Here is a list of twenty (aged) artists/albums that kept me company this year. Some of these creations exist on my previous “best of” lists, some of them were lost in the waves of time, some of them, never given the due they deserve.
Walk down memory lane with me. Bring earplugs.
I was big fan of Gavin Rossdale and Bush back in the day, when everything was a lot more Zen in my life. There was a raw rock simplicity to Bush that I appreciated. As my interests varied, I became less interested in mainstream rock. Unfortunately, Bush was part of a blase garden of rock star egos, guitar riffs and overplayed tracks that I diverged from once I stopped listening to Corporate radio. To plant Bush in that fruitless place is unfair. After giving “Sea” a few more listens, beyond my favorite song from that album “The Sound of Winter”, I discovered it had a lot of heart.
18_Incubus – “Light Grenades” (2005)
“Quicksand”, “Kiss To Send Us Off”, “Dig”. I returned to this album quite a bit over the last year, mainly for those three songs, but the whole album is better than I originally thought. Give it another listen for yourself.
17_Destroid – “The Invasion” (2013)
“Put It Down” was infectious. “Annihilate” and “Wasteland” destroyed.
Maria Brink may be one of the queens of ugly rock now, but songs like “The Dream”, “Lost at Sea” and “Into the Light” showcase her beautiful depth. “Forever” is one of the best songs In This Moment has written, even with a catalog of recent greatness that includes albums “A Star-Crossed Wasteland” and “Blood”. I didn’t fully appreciate the awesomeness of this early work until this year, though I was a big fan of this album when it came out. Through the lens of “Whore” and “Black Widow”, Brink’s charming early work shines even brighter now.
14_Cryptex – “The Walking Dead”, “Viva La Vida”, “Lights”
13_Thirty Seconds to Mars – “This is War” (2009)
I am a Bassnectar addict. I can’t lie. “Mesmerizing the Ultra” is a rare case where a musician’s older music is as good, if not better, than his/her recent releases. Going back ten years, it is obvious where the rise and brilliance of Lorin Ashton (Bassnectar) began.
11_Behemoth – “The Apostasy” (2007)
My love affair with this album began with “Inner Sanctum”, the song below, as one of my favorite metal vocalists (Warrel Dane, Sanctuary and Nevermore) is a guest vocalist on the track. From there, the darkness of “The Apostasy” grew until its shadow filled my ears. Behemoth is about as brutal and Biblically evil as they get. Not for the feint of heart.
I love this album, front to back. Over time, I grew closer to each of the songs for different reasons. Truly, this album became “comfort food” for my musical appetite– it’s certainly entertaining, has an engaging story, is hauntingly romantic and chillingly beautiful. I have loved Within Temptation’s albums for different reasons, but after listening to their new release “Hydra”, I came to appreciate this album more–which seems like a criticism of “Hydra”, but is truly a statement on how diverse this band is.
Even before his untimely death, I was rediscovering the Static-X frontman’s solo work. “She” and “Behind the Sky” were regular rotations in my music orbit in 2014, and the latter of the two songs serving as an appropriate goodbye to the man that put Wisconsin on the metal map (even if it involved a death trip).
7_Morcheeba – “Blood Like Lemonade” (2010)
Chimaira is one of my favorite metal bands, has been since “Pass Out of Existence”. I own all of their albums and am a huge fan of their work. This album was so panned by long-time Chimaira fans that I never gave it a dedicated listen until I accidentally came across a remix of “Clockwork” on YouTube. Their remix album is brilliant and holds some interesting revisions of songs of the original album, which is really not as bad as some arrogant metalheads claim.
Certainly one of my favorite Flotsam & Jetsam albums, in a long history of great albums.
1_IAMX – “The Unified Field” (2013)
My favorite album of 2013 reigned supreme in my orbit in 2014. Chris Corner is an inspiration and one of the most talented, adventurous musicians creating art today.