My Top 10 Albums of 2016.

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Mercifully, 2016 is nearly over. That being said, it wasn’t a bad year for new music in my opinion. I’m not doing song by song album breakdowns, just the highlights and some honest opinions. Here’s my top ten albums of 2016 in no particular order. \m/

1) Nine Inch Nails – Not The Actual Events

NIN - Not The Actual Events

    Wow is a word I would use. Unexpected is another word I would use. I didn’t expect this album to be so good. I mean it’s really fucking good. “Branches / Bones” the title itself reminds me of Deftones “Hearts / Wires” for some reason and I like that. It’s a rocker, immediate, and the riff is LOUD AS FUCK, just the way I like it. The album moves right along into “Dear World,” which is more like what I expected, but a lot better. It’s got a bit of a Daft Punk vibe in the synth I really like. “The Idea of You” might be the best song I’ve heard all year. Fuck this might be album of the year. This is the NIN you’ve been waiting for…\m/

2) Biffy Clyro – Ellipsis

    Biffy is back! A new producer is just what they needed to get out of the stale commercial formula they had started to fall into. As an old school, pre “Puzzle” era Biffy fan, songs like “Animal Style” and “Friends and Enemies” really have that raw old school Biffy style I like. “Re-arrange” and “Howl” are both amazing as well. “Howl” has an awesome Kerbdog reference in the lyrics. Keep it real Si! The best Biffy album since “Puzzle” in my opinion. Mon the Biff!

3) Violent Soho – WACO

      What a great band! One of the only bands I hear and can immediately feel the 90s dragging me back in time. A better time when the riffs were huge, the meanings were genuine, and the songs had hooks. Yeah… I’ve been a fan of these guys for a long time and I have to say this is definitely their finest album to date. “Blanket” is a standout for me, I find myself screaming along to the chorus “yeah yeah yeah” what a tune, what a riff. “Viceroy” is another great song and more of what I’ve come to expect from them in a single. You can’t help but feel the Foo Fighters influence on “Evergreen”. Give this album a listen, you’ll be glad you did.

 

4) Eric Bachmann – Self Titled

      What a surprise! This album is beautiful, it’s dark, it’s got one of the most amazing vocal hooks on it I’ve heard all year in the chorus on”Dreaming”. The ex Archers of Loaf front man has written some of his best stuff on this one. Don’t expect Archers style rocking but this album definitely gives me the feels.

 

5) Deftones – Gore

      Their best post Chi album. It has buzzsaw riffs. It has proggy time signatures. It has hooky choruses. I love “Hearts / Wires” the most though, what a chorus, gets me singing along every time. 2016 seemed to be the year of the return to form for a lot of bands but I think in the Deftones case they’re just finally moving on and finding their groove. Good for them, keep em coming guys! \m/

 

6) Radiohead – Moon Shaped Pool


This is a great album. There’s nothing I can say about it other people haven’t already said ad nauseam. It’s Radiohead, they’re awesome, you already know this. Moving along.

7) Devin Townsend Project – Transcendence

    Devin Townsend is one of the best kept secrets in the music world. If you’re not a hardcore metal fan that knows him from the Strapping Young Lad days you may not know who Devin Townsend is. This is definitely the best thing he’s released since “Addicted”. “Higher” is a masterpiece of songwriting and performance. “From the Heart” is a masterful metal ballad, done right. Every person in this band is an amazing musician. Do yourself a favor and BUY a copy of this album. HIGHLY recommended. \m/ \m/

8) Jimmy Eat World – Integrity Blues

      I love Jim Adkins. I love every thing about this guy. His songwriting, his voice, the dude has it all. The Jimmy songwriting you love is back on this album. Really, really solid tunes. I was really surprised by the riffage on “Pass the Baby” at the end of the song! More of that please! \m/ “Get Right” has the “Futures” vibe you’ve been waiting for. “Sure & Certain” keeps the 2000 feels coming but with a modern edge. A really great album, their best since, well, “Futures”. Don’t overthink it guys, you know what to do. \m/

 

9) Filter – Crazy Eyes

    Hey this one is easy. If you liked Filter in the 90s, then you’ll love the new Filter album. “Mother E” stomps it’s foot and dares you to cross the line. It’s loud, it’s dark, and it’s industrial. A solid return to form.

10) Dinosaur Jr. – Give a Glimpse Of What Yer Not


I thought I’d save a good one for last, like a fine wine. I mean it’s J and Murph and Lou, you know it’s fucking good. Definitely one of their strongest efforts since Lou has returned to the band. “Goin Down” has that “Where You Been” attitude right from the start. There’s nothing not to love about this album. “Be a part” is a great slow melodic rocker reminiscent of something from “Without a Sound” like “Mind Glow”. Really amazing these guys can pump out albums like this so deep in their career. I’m just glad they’re still around. Legends.

Honorable mentions:
Helmet – Dead to the World

Russian Circles – Guidance

Pinegrove – Cardinal

Gojira – Magma

Garbage – Strange Little Birds

Sell Out Single Release and LP Details!

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Today I am finally releasing the first self-titled single from the “Sell Out” LP. It’s a noisy one! You can hear it below. \m/

Sell Out

(1st Verse)
Play the same lame shit.
If the kids aren’t bored of it.
Losers still pretend.
Play the radio friendly blend.

(2nd Verse)
Here we go again.
Bored to death let’s all join in.
Poseurs still pretend.
Sell the radio friendly blend.

(Pre Chorus)
Hello where did you go?
How did you sink so low?
Why did it all become about the money?

(Chorus)
He’s the one that sold his soul.
He sold the heart of rock & roll.
He turned his back on us for all the pretty things.
You sell out motherfucker…

He sold his heart he sold his soul.
He sold out all of his control.
To serve his corporate masters.
Pretend to please the masses. (It fills my heart with sadness.)

You sold out!!! x3
You motherfucker!

(Outro)
Unite!
Deny!
You lie!
x4

Ok……Ears ringing yet? Good I did my job well. On to the LP details.

There are 10 tracks on the Sell Out LP. Here are the titles.

  1. Sell Out
  2. Fad
  3. Lame
  4. Everyday
  5. Floor Tom(Hip Song)
  6. Wonderful Somewhere
  7. Musician Actor
  8. Fuck You
  9. T-symmetry
  10. Gone

The good news is all of the music is recorded. The bad news is I have yet to record vocals for the other 9 tracks. I’ve decided that instead of waiting to record and mix and master the remaining 9 tracks to release the LP, I’ll go ahead and finish them one at a time in order and release them.

I feel like this way will be better otherwise it may be 6 months due to my limited time to work on music before I can release another track. That being said, look for another track or two before the end of the year.

Fad should be next, it’s a little bit Helmet and a little bit Jimmy Eat World. Sounds weird I know but it’s probably the best song on the album. Until then! \m/

Post Modern Rock Still Sucks (Why Nirvana Still Matters 25 Years Later)

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History has it wrong. History claims the alt scene of the early 90s belongs to Gen X-ers. I disagree. Sure, those bands were mostly comprised of artists who were Gen X-ers and possibly older. But there was a gap in there, a whole generation of kids that history forgot. History says Gen-X ends around the 80s and the Millennial generation begins. I disagree.

There was a forgotten generation. A ten year gap. A generation of dark, caring, serious youths. We were the ones that embraced the early 90s alt. We were the ones that bought the grunge albums. We were the ones that wore the flannel shirts and questioned everything. We were the grunge generation. And we have been completely forgotten by history. History has decided to toss us in at the end of Gen-X like some kind of unimportant afterthought, while Gen-X proudly claims they were responsible for the amazing early 90s alternative rock movement. History is wrong.

We were the angry hippies. We were the generation that gave a fuck. In hindsight maybe too much of a fuck. We weren’t lazy, we rebelled by opting out, and Cobain was our leader. If you were a teenager in the early to mid-90s you were in the grunge generation. Grunge belonged to us and us to it.

Many people wonder why this music matters so much 25 years later. Many people will scoff at these ideas and laugh at Teen Spirit in 2016. These people will never understand because these people didn’t live through that time period as a teenager. These artists made music that mattered. They wrote about things that came from a pure place. They weren’t trying to party on stage or throw cakes or dance and be happy. They were writing songs about things that really mattered to them and it resonated with a forgotten generation of kids that didn’t understand the excess of the hair rock and just wanted something REAL. Something pure. Something that said fuck you to all of the bullshit that they saw in the world around them. That’s why this music still matters 25 years later, and sadly that’s why there will never be a movement quite like it again.

It’s extremely sad when you consider that the entire alt rock movement of the early 90s was over in less than 5 years. Just enough time to influence one high school generation. That same generation went on to give the world nu-metal. I don’t mean Limp whatever, I mean real nu-metal. Deftones, early Korn, SOAD, the real stuff. We built on grunge and made it our own, and again sadly that too was over by the late 90s thanks to Brit Brit and the dancing stync boys. Fine, whatever, I get it, times change. Everything comes back around or so they say. I won’t hold my breath.

There were some unsung heroes that should be mentioned. Bands like The Replacements, Dinosaur Jr., Soul Asylum, the list goes on and on of these great mostly ignored alt/indie bands from the 80s. These are the bands that were the most directly responsible for all of that great music in the early 90s. Even if you never listened to them the bands you loved listened to them and you were influenced by them even if you didn’t know it. These bands gave a fuck. These were the grandfathers of grunge. If you’ve never heard Tim or Bug or Hang Time you should do yourself a favor and jump on Spotify and give those albums a listen. That’s how it’s done in 2016. No need to take more than 10 seconds to find amazing music, just point and click and forget. No need to actually feel anything.

Nirvana’s music matters 25 years later because it was music that made you feel something. It wasn’t easy to understand. It wasn’t easy to digest. How many parents cringed at Rape Me and scolded their kids for listening to it? All he’s doing is yelling my dad would say. How can you listen to this? How many bands can you say that about in 2016? No one yells anymore. No one rocks anymore. Emotionless auto-tuned garbage love songs are 90 percent of what I hear in the mainstream. Where are the songs that actually make you FEEL something?

If you want to understand why Nirvana’s music still matters 25 years later. Maybe you should start by actually trying to understand the generation that made it popular. We weren’t Gen-Xers we were the grunge generation. We wanted to hear music that made you FEEL something. Because we actually felt something. We were generation grunge and we don’t give a fuck if you don’t understand why Nirvana still matters 25 years later. Here we are now, entertain us.

 

 

All Things Must Come Back…

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Recently I watched the documentary about Tower Records and it’s rise and fall called “All Things Must Pass” by filmmaker Colin Hanks. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tower_Records#Documentary

While the documentary itself doesn’t tackle the idea of where to go from here for the music industry it did raise a few interesting points. Of course the lack of demand for physical copies of music is the real cause of the demise of the music industry. There are a few other key factors, some of which are discussed in the documentary. For one the idea of forcing people to buy an entire album to get one song was a key factor. Another issue was the price of physical music had just got to the point where people could no longer afford it. Going to Napster was the obvious choice for young people in the early 2000s. Music retailers and industry people forgot who buys most of the music. The young people with low incomes.

Of course all of this has been said before. One of the most interesting things I took from the documentary was the idea that hits make albums sell better for everyone. When Michael Jackson’s thriller came out, album sales in general spiked for everyone. I grew up in the 90s and I remember how Nirvana’s Nevermind ushered in record sales for artists that had previously not sold as well in the past. This is a true statement. Great artists and great albums create a great market for everyone.

 This is a key point. If the music is great people are willing to pay for it.

I’m not trying to say that there aren’t great artists today or great music. Clearly, there is. Is it on the level of Thriller and Nevermind? Maybe, not. There are a lot of artists that copy each other and that copy the past. Maybe too many. Maybe the artists should partially blame themselves for not pushing more boundaries and being more original with their sound. Stop copying the 80s, the 60s, whatever it is and do something completely original. Stop worrying about offending people and just SAY SOMETHING NEW.

I’ve got a little off point. People always used to say to me growing up everything comes back around again. Clearly this is true. CDs destroyed Vinyl in the 90s and now Vinyl is destroying CDs. The 80s are all over the current musical trends. Synth is in, Flock of Seagulls would be proud. I’m not sure if there was a time period in the past where singers beat on tom drums on stage but if there was I sure wish no one had ever thought of it.

Back to my point. I’ve given this a lot of thought as I am sure most industry people and artists have. How do you make music valuable again? How do you get back to the billion dollar a year album sales that Tower Records had at one point? The simple answer is, you don’t. Mobile devices are the future. Period. Streaming is cheap and convenient, I really don’t see physical copies ever coming back like they were in the late 90s.

The only thing you could do is put music in a completely encrypted format that will only play on specific physical devices or through apps that can decrypt it. While that might last for a while someone will crack it eventually and everyone will just download it for free again. Streaming could pay artists better this is true. But to get to the profit level music was at before you would have to charge too much for streaming which would put people right back to downloading.

I have one idea to share. Keep the streaming as it is, with the exception of a better pay scale for artists. More pennies per play for the artist, and soon. I think the best hope for right now is to use a combination of crowdfunding and pre ordering. Let the artist release the single on the streaming sites. Then set a pre order limit for the release of the rest of the album. Once the album reaches x pre orders then release it. Or if it falls short set a time deadline as well. At least this way the album can achieve maximum success before it’s released into the wild to be consumed for free by downloaders.

The genie is not going back in the bottle. Physical copies aren’t coming back. What music really needs now is a great strategy and some REALLY GREAT NEW ARTISTS. All things must come back in time, including the value of music.