I did it! I made another list. I didn’t think it would happen, but it happened. No more lists, though. This is the last one for 2016.
Lots of black metal this year. And I mean lots. But it’s all A+ Amazing. I didn’t hear too much doom (or rather too much premium doom) this year, but, again the doom that was good was really fucking good. There’s tons of weird shit in here that pushes the limits of metal that you should come to expect from my metal lists. Also, I gotta say I’m surprised at the amount of color found on these album covers. 10 of them feature full multi-colored artwork and even more toss in some non-greyscale-but-still-monochromatic flair.
I did something that some of you may find treasonous. I have 2 records tied for first place. So, technically, this is a Top 21 list, but whatever. I spent way too long (like, weeks, maybe even months?) trying to decide which of the two I loved more and just couldn’t settle on one answer for more than a few days. And when I was putting this post together I realized “fuck it, there’s no reason I need to choose one over the other” and thus the Tied For Number 1 spot was born. I’m happy about it and you should be too.
As usual, I try to keep the big names/labels off the list because I’m definitely not a metal blog and I’m sure you all know that The Body, Ash Borer, SubRosa, Cough, ColdWorld, and Primitive Man put out truly outstanding records this year. You don’t need another site to tell you how good they are.
Thanks for reading. Thanks for listening. Thanks for making incredible music.
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I couldn’t just do a Halloween special on AGB Radio (tonight from 7-9 EST on BFF.fm!), I had to make a creep filled mix especially for you guys. However you party, this will be the perfect score for your Halloween.
Dark Cloud Rising
1. Mississippi Fred McDowell – Dark Cloud Rising
2. Black Sabbath – Black Sabbath
3. Wilt – She Walks The Night
4. The Sensational Whirlwinds – (Make Old) Satan Leave Me Alone
5. Have A Nice Life – The Parhelic Circle
6. Wreck & Reference – Abhorrence
7. Angelo Badalamenti & David Lynch – Owl Cave
8. Florida-Alabama Progressive Seven-Shape-Note Singing Convention – God’s Gonna Set The World On Fire
9. Bohren & Der Club Of Gore – Maximum Black
10. The Angelic Process – Welcome To Oblivion
11. John Carpenter – The Fog
12. Lonnie Johnson – Lonesome Ghost Blues
13. Jasper TX – Black Sleep Part IV
14. Robert Johnson – Hellhound On My Trail
15. Avgrunden – The Gate Of A Hundred Sorrows
16. Rev. I. B. Ware – I Wouldn’t Mind Dying
17. Empire Auriga – Waiting For The Fall
18. The Pod – Collecting Dust
The fine folks at Workin’ Nights flattered me by asking me to make a mix for their site. I obliged with some old & new folk & blues about death & dying. It includes Giles Corey, Nimrod Workman, Michael Hurley, Mount Eerie, and Robert Johnson. I think you’ll like it.
Download Every Choice Is A Death.
Download Southern Journey 1: Georgia Sea Islands, Volume 1
UPDATE: A lot of the songs from this record are available elsewhere either digitally or on vinyl. I would highly recommend checking out Georgia Sea Island Singers’ Join The Band on Mississippi Records (MRP-003) for a new pressing with some of these songs. This Southern Journey record is still unavailable as is, so I’ll leave it here for now. See Nathan’s (from Cultural Equality) comment for more details.
This is one of my favorite Lomax collections. Stripped down blues, only two tracks that have any instruments (Hobart Smith on banjo, and a couple dudes playing drums & fife), the rest are pure vocals, hand clapping, and foot stomping. It’s raw and powerful, especially Bessie Jones’ take on “O Death.” There’s some wonderful chatter in between a couple of the songs, like when Peter Davis talks about how he learned “Row The Boat, Child” from his old blind grandfather who would sing it while making rowing motions in his armchair.
One of the really interesting things, and maybe if there’s a Moby expert out there you can help me out on this, is a lot of the songs on this record sound like the vocals used in Moby’s Play. I don’t think he actually sampled from this but it sounds like he heard this record and was like, “I need to recreate this.” Granted, I haven’t listened to Play in 5 or 10 years, but I have some of those tracks ingrained in my memory, and Georgia Sea Islands lines up almost perfectly. Weird.
Either way, this album is incredible, and isn’t already up in the Lomax Archive, so have at it. And be on the lookout for more Lomax collections here in the future, I got about 6 or 7 more that are from other countries and also aren’t in the Archive, so get excited.
Boy Without God – Of Cowboys & Other Beautiful Men (self released)
The sort of sound that’s not usually my bag (saxophones, song-oriented, God-y) but when it’s powerful & memorable enough that one or two years later I’m able to recognize a song I only heard once, I would be a jackass if I didn’t pay attention. A brilliantly smooth blend of new Americana, old blues, soul, new wave clean garage rock, doo-wop, jazz, and anything else he’s inspired by. Poetic lyrics sung in the most passionate deep baritone that sounds maybe a little like the dude from Crash Test Dummies, except not annoying and totally sincere. I’d say his voice is what hooks you in the beginning but it’s probably just the most noticeably unique aspect. Songs break in cathartic crescendos with angry guitar destruction & dissonant horn skronking or blissful howling & lush dreams. Lonely acoustic guitars, deft electric Neil Young sounds, flushed out strings & brass, mourning heartbreak, uplifting youthful love, straight up the catchiest fucking tunes. Endlessly listenable and hands down one of the greatest records this year.
Easily Gabriel’s most well thought out and complete sounding record I’ve heard. It’s obvious this is what he’s wanted to sound like. More people are involved on this record, both in terms of instruments & vocals (including the addition of some fantastic boy/girl harmonies) and in terms of production & mastering. The physical disc is printed by Repeat Press, the same dude who did that slick as hell High Aura’d album.
Charlotte Daniels & Pat Webb – Nobody’s Business
I love this record. Although I don’t know much about it. Apparently both Charlotte Daniels & Pat Webb were married and kinda big in the early ’60s urban folk music scene but I can’t find too much info about this particular album. I think this is the only collaboration they did and it was a one-off afternoon recording type thing, just picking songs off the top of their head to play together, which is what makes this so awesome.
It’s not especially folky. They play a mix of stuff, a lot of old blues, traditional ballads, and upbeat almost rockabilly tunes. Daniels has a fantastically rich voice and Webb’s guitar picking is spot on. I can’t quite explain why this record does it for me, though. I’m pretty sure it has to do with the selection of songs and Daniels’ voice, but there’s something mysterious about it that makes it endlessly enjoyable.
This record, and dozens more, belonged to a family member who recently died. They were given to me to digitize so the rest of the family could listen to them. I plan on sharing some of the most interesting ones on AGB as well, so keep an eye out for old folk records popping up under the OOPs category.
Download Charlotte Daniels & Pat Webb