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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Nuclear Dog’s Top 30 Albums of 2015

Following is a list of my favorite albums of 2015. This year I downloaded 539 albums from which I tagged 101 as 'worthy'. Thank you HeavyPlanet.net, and especially HeavyPlanet Radio on Facebook, thank you bandcamp.com, and thank you Richard Jones of Sheltered Life PR from whom my introductions to all 539 albums came. From the centenary list, plus one, of albums I flagged as worthy I settled on 30 favorites, of which I’ve listed here for your perusal and amusement.

There won't be any instrumental albums on my list as I find most of them to be tedious. Yes, that’s a character flaw of my own. Nor will you find any bands that affect a vocal sound, the most common being the growling vocals so common in today’s metal oblations. I prefer a vocalist’s natural sound. Many vocals can be awe inspiring, as much or more than the sound of a gifted guitarist. What you will find here is a narrow mix of music that has at its core a powerful guitar and a guitar pedal amp supplying plenty of fuzz and glorious distortion, at worst passable vocals but at best vocals that match ability and intensity with the core guitar, and employing cleverly to adequately crafted melodies, all of which will be playing classical seventies rock, blues rock, psychedelic rock, stoner/desert/fuzz rock, or a mad mixture of any or all of those rock attitudes. The overriding hallmark of all these albums, to me, is they represent the truest essence of rock and roll. It's heavy, but not the heaviest. It's melodic, but not poppish. It leaves plenty of room for artistic license in melody and lyrics, but always delivers pulse pounding, sweat inducing, primal, tribal reverberations resonating through to the ancestral core of our pattern seeking genes. And what typically differentiates these 30 albums from all the rest released in 2015 are the songs. An album is considered exceptional on the strength of its individual songs. The more great songs on an album, the greater the album. With all that said and hopefully in mind, here are, in descending order, my favorite 30 albums of the 101 I deemed worthy from the 539 I listened to throughout this glorious, monstrous year of 2015.

30. Shatner – Shatner


The sound of Shatner is unique. Guitars are huge, low, and fuzzy, the bass thumps, and vocals are good. The songs set this album apart in their unique structure, interesting melodies, and mesmerizing execution.

Shatner hail from Boston and consist of:

  Jim Healey - Guitar and Vocals
  Jesse Sherman - Bass and Backing Vocals
  Rob Davol – Drums

Favorite track: Hellhounds

bandcamp / facebook

29. Buffalo Hustle – Buffalo Hustle


Funky, bluesy rock with a beautifully gravel-voiced frontman, twin guitars that play off each other with blissful riffage, a bass that rivals both guitars in delivery and intrigue, and a drummer who is front and center in presence and delivery.

Buffalo Hustle hail from Fayetteville, Arkansas and consist of:

  Nick Brothers - Guitar
  Garrett Parker - Bass/Vocals
  Sam Solano - Drums
  Julian Thomas - Guitar/Vocals

Favorite track: Leave Me Be

bandcamp / facebook

28. deaf horse - House Of Correction



deaf horse are a unique sound, mainly in song structure, which is always a welcome breath of fresh air. The guitars are big and insistent and each song is an individual journey of intrigue and enjoyment.

Deaf horse hail from Bath/Bristol and are comprised of:

Jamie Noble - Drums/Vocals
Ben Noble - Guitar/Vocals
Hammer- Bass
Andrew 'Big A' Townhill-Keys/Guitar

Favorite track: Fred and Rose

bandcamp / facebook

27. Space Probe Taurus – Mondo Satan


Fast paced, hard driving melodies of power and grit, seventies influence, and blazing hot riffs underscored by a driving rhythm section.

Hailing from San Ramon, California, Space Probe Taurus are a part of Ripple Music, Inc. and consist of:
  Sjöberg – vocals, guitars
  Tömte – guitars, backing vocals
  Enberg – bass, backing vocals
  Boman – drums

Favorite track: The Righteous One

bandcamp / reverbnation / label / facebook / YouTube

26. Monocluster – Monocluster


Psychedelic fuzz from Germany, sung in the native language and beautifully rendered with a reminiscence of Colour Haze in its similar quality of heavy psych sound. The song Dantes Inferno was featured as a Song of Day on HeavyPlanet.net back in September ( HeavyPlanet Song of the Day).

Hailing from Cologne, Germany Monocluster consist of:

  Marc – Vocals, Chris – Bass, Jan – Guitar, Ewald – Drums

Favorite Track: Highway

bandcamp / soundcloud / facebook

25. Adapter Adapter – She’s Alive!


Heavy seventies influence with heavy fuzz riffs and Ryder’s wonderfully gritty vocals lend a nasty quality to the bluesy vibe throughout this album. The strength of the album may very well be the supremely interesting songs with the great melodies paired with fetching lyrics, all wrapped up in a hard driving and fun hard rock attitude.

Adapter Adapter hail from Attleboro, Massachusetts and consist of:
  Nick Ryder - Guitar, Bass, Harmonica, Vocals
  Jim Schultz – Drums

Favorite Track: Gospel Zone

bandcamp / facebook

24. Beardmore – Limb


Seventies influence with a bluesy grind, this album delivers some exquisite melodies in its song offerings, all rife with jagged chipped flint vocals, drums that pierce and drive with huge energy, and beautifully executed guitar riffs of fuzzy glory .

Beardmore hail from Aylesbury, England and feature:

Colin Steele - Guitar and Vocals
Ben Arnold - Guitar and Vocals
Tim Bentham - Bass and Vocals
Adam Connell – Drums

Favorite track: Sol

bandcamp  / facebook

23. Isaak – Sermonize


Isaak scored a hit with their debut album The Longer the Beard the Harder the Sound, which landed on label SmallStone Records and generated a much deserved buzz for their exotic stoner fuzz. These hard nosed Italian rockers are back with a new album, picking up right where they left off with another FULL length album, twelve glorious tracks, of European rockslides of crushing, pounding greatness.

Isaak hail from Genova, Italy and are comprised of:

Vocals - Giacomo H Boeddu
Bass - Gabriele Carta
Drums/Vocals - Andrea Tabbì De Bernardi
Guitars - Francesco Raimondi

Favorite Track: The Frown Reloaded

bandcamp / facebook / smallstone / heavypsychsounds

22. Routes of Neptune – Supervillain


Out of the blue, as they say, I was struck by the awesomeness of this uniquely low, deeply fuzzed out boulder-buster of an album. Huge, powerful riffs played deep and sludgy with vocals to match this is a fuzzy, gritty feast.

Routes of Neptune hail from Athens and Naxos, Greece and consist of:
  Babis : (Vocals) Chris 4 : (Guitars) MiLoop : (Bass) Joni : (Drums)

Favorite track: Walk My Road

bandcamp / facebook

21. Black Bear Tribe – Crime of the Century

Big fuzz, deep honey sound, great rock vocals, bluesy vibe, beautifully crafted melodies….there’s a lot to love about this band. Crime of the Century was released back in March with just 3 songs, but a fourth song by the band has recently been dropped on bandcamp.com as well, Coming for My Baby.

Black Bear Tribe hail from New York, New York and consist of:

Jason Kraft - Vocals Sam Perry - Guitar Matt Cincotta - Bass Andrew Nesbitt – Drums

Favorite Track: Love You Dear

bandcamp1 / bandcamp2 / soundcloud / reverbnation / facebook

20. Dixie Goat - Black Sun Child



Big fuzz, big bass, big vocals make for a fucking BIG album. This is stoner rock at its finest. Nuff said.

Their song Watch Your Back was featured on heavyplanet.net on November 2. ( HeavyPlanet Song of the Day )

Hailing from Santiago, Chile Dixie Goat are:
  J.P: Drums K.F: Bass Nikk: Guitar & Vocals

Favorite track: Black Sun Child

bandcamp / facebook / soundcloud

19. Witchskull - The Vast Electric Dark


Owners of the year’s best album name, The Vast Electric Dark, Witchskull have crafted hard driving, hard rockin’ album that has stoner and doom tendencies, but is its own beast, slathering, snarling, and scorching from the first note to the coda. Witchskull were reviewed by Pete in October on heavyplanet.net ( HeavyPlanet Album Review )

The band calls Canberra, Australia home. Its members include:
  Marcus De Pasquale vox/guitar Tony McMahon Bass Joel Green Drums

Favorite Track: Swim the Abyss

bandcamp / facebook

18. DEADWEIGHT EXPRESS - Life Train



Big Seventies blues rock sound, with huge guitar, huge vocals reminiscent of Lynyrd Skynyrd, and beautifully rendered songs. As a two piece they deliver a four piece sound, loading each song with deep, delicious fuzz and pulse pounding rhthyms, executing clever melodies replete with hooks that will stay with you for ages, ranging from bluesy hoe-downs to psychedelic powerhouses.

Members of Deadweight Express hail from Brisbane, Australia and consist of
  Sonny Ingledew, Calvin Edward.

Favorite Track: 7yrs

bandcamp / facebook

17. The Gentlemen Bastards - Bastards' Brew



This follow up to 2012’s much ballyhooed self titled album does not drop off in quality, effort, or performance, delivering hard punching, fast paced, gritty, grimy, fuzzy bliss led by drummer Stanley’s hard driving beats, Quinn’s beautiful vocals, Barry’s blistering guitar, Böðvarsson’s tectonic rumbling bass, and songs that hook right and riff left throughout.

The Gentlemen Bastards hail from Huntsville, Alabama and consist of: Will Quinn - vocals Bill Barry - guitars Dave Stanley - drums Böðvar Böðvarsson – bass Favorite Track: Skuggi

bandcamp / facebook

16. Padre Lobo - Padre Lobo


Father Wolf rips through the stonersphere with an insatiable force and hunger that is perfectly expressed in the vocals of frontwoman Lore and JuanP’s boulder crunching riffs. A haunting psychedelic sound blended expertly with a low thunder fuzz, this album is an exceptional stoner/psych experience.

Padre Lobo hail from San Sebastien, Spain. It’s members are:
Lore: Voz y maracas
JuanP: Guitarra y aullidos
 Francis: Bombo y platillo volante
Alv: Bajo y alto
Manu: Guitarra trapecista

Favorite Track: Perla y Ópala

bandcamp / facebook

15. Lord Loud - Lord Loud


At spot fifteen comes another female fronted stoner/psych album of the utmost quality. The sound delivers its unique melodies and structures by reverberating through your skeletal core to the depths of your stoner heart, tinging the musical essence throughout with a murky blues-rock soul. Deep, loud, replete with delicious riffs and clever hooks, this is a treat for blues/psych rock enthusiasts across this vast and wondrous stonersphere.

Lord Loud, hailing from Van Nuys, California, consist of:
  Chris Allison Michael Feld

Favorite Track: Living Mystery

bandcamp / facebook

14. Arenna - Given to Emptiness


Arenna are the masters of psychedelic rock, on a pantheon with Colour Haze. Their music is beautiful, exquisite, otherworldly. It’s a mind blowing journey from the opening track to the last, transporting you far and deep away from terrestrial realities to universal possibilities.

Arenna hail from Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain, its band members include:
  Txus Dr. Sax : voz Javi: bass Guille: drums Kike & Rober: guitarra

Favorite Track: The Pursuer

bandcamp / facebook / twitter / label

13. Year of the Cobra - The Black Sun


Perhaps it’s not fair to include a three track EP in a list that contains so many full album efforts, but if the music is damn good, brief as it may be, I feel compelled to include it. Year of the Cobra are an exquisite sound. The beautifully rendered fuzz is solely bass, delivering both the main riffs as well as driving the delicious melodies, while the vocals render a wondrous hypnotic quality, capping off the type of experience we crave when listening to stoner music. The Black Sun is truly that rare gem of stoner rock, and all the more incredible when learning this is a bass, drum duo.

Year of the Cobra hail from Seattle, Washington and consist of:
  Amy Tung Barrysmith – Bass and Vox Jon Barrysmith - drums

Favorite track: Wasteland

Labels: STB Records, DHU Records, Devil's Child Records, HMVP Records

bandcamp / facebook

12. Kayleth - Space Muffin


Beautifully crafted melodies rendered in multi-faceted expertise are the hallmark of this album. The fuzz surrounds and permeates each song, while being driven expertly by the gargantuan rhythms of bass and drums, expounded by the exquisite vocals of Enrico, and punctuated adroitly with searing, blistering riffs.

Kayleth hail from San Bonifacio, Italy and include members:

Massimo Dalla Valle: Chitarra Alessandro Zanetti: Basso Daniele Pedrollo: Batteria Enrico Gastaldo: Voce Michele Montanari: Synth

Favorite Track: Secret Place, Try to Save the Appearances

bandcamp / facebook / twitter

11. Narcosis - Road To Infinity

 
Hugely entertaining sound. Big fuzz, gifted melodies and incredible song structures, beautiful lyrics delivered by adept vocals, Narcosis, formed originally in 1998, are the culmination of years of toiling in the trenches and improving their craft along each step of the way.

Narcosis hail from Greece. It’s members and contributors include:

  Kostas Pappas : Vox/Guitar
  Jon Toussas : Bass
  Manos Spitieris : Guitar
  Paulos Kounalakis : Drums
  Anja Taraschinski : Keys on "A Hole In The Heart"

Favorite Track: Hangover

Label: G.O.D. Records (Garden of Dreams)

bandcamp / reverbnation / facebook

And now the TOP TEN -

10. Geezer/Borracho - Second Coming of Heavy Chapter One


Two for the price of one! The underground world of rock often produces ‘splits’, releases by 2 bands on one album, which is a very cool thing. Quite often the music on them isn’t available on any other venue so investing in them is worthwhile in order to obtain the awesome music included. This split from Ripple Music is no different. Borracho and Geezer share a similar sound, not so similar you can’t tell them apart, but similar enough you know it’s blues rock at its finest, complementing each other loudly and emotionally.

The split opens with 4 tracks from Geezer who quickly demonstrate they continue their immense rise to elite rock status. Their songs are all intelligently written, emotionally delivered, fierce in execution, and joyous in the experience, layered throughout with exquisite vocals, blistering guitar, pounding drums, and rumbling bass. You will be hard pressed to find 4 finer blues rock tracks anywhere, this year or any other.

Borracho follows with 3 excellent tracks of their own, laying down a feral, pulse pounding occasion of blues/rock celebration. The guitar-work will bore through to your core, vibrating in rhythm to your primal base, leaving you as exhausted and satisfied as if it had been a physical encounter instead of an intangible electric one .

Geezer hails from Kingston, MY and consist of members -
  Richie Turco Pat

Borracho hails from Washington, DC with band members –
  Steve - Lead Guitar & Vocals Tim - Bass Mario – Drums

Favorite Tracks:
  Geezer – So Tired
  Borracho - Superego

Album: cover / label
Geezer: bandcamp / facebook
Borracho: bandcamp / facebook 

9. The Old One-Two – Foxbones



This album is a bit unique in its sound and structure. Stoner funk? Could that be a tag to be used here? I’m using it, at any rate. The vocalist has a gritty, funky delivery that is perfect for the melodies The Old One-Two have crafted, as is the predominant guitar sound, replete with fuzzy distortion goodness. The Old One-Two, however, NEVER skimp on BIG sound for their guitarwork, either in amplified undercurrent or in gritty solo scorching delivery, making for a supremely entertaining and satisfactory rock experience on Foxbones.

The Old One-Two are from Greensboro, North Carolina. Their members consist of:

Hawke Kelley, Chadd Myers, Nathan Myers

Favorite Track: Blind and Brokedown

facebook / reverbnation

8. Freedom Hawk – Into Your Mind


Into Your Mind, in my mind, mark the return of Freedom Hawk to their best, most stoner rock defining sound, not quite present since their 2nd album, the self-titled Freedom Hawk, which is one of stonerdom’s finest albums. Into Your Mind has a similar quality in which Morton’s unique vocal sound is modulated perfectly to match his super fuzzed out guitars. Make no mistake, Freedom Hawk have delivered a whole new bevy of brilliant music that demonstrate their world class sound and ability, employed gargantuan fuzz, massive bass and drum rhythms, and timeless rock melodies.

Hailing from Virginia Beach, Virginia, Freedom Hawk is:

TR Morton: guitars, keys, vox Lenny Hines: drums Mark Cave: bass

Favorite Track: The Line

bandcamp / facebook / twitter / reverbnation / label / website


7. Fairy Duster – KaraSëa



Beautiful stoner sound is on display with this album of 6 exquisite rock gems. The vocalist is deep throated and clear, displaying vocal strength by never yelling, the guitars are beautifully low and replete with distorted sweetness. The bass is a wonderful presence, not satisfied with laying back and providing simple rhythms, but present front and center providing sweet low hum to complement the searing lead guitar riffs. Melodies are intelligent, primal, and unforgettable. The blend of it all is a super sweet stoner rock elixir.

Fairy Duster hail from Fürth, Germany. Its members are:

Bass & backing vocals Sebastian Fischer Rhythm guitar & lead vocals Dani Jonescu Lead guitar Alex Jonescu Drums Tristan Prögler

Favorite Tracks: Viaţa şi Moartea, Love is a Dog from Hell

bandcamp / facebook

6. Aye Mammoth - Lightning and Hellfire



Self styled as a HEEVY RAWK band, Aye Mammoth sets themselves apart with a bevy of incredible, impeccable songs. They have the requisite FUZZED out guitars, exquisite in execution; they have an incredible vocalist who doesn’t strain or yell; and the bass and drums are exceptional; but, the true hallmark here are thirteen – 13! – pulse pounding pearls of perfection, enjoyable in every way. Their sound is a stoner/blues sort of sound, but very unique in that they sound like Aye Mammoth and no one else, and that’s a beautiful thing. Aye Mammoth featured on heavyplanet.net with a Song of the Day in November (HeavyPlanet-Song of the Day)

Aye Mammoth, from Murfreesboro, Tennessee, consist of: Micah Loyed - guitar, vocals; Phil Stem - drums; Paul Haggard - bass

Favorite Tracks: Tear The Veil, Raise Horns, Dread Of The Deep

bandcamp / facebook / twitter / instragram / YouTube

5. Sgt. Sunshine - Sgt. Sunshine


As part of label Heavy Psych Sound you could say they are the banner bearer as the psychedelic rock music Sgt. Sunshine have crafted here is enormous, important, and immensely satisfying, ticking off every stoner/psych/desert/retro rock facet available to be crafted into fuzzy melody. The guitar sound is COLOSSAL, fuzzy to its innermost metaphysical depths, executing a familiar stoner/fuzz sound but with enhanced nuances that matches or surpasses any music in the library of the genre.

Sgt. Sunshine call Malmoe, Sweden home. Its members include:

Eduardo Fernandez Rodriguez Roberto Castro Sundin Kalle Olofsson

Favorite Track: Mountain Song

bandcamp / facebook / website

4. Dune Pilot – Wetlands


This a big stoner/desert/fuzz rock sound, influenced directly from the 90s sounds of Kyuss, Slo Burn, et al., as well as more current bands. They can now add their names to that pantheon of distorted metal sound with this wonderfully crafted album that is one of the year’s best releases.
Dune Pilot hail from Munich, Germany and consist of members:

Andris - Vocals Chris - Guitar Georg - Drums SH – Bass

Favorite Tracks: You Ain't the First, Song B, Red

bandcamp / facebook / website

3. Clutch – Psychic Warfare


 Everyone knows the story of Clutch. One of underground rock’s greatest successes, they’ve been around for better than two decades, so the fact is they not only sustain the highest level of rock n roll production, they have actually gotten better, as their last two albums attest. Psychic Warfare is on this list, and on it this high, because it fucking rocks ass! It is the epitome of rock and roll. The best vocalist in the business helps tremendously, but the songs are incredible, the guitars THICK with syrupy riffs, and the bass and drums exquisite in their delivery. My hats off to these Maryland rockers for what they have been able to achieve. I hope the fire continues to burn for decades to come. The song X-Ray Visions was featured in July on HeavyPlanet’s Song of the Day (HeavyPlanet - Song of the Day) as well as in Pete’s Top Ten Albums of 2015, coming in at #6.

Clutch hail from Frederick, Maryland. The band consists of members:

Neil Fallon – Vocals, guitar Jean-Paul Gaster – Drums Tim Sult – Lead guitar Dan Maines – Guitar

Favorite Track: Behold the Colossus

facebook / vevo

2. The Bad Light – Temples



Dropping in just under the wire is the phenomenal Temples by The Bad Light. These Santa Cruz rockers have crafted a fine psychedelic stonerrock album with their 4th release in 3 years. They employ more than one vocalist, a method that works exceptionally well and should, in my opinion, be pursued by other bands. It makes for an exquisite sound. The guitars are gargantuan, executing tremendous stoner/fuzz distortions, underlain heavily with massive drum beats and mammoth bass. The strength of this album is multifaceted as each song is breathtaking in its psychedelic fuzzy goodness, the guitars, bass, and drums are mighty, and the matching vocals between male and female are tremendous, but what really sets this album up on a pedestal are the songs, each of the 8 tracks beautiful to behold.

The Bad Light hail from Santa Cruz, California and consist of members:

EDU CERRO (GUITAR/VOCALS)
DANA SHEPARD (DRUMS)
EMILY PEGODA (VOCALS)

Favorite Track: Arrows

bandcamp / facebook / soundcloud / website / blogspot

Before revealing my Number One for 2015 I want to revisit my Number One of 2014, an album that stands head and shoulders above most, even today. It is as unique a sound while carrying standard stoner metal qualities as an album can get. I will tell you the band hails from the Netherlands but you will be hard pressed to make the connection once you spin it. TBT 2014 and Nuclear Dog's #1 Album - Atacames by ¡PENDEJO!



And now without further ado, Nuclear Dog's 2015 Album of the Year! Enjoy!

1. The Midnight Ghost Train - 
Cold Was the Ground


Which brings us to the album of the year. If I could have only one album to listen to all year this would be it. The song Gladstone alone is enough to sustain me for quite a while. Steve Moss, the frontman for The Midnight Ghost Train has taken his love for songsmiths young and old, such as Tom Waits, Nick Cave, Muddy Waters, and Edith Piaf, using them to channel his own creativity into the finely crafted music of Cold Was the Ground. HUGE! Huge enough to make Donald Trump envious. The guitars are simply enormous, turned loose and riding roughshod through the clever and exquisite songcraft of Gladstone and Twin Souls, BC Trucker and The Canfield....and the entirety of this relentless force of nature. I can’t recall music eliciting in me the excitement I experienced with the initial spinning of Gladstone since I first heard the one two hammer blow of Thumb and Green Machine. Whenever any new album is discovered, the anticipation upon playing it the first time is for exactly what Cold Was the Ground delivered that fine February day of 2015.

The Midnight Ghost Train hail from Topeka, Kansas. They are:
Steve Moss – Vocals, Guitar | Brandon Burghart – Drums | Mike Boyne – Bass | John Fernandes – Violin (track 9) 


There you have it. 2015 was a scorcher filled with a ton of great stuff. There’s another truckload of great music out there that I haven’t even listed here. Stay tuned to Heavy Planet in 2016 for the best stoner/doom/sludge rock on the planet.

2 comments:

  1. Nice list... though, that Sgt. Sunshine record is a re-issue. It's over a decade old, from 2003.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Haha, reissue counts. Any excuse to promote great music.

    ReplyDelete

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