My favourite album of 2019 was going to be a clear cut decision until the release of Redundant by Flirting With Disaster. (reviewed in this issue) I love a good pop punk album and being honest, this has been the best of the genre to be released this year. It really is a shame that these guys are from New Zealand, if they were European on North American they would easily be a household name!
My favourite gig of the year was Black Stone Cherry at the Barrowland Ballroom. I’ve seen BCS many times before. However this was the first time seeing them in a smaller venue. The Barrowlands lends itself perfectly to any genre of music. But for a band like BSC it just was a match made in heaven. From the support act Kris Barras, right through to the main show was outstanding. It was also my first time getting to photograph them, so that was special to me as well.
Aki Fujita Taguchi
My favourite album of 2019 is ‘ZËSS-Le Jour Du Néant’ by MAGMA. It’s impossible to categorize them. Rather than music, this album is a great piece of art. Just one track, 37 minutes 57 seconds, take you to the universe.
My favourite gig of 2019 was the Melvins at Duo Music Exchange, 19th November 2019.
Totally overwhelmed by their solid, relentless power. I got so excited that I almost forgot being there as a photographer.
The Darts – I Like You But Not Like That
Alternative Tentacles 2019
“Garage-psych-rock grrls make your head slam and your feet shake. And then there’s the music.”
This is my album of the year because quite frankly nothing else I have heard this year comes close to sounding as good as this. From the very first song the listener is hit by an aural assault that lasts the whole album. What you get is 12 slabs of bass heavy 60’s influenced garage rock complete with fuzzy swirling guitar riffs and a Farfisa organ sound that wouldn’t be out of place in a horror movie. Sometimes the vocals almost get a little lost amongst all the musical mayhem but that certainly doesn’t detract from the enjoyment of listening to this.
The band are also sensational live so catch them if you can.
Favourite Gig of 2019
Los Skarnales – Punk Rock Bowling, Las Vegas
It had been a long day, up at 5.45 after 2 hours sleep to watch Celtic win the Scottish Cup in a bar on the Vegas strip at 7.00am , a pool party at midday then the music festival from 2.00pm – 10.00pm. It was now 11.00pm at night and I was knackered. I had tickets for a club show for a band I had never heard of and was thinking of giving them a miss and heading to bed. In the end I decided not to and as a result of that had one of the greatest experiences of my life.
I arrived at the club venue Backstage Bar and Billiards shortly before the band Los Skarnales hit the stage. Originating from Texas this band fuse together ska, reggae, rockabilly, danzon and cumbia all with a punk attitude.
Fronted by two sharp dressed, zoot suited Latino dudes, from the off this band rocked. The crowd went bananas, it didn’t matter I could hardly understand a word they were singing (mostly in Spanish) the energy and passion overflowed from the band. They even threw in a cover of The Ramones ‘Rock And Roll Radio’.
I was so enjoying this band that I made my first and probably last entry to that American punk rock institution the mosh pit. 3 minutes later I emerged absolutely battered senseless and covered in beer. The horn section even found the time to exit the stage and enter the pit and were dancing around still playing trumpet, sax and trombone!
This was one of those magical nights where the crowd would not let the band leave the stage and the band were so happy with the reaction that they just kept playing and playing. By the time they left the stage the entire band and audience were soaking wet with sweat and deliriously happy!
Best Album of the Year: Sonic Citadel by Lightning Bolt.
Why?: Following their drum-heavy 2015 album ‘Fantasy Empire’, Lightning Bolt struck the perfect balance between Brian Gibson’s heavy bass riffs and Brian Chippendale’s vocals that actually took on a surprisingly melodic tone. Previous Lightning Bolt albums have been heavy alright, but here Gibson and Chippendale proved they could produce tunes that could make people sing along and jump around. Some great punk and noise rock albums were made this year, but none featured musicianship as accomplished as that displayed on ‘Sonic Citadel’.
Best Gig of the Year: Daughters at Islington Assembly Hall.
Why?: You know when you’ve heard a band’s new album, think it’s quite good but nothing amazing, but have heard they’re absolutely incredible live? Well, that was how I felt about Daughters before seeing them at the Islington Assembly Hall. Following an impressively abrasive support performance from Jeromes Dream, Daughters took to the stage. Appropriately enough for Halloween night, they filled the room up with atmospheric noise that felt like the soundtrack to a particularly disturbing horror film as a skull emblazoned across the stage oversaw proceedings. The songs from recent album ‘You Won’t Get What You Want’ really came into their own in a live setting, particularly ‘Satan in the Wait’. Both in terms of sound and crowd interaction, this was the most powerful gig I saw in 2019.
My personal favourite album of 2019 is has got to be “Macro” by “JINJER” a modern metal masterpiece in my eyes, leading the way for progressive metal “JINJER” really did knock it out of the ball park with “Macro”. Truly mesmerising vocal parts by “Tatiana Shmaylyuk” and easily one of the most solid rhythm sections on earth “JINJER” are on the rise to be a metal staple.
Best Gig of 2019 for me has got to be “The Dropkick Murphy’s” at the “o2 Academy Glasgow” what a unique and full on experience! My first time checking out “The Dropkick Murphy’s” outside of a festival and it was simply outstanding I have played and attended hundreds of gigs in my life but this show will be hard to forget. It was truly an experience that is impossible to replicate!
Favourite album of 2019: Wheel – Moving Backwards
Not completely sure if this is my absolute favourite album of 2019 just yet, but it’s definitely one of them. I played this record countless times in the beginning of the year and didn’t get bored of it one bit. It’s progressive rock/metal that sounds a lot like Tool (of which all of the members are big fans) with some touches of grunge and other styles. The one thing that really sets them apart from their heroes, is that there wasn’t a single moment or song that made me lose my attention. Everything felt purposely put where it was and seemed to be going somewhere. It’s very intricately written and played music, which will please any music geek. But at the same time there is a certain groove and catchiness interlaced throughout that makes it extremely accessible. Extremely talented musicians with a very bright future, who can deliver their music live as good as it sounds on record. Keep an eye on these guys from Finland!
Favourite gig of 2019: Fatboy at On The Rocks in Helsinki, Finland
This was another hard one for me to decide. This year I went yet again to countless gigs and festivals and went back and forth constantly which one was my favourite one of the year. Was it the first show of Slipknot in Europe since they got back from their break? Or rather the mesmerising pagan ritual of Heilung at Tuska festival? Or the hard-hitting synth gig of Priest at Hellsinki Industrial Festival? All big contenders, but eventually I ended up with something maybe a bit less expected from someone like me. I finally managed to catch the Swedish rockabilly/rock ‘n’ roll/country outfit Fatboy on stage and they blew me away. It was like stepping in a time machine, or at least a plane, to get to Nashville or Memphis and get the complete old school rock ’n’ roll experience served up on a nice platter. They came out all dressed in the same outfit, looking as sharp as anyone who got their suits from the famous tailor Manuel (who made outfits for Johnny Cash, just to name one). Roy Orbison, Johnny Cash, a sprinkle of Elvis,… you could find elements of all of those and more into their catchy music, for a moment taking you away from whatever was bugging your mind.