2015 is coming to a close, and I can’t believe it! This year sped by and was the most adventurous year for Rocker Stalker yet. Between presenting showcases at SXSW (3!) and CMJ (6!) and attending Aftershock and VooDoo Fests, and hosting over a dozen shows throughout the year in NYC, I’ve had a pretty great time. More importantly, though, there have been some incredible releases this year! Here are my top 5:
- Mister Asylum by Highly Suspect: I’ve had my ears on these guys for about four years and was privileged to have them on a few shows in New York and SXSW before they burst from the Brooklyn “local” scene into the international spotlight. Their debut album that dropped in July is both a sultry, heavy alternative/bluesy rock delight and vulnerable record that you can rock out and cozy up to. It’s a breath of fresh air to see a ROCK band making headway so quickly. And now, up for two Grammy nominations, Highly Suspect might just be the next, most highly prized music act of the 2000’s. *Highlight tracks: “Lydia,” “Mom,” “23”
2. Blood Moon by Luna Sol: Back in the spring, I was lucky enough to interview Dave Angstrom, a name you may recognize from “stoner rock” staples, Hermano and Supafuzz, and main man behind Luna Sol. The Denver-based group’s debut, released via Slush Fund Recordings, is heavy, dark and gritty; three words that describe almost all of my favorite music. And, to make things even MORE awesome, there are guest spots from Nick Oliveri (Kyuss, Queens of the Stone Age), Dizzy Reed (Guns N’ Roses) and John Garcia (Kyuss, Vista Chino), to name a few, lending to the already expertly-crafted, fiery and sludgy goodness. *Highlight tracks: ‘Your War,” “Operator,” “December”
3. High Country by The Sword: After catching these gentleman a few years back at SXSW, I fell in love with Austin’s hometown rock heroes. Their 5th studio album is fraught with masterful, headbanging riffs mixed with some space-rock/psychedelic influences and some more up-to-date electro-effects. Those who weren’t able to live through the glory of Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and the 70’s in general (yours truly included), can bask in the The Sword’s modern take on vintage vibes. I caught them recently at Webster Hall in New York City and once again, they blew my mind! *Highlight tracks: “Mist & Shadow,” “The Dreamthieves,” “Buzzards”
4. We’ll Show You Where the Monsters Are by Fable Cry: These Nashville-based characters call themselves “theatrical scamp rock.” But, “what does that MEAN?” you may ask. A short and sweet answer is: vaudevillian, unique gypsy punk-infused rock. If you’re in search of the most out-of-the-box album of 2015, look no further. A combination of creepy, spooky, playful and creative, Fable Cry’s sophomore release is like having Halloween year-round. It’s only a matter of time before Tim Burton finds these guys and has them score his next film. *Highlight tracks: “The Good Doctor,” “Fancy Dancing,” “You Ain’t My Baby No More”
5. Temporary Love by The Brinks: OK, so this might be the black sheep of the list upon first listen, but you may recognize Australian-born, LA-based vocalist/guitarist Scott Mellis from Rocker Stalker’s “highly stalked.” His new band, The Brinks, a duo comprised of Mellis and producer Matt Friedman, dropped their 6-song EP earlier this month. Executive produced by Pusha T and Salaam Remi and avidly supported by Pharrell Williams, Temporary Love showcases Mellis’ ethereal, spine-tingling vocals over bubbly dance-infused tracks. *Highlight tracks: “Temporary Love,” “Hide Your Love,” “Stoned”
Wishing everyone a happy 2016!