This was a tough year to do this. The emergence of Spotify in my daily life has made it more difficult for the whole album experience. Only through sheer will and might was it possible to create a top 5 like never before (I base this on nothing).
Arbouretum – Song of the Rose
This is a back to basics rock band that relies heavily on the vocals of their lead singer Dave Heumann. While listening to this entire album I envision Dave standing on a mountain top with his long wind blowing in the wind bellowing these beautiful medieval lyrics. This type of music is such a rarity now. Straight forward guitar chords and drum beats that wrap themselves around the lead singer of the band. I could see this album coming out in the late 70’s and being the opening band for a Deep Purple concert. It’s a refreshing take on a style of music that has nearly been long forgotten. Slow grooves (Dead Meadow’esque) rock the rest of the album after Fall From an Eyrie which is the highlight of the album. All in all it’s a wonderful rock and roll album that will have you giving a double take at the year that it actually came out.
The War on Drugs – A Deeper Understanding
It’s difficult for me to even rank this album. When a band comes out with maybe the album of the decade (Lost in the Dream) how do you follow that up? Their approach for this record is simple. It’s basically a spin off of the song “Under the Pressure” from the aforementioned album. Each song is a wonderful medley of a mumbling Adam Grunduciel that is kind of a mix of Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, and Bryan Adams. The vibe of the band is still phenomenal, and their live show is even better. This album is the kind of background music that you can throw and every person that experienced Woodstock or wanted to experience Woodstock will be head-bobbing asking who this band is. There is absolutely no question about it – this is a throw back to blue collar 80’s rock and roll. One thing is certain they have perfected the chill vibe – putting you at ease like a bed-time story – followed with a 3 minute guitar solo. Pain is the song to hear – enjoy.
Real Estate – In Mind
Why mess with something that works so beautifully? Real Estate does not go off of the tracks often. The gorgeous beach vibe chords meshed with a flowing soft voice – that has been their bread and butter since day one. Their main function to you is to make you feel like life is going to be good to you. There is not a care in the world when any Real Estate album. As mentioned in years their sound feels like you cleaning up your house after a wonderful house party the next day. Sun is shining, birds are chirping, and you are slightly fighting dehydration. This album has kind of stuck with me since it’s release. I wasn’t overly impressed at the beginning, but as with nearly every one of their previous records it begins to imprint itself onto your soul. The modern day Beach Boys wouldn’t be a stretch here. Darling is the song to focus on here.
L.A. Witch – Self Titled
This band came out of nowhere. Three early twenties women that have a sound that is so bloody cool. Like a Tarantino movie if it was made into music. Their lead singer/guitarist Sade Sanchez is an absolute presence in every regard. Whether it be her garage rock style of guitar playing or her Janis Joplin type of raspy singing. The band revolves around her completely. There isn’t an album that I’ve played more this year. Each week I would wait for another single from the album to come out and be amazed when it was just as good as the previous. There isn’t any other way to put this – there isn’t a cooler band out there in the world than these three ladies. Drive Your Car is the single that really gets this thing going.
Beach Fossils – Somersault
Well, this was an unexpected surprise. The boys from Beach Fossils were at one time Real Estate lite. They have grown into an absolute powerhouse of a band with the adding melody and multiple instruments. They have always had a nice vibe to them. An easy- to-listen to approach. This album still has those components. What it adds is more depth to the band. Giving them a sustainability they may not have had before. Flowing vocals, beautiful acoustics, and percussion’s that play with a sense of urgency that I had not heard previously. This could be the start of something great if they are able to keep the momentum of this album going. Looking forward to what’s next. Be Nothing and Sugar are the best two songs of the album.