Sunday, July 17, 2016

New Year Half Done

Well, the "new" year is already more than halfway done, and I've slowly been starting to listen to some of this year's offerings.

First off, it's been nice to see that many of Long Island's local artists have been weighing in with their own contributions to the 2016 music banquet.  The list of local acts who have come out with new CDs in 2016 includes Roger Silverberg, Rorie Kelly, Toby Walker, The Hitman Blues Band, Amanda Jayne, Jack's Waterfall, Miles to Dayton, Dream Theater and Nine Days. And national acts Taking Back Sunday and Bayside both have albums coming out within the next few months.

I'm slowly getting over my apathy from earlier in the year and starting to enjoy some of this year's music. I've been particularly impressed with the new Joy Formidable CD. This is a band whose previous two albums left me mostly underwhelmed. Much like Florence + The Machine, they've always had a few good cuts on each album, enough to keep me coming back, but not enough to move their CDs anywhere near my Top 10. This time, though, I think that's going to change. The CD is called Hitch, and I'm finding several of its tunes stuck in my head.

I'm also enjoying the new Gwen Stefani CD This Is What the Truth Feels Like. I'll be the first to admit it's sheer pop and musical empty calories, but what can I say? I like it.

Another album that's been blowing me away was really released in 2015, but I'm counting it as a 2016 release. I'm talking about the CD Endless Forms Most Beautiful by Finnish epic metal band Nightwish. What happened is I saw it on a list of upcoming releases for 2016, bought it, started enjoying it, then discovered that the original version of the album was released last year and the version I've been listening to was only listed as new because they added an all-instrumental version of the original disc to the package. But too bad, it's on my list of 2016 releases and I'm keeping it there.

Finally, for metal lovers, I'd also like to mention that both Anthrax and Megadeth have pretty strong new albums out for 2016.

In the meantime, I still haven't been out for any live music lately. Denise and I have some tickets for a few shows later in the year, but I never did find any summer shows that interested me enough to attend, at least none in venues I'm comfortable in.

Instead, I've continued scratching the live music itch as best I can by catching up on concert DVDs, mostly of my favorite bands of the '70s, '80s and '90s.

I've also seen a few classic concert videos I'd never caught before, including The Band's The Last Waltz, The Rolling Stones' Ladies and Gentlemen: The Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin's The Song Remains the Same. Of these three, I liked the Zeppelin DVD the best. Led Zeppelin has never been one of my top favorite bands, but the concert, taken from their Houses of the Holy tour, reminded me of the things I do like about them.

I few DVDs I particularly liked were U2's Under a Blood Red Sky and Procol Harum's Live at the Union Chapel. The U2 video was shot at an amazing concert venue, Red Rocks in Colorado, where the amphitheater is literally carved out of a mountainside, and it was filmed during a period of time where I think the band was at their strongest, in between my two favorite U2 albums, War and The Unforgettable Fire. The Procol Harum DVD was also shot in a unique venue, London's Union Chapel.

The best DVD I've watched recently, though, had to be Fleetwood Mac's The Dance. It catches the classic Fleetwood Mac lineup of Stevie Nicks, Lindsey Buckingham, Christine McVie, John McVie and Mick Fleetwood in top form from their 1997 reunion tour. This is pop rock at its finest.

For all of these classic concert videos, though, I admit I'm starting to get hungry again for some actual live music. Stay tuned.