Album & Single Reviews

Published on December 16th, 2015 | by Nigel Cartner

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Nige Cartner – Top Albums 2015

So another year has passed and The Bandwagon has continued to roll on and gather momentum, meaning more great music has found its way to us. So, if it wasn’t hard enough last year to pick ten from the hundreds we were sent, this year is an even bigger challenge, so here goes….in some sort of order:

The Rubys – ‘Book of Sorrows’

Perhaps this album should have a posthumous award with it considering the band shortly split after its release. ‘The Book of Sorrows’ is a great album packed with several knockout punches, merging themes from the 80s and 90s alt/indie rock scene into the bands own modern context. As usual the album is a journey that pulls at the heart strings, filled with songs that can make you smile and cry in the same breath. The dark, twisted and contrived love theme is again apparent with subtle tendencies to experiment from their past work, adding freshness to the style. I’m still recovering emotionally from The Rubys splitting, but what a way to go.

Recommended Track: ‘Get Out Get Out’

 

Slow Readers Club – ‘Cavalcade’

The live recording album from Manchester Library featured on last year’s top ten list so it comes as no surprise that this album, featuring several songs from that set, makes it so high on this year’s list. Slow Readers Club are a band that have really impressed me, and the more I listen to this album the more I fall in love with it and realise that every song is anthemic. Being of the indie/electro genre, their catchy tunes are nods to the likes of New Order and Depeche Mode, but with a darker and brooding feel to them. Having seem them live twice this year at two sell out gigs, I can state first hand that there’s an expectancy for bigger things from these guys, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that potential was realised over the next twelve months.

Recommended Track: ‘I Saw A Ghost’

 

Fly Golden Eagle – ‘Quartz Bijou’

Nashville psych rockers, Fly Golden Eagle, are the ‘unheard of before 2015’ band of the year for me. On the tin it says, ‘for fans of T.Rex and The Doors’, and they don’t disappoint in capturing the essence of both of these….and a whole lot more. This album is the watered down version of the album titled ‘Quartz’, which is a 26 song epic collection. Shades of blues rock-glam-funk-gospel sounds fuse the sound into something a little dangerous and magical. They cover a large proportion of the psych genre, from wistful dreamy ballads, to keyboard induced groove laden tunes, to cut throat guitar driven riffs, all encompassed by a swirling purple wave of psychedelia hovering above.

Recommended Track: ‘Horse’s Mouth’

 

Brother Dege – ‘Scorched Earth Policy’

Hailing from The Deep South, Brother Dege’s third offering morphs his signature Delta, sonic-slide sound (as heard in Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained official soundtrack) into “the psyouthern, psych swamposphere.” The solid 12 tracks are like a cinematic experience, carrying a great blues twang that bounces off the country driven guitar. I can’t seem to shake off the image of old style western saloon bars when listening to this, and in the nicest way possible, it’s like a darker and slower Bon Jovi.

Even acclaimed Film Director, Quentin Tarantino, has endorsed the album, “Frankly, every track on the Brother Dege CD could have been in the movie [Django Unchained]. It works and has a badass score sound to it. Almost every song could be a theme song. It’s like a greatest hits album.”

Recommended Track: ‘Day I Was Born’

 

Mog Stanley – ‘ROLAND’

Gathering up a multitude of genres with both arms and assorting them in a way that’s uniquely astounding, Mog Stanley’s album, ‘Roland’, merges blues, rootsy folk, rock and electro into his own personal experiment. The album twists and turns through a river of dynamism, swinging from the foot tapping emotive ballads to big, whisky drenched harmonies. Mog plays all instruments himself, which only adds to the impressive nature the album has come about.

Recommended Track: ‘Spinning Plates’

 

Left Lane Cruiser – ‘Dirty Spliff Blues’

This is an eleven song high octane onslaught of relentless fuzzy, blues rock from this dirtiest of bands from Indiana. Originally a two piece, they’ve expanded into a trio for this album which aids the electricity pulsing through it. I also had the pleasure of seeing them live in October and the energy and grit transfers to their live shows. The trio are completely unmerciful in their pursuit to drag you along with them through a Mississippi swamp and have you drink copious amounts of whiskey throughout the night, pass out, then do it all again on waking up. They are also another band to have links to Film & TV with tracks featuring in US hit series, Breaking Bad.

Recommended Track: ‘Heavy Honey’

 

Electric Parlor – ‘Electric Parlor’

Electric Parlor, hailing from LA, have a classic sound about them merging a number of genres along the West Coast in a period now gone. They switch between up-tempo and stylish rock to dreamy to soulful, psych ballads with piercing vocals that capture a vision of emotion and despair. Think Big Brother & The Holding Company complete with Janis Joplin like vocals from Monique Alvarez with a Venice Beach rock twist and you’re somewhere close.

Recommended Track: ‘Hazy Daisy’

 

All Them Witches – ‘At The Garage’

This is the only live album that makes the list, released in the early part of 2015. I’ve since found out that they released not one, but two albums in October this year so it’s possible one of those could’ve made the list. They must have an abundance of material to be confident enough to do that. Anyway, this live album is shrouded in heavy, atmospheric and hypnotic stoner psych rock which is overpowering and trippy. They are another band from Nashville but are so far removed from the typical sound you’d be forgiven for thinking they were shot down on a cosmic shower.

Recommended Track: ‘Mountain’

 

Dirty Streets – ‘White Horse’

Raw, riff driven and full of energy, Dirty Streets are this year’s Rival Sons. Harking back to a period of classic rock, they are refreshing in their offering. No gimmicks, this is no frills, no nonsense, balls out rock n roll that inspires a swagger above your normal plateau. Their soulful, groove heavy, blues rock is a revelation to music that had its heyday in the 70s.

Recommended Track: ‘White Horse’

 

A Thousand Horses – ‘Southernality’

Almost like a more structured, watered down Dirty Streets, but nonetheless, a fantastic band and album, and another hailing from Nashville. Their southern music is ballsy and influenced by many of the legends of the genre such as Lynyrd Skynyrd and Allman Brothers. They have the producer of Rival Sons working on the album who cited, “never give them a key to the minibar.” Sounds like a band who party in true southern spirit too.

Recommended Track: ‘Tennessee Whisky’

Big thanks goes to Tony at Pavement PR and Alive Naturalsound who have provided most of my choices this year. A simply sublime set of bands on their roster.

Special mentions also go to bands/artists who have produced a great album but have missed out on this personal top ten.

Aircraft

Alive Natural Sound 20 Years

Gentlemans Pistols

Finlay Morton

Future

Leapfrogtown

Jake Evans

Jon Brookes

King King

Kris Delmhorst

Northern Uproar

The Valkarys

Victories At Sea

ZX+

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About the Author

Nigel is a huge fan of music from the 60s and 70s with an emphasis on rock, psych, blues and indie. This spreads to music of the same genre into the modern era. Being a Manchester lad he also has an affiliation with local music past and present. He has also recently released his debut novel, 'Lost in Manchester, Found in Vegas' which is available on amazon or njcartner.com



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