When you read this we’ll be into 2016, looking back on the year past fondly or not-so-fondly depending on your perspective.
Musically, it was a pretty good year and there was a lot of interesting music to check out. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get to it all in 2015. But, hey, that is why man invented time and the “New Year,” right?
Generally, I dislike these sort of “Best of” features which most journalists are almost obligated to generate each year. But I get it that some people like a handy recap so I’ve tried to keep things brief in case you want to print out this little check list for your purchases in the year ahead. Or just click through and buy stuff if you feel so inclined.
So… the envelopes please…
A jazz classic I wrongly ignored all these years now lovingly restored for the ages by the good folks at Plangent Processes….
BEST REISSUES IN STEREO
Fabulous more-or-less-first-time-on-vinyl-for-most-of-us pressing on lush 180-gram vinyl from the folks at Music on Vinyl. This two-LP issue shimmers, shines and sparkles. Can we have a surround sound version soon?
Best album of cool out mood music from 2000 that I’d never heard before… how did I miss this?? Easy. Seems a lot of people did except those hep folks in-the-know. Sounds great on first time ever vinyl…
Nebraska, Born To Run, Greetings From Asubury park on HD Tracks downloads sounded amazing, thanks especially to the technology from Plangent Processes. I can’t wait to get the LP box set once the price comes down a bit.
Beatles videos restored and remixed in 5.1 surround sound. ‘Nuff said. Essential.
Producer Steven Wilson’s 5.1 (and stereo mixes) help to warm up this fine basket of California-raised British pop rock hits.
Steven Wilson strikes again producing another stellar reinvention of a prog rock classic, bringing it into 5.1 surround sound yet keeping true to the feel and intention of that original stereo mix.
It was worth the 40 year wait for technology to evolve which could repair a glitch that kept the film in the vaults all these years. Essential.
BEST LIVE ROCK ALBUM : VINYL/CD
The only known complete soundboard quality recording of a concert by the legendary Move, the group that morphed into The Electric Light Orchestra. Appearing in San Francisco for their first and only visit, this end-of-the-tour concert documenmt shows the band pulling out all the stops delivering a spectacular show that pre-echoes the ELO to come.
BEST LIVE JAZZ ALBUM : VINYL/CD
Yeah, its pricey but the performance is off the hook and the sound and packaging are exemplary.
BEST LIVE ALBUM : CD
Fine fine Archival release from 1978 underscores that he was not only a great performer, Gold was way more than a three hit wonder… The band really had goin’ on.
First domestic US release for Ireland’s pure pop underdogs, this album is a fab end-to-end listen on CD or vinyl. If you like melodies, harmonies, earworm-inducing-hooks and warm production, Pugwash is for you.
Sweden’s psychedelic pop day trippers come back with a fine slice of progressive, immersive, indie rock with a lysergic twist that takes its listeners on a musical journal. Don’t worry that they sing in Swedish. If you like vintage 1970-era Pink Floyd, The Pretty Things, Soft Machine, Nektar and Neu, you might just like Dungen.
The album lives up to the hype, this guy creates fabulous soulful rock sounds with passional vocals that fall somewhere between Sam Cooke and Marvin Gaye. Very much looking forward to seeing where this promising young artists goes. Fabulous debut.
Welcome back boys! Fine new album from one of England’s finest pop bands.
BEST NEW MUSIC IN SURROUND SOUND
This new Pink Floyd album rocks! Ok, so its David Gilmour’s latest and not Pink Floyd, but, hey, it is still a wonderful journey and the 5.1 mix on Blu-ray is super tasty.
Call it a Beatle record.. call it the new Traveling Wilburys album… call it a Jeff Lynne solo album….Whatever you call it, the new ELO album is a fine return from band leader/co-founder. Also worth checking out is ELO’s Live in Hyde Park Blu-ray Disc (but get the British version with one extra track!).
SOUNDTRACK FOR THE AGES
Get the Blu-ray and the four CD complimentary soundtrack. Be prepared for an eye opening journey into the star making machinery that created some of the most enduring pop music of the 20th Century.
BEST STUDIO ALBUM OF 2014 THAT I FIRST HEARD IN 2015
Midnight Sun by The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger
This album shows founder Sean Lennon finding his voice and coming into his own with a fine modern psychedelic sound and solid songwriting.
COOLEST COLORED VINYL RELEASE
The special edition put out by Newbury Comics is just beautiful! Sonically, it may not be the definitive version of the album, but it is certainly the prettiest and most fun to look at while its playing.
I’ll give props to our local heroes at 1,2,3,4 Go Records who not only opened a new record store here in San Francisco, but also put out a kick ass new album by England’s The Buzzcocks. What’s that you say? The Way came out in 2014? Hey, its my review and I didn’t discover this until 2015 so…. thus it goes here.
MOST DAUNTING BOXED SET
6 CDs a Blu-ray, a DVD, live concerts, out takes, alternates, video and more. The box arrived a month ago and it is still sitting there staring at me, daring me to open its inevitable Pandora’s Box of mad joy.
MOST UNEXPECTED COLLABORATION
MOST UNEXPECTED ALBUM TO BE MIXED INTO SURROUND SOUND
Yup. Loaded in 5.1 in high resolution sound. Whodathunk it? Pricey set but the surround mix almost makes it worth it.
BEST STREAMED ALBUM
Ok, so what if its the ONLY album I streamed since that was the only way to get it, I like what I’ve heard in all its sprawling mad grandeur. Her version of the Lips’ Yoshimi-era outttake — “Karen Don’t Be Sad” — is wonderful. Keep it going Miley. We’re rooting for ya.
CONSISTENTLY COOLEST RECORD STORE DAY REISSUES
bHat tip to the folks handling the Parlophone Records back catalog who gave us wondrous obscure psych gems on lovely well pressed colored vinyl, from Tomorrow and The Gods, to Lord Sitar and Buzzcocks. Thank you Parlophone peeps!
SOME 2015 THINGS I STILL NEED TO HEAR
Steven Wilson’s latest in surround sound….
The remastered early Mono LPs by The Kinks…
Flaming Lips Heady Nuggs Vol 2 (Clouds Taste Metallic era, 5 LP set!)
Tony Benett & Lady Ga Ga’s live Blu-ray
And so so so much more…
It never ends… thankfully!