It’s been an interesting 2016 for us here at Bluetint Magazine. We’ve been hit hard, as I’m sure all of you have as well, by the events of this year, both political and musical, but we’ve also been able to have some fantastic conversations with people we love, got involved with a fantastic charity, saw some incredible live music and made a few new friends along the way. I asked everyone to submit their top 3 records of the year, and everyone was able to keep it to paragraphs except for Foley, who ended up getting his own full post. Below is where we came in personally in 2016.
Megadeth/Dystopia – Metallica, maybe the first three records. Anthrax, the four album Joey Belladonna run. Slayer, not so much anything. Megadeth. Everything. Dave Mustaine still brings it. The riffs, the leads, the sound, the sneer, the songs, all of it, all day every day. Dystopia delivers and is another knotch on the belt of elite progressive metal. Dave has his old buddy Dave Ellefson back on bass and his new buddy, Brazilian guitar monster Kiko Loureiro, playing guitar both live and on the record. With Dystopia, Megadeth has established themselves as THE Thrash Metal band for the ages. Dave Mustaine will play a special acoustic performance on Friday, December 16, 2016 at the Hard Rock Café in Boston where all of the proceeds will support Music Drives Us and their mission of keeping music in New England schools.
Owl City/Adam Young/Monthly Scores – If all you know about Adam Young/Owl City are his world wide smashes Fireflies and Good Time (featuring Carly Rae Jepsen) you are missing out, especially in 2016. On the first day of each month he released a musical score inspired by a significant, historical event that inspires him. Subjects such as Omaha Beach and Voyager I serve as the perfect inspiration for the swirling soundscapes that is Adam Young. To hear Adam in an instrumental setting on this passion project is truly special. Available for free download/streaming at http://www.ayoungscores.com/ and most steaming services. Look for new Owl City music in later 2017.
All Saints/Red Flag – The Beatles had the Stones, Oasis had Blur, and the Spice Girls had All Saints. While the gals had only modest success Stateside with their single Never Ever, they charted and sold out shows across the pond with regularity in the late 90’s. The girls are now women, moms, and solo artists but found the time for a second comeback with the recording of Red Flag. While leader/song writer Shaznay Lewis has matured, she is no less sexy, funky, and powerful. Along with still brilliant harmonies from Melanie Blatt and the Appelton sisters, Nicole and Natalie, and songs like One Woman Man and Ratchet Behavior, All Saints remind us just what made them the perfect alternative to Girl Power saturation of the time. Stream Red Flag using most popular services and look for them opening up for a Robbie Williamsless Take That on tour in 2017.
Hozier; self-titled – the prodigal son of Irish folk and American blues. Gorgeous imagery, intelligent lyrics, and strong deep vocals combined into something so new and different from anything else that’s come before it.
The Used; Imaginary Enemy – Political punk rock in the vein of Rise Against. Calling for a revolution of compassion and love in a world that seems to be growing darker all the time.
Icon For Hire; Cynics and Critics – chick rock! Smart, honest lyrics that resonate with the fighter, the rebel, the misfit in all of us, trying to find our place in the world and hungry for the chance to prove our worth to an indifferent world.
Grant Lee Phillips – The Narrows: The Narrows is a bit of a sentimental pick, but as deserving of the recognition as any other that crossed my mind this year. This is Grant Lee Phillips best work in probably a decade, and that’s a decade of some pretty great releases. I’m partial to Grant with a full band behind him, as it allows the music to breath and be as honest and to reach the depths the lyrics bring forth. If all you know of Grant is the Gilmore Girls, do yourself a favor, explore the Narrows.
Ray LaMontagne – Ouroboros: The subtle down home americana of Ray wouldn’t seem to be a natural pair for My Morning Jackets frontman Jim James, but together they created a fantastic soundscape that is something all their own, and for me it ranks this high for both of them taking the risk and nailing it.
The Frighteners – Nothing More to Say: A stellar debut from this Queens-based band, with a rocksteady groove that could easily be 50 years old. The songs could vary a bit more but this hit my ears like a tidal wave and I’ve continued to find solace and enjoyment in the simplistic melodies and heartfelt nakedness of Dan Kleins voice.
Upstate Rubdown- A Remedy: With a name like Upstate Rubdown, you can’t help but expect an explosion of some sort. Expectedly, the band’s first album, A Remedy, provides a climax of optimal enjoyment. The band is composed of seven members, three of which share the center stage. Melanie Glenn, Mary Kenney and Allison Olender provide a harmonization so tenderly captivating; it is difficult to keep yourself from slipping into a hypnotic daze.
Mike Gordon Band- Overstep: Throughout my post performance blues I always find myself yearning for more. It’s a bit of a curse, especially when pertaining to a group that I was relatively unfamiliar with prior to the show. This is exactly what I am experiencing following my two- night run with the Mike Gordon Band. This group culminates a sound so unique that instead of trying to describe it, I am merely going to insist that you give their most recent album, Overstep, a listen. It is a groove unlike anything else.
Mariah Carey, 1 to Infinity: I mean, does this one even need an explanation? A blessing in disguise is my cars’ inability play anything other than CD’s. I bought this forgotten gem about a month ago, and I like to describe the discovery as a religious experience. This is Mariah’s sixth compilation album, and it includes all of the classics. Start your day off with “Dreamlover”, and your bound for greatness.
Bowling For Soup- Drunk Dynasty: How could I do a best album of the year review without including Bowling For Soup in it? Sure I might be impartial because they are one of my favorite bands, but the album is really solid. It shows off what the band does best, mixing smart lyrics with punk rock instrumentals. The band’s first new album in three years, Drunk Dynasty is an uproarious good time. They know what they’re good at and what their fans want, as the saying goes: ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’
Pierce The Veil- Misadventures: The long-awaited fourth studio album was released in May of this year to ecstatic, yet apprehensive fans; would the album live up to the hype that had been building over the last four years? Fans got their answer quickly: yes. The album is like an electric jolt through the system, with booming guitar riffs and rhythmic thumping of the drums. Their song “Bedless” is a sweeping rock opera that is both reflective and dramatic. Hard-hitting lyric show the journey that the band has gone through to produce this album, and goes to show that quality music takes time. It’s an album that was definitely worth the wait.
The 1975- I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful yet So Unaware of It: Though the title is a mouthful, the sophomore album by The 1975 is eclectic and ambitious. At the heart of this album are a medley of instrumentals and synthesizers that push the album to be like anything heard on the charts today. Sometimes the music has a funky, seventies vibe to it, like with thesong “Love Me,” while others have an eighties, disco groove, like “She’s American.” The whole album has a dreamy, almost otherworldly feel to it. The music is hypnotizing, especially the instrumental-only number “Please Be Naked.” It’s an album of epic proportions that should be heard at least once.