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Best Of 2015 - 2016 Jeffrey343



ARTICLE: Best Of 2015 Jeffrey343

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:


Background
I figured that the greatness of 2014 would be hard to duplicate. To my ears, that was a correct prediction. Fortunately, the drop-off was not as steep as I feared, although it took a strong ending of the year to make that true.

I'm a try-before-I-buy kinda guy, so I'm big into streaming. Rest assured, I'll purchase a nice legal copy - digital, CD, or sometimes even both - of the albums I really like. There were a few albums that I never did find on my normal digital sources, and they'll be noted. I listened to many of the songs on YouTube and came away unconvinced to shell out the 15 - 20 U.S. bucks to get the physical CD. Maybe they'll be more readily available as time goes on. But that's why there may be some notable omissions on my list considering my tastes.

I think the top of my list should stay pretty constant, but there may be movement further down as time progresses. I tend to be the type of listener who can play a few albums to death at the expense of listening to others as often. At least these days that doesn't have the same effect as wearing out a vinyl LP.

I have also realized while making this list that I must be getting a bit tired of the common Scandi sound. All ten of my selections feature either U.S. or British vocalists. There were several albums that had promise, but I just couldn't buy into the vocal performances as much as I'd have liked. We'll see how that trend carries for me in 2016.


Year In Review
Khymera - The Grand Design
The 2005 and 2008 albums by Dennis Ward and company were big hits for me. So even with the long delay between releases, I had high hopes for this one. My lofty expectations were met, as this is indeed a killer. It checks all the boxes for me. I think I like it better than most people whose lists I've seen, but yeah, I really like it. A lot.

FM - Heroes And Villains
These guys are turning into a consistent bunch lately. Steve Overland is one of the busiest guys in the biz these days. This has a great mix of old and new sounds, and is a great album for the car when I have to drive around town.

Find Me - Dark Angel
The first Find Me album had a lot of promise, but it was hindered by a lack of variety in the guitar department (same tone, same basic rhythms). This one corrects all of the issues with the debut, with an album full of glorious modern AOR. Robbie LaBlanc is a sing-the-phone-book kind of vocalist, which takes this to a mighty high level.

Def Leppard - Def Leppard
This one surprised me, as I haven't given these guys much attention since `Adrenalize' back in 1992. I do wonder whether I'd like it as much if it was from just another Def Leppard clone. But I guess I was predisposed to give it a good chance. I think the guys have updated their sound surprisingly well. I know it's a very different-sounding album than what they put out in the 80's and very early 90's, but it works for me in this decade.

Revolution Saints - Revolution Saints
This is the point in my list where I start having to put a few more qualifications in my comments. If I was ranking just the first halves of albums, this may have made it even to the top spot. I really enjoy it through the fifth song, but it is definitely a front-loaded album. The saving grace is that the performances remain solid throughout. And the songs are not bad on the second half - they just kinda lose steam. Deen Castonovo had his share of personal demons this year, but he does deliver a very solid vocal performance. I hope these guys get back into the studio again.

Peterik Scherer - Risk Everything
Since Survivor is right up there with Foreigner as my favourite band from my youth, I'll give a fair shake to anything where Jim Peterik is involved. Alas, I think Peterik needs someone to provide more edge than he brings to the table. Marc Scherer is a real find as a vocalist, but he's not the edge-provider that Frankie Sullivan was in Survivor. So this works nicely when I'm in the mood for Survivor-Lite.

Ozone - Self Defense
Steve Overland is a very busy man, and Mike Slamer has his hands in a lot of projects. Throw in another fine vocalist in Chris Ousey, and this is a project with a lot of promise. It mostly works for me, even without the really catchy songs that I prefer. But being a well-crafted album with lyrics that are deeper than most, it'll get a fair number of spins.

House Of Lords - Indestructible
I have to be in the right mood to appreciate these guys. But when I'm in that mood, they're as good as anybody. HOL has been both prolific and consistent for the past several years (I used this same line last year). Coming up with an album like this only one year after the prior one is a nice feat.

Kelly Keeling - Mind Radio
This is turning into one that I kinda forget about until I realize I haven't listened to it recently. Then I wonder why I waited so long. And then it goes another while before the cycle repeats. I guess that means I do like it, but not enough to play over and over. It works better when I need something on the energetic side, like for workouts.

Cats In Space - Too Many Gods
This is the one on my list that has gotten the fewest spins so far, as I didn't find it until just over a week before writing this. We'll see what kind of staying power it has. But I do like what I hear, and it does have some repeat-play power. There are some clever lyrics on display here.

Other Good Stuff

Blood Red Saints - Speedway - Pretty good, but not one I'm craving that often.
Nelson - Peace Out - Several good songs, but not one I've been listening to straight through.
Issa - Crossfire - Good effort that alas faded as the year progressed.
Trixter - Human Era - Another one that has some great songs but I start losing interest as it goes on.
Martina Edoff - Unity - This one has some promise, but I haven't bought into the vocals as much as others have.
Art Nation - Revolution - Refer to the Martina Edoff comments.
Room Experience - Room Experience - I thought I'd like David Readman's vocals better than I did.
The Radio Sun - Heaven Or Heartbreak - I really need to give this more of a chance, as it may grow on me.
Eclipse - Armageddonize - Not sure why I haven't given this more of a shot.

Stuff I Didn't Get To (Yet)
Not sure why no one made them available for streaming. I'm not usually in the mood to search on YouTube to find all the songs.

C.O.P. - State Of Rock
Care Of Night - Connected


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