With each passing year my musical tastes become more and more eclectic. Country music shows up in my lists as often as metal and hard rock. This year was more of a return to form for me. My list contains four metal albums, which is kind of odd since I didn’t buy many more than that in 2016. Also for perhaps the first time, I am able to rank the first three albums in my list. The rest are randomly placed. I won’t say much about the albums, since I trust the interested taint ticklers will check them out online. Enough blabbing, here is my 2016 list of obsessions:
I have been a PJ Harvey fan for a long time, and with one or two exceptions every album she has released has been better than the ones that came before. She struck gold with The Hope Six. Although I must admit some of her political messaging is confusing.
I buy every Rotting Christ album that hits the store shelves. I feel like they always put out good albums, but have complacently followed a formula for recent releases. Rituals has that Rotting Christ edginess, and creepiness that I have always loved. I believe they have finally found the natural progression from the intense RC stuff from the late 90s and early 2000s.
In case you were asleep and missed it, the band Trouble has reformed, well sort of (with two original members), as The Skull. Wagner and the boys understand their fans’ needs, and they deliver what I can only describe as late 80s Trouble with better production.
My first introduction to John Zorn came from Dave many years ago. I stopped by his apartment, and he was listening to a jazz album called Painkiller. I thought it was really weird and discordant, yet, for some reason, I bought it. After a few listens I decided Painkiller was unlistenable. Then I heard a series of metal albums he made with a trio of musicians. I was surprised by their excellence. I started exploring John’s catalog and found the Book of Angels series. This series of albums is mostly eastern folk mixed with jazz, and it is great. In 2016 I bought at least ten of the Book of Angels records. Amazing stuff.
Prior to 2016, I only knew Joe Ely as a member of the Flatlanders. I really like the Flatlanders so I took a chance and bought Twistin’. It is the best country (country is a very loose description) album I purchased this year.
This was an iffy choice for inclusion on this year-end list of great albums. Hardwired to Self-Destruct is not a great album, but it is a very good album. It is weaker than Death Magnetic, but there are some great songs on Hardwired that stick in my head.
Anyone who hates either space rock or improv music should probably skip ahead to the next item on the list. I have a tendency to read other blogs (I am cheating on the Taint Tickling group), and I came across OSC. I didn’t realize at first it was all improv. I took a chance and bought an album. The sound is somewhere in between Hawkwind and Ozric Tentacles. There is a prog element, but the records are very accessible. By the end of year, I had four OSC albums in my collection, and more will be added in 2017.
I could easily add Russican Circles to this list twice, since they put on one of the best shows I saw in 2016. I am hard pressed to say why Guidance is better than RC’s previous albums, but it is. The songs and musicianship grabbed me. Check it out, and go see them live.
This was another band I found through the blogisphere. They are influenced by eastern music, rock, and jazz. This was my most intense prog obsession of 2016.
I had never heard of these brassy fuckers (see what I did there? They have a brass section.). SoDak told me how great they were to see live, so I figured I would give them a shot. I bought their entire catalog over the past couple months. I love their take on rock and roll.
I didn’t see a lot of shows in 2016, but I did attend the Frost and Fire II festival in Ventura, CA. A friend bought me a ticket; he wanted someone to share the Cirith Ungol show with. Most of the bands were of the 80s throwback variety, and not really my thing, but there definitely some good moments. Cirith Ungol was fantastic. Their albums from 30 years ago do not demonstrate just how great these men can play, fantastic musicians. Also the fans in attendance were cool (except for me. I sent a kid flying for stepping on my toes. Dude, if you are reading this I apologize for being a dick!) The audience was much better than the Portland, OR crowds I am accustomed to. I also want to thank the African-American woman tending bar for her generous whiskey pours.