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Best Of 2015 - 2016 EnglandAshes

ARTICLE: Best Of 2015 EnglandAshes


Let's be clear. Whatever I pick is just my own view, and it's no better than anyone else's. All of us have an opinion that is relevant and all just important, so really no need to be on tender hooks and wait for a well-known web site that produces its best of the year, and the continuation of complaints about the timelessness and lack of reviews, really those people who complain should think for themselves and visit various other sites to get an insight of what an album sounds like and make their own minds up. Plus when I read posts that say they have 99 of the 100 albums in the 100 best rock albums, so they obviously have too much money, or in my book illegal downloads don't make a collection. Grumble over, well maybe not as I first look at..

The disappointments. Although lets be fair they all still provided enjoyment, even Degreed, if this warranted a 100% rating, then their previous albums are off the board, so I suspect that rating is just plain wrong. As previously forecasted in one of my few articles this year, the Buckcherry release and The Bright Light Social Hour seem to be wandering in their own universe. Of course the number of articles I have submitted is another sticking point, but work, life, education authorities, running injuries, dog walking have all been a factor.

OK, moving on to more happy thoughts, well the late entrants that may had featured are the likes of, Subsignal, Kamchatka, Hurts, King King (like Joe Bonamassa, there I have said it, while, everybody thinks it but doesn't mention it), Killing Joke, Year of The Goat (not as frightening as it sounds, just classic rock) and Clutch.

Not usually a keen supporter of live albums, but this year there has been some good ones, Pagan's Mind, Anathema, Gazpacho and Matt Berry, plus the availability of a couple of the Queen albums.

Still managed to get out and about to some concerts, more Quireboys, FM in Bedford with say only a 100 in the audience, Matt Berry and one of the 25th anniversary concerts by Anathema, although seeing 40+ year old men in a mosh pit, beating the crap out of each other, is not something I want to experience again, a throwback to this group's earlier incarnation.

As always many discoveries (or just a previous total ignorance on my part) that fall outside the 365 days, being Bad City, Vienna Circle, Goo Goo Dolls, Mark Morriss, The Bluetones, Rooney, Livingston, Kane, Mrnorth, Salem Al Fakir, Hollow Haze, Setting Sun, Foals and my favourite Feeder, just try their album Pushing The Senses, especially the track 'Bitter Glass'.

Ok, so enough of my long introductions, in fact I had written so much more, centred around the problems of storing my record buyer habit, but maybe that can keep for another day, so here is how I saw 2015.

Year In Review
10. H.E.A.T - Live In London
As always deciding who is to fill the number 10 spot is the most difficult decision of the year, yes I would love to have something really different or something really complicated and obscure to show what an arse I can be. Actually any of the following could have fitted that bill and honestly all great albums, with the likes of Noel Gallagher's Flying Birds, Spock's Beard (but avoid the Sabbath cover of 'Iron Man', why?), The Dead Daisies, Equator, INME, Quireboys, Lena Lotta, but sod it instead of going for something highbrow I went for H.E.A.T., because it's just so damn easy to listen to, I am a guitar hero, a backing singer, a lead singer, how can you argue with listening again to the likes of 'Point Of No Return', 'Downtown' and '1000 Miles', just in a live scenario. To quote the late and great Errol Brown, 'every one's a winner baby, and that's no lie'.

9. Mumford & Sons - Wilder Minds
Not boring old Mumford & Sons? Well assumptions can be damaging, look this time not a banjo or washboard (where's me washboard?) in sight. Add a fairly simple video to the lead off single, 'Believe' which doesn't feature the band, which by the end, you have no idea who that was but I am going out to buy it. This album has been criticised by the change to a rock feel and already annoyed many previous supporters (hate the word fan!), which is fine by me. Excellent album, much as was Midlake's epic album from 2013, 'Antiphon'

8. Eclipse - Armageddonize
Wow, whatever next, a melodic rock album on Frontiers that featured in my top ten, there is always one to spoil my miserable party. Revisiting melodic rock music that carries the essential punch that Degreed seemed to lack. The opening salvo of 'I Don't Wanna Say I'm Sorry', 'Stand On Your Feet' and 'The Storm' is responsible for the overall high average, and even though the album tends to tail off, it's these that bail out the album. Good Luck for the Eurovision qualification later in the year.

7. Nordic Giants - A Seance Of Dark Delusions
I brought this in April, but only finally appreciating it 7 months later. Primarily instrumental with selected vocals and voice-overs, seem to be merging Anathema and Public Service Broadcasting, but with more grim and frightening aspects. You have 3D films, this is like 3D music, the perfect soundtrack to Game of Thrones in terms of explaining the North, this is impressive, and this is producing musical tales of the unexpected, and remember a new album is coming!.

6. My Morning Jacket - The Waterfall
Yes I understand this feature is beginning to look like an issue of those pretentions magazines like Uncut or Q (still available?) but stay with me. As Eric has already highlighted an intriguing album and band. Not convinced listen to the likes of 'Believe (Nobody Knows)' and while the back catalogue takes a longer time to appreciate, I can report obviously there has been quality here lying low for some considerable time.

5. Europe - War Of Kings
Joey Tempest appeared one morning on the BBC Breakfast Time promoting maybe this or a previous Europe album. I remember it well because he mentioned what his English wife said about his ability to speak different languages, it went basically like this, 'I speak three languages, English, Swedish and Bullshit', wow didn't this make the presenters shudder, a rude word!. Now whilst Joey won't be invited back on the BBC, that's not the situation with this album, which has had a number of repeat plays over the year. Listen to the links of 'Nothin' To You' and 'California 405' all excellent and shows that Classic Rock is no longer patented to Britain but is alive and well and made in Sweden.

4. Angra - Secret Garden
Well I have to go right back to 1993 standing in a record fair at Milton Keynes, where I just picked up the debut Angel's Cry from the boys from Brazil, probably the same day as picking up the early Now and Then releases. While the latter company is a distant memory (although while stories regarding the demise, the debts have emerged, I suspect the full story will be like releases of Government Cabinet meetings and we will have to wait for the full 30 years before all the facts gets exposed), I wouldn't have expected Angra to storm back with such a great album. Yes, over the years I have picked up a number of there albums but nothing like the punishing level of anthems present here. They have stayed with me all year, even managed to get Doro to sound remarkable on the track 'Crushing Room', but the winner comes from an unlikely cover of The Police, with 'Synchronicity II'.

3. Gazpacho - Molok
Due to the time of release and that their albums need time to sink in, its shows how good this album is that it appears relevantly high. A group that have a 70's standard in terms of releasing albums, it was only last year that Demon was released. What makes it even more remarkable that all these guys have successful careers that supplement their music, and they even try to destroy the earth with music, at the end of the album. This publicity stunt even made it into the national papers in the UK, exceptional bit of PR. Listening back I am amazed how quick the songs injected themselves in my musical blood vessels. The album can be seen as an extension of Demon and unlike many follow ups whether it be albums, or films or even football managers (anybody know the way to Jose!) it accompanies it perfectly. Best bit for me is on 'Bela Kiss', with the accordion and the lyric, 'left them as spent hours pickled onions in their jar'.

2 - Jack Savoretti - Written In Scars
Please don't be put off that's this is stocked in your local Sainsbury's supermarket. This is the fourth attempt by this Italian/English singer songwriter which if your view it with GDM eyes, then he is up there with the likes of Mark Spiro, Angie Aparo and Kevin Gilbert, in terms of stringing a good song along, not as much vocally as these guys as Jack has a more powerful and deeper style. Lyrically clever, listen to the likes of 'Back To Me' and 'Broken Glass', this was in the number 1 position for most of the year only recently piped to the post by...

1. We Are The Ocean - Ark
Truth be known, at work I am a bit of an arrogant snub when it comes to speaking and finding new music and I know best. Well of course that's not true, the arrogance is but not the second part, because I remember my work colleague mentioning this way back in 2014, with the song 'Ark' from at the time their forthcoming album, that was finally released in 2015. Well my friend was spot on, because I would have been oblivious to this. Finally after 3 other attempts that led to the vocals being taken over fully by Liam Cromby, 100% after the removal of Dan Brown, (obviously had more success writing books, amazing how reliable Wikipedia can be!!). Time has allowed them to fully develop into a fully-fledged rocking powerhouse. This band will become as influential to future bands that haven't even been conceived yet. I lost Canterbury and The Gentleman this year but gained We Are The Ocean. If you need some persuading check out 'Shere Khan' and 'Wild' but best of all, from the BBC Live Lounge a live version of the title track, and does this guy's pull it off, with such a difficult song to perform, like Ben Stokes reaching 258!

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