This week marks one year since I started writing for TopGolf. Writing about music daily requires you to listen to a lot of music. Being the music lover that I am, it is also a great opportunity to discover new music that I may not have found if not for this website.
I thought I would mark this anniversary with a List of some of my favorite discoveries and memories during this time.
Comebacks From Great Artists
Dating back to last year, some old favorites returned with some of their best work in quite some time. Green Day returned with a killer album, Revolution Radio, that showed that after over 25 years their brand of pop punk is still the best around.
Kings of Leon released WALLS, their strongest album since their breakthrough. Metallica returned with a vengeance as their latest truly got us headbanging again. Last but not least, Lady Gaga’s Joanne showed a 180 from all of her previous work and showed a more mature sound that divided fans but I loved where she went with this one.
1989 by Ryan Adams
In the early days of the Vinyl of the Week articles, I would go to stores and pick up a new vinyl before I started to go through my collection for picks.
Out of the all the vinyl I picked up for that purpose, the true standout was Ryan Adams re-imagining of Taylor Swift's entire 1989 album. His version of the album gave each track a completely different feel and took what was already an amazing pop album by Swift and elevated it to another level.
Deap Vally, Dorothy, and The Pretty Reckless
I’m a big fan of female fronted rock bands. I’m also a fan of two person bands. One such band that has both and stuck out to me this year was Deap Vally. Smile More (above) is a perfect example of their Courtney Love style blues rock. Great stuff.
Two other female fronted bands that are killing it right now with their brand of just pure rock and roll awesomeness are Dorothy and The Pretty Reckless. Check these three bands out and you won’t be disappointed.
I’ve always been a big fan of trip hop, but for some reason Phantogram flew under my radar for a few years. Last summer when I started writing the Playlist, they came across my YouTube suggestions and I was off, lost in some great beats and hypnotic vocals. They are still on my list of artists to see live sometime soon.
I was down on hip hop for a while as I felt it had gotten stale. Luckily over the last year, I’ve had the chance to listen to a lot more hip hop and found some great young artists that are going to change things up in the years ahead.
My favorite of those discoveries has been Vince Staples. He has a throwback feel to him while keeping his beats completely out there and modern. His star is only going to grow.
Only two albums into their career, The 1975 are already headlining arenas and festivals all over the world. That is a testament to how great this band is so early into their careers.
Their electropop style of rock is above and beyond most of their contemporaries and they will be one of the bands leading this next generation of rock.
I would have never thought that a former member of One Direction would make me a believer and a fan all at the same time. Harry Styles' debut solo album is full of great throwback rock in the vein of The Stones.
In addition, it has some great heartfelt tracks that show his maturation as an artist. I predict Styles will become a major solo star much like one time boy bander, Justin Timberlake.
This year I came across two bands that blew my mind more than any other new artists in a long time. I discovered The Struts early in my Playlist days and marveled at lead singers Luke Spiller’s uncanny vocal resemblance to Freddie Mercury.
The band's style of big style rock and roll like Queen with that splash of old school T-rex glam almost feels like a reset in rock as we go back 40 years.
I’m fine with that as every song is a spectacle of rock goodness. And don’t sleep on their amazing cover of Lorde’s Royals which may be one of my favorite covers in recent years.
Greta Van Fleet
The second band I’ve recently discovered are in the same exact boat as The Struts. The three Kiszka brothers with their high school friend Danny on drums, Great Van Fleet got their name from an old woman that lives in their Michigan town.
With an average age of I think 20, these young guys are not young in any way when it comes to their music. Brother Josh has a voice that upon first listen you would swear is Robert Plant.
With pipes like that and killer Brit rock and roll songs on their debut EP, Greta Van Fleet are going to use their throwback style to become rock gods within the next decade.
Over the last year, Imagine Dragons became one of my favorite bands of today. I was late to the game in a way as I had heard some songs by the band not knowing it was them. Once I dug deeper, it was like opening the rabbit hole into one amazing band.
For me it was their single Demons that made me a huge fan. Their latest release Evolve is properly named, as it is the next step in the evolution of the band whose style is already so hybrid based.
They will be one of the leaders into the next decade of rock and with tickets in hand I am anxiously awaiting my first Imagine Dragons show this fall.
Lorde Reinvents the Pop Game
A few weeks ago, Lorde released her highly anticipated sophomore album, Melodrama, and put every other pop artist on notice. Green Light (above) is the song of the summer in my mind and Melodrama has just begun its reign as pop album of the year, as it will take some incredible work to knock it off its perch as the best pop album of the year.
Concerts, Concerts, Concerts
The last 365 days have been a real treat as I’ve been to some amazing and life changing shows. It started last August, as I saw Pearl Jam for two nights at Boston’s Fenway Park. I'll never forget that night as I got to spend it with lifelong friends seeing the band that changed my life forever and ended this year seeing them take their rightful place in the Rock Hall with those same friends.
One dream show I never thought I’d see was the Temple of the Dog 25th Anniversary show. Being able to finally see this supergroup of grunge icons was just incredible. Sadly, it would be the last time I would see the great Chris Cornell perform live as he passed away tragically this May.
Most recently, I experienced U2’s entire Joshua Tree album live for its 30th anniversary, in a first time event that re-invigorated my love for U2 and their earlier work. With another dozen or so other shows in between, I make sure to never ignore my love for live music as it is the key to the soul and a way to truly connect with the artists you love and the fans around you.
As I look back on a year of great music memories, I urge you all to make sure to have music in your life, no matter what it is or even how you listen to it. It is music that can help us in the worst times and also remind us of all those great times. I don’t believe there is anything else that truly has that long lasting power like music holds over us.
It is a love of mine and I hope over the last year I have been able to share that love with you. Until next time.