Saturday, January 13, 2018
The Huntsman – Favorite Records 2017
This year was sort of a big shift for me music review wise compared to years past. I took a break from doing full on reviews for bands and focused more on covering more material with shorter more condensed blurb style reviews. Part of that had to do with my view of the scene right now and how to most effectively get the point across about which bands deserve your attention with the least amount of effort. Let’s be honest, nobody on here is doing this for their own benefit or because they’re getting paid to do it. We are here because we are passionate about the music and feel we have our finger on the pulse enough to make a difference to the bands wanting to get heard and the other fans wanting to hear good bands. Like last year, I hesitated compiling a list early in December as I knew I was going to keep discovering new bands and buying records right up until the last day. Below is a representation of my favorite records on vinyl purchased and added to my collection released in 2017. I am sure I forgot some, but all are records that I either had a strong connection with musically, emotional and even physically. No, I did not make love to these records, but the physical package characteristics of collecting vinyl is something all us vinyl junkies know about and there is value to it. Here is what I was digging this year both musically and artistically.
1. Spidergawd – IV
Spidergawd is a band that I was relatively late to the game in really getting into. Part of me believes it’s the simple fact that they have resisted putting their material on bandcamp which makes it inconvenient to listen to frequently. The latest album and 4th for the band is arguably their strongest effort to date. They have always been able to be distinguish themselves from the pack by clever usage of the saxophone and they absolutely blew my mind with the latest album. With heavy punk rock hooks, stoner fueled blues, and a psychedelic balladry through and through, IV kept the hairs
on end up my neck each and every listen. Combine that with the trippy artwork and thick vinyl package available via the Stickman Records shop and you have yourself a winner.
2. Sarah Shook & The Disarmers – Sidelong
This album won me over immediately after seeing the Bloodshot records had signed the and were releasing their debut album on vinyl early in 2017. The band self-released the album digitally in 2016, but I am voting for it as it was officially released by Bloodshot in 2017 and didn’t really make as big of impact until then. I played this album more than any other album this year. Both on the turntable and in the car. My kids loved the album, my 8 year old daughter made special requests for the album and so on and so forth. Its country music, but its also punk rock. The band are outlaw as it gets and the songwriting is witty and unforgiving. I love music that incorporates a solid one-liner type mentality that both speaks the truth as well as hits the melody and groove of the music. I fell hard for this album and rank it right up there fighting against the heavy rock and metal releases. I can’t wait to see what she does in 2018. Rumor is already out that they have new stuff early in the year.
3. Orango – Mules of Nana
What more can I say about this band. I reviewed it in full earlier this year and it quickly became one of my prized finds of the last decade of scavenging the depths of the internet for music. Again another band featured over at Stickman Records, I scooped up their entire discography including singles and splits shipped from over seas. That alone is a testament to its marvel and solidifies it as one of my favorites of the year.
Take note, this may be a contender for album of the year. Haven't heard the heavy blues rock n roll styling done so well perhaps ever in my entire life. This is a masterpiece, as is every other one of their albums.
4. Steak – No God To Save
Steak came out screaming after I first heard the album via earlier promotional outlets. Released on the one and only Ripple Music, No God To Save is relentlessly heavy, catchy and supremely melodic in approach. Steak hadn’t released a bad album yet, and the latest crushed all expectation garnering one of the surprise releases of the year for me.
The new slab of glistening flesh by heavy rockers Steak from the UK, is seasoned with massive riffs and seared to perfection over a bed of atmospheric bliss. The rhythm is dripping with robust groove and the vocals slice against the tender grain of distortion serving up a full course platter of metallic frenzy.
5. Red Mountains - Slow Wander
This is the kind of album you could get lost in for days. I stand by my comparisons of being an expansive take on a classic Sabbath riff while incorporating progressive elements a la Pink Floyd. The album title and cover art fit the theme and feeling of joy and bewilderment present themselves consistently throughout repeat spins. Last I checked there were only a couple of the limited blue vinyl records left in their store. So if you knew what was good for you go their now and brace up your collection as this is a mandatory vinyl addition.
Heavy riffs wondering deep canyons of slow, theatric psych weathered by formations of colorful, mesozoic fuzz. It's like the doom born love child of Black Sabbath and Pink Floyd. This is glorious!Favorite track: Oak.
6. Woodhawk – Beyond the Sun
Woodhawk could easily fit into one of the catchiest grooviest stoner rock albums released this year. The vocal tones shine like the setting sun of the cover and the riffs slice with precision fuzz through and through.
These are the kinds of riffs that induce fully flexed fist pumps, deep sultry hell ya's, and neck breaking head bangs. The catchy grooves alone are fit for an eternal desert island soundtrack circulating beyond the sun on its matching slab of 12" wax. Woodhawk are remastering the stoner rawk handbook with anthemic riffs, no frills fuzz, and balls to the wall chops.
7. Hair of the Dog – This World Turns
This is another band I cannot praise enough. Everything they’ve put out has that added flair that just does it for me. The latest came in first listen as no surprise and mind blowing. It only got better with each listen and the entire package via Kozmik Aricfactz is worthy of your collection. Another band I make sure to gobble up all their records on wax.
Hair of the Dog is the type of band you can play in the morning to ease the bangover from witnessing their show the night before. This World Turns exemplifies all that is heavy rock taking the band to future cult classic status and showing no signs of losing hide. The melodies echo lean distorted glory with progressive riffs, bar worthy balladry and intricate snarls of rock and roll fury. Can't deny this as one of the best hard rock albums of 2017. Vinyl ordered. Just look at those colors on the cover. This is the full package. Favorite track: This World Turns.
8. Sasquatch – Maneuvers
Nearly 3 years after their last album out via Small Stone Records titled IV, Sasquatch broke the mold, went with a more thoughtful album name and maneuvered their way into the hearts and souls of a big chunk of both die hard and new fans this year. I was lucky enough to see the band twice this year both at Psycho Las Vegas during their Pool Party set and a more intimate late weeknight show in South Lake Tahoe with tour mates, House of Broken Promises. There really are no words to say in addition to what everyone else had to say about maneuvers this year. It’s a no-brainer.
Sasquatch successfully maneuvers its way through a perilous flat spin of grandiose fuzz. Powered by progressive stoner distortia and state of the art vocal delivery, the bearded beast of the desert engages its target and deploys a massive assault of absolute riffage.
9. Buttered Bacon Biscuits – From the Solitary Woods
This was technically a reissue of an album released a few years back but the first time on vinyl, and really the first time it really got its chance to let the world know about them. Comprised of members who eventually formed the band “Witchwood” BBB gives us a modern take on a classical sound and I couldn’t be happier about it. Perhaps one of the lesser talked about albums this year it certainly rivals anything I heard and worthy of your attention.
What a well executed and masterfully written album. If you're here you probably have the Witchwood stuff already and this is the prelude to that. If you're new, sit back, relax and let the melodies drift you away to a time when the sun baked oranger and the smoke rung heavier. BBB bring classic rock full circle including haunting keys, arena filling rhythm, mind-melting psych, and deep brooding blues with a vocal package soaring at the crossroads of Dickie Betts meets Use Your Illusion era Axl Rose.
10. Gin Lady – Electric Earth
Just look at that album cover!! Gin Lady nailed it on their latest. To be honest it took a little while to set in as it came across rather mellow as compared to their previous works and after going in for a confirmation it was realized how much this album kicked ass. Hey, they’re from Sweden what do you expect?
Electric Earth exposes Gin Lady's aged rock roots with a new, modern masterpiece. The tuneful southern twang erodes the landscape with 'organ'ic melodies and soothing classic rock riffs that pay homage to a musical era fermented by 50 years of sunshine and water. It's as if the Allmans and the Doobies found out they were blood brothers separated at birth and made a record in celebration.
11. Scott H. Biram – The Bad Testament
I’ve been a big fan of this guy going on a few years now, and when I first heard The Bad Testament I knew right away this was going to be one of my favorite listens of the year. It’s a wildly diverse album ranging from chaotic punk rock to sorrowful tear jerking country. Being a one man band and recording an album of this caliber is something else.
A little bit of outlaw, little bit of heartache, whole lot of honky tonk, a touch of hard rockabilly blues and a big ass-whooping slab of heavy acoustic bliss. The Bad Testament carries on the trail forged by Nothin' But Blood with an all-out assault on the hard and heavy Americana meets deep throbbing desperado blues. This may be Biram's magnum opus record. Game over!
12. Bask – Ramble Beyond
I distinctively remember streaming this one on my phone early just prior to the release and have it on a loop like 6 times in a row. That doesn’t happen often. It was ordered up shortly after on vinyl. The Adam Burke cover art adds a depth only matched by the atmosphere on the album.
Asleep in the Orchard maintains that one of a kind earthy atmosphere, whimsical vocals, and deep brooding psych that traverses the progressive metal map winding towards a spiritual plateau of ghastly riffs meet angelic harmony worthy of your utmost attention. Favorite track: Mush! Carry Me Home.
13. Wayfaring Strangers – Acid Nightmares
It was with this release that I really discovered and dug into what Numero Group is doing. I was instantly fascinated not only by the album art but the diverse array of vinyl they release. This is a compilation album which rivals the Riding Easy series Brown Acid series. If I were to give an award for record package of the year this would win in a heartbeat. Hell it might just be my coolest vinyl package in my entire collection. The thing weight in a just under a metric ton of tripped out black light fuzz complete with full size booklet and gatefold describing each song in a full story about how it came to be. I went ahead and grabbed a few other packages from Numero Group while I was on this trip and have been a happier person ever since.
This is a vinyl collectors dream album. The acidic trail of ragged riffs not only summon a sense of euphoric chaos, but the diverse range of quality songs making up this monstrous album join together as if they were written and performed on the same stage, on the same tab of acid. Pure gold from the nightmares of vintage proto hippy fuzz rock.
14. Sugarfoot – The Santa Ana
So ya, I don’t have this record in my hands yet as I just ordered it up along with its discography on vinyl last week. Ya, its that good. Tom Petty worship under the California sun-baked sky, these sweet foot compadres ride in with text book Cosmic Americana and I am thankful for discovering this on another peer’s end of the year list. So killer.
15. GospelbeacH – Another Summer of Love
Alive Natural Sounds sold me on this one after usually digging their taste and hearing a couple songs on youtube. Like Sugarfoot, GospelbeacH bring a heavy Tom Petty influence combining a Beach Boys type spirit and a harmonious rhythm. This is the summertime album of the year and meant for hazy afternoons chilling and daydreaming. The vinyl I got was the Starburst which Alive Natural has put their stamp on.
16. Topplock – Overlord
Perhaps the worst album cover of the year? Maybe so, but in contrast they win the award for baddest ass rock and roll record by using a shitty album cover, pun intended. It grows on you after staring into the eyes of the brown monster long enough and the bright white vinyl spins effortlessly with a retro groove to die for.
Ruler of the new wave of retro heavy blues. Topplock have crushed the competition with a signature Swedish heavy rock and roll album on Overlord. Nevermind the comparisons mentioned below, while they are apt, Topplock has them beat with this one. Stunning
17. The Ossuary – Post Mortem Blues
I’ve been yammering about this one all year long from the first note to the last. This was a dog walking discovery, meaning I put my head phones on, leashed up the dog and hit the trailer in the evening after a day of work. I hadn’t heard of the band and this was a new promotional album I was sampling out. It smacked me right in the face with its dark and powerful vocal tones paired against the classic doom riffs. Oh sweet baby jesus, I remember immediately contacting my good bud Steve Howe to ask if he’d heard it yet and if not to get on it. I since received the splatter vinyl which sealed the deal. It was making my list.
This album is immense in every sense of the word. From the guitar tone, metallic soloing and gruelingly refined vocals, The Ossuary straddle a fine line between Ozzy and Dio era Sabbath combined with the riffs and tones of modern bands such as Dawnbringer
18. The W Likes – The W Likes
Holy moly what an amazing sounding heavy stoner album. This one went way under the radar until late in the year when they finally went live on bandcamp. I ordered the vinyl via a kickstarter earlier in the summer and received the vinyl right about when they decided to go public and its been a ride ever since. I think the rest of the scene has something to learn about how these dudes from Norway piece together their riffs. Tasty!
Like the infamous Mr. Rodger (Steve) says, this is glistening with swaggering fuzz. Got the Orange Vinyl, which compliments the album cover art, that compliments the barbaric riffs, desert crusted vocals and blistering groove. I W Like this very much.Favorite track: In A Mind.
19. Jesus Sons – Tres
Been a big fan of these guys since their last amazing album Bring it on Home, which was heavily endorsed by Riding Easy Records, along with the band Slow Season. Not only do people who know good music like it, but the combination of styles on display is right down my alley. Classic rock with a southern punky twang. Ya, I like that sort of thing.
Jesus Sons have risen again with another slab of twangy rock and roll. Imagine Mick Jagger on stage slamming a fuzz pedal wearing flip flops and board shorts. ‘Tres’ is an eclectic So Cal blend of classic rock meets stoner influenced honky tonk. I suggest you grab the vinyl too. Favorite track: Feel Alright (That Bottle).
20. Sons of Morpheus – Nemesis
Sons of Morpheus went way under the radar this year. I don’t know if its because people just didn’t hear it, they were intimidated by how heavy that double LP gatefold might be and whether they would need a forklift to unload it from the postman, or if people just don’t know what they’re thinking. Probably a bit of all three. Nemesis has just the right amount of pop hidden beneath the stunning riff rock and blues based croons.
Nemesis is fully loaded with a high caliber raucous blues rock heavy as it is catchy. Equal parts poppy blues meets shit kickin', space trippin' grungy groove .
Favorite track: All of the Above
Rounding out the top 100+ vinyl records I purchased this year solifies the fact that they are all fucking killer and I couldn’t help but list the ones that I could recount as having. I am sure I missed a few, but these were all fantastic records released in 2017 and if my pocketbook has any say in 2018, I am not going to have so much this coming year and may resort to not requiring vinyl to make my list. It was a stellar year and I enjoyed sharing it with all of you. Cheers to a hopefully 2018!!
21. WHITE LIGHT CEMETERY - CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR
22. JASON ISBELL - NASHVILLE SOUND
23. CHRIS STAPLETON - FROM A ROOM: VOLUME 1
24. GREENBEARD – LÖDARÖDBÖL
25. NEKROMANT - SNAKES & LIARS
26. RUBY THE HATCHET - PLANETARY SPACE CHILD
27. LEWIS & THE STRANGE MAGICS - EVADE YOUR SOUL
28. TORGEIR WALDEMAR - NO OFFENDING BORDERS
29. THE OBSESSED - SACRED
30. DEATH ALLEY - LIVE AT ROADBURN
31. ELDER - REFLECTIONS OF A FLOATING WORLD
32. ALL THEM WITCHES - SLEEPING THROUGH THE WAR
33. BALL - BALL
34. PETYR - PETYR
35. TYLER CHILDS - PURGATORY
36. MOUNTAINWOLF - ABSINTHE MOON
37. ELARA - DELI BAL
38. SAMSARA BLUES EXPERIMENT - ONE WITH THE UNIVERSE
39. DSW - TALES OF THE COSMONAUT
40. SKUNK - DOUBLEBLIND
41. YOUNGBLOOD SUPERCULT - THE GREAT AMERICAN DEATH RATTLE
42. WAR CLOUD - WAR CLOUD
43. THE QUILL - BORN FROM FIRE
44. SUMMONER - BEYOND THE REALM OF LIGHT
45. BLACKFOOT GYPSIES - TO THE TOP
46. BLACK ANGELS - DEATH SONG
47. MARTY STEWART AND THE FABULOUS SUPERLATIVES - WAY OUT WEST
48. TROUBLED HORSE - REVOLUTION ON REPEAT
49. HARK - MACHINATIONS
50. FIREBALL MINISTRY - REMEMBER THE STORY
51. THE FLYING EYES - BURNING OF THE SEASON
52. HEATH GREEN AND THE MAKESHIFTERS - S/T
53. SNOWCHILD - AGE OF CHANGE
54. FORMING THE VOID - RELIC
55. ORDOS - HOUSE OF THE DEAD
56. THE NECROMANCERS - SERVANTS OF THE SALEM GIRL
57. KINGNOMAD - MAPPING THE INNER VOID
58. VOKONIS - THE SUNKEN DJINN
59. WOUNDED GIANT - VAE VICTIS
60. THE MAGPIE SALUTE - THE MAGPIE SALUTE
61. MOONBOW - WAR BEAR
62. DOUBLESTONE - DEVILS OWN/DJÆVLENS EGN
63. DUEL - WITCHBANGER
64. BELLHOUND CHOIR - WORRIED KID
65. THE PICTUREBOOKS - HOME IS A HEARTACHE
66. NIGHT FLIGHT ORCHESTRA - AMBER GALACTIC
67. BANDITOS - VISIONLAND
68. ROYAL THUNDER - WICK
69. CLOUDS TASTE SATANIC - THE GLITTER OF INFINITE HELL
70. CHRIS ROBINSON BROTHERHOOD - BETTYS BLENDS VOL. 3
71. THE SECOND COMING OF HEAVY: CHAPTER 6 KAYLETH / FAVEQUAID
72. THE SECOND COMING OF HEAVY: CHAPTER 7 SWITCHBLADE JESUS / FUZZ EVIL
73. THE SECOND COMING OF HEAVY: CHAPTER 5 DESERT SUNS / CHIEFS
74. THE JUDGE - TELL IT TO THE JUDGE
75. MARGO PRICE - ALL AMERICAN MADE
76. JOHN MORELAND - BIG BAD LOVE
77. I AM THE ALBATROSS - DESERT ARCHAIC
78. YOUNG HUNTER - DAYHIKER
79. MIRROR QUEEN - VERDIGRIS
80. WILLIE NELSON - GOD'S PROBLEM CHILD
81. DEVILS WITCHES - VELVET MAGIC
82. MOTHERSHIP - HIGH STRANGENESS
83. BONEMAN - III
84. SLY5THAVE - THE INVISIBLE MAN: ORCHESTRAL TRIBUTE TO DR. DRE
85. LECHEROUS GAZE - ONE FIFTEEN
86. SIENA ROOT - A DREAM OF LASTING PEACE
87. DEVIL ELECTRIC - DEVIL ELECTRIC
88. HA HA TONKA - HEART SHAPED MOUNTAIN
89. CACTUS BLACK - MIDNIGHT AT THE CROSSROADS
90. KEEF MOUNTAIN - KEEF MOUNTAIN
91. CORY BRANON - ADIOS
92. OLDE - TEMPLE
93. MONOBROW - THE NACARAT
94. LEE ANN WOMACK - THE LONELY, THE LONESOME & THE GONE
95. HYBORIAN - VOL. 1
96. HISS GOLDEN MESSENGER - HALLELUJAH ANYHOW
97. WILL SESSIONS - DELUXE
98. BLACK PUSSY - POWER
99. THE YAWPERS - BOY IN A WELL
100. DIRTY SOUND MAGNET - WESTERN LIES
101. THE COLD STARES - HEAD BENT
102. THE LONDON SOULS - HERE COMES THE GIRLS
103. THE SONIC DAWN - INTO THE LONG NIGHT
104. LITTLE HURRICANE - SAME SUN, SAME MOON
105. BJ WILBANKS - BJ WILBANKS
106. SIX SIGMA - TUXEDO BROWN
107. ANDREW COMBS - CANYONS OF MY MIND
108. JASON JAMES - JASON JAMES
109. JD MCPHERSON - UNDIVIDED HEART & SOUL
110. WESTERN SKY MOTEL - SETTLERS
111. POSEIDON - PROLOGUE
112. LEVI PARHAM - AVALON DRIVE
113. MENTAL TREMORS - MENTAL TREMORS
114. ROSELIT BONE - BLISTER STEEL
115. QUARTER MILE THUNDER - BUCKING THE TIGER
116. WILD ADRIATIC - FEEL