Tuesday, February 25, 2020

My top 3 albums from 2019

The List No One Other Than Me Wanted!
My top 3 albums from 2019
The number one slot was so easy to pick. The number two and third picks were hard to select because, damn 2019 gave a lot of excellent music offerings!
Honorable Mention: Hawkestrel: The Future is Us.  How could I not include an album that has William Shatner performing Sonic Attack?! Shat goes full Shatner on Sonic Attack. It is incredible. Alan Davey really laid out a great slab of music. More honorable mentions go to Nik Turner, and Tim Mungenast & Eric Dahlman (I can’t really review their album as I’m biased since I was in the audience while it was created). I’m going to stop with the “honors” because there were so many other great albums out in 2019 that I could drone on and on about.
Now to the top 3.
3. Third Ear Experience with Dr. Space: Ear to Space
 This album rips space rock up, down, both sides, and to beyond infinity. My discovery of the band Third Ear Experience came at the 2019 NASR show in Austin Texas. NASR (North American Space Ritual) wasn’t just a show, it was a wild musical ride that deserves it’s own chronicle.
Screams of Eagle Bone is the opening track, which clocks in at 14 engine churning minutes of space ship rock. If you want to blast off, this is your song. If you don’t like this song, then don’t bother to listen to the rest of the record because this is your launch sequence. The album is full of slamming space rock synths, sax, sounds and sun scorching guitars. I can’t wait to hear more by this band. I feel really lucky to have seen them in concert. Hope to catch them again and again and again. Dr. Space is a guest on this album.
Another stand out cut is Dreams of a Caterpillar, which is a little over 20 minutes long. It starts off as piece of synth bubbling ambience before becoming a delightful trancey-dancey-spacey-jam then mellowing out again only to rise up on last time.

2. Opeth: In Cauda Venenum
Freaking wow. Music that goes in so many directions it almost gives me whiplash in the best possible way. German 80s synths, prog metal, “bowed instruments” and more collide all over the place. This is what music should be, exploration! Amazing that so few of the songs even have a chorus (do any of them? I should check). Opeth is not afraid to defy song structure and make things new. This is a late arrival to my collection, which is part of the reason it took me so long to compile this list.
The opening track would fit more in an early Tangerine Dream album rather than an album I bought in the Heavy Metal section of a record store. I am so often struck by how to me, Opeth (in their post death metal phase which they currently occupy) could be the modern version of Queen. Great songs, amazing vocals, and heavy guitar attack. Another thing that blows my mind about this release is that it’s recorded in English, which is the second language for their incredible singer Mikael Akerfeldt. How does someone sing so beautifully in their second language?! The second disc on this set contains a Swedish language version of the album, which I am looking forward to diving into.

1.    Cat Temper: Henry
This isn’t just an album; this is a landscape of sound. Henry is Cat Temper’s alternate soundtrack to the David Lynch movie Eraser Head. Where as the movie has a more noise-based layer of sound behind it, Cat Temper gives it a quirky diseased keyboard vibe that is vaguely funny, but thoroughly strange.
Drums? Ah yes, the pounding pop synth drums ringing with the right layering of dirge over them are fantastic.
You can watch the movie with this amazing soundtrack and feel the vibe of the movie change, or you can listen to the album by itself. I’ve listened to it on it’s own many times, so I honestly feel it stands apart as its own piece of sonic art. It’s great to drive around to, or to listen at home.
There are so many stand out tracks on an album filled with thirty (yes thirty) great audio sculptures.
Opening track, Man in the Planet sets the tone wonderfully with quirky 80s synths with an undercurrent of chaotic menace. Darkly cute music? Maybe.
Those drum sounds I mentioned earlier? They sound incredible on a good stereo with the volume up. Crank it for maximum power!
The fifth track Mary has a haunting piano-esque sound that sticks in my soul. Chilling yet compelling. A very short song but so meaningful!
Track six, Meeting Mother is a hysterical sounding grotesque of a song sounded like a psychotic kids ride at a futuristic abandoned carnival.
Henry, like the movie Earserhead, is a surrealist phantasm of synth tones, ambience, sequencers, and pure fun. Moments of pop bliss, dance in the darkness.
When this album first lit up the stereo there was no doubt that, Henry, by Cat Temper would be this person’s favorite album of 2019. 
Go forth and freak out

Yours in Music,
Count Robot