OK, for an album to be in my top ten, it must be an album that I listened to over and over again start-to-finish. So these are the albums that I really got into this year.
War On Women – War On Women
When you hear certain hard rock albums for the first time, like Alice In Chains’ “Dirt”, or Guns ‘N’ Roses’ “Appetite For Destruction”, Korn’s debut album, Nirvana’s “Nevermind” or even AC/DC’s “Back In Black” album, Def Leppard’s “Pyromania”, they yank you out of your seat, and you listen to them over and over again, thinking how can this album rock so hard? I felt the same way when I accidentally stumbled across the band “War On Women” this past Spring. I had been watching music videos on YouTube, when I came across this Propaghandi documentary type video, and thought they were pretty cool. I got distracted, left the room for a while doing something else, when I heard this other band rocking, but there were no vocals. It was a “related” video of the band War On Women playing at The FEST 2013. There was this awesome guitar work, but the vocals were completely drowned out. I looked them up and bought their newly released self-titled album and was completely blown away. This album has very aggressive in your face guitar work with hypnotic, delicate, yet authoritative vocals and is pedal to the medal from start to finish. The songs sequence and transitions are as if you’re watching a live show. Nearly all of their songs are themed about women’s issues and injustices in the face of our political climate and culture here in the U.S.
Dirty Ghosts – Let It Pretend
Dirty Ghosts are a band I discovered circa 2011 from the Last Gang Records Label as I listen to a lot of bands from them (Metric, Crystal Castles, Death From Above 1979). They are fronted by Allyson Baker and Erin McDermott hailing from San Francisco. This latest album from them was highly anticipated for me as it had been several years since their debut. This album is quite different than their first one. The new album has a very early ’80s techno sound and feel to it and reminds me a lot of The Cars mixed in with Devo, Nena and The Police. The songs on the album have cleverly crafted placement of instruments, nice structure, as if they were influenced by Rush. The entire album is a blast to listen to.
Screaming Females – Rose Mountain
I got into this band, led by phenomenal guitarist Marissa Potner toward the end of 2014. I watched a lot of their online live performances and was really looking forward to their February release, Rose Mountain. The first thing you notice listening to this band is the guitar work and vocals from Marissa (kinda like the first time I heard Geddy Lee singing on Rush’s Caress Of Steel album), but there is no denying the amazing guitar work. While this whole album jams, there are moments that are more mellow-progressive. In particular songs Wishing Well with beautiful imagery in the lyrics, Rose Mountain that heavily builds before casually settling in, and Hopeless, which really is a departure for Marissa’s vocal style and is probably the most emotional song I’ve heard her perform. She is also an incredible artist and has published some of her artwork.
Worriers – Imaginary Life
I actually discovered this amazing band through Screaming Female’s record label Don Giovanni Records. I was immediately drawn by Lauren Denitzio’s vocals and Audrey Zee Whiteside’s awesome sounding bass. The album starts out with a melodic reminiscence in Jinx and transitions into what more seems like the first track on the album, Plans. The songs on this album are sung from the heart and deal with a variety of issues, insecurities, personal challenges, emotions and all.
Violent Mae – Kid
This is the second album from Violent Mae who hails from Connecticut. This album offers more amazing guitar work from Becky Kessler and incredible arrangements by drummer and unconventional percussionist Floyd. This album continues to validate incredible craftiness from well-polished guitar work from Becky, along with soulful and sultry vocals that suck you right in. This is another start-to-finish album from this amazing group.
Genevieve – EP
I bought Genevieve’s EP at her show in Indianapolis. This is a great debut from the former Company Of Thieves artist. This album is a very upbeat and positive pop album with inspiring vocals.
Dekades – Dekades EP
I’ve been a fan of Dekades, out of L.A. for a few years now, and it’s been a few years since their 1.1 EP so I was super excited when they released their new self-titled EP. This album is a much more raw album than the previous one. The EP has a haunting and urgent tone to it. Looking forward to hearing more from this great band in 2016.
Elle King – Love Stuff
I discovered Elle King when Lollapalooza announced their 2015 Lineup. Checked out some of her work and really loved her full-length debut. This young lady has a great band and a lot of charm and drive and vocally kinda reminds me of John Fogerty. This album could pass as a country album and I really don’t listen to country music.
Rush – R40
Rush’s latest live release to mark their 40th Anniversary as recording artists. Their R40 tour in 2015 reviewed their entire career starting from latest to earliest. There are a couple of songs on here they hadn’t previously released live.
Barb Wire Dolls – Live In Berlin
Barb Wire Dolls released their Berlin performance on their BandCamp web page. This concert consists of all of their material from their upcoming album to be released in 2016, and also includes Barb Wire Dolls staple songs from their first album that have remained a part of their live act.