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Showing posts from January, 2020

Best Albums of the 2010s: Number 7 - "Push The Sky Away" by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds

Whilst last year's "Ghosteen" and "Skeleton Tree" from 2016 have hoovered up plaudits aplenty, it is the album that proceeds those two companion pieces that makes the cut as one of the best albums of the last decade.

It marks the beginning of the shift from his more traditional song based work to the more ethereal style of those two most recent works. The unique mix of the carnal, spiritual and sinister that runs like a thread of DNA through his catalogue is perfectly balanced here against the film soundtracks that he and Warren Ellis have dragged their work towards.
Rhythmic pulsing underpins many of the songs like a spine holding everything together, over which the varying layers and styles drift in and out like the tide coming and going.
Those tides reach a couple crescendos with "Mermaids" and "Higgs Boson Blues" before the beautiful, elegiac, (and almost foreshadowing what was to come), title track breaks like a wave upon the shore and set…

Best Albums of the 2010s: Number 8 - "Hymn of a Broken Man" by Times of Grace

Unnoticed by many, but this side project, stymied by the reunion it led to, is one the best metal albums this century, never mind the last decade. Upon listening to this you will be struck by two things; firstly the sheer number of arms aloft, chest thumping riffage that pounds your ears, and secondly envy for the talents of Adam Dutkiewicz. Not only did the Killswitch Engage guitarist write all the music, play all the instruments he also produced, engineered and mixed it for good measure! Former, (at the time), Killswitch vocalist Jesse Leach contributes lead vocals and lyrics loaded with his usual passion and intensity.

Whilst the pace is punishing, although melodic, for the first half, it takes a gentle instrumental pause halfway through with "In the Arms of Mercy" and revisits the more mellow tone on "The Forgotten One" and "The End of Eternity".
Be in no doubt though, from the moment the martial drums start to build during the intro to stunning opener,…

Best Albums of the 2010s: Number 9 - "A Sailor's Guide To Earth" by Sturgill Simpson

Equal parts concept album, (a letter to his son from the road), and a middle finger to the expectations of the industry, this 2016 masterpiece from Sturgill Simpson is the perfect midpoint between the traditional sound of his earlier work and the freewheeling craziness of last year's "Sound & Fury". (Full review of that here). What this album achieves is a sublime balance between the authentic country of Simpson's voice and background with the ambition and grandeur of rock. Cosmic American Music perhaps; I can imagine Gram Parsons looking down like a spectral Obi-Wan saying "well done my young padawan- the force is strong with this one".
From the lullaby-esque piano start of "Welcome To Earth(Pollywog)", (decorated with the pedal steel that adorns much of this record), and its heartfelt message that morphs into a horn-driven soul stomper, right through to the angry and urgent protest of "Call To Arms" this is a work that ebbs and flow…

Best Albums Of The 2010s: Number 10- "In Spades" by The Afghan Whigs

Released in 2017, the second album since they were resurrected by band leader Greg Dulli, "In Spades" stands comparison with the finest of their 1990s output. Whereas "Do To The Beast" occasionally hit the heights, this grabs the listener from the outset on "Birdland";  its otherworldly sounds morphing into wobbly synth stabs offset with string work making you question what you are hearing. The familiar Whigs traits soon take over before "Arabian Heights" confirms we really are hearing something special that demonstrates why this band have always been a touchstone for me. The slippery grooves, the yearning vocals, the soul, funk and rhythm & blues influences molded to rock attitude, the movie soundtrack feel and above all the impassioned songs that linger long in the mind.
Lead single "Demon In Profile" is an absolute classic. Put it on the greatest hits, with the horns carrying the day along with the usual Dulli mixture of carnal a…

Top Ten Albums of 2019

Here are my top ten albums released in 2019. To hear a detailed discussion listen to Terry Smith and I discuss these and his top ten as well on his Music Talks podcast.(Either go here or search for "Music Talks Terry Smith" on your podcast supplier of choice). 
10. "Tuscaloosa" by Neil Young & The Stray Gators (full review here)
9. "Destroyer" by Black Mountain (full review here)
8. "Sound & Fury" by Sturgill Simpson (full review here)
7. "On The Line" by Jenny Lewis (full review here)
6. "Power" by Seratones (full review here)
5. "Atonement" by Killswitch Engage (full review here)
4. "Eraserland" by Strand of Oaks (full review here)

Top Ten Songs of 2019: 5-1

Here are my top ten individual songs released in 2019. To hear a detailed discussion listen to Terry Smith and I discuss these and his top ten as well on his Music Talks podcast.(Either go here or search for "Music Talks Terry Smith" on your podcast supplier of choice). For 10-6 go here.

5. "Light Years" by The National 

4. "I Need A Teacher" by Hiss Golden Messenger

3. "Run Away" by Lightning Dust
2. "Drowning In The Sound" by Trivium
1. "Second Hand" By LION
Enjoy....

Top Ten Songs of 2019: 10-6

Here are my top ten individual songs released in 2019. To hear a detailed discussion listen to Terry Smith and I discuss these and his top ten as well on his Music Talks podcast.(Either go here or search for "Music Talks Terry Smith" on your podcast supplier of choice). For 5-1 go here.

10. "Shatter The Sky" by The Vapour Trails 9. "I Miss You" by Josh Rouse 8."Margaritas At The Mall" by Purple Mountains 7. "Unsainted" by Slipknot 6. "Good To You" by Kate Teague
Enjoy..........