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Best of 2015 - 2016 Explorer

ARTIST: Best of 2015 Explorer


Rather than the usual top 10 or 20 I thought I would just give my feelings on what has moved me (or not as the case maybe) this last 12 months. I can't say that 2015 has been a vintage year, in fact I haven't been able to say that since some time back in the 80's!!. In truth though I am finding it more difficult to get excited by new releases, although that's not to say it doesn't happen as you will soon find out.

Year In Review
First off a bit of Prog and look no further than Steven Wilson and his most recent offering 'Hand. Cannot .Erase' a wonderful collection of songs (yes, songs!!) with an enthralling concept to boot, quite stunning all round. Also worth mentioning too is the 'Lonely Robot' album from John Mitchell, again well worth a listen.

In the more general area of Hard Rock/Melodic etc there have been a few albums that have made me sit up and listen. So, In no particular order:

Issa's 'Crossfire' is a pure AOR delight, nothing startlingly new on offer but what you get is a collection of wonderfully crafted songs from the Frontiers stable.

The Darkness with their 'Last of our Kind' album has been this year's surprise package for me, I wasn't expecting too much but what you get is a storming rock album brim full of catchy tunes.

Stryper likewise with 'Fallen' have continued with their rich vein of form.

Coheed and Cambria have rescued their slide with the rather nifty 'Color before the Sun'.

The comeback from Beauvoir/Free with 'American Trash' was also on the whole a success, with a sound reminiscent of the Crown of Thorns debut.

British AOR has in these past few years has seen a bit of a renaissance and to add to this growing list are local lads (for me anyway) Iconic Eye with 'Hidden in Plain Sight' who delivered a great set of songs and are proving themselves most able in the live arena, definitely a band to look out for in the future.

The new Martina Edoff with 'Unity' has just snuck in, as I've only just recently got hold of it, and a corker it is too. Female fronted AOR to luxuriate in.

One of my all time favourite artists Todd Rundgren has also been a busy boy this year, giving me bafflement and wonderment in equal measure. His solo album 'Global' does just that and his collaboration with Nickolaisen/Lindstrom on the album 'Runddans' harks back to his mid 70's 'Initiation' period. Not everyone's taste, but he can do little or no wrong for me.

Very quickly, notable mentions go out to Toto with 'XIV',...yes I liked it. Pugwash with 'Play this Intimately' and Valensia's reboot of his Gaia II album, 'Gaia II.0', and of course it would be churlish of me not to mention the return of the mighty New England with their superb single 'I Know There's Something Here', a new album would be nice for 2016!

Reissue of the year goes to Jellyfish with the Omnivore releases of 'Bellybutton' and 'Spilt Milk', in a word, sumptuous, and although not strictly Kosher David Bowie's 'Can You Hear Me Call?', a double album of recordings from his legendary Young Americans sessions, and also Queen's 'A Night at the Odeon' gets a welcome release, albeit far too late really.

A few disappointments this year, China Sky didn't really do it for me, but then expectations were high after the classic 1st album from all those years ago, and Revolution Saints which initially sounded impressive actually wore pretty thin with me very quickly, and the Ann Wilson Thing 'EP' is just plain wrong, to put such a wonderful voice to that!!...what was she thinking?

As far as album of the year goes, well it's a tossup between JoNo's 'Silence' and Cats in Space 'Too Many Gods', if you've read my reviews on both you'll know my feelings on these discs already, but I'm going to go with JoNo, purely and simply because it references the early sound of Queen so much, and I'm a complete sucker for that sound, but the Cats in Space is also a delightful platter that revels in the sounds of the 70's perfectly.

In Summary
All in all, a good if not classic year but plenty to remember it by. I'm sure along the way I've missed out some other people's favourites but that's my take on things. The Khymera and Find Me albums are, I believe coming in Santa's sack for me so don't make the cut unfortunately. So all that's left is to wish all Glorydaze members a safe and happy holiday period and err......Keep Rockin'!!

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