As I stated in the previous post, I’m trying to get coverage on the site for great albums that I wouldn’t normally cover. This post comes from my friend Duane Berry and covers two of the most surprising albums of the year. Enjoy!
The Energizer Bunny is back and nothing is as it seems. Bob Dylan, 71 years old has just released his 59th recording and somehow, he seems just like a kid in a musical candy store. Just like a Halloween Haunted House, nothing is as it seems 50 years after his debut release. Not many can say that. We get the raspy sound that comes with so many years of experience, a sound that not many stick around long enough to get. In fact, Dylan stands alone on that front, with the exception of Johnny Cash before he passed, we’ll see about Jagger on the upcoming Stones tour however. And nobody saw it coming. Not the guy at the record store with the funny haircut, not the cop on the corner and not the girl that says ” Oh I Love Him ” when I skip eating food at lunch to drive around and do my Dylan singalong. This is the vocal perfection of blue eyed blues, a gutteral, soulful sound that couldn’t sound pop with a mouthful of firecrackers. And yet, this Dylan is an acquired taste, just as it always has been. Either you get it, or you don’t. And that’s just the vocal styling.
Today starts my end of the year lists that i’ll be unleashing every day from now until January 1st. I’ve decided to start off with a list of the 20 best bands i saw live this year. Like any self respecting music geek, I go to shows, ALOT of shows in fact, however, this year i didnt see as many shows as i wanted to, but i saw some pretty amazing stuff nonetheless. So, without further ado, this is a list (in no particular order) of the 20 bands I saw in 2011 who helped make my year just a little better.
These guys are absolutely legendary and i got to see them on their final world tour. Thanks to a setlist spanning their entire discograhy and all the fire, lasers, video effects, and rock n’ roll mayhem of one of their shows from the 80′s, this was an incredible show.
These guys opened up for Judas Priest and they were, by far, the greatest opening band i’ve ever seen. Their setlist included all of my favorite songs, and their current lineup brings the thunder as good as can be expected, particularly because of the original members it boasts.
Dave Grohl is an absolute monster! His stage presence is absolutely unbelievable and he makes you feel like he is playing just for you. They also had an awesome stage set up and played an almost 3 hour set that included hit after poppy hit.
These guys opened for Foo Fighters, proving what i said earlier about Dave Grohl being an absolute monster. Lemmy still looks and sounds and plays as good as he did in the 70′s and 80′s and their setlist is a good mix of the old classics with their faster, heavier, newer songs. Nothing can top the moment they first launch into “Ace Of Spades”
This was their first tour in a couple of years and you could tell that their time with The Melvins has done them some good. These guys were full of thunder and nothing rules more than hearing them play “Hands Up” live.
This band is one of the loudest i’ve ever seen live. They played mostly stuff from the last 2 albums but it was so loud and heavy that it didn’t matter what they played, they could have made a set of Huey Lewis & The News covers sound brutal as hell.
Of the 3 bands i saw that night (they played with Big Business and Torche), i was surprised to find that these guys were my favorite of the evening. They play through amps that were made by Ben Verellen himself and the tone was absolutely crushing. Their album is such an awesome mix of Mastodon-esque riffs and some awesome shoegaze parts to make one of the funnest rock n’ roll albums of the year and they translated perfectly live
Saw these guys on the Metalalliance tour along with the next 3 bands on this list and Helemt were by far, the highlight for me. They played all of “Meantime” plus select songs from “Betty” and their latest album “Seeing Eye Dog”. Even though “Meantime” is my favorite Helmet album, my favorite Helmet song is “Tic” and they played it by request, which is the sweetest (and heaviest) thing ever!
It’s been a few years since i’ve seen these guys and I was terribly bummed that the last 2 times they played near me i had to miss for various reasons, so i was very glad to get to see them again, and in New Orleans of all places! They have Kirk Windstein from Down, Pat Bruders, who’s now in down, and Tommy Buckley from Soilent Green in their lineup currently which means seeing Crowbar live is like getting crushed by an asteroid. Also, their new songs translate amazing to their live show.
It’s been a very long time since Saint Vitus has toured, so i was very fortunate to get to see them live. Dave Chandler’s tone sounded absolutely amazing, and Wino’s voice sounded perfect. They played a set full of some absolutely crushing tunes, and they even played a new song which i can’t wait to hear on an album soon.
This was my second time seeing Kylesa, and this time was way better, mostly because they had the projector with the Spiral Shadow album cover spinning around which created an incredible atmosphere. Not much can be said about a Kylesa live show except for the fact that it is something I will never forget. The double drum assault sounds killer and works perfect together, and Phillip and Laura’s vocals sound perfect, and the guitars are super heavy. They are one of the best current metal bands i’ve ever seen live.
I actually saw these guys live twice this year. The first time was at Universal Studios in Orlando, Fl as part of their mardi gras celebration. The second time i saw them was in Shreveport, La with ZZ Top, and i have to say, they killed both times. There aren’t many original members except for Gary Rossington, however, most of the people that make up this current incarnation are all apart of the family somehow and weren’t just brought in to collect a paycheck, these guys absolutely kill it and they also played my favorite Skynyrd song “Gimme Back My Bullets” which rules.
Seeing these guys on the same bill as Lynyrd Skynyrd was a classic rock/southern rock nerd’s dream show. They came out with their signature beards and flashy stage show and they played every major hit they’ve ever written, and the best part is that they didn’t play an encore, which is another reason why I love these guys.
I still can’t decide whether Steely Dan or just being able to hang out on the beach in Alabama was the highlight of this weekend, but regardless, ‘The Dan killed it. These guys are one of the more underrated bands in classic rock history, but even 40 years into their career, Donald Fagen ‘s voice sounds as upbeat as ever, and Walter Becker can still shred. But the best part is that their touring lineup is full of the best jazz and classically trained musicians they could find and they certainly bring new life to songs that are already full of it.
I saw these guys at the Bealse Street Music Festival along with the next 2 bands on this list and i must say, this was by far, the most uplifting show i’ve ever seen. I don’t really listen to them much, but the combination of their beautiful music, bright lights, balloons, lasers, and many more ridiculously awesome things, coupled with a wonderful stage presence makes them a band that i must see again and am now a big time fan of.
These guys played right before the Flaming Lips and they were using the same huge screen for their set and had some amazing videos playing during their set which worked very well with their awesomely poppy music. Also, they kept updating the crowd on the score of the Memphis Grizzlies game that was going on just a few blocks away during their set, which i, as a sports fan, found to be super awesome.
Sublime With Rome
This band is the original bassist and drummer of Sublime with Rome Ramirez on guitar and vocals and they are absolutely fantastic. They played all of the Sublime songs i wanted to hear, and quite a few from their new album which turned out to be one of my favorite records of 2011.
Karma To Burn
These guys are desert rock legends and I actually saw them in Monroe which was kind of random. They are an instrumental band, but their drummer and bassist are so phenomenal that no vocals are necessary to keep these songs entertaining; their songs are full of bone-breaking riffs and dizzying tempo changes and they were definitely the best intrumental band I’ve seen all year…and the only.
Without question, this was the loudest band i’ve ever seen…not just in 2011, but EVER. Their guitarist Amber Valentine had, what seemed to me, 15 amps hooked up and every one of them was turned up to full volume. My ears were literally ringing for 3 days after this show, no lie. Their songs don’t really translate live the way they do on their records, but they were very enjoyable, and loud, and enjoyably loud, and it’s great to see a band from Relapse Records come to Monroe.
I’m not sure what made the one and only time i saw Thou weirder…the fact that it was inside a theater inside the Lsu art museum, or the fact that they only played 4 songs with a total set of about 25 minutes. Regardless of their set length, however, is the fact that they absolutely killed. They played loud and slow and let loose an almost unrelenting pummeling on the hipsters that were crowded around and it was glorious.