My Most Played: 2019

I don’t use Spotify that often, so I can’t get my stats from them. But I know who I obsessed over the most this year and I just felt like sharing.

(Note: This list is not strictly limited to bands that released new music in 2019, it is simply comprised of who I had on repeat over the last twelve months.)

1. Alter Bridge

I know, I know. Duh, right? When do I not have AB on repeat? They are my favorite band, after all.

Alter Bridge released Walk the Sky in October and made me fall in love all over again. I also saw them for the sixth time this year and met lead guitarist Mark Tremonti for the fifth time. There is nothing better than a talented band who are also humble and kind.

2. Rammstein

I promise, I’m not late to the party. I have been listening to Rammstein for years. However, for some reason, they skyrocketed to the top of my list in 2019. Perhaps it was due to my absolute adoration of “Puppe,” from their untitled May release. Whatever the cause, I now have a legit Rammstein collection and have spent too much time and money on them. Ha!

3. Sköld

I didn’t discover Tim Sköld as a solo artist until 2017, but he has been a major music crush ever since. When he released Never Is Now back in April, I preordered it without question. I love every track.

2019 brought me the opportunity to see — and meet! — Tim. It was a great experience, made even better by the fact that his touring keyboardist was Nero Bellum (of Psyclon Nine fame). I have been a fan of Nero’s even longer than Tim, so meeting him was truly the cherry on top of an amazing day.

4. Echo Black

It all started with Instagram. I did a tiny little blurb about this band back in…2017?…and added them to my playlists and a wishlist of those I’d love to see in concert. Coincidentally, they were opening for Sköld on his Never Is Now tour.

I wrote an entire post about them after the show. You can read it here. The short version is this: they were great live, their music kicks ass, and the band members are absolute dolls.

5. Emigrate

Okay. I’ll admit, I didn’t know Rammstein’s lead guitarist — Richard Kruspe — had another band until last year. My enjoyment of them reached full-blown obsession in 2019. They are just so unbelievably good! Honestly, I think I like them more than Rammstein…

6. Lindemann

Another Rammstein side project, this time from Till Lindemann. I once described Lindemann’s first album as “Till being Till, just in English,” and I stand by it. A friend of mine told me that their 2019 release, F & M, is basically Rammstein lite (as the album is entirely in German).

Whatever comparisons I or others have made, I still love Lindemann.

7. Skynd

One of my newer discoveries, Skynd has an interesting approach to writing songs: they focus entirely on stories of true crime. I was hooked from the instant I heard their first single, “Gary Heidnik,” and the tracks “Jim Jones” and “Katherine Knight” have put Skynd on my Favorites list. Even my mom enjoys them.

8. Optic Oppression

I discovered Optic Oppression thanks to the Sköld tour, and now I can’t go a day without listening to them. They just released a new record, Halfway to Hell, and it is fire!

For a more detailed reaction to Optic, read the Bands You Should Know I wrote about them.

9. Third Realm

I have been a fan of Third Realm for several years, starting back when I was in college. I simply stumbled across them on YouTube one day.

Recently, The Art of Despair came out and I bought it for myself for Christmas. There’s not a single song I need to skip while listening to it, though my favorites are the title track, “Garden of Lust,” and “Medusa.”

10. Asking Alexandria

I hated AA the first time I saw them in 2011. I thought they were just…terrible. Then I heard the self-titled album and saw them touring for it, and I am now a certified fan.

They seem to be trying a new direction (again), based on this year’s single “The Violence,” and I’m 100% behind that. I want band’s to explore their creativity rather than sticking to the same mundane sound, so I applaud Asking Alexandria for trying to grow.

And that’s it. These are the ten bands/artists who got me through 2019. I am looking forward to what they will do in the future, and I hope to discover new music to get excited about in 2020.

Happy New Year!

Playlist Challenge, Day 817

Alter Bridge — “Forever Falling”

Album Review: Alter Bridge’s Walk the Sky

Band: Alter Bridge

Album: Walk the Sky

Genre: Rock

Release Date: October 18, 2019

Standout Tracks: “Godspeed,” “Indoctrination,” “Forever Falling,” and “Walking on the Sky”

◾◾◾◾

Alter Bridge is back with their sixth studio album, Walk the Sky.

Staying true to form, Alter Bridge has again created a unique collection of fourteen tracks that don’t sound quite like anything they’ve done before. There are touches from past records evident — the heaviness of The Last Hero, the deeper lyrical content of AB III, even a tip of the hat to Tremonti’s latest solo effort, A Dying Machine — and yet, Walk the Sky stands strong on its own merits.

The album opens with “One Life,” a soft and melodic intro clocking in at 1:23, then immediately hits the listener with the blistering “Wouldn’t You Rather,” an offering of sage advice. “There is no gain worth the commerce of self,” front man Myles Kennedy warns, before asking “Wouldn’t you rather live from the heart?”

“Godspeed” is a beautiful ode to a lost loved one (and the song that made me cry; there is always at least one). With the opening piano setting the mood, Myles delivers a heartfelt goodbye that touches the soul.

“Native Son” and “Take the Crown” are two of the harder tracks, followed by the raw, gritty, dark “Indoctrination” (a personal favorite). “Pay No Mind,” which was the second single, has grown on me exponentially with each listen.

Guitarist Mark Tremonti takes lead vocals on “Forever Falling,” a change that always goes over well with the Alter Bridge fanbase. The chorus serves up the absolute magic that is Mark and Myles’ intertwined voices, a combination I’ve loved from day one.

“Walking on the Sky” struck me with my very first listen of the album. I can’t even explain it. Perhaps it’s the aforementioned Myles/Mark harmonies; perhaps it’s the flawless shifting between the softness of the verses and the heavier chorus; or it could just be these words — “And if you fall, at least you tried/As you tremble on the wire/Walking on the sky.”

The record ends with “Dying Light.” Alter Bridge gifts their listeners with catharsis, assuring all who hear that “In the dying light, we can learn to live again/When we wake up to eternal life.”

I definitely encourage everyone to check out Walk the Sky. Alter Bridge has granted us an eclectic mix of the elements that make them one of the best bands in the business (the best, in my opinion). This record will surely be on repeat for months to come. 4/5 stars.

Alter Bridge Walks the Sky in Birmingham, AL.

On Thursday, October 17th, Alter Bridge brought the Victorious Sky Tour to Avondale Brewing Company in Birmingham, Alabama. The other two bands on the bill were Dirty Honey and Skillet. As an added bonus, my dad accompanied me.

Dirty Honey opened the show. The Los Angeles-based quartet pumped up an already enthusiastic crowd with their brand of rock, which is heavily influenced by such bands as Led Zeppelin and Aerosmith. With their talent and obvious love of what they were doing, Dirty Honey held the fans in thrall and set the atmosphere for a great night of music.

Skillet was next. I had never seen them before and I was suitably impressed. Once on the stage, the members of Skillet were a nonstop ball of energy. Front man John Cooper was quite charismatic, constantly moving and encouraging the audience’s participation. The band did all of their biggest hits: “Hero,” “Monster,” “Awake and Alive,” “Whispers in the Dark,” and “Legendary,” just to name a few. By the time they concluded with “The Resistance,” the crowd was practically vibrating from adrenaline and well and truly primed for Alter Bridge.

When the lights dimmed again, the fans erupted. “One Life,” the opening track from Alter Bridge’s latest album, Walk the Sky, played over the PA and fog filled the air. Renewed screams rose as each member of the band — vocalist/guitarist Myles Kennedy, guitarist Mark Tremonti, bassist Brian Marshall, and drummer Scott Phillips — walked into view. The intro music faded out, and Alter Bridge ripped into “Wouldn’t You Rather.”

Unlike the Alter Bridge concerts I’ve attended in the past, this one focused on the band’s heavier side. “Wouldn’t You Rather” was followed by “Isolation” and “Come to Life.” Two more songs from Walk the Sky were included (“Pay No Mind” and “In the Deep”), and there was no acoustic interlude. However, Alter Bridge did play “Blackbird,” always a huge crowd pleaser.

The band’s performance was amazing, as usual. Myles serenaded his fans while Brian and Mark pulled faces at the audience and tossed out several picks. The sing-along portions of “Rise Today” and “Open Your Eyes” were absolutely magical. Perhaps my favorite moment, though, was when Myles joked that he might mess up the beginning of “Cry of Achilles” because his hands were so cold. It was cute.

I have now seen Alter Bridge six times and I have never left a show disappointed. They continue to prove over and over that they are the best rock band in the business.

I will end this review with a personal anecdote. I met Mark for the fifth consecutive show, and he made my night.

Now, let me preface this story. The last time Alter Bridge came to Birmingham, I asked Mark for a pick after we had taken pictures. He told me that he doesn’t keep any on him, apologized, and promised to give me one next time. So, Thursday evening, I tweeted him prior to their set and let him know I was in the front and was hoping for a pick. The official Alter Bridge page retweeted me. However, Mark didn’t see it and he did not throw me one.

When Mark emerged from the bus, he approached me first. I let him read the tweet and joked that he had let me down. He chuckled and said he was sorry; simultaneously, he was checking his pockets. “Oh. Wait,” he said, then he held up a pick. It was the best moment ever…along with Mark letting me put a Snapchat filter on him for a selfie.

This may have claimed the top spot for my favorite interaction with a rock star. Have I mentioned how happy Alter Bridge makes me?

Be sure to check out my photo gallery!!!

Home Tonight, So Here’s An Update

My mom and I spent the majority of the day at the nursing home with my grandmother. There has been no change, except her blood pressure has dropped slightly (no cause for concern, according to Hospice) and they are now having to suction out her throat and esophagus at least two or three times a day. So, please continue praying/sending us positive thoughts, if you would.

In other news, it’s October — my favorite time of the year! (I know we’re already 13 days in, but I’ve been distracted.) I have no idea what I’m going to be for Halloween. I’m leaning toward a variation on Harley Quinn, the girl on the cover of Mindless Self Indulgence’s Frankenstein Girls Will Seem Strangely Sexy, or Tim Sköld. I haven’t had the chance to indulge in many horror movies so far; however, my best friend and I have binge-watched “Light as a Feather” on Hulu.

Other highlights of October: it’s finally below 1000 degrees here in Alabama, and my favorite college football team, the Alabama Crimson Tide, is undefeated. Oh, and Alter Bridge is playing a show within two hours of me on the 17th.

Given that this is a music blog, I guess I should mention something about music, huh? Ha! Okay. Here are a few upcoming releases:

  • Super Junior – Time Slip (10/14)
  • Shane Eagle – Dark Moon Flower (10/15)
  • Alex Vargas – EGO (10/18)
  • Alter Bridge – Walk the Sky (10/18)
  • Cody Jinks – The Wanting (10/18)
  • HXXS – Year of the Witch (10/18)
  • Jimmy Eat World – Surviving (10/18)
  • The Lacs – Rise and Shine (10/18)
  • Third Eye Blind – Screamer (10/18)
  • Cigarettes After Sex – Cry (10/25)
  • Fit For An Autopsy – The Sea of Tragic Beasts (10/25)
  • Jinjer – Macro (10/25)
  • Night Flowers – Fortune Teller (10/25)
  • Norma Jean – All Hail (10/25)
  • PVRIS – Hallucinations EP (10/25)
  • Scarlett Rose – Welcome to Wonderland (10/31)

I’m trying to schedule some posts in my free time so that my blog isn’t lacking content for consecutive days, or even a full week. I hope to resume the playlist challenge and choose a featured band on the 21st.

New Music Alert: Alter Bridge, American Grim, and I Prevail

Is it any surprise I’m posting about the new Alter Bridge single, “In the Deep”? No? Okay.

The intro reminded me so much of “Take You With Me” by Tremonti, and while the lyrics are lovely, the song did not resonate with me the way AB tracks typically do. Still, I believe it is worth a listen.

Last week, I somehow missed the fact that American Grim had released a new song entitled “Nightmare.”

I stand by my earlier comparison of the band to the Murderdolls, American Grim’s sound a little fuller than the horror punk outfit’s. “Nightmare” stays true to the sound and style American Grim has crafted. I enjoyed it quite a bit.

And finally, because I like to do lists of at least 3-5, I Prevail shared the official video for “Gasoline,” off their latest album Trauma.

The video is cinematic, dealing with very intense subject matter, appropriate for such a harsh, heavy track (both musically and lyrically).

Bonus: Lindemann — which features Rammstein front man Till Lindemann alongside Peter Tägtgren of both Hypocrisy and PAIN — announced earlier today that they will be releasing the first single, “Steh Auf,” from their sophomore record on Friday the 13th!