man oh man, as the cricket’s old bones get slow, the years seem to be pickin’ up the hell out of the pace, and 2015 whipped by so fast it blew our antennae back. but we found plenty to perk ’em up again, and when we weren’t throwin’ horns to this year’s big, badass crop of metal torchbearers we were locatin’ a different kind of heavy in some crushing– and heart-crushing– drone and folk, not to mention a spooky-ass film score or two. what can we say– between drought and terror and donald trump, it’s been a heavy, spooky fuckin’ year.
below is a list of the albums that dug deepest into our psyche and spun most often from our speakers…
john carpenter ‘lost themes’
the master himself weighs in on the current synth-horror craze. with so many folks doing what they do based on what you did, why the hell not?
bad tattoo ‘another bad tattoo’
in honor of the best little rock ‘n’ roll-comedy-horror flick to never get made, bad tattoo returns to the list after their debut on last year’s favorites, bringing you their ac/dc meets the priest brand of down and dirty blooze.
tim foljahn ‘fucking love songs’
two years after his languid, haunted slice of americana, songs for an age of extinction, los grillos’s favorite twisted folk troubadour, tim foljahn, takes time out from his gig as a member of the orange is the new black bar band, sideboob, to deliver another stellar addition to his ever-impressive body of work.
shawn david mcmillen ‘on the clock with jj and mitch’
anyone who’s ever enjoyed a six organs of admittance record, or maybe one of steve gunn’s recent efforts, or anyone who’s prone to running out to pick up the latest reissue of some lost psych-folk/loner-folk/country-folk/whatever-the-fuck folk album, should run out and grab this one straight away.
venomous maximus ‘firewalker’
houston’s harbingers of headbanging, venomous maximus, rock some no bullshit, in the red metal that maximizes the shit out of the band’s venom. play it loud.
mark lanegan ‘houston (publishing demos 2002)
it’s folky and dusty and weathered and beaten and uplifting and meditative. and it is, like all things lanegan, superfly fucking badass.
equal parts leather-clad NWOBHM and dark-robed, face-painted occult metal, svbversvm rocks the fuck out as much as it hates the letter “u”, and even when the band switches the pace from double-kick overdrive to mid-tempo gallop, it never switches off the metal-tude.
will johnson ‘swan city vampires’
one of the cricket’s favorite troubadours, will johnson, a seemingly restless creative spirit who always has something new on the horizon, doesn’t let the dust settle on his long-time band centro-matic’s final goodbye before picking up where their last album left off with his latest solo album, ‘swan city vampires’. neither as spare as much of johnson’s previous solo work nor as bar-band rocking as centro-matic– yet noisy in its own way with touches of dark, swirling sonics– this one strikes a balance between the two. it’s a damned fine album and a helluva way to announce will johnson’s solo career as his primary band now that centro-matic has bid the rock ‘n’ roll world a fond farewell.
black wing ‘…is doomed’
from the guy behind the doomy, bleak, post-punk-itude of have a nice life comes something a little more electronic but no less beautifully bleak.
odd hope ‘brave and olde’
can’t stop spinning the gbv-isms of this unshakably catchy debut single from a dude named tim tinderholt who goes by the moniker odd hope. here’s to hoping his old tascam has enough left in it to lay down a long player.
a shredding, grinding rager of a record that does well by the legacy of grillos favorite unsane– which makes a helluva lot of sense given that unsane bassist dave curran straps on the guitar for pigs records.
sofy major ‘waste’
everything is big here, from the pummel of the drums to the rumble of the bass to the distorted vocal yowl (or david yow(l), if you’re into shitty puns– and the grillos loves a good shitty pun). but for all of the racket, the songs are all, like with the best of the noise-rockin’ bands (hammerhead, barkmarket, jesus lizard, aforementioned unsane, you get the picture), fuckin’ catchy as hell.
funeral horse ‘divinity for the wicked’
from the funeral horse bandcamp site: “we like getting stoned and playing our music very fucking loud.” this houston band has a riff-heavy metal attack but enough psychedelic flourishes to do texas weird-ass rock pioneers like the butthole surfers proud.
witchskull ‘the vast electric dark’
holy fuck, this band of australian rockers knows its way around some seriously hard-charging heavy fucking metal. i can’t stop cranking this one up until the windows rattle and the speakers threaten to blow. if you dig on kyuss or high on fire or the like, this’ll be your new favorite jam.
andrew weathers & the real life rock & roll band
i stumbled in a bit late to the andrew weathers party with the recent single ‘omaha b/w the reason young people use drugs’ and, man, am i glad i finally made it. this is experimental, ethereal stuff that spans genres but often lives in the cricket’s much-loved world of droning, country-folk soundscapes.
magic circle ‘journey blind’
like fellow grillos year end listers ram, venomous maximus, and witchskull, magic circle are part of the cream of this year’s doom and classic metal cranking crop, and their latest slab of riffs is a hook filled, headbanging bit of kick ass metal.
high aura’d & mike shiflet ‘awake’
simultaneously blissful and terrifying, this is some dense, distortion-filled drone for dark days, moonless nights, and the shadows lurking in the corners of your headspace.
crypt sermon ‘out of the garden’
crypt sermon’s debut delivers straight up epic doom metal of the highest order. light ’em up and go.
enjoy the tunes and support the bands buy grabbing copies of the things you dig.
have a rockin’ good new year. see you on the other side.