David Bowie’s social media accounts reported this morning that Bowie “died peacefully, surrounded by his family.” The 69 year old artist was dealing with 18 18-month battle with cancer. Bowie was one of the most flamboyant artists in the world who was held in high esteem recording albums like The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust and so many other records that held hits like “Let’s Dance,” “Changes,” “Space Oddity,” “Starman,” “Modern Love,” “Heroes,” “Under Pressure,” “Rebel Rebel” and “Life on Mars.” He’s also worked with such luminaries as Freddy Mercury, Mick Jagger and Iggy Pop. Bowie leaves a long legacy which ends with his last album Blackstar, released just this past Friday, January 8, 2016. He will be missed.
Motörhead fans around the world will be able to pay homage to the iconic Ian “Lemmy” Kilmister this Saturday January 9th, 2016. The funeral ceremony will take place at the Forest Lawn Memorial Cemetery in Hollywood, CA. It will be streamed live online through YouTube where everyone will be able to see when Lemmy gets put in his final resting place. Not long before Lemmy’s passing, the iconic singer found out he had malignant tumors in his brain and neck.
2015 saw the release of a number of albums hitting and missing the mark. It also had albums that were so far under the radar you may have missed them, kind of like the Orphans in a gangland meeting in the Bronx. Here we set on a course for adventure, driving and listening to music by relatively unknown bands that either gain or lose my attention. Occasionally these CDs are submitted with descriptions which include RIYL (Recommended If You Like) comparisons that sometimes becomes an abrasion for some.
Red Ray Frazier – Blood In The Water E.P.
This record isn’t very surprising. Red Ray Frazier follows a blueprint well established by a number of artists, taking up an R&B style familiarized by the likes of Maxwell, to the rock grooves of artists like Lenny Kravitz and Ben Harper. Focusing on a style of music by such contemporary artists could have clearly marked him for a musical death but the music he brings together is good enough to set him apart from the imitators. The title track here showcases Ray’s artistry as a seasoned musician with an added Hip Hop vibe, while “Follow Me,” well, that track there slowly builds momentum into one helluva beast! One thing that gets my attention there is how openly whimsical he can be on “If You Let Me.” This one could be one of those start-of-summer jams you need every year, when you can drive with the top down. My mood shifts after listening to this album, he gets the positive juices flowing. This one is a win in my book.
The Florals – Self-Titled (Poptek)
I wasn’t sure what to make of the band just on face value, but I’m glad I looked deeper into the band’s self-titled release rather than just feeling it was just a band with a cutsie name. The opening “The Blues & The Grays” clearly establish the female fronted band as pop powerhouse without filler. In all honesty, the band doesn’t remotely sound like a specific genre or have the RIYL prerequisite so many other bands come with. Their charm comes from a stylistic blend of 90s college radio and what “indie” rock should sound like. The Florals will leave a sweet taste on you your palette and you’ll probably want to listen to them over and over again.
Revolt Revolt – Wild Unraveling
I was pretty stoked when I saw this one in my pile. These guys are fans of Mark Lanegan and the like? Sign me up! Let’s give Wild Unraveling a spin. “Catch The Light” embodies that aesthetic from the get-go. Slowly driven song with an almost-Americana feel to them and a gruff vocalist that sounds like he knows his way around a fifth of whiskey. Great song. Unfortunately for me, that’s where it gradually went into another direction song after song. “Wilderness” was mellow enough but seemed to lack the dimensions the opening track was held together with. It meanders along, with changes in dynamics but no clear vision of where it should end. This is probably where my attention began to waver, with the remaining tracks bordering on jam sessions recorded for no reason.
Emily Gold – Recluse
This one here, may be a bit of an anomaly. The included press release made an effort to compare this L.A. artist’s music to that of 80s shoegazing & dream pop artists like My Bloody Valentine, Cocteau Twins and the like. I’m never sure if this kind of association is such a good thing but I guess for her it works in her favor. It begins with “Drowning” which give semblances of Elizabeth Frazier’s sweet vocal delivery, while the title track is insanely nostalgic giving you semblances of Chapterhouse’s Whirlpool. But then there’s “Cyanide Lollipop,” which gives a glimmer of groups like Opal and Mazzy Star. With such an eclectic array of musical influences you would think Recluse would suffer from an identity crisis but the crazy thing is, this all works to Gold’s benefit.
Where does this leave all the musicians here? Possibly in a positive direction for some and an aimless one for others. What I do know is I look forward to hearing what’s to come next in 2016.
It’s been one helluva year for Ghettoblaster. Artists featured exploded on the music scene and some continued to amaze with new material. Just one person’s opinion so don’t get all bent out of shape here.
Best Albums (in no particular order)
Doomtree – All Hands (Doomtree Records)
The year started out with this album I was sitting around waiting for. Come on now, you can’t go wrong with P.O.S., SIMS, Cecil Otter, Mike Mictlan, Dessa, Lazerbeak and Paper Tiger. Hip Hop never sounded so effortless while shoving a middle finger straight up its ass. Doomtree is always refreshing to listen to.
Pell – Limbo (Federal Prism)
The kid from New Orleans released his second album, this one on Federal Prism, the label belonging to Dave Sitek (TVOTR.) Really, this album is a refreshing change from all the bullshit you hear on mainstream radio. If this one got some mainstream play…I wouldn’t be mad at him.
Legendary Divorce – Make Me (Reptilian Records)
This Philly band literally blew my mind when I first heard them. Aggressive rock fronted by female vocalist and dualing guitars. They only released an E.P.’s worth of work but I played it over and over and over again. From what I understand they’re working on new material
Black Bottom Lighters – 2 Or 2000 (Self-Release)
Phoenix Arizona’s desert reggae rockers dropped a full-length release that allowed them to cross boundaries playing shows with other bands, Hip Hop artists throw up that middle finger to the naysayers. They work hard from a grassroots level, and everything they have now is from that blood, sweat and tears. “Pipe Dreams” is actually a new single not on the album but so good.
Ceschi – Broken Bone Balads (Fake Four Inc.)
What can I say about Ceschi Ramos that I haven’t said a million times? Folk songs and Hip Hop tracks all on the same album? Doesn’t matter because music is music and if it’s good music, that’s even better. This album was produced by Factor Chandelier and what was created was… man, just so fucking good. The musicianship speaks for itself.
Milo – So The Flies Don’t Come (The Order Label/Alpha Pup)
This kid right here. I should just leave it at that but I can’t because he’s a wordsmith whose imagery is pretty surreal. I can’t applaud his love of words, his love of the art form enough. There is hope when you still have artists like Milo, Open Mike Eagle and the like.
Public Enemy – Man Plans God Laughs (Spitdigital)
Do I need to address the greatness of Public Enemy. Chuck D & Public Enemy established Hip Hop like no other emcee ever did. Their 13th album shows there’s no slowing down for one of the greatest names in Hip Hop of all time. They’re still fighting the powers that be.
K-OS – Can’t Fly Without Gravity (Dine Alone)
I’ve been a fan of the Canadian musician for some time. Glad to see, happy to hear his new album hasn’t lost the flavor he’s stamped each one of his albums with. Freestyles, guitars, bars, the man does it all and again, he’s one artist that has been doing things his own way.
Meat Wave – Delusion Moon (Side One Dummy)
Oh my goodness! You know that moment you hear a band and ask, “Who the hell are those guys?” That’s what happened with this group from Chicago. They’re aggressive, heavy, melodic, and toss in semblances of post-punk, punk and whatever other hard edged genre you want to include. The title track alone is sure to get anyone interested.
Mega Ran – RNDM (Random Beats)
This Philadelphia born rapper lives in Phoenix, AZ now and I’ve had the fortune to stumble upon him. When people talk about Mega Ran, words like “nerdcore” and “chiptunes” come up but what he’s doing is something different. He found the time to release his solo album after releasing collaborations with Storyville as Soul Veggies and another with Bag Of Tricks Cat as Emerald Knights this year. But his album is no joke!
Best Reissue: Red Red Meat – Jimmywine Majestic (Jealous Butcher)
Originally released back in 1994 on Sub Pop, a younger impressionable me took a chance on this band and fell in love with it. The sound wasn’t new but it pieced together some classic rock sounds and made them so relevant for the time. The group eventually morphed into Califone ( say morphed because there was no actual break up) and yeah, I continued listening to what these guys were doing.
Best Show: The Walking Dead and Fear The Walking Dead
Yeah, I’m on the bandwagon here but I’ve been a zombie fan for a long time. The difference with these shows though is that it shows the human experience and the lengths people will go to survive. Crazy.
2015 was a surprising year where artistry was torn from much of the popular music that hit the airwaves. Fortunately artists that hang on the fringes haven’t sold their souls, opting to create musical masterpieces. In no particular order, these are the albums that made Ghettoblaster’s Top 25 for the year.
Ghettoblaster Top 25 Albums of 2015
Pell – Limbo (Federal Prism)
He raps, he sings, he has a great musicality about him. Album kicks.
Beach Slang – The Things We Do To Find The People Who Feel Like Us (Polyvinyl)
James Alex spent years playing in Weston and then he formed this!!!
Czarface – Every Hero Needs A Villain (Brick Records)
Wu-Tang Clan’s Inspecktah Deck and Esoteric & 7L return with a banger!
Andy Gabbard – Fluff (Alive Naturalsound)
Member of the Buffalo Killers. Heavy handed rhythms with lots of pop sensibility.
Vicky Speedboat – Two Years No Basement EP (Self-Released)
Philly punk duo makes good!
Meat Wave – Delusion Moon (Side One Dummy)
Post-Punk, Punk, Rock, whatever sub-genre, it’s just phenomenal.
Sufjan Stevens – Carrie & Lowell (Asthmatic Kitty)
The beauty lies deep with in Sufjan’s songs.
Julian Baker – Sprained Ankle (6131 Records)
Young singer/songwriter’s album is simply beautiful.
Ceschi Ramos – Broken Bone Ballads (Fake Four Inc.)
More than a rapper, he’s a musician. Ramos is a songwriter.
Nervosas – Self-Titled (Dirtnap)
Short and sweet anthemic punk jams are blisteringly good.
Mac McCaughan – Non Believers (Merge Records)
Superchunk and Portastatic may come to mind.
Nightbeast – It’s Different I Guess EP (Self-Released)
They do what they want regardless of genres, and have fun doing it.
Bully – Feels Like (Columbia/Star Time)
Rough vocals &sweet voices coming from one body; they all fit perfectly together.
Chelsea Wolfe – Abyss (Sargent House)
Sultry, dark, heavy, all the while keeping things distinctive.
Circus Devils – Stomping Grounds
Ohio made up of GBV’s Robert Pollard and Tim & Todd Tobias. Magical.
Mega Ran – RNDM (Random Beats)
The chip tunes artist has had a busy year . Mega Ran is unique.
Blackalicious – Imani Vol. 1 (OGM Records)
It’s the return of Blackalicious. Gift of Gab’s lyricism, 2nd to none.
Liturgy – The Ark Work (Thrill Jockey)
Black metal at its finest? Quite possibly.
Milo – So The Flies Don’t Come (Alpha Pup)
The art of rap is something Milo takes seriously. Mind blowing.
Desaparecidos – Payola (Epitaph)
Conor Oberst’s band. They rock the fuck out.
Motel Beds – Mind Glitter (Anyway Records)
Dayton, OH native sons. Robert Pollard likes them.
Colleen Green – I Want To Grow Up (Hardly Art)
If you’re over 30, you’ll get it. Everyone else will too.
Murs – Have A Nice Life (Strange Music)
He gets grimy, introspective and gangsta, all at the same time.
High On Fire – Luminiferous (Relapse)
Kick that metal into high gear with the band.
Emerald Knights – The Album (Self-Release)
Bag Of Tricks Cat and Mega Ran. Great lyricism on this collaboration.
Chicago’s ProbCause is talented with more than just his words- the multi-faceted emcee is also a Graffiti artist-turned-graphic designer and animator. Today he’s sharing “Once Upon a Time in Shaolin,” an animation based on the infamous Martin Shkreli‘s $2 million-dollar purchase of the coveted Wu-Tang album. “The characters were all people who were actually involved in this very bizarre story,” explains ProbCause, who collaborated with Elijah Alvarado on the video. “It seemed like every day we were working on this there was a new twist on the plot. We also threw Donald Trump in the mix just ’cause that phone call to Method Man was too funny not to animate!”
Listen to ProbCause’s Drifters album here:
Damien Jurado’s new album Visions of Us on the Land is out March 18, 2016 on Secretly Canadian. If you wanted to preview the album you’re out of luck, however you are fortunate enough to hear the first single, “Exit 353.” The album is Jurado’s 14th full-length release, and his 8th for indie stalwart Secretly Canadian. The fuzzed single here draws on his ever expanding creativity while the album shows off a balls to the wall aestheticism finding comfort with his own sound and timbre. Fans should definitely be excited for this release.
Phoenix AZ head-nod rockers Black Bottom Lighters have returned! The group premieres its video of the title track off their EP Pipe Dreams, which will be released February 2016.
The song title leans itself two different ways for these desert reggae artists between the physical and the mental but one thing is clear here, they’re obviously not sweating it musically. They’re living their own dreams and Black Bottom Lighters has come into its own. Singer Ryan “Stilly” Stilwell extends himself immensely, and you should listen to the nuances of his vocal delivery. The guitar interplay between Mike Proctor & Phil Keiser has semblances of Santana floating throughout, and that’s a good thing. Kelyn Weaver’s keys are subtle but add an underlying texture, while the rhythm section of bassist Jose Aquino and drummer Ryan McPhatter always keeps everything well grounded.
“Pipe Dreams” is a good example of where the group is heading. The song is the culmination of the band’s talent completely realized. There’s more to come from the band. The aforementioned EP will also feature Layzie Bone of Bone, Thugs n Harmony.
Not much is known about the new album PJ Harvey is releasing next year but what we do know is her new record documents a distinctive artistic journey which has taken her from Afghanistan to Washington, D.C. The album was recorded during a month-long, open to the public residency at London arts and cultural center Somerset House. Fans were able to watch Harvey at work with her group in studio.
Here Harvey gives a glimpse of her next full-length album. Some of us just can’t seem to wait that long.
Conrad Keely, the man at the helm of …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of The Dead premieres his song “Warm Insurrection” today, off of his upcoming solo debut Original Machines. While the song may share some obvious similarities to the group that he’s become synonymous with, it’s irrefutably something that has his own personal stamp on.
You can get a listen of the track here, which includes the lyrics. Original Machines is out January 22, 2016 on Superball Music.