Matheson Kamin’s Best Releases for 2016

2016 has come to an end. That means, for many, the time has come to put together our “Best Of” lists for the year. Like every year, I have put together a list of the releases that have peaked my interest the most throughout the year of 2016. In no particular order, here is my List for Best Releases for 2016,  the albums that need one more mentioning.

1. 9 from Mark Nomad

9Massachusetts-based musician and songwriter Mark Nomad has had a long musical career creating Blues-Rock music. Starting out with the band Little Village, Nomad’s career has included being part of a very popular band before going out on his own as a solo artist. Within the time period in which Nomad has created his own music, he has amassed a total of nine releases. This includes his latest album of new material. The new release from Mark Nomad is entitled 9. While the newest release from Mark Nomad is his ninth album, the release also consists of nine musical tracks. So the number “nine” is very much present on Nomad’s new release. Just like the other albums that have made up Mark Nomad’s discography, 9 consists of tracks that are largely influenced by the music of the Blues. Like other releases in his discography, 9 from Mark Nomad once again show off the musician’s talent as both a songwriter and as a player. The tracks on the new release contain many different styles and sounds that keep the release nice and varied. With it being the ninth album in his discography, 9 from Mark Nomad shows that he is not slowly down.

Click HERE for the entire review for the album.

2. Counterpoint from Circuline

circuline_counterpoint_fc_300dpi-resized-v1-560x503The form of Rock and Roll called Progressive Rock (or Prog-rock for short) had its heyday back in the late 60s/early 70s. However, there have always been bands or solo artists out there that continue to create new Prog-rock. These bands draw influence from earlier bands like Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Gentle Giant, or even Peter Gabriel-era Genesis to create their own songs in order to keep the vision of the originators of the style alive. The newer songs being created are continuing to push the envelope of that style of Rock and Roll music in order to keep the music fresh. One such band around today that is doing their best to push the envelope of Rock and Roll by creating Progressive Rock is Circuline. Earlier in 2016, Circuline released their second album called Counterpoint. The album showcases the band’s Progressive Rock sound. Counterpoint from Circuline is a solid Progressive Rock release. Throughout the album, the band shows off its ability to create some of the most entertaining Prog-rock out there today. For fans of the style, this is a great album to add to your collection. And for those unfamiliar with the style, this is a great place to start.

Click HERE for the entire review for the album.

3. Unnecessary Commentary from Matt Hurray

matthurray2Back in 2012, California-based guitarist Matt Hurray released his debut solo release entitled Egyptian Surfer. That album found Murray creating songs that featured a strong Surf Rock sound. But the album also contained many other influences that gave the release a very wide array of sounds. The ever-changing style of music made Egyptian Surfer a strong release. Now, Matt Hurray has returned with a new release of original music. And while the focus of the music is once again on Surf Rock, Hurray’s new release is just as varied as his debut release. Hurray’s new album is entitled Unnecessary Commentary. The new release from Matt Hurray entitled Unnecessary Commentary is an album that is overflowing with eighteen tracks. Each and every one of them is a track that is sure to catch your interest. While Hurray’s influences from the likes of The Ventures or Dick Dale do come through in Matt Hurray’s playing, each song is definitely his own. And with the inclusion of other styles mixed in with the dominant Surf Rock influence, Unnecessary Commentary from Matt Hurray is a well-rounded release with something for nearly every taste.

Click HERE for the entire review for the album.

4. Trampling Out the Vintage from Tom Guerra

tomguerra12Connecticut-based guitarist and singer Tom Guerra has spent many years playing in a rock band called Mambo Sons. The band last released an album back in 2009 which was a double CD release called Heavy Days. Since then, however, the trio has been silent. But that changed recently when guitarist and singer Tom Guerra went out on his own. While Mambo Sons created music that was heavily blues-based, Guerra decided to incorporate more influences into his sound. For his new release of Trampling Out the Vintage, Tom Guerra does a great job of using the various influences he has picked up throughout the years. The resulting album’s 10 tracks are widely varied from one track to the next while they still contain a solid Rock and Roll base. Guerra has put out yet another album in Trampling Out the Vintage that would be very welcome in any Rock and Roll listener’s music collection.

Click HERE for the entire review for the album.

5. Badass Generation from The Paul Nelson Band

BA GenerationYears ago, Paul Nelson was the man who helped shape the sound of Winter’s music by playing guitar in the Johnny Winter Band. And now, years after the passing of Johnny Winter, Paul Nelson is finally making a name for himself by stepping out of the shadow of Winter. Currently, Nelson is creating his own music with his own band of musicians. In fact, the Paul Nelson Band has just recently released their debut album of Badass Generation. It is this album that allows the listener to experience the talent of Paul Nelson and his band. There are plenty of moments to enjoy on Badass Generation from The Paul Nelson Band. Along with the unmistakable influences from Johnny Winter, the band makes use of other influences that help to give shape to their music. Ultimately, the band’s music will appeal to fans of Winter and other Classic Rock artists alike. And with Paul Nelson having backed up Winter for as long as he did, the influences that rubbed off on him have made Nelson a musician to watch in the future. But for now, check out the Badass Generation release from The Paul Nelson Band and you won’t be sorry.

Click HERE for the entire review for the album.

6. Self-titled release from Fire Merchants

FM CoverPennsylvania-born musician John Goodsall has made a name for himself working inside the music industry. Near the end of the 1980s, Goodsall helped to create the Progressive Rock/Jazz Fusion band called Fire Merchants. While John Goodsall’s former band of Brand X had been rather progressive in its style of music, John Goodsall and Fire Merchants created a sound that exceeded the progressive nature of even Brand X’s style. It was with the help of bassist Doug Lunn and drummer Chester Thompson that Fire Merchants came into being. Together, Goodsall, Lunn and Thompson created the debut self-titled album from Fire Merchants. Having been released back in 1989, the self-titled release from Fire Merchants ended up being one of the most overlooked albums from that year. However, as a way of celebrating the 25th anniversary of the album, Europe-based Gonzo Multimedia gave the album a proper re-release in 2014. Along with the original 11 cassette-release tracks from back in 1989, the 2014 re-release comes complete with two additional tracks of “Healing Dream” and “Nuclear Burn”. The newly-extended self-titled release from Fire Merchants is now even better at over one hour long and is begging to be heard.

Click HERE for the entire review for the album.

7. X Waters from The Whiskey Hollow

thewhiskeyhollowMy introduction to singer-songwriter Madeline Finn and her music came with a pre-arranged open-mic called Brent Kirby’s 10×3 where Finn performed three songs. At the end of those three songs, I found myself thinking that that time on stage for Madeline Finn simply wasn’t long enough as I wanted to hear more from the singer. And with a voice that reminds me of Norah Jones, Finn has a quality that begs you to listen. When I finally was able to hear X Waters, the new release from Madeline Finn and the rest of her band called The Whiskey Hollow, I was not surprised as I had already experienced Finn’s sound and style. I was also not disappointed as the music contained within the seven-song release was everything I had enjoyed live plus even more as the release from The Whiskey Hollow took the acoustic sound from Madeline Finn and expanded upon it. X Waters from The Whiskey Hollow is strong from the very first song and never lets up. And with the different genres and styles of music used to bring Madeline Finn’s words to life, the listener has plenty of things to keep them entertained.

Click HERE for the entire review for the album.

8. The Bad Guy from Man Called Noon

the-bad-guyBack around 2010, I had been introduced to the Chicago-based band Man Called Noon. At that time, I became familiar with the band because of their album Broke and Beaten Down. Several years after reviewing 2009’s Broke and Beaten Down, and after having released another album in the meantime entitled Edge of the Night, Man Called Noon returns with their newest album entitled The Bad Guy. With this album, the band creates a slightly different style of music than what had come before. This new lineup for Man Called Noon incorporates some of the old sound and feel of the band while also taking the band’s sound in a new and more interesting direction. While I was already familiar with Man Called Noon, the band’s new album was a nice surprise. The new release from Man Called Noon finds the band creating a much stronger vibe than what had appeared on the band’s 2010 album of Broke and Beaten Down. The Bad Guy contains better musicianship, stronger songs and an all-around better sound. If unfamiliar with Man Called Noon, The Bad Guy is the perfect place to discover the band for yourself.

Click HERE for the entire review for the album.

9. Everybody’s a Good Dog from Diane Coffee

Diane CoffeeShaun Fleming has spent time in the entertainment world. In fact, Fleming’s acting credentials are quite impressive. And with those acting credentials come Fleming’s musical credentials, as well. You might know his name as part of the band Foxygen where he played drums. Now, Shaun Fleming has taken his musical experience and put it to good use as part of a relatively new project called Diane Coffee. The music of Diane Coffee has been described as “Psychedelic Motown”. That seems to be a relatively good description as that is very close to what the band sounds like on some of their songs. However, that is just the beginning of what the band sounds like. With elements of Funk, Blues, Melodic Rock and other sounds, Diane Coffee has a lot more substance to their music than much of today’s Top 10 musical acts. And that musical blend has made its way onto a couple CDs from the band- 2013’s My Friend Fish and 2015’s Everybody’s a Good Dog. Everybody’s a Good Dog from Diane Coffee is one of the more unique releases of the last year. It brings lots of different influences to life at one time and those influences combine to create a style that seems to incorporate nearly something from every different era within the age of Rock and Roll. That combination of styles makes for a solid album that’s worth checking out.

Click HERE for the entire review for the album.

(The following two releases are from the same artist of Michael McDermott. McDermott created two albums, one under his own name and one under the band moniker of The Westies. As the two albums came from the same artist and feature the same writing style, it was difficult to choose which of the two was the better release. Therefore, I included both of the albums on the list.)

10A. Six on the Out from The Westies

515NZWZxw3L__SS280What happens when you have a rather interesting and checkered past? Well, you write songs based around it. That is precisely what singer-songwriter Michael McDermott has done with the help of his wife Heather Horton. Together, McDermott and Horton got together to create songs that have a rather dark side to them, as the songs deal with the not-so-pretty side of life; the side of life that McDermott knows all too well. Together, Michael McDermott and Heather Horton make up the core of the band The Westies. With The Westies, Michael McDermott and Heather Horton have created songs that deal with the grimy underground that exists within society. Having already created one album in 2015 entitled West Side Stories, the musical outfit has returned after only one year from the release of that album with what amounts to being “part two” of the concept. That newly-released second album is called Six On the Out. The Six On the Out release from The Westies has many moments worth hearing. While there is a lot of darkness within the lyrics of the songs on the album, it is the musicianship of the players on the album and the writing of the songs themselves that add up to create a very strong album. Bottom line, this album is as good as anything available on a major label.

Click HERE for the entire review for the album.

10B. Willow Springs from Michael McDermott

willow-springsRight around the same time that Michael McDermott was recording music for the Six on the Out release, he was also recording other songs that were to be used for his newest solo release. And since the same group of musicians were used for both the Six on the Out album and the new Willow Springs release from Michael McDermott, the two albums have the same basic musical approach in their songs, but the tracks used for each album had their own feel to them. With Six on the Out, the tracks stuck to a more rockin’ feel to the music while the tracks for this album of Willow Springs stick more to a singer-songwriter approach. Willow Springs, the newest solo album from Michael McDermott, shows a slightly different side to McDermott than his previous album of Six on the Out, the album released under the moniker of The Westies. The singer-songwriter side of McDermott shines through on Willow Springs and the album contains many moments that the listener will enjoy.

Click HERE for the entire review for the album.

 

Part Two of the list for Matheson Kamin’s Best Releases for 2016 is a short list of some of the best tracks that were released during 2016.

1 Circuline “Forbidden Planet

2 The Whiskey Hollow “Hudson Hill

3 Diane Coffee “Soon To Be Wont To Be

4 Man Called Noon “The Bad Guy

5 The Westies “If I Had a Gun