It’s time for the music addict’s 2014 year end review, covering my personal hits and misses from the music world. 2014 was also a banner year for this blog, with more visitors than ever, and a new Facebook page linked to it. Thank you all for visiting and reading, I appreciate it tremendously.
- The Pretty Reckless: Going to Hell. Taylor Momsen is all grown up and butt naked with an arrow pointing at her ass on the cover of the band’s second album, but let’s not forget the killer rock songs contained on this release. Momsen’s voice is a real treat, and the songs are pretty cool. Too bad they’ll be touring with Nickelback in 2015.
- Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers’ Hypnotic Eye. Let’s face it: No one expects an album from a band 35 years into their career to be any good, or at least to stand up to their classics. But Hypnotic Eye does just that. And it might just be their most consistent album from start to finish.
- The Glorious Sons’ debut album, The Union Canadian rockers The Glorious Sons’ album is a good old rock record full of hooks and cool riffs. Let’s hope they can continue gaining fans in 2015.
- Heavy Montreal Festival Booking a summer metal festival in North America must be a headache inducing challenge. Most bands do the rounds of European Festivals during the summer, leaving organizers to mostly program North American acts. And after a few editions they’ve had almost everyone, some multiple times. This year they finally bagged the headliner everyone expected: Metallica played their only North American “By Request” show. It’ll be interesting to see how they can match that (AC/DC?) this year, but let’s hope they manage to attract some European acts to diversify the lineup.
- The Trews’ self titled album. Yes, here I go again about The Trews. One of the best Canadian bands of all time, and one of the best active rock bands around the world. And one of the top live acts I’ve ever seen.
- So many good concerts this year! Jake Bugg, Transatlantic, Lady Gaga, The Killers, Soundgarden, Bruno Mars, Heavy Montreal, Tom Petty, Airbourne, King Diamond and The Trews were my highlights.
- Once More Round the Sun by Mastodon. Some people thought it wasn’t heavy enough, but it’s an amazing album of metal. A little bit of prog, a lot of metal, and great songs make up this fantastic release.
- The Lazys’ self titled album. These Australian rockers came out with a strong album, and are beasts live. Hope to hear and see more of them.
- Ringo Starr made the list to be inducted into the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame as a solo artist. Alright, technically, that will happen in 2015, but the list was released earlier this month. Ringo is already in the Hall of Fame as a member of The Beatles, as he should be. You’re not going to get much Ringo bashing from me: he was the perfect drummer for the Beatles, and his only problem is that he wasn’t a genius songwriter like the other three were. But as a solo artist? Please, get the fuck out. What has he done? Photograph? It Don’t Come Easy? How about the fact that even though I’m a major Beatles fan, I can’t even name another Ringo solo song? Or that one of these is a cover, and the other a co-write with George Harrison? Has there ever been a drummer who claimed to have been influenced by Ringo’s solo work? Every year the Hall of Fame further cements their status as a joke.
- U2’s new album fiasco. So people got upset that the new U2 album magically appeared on their iPhone, for free. Seriously people, have we ran out of things to complain about? No, the bad thing about this release is that people keep mentioning that U2 gave away their album. Considering Apple paid them 100 million dollars, I don’t think this qualifies as a gift. This is probably the most lucrative music release in history.
And of course, the single worst thing about this release? The album blows, and we’ll have to suffer through multiple tracks from it once U2 hits the road.
- Declining album sales Argue all you want about how “music should be free”, “Beyonce’s rich so this warrants stealing all albums” or whatever bullshit arguments are going around these days, but it’s harder and harder for a new artist to make music their main job, or earn a living from it.
This year sales declined even further, leading the industry to claim that 2015 would be the first year where no album sold a million copies. Of course a week later, Taylor Swift’s new one sold a million copies in its first week. But hey, we get the idea.
- AC/DC’s Malcolm Young is diagnosed with dementia. It’s hard to believe that at one point we worried about our rock idols getting to be 40 and wondering if they’d still rock. Now many of them are nearing retirement age and still going strong, but age is starting to take its toll on them. Malcolm Young is the heart of AC/DC; his rhythm guitar is what holds down the tracks and breathes life into the band. His brother Angus may be the frontman of the band, but without Malcolm, they’d be nothing.
Now I’m sure his nephew will do a fine job replacing him (he did it back in 1988), but AC/DC will never be the same again. Their latest album Rock or Bust is good, but it lacks that spark (more like TNT). This tour is most likely their final bow: for those who rocked hard for 40 years, we salute you.
- Tuomas Holopainen’s solo album. Alright, most of you went “Who?”. Holopainen is the leader of Finnish symphonic metal icons Nightwish. This year he released a concept album called “The Life and Times of Scrooge“. If you’re getting visions of Dickensian prose put to music à la Trans-Siberian Orchestra, well, you’re wrong. The titular Scrooge is actually Scrooge McDuck! Yes, he made a concept album about Uncle Scrooge.
It’s a little mean of me to single out this album, since there were a lot of bad releases during the year. But it’s the sheer pretentiousness of it that earns it a spot on my list. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge Uncle Scrooge fan, especially the classic comics by Carl Barks, but this doesn’t strike me as an appropriate subject for a symphonic metal opera. The genre already sounds a little pretentious, and waxing romantic about a cartoon duck doesn’t help. The music isn’t bad, but it takes itself a little too seriously. But what do I know, it went gold in Finland!
- All the musicians we lost in 2014. Joe Cocker, Jack Bruce, Bobby Keys, Dick Wagner, Tommy Ramone, Johnny Winter, Bobby Womack, Paco De Lucia, Maria von Trapp, Bob Casale, Phil Everly and many more left us, leaving our world a little more silent in the process.
He's also a regular contributor at the excellent news site Montreal Rampage