Category Archives: Pop

Weighing in with the Best of 2015

Although 2015 didn’t turn out exactly as director Robert Zemeckis predicted in his hit film Back to the Future Part II, it was still quite an exciting year.

So, we haven’t exactly figured out how to manufacture flying cars or self-adjusting clothing, but we did celebrate 50 years of the Grateful Dead; we witnessed “The Killer” Jerry Lee Lewis embark on his final U.K. Tour; we watched the Foo Fighters perform despite frontman Dave Grohl’s broken leg; we scoffed as presidential candidate Donald Trump fought with artists such as Neil Young, Method Man, and R.E.M.; and laughed at the many different parodies of Drake’s “Hotline Bling” music video.

But, like every year, 2015 had both its “ups” and its “downs.”

Following the Nov. 13 terrorist attack on a Paris nightclub, which claimed the lives of 89 victims attending an Eagles of Death Metal concert, people all over the world came together in a show of solidarity for the victims and their families.

This year, we also said goodbye to such incredible musicians as legendary Blues guitarist B.B. King, New Orleans R&B icon Allen Toussaint, former-Stone Temple Pilots frontman Scott Weiland and Motörhead founder and frontman Lemmy Kilmister.

Now, as we prepare to bid adieu to 2015, let us reflect one more time on some of the best new music that this year had to offer.

Here are my picks for the Best albums of 2015 (by genre):

Alabama Shakes’ New Album Is A Monster

2015AlabamaShakes_SoundAndColor_100215.galleryThe Alabama Shakes clearly did not succumb to the typical “sophomore slump,” after the overwhelmingly successful release of their second full-length studio album, Sound & Color, earlier this week.  According to reports from Billboard.com, music industry forecasters say the new album is expected to move more than 90,000 copies, which would place the roots-rock group at the top of the Billboard 200 charts for the first-time.

Following the success of their 2013 debut album, Boys & Girls, the Shakes went on to receive three Grammy nominations for best new artist, best rock performance for their song “Hold On,” and best recording package. In 2014, they were even asked to perform at the White House alongside Steve Cropper and Booker T. Jones.

Weighing in with the Best of 2014

The year 2014 was a historic one for modern music. Despite losing such iconic musicians as folk legend Pete Seeger, Cream bassist Jack Bruce, guitarist Johnny Winter, punk rocker Tommy Ramone and most recently singer Joe Cocker; We also saw the Allman Brothers call it quits after a 35 years, Thom Yorke release his new solo album via BitTorrent, U2 force feed their new album to iTunes subscribers, Taylor Swift pull all of her music from Spotify, the triumphant release of Pink Floyd’s fifteenth and final album, and found out the true identity of pop musician Lorde.

After last year—when I first concocted this list of the latest and greatest new albums—hundreds of new records were released and since then I have been hard at work, compiling a new list of albums based on genre. So, without further ado, here are the best of 2014.

Primus_&_The_Chocolate_Factory

Progressive Rock:

Primus and the Chocolate Factory – Primus with the Fungi Ensemble

Who would’ve thought that it would take the childhood wonder of such a classic film as Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory to bring the best out of Les Claypool and company. Whether or not you enjoy Primus, whose most notable songs include “Jerry Was a Racecar Driver” and “Winonna’s Big Brown Beaver,” this album is a real nostalgia-trip for anyone who has seen the classic film.

With precision, Claypool covers each and every song from the film, including “Cheer Up Charlie” and “I Want It Now.” The band even performs each individual Oompa Loompa song.

Weighing In With The Best Albums of 2013

After coming to the realization that I have not taken the time to write a Best Albums Of [insert year here] since I was the Lifestyles Editor of SUNY Westchester Community College’s campus publication, The Viking News, I figure it’s high time to give it another whirl. What the hell, right?

Unlike other lists, which simply regurgitate the same 10 pop albums, I chose to go a different route and separated my picks by genre. So without further ado, here are the Top albums of 2013.

Progressive Rock:

Queens of the Stone Age — Like Clockwork

Ok… While this one actual does show up on a few lists—coming in sixth on Rolling Stone’s top 50 albums—this Queens of the Stone Age LP was long overdue. After the success of their last album, Era Vulgaris, QOTSA decided to dig deep and explore their genre in a way that had not been done successful in quite some time.

Although the skill of crafting a quality concept-album seems a lot like a dead art form in these modern times… QOTSA still managed to pull it off.

But, what is perhaps most interesting about Like Clockwork, is that it is not simply a story told through the songs. Prior to its release, the band launched a series of music videos which focus on the tales protagonista crudely drawn comic book rebel with traits, both good and evil. Darker than Alan Moore’s landmark graphic novel, The Watchmen, the videos take the viewer on a journey of brute force and self-destruction in a way that only the Queens of the Stone Age can.

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