December 21 2015 – Another year, another batch of rocking delicacies for our hungry little ears. This is the point in the article where we discuss how all these top 10 lists are just a reflection of personal taste for the author, and our list is no exception. These are simply 10 great albums that came out this year that deserve a listen if you are a fan of #RealRock and have similar tastes to the staff of T-Mak World. Needless to say we only dabble in Rock and you won’t find sugar-coated candy fluff on our list so if you believe that Adele, Drake or Madonna deserve to be on a list then head over to Rolling Stone Magazine where they can be found.
#RealRock – a phrase we came up with that signifies a direct lineage to the greats such as Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Black Sabbath, Rush and bands that elevated music to the stratosphere with the electric guitar as their primary weapon of choice. While we include mega rockers on our list we also pay tribute to “small” bands that quite likely you have never heard of and these unsung rockers deserve to be heard – not to mention that you can catch them at local bars for just a few bucks cover charge.
Here is what tickled our guitar strings and constitute our Top 10 Albums of 2015 this year in order of preference:
10. Dig In from Idlewar
This 3 piece outfit from Orange County, California contacted us and said hey check out our EP we think you will like it. We checked it out, we liked it, welcome to our annual top 10 list guys. Energetic hard rock with unapologetic driving bass guitars boosting the sound at a rocking pace. James Blake not only drives that bass but sings like a David Coverdale/Bon Scott hybrid. Rick Graham tears up the riffs and Pete Pagonis lays massacre to the drums. This is an EP well worth a purchase or at least a listen – check out Idlewar here.
9. Innocence & Decadence from Graveyard
Swedish rockers baby! Not the death metal type you might imagine but a Priest/Sabbath type of hard rock oozing with Zep type blues. This is the find of the year for us and this album quickly became a staple of the year’s soundtrack. Check out Too Much is Not Enough to get an idea of how good this album is. Can’t wait to see this band live for the first time ever when they hit Toronto. If you try one new band this year and one new record, this is the one.
8. A Thunderous Exchange of Silence from The AK Project
A meticulously crafted piece of art, that clearly demonstrates the magnitude of emotions humans can reflect with passion and dedication. The passion and dedication are of course from AK who is Azim Keshavjee who our hardcore readers will recognize as the guitarist and vocalist of Comfortably Numb – Canada’s Pink Floyd Show. AK is a phenomenal musician in his right and he played guitar, did vocals, played on most of the bass tracks and did all the drum arrangements – oh and he also did the editing and adjustments. Vocally the album is ripe with male/female contrast and the female is Solveig Keshavjee who truly has the voice of an angel. A remarkable album that should only be listened to end to end as its aural landscape is best consumed with focus. This album was released last year so I am sort of cheating by including it in the 2015 list but it belongs here as it took up so much of my listening budget this year. Canadian independent music at its best.
7. Lessons From The Crow from Open Air
Continuing the theme of Canadian independent music, this is an album that deserves massive airplay and recognition. The best of what made 70’s rock so epic is all encapsulated here. Steven Mansfield is a phenomenal vocalist and yes I dare compare him to Ronnie James Dio as he sounds like on a few occasions on this album. Lessons From The Crow is a lesson in wicked hard rock with a few outstanding tracks. Filler free, and full of satisfaction, we cant wait to see Open Air back in Toronto rolling out their favorite tracks from the album.
6. Shockwave Supernova from Joe Satriani
Raw and polished hard rockers shine as the guitar wizard knocks this album out of the park. Ballads round out the offering with a touch of emotional sensitivity when the insane guitar spotlight needs a breather. This album is an end to end showcase for the worlds most successful solo rock guitar artist of all time. Scarborough Stomp sounds like it belongs on a Chickenfoot album.
5. Sound & Color from Alabama Shakes
Alabama Shakes have delivered an incredible sophomore album with Brittany Howard showing us how the current most powerful female voice in rock can give goosebumps. A deep dark album at times, the hypnotic mood simply transcends the vinyl (of course on vinyl – how else would we listen to albums?) If the trend continues Alabama Shakes are on track to become rock legends and the guitars in this album are phenomenal. A very well paced record that will surely prove the soul of classic rock is alive and well in the next generation.
4. The Book of Souls from Iron Maiden
While many of the old geezer rock bands still put out albums that try to capture the heights of their success in the 70’s or 80’s very few succeed. Iron Maiden has accomplished the unthinkable goal and not only captured their heyday of albums like The Number Of The Beast, Powerslave, and Piece of Mind, but have equaled them. This is by far the best Iron Maiden album in 3 decades. Empire of the Clouds is 18 minutes making it the longest song of the band’s career, and it is 18 minutes of hard rock bliss. A very lofty double album that delivers in spades.
3. Space Is Still The Space from The Bright Light Social Hour
The Bright Light Social Hour is on of those hidden treasures we discovered a few years ago and haven’t let go of them. The Austin boys are back with their second album which is a trippy and deep offering. A truly euphoric experience as the band combines the danceability of the electronic music with a very solid 70′s blues base (and sometimes a solid 70′s funk groove). The album is smart music that is best enjoyed end to end so get it put on the headphones and get your groove on.
2. The Waterfall from My Morning Jacket
My Morning Jacket is a band that should be much bigger than they are, but will never be bigger than they are due to their strict “no sell out” attitude. One hit single away from filling arenas as headliners, the boys from Kentucky have come back with a solid offering. Their previous album Circuital was our number one album of the year a few years ago, and to be honest they would have been number one this year also if they weren’t competing with rock royalty for the top of our chart. A beautifully crafted audioscape that takes the listener on a journey via a hypnotic grasp. Jim James is the ringleader that makes songs such as Compound Fracture, Tropics and Only Memories Remain essential listening for rock lovers in 2015. The Waterfall demonstrates why MMJ is the best band of this century.
1. Rattle That Lock from David Gilmour
When the guitarist and co-voice of Pink Floyd makes a record, its pretty much assured a spot on the T-Mak World Top 10 Albums of the year. However Gilmour didn’t just earn an automatic pass, his fourth solo album is a masterpiece. An epic journey far removed from the psychedelia of Pink Floyd, the maturity of Gilmour is evident. That undeniable guitar twang and raspy voice is enough to give goosebumps. The lead off single Rattle That Lock and its 80’s pop sound is not reminiscent of the rest of the album which sees Gilmour pay homage to the now deceased Rick Wright of Pink Floyd on A Boat Lies Waiting. Essential listening is The Girl In The Yellow Dress that will transport you to a cafe in France in the 30’s with its jazzy blues.