End Of The Year Top 5: Top 5 Albums
2019 was not a huge year as far as new music for me. I spent most of it listening to older records and artists (which will be in the next list). But anyways, here are my top five favorite albums of 2019! What were your favorites of 2019?
#5: The Teal Album - Weezer
This album was a total surprise, while Rivers and the gang did treat us to another album in 2019, the teal album is one is getting my top 5. The Teal Albums was one of my first reviews I made in February after the album dropped. This album was surprisingly dropped with no promotion prior to the album. Riding off the previous success of their Toto cover of Africa, the album features no original songs, all covers ranging from Toto to Michael Jackson to Black Sabbath to ELO and several others. After spending almost a year with this album, it still holds up to their past albums. While listening to the entire album at this point does not hold up, there are still several standout tracks which are great covers. The standout tracks to this album include: Africa, Everybody Wants To Rule The World, Sweet Dreams (Are Made of These), Take On Me, Happy Together, and No Scrubs. (8.5/10)
#4: The Awakening - Infinity
Coming in at number four, The Awakening is the second album by the local Philadelphia metal band Infinity. I had actually reviewed their first album The Beginning of The End back in March of 2019. This album has been a staple of my listening of 2019, a great break from all the progressive metal and 80s alternative music. While their first album was a great beginning, this album is easily one hundred times better in every aspect, (this is not supposed to be a diss at their first album, but rather stuff I really liked about this one). First off, the production on this album is night and day, the Infinity boys really stepped it up on the production of this album, by making it sound really in your face and everything sounding much better on the production side. The third song on the album Calling My Name, is the first song on the album featuring background screaming as well as background singing in the chorus. Another huge improvement is the variation on the songs, the last half of this album sounds like a huge departure for the band with tracks like Terminal, and sections of Lost featuring a slower and more melodic side of the band, creating more soundscapes rather than huge fast-paced thrashy songs (which this album also definitely delivers on). This entire album is a great batch of songs from Infinity and is best to be listened to in full. Favorite songs on the album: Set Me Free, Awakening, Calling My Name, Terminal, Lost, and Slide. (9/10)
#3: Wired For Madness - Jordan Ruddess
Coming in at number three, Wired For Madness, is the fifteenth solo album by the American Keyboardist Jordan Ruddess. He is known for his work in the Liquid Tension Experiment, and the progressive metal band Dream Theater (more on that later).
#2: Distance Over Time - Dream Theater
Coming in at number two, Distance Over Time, is the fourteenth studio album by American progressive metal band Dream Theater.
#1: Cotillions - William Patrick Corgan
Coming in at number one, Cotillions is the third studio album by solo artist William Patrick Corgan, mostly known as the lead singer of The Smashing Pumpkins. This solo acoustic record is my favorite record of 2019 for several reasons. First reason being that it features a much different side of rockstar guitar soloing genius that is Billy Corgan. This entire album features either acoustic guitar and/or piano, a very different approach to Billy Corgan's more electric guitar work which he is known for. According to Corgan himself, he had written the entire thing while on a road-trip through middle America rediscovering that part of life. Which is depicted in a free documentary available on Youtube. This entire album to me sounds like a soundtrack of a drive through small-town America. Not just based on the lyrical themes of this album, but also the sound, the production, the album sounds very small and personal. There is really no bad song on this album, and is best when listened in full. 9.5/10
New Single! - Winter-Wonder OUT NOW!!
My brand new single: Winter-Wonder is out now on Bandcamp and Soundcloud!! This is a piano-based piece I wrote after seeing the first snowfall of the season up at my college. It is based around a melody I had written a few years ago. Listen to a higher quality version on Soundcloud! Click the buttons below to listen!!
Boarding House Reach is the third studio album by the American rock musician Jack White, it is his first studio album in almost four years, his last one, Lazaretto, was released in 2014. It was recorded mostly in Jack White’s studio and record company Third Man Records in Nashville. This album is an extreme departure for the former White Stripes musician, originally a garage and blues rock band. Boarding House Reach is full of experimentation and electronic dissonance. Basically, this album is made of a bunch of weird sounds.
That being said, this album is one of my favorite albums from last year. The instrumentation is really unique whether its Jack White going off its blues rock influences or if he’s delving into electronica, it doesn’t sound like it’s a copy of other bands, it sounds completely unique. A great example of this is the first track on the album Connected by Love, which was also the first single, featuring a syncopated drone like introduction that soars over most of the song but especially in the beginning as well as the first two verses. Another great standout on this album is the vocal delivery both by Jack White as well as the background singers he has on most of the album. Again, in the first track on the album, Jack’s delivery of the chorus sounds like he’s not entirely sure with what he is saying, however the background singers really help layer out the message of the song, making it a great start to the album. The next song, Why Walk a Dog?, starts off with a syncopated electronic drum rhythm as well as what sounds like a heavily distorted keyboard chord progression, almost like chimes, very strange for the blues rock musician. Something else strange about this album and this song in particular is the guitar tones, it sounds like Jack White has some distorted electronic sounds on his guitar instead of his traditional harder distortion sounds. Lyrically speaking, this song could probably be an old fashion blues song if you strip away all of the electronics and play it on an acoustic guitar, a thing that Jack White is known for doing. However, this time he chose to take his acoustic guitar and smash into pieces and pick up an electric guitar and synthesizer. The next song, Corporation, is the second single from the album, this song is one of the more “commercial sounding” if you can say that about this album. The whole song is wrapped around one syncopated drum rhythm that plays in the background for the entire song. The rest of the song features repeating melody and screaming female background vocal for the first 3 minutes of the whole album. Jack White’s vocals doesn’t even enter the song until over four minutes into the song, instead the majority of the song just features this amazing array of choral screaming and really weird but interesting fuzzed guitar noises mixed in with congas, really unique and interesting textures. The next song, Abulia and Akraisia, which is this short spoken word part that Jack White delivers with just tons and tons of music going on around it. As far as instrumentation, it’s a break from the electronics of the album and is more of a collage of recorded instruments that Jack had lying around and just threw together in an amazing arrangement. The next song on the album Hypermisophoniac, has this droned noise that plays in the right pan constantly, showing a return to the electronics, this song sounds like a blues song with electronics going on in the background, an odd but interesting track. The next track, Ice Station Zebra, I honestly don’t know how to describe this song, it sounds like they created the song around a keyboard melody but threw congas and tons of heavily filtered vocals. The next track is easily the most commercial track on the album Over and Over and Over, featuring a straight-forward guitar riff at the beginning and no filter on Jack’s voice. Just a great fast paced rock song with elements of blues rock, fuzzed guitars, female backgrounds, and sprinkled electronic. One of the best on the album! The next song, sounds like an advertisement for a dystopian future, Everything You’ve Ever Learned, featuring an announcer with a droned out voice stating Everything You’ve Ever Learned a few times before Jack White comes in sounding like a protester, with the ending of the track going into a large jam session indicating the end of the mockery of false advertisement. The next song, Respect Commander, has a sort of beginning like Over and Over and Over, almost like a tease that Jack was going to do a similar song but then quickly cuts into this weird drone guitar effects and keyboard fuzz. This song features one of the best guitar solos on the album underneath all of the fuzz and before fading out into the introduction again. The next song is more like a spoken word poem featuring an acoustic guitar and background strings Ezmeralda Steals The Show, a common theme I have noticed over the course of this album is all the interlude tracks seem to have some sort of mockery over their real life comparisons, as if almost purposefully. The next song, Get In The Mind Shaft, I am not sure if it features guitar at all, it begins with a spoken word speech and no additional vocals, just a sort of lo-fi sort of vibe for the rest of the song, great “instrumental” if you can call it an instrumental. The second to last song, What’s Done is Done, is the most bluesey and nonelectronic this album gets, even though its got the accordion solo in the middle just a great breathier at the end of a weird drone sounding album. The history behind the final track Humoresque, is extremely interesting. The piece came from a manuscript that came to fruition when Jack White purchased a manuscript written by Al Capone while in Alcatraz, containing self-written lyrics to the Dvorak piece Humoresque. Nice, quiet, and chill, great finisher to an amazing album.
Overall, this album I think the best music Jack White has made since his days in The White Stripes. Just based on how much of an experimental departure this is for Jack White both sonically and production wise. While there are great standouts on the album, this is one of those albums it has to be listened to in its entirety to get its whole experience. Standout tracks: Connected by Love, Why Walk a Dog, Corporation, Hypermisophoniac, Ice Station Zebra, Over and Over and Over, Get In The Mind Shaft, and Humoresque.
My brand new EP is now available on bandcamp and soundcloud!!! Check it out! linktr.ee/trinity_band_official
Blog #8 Angels And Airwaves: I-Empire
I-Empire is the second album by the alternative rock band Angels & Airwaves. It was released November 1st 2007 through Geffen Records, via the Angels & Airwaves website. Tom Delonge, of Blink-182 fame, the main songwriter and frontman of Angels & Airwaves, it is described by Tom as being a conceptual followup to the band's last project, their debut album We Don’t Need To Whisper. Tom described the new album as an album about what to do after the rebirth, again referring to the previous album which was conceptually about the themes of rebirth. The album itself is a fairly cohesive album, listening to it all the way through gives it perspective on the whole meaning of the album.
The album starts off very strong with the opener, Call To Arms, has an amazing build up, taking very little time with a spacey opener before bringing in the bass and drums with more synthesizers then building up more with a guitar riff, and a minute in the first verse starts. Later going into an interlude with Tom’s soaring vocals and then a background chant, a great opener to an album. The next song, Everything Is Magic, wastes no time with building up, opening with drums and a syncopated percussive rhythm, most likely programmed. This was the first single on the album, the chorus in this song is one of the best choruses Tom has ever written. With its giant build-up and Tom’s soaring vocal performance with an explosive chorus and immediate drawback, another great song. The next song Breathe, the intro literally feels like a nice breath, a nice slower song after the first two fast-paced songs, very well placed on the album. However, my complaint with this song is that it sounds too similar to other songs off the second half of the Blink-182 Untitled record which Tom Delonge was a part of before starting this project. I am more referring to the atmospheric background, to me it just sounds like a rehash of an earlier project Tom Delonge has done in the past, but still not a bad song. The next song, Love Like Rockets, the introduction of it has some of the weirdest samples I have ever heard over a simple piano melody before the drums and synth elements enter with a huge buildup over a verse and chorus until exploding at the end of the song before fading out to just Tom Delonge’s doubled filtered voice, decent song. The next song Sirens, starts off very differently than the rest of the album, there’s no keyboards to be heard, instead there is a bass riff with a heavily filtered guitar. This song also features some interesting “ da da da” from Tom, a staple of his between his career in both Angels & Airwaves as well as Blink-182. However, again the verse and chorus song sounds very similar to Blink-182 with just some more synth keyboards. The next song Star of Bethlehem, is a two minute long interlude that goes nowhere, alright next, it is a great transition into the next song True Love, I wish they had cut Star of Bethlehem in half and kept it as just one song True Love, but ya know I’m not in two majorly successful bands, so what do I know, my main issue is that I have no reason to listen to Star of Bethlehem and just listen to True Love, (which also has an almost two minute buildup to the verse). True Love, has a great verse and chorus, it is also very well produced, it also has more of the “oh way oh way” but this time it is very fitting in the song. The chorus of the song starts with a vocal from Tom filtered background singing “True Love” then exploding in a crescendo, really awesome technique. One of the best songs on the album! The next song, Lifeline, has a great bassline in its introduction with nice and slower tempo than the last song a nice breather. Again, this song also has a buildup around the end of the song, through it however this time it doesn’t explode nearly as much as the other one, this one is more like a nice climb on top of a hill. I really like what I think is a synthesizer that floats over the other rhythm section and tom’s voice over the first and second verse. The next song Jumping Rooftops, is a nice interlude with a nice weird effect towards the end leading into the next track Rite of Spring. These last two songs on the album, are some of the stronger parts of this whole album. The song Rite of Spring, is a great song which is very personal for Tom basically telling his own story and about thanking a higher power for it. There is a sudden end to Rite of Spring, which immediately fades into the final track on the album Heaven. This track starts with a huge buildup of synth, however this time it is done very well, as well as, several samples of previous Angels & Airwaves songs from the last song. This song also contains a similar buildup to their debut single The Adventure (which is also one of the songs sampled at the beginning), with its guitar buildup and then exploding into the verse. This song also has a similar format to it as True Love, with very similar layout as far as verse chorus. With the last minute of the song fading out to nothing.
Overall, this album is a great album, it is not their best work, but certainly isn't’ their worst. There are definitely some songs on this album that I would skip. There are also some tracks that the instrumental build up are sometimes just too long. The flow of the album for the most part the whole album starts at a high point, then really falls but then brings it backup to another high point in the middle then falls a little more but then ends on a high note with the last couple songs on the album. The standout tracks on this album for me include: Call To Arms, Everything’s Magic, Breathe, True Love, Rite of Spring, and Heaven.
ALSO P.S. Keep your eyes out on November 1st. May have a surprise I'll be announcing soon: 11/1/19...
Cameron E. Narimanian