Spool Going Round’s Favorite 11 Albums from 2015

Spool Going Round’s Favorite 11 Albums from 2015

Another year comes to a close. This year had some great moments and I am going to share the releases that I favored this year. I can’t help but think of this year being a year of disappointments. I remember releases that I was very excited to hear, only to be left wondering what has happened to this band? Are bands that have released great albums in the past now just trying to fit into this current musical landscape? How would you even do that? It seems the best advice I could give a band is to find something true to you and be unwavering in delivery and purpose. As terrorists take aim on music, make it something worth fighting for. Copying Adele is not going to cut it. If you want to hear the original Adele go back and check out Alison Moyet.  It becomes harder and harder as the years go by to be original but you can always be honest and true.

Here are the best in my view from 2015.

At number 11 is Sound & Color by Alabama Shakes

Being completely honest this one came on the radar late.   I receive and have access to SO much music it is crazy sometimes.  With that clutter I will hear a song that I really like and think, I will need to check that album out but then you get caught back up in the clutter.  When I started to reflect back on the year in music then I remembered that I never listened to the whole album.   Now having the time to focus, I purchased Sound & Color and it was well worth the wait.  Alabama Shakes are a band that broke out with their first release.  It was cool for festival organizers to have them on their roster.  They put on a great live performance.  With this second album they could have just did a cut and paste of the last release.  Guess what? They didn’t and that’s why they are interesting and on year-end best-of lists.  I have said this many times before but music that has soul will always resonate.  Really this is why Adele sold millions of records.  Alabama Shakes will always have that soul but this time they put a new landscape to that soul music. The album is much like a well put together mix tape of different genres but still connected by the soul. There are touches of punk, funk, and electronica in this soul music.

I’m going to say something that might sound a little silly but Alabama Shakes is a great record band.  I love putting on their music and listening to it.  It takes you places and you can make up your own music videos between your ears. I don’t have to go see Alabama Shakes live in concert.  I don’t have to watch their videos.  They are not going to be selling a ton of band posters.  I know, I am not trying to offend.  I am trying to say that a band shouldn’t have to be all that.  In fact, when a band does focus on that then they often fall way short on the music.  How many bands are worrying way too much on being pretty and suck!

I am glad I got to this record late in the year that way it will remain on my radar well into 2016.

At number 10 is Black Messiah by D’Angelo And The Vanguard

This album was a pleasant surprise.  It took 14 years to get here but boy it took me back farther than that.  Technically the release date was just before the end of 2014 but it is worth mentioning.  At first the name right away hit me and reminded me of going through my parents old record collection when I was little and seeing and album called Black Moses by Isaac Hayes.   Right away to a young person I had to check this out.  I had never been taught about a Black Moses in the weekend trips to summer bible school.  The album cover opened up and there he was.  Listening to the music was just as eye opening as the cover.

In many ways it is sad that so many of the same issues plaguing black culture then, is still alive today.  But we have music to shine a light on these issues and also get caught up in the groove.  D’Angelo is all about the groove.  He has a great band that he makes sure you know the name of.  This is an album that will be interesting enough to keep you satisfied even if it takes D’Angelo another 14 years to make a new one.

Here’s big D performing on SNL

At Number 9 is Gaz Coombes with Matador

Gaz is such a cool guy.  His middle name is Michael and he is a Pisces, so we got that in common. Ladies he is letting you know right on the album cover that he has a ring on it. He also has children.  In fact, Matador includes a wonderful track called “The Girl Who Fell to Earth” a song about his autistic daughter.

Gaz was the vocalist and lead guitarist in Supergrass a phenomenal band that put out nothing but great records.  I was fortunate enough to see Supergrass live and Gaz is a perfect front man. I assume Supergrass will have a reunion at some point but as we wait Gaz Coombes is putting out very interesting solo material.  This album was also nominated for a Mercury Music Prize.

Here is the lovely song “The Girl Who Fell to Earth” with the lyrics

At number 8 is Meliora by Ghost

This band is incredible.  I grew up in a time when Hard Rock and Heavy Metal were very popular.  They have since fell out of style but it doesn’t make the music any less intriguing.  There are certain so called “Hard Rock and Heavy Metal” hosts and shows that don’t even mention this band and that is an injustice.

Ghost as well as most of the interesting metal made in this decade comes from Sweden.  They have a bit of a shtick in that they wear costumes.  The singer and leader is called “Papa” and his band is “Ghouls” but we all need an angle and the music is GOOD! Their music touches on dark subject matter but really it is unbelievably beautiful.  Satan is a fallen angel after all.

They were kind enough to come to Seattle and play an acoustic show at a wonderful record store.  We have to thank Ghost for helping to keep metal and record stores from the graveyard.

There’s nothing scarier than a talent show, as portrayed in this video.

At number 7 is Strangers to Ourselves by Modest Mouse 

There is something very northwest about Modest Mouse.  It sounds like the rain on your Columbia Sportswear.  I travel to Portland often for business and I enjoy riding the MAX the same as this here Coyote.

Inspired by the true story of a coyote that rode Portland’s MAX light rail train in 2002.

At number 6 is Music Complete by New Order

This one hurts me a bit.  I have been a New Order fan from the beginning.  Low Life is one of the most fantastic albums there is.  A main draw for me to New Order was the lead bass lines from Hooky.  Peter Hook is no longer in New Order yet New Order still released a decent album.  I read Hooky’s book and I really enjoyed reading it.  Hooky is no longer in New Order yet New Order still released a decent album.  If they could only work out their difference then I wouldn’t have to say Hooky is no longer in New Order yet New Order still released a decent album.  I could just say this is a good New Order album.   The mighty Iggy Pop is part of this recording as well.

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It’s a Different Kind of Demo for Paul Weller

Paul Weller has a new video for his song Pick it up. It is a different kind of demo for a musician. Demo in music terms usually means a “demonstration” of the artist’s song. In this video starring the lovely Martin Freeman, he gets heavily involved in “demolition.”

Paul Weller’s album Saturns Pattern will easily make my top 10 list this year. I also caught Paul live in Seattle a month ago and that was killer. Paul pulled out many Jam songs and even awesome treats from The Style Council years, as well as his wonderful solo songs. But bravest of all was that Paul played almost his whole new album. For a guy 40 years into one of the most amazing careers ever, just incredible.   It took me over 30 years to finally be in the right place at the right time when Paul visited America and it was well worth the wait.

I don’t think there is any other artist in history that has the resume that Paul has and with so many different genres.  He is a living legend.

Check out the new video for “Pick it up” and below that the setlist from Paul’s show I caught in Seattle.

As I mention on Setlist.fm, Paul also played “Paper Chase” but I couldn’t remember the exact point in the set so I guess it will be forever forgotten. No it will never be forgotten but the correct setlist may never show up.   Also the band dedicated “You do Something to Me” to Lynval Golding who is also a legend and was in attendance. Lynval lives in the Seattle area.

 

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Seattle band Wimps are playing to their Strengths (and you can too!)

Seattle is quietly putting out many good bands.  This has been the case for years.  I think we would rather have it this way than to take over the nation with a silly named new music scene.

Wimps are from Seattle and I loved them from the second I heard them.    I have mentioned being and “old punk” several hundred times (reference? read all my posts).  This music appeals to that part of me that will never leave.  Another thing about punk music is that it inspires people, like myself, to pick up an instrument and possibly start another band.  That is what punk did and that is how a music scene is built too.  The lyrics are not over-thought.  You don’t have to be Yngwie Malmsteen (spelling: ASSHOLE) to crush these chords.  YOU CAN DO THIS, and imagine how fun it will be.  In fact, a band like Wimps might be needed now in 2015 more than ever.   The music scene is really in need of more good bands and Wimps have the music to inspire them.

A song like “Vampire” instantly grabs you in.  Thinking along the lines of the horror movie Candy man, you can imagine how singing along to Vampire and repeating the word more than 3 times in a row would turn those involved into Vampires.  Perfect for your Halloween preparations.

PREORDER NOW Wimps “Suitcase” will be released by Kill Rock Stars on November 13th.  How can you beat that price for Cassette and Download Code?

Wimps are scene veterans Rachel Ratner (Butts) on guitar and lead vocals, Matt Nyce (Meth Teeth) on bass and backing vocals, and Dave Ramm (The Intelligence) on drums. Wimps serve their own brand of rapid-fire punk with a smattering of lo-fi post punk guitar work to create an angular, slightly off-kilter blast. Ratner lyrically twists otherwise common day-to-day woes into relatable tales of struggle shout-sung call and response stabs that champion boredom, laziness and social anxieties with wiry riffs and punchy bass lines, propelled by the measured rhythms of drummer David Ramm.

After gaining local momentum from a self released demo, the band signed with End of Time Records and issued their first LP ‘Repeat’ in 2013. They toured nationwide supporting the album, receiving coverage on This American Life, Pitchfork, SPIN and KEXP. Following their return, they released a 7 inch on micro label Help Yourself Records and a series of self released tapes before releasing a cassette on Kill Rock Stars.

Wimps preparing for the never-ending couch tour.  Please let them crash at your pad.

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Catch the breeze that is Hibou

80’s leaning band Hibou is releasing an album on September 18th. The vocals remind me of the Smith Westerns and Silversun Pickups with poking guitar sounds conjuring up feelings of the delightful Foals and tropical Vampire Weekend.

His sunny sounds come from home which is Seattle.  Not the rainy Seattle of old wives tales but the Seattle of today which is sadly becoming the newest city in California.

“Sunder” is a favorite of mine currently but really if you like one of the songs you will find the whole album an enjoyable listen.

This one will sound good on Vinyl! ORDER IT HERE

Hibou is their own words…

The idea of “home” plays a prominent theme in the short history of Peter Michel and his Seattle-based band Hibou. “I actually recorded half of the new album at my parents’ home,” says the 21-year-old about Hibou’s debut full-length release for Barsuk Records. “There are moments on the record where you hear my dad cooking or hammering,” he adds.

From an early age, Peter was inspired to take classical piano lessons by his parents and older brother. From there, Peter’s foundations expanded to drum and guitar lessons, eventually leading him to develop a strong grasp of songwriting and composition as he took an increasingly hands-on approach to making his own music.

Indeed, Peter rapidly developed a desire to do things his own way. He joined noted San Francisco’s Craft Spells as its drummer while still in high school after ditching the traditional brick and mortar institution for an online education. He ended up spending the better part of a year touring throughout the U.S. and Europe, playing shows at night while finishing his studies during the day. He was 18 when he realized he needed to start focusing more attention on his own songs. “Craft Spells was a great time and I had a great experience touring the world with them, but it was taking up all my time,” says Peter. “And I realized that I needed to be writing my own music. Besides, I don’t love playing the drums.” He wrote a break-up letter, and his time with the band was done.

Shortly after leaving Craft Spells, Peter returned to Seattle and began to experiment with soundscapes and varying musical genres, all of which eventually led to the release of his first recordings as Hibou (Peter named the new project with the French word for owl – pronounced ee-boo – a reference to a baby owl that once sat next to him on a log listening to him play songs outside). Titled Dunes, the EP was recorded in the walk-in closet of his apartment. Peter wrote the music, played every instrument, mixed, and self-released the EP. He then set upon self-booking a west coast tour with a loose band he assembled. “We drove around in a minivan owned by my friend’s mom, lost a lot of money, came back, and wanted to do it again,” says Peter.

More touring followed (including dates in the U.K.), sharing stages along the way with Yelle, Chad Van Gaalen, Surfer Blood, and Slow Club. Slowly, Hibou began to get noticed by media outlets such as NME, Pitchfork and Noisey – all from an EP recorded in a closet and self-supported by a tour in a mother’s minivan. “It was two years of me fueling Hibou by myself,” says Michel. He was only 19 years old but already something of a DIY veteran when he began writing songs for the first full-length Hibou album. “I didn’t really know what I was doing at that point, but it was starting to become much more clear where I wanted to take this project.”

Written, recorded and played by Peter at home in Seattle, the self-titled debut LP features 11 songs (including four new versions of songs from the Dunes EP) and is a lush, driving mix of ’80s inspired pop, fueled by twisting reverbed-out guitar melodies, elegant arrangements, and a love of soda, summertime nostalgia, and trips to Peter’s inspirational point in Seattle: the fittingly-named Discovery Park. “I’ve written a ton of the melodies for the band there,” he says. “It’s my favorite place in the world.”

Peter also cites Seattle’s elusive sunshine as an often-hidden source of inspiration. “It’s very summery music,” he says. “It’s warm. I want people to feel that when they hear it.” 

Touring is a good way to get your music to the people. Blogs too, touring and blogs really.

9/22 – Frolick Kitchen + Cocktails – Seattle, WA

10/20 – House of Blues – New Orleans, LA

10/21 – House of Blues – Bronze Peacock – Houston, TX
10/22 – Cambridge Room – Dallas, TX
10/25 – Revolution – Ft. Lauderdale, FL
10/26 – Jack Rabbits – Jacksonville, FL
10/27 – The Orange Peel – Asheville, NC
10/29 – Theatre of Living Arts – Philadelphia, PA
10/30 – Irving Plaza – New York City, NY
11/3 – Doug Fir Lounge – Portland, OR
11/4 – Neumos – Seattle, WA
11/6 – The Independent – San Francisco, CA
11/8 – Troubadour – Los Angeles, CA
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Sell your Soul to the Devil and Be Done with it. GHOST RULES!

 

Satan is making good music in the form of its disciples named Ghost.

The new album is out this Friday titled “Meliora” Stream the full album right now, right here…

Unplugged tour hits Silver Platters Record Store in Seattle tomorrow night and many more great Record Stores leading up to the release.

Don’t let the fact that making music is a God given talent stand in the way.

Full US tour this fall

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Song of the Summer could Lead to Album of the Year for Foals in 2015

The most exciting recording this year so far has been “What Went Down” by FOALS.  It is easily my song of the summer and the album I am most looking forward to hearing.

FOALS have showed signs of brilliance on previous recording but this leads me to believe all the stars have aligned and we may finally have a masterpiece.  The full length recording is out on August 28th, 2 weeks from today.  You can pre-order on Vinyl.

Another sign that 2015 could be the year of FOALS is that anything they touch turns to gold.  Like this recent cover of Mark Ronson’s “Daffodils” on Triple J.  Awesome!

 
There are no USA dates yet for 2015 but they could easily pick up best live act as well from what I have been hearing on their recent gigs.

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The Cult 2015 Left Coast Tour

Another great Spool Going Round- approved package tour. This time around bringing the intensity of The Cult with the groove of Primal Scream to select dates.  Proving once again West Coast is Best Coast!

SHE SELLS SANCTUARY BY THE CULT

Saturday Night in SEATTLE TICKETS HERE
MOVIN ON UP BY PRIMAL SCREAM

WILD FLOWER BY THE CULT

We want to get loaded and have a good time. LOADED BY PRIMAL SCREAM

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Tame Impala invite you to ride the waves of Currents

cover

Tame impala have always provided a nice groove with their psychedelia.  It was really proven by Kevin Parker’s addition to Mark Ronson’s Uptown Funk album this past year.  Now the new Currents by Kevin Parker’s Tame Impala continues to explore this groove and it sounds great.  The last couple Tame Impala records were more interesting than this one but it appears Kevin is not interested in making the same album over again.  Currents is available 7/17/2015  PRE-ORDER NOW

Tame Impala Currents

Much has changed since Tame Impala first emerged with an EP of dusty home recordings in 2008. By and large Kevin Parker’s approach to recording has not, though the sound coming out of his home studio though has vastly expanded, as has the number of people anticipating the fruits of his labour. Tame Impala’s third album is titled Currents, and on it Parker addresses a blindingly colourful panorama of transition in the most audacious, adventurous fashion he’s yet to capture on record.

Dense with heady lyrical introspection, musically the most playful, bold and varied Tame Impala record to date, Currents is Parker putting down his weapons and embracing change as the only constant  – sonically, thematically, and personally. 

Musically, Currents sounds like the work of a player on top of his game and having a blast, Parker indulging his whims and unafraid to dive down the rabbit hole after an idea. Again operating as a one man studio band, Parker’s resultant record calls to mind contemporary hip hop production, Thriller, fried 70s funk, the irreverent playground Daft Punk presented on Discovery, swathes of future pop and emotional 80’s balladry, all filtered through a thoroughly modern psychedelic third eye. A genre-bending soundscape fuelled equally by curiosity as it is consciousness, it’s exhilarating new territory for Tame Impala. 

Lyrically the record finds Parker in a very different place in 2015 to where he was seven years ago.  Currents maps Parker’s evolution through these and finds him a brand new person. In parts of both 2010’s Innerspeaker and 2012’s Lonerism Tame Impala sounded like a guy on the outer wanting in, and now that he has finally arrived Parker seeks to make sense of the new world in which he finds himself. Stopping to reflect on the road behind, where he finds himself currently, and the road ahead, Currents spans a tumultuous time.

The first track from the record to be unveiled, Let It Happen, is a perfectly encapsulating preview of what lies ahead. Coming in just short of eight minutes, Let It Happen traverses a swag of sonic terrain in its duration. The drums and Parker’s vocal introduction lull the listener with a sense of familiarity, until it all sweeps up into a cosmos once populated only by French robots, with insistent melody, broken machine loops, synthetic orchestration, surfing vocoder and a shredding guitar outro.

Typically, initial Tame Impala recordings saw Parker’s vocal hidden beneath a layer of psychedelic fuzz, drenched in reverb, lyrics ambiguous. Currents finds his voice front and centre, so no bones are made about his intent.

Sketched out in planes, cars, hotels and homes since the completion of Lonerism in 2012, pieced together over the later part of 2014 and early 2015 at home in Fremantle, Western Australia, Currents was written, performed, recorded, produced and mixed by Kevin Parker.

Tame Impala presents Currents, a soundtrack to life’s turbulent flow.

Tame Impala are finding it very easy to sell out concerts these days.
Aug 01 Chicago, IL @ Pitchfork Festival (SOLD OUT)
Aug 04 San Diego, CA @ The Observatory (SOLD OUT)
Aug 06 Los Angeles, CA @ Hollywood Forever Cemetery (SOLD OUT)
Aug 07 Los Angeles, CA @ Hollywood Forever Cemetery (SOLD OUT)
Oct 02 Austin, TX @ Austin City Limits
Oct 05 Upper Darby Township, PA @ Tower Theatre
Oct 06 New York, NY @ Radio City Music Hall
Oct 09 Austin, TX @ Austin City Limits

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Fare Thee Well Grateful Dead

I’m a deadhead. I know it doesn’t go with most of my posts on this blog but if you truly dig deep you can see the connection. I have referred to myself as an old punk on this blog many times. I have always been confused on how the established musical categories have always kept punk and jam bands on polar opposites of the musical spectrum.

They are both music against the man.  This is the anti-establishment sound.  Here is a news flash for you, I love Joe Strummer and Joe wasn’t just a punk rock warlord he was also a hippie.

With this announcement of final Grateful Dead shows, I don’t think we are getting the whole story.  I think all the facts are not on the table.  It seems weird to call this a final concert but I can’t help but feel there is more going on than we know.   Of course, Jerry is gone but they could continue to roll out Furthur or The Dead shows.  There has to be a reason that this is being put to rest.   The only reason to see the dead now a days is Bob Weir.   With Bob canceling all of his Ratdog concerts last year and having no shows booked this year, I can’ t help but feel there are some deep health issues that Bob is dealing with and that is why they are putting a period to this sentence.   I hope I am wrong but it seems this way to me.

The 90’s were the worst decade in history for music.  The WORST!  Once grunge took over and then the million grunge-lite bands took over the radio and popular culture it was time for me to go deeper in to music’s history.   I fell in love with the blues.  I tried to see all the greats while they were still alive.  I saw Buddy, B.B.,  John Lee Hooker and many more.  I knew the blues had a baby and they named it rock and roll and this needed to be studied deeper.  Also in this time frame of the 1990’s,  THE WORST DECADE FOR NEW MUSIC EVER, I started listening to the Grateful Dead. This was going to be my “new” music of choice.

Dead Show at Soldier Field from http://www.bluelight.org

Some friends of mine were going to Soldier Field for the annual summer tour and it sounded like a fun way to spend a summer day with friends.   I, of course, always loved going to concerts anyway.  I quickly fell in love with the vibe.  These were great people.  They were living off of the grid and they were so full of love and peace.  The music was good too.  Not all of it mind you, but you can say that of many bands.  I started looking forward to when the next time they were coming to town was.  I bought more of their albums.  This was the new music I was listening to and it was so fresh and fit in with my times.  Even though it was recorded decades earlier, it was the hottest new music to me.  And the bootlegs, how cool to have so many shows recorded to enjoy.  I got into tape trading with other deadheads and then spread out to other jam bands like Moe, Widespread Panic, Dave Matthews Band, Blues Traveler, and many more.   I started my own Jam Band radio show called Mike’s Mountain Jam.   It was great to feel that love with fellow listeners as I was the one putting the positive vibes out into the universe.   I had String Cheese Incident on the radio when they were just starting.   I was playing all kinds of great jam bands but I knew, and so did the bands coming up with this new jam music, that nothing compared to The Grateful Dead and we all worshiped at their altar.

I was lucky enough to see the Grateful Dead several times when Jerry was still with us in the physical sense.   I caught many shows in my hometown of Chicago at Soldier Field and Rosemont Horizon.   I branched out to see them in Portland, Oregon with opening act Chuck Berry.   Awesome!  Then a trip down to San Francisco to see Jerry Garcia Band on his home turf at the Warfield.  Incredible to see Jerry lead his own band and sing every song.

I clearly remember the day the news broke of Jerry’s passing.  My wife called me at work and I needed to take a break and walk around the block a few times.  This was the real end of The Grateful Dead.   After this news broke we waited for Bob Weir to announce his shows in San Francisco and we were back on the road down to the Warfield.  I cherish a photo I have of Jerry Garcia when he came out to jam with his opening act, Sting.   Jerry didn’t come out often and jam with the opening bands but he did on this night and I was there to see it and have it captured in a photo.   Years later when I interviewed Sting I asked him about the experience.   He said their manager came up with the idea of touring together after a drunken lunch but it was superb.  I gifted Sting a framed copy of the picture which features Jerry smiling at Sting as they jammed.  Sting smiled and said, “he was a beautiful man.”

Tonight I will not be able to attend the final Grateful Dead show but I will be paying for the pay per view concert as I sit here on my couch and reminisce about my times at Soldier Field.  I won’t even address the nay-sayers of the dead’s music.  Clearly you don’t get it and in all seriousness that is your loss.  Maybe sometime in your life when new music is terrible, you will take the time to go back and discover this beautiful music that has been captured on so many live tapes.

Everyone is flocking to Soldier Field this weekend because these times are not easy to replicate.  Many spend lifetimes trying to capture the feel that comes with an afternoon in the parking lot and an evening in the concert hall with the Grateful Dead.

To one of the greatest american bands of all time that gained massive success on their own terms, thank you for 50 years of peace, love, and great music!

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Time to Take Summer’s Oath with Communions

I am really enjoying this release out of Copenhagen, DK by Communions.  It has the great sound of early Stone Roses, The La’s, and some other jangly British pop but touches of new as well.

The album cover features what appears to be a young Barack Obama.

Communions

This EP will surely sound good even into the next election.

Communions-Communions EP out June 1st on Tough Love Records.  Listen now

Communions   website   facebook

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