“A Higher Place” by Born of Osiris is my second favorite record of theirs, right behind “The Discovery”. I wrote about that a while back, go check it out if you’re interested. This came out when I was in high school(2009) and I remember when the single “Now Arise” got released and a friend of mine was freaking out (in a good way) about the little hip hop inspired ending. I think this record pushed the band into a more technical and melodic direction. This record has some of my all time favorite guitar work from BOO. Catchy guitar riffs, creative drumming and some beautiful sounding keys. A majority of the key sounds they get on here are great. There’s just something about them that I really like. They have a certain quality to them that has made its way into almost all of their releases after this point. A great example of what I’m talking about would be 2:06 in the song “Starved”. The lo-fi production is actually a plus for me as well. It gives the record a more raw feel, with its scratchy guitars and distorted sounding vocals. Overall I think this record is fantastic. There isn’t one bad track here. Some standout tracks for me: “Starved”, “An Ascent”, “Thrive”, “The Accountable”
Jóhann Jóhannsson is one of my favorite modern composers. I think I first discovered his music in the Denis Villeneuve film, “Prisoners”. Denis just happens to be my favorite director working today and Arrival is another fantastic film in his filmography. The movie has a great sense of mystery to it and Jóhann’s score adds to that mystery in the best way. Jóhann is great at atmosphere as well. He’s great at blending electronic instrumentation with acoustic. In my opinion, this score blends mystery, atmosphere and tension together beautifully. There are some luscious string passages here as well. A great example would be the track, “Transmutation at a Distance”. Unfortunately Jóhannsson died earlier this year. I will make sure to keep him alive through his music.
“Face Value” is Phil Collins’ first solo record and the first Phil Collins record I had ever purchased. Released in 1981 on Atlantic Records in North America, Face Value has probably Collins’ most popular song, with the iconic drum fill, “In the Air Tonight”. That song has to be one of the best album openers of all time, in my opinion. The first half of the song utilizing a Roland drum machine and then the second half kicks in with that iconic fill on acoustic drums. Not to mention the gated reverb on the drums that he helped popularize in the 80’s. This album was written when Genesis was still a band. Phil knew he wanted to write a solo record and the inspiration for this album came from his unfortunate divorce. He used this as an outlet for his emotions. Musically, this album is pretty all of the place, which is what makes it so great, in my opinion. I’m not sure if this is my favorite record of his, but it is WAY up there. Top 3 for sure. Same fave tracks: “In the Air Tonight”, “The Roof Is Leaking”, “I Missed Again” “If Leaving Me Is Easy”
“Is This Thing Cursed?” was my first real introduction to Alkaline Trio. I had listened to them a bit in the past, but I told myself I’d make it all the way through this new record and I’m glad I did. I think this record is incredible. Out of the thirteen tracks, there’s only one that I think is ok. Pretty much every track here stands out in its own, unique way. I love the contrast with Matt and Dan’s voices. It reminds me of Mark and Tom (when he was in the band) from blink. Matt and Dan’s lyrics also contrast each other well. The production on this album is great. It’s not over produced, like the newest blink records. The guitars sound like guitars and the drums sound like real drums. That was a relief. Anyway, I think this will probably make my top 10 albums of 2018. It’s a damn good punk rock record. Favorite tracks: “Blackbird”, “I Can’t Believe”, “Krystalline”, “Stay”
“Good Thing” is Leon Bridges’ second full length record. He brings the sound of soul from the 60’s to a modern era. From the first song, you know what you’re getting into. I think his mix of old soul and r&b with modern production mix really well, surprisingly. It could come off as being too try hard, or cheesy, but he makes it work. The organic instrumentation in “Georgia to Texas” gives me goosebumps. The tone of the drums, the saxophone…everything works beautifully on that song. It’s perfect. This was the first record of his that I had heard, actually, and I’m happy I found him. This will make my top ten albums of the year, for sure. Check this album out if you think 60’s soul with modern production might be something you’re into. Some of my favorite tracks: “Georgia to Texas”, “Shy”, “Mrs.”, “Bet Ain’t Worth the Hand”
“California” is blink-182’s first release with Matt Skiba(of Alkaline Trio) in place of Tom Delonge and John Feldmann as producer. I’ve had two years since the release of this album to really listen and form a solid opinion. My opinion is that it’s just alright. It’s not great, but it’s also just different. I think mostly it just makes me miss Tom being in the band. Originally I was just excited for new music from blink, but listening to this record just makes me want to listen to their other stuff. As you guys may know by now, I’m big on production. If an album doesn’t sound good to me, that’s a big turn off. Whether the production isn’t clean/dirty enough, or in this case, if it’s too clean. The one saving grace here would be the drums, in my opinion. And even those sound ALMOST too clean for me. But the layers and layers of squeaky clean vocals and the guitars with no life to them just make this record too over produced for me. One thing in the song writing that I think is way overused is the use of those three note guitar riffs(The opening of Bored to Death, for example). There’s literally one in almost every song on the record. I hope that changes in their upcoming releases. Don’t get me wrong, there are some good songs on here like: “Cynical”, “Bored to Death”, “Left Alone” and “San Diego”, but a majority of this isn’t my favorite stuff from the band. And as far as the artwork goes, I also think it’s just alright, also not my favorite. Over time I’ve found myself enjoying this album less and less, but I don’t hate it, it’s just…different. What are your thoughts on “California”?