Hi all. I wanted to start doing some “Top 10” lists on my blog but I had a really hard time coming up with an appropriate first list so I decided to just do a list of my favorite albums within the last few years. It is basically a list of what I have been into the last few years so I wanted to share that with everyone. Most of these albums are from the last year or two with some ranging all the way back to 2007. I chose this collection because each album has something about it that really grabbed me whether it was the overall sound of the record, the reason or story behind the record, what the record means for the artists, or just what I was into at the time. These are also not necessarily a collection of my favorite artists, just the albums themselves that I love. I would suggest going out and buying or at least listening to anyone of these albums. The following is great music that you should definitely have in your collection, in my opinion. There is no particular ranking on this list. Enjoy!
1. Daft Punk – Random Access Memories (2013)
This album is genius. I love everything about it: the physical look of it, the tone of the music and Daft Punk themselves. Before 2013, Daft Punk were known for music based more in House and electronic sounds such as “One More Time” and “Bigger, Better, Faster, Stronger.” They seemed to take some time off for a while and came back with this monster of an album. They went back to their roots with this album by bringing back the disco and funk sounds that they grew up loving and having Nile Rogers from Chic step in on guitar also helps a lot. The album takes you on a journey with every song completely different from the other. This is definitely one of my favorite albums and will continue to be for a very long time.
2. Alabama Shakes – Sound & Color (2015)
Before I discovered Daptone Records, I was going through this period of extreme thirst for some pure, passionate, classic sounds. Throughout this period, I only wanted to listen to older, classic bands and artists, especially from the blues/rock and soul persuasion. Within this period, I came across Alabama Shakes and this album, Sound & Color. The single “Don’t Wanna Fight” was what attracted me the most. The whole album is a trip back in time. It has a very laid back feel through most of it and is very bluesy and soulful. It was the album I was searching for in terms of recent/new music.
3. Black Sabbath – 13 (2013)
The name says it all. Black Sabbath. I have been a Sabbath fan for a long time but was not a big fan of them after Ozzy left the band, way back. In 2013, they reunited with the Oz-man and constructed this monster, 13. It was unlike a lot of albums that are put out by old bands that get back together. This was actually really, REALLY good! It is quintessential Black Sabbath. It has some of the best and heaviest riffs they have ever come up with and the chorus parts are great. Ozzy is clear as day too….which is a surprise at his age. All of this is non-stop through the entire album. I suggest turning this WAY up if you happen to give it a listen.
4. Foo Fighters – Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace (2007)
You could say that this record is a perfect from beginning to end. I would not change anything about it. It is the producing, mastering, and order of songs that make this album perfect, and it has one of my favorite album covers. It has such a nice blend of heavy and soft moments that are timed perfectly throughout the record. Through college, I was a huge Foo Fighters fan, die hard, but after college they seemed to get too big for their own good. There was too much going on from movies, T.V. shows, special performances in the White House, etc. It seemed to become more Dave Grohl & his Band and this all seemed to happen after this record was made. I started to loose my buzz on the Foo Fighters at that point. The music was changing and getting more gimmicky. Even though I don’t pay attention anymore to the Foo Fighters, this album will always be one of my favorites of all time.
5. Charles Bradley – Changes (2016)
The screaming eagle of soul! I was watching a video online one day of someone doing an interview while driving their oldschool VW van and I heard this awesome song in the background. I look down at the comments and people where asking what song that was. It was some guy named Charles Bradley, who I had never heard of before. After some further research, I found that he was on a label called Daptone who specialized in soul and funk of today. I listened to his song “Ain’t It A Sin” and I never looked back. This guy is amazing. Changes specifically has this great feel to it. It is James Brown, reincarnated. He even covers a Black Sabbath song called “Changes.” This is an album that this generation needs to hear if they have any chance of saving what we know as music for the future.
6. Cage the Elephant – Tell Me I’m Pretty (2015)
I have a hard time putting this record into words. I was a late bloomer with Cage the Elephant but started to like their stuff. I came across this album a little while after it was released and I really liked it. The best way to describe it is just simply a great modern/college rock n roll album. Simple as that. If you are looking for some just good modern rock n roll, look no further. It is like Beatles Rubber Soul meets 1960s Rolling Stones. No bull, no out of this world musicianship. Just classic rock n roll with a modern/college rock twist.
7. Ray Lamontagne – Ouroboros (2016)
This record was an impulse buy at a Bullmoose store in Portland, ME. I obviously knew who Ray Lamontagne was but was never a big fan of his music. This just looked very mysterious to me and I had heard that he changed his sound and went electric so I thought I would pick it up. I was so blown away from the sound of this record. My first thought was: Pink Floyd. It has a lot of floyd-isms throughout. A very chill vibe through the record but starts off with some insane guitar riffs and drumming on side A. I was immediately hooked. I don’t know if I will be interested in his earlier stuff but if he keeps making stuff like this, I will be a big fan.
8. Rival Sons – Hollow Bones (2016)
If I can remember clearly, I first heard Rival Sons from a free iTunes download of one of their songs but completely ignored them for a couple of years. Right after their 4th album came out is when I got back into them and I hated myself for not paying attention sooner. Rival Sons is amazing in every way, shape & form. They have everything you want in a rock band: blusey, incredible vocals, fuzzy and heavy guitar, groovy bass, and killer percussion. Hollow Bones, as the band mentioned, is a culmination of their first 4 albums. It is the most complete, straight forward album of theirs with a beginning, middle and end. It is loud, face-melting, pure rock n roll. If you want something that you can crank up and let loose with, listen to Hollow Bones.
9. VINYL Soundtrack (2016)
VINYL was short lived. It only had one season on HBO but they certainly made the best of it. The basic premise surround a major record label in the mid-seventies who, with their complicated leader, are trying to change the face of the label due to the growing lack of true “rock n roll” during the late seventies. The issue with this show was that there were so many references that the younger generation, who may not be into music from that time period, would never understand which would then make the show confusing. For me, I absolutely loved the show because I understood all of those references. The best part about this show was the music that was made and covered to correspond with every episode. A day or two before each episode, a new EP would be released with 4-5 songs which were either originals or covers of older songs and these EPs would have some connection to the episode. This album specifically was a full track list of songs inspired by and used within the show also including covers and original songs, mostly used in the first 2 hour episode. It is a great collection with some great artists. It takes you back in time when you listen, with anyone from Foghat to Otis Redding and from a “cover” of a New York Dolls song featuring their very own singer to an original from the fictional band in the show, Nasty Bits. I was very sad to learn that the show would not continue but it left behind an awesome compilation of music.
10. Sturgill Simpson – A Sailor’s Guide to Earth (2016)
I have never been a big fan of country, except for the classics such as Johnny Cash, so I think I came upon Sturgill Simpson by accident. He immediately struck me as someone very different within the country genre. He has this bluesy, soulful aspect to his music that I really liked and it came out full force on this record. It is surrounded by this great nautical theme, probably inspired by Simpson’s time in the Navy. It is a great mix of of his classic country/americana sound with soulful and funky twists. It also has a great cover of Nirvana’s “In Bloom.” Whether you are a country fan or not, this is just a great album all together.