Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Here's wishing everyone a safe and merry Christmas! I'll be back next year in full force with some great reviews!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Choir - "Peace, Love, & Light"

The Choir - Peace, Love, & Light
2013, Galaxy 21

1. I Saw Three Ships
2. In the Bleak Midwinter
3. Away in a Manger
4. Baby, It's Cold Outside (feat. Leigh Nash)
5. Peace, Love, & Light

This year The Choir did their very first Kickstarter (one in which I actually had the money to help!). It went over splendidly and the band met all of their stretch goals. One such goal was the recording of a Christmas EP. What's great about this little album is that there's a few songs that don't get covered much. I've needed a version of "I Saw Three Ships" for awhile now and I'd never even heard "In the Bleak Midwinter" before. If you're a big fan of the band you won't really find any surprises here. Each version is lovingly arranged and appropriately "Choir-ey." Leigh Nash provides some guest vocals for the band's cover of "Baby, It's Cold Outside." I think their vocals work better here than in "After All" (off Loudest Sound). All but one song made it onto my Ultimate Christmas Playlist. And if you're curious, I didn't put "Away in a Manger" on it because I've already got Nat King Cole's version and I don't like repeats in my playlists. Anyway, it's a great little treat for fans and a good album in its own right. Maybe someday they'll do a full length Christmas album.

Useless Fact: "Peace, Love, & Light" is an original song.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Favorite Albums of 2013

2013 was an interesting year for music. It seemed like a lot of bands lost key members, regrouped, and released self-titled albums. Now that the year is almost over it’s time to list my picks of the year. As always – these didn’t necessarily come out this year, it’s just stuff I discovered this year.

Symphony X, Iconoclast – Oh. My. Word. This album was so awesome I bought it twice. I am not kidding. The riffs are aggressive and heavy, the songs are epic and interesting with great hooks. I listened to this album throughout the year when I needed a true metal fix.

Paramore, Paramore – Paramore is one of those rare bands that get better with each album. They took some risks here but I think they paid off as this is their best album yet. Kudos to the epic Shoegazer finale.

Coheed and Cambria, The Afterman: Ascension/Decension – Coheed’s Afterman saga made me breathe a sigh of relief. I thought the band was on a downhill slope after Year of the Black Rainbow. Turns out it was only a misstep and the band is back with a great double album.

Daniel Amos, Dig Here Said The Angel – It’s great to have another album by one of my favorite bands. It’s every bit as good as you may have heard. I hope we don’t have to wait another thirteen years for an album.

Ayreon, The Theory of Everything - What an awesome way to end the year! Ayreon’s newest is a fine example of progressive music. It’s dense and full of ideas. Great melodies, great vocalists, great instrumentation. While I’m not wild about the story, the music more than makes up for it.

Honorable Mentions

Amon Amarth, Deceiver of the Gods
Toy Matinee, Toy Matinee
Gama Bomb, The Terror Tapes

Disappointments of 2013

Vanden Plas, The Seraphic Clockwork – I loved Christ 0, so I thought Clockwork would be just as good. I was wrong. It’s kind of boring. The story is also kind of whackadoo so it’s really hard to relate to. I hope the band backs off on the theatrics for the next album and concentrates on writing strong songs.

Tatesryche, Frequency Unknown – Can I say this is a disappointment if I didn’t have any expectations for it? I was hoping Geoff Tate would really bring his A-game, but nope. This was just a quick cash-grab while he still has permission to use the Queensryche name. The other Queensryche is much, much better.

Dream Theater, Dream Theater – Man, it really pains me to put this here. I even pre-ordered this album as I have become a big Dream Theater fan over the last year or so. Unfortunately, I’ve listened to this album several times and it just doesn’t stick. Aside from the awesome “The Enemy Inside” the rest of the tracks just don’t do anything for me. Oh well… maybe next time.

Neal Morse, ? – I had really high expectations for this one. It wasn’t bad but didn’t wow me like I thought it would. I suppose that’s not really fair, but it’s my blog and I’ll write what I want! And you’ll like it!

Panic! At The Disco, Too Weird To Live, To Rare To Die! – Yawn! Panic’s new one was the very definition of “blah.” Not great, not awful, just there.

Looking Forward To In 2014

Deliverance, Hear What I Say!
James LaBrie, Impermanent Resonance
Bloodgood, Dangerously Close
Lust Control, Tiny Little Dots
Lady Gaga, Artpop
Maschine, Rubidium

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Trans-Siberian Orchestra - "The Lost Christmas Eve"

Trans-Siberian Orchestra - The Lost Christmas Eve
2004, Atlantic

1. Faith Noel
2. The Lost Christmas Eve
3. Christmas Dreams
4. Wizards in Winter
5. Remember
6. Anno Domine
7. Christmas Concerto
8. Queen of the Winter Night
9. Christmas Nights in Blue
10. Christmas Jazz
11. Christmas Jam
12. Siberian Sleigh Ride
13. What is Christmas?
14. For the Sake of Our Brother
15. The Wisdom of Snow
16. Wish Liszt (Toy Shop Madness)
17. Back To a Reason (Part II)
18. Christmas Bells, Carousels, & Time
19. What Child is This?
20. O Come All Ye Faithful
21. Christmas Canon Rock
22. Different Wings
23. Midnight Clear

Another awesome entry in the TSO discography. Thankfully, the vocalist I hated so much on The Christmas Attic is nowhere to be found. I would venture to say this is probably the best disc out of the three. I especially like the beautiful acoustic closer "Different Wings." The artwork is also really good with an enormous booklet detailing the story. The booklet is so big it doesn't fit in the jewel case!

Useless Fact: The band has two non-seasonal albums, Beethoven's Last Night and Night Castle. Neither of which have anything to do with Christmas.