The Rush of the New

Revelations, this one.

GearsLike some of you, I bounce from task to task and project to project, in love with beginnings, not endings. Some part of my brain knows it’s important to finish strong. Or frankly, to finish at all. My heart and the rest of my brain loves the beginnings. The new. The learning. The rush.

This weekend it hit me. I’m addicted to the rush of the new. And it occurred to me that it’s the same for a new project, or class, as it is for a new love or relationship. It’s that “all synapses firing” feeling of everything being exciting and new, that RUSH. It’s the same creating music as it is falling in love. It’s the same starting any new project or class, or new book, or movie, or picking up a new piece of gear. It’s that focused feeling of a brain on fire, and it’s fantastic.

But what happens if you have a project that goes past its sell-by date? The bloom has worn off, the rush has faded, there are a hundred new things to take its place and there it sits, half done and unable to inspire the energy to finish it. This is where the struggle begins. I’ve seen it, I’ve lived it — that ‘get an impossible amount of creative work done in a short time and then nothing done in a long time’ situation.

This is when it’s time to settle in and do the work for work’s sake. No project finishes itself, no relationship sails smoothly indefinitely. There will always be the need for conscious, deliberate, targeted work to be done. Do the work. Finish the task. Repair the relationship. If needed, go back to the beginning and remind yourself how it felt at the start, recover some of that energy. Then, grind it out.

Knowing this is extremely helpful. Going forward, I will look to finish projects while still in the heat of the rush. They will be imperfect, but they will be finished, and full of passion and life. As for the rest, well, that’s where maturity matters. It’s about the long game. Start strong, finish strong. What happens in between is not as important as long as you persevere, and stop letting yourself get distracted by the rush. Keep grinding.

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Mojo’s Favorite Indie Albums of 2016

Let the indie bands hang with the big dogs where they deserve to be? Or let them shine on their own? Tough call. Next year I think I’ll bring it back to one list, but for now, I wanted to highlight some great indie releases under a spotlight of their own. These were my favorite discoveries this year.

Kyng Breathe in the Water

This album grows on me more each time I listen. It’s like Spiritual Beggars with a sprinkle of Alter Bridge. Melodic, soft and heavy in turns, and just flat out good. I saw them live in San Francisco with Clutch and Zakk Sabbath, but they were too loud for their own good and the music didn’t get a chance to breathe the way it should. However, this album is definitely worth picking up, it’s the only one that I’ve bumped the new Metallica for lately. I would have put this on my top five of the year if I had only one list.

Breathe in the Water

Year of the Cobra ..In the Shadows Below

The debut full length release of this Seattle duo is a revelation of slow burn sludge, tasty and timeless. White Wizard is an instant classic. Amy rocks the bass and vocals, __ kills it on drums. There’s still a little of the LA rock fuzz punk from her previous band HDR in tracks like Temple of Apollo. The rest is pure slow stoner bliss.

The Watchers Sabbath Highway

Debut EP from new San Francisco stoner supergroup of sorts – the Watchers is made up of members of Spiralarms, Orchid, and . They’ve been touring heavily on the west coast since they put this EP together, catch them if you can!

Sabbath Highway

WhiteNails First Trip

Damn this is some solid heavy rock. Right in there with some of the best stoner type rock I’ve heard lately, this Quebec City band’s debut gets you going right away with Damn Judas and just ramps it up from there. Dead in Time is just flat out killer. Keep an eye on these guys.

Electric Citizen Higher Time

Balls out female fronted rock and roll with a 60s/70s throwback feel and a punk attitude. This Cincinnati band kicks serious indie ass.

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Mojo’s Favorite Major Albums of 2016

Best albums of 2016? Please. Who’s qualified to pick the best albums? What criteria would you even use? Best is subjective. Instead, these are the albums that I either couldn’t get enough of, or they just impressed me enough that I had to put them first.

I will say that there was a mind-boggling amount of good music released in 2017, way more than I could realistically make a single list from. So this year I split my lists into major label favorites and indie favorites.

Part one, my top five major releases of 2016, in no particular order.

Anthrax For All Kings

For All Kings is the band’s 11th studio album, and their second since bringing singer Joey Belladonna back into the fold after being fronted by John Bush of Armored Saint. While the previous album Worship Music was well-received, it was partly written with then-vocalist Dan Nelson in a period of membership turmoil. For All Kings is a true return to form for the legendary Big Four members, sounding like they picked up right where they left off after their outsanding 1990 opus Persistence of Time.

This is an excellent, solid album, the way albums are meant to sound, ebbing and flowing and chock full of strong cuts like Blood Eagle Wings and Breathing Lightning. It cracked the Billboard top 10 albums, which means you’ve probably bought it already or at least heard it. And if not, what are you waiting for? It’s fucking Anthrax!

Anthrax – “For All Kings (official)”

Metallica Hardwired… To Self-Destruct

I think this one’s on everyone’s list, and I’m not kidding when I say it has barely left the CD player of my car since I bought it. The long-awaited release by a rejuvenated Metallica, this album is their most solid, heavy, and musically sound since the Black Album.

The basic version of Hardwired includes 12 new songs including the dark, relentless, thrashy title track, and other early favorites like Moth Into Flame and Spit out the Bone. The alternately soft and heavy Halo on Fire is a testament to a mature, confident band. I have a feeling that one will grow on a lot of people and get some serious airplay in areas that still have the stones to play hard rock on the radio. The deluxe 3 CD set includes 4 additional new songs plus 10 live classics, most of which were recorded at their killer small show at Rasputin Music in Berkeley in April 2016.

Atlas, Rise!

 

Avenged Sevenfold The Stage

A7X’s 7th studio album, dropped with no advance notice in October, is incredibly coherent, mature, and brilliant, really a next level for the veteran band from southern California.  Producer “Evil” Joe Barresi brought a new humanized, fun feeling back to this band. The ambitious AI-themed album even has a cameo from astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson. A concept album that doesn’t play like one, it’s simply a super solid outing that hangs together like an album in a way that you might not expect given the subject matter and the new musical direction of the band. I mean, a horn section in heavy metal, and it works (Sunny Disposition). Next level. Check it, it’s a future classic.

The Stage

 

Gojira Magma

The latest release from the Bayonne, France, cult favorites Gojira is a relentless assault of mature metal, somewhere in the vein of Mastodon and with its own sludgy-thrashy-melodic sensibility that is like and unlike all kinds of things I can think of. From the opening riff, this album transports you to a place of brutal, yet somehow warm and comforting energy that’s hard to describe. Just wrap yourself in the riffs and trust the experience.

Stranded

 

The Pretty Reckless Who are You Selling For

‘Oh my God’ indeed. I knew I’d liked all the songs I’ve heard of theirs, but I never really listened listened to one of their albums. And this was like a jaw dropping revelation that made me feel a little embarrassed for not having seriously checked them out sooner. It is good. Like, really damn good. Like, you wish you wrote these songs and your band sounded this good, good. Just go check it out. It’s not metal, it’s dirty yet slick rock & roll, and will appeal to just about anyone who likes everything from Screaming Trees to the Rolling Stones to Led Zeppelin to Bonnie Raitt. Momsen is a talent.

Wild City


Other notable 2016 releases:

Disturbed – Immortalize
Another solid outing by Distubed, a long time favorite. Standout tracks: The Vengeful One, The Light, and of course the brilliant cover of the Sound of Silence. Disturbed always kill it with covers, and this is maybe their best yet.
Standout track: The Vengeful One

Megadeth – Dystopia
Dave Mustaine takes us back to a ‘golden era’ Megadeth sound, this time with Lamb of God drummer Chris Adler and Brazillian virtuoso guitarist Kiko Loureiro moving into the lineup for this killer album.
Standout track: Death from Within

Russian Circles – Guidance
With Guidance, this Chicago-based instrumental prog-ish metal-ish trio have dropped the epic soundtrack to the apocalyptic dumpster fire that was 2016. Very accessible, highly listenable, in parts like a brutally relentless river of magma and in others like a pleasant trout-filled river. With bears. I wish this was played in supermarkets instead of that canned pop music crap.

Testament – Brotherhood of the Snake
Brilliant album from Bay Area thrash veterans Testament.
Standout track: Brotherhood Of The Snake

Tremonti – Dust
The third solo release from the Creed/Alter Bridge guitar titan, Dust is a heavy album of killer guitar rock that fits right in with the Alter Bridge catalog.
Standout track: Once Dead

RHCP – The Getaway
Mature and sonically pure, with a relaxed 1970s funk soul vibe, this is a treat for your earholes and frankly your soul.
Standout Track: Dark Necessities

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