Here we go, my list of best albums of the year. I will not rank them, because that would change by the day or mood. Progressive Rock ruled the year. Mostly because I made a new friend that is as big as a proghead as I am. Finally got to talk music with someone and didn’t get the rolling eyes bit. Some of my Twitter followers as well are huge progheads. Let’s dive right in:
The Fierce and The Dead – The Euphoric
This album is what instrumental music is all about: Heavy, groovy, odd, strange, lovely, Sonic, harmonic and most importantly, FUN. I listened to this album more than any other this year. If I was to pick one album from this year that was the most influential, it is this one. Truck. KICK ASS.
Reformat – The Singularity
Another instrumental album. This album has the same great traits that The Euphoric does, but in a completely different sound. Old video games with a spacey feel with unreal grooves and riffs. This is a monster album that I can listen to at any time of the day. Brilliant work here.
TesseracT – Sonder
A short brilliant statement made here. This band is on an epic scale. And the vocals by Daniel are soaring and make this album. A sonic wave of greatness.
VOLA – Applause of a Distant Crowd
Never heard of this band until this year. This album is a brilliant example of every song being on an even plain of greatness where you listen from start to finish. I pretty much love every song equally on this. Powerful work from the band. So glad I found them. The keyboard opening of Ghosts is very very cool.
Kingcrow – The persistence
I told a few people I know that this is the album of the year. The first listen through blew me away and it is amazing still after a few hundred listens. The first song on the album “Drenched” is probably one of the best album opening songs I have ever heard. It launches you into another level and all the tracks after keep you there. Here is Drenched. TURN IT UP.
Kino – Radio Voltaire
For the last 4 years, John Mitchell has had an album on my tops of the year list. His band Kino absolutely nailed Radio Voltaire. John’s vocals are great and his guitar playing is even better. And Craig Blundell is just an absolute monster on drums. He has had quite the year with all that he has done. I think Radio Voltaire was his best work though. Grey Shapes on Concrete Fields. Excellent song, cool video
The Sea Within – The Sea Within
A prog supergroup does not let us down. This has all aspects of what makes progressive rock music great: brilliant playing, brilliant lyrics, brilliant compositions. Every song is a new adventure. Just a great album that any prog fan needs.
Long Distance Calling – Boundless
Another full instrumental album. It truly is Boundless. There are no walls holding the band in here, every aspect of music seems to be represented on this album. I like the heavier tinges the best.
Christine and the Queens – Chris
Not a prog album? Yep, pop. Héloïse Letissier is Christine. Or on this album, Chris. I first heard of CATQ this year with her brilliant song Tilted. I think I listened to that song 100 times or so in a row. Chris is the new album, and the song The Walker is just as amazing as Tilted. The entire album is fantastic. Quite the talent Héloïse Letissier and I am glad I was directed to this. Some of the harmonies on this song and album are heavenly. So beautiful.
Dream the Electric Sleep – The Giants’ Newground
Between July 2017 and May 2018. I drove a lot. 24k in miles a lot. That meant I got to listen to a lot of music. Somehow I tripped onto Dream The Electric Sleep and they just blew me away. Beneath The Dark Wide Sky was the album I heard and it became one of my all time favorite albums. The song “Drift” is a song my son and I learned on guitar and drums. Their album from this year is The Giants Newground. DTES does not let fans down. It is actually one of the first albums they did and they reworked it and put it out this year. Great stuff from one of my favorite bands.
Full Nothing – Somewhere and Nowhere
Just heard this in November and it spoke to me quickly. What a stunner of an album. Brilliant. Heavy, harmonic, and makes me happy.
Tides of Man – Every Nothing
Another I just heard in the last few months and another instrumental album. They are considered “Post rock” whatever the hell that is. I think they are just straight on kick ass. A lot of textures on this album that are all woven into a wonderful piece of art. If that is Post rock, rock on.
Shineback – Dial
Pop + Rock + Prog + Electronic = OMG is this a great and fun album. Matt Stevens from TFATD is also on this to add some crazy weird kick ass guitar on it. Can I say it has some Frost*-ee bits on it?
(NOTE: BAD ELEPHANT RECORDS HAS 3 ALBUMS IN MY TOPS LIST. BAD ELEPHANT RECORDS HAS QUITE THE ARSENAL OF BANDS)
The Pineapple Thief – Dissolution
Bruce Soord has had a groundbreaking career. Some other guy in the UK gets credit for “Saving” Prog, but that can’t be more wrong. There are guys and bands out there that kept doing it and that other guy steals the credit. Bruce is a power in the prog rock scene and needs to get a little more credit for moving the genre to where it is at now. The Pineapple Thief have been a powerful voice for years. You take the new album Dissolution with Bruce and the band and permanently add probably the greatest drummer on earth right now, GAVIN HARRISON, and you have an unstoppable Prog monster that should be put on top of the mountain now. This album is majestic and a must have. Go now.
Haken – Vector
Nothing really to say about Haken other than every album they put out is a masterpiece. Everything about this band is epic. The new one Vector is another step up. Haken will go down as the Pink Floyd of the 2010’s.
ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA – OUT OF THE BLUE
Yes, I know, this album is now 41 years old. But this year, my beautiful son found it. On vinyl. He listened to the entire album while looking at the album cover artwork. Just like I did the first time I bought it. It was my first album I bought, and my first concert with my father. It was the first album he ever bought from a store (for me) and his first concert he will ever attend is ELO in July 2019 with me. This album could be on my years best for the rest of my life. I hope it will be on my son’s as well. Another interesting bit on this is, my mother took me to go by OOTB, his mother took him to buy it.
(NOTE: I am going to put this on my list even though it had not come out until after I wrote this.)
Jason Becker – Triumphant Hearts
Jason hasn’t played a guitar in 30+ years because he is fighting ALS. He can no longer play, but he can write and orchestrate. on Dec. 7th, his album Triumphant Hearts will hit the stores. I would highly suggest you go buy it then rent the movie “Jason Becker – Not Dead Yet.” The musicians on this album will make it absolutely epic, and Jason’s writing every note is gonna make it epic on epic scales. God bless you Jason, you are a true hero and one of the greatest musicians on earth right now. This song right here brings tears to my eyes it is so beautiful. And the guitar solo and outro playing by Daniele Gottardo are out of this world. Best solo I have heard in years.
SLEEPMAKESWAVES – ALL OF THEIR WORK
sleepmakeswaves did not put out an album this year, but did blow my mind away with all their work. Hearing them for the first time this year, with their version of Metallica’s To Live Is to Die being my intro to them, their style kicked my ass all over the road. Damn are they a fun and heavy band.
So there is it. My favorites. Check out the videos, then check out the bands sites and buy their stuff. There was a ton of great music this year from other artists as well. If you got the Progressive Rock bug, I highly suggest you head on over to www.loudersound.com/prog , they will get you all tightened up with great old and new stuff.