[6-6-6] of 2018 Part 2: Old Releases

It’s that time of year again where I spend three days going over my favorite music from the last 365 days. Just like the many music blogs I follow, you probably won’t agree with this list and also just like those sites I’m not really qualified to recommend anything to anyone … Just like last year, I’m breaking this down into three posts: 6 favorite new releases of 2018, 6 favorite NOT new releases I rocked hard in 2018 and 6 songs I killed my eardrums with — both new and old — in 2018. Because there were a few close calls, I’ve chosen to provide 6 honorable mentions as well.

All three sets are in no particular order.

This is Part 2/3


David BowieZiggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (The Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Release Date: (October 1, 1983)
My Favorite Tracks: Moonage Daydream; The Width of a Circle; Rock ‘N’ Roll Suicide

I’ve been particularly fascinated with David Bowie for the last year or two. I’ve done a few deep dives into his early discography, watched interviews, read articles, etc. One particularly interesting story I dug up was when there was an initiative to capture this, the final concert ever performed by Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars. Technical issues proved to be quite a headache during the shoot and post production had so many hold-ups it would be a full decade later before the film and accompanying soundtrack were released.

And though the Ziggy Stardust character had long-since given way to Aladdin Sane, the Thin White Duke and the Let’s Dance-era Bowie … Mr. Stardust was revived for motion picture and home audio with this release and a magical moment in music history was thus shared with the world. One can’t get the full grasp of how rocking Bowie was until you hear live recordings such as this one. Tunes like All The Young Dudes and Changes are given an energy the studio recordings just couldn’t capture. My Death is as haunting as you could ever imagine and the closer Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide is the kind of song that could go on forever and you’d never mind it. Throw in a few classic “big” hits like Ziggy Stardust, Space Oddity and Suffragette City and you have a damn-near perfect setlist from a damn-near perfect artist and his band. Extra-extra points if you add Oh! You Pretty Things, Moonage Daydream, The Width of a Circle and a cover of the Velvet Underground’s White Light / White Heat — those are all on there, too.

The MisfitsStatic Age
Release Date: (July 15, 1997 — Recorded in 1978)
My Favorite Tracks: Hybrid Moments; Bullet; She

I think I said last year that this is going to make it on the list every year. And here it is again. My favorite album by my favorite band. There’s not a run you can’t run, a weight you can’t lift or a shitty day you can’t get through when you have the likes of Last Caress, Hybrid Moments, Teenagers from Mars or Bullet in your headphones. There’s not another punk band that did it like the Misfits and there won’t ever be another one like them.

Lo-fi, dirty, fast, mean and campy, this Misfits album is everything you want in horror-punk and is a perfect 101 for anyone wanting to get into the genre. Songs like Angelfuck, Last Caress and Bullet can satisfy someone looking for exploitative shock value but then you have songs like Hollywood Babylon and Return of the Fly that are big-time dancers. Are we evil? Are we having fun? Is this okay?

Yes. Yes it is. Yes to all of it.

The Lees of MemoryThe Blinding White of Nothing at All
Release Date: (November 24, 2017)
My Favorite Tracks: It’s Too Late to Change; There is Love Everywhere; All You Really Want is Love

The only thing that really tops this album is getting to see the guys play a lot of it live in Birmingham earlier this year. 2018 has been such a turbulent year for me and while bandmates Brandon Fisher and John Davis didn’t know it, they sang about everything I was feeling. And had been feeling. And would feel:

  • Please don’t bother breaking down, it’s so overrated, all you really want is love (All You Really Want is Love)
  • Don’t mistake your dreams for the real thing; don’t waste everything for a feeling (Hypothetical Shows)
  • But you played yourself with traps that you laid yourself; you should’ve made yourself invisible (It’s Too Late to Change)
  • Pictures of ordinary dreams; not one among them is all that they seem; once in a while let them be purified; pain in my side (Pictures of Ordinary Things)
  • I’ve got something wrong with me; something’s wrong – I once felt so strong; I wanna go home but I’m not sure where it is (Rain Rain)
  • I’m going out on a limb; what else can I do? If I ain’t got you, I’ve got nothing; I’m staying out of the way; without much to say; It’s nothing I feel like discussing (There is Love Everywhere)

Thank you so much, guys. Y’all kept me alive on more than one occasion this year and I love you for it.

The StoogesRaw Power
Release Date: (February 17, 1973)
My Favorite Tracks: Search and Destroy; Your Pretty Face is Going to Hell; Shake Appeal

Earlier in the year I went on an Iggy Pop binge at my local used record shop. I picked up 1969, Raw Power and Lust for Life and listened to them all over and over and over. Hell, they’re all three still in my car just in case of emergency. There’s no better way to describe the sound on this record than the album title, itself. It’s so pure, so punk, so fucking raw. Iggy is an icon in my eyes — one of the Holy Trinity that is Iggy, David Bowie and Lou Reed — and despite his questionable actions, substance abuse, etc. is still a role model in my eyes.

Each time I put on the microphone at the gym, I channel Iggy. I mean, I keep my shirt on and nobody gets smeared with peanut butter, but that charisma and that pure energy that throws caution to the wind — THAT’S what I’m going for. If I’m having a rough day — Search and Destroy. If I’m feeling angry — Your Pretty Face is Going to Hell. If I just need a boost — Shake Appeal. I love this album so much I’m going to get Raw Power tattooed on my right wrist when the time is right. Though I must admit that I made this much-smarter decision after deciding to NOT get a tattoo of a cheetah wearing prostitute lipstick (inspired by the opening line from Search and DestroyI’m a street-walking cheetah with a heart full of napalm).

Electric WizardWizard Bloody Wizard
Release Date: (November 17, 2017)
My Favorite Tracks: See You In Hell; Necromania; Hear the Sirens Scream

I didn’t get to listen to this properly until 2018 so earlier in the year I was way excited to get to include it on my “new” list but … I was a little late to the party. I was already a fan of Electric Wizard and their brand of doom with a little drop of acid but nothing had really grabbed me the way the tracks on this album have. The strangest part of this six-track record for me is that a LOT of metal websites gave it either shitty or “par for the course” reviews. It’s easily one of my favorite records that I’ve rocked this year, though.

When album opener See You In Hell fades in, the listener is baited by a monotonous, two-note riff that would drive one to insanity if listened to long enough before the band comes in and turns the song into one of the heaviest sounds I’ve heard in a very long time. I mean — it’s HEAVY. So heavy, each time the bass rumbles across your speakers, the ground around you begins to dig itself up. Before song’s end, you’re actually in Hell and this album only continues. Is it as innovative as previous Electric Wizard releases? Maybe not, but that doesn’t change the fact that heavy album is heavy and I have a major hard-on for it.

Church of the Cosmic SkullIs Satan Real?
Release Date: (September 16, 2016)
My Favorite Tracks: Mountain Heart; Is Satan Real?; Evil in Your Eye

I accidentally found out about these guys while going down a wild-ass rabbit hole on YouTube early this year. The song I found was Evil in Your Eye — a 9-minute rocker whose intro prominently features an organ that’s just as hypnotic as it is unexpected. When the opening lyric comes in — I wanna take you … I wanna take you to the ocean — something in your soul will be overtaken. The cult-like vibe of Church of the Cosmic Skull is real and I’m following hard.

They’re not metal in the way common metal bands are, yet there are influences of doom, 70’s prog rock, arena anthems, psychedelia and choir-like backing vocals. The combination of these elements creates a truly unique listening experience. Hard-hitting and heavy highs meet droning and heartfelt lows on this record, leaving the listener engaged for the length of all seven songs. Related: There are seven members in this band. And you can hear all seven of them.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Zeal and Ardor Devil is Fine
  • Sharptooth Clever Girl
  • Church of Misery Thy Kingdom Scum
  • Mutoid Man War Moans
  • Kvelertak Kvelertak

[6-6-6] of 2017 Part 1: New Releases

With a few days left in the year, I figured it was my turn to add my two cents to the “best records of the year” like so many of the blogs I follow. Where I differ from these posts, though, is that I don’t always listen to brand new music all the time and often uncover stuff that came out decades before I was even born, choosing to spend my time with it instead. Therefore, I’m breaking this post down into three parts: my 6 favorite new releases for 2017, my 6 favorite NOT new releases I jammed the most in 2017, and the 6 songs I blasted the most — both new and old — in 2017.

All three sets are in no particular order.

This is Part 1/3


Mutoid ManWar Moans
Release Date: (June 2, 2017)
My Favorite Tracks: Afterlife; Kiss of Death; Headrush

The release date of War Moans marks the exact date I found out about these guys. Every Friday for the last year or so I check the Shit That Comes Out Today section of MetalSucks.net to see … what shit came out that day … and came across a favorably written review of this record. It sounded like something I would be into so I checked out the lead single Kiss of Death and was immediately hooked. From the chug-chug-chuging introduction and the man-making bass tone to the lyrical content and the melody with which it’s presented are unlike anything I’ve heard in a long time. No, I was not a fan of Cave In or Converge prior to this so don’t bother asking. I get it, you’re probably a bigger Brodsky fan than I am, and I don’t care. Mutoid Man rips. I said earlier that this is in no particular order, but this is easily #1.

The Lees of MemoryThe Blinding White Of Nothing At All
Release Date: (November 24, 2017 )
My Favorite Tracks: Bring it Home to Me; It’s Too Late to Change; Last Thing I Wanted to Do

It might be easy to say I only added this to my list because I’m friends with the guys in the band (former Superdrag bandmates Brandon Fisher and John Davis) and you could easily say that I’m partial because I helped with the layout of the CD and LP … and you wouldn’t be entirely incorrect. However, this ambitious double album really highlights the musical genius these guys possess. I’m a big fan of John as a songwriter anyway from Superdrag to his solo stuff to Epic Ditch and beyond, but in my opinion this record contains some of his best work. Running hardcore with the Freedom Rock banner, this record runs the gamut musically from bare-bones Velvet Underground-esque tunes to songs with nearly stoner-rock-level guitar solos. Would a lot of bands be stretching to fit 24 quality songs onto four sides? Probably. Just not these guys.

Lana Del ReyLust for Life
Release Date: (July 21, 2017)
My Favorite Tracks: Love; Tomorrow Never Came; Cherry

Everyone knows I love Lana Del Rey. And I love every one of her records. She’s one of my favorite singers of all time right up there with Amy Winehouse, Frank Sinatra and Nina Simone. From her “First” record through to Paradise, Born to Die, Ultraviolence and Paradise, you listen to her voice and you hear pure beauty. There may be a lot of mystery and a lot of sadness, but it’s unmatched beauty. One of the things people immediately pointed out about the new record was the virtually nonexistent sadness. Songs on this record reflect a happier Lana — a more hopeful Lana. This is also reflected in her first-ever cover image portraying her with a smile and the overall vibe on the record. Add to that some quality collaborations with A$AP Rocky, the Weeknd, Stevie Nicks and Sean Lennon and you have one of Lana’s finest performances.

Tyler, the CreatorScum Fuck Flower Boy
Release Date: (July 21, 2017)
My Favorite Tracks: Foreword; Who Dat Boy; I Aint’ Got Time!

July 21 must’ve been a great day for new releases! Tyler is back with his fourth studio album and it’s his most solid record yet. The beats and lyrics on this record hit me in a way that I haven’t heard from him since Goblin. Not to mention I Ain’t Got Time! has one of my favorite hooks in hip-hop. Is his language often unnecessary? Sure, but that’s Tyler, the Creator for you. Dude’s a talented poet with a unique voice in an otherwise boring sea of unremarkable artists. All 14 tracks on this record, including the short one-minute interlude Droppin’ Seeds featuring Lil Wayne is just ear candy.

ExhumedDeath Revenge
Release Date: (October 13, 2017)
My Favorite Tracks: Dead End; Unspeakable; The Anatomy Act of 1832

I was familiar with Exhumed from years of being a metalhead, but honestly, with the exception of some of the more popular selections (see Cannibal Corpse, Dethklok), I’ve just never been a huge fan of Death Metal. Exhumed set out to change that this year and they pulled it off in the most brutal way possible. I caught these guys in Johnson City just after Thanksgiving and saw firsthand why these guys are widely accepted as the Masters of Gore in a metal genre that solely exists to glorify gore (gorify?). Death Revenge is Exhumed’s first record since 2015’s Gore Metal: A Necrospective and despite it being 19 years since their first studio record — 25 years since their first EP — they’re tighter than ever. Death Revenge is arranged as a fun concept album. That is, if your idea of fun includes brutal murders and the underground trade of grave-robbed cadavers.

Cursed MoonRite of Darkness
Release Date: (October 27, 2017)
My Favorite Tracks: Gates of Hell; Rise of the Antichrist; Creatures of the Night

Just in time for Halloween, Cursed Moon (representing Hell’s Headbangers) comes out on a day where they could’ve easily been overshadowed by same-day releases by All Pigs Must Die and even Powerman 5000. Granted, I’ve not seen hardly any press talk about Rite of Darkness, but that’s not surprising since this very Black Metal record has been self-identified as Deathwave, bringing together the sounds of macabre basement Black Metal and the drum machine electronica of the 80s. When I first heard this record, I realized it was unlike anything I’d ever heard before so I coughed up the $6.66 to buy the digital record and headed over to Hell’s Headbangers to put an order in for a t-shirt. True story. This record is scary, it’s unique, and it’s one of my favorite listens of the year.

This is just me, though. Got any new releases you really dug this year? Tell me about them!

Reboot 59 Days Later: Layers, Progress and the Lees of Memory

I finished week 7 of Active’s Couch-to-5k program on Friday morning. When I arrived at the park, I was wearing my typical Adidas running shoes, some black mesh shorts, and a green moisture-wicking tank underneath my black and grey hoodie. I came out in just a tank earlier in the week and decided it was much too cold to start out that way, which is a weird enough thought to come from me in the first place, but this is why I threw on the hoodie. As the time changes, each morning when I get up to run seems to be a little bit darker, a little bit colder. I stood there Friday morning after stepping out of my car, gazing up at the waning crescent in the sky, the bright stars closing in on it from every direction and I wondered, When / how did it get so cold so quickly? I love the cold weather, though, and my spirits were lifted when I remembered that cold weather brings some of my favorite things: Halloween, Fall/Winter clothes and LAYERS. I decided to run my first mile with my hoodie on before losing it. I finished Friday at 2.61 miles. Only 2 weeks left and then we work on time. What an awesome feeling!

Less than 2 weeks until I go to my follow up doc’s appointment. I’m anxious to see what my hard work has done for me. I’ve lost 25 lbs and while I’ve not measured I’ve noticed a considerable about of inches lost around my waist, mostly by the belt notches I’ve tightened up, the way some of my hard-to-fit-in pants are now fitting, the way I can wear some shirts I used to not be able to.

Friday night I decided to debate in my mind the consequences of potential actions regarding a phone call I received by putting on The Lees of Memory’s debut record Sisyphus Says in the headphones as loud as they would go and laying in the driveway, again, gazing up at the night sky. The moon didn’t seem as bright as it was that morning but there were several clouds in the sky where there were none earlier. Planes flew back and forth, seemingly crossing over each other, neighbors drove in and out, headlights flooding my resting place every few minutes. I closed my eyes and rested for about 30 minutes or so, considering what I was hearing currently, what I’ve heard in the past, what I hope to hear in the future; thinking about who I am as a person, who I had been as a person, who I wanted to be as a person. In the end I reached zero conclusions except this album rocks and, after resting my hand on my chest feeling my heartbeat, I can tell my heart rate has gone down a LOT. I’ve not checked in a couple of weeks now but before that I noticed that my blood pressure readings were consistently low and lower than they’d ever been at that. While I’d like to lose more weight, I think I’ve got my health under control for the first time in a very long while.

I’ll end this short post with a plug for aforementioned band, The Lees Of Memory. I’ve been fortunate enough to get to know and work with their guitar player, Brandon, and over the last few months he’s been able to hook me up with sneak peeks and stories behind the writing process of the album Sisyphus Says that dropped this week from SideOneDummy that has also been re-issuing vinyl releases of Brandon and bandmate John’s former band Superdrag’s 90’s freshman and sophomore releases. I picked up the vinyl release of Sisyphus on starburst which also came with a digital download code. Without going into a full-scale review I can honestly say that it’s a great experience on all mediums: cranked up full-blast on the record player, turned all the way up in the headphones playing on my phone or playing at a comfortable volume while riding in the car. These guys are infinitely talented and are worth your time for at least a listen if not a purchase. Below are shots of my record when I received it on Monday, the music video for their debut single We Are Siamese and some info on how to secure your own copy:

Buy Sisyphus Says at SideOneDummy
Buy Sisyphus Says at iTunes
The Lees of Memory on Facebook
The Lees of Memory on Twitter
The Lees of Memory on BandCamp