is "Heathens" by Columbus, Ohio's own Twenty One Pilots. Great thanks to my daughter, Grace Campbell, for getting me into this band. This track is taken from the "Suicide Squad" soundtrack and is most indicative of their unique and addicting sound.

2 is Manchester's own Stone Roses with "Beautiful Thing." If you are a Brit rock obsessive like I am, The Stone Roses are pretty much at the center of the fucking universe. Sure, they only made 2 albums and a handful of singles back in the late 80s and early 90s but their impact on bands like Oasis, Blur, The Verve and even Catfish and the Bottlemen was massive. It's so mega that they are back making new music again!

1 is ....(drum roll please)..."Call You Up" by Viola Beach. The Cheshire band who all lost their lives in a automobile accident last February get my nod for Best Song of 2016. Would I have picked it if they were all alive? Yes, I would have because the song is just that fucking good. Viola Beach was on the cusp of being the next big Brit band before their trajectory was tragically cut short. In so many ways, this track epitomizes everything I love about music. It's a love's's makes me feel nostalgia for a time that never all, a perfect song!

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Best Christmas Song of All Time

It's hard to pick the best Christmas song of all time. There are so many good ones from which to choose! My fave is "The Christmas Song" by Nat King Cole from 1961. The original King recorded many versions of this 1945 classic penned by Bob Wells and Mel Torme but this stereophonic version is the best.

Merry Christmas, everyone!


Saturday, December 10, 2016

Dripping Nostalgia With A Dash of Melancholy

The holidays always bring me to a nostalgic place. I remember Christmases past with my grandparents when I would sit in their front room and listen to them tell me stories from what life was like in the 1940s. I must admit that for all of the faults of that era, that's the one I have romanticized the most. Sometimes I think I was alive during that era somehow...past life maybe...I don't know...

Hearing the music of that era makes the melancholy drip even more and I feel like I'm right back to the sights and smells of my grandparents house. They were the ones that turned me on to Jimmy and Tommy Dorsey...Benny Goodman...Lionel Hampton...Bobby Mercer...and, of course, the Andrews Sisters with "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy."

Thankfully, Rhino Records collected many of these ol' chestnuts on two great discs, Songs that Got Us Through World War II, Volumes I and II. Both of these discs are a must for every holiday season. They may not have any seasonal tracks but they just fit anyway. I've been playing them for the past week or so and have honestly welled up a bit as I lost my last grandparent last year. Those memories all come back as soon as I hear that wonderful music.

And I am right back there...