Top 5 Albums of 2017

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).

5.

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.

4.

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.

 

3.

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.

 

2.

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.

 

1.

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.

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Top 5 Albums of 2016

Top 5 Albums of 2016

 

  1. Preoccupations – Preoccupations

Preoccupations is a throw-back album to the industrial era of music.  They settle right in between the Jesus and Mary Chain and My Bloody Valentine.  Growling vocals, moody baselines, and matching drums and guitar strokes makes this album memorable and unique.  2016 wasn’t a great year for music in my personal opinion.  But when this album kind of fell into my lap while looking into old Echo and the Bunnymen records.  Preoccupations don’t make any apologies for the type of music that they have released.  They aren’t looking for that one single that will make them relevant.  The best song on the album is a 12 minute marathon of multiple layered dimensions of every style of industrial that has been acknowledged.  There is something about this album that I can’t put my finger on that I love which is why I love it.  Nick Cave meets Echo and the Bunnymen at a Wolf Parade concert.  Memory is the best song on the album.  This record isn’t a juggernaut, but it’s solid all the way through.

  1. David Bowie – Blackstar

It’s obvious that the death of David Bowie will be felt all over the music scene.  But the amazing thing about Bowie is that he didn’t fade away.  He created a masterpiece of music while fighting off cancer.  This album is completely different from multiple Bowie eras.  It doesn’t have a lot of that 80’s feel.  It doesn’t have the early rock feel.  It also doesn’t have that space feel from the early 90’s.  Blackstar is its own entity – sounding nothing like what he has released previously.   Bowie used horns, saxophones, piano, computers, and of course the usual instruments.  Every sound of this record is a well thought out feeling.  There are two stand out singles on this record – Blackstar and Lazarus.  Of all of the fantastic people that passed away in 2016 David Bowie is the one that affected me the most.  If you just go through his catalogue of music you will find something new nearly every time.  Fantastic artist and a beautiful final album.

 

  1. Car Seat Headrest – Teens of Denial

I had zero expectations for this album.  I already had it pegged as a super aggressive no talent millennial that was looking for a hook to get that one single noticed and become famous from there.  I was flat out wrong.  This mid-20’s Asian man named Will Toledo can play the fu**ing guitar.  If you miss Dinosaur Jr. and Stephen Malkmus have a listen to this album.  It’s raw, it’s emotional, and the best thing about it is it doesn’t sell out.  This album vomits all over your Drake sweater and doesn’t apologize for it.  Vincent and Destroyed by Hippie Powers are the two stand out tracks on this album.  Top to bottom though it’s a thrashing good time.  This might be the live show that I look most forward to when he decides to come back to Toronto.  Refreshing as a glass of Hi-C when you were 13 years old.  Music is in good hands if Car Seat Headrest becomes popular.

 

  1. Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool

Radiohead is the best band on the planet currently.  They continue to show this each and every time that they release an album.  A Moon Shaped Pool is no different.  There is just something about this band.  They know exactly the feel of the album that is required to stay relevant and fantastic.  Try to describe this band to anybody that listens to another not quite as respected genre of music – oh let’s just say country for the heck of it.  They will not understand what the big deal is with Radiohead.  You will be left shaking your head to yourself at the end of the conversation.  The vibe, the feel, the sounds, the instruments – everything is mathematically calculated similar to a casino sound for your brain to enjoy and to accept that this band is a unique group that may never be duplicated. Burn the Witch is the best song on the album, but there are quite a few 5 star singles.  Does this record get to the areas of greatness such as the Bends and In Rainbows – I don’t think so, but it was still the best record of the year up until the last month when…

 

  1. A Tribe Called Quest – We Got It From Here

It must have been a few months ago when I heard that this album was going to be released.  I decided to go back and listen to their catalogue.  Why can’t rap sound like this again?  There are actual instruments in this record.  There is fluid vocal stream from each member of the band. Samples that are relevant to the feel of the song.  There is absolutely no question that this is the best rap album for 2016.  But, then there’s the fact of being the best album of the year.  This masterpiece has everything.  Top to bottom listening capability.  Head bobbing and extremely intelligent lyrics.  Fluid motion that is required for a top notch rap album.  I miss this sound being played on my iPod.  There are multiple fantastic singles on We Got It From Here.  I am not sure that I can even attempt to pick one out.  Number 1 without even a question.  If you can beat a Radiohead album out on Hosehead’s Top 5 albums you have done something right.  You should be proud of yourselves gentlemen.

Top 5 Albums of 2015

As you know I do this every year.  No greatest hits, and no soundtracks.

Enjoy!

5.    Lower Dens – Escape from Evil

Originally I had Father John Misty slotted in this spot.  The more and more I thought about it though, I came to realize that the Lower Dens is a permanent staple in my playlist and deserves to be mentioned in the top 5 this year.  One thing that really stands out in this album is the distinct voice of Jana Hunter.  It’s a delivery that plays so well with the mood of the album.  There are tiny bits of multiple genres of music played here.  Sprinkle of Caribou, dash of New Order, and a tiny bit of XX.  The album really shines with it’s ability to balance the guitar work with the tone that the album is really trying to show off.   By far the top point of the record is To Die in LA.  The keyboard gives it a feel of a ’80s John Hughes movie, but the rest of the song feels like it’s the transition from 80’s to 90’s.   Escape from Evil is a solid play from top to bottom.  It’s mixed well, and the instruments flow together seamlessly.  It’s an unexpected pick for my top 5, but my iPod doesn’t lie.

 

4. Tame Impala – Currents

What can you say about this band that hasn’t already been said.  They are able to change styles throughout each album without missing a beat.  They still have a bit of their psychedelia in this album, but have really raised the bar when it comes to synths and keyboards.  Tame Impala have grown up.  The filler on each song isn’t just a band-aid for the song.  It’s a well thought out sound that mixes beautifully with each tune.  Kevin Parker has also raised the bar for his vocals.  Not only using his soft voice for feel, he now uses it as an instrument to in each song.  He is able to change tones to match the identity of the song.  There is only one tiny draw back to the complete change of style.  The drums have been practically removed.  Mind Mischief off of Lonerism has one of the best starts of a single in recent memory.  There are points of this album that I miss that sound.  Currents is not only a beautifully sounding album; it gives you a certain feeling.  You can’t put your finger on it, but the songs are calculated perfectly and the talent of this band really shows up on this record.

 

3 – Jose Gonzalez – Vestiges and Claws

I try not to be bias when I write my top 5.  It’s very difficult to do this when your favourite artist constantly puts out masterpieces regardless if he is solo or with Junip.  Classic guitar style with maybe the best voice in the business.   There is having high-hopes for an album then there is what I had for this record.  Jose is a magician on the acoustic, and the weird thing about it – he makes it look so easy.  Like he just sat down on his couch and came up with a song in 10 minutes.  If you enjoy acoustic of any sort and haven’t really had a listen to his catalog of music.  Give yourself a full day to be submersed into his world.  Every single thing about the album gives me chills.  Whether it be the smoothness of each note, to his outstanding ability to lull you into a dream without actually putting you to sleep.  The only reason why this isn’t number one is because it’s an extension off of his previous solo stuff.  It’s gorgeous and will make you feel fantastic.

 

Sufjan Stevens – Carrie and Lowell

Welcome back Sufjan.  You ventured off in a different direction.  I applaud you for broadening your horizons, but we really need you back.  The Age of Adz was a good album, it wasn’t exactly my cup of tea, but I understood why people enjoyed it.  Stevens has a magical way of making his music sound like everything that you would want an orchestra to be.  Using instruments that would be odd for others, but for him is just another way to process what’s going on in his head.  It’s difficult to describe to other people what Sufjan sounds like.  You either get it or you don’t.  Throw on Illinoise for details.  Carrie and Lowell is a striped down back to earth album.  It’s using everything that works without going to far off of the tracks.  Stevens voice is absolutely gorgeous throughout this album.  Pausing and expressing tones at perfect times within the record.  After listening to Carrie and Lowell I expect to feel sad, but it’s actually the complete opposite.  Beautiful album that cannot be rushed through.

 

  1.  Kurt Vile – B’lieve I’m Goin Down

You ever sit down and start to just think of lyrics without actually jotting them down?  They sound absolutely perfect in your head.  You have a sound that you want the guitar to make that would sound wonderful with what you just wrote, but then you actually begin to play, and you can’t make it work.  Kurt Vile made it work.  This album is a masterpiece.  It’s a story that was written without a pause or a second thought.  Like a slice of your life that was cut out and somebody made a soundtrack to it.  His guitar work is perfect.  Vile has always been great at creating a mood for his music, but there are times when he can be a bit to dark.  This album is a weight on your subconscious.  It’s not something that you can just throw on in the background at a party.  It needs your full attention from top to bottom. Have a listen to “That’s Life Tho,”  It’s the best song of the year, and this the best album of the year hands down.