Monthly Archives: December 2013

2013 Golden Penny Awards

While I may not have several hours of network TV time to work with, I’ve reached the conclusion that there’s room for at least one more annual awards show.  With that belief, it’s time for the inaugural “Golden Penny Awards” where I recognize excellence and significant musical accomplishments over the past 12 months.   While the hardware is only virtual, the honors should at least manage slightly more credibility than the Grammy’s and way more than the Rock & Roll Hall of Shame.

Of course no awards show would be complete without a special musical guest, so to kick things off we’ll begin with my unofficial “Band I Really Gotta See” award winner:   it’s those Always-On-Tour guys … please welcome Wayland

 Golden Penny Award    2013 Song Of The Year

“Trenches” — Pop Evil

Hard to imagine a song that I felt more perfectly defined a genre/niche than what this Michigan band managed to do with their first single from “Onyx”.  If you want to know what “Active Rock” sounds like, here’s your answer.

Golden Penny Award    2013 Artist Of The Year

Stone Sour

Three top 5 singles, a strong second half of what was basically a two-album set that was partially revealed in late 2012, appearances around the world, multiple Golden Gods nominations and wins, a comic book (err … graphic novel) series.  It was a pretty epic run for Stone Sour, one that we can only the focus back toward Slipknot manages to even halfway touch.  At this point, Stone Sour is not only the better band, but the FAR better band as far as I’m concerned.

Golden Penny Award    2013 Event Of The Year

“Lift Me Up” — Five Finger Death Punch f. Rob Halford

Hard to go wrong when you combine one of the very best bands of today with a figure so iconic that he’s often known simply as “The Metal God”.   Still, for as good as the concept sounds on paper, it had to deliver the goods.  And from the moment the song premiered in May “Lift Me Up” did just that.   A surprisingly positive track given the often angry/pained lyrics associated with the band, 5FDP and Halford combined to give us all one for the ages.

Golden Penny Award    2013 Producer Of The Year

David Draiman

When Disturbed went on “hiatus” (or whatever it is), no one was sure exactly where the members would turn up nor what their work might sound like.   In the case of frontman DD, the answer was not only performing & producing the rock solid debut album from Device but also a turn behind the knobs for simply the best album Trivium has managed in their decade-plus career.    That gives the recent first-time father two albums in the top ten of my year-end list, actually one of two producers to manage that feat this year.  Worth noting that this was actually the closest category this year, with a narrow win for Draiman over Johnny K (aka John Karkazis), who worked on the albums of Pop Evil and Megadeth this year, both of which also landed in my personal top ten.  The link between the pair becomes even stronger when I note that Johnny K produced the first three Disturbed albums and that Draiman appeared as a guest vocalist on a track on the Megadeth album.

Golden Penny Award    2013 International Artist Of The Year

Volbeat – (Denmark)

Another award that was closer than most but perhaps for a less than obvious reason.  There isn’t much doubt that Volbeat had a tremendous year regardless of location, a strong album that produced multiple hit singles is hard to beat.  The decision I lingered over was whether they have reached the point of transcending their Danish origins and become so familiar to U.S. audiences that they don’t really feel like a band that’s from outside the U.S. anymore.  At the 11th hour I decided that there’s still enough of an international flavor to them that they’re a fitting recipient of the honor this year.   Decidedly honorable mentions should be duly noted for Airbourne (Australia) and Bleeker Ridge (Canada), standouts that are still clearly bigger elsewhere than they are in the U.S. at this point.

Golden Penny Award    2013 “Ready To Rock” Award

The Pretty Reckless

This award requires a bit of explanation.  It goes to the artist/band that I believe is poised to break through to the next level in the coming year.  Every year might not have such a clear standout honoree but the latter months of 2013 definitely showed momentum for one band in particular.  While The Pretty Reckless isn’t new — “Make Me Wanna Die” was a hit in 2010 — the band never really seemed to get as much respect or notice for their music as they did for having actress/model/musician (notice which label is last amongst those?) Taylor Momsen as their front person.  I believe the forthcoming (early 2014) album Going To Hell will change that.  The three tracks that have been revealed thus far show a considerably harder edge than what we’ve heard in the past, it’s music that stands up to the considerable attitude that Momsen has always possessed.    A warm response to the first official single “Heaven Knows” will let them ring in the new year with momentum, the second single could be the one that pushes them clearly into a whole new strata.

Golden Penny Award    2013 Album Of The Year

Alter Bridge – Fortress

The only award that was announced prior to showtime is for an album that truly left me both speechless AND raving like a madman after my first listen.  I’ve become much more song & singles oriented over the decades, this was simply a magical experience from start to finish.  It’s the rarest of finds these days: an album without a clear weak point, a complete work that simply doesn’t let you down and leaves you wanting even more.  Having the best rock vocalist in the world today certainly helps matters but it’s the complete picture here that makes this album stand out beyond just Myles Kennedy’s always stellar efforts.   Mssrs. Tremonti, Phillips and Marshall combined with Kennedy managed to create something that seems likely to stand strong for many years to come.

With that we conclude the inaugural Golden Penny Awards.  I want to thank not only the winners but all the nominees and all the contenders.  It’s you that made 2013 such a rockin’ year and you’re the reason I’m already looking forward to next year’s show.

Thank you all … and good night … We love you Cleveland !

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Music

2013 Albums of the Year

Another musical year has come and gone and, much as I found myself saying this time a year ago, I wasn’t quite sure that the year in hard rock and metal was quite as good as the one before … but it wasn’t bad by any stretch either.  While compiling the list I actually found myself surprised by the depth, it was better than I perceived over the course of the year.

Once again the process of putting together the list was so reminiscent of the past years that the explanation/disclaimer I used originally back on the 2011 list still works today.

“The criteria is pretty simple really, album released between Jan 1 and Dec 31 2013 and be a project that I got considerable enjoyment out of during the year.  It’s a lot like my college football Top 25, there’s no one absolute factor that puts one entry ahead of another.  I’m not putting artistic merit ahead of fun or chart/sales success in front of my own enjoyment.  And, as always, I apologize in advance for any errors of omission.”

Also like last year,  the list is 25 albums instead of the 20 I did back in 2011.  Trying to get down to 25 is tough enough, 20 would have been downright maddening.

The number one album was easy this year.  Not only was it clearly the best I heard in 2013, it’s truly one of the most complete projects I’ve heard in my lifetime.  Roughly the top half of the list was obvious to me before I starting committing things to paper although the order shuffled and reshuffled numerous times.  After that things really got tight, I could have easily made this a Top 50 Albums list and still been comfortable with all the contents.

That all said, without further ado, here’s Jon’s Three Cents Top 25 Albums of 2013

25) Age of DaysRadioactivity

24) Heaven’s BasementFilthy Empire

23) BobaflexCharlatan’s Web

22) SevendustBlack Out The Sun

21) AirbourneBlack Dog Barking

20) Bleeker RidgeFour

19) QueensrycheQueensryche

18) BuckcherryConfessions

17) Eve To AdamLocked & Loaded

16) Monster TruckFuriosity

15) Brand New MachineThe Devil Made Me Do It

14) Fight Or FlightA Life By Design

13) StryperNo More Hell To Pay

12) Black Star RidersAll Hell Breaks Loose

11) Avenged SevenfoldHail To The King

10) EmphaticAnother Life

9) TriviumVengeance Falls

8) MegadethSupercollider

7) VolbeatOutlaw Gentlemen & Shady Ladies

6) Stone SourHouse of Gold & Bones, Part 2

5) Pop EvilOnyx

4) DeviceDevice

3) Bullet For My ValentineTemper, Temper

2) Five Finger Death PunchThe Wrong Side of Heaven, The Righteous Side of Hell, Vol. 1 & 2

1) Alter BridgeFortress

1 Comment

Filed under General

Ready To Rock (weekly playlists)

The penultimate playlist of 2013 see five songs added and five songs exiting, with now three songs that should be included currently missing from Spotify.

Missing songs this week:
False Alarm – Smile Empty Soul, One Pill – Flash Lightnin, Break Down The Walls – Asking Alexandria

New to the Spotify list this week
Retribution Blues – One Bad SonMystify – Saving Abel, Sleepwalking – Bring Me The Horizon,
Leave It All Behind – Kill Devil Hill, Spore – Queensryche (re-entry)

Dropping off the Spotify list this week
Lola Montez – Volbeat,   Strike Back – We As Human, We Don’t Belong – Black Veil Brides,
Wait For You – 7seventh Time Down, Ain’t No Sunshine – Black Label Society

For the larger (nearly 200 songs) YouTube version there’s  almost a dozen new songs added this week, including the aforementioned One Bad Son song (which was originally released on their EP before being included on the 2012 album),  a new track from the wonderful Within Temptation (featuring Howard Jones, formerly of Killswitch Engage), another cut from Bobaflex, the latest from Prospect Hill, one from Florida Christian rockers The Almost, and several more.  You can find it at this link

Also, if you’re wondering exactly how all of this gets put together – the hows & whys of it – this recent blog entry probably explains more than you ever wanted to know.

Leave a comment

Filed under Music

Ready To Rock (weekly playlists)

The years winds down with extraordinary strength at the top of the playlist this week, a veritable who’s who of today’s hard rock.  Last minutes moves add (and subtract) four songs to my  Top 40 this week.   Still stuck at two songs that should be included currently missing from Spotify.

Missing songs this week:
False Alarm – Smile Empty Soul, One Pill – Flash Lightnin

New to the Spotify list this week
Crying Shame – Motorhead,  Right Back At It Again – A Day To Remember, Pain Killer – The Letter Black (re-entry), Every Last Thing – Stars In Stereo,

Dropping off the Spotify list this week
Picture Perfect – Sevendust, Shine On – Soil, Heartbreaker – Motorhead, Spore – Queensryche

For the larger (nearly 200 songs) YouTube version there’s  at least 10 new songs added this week, including the aforementioned Stars In Stereo song, the latest from Ra, the next single from Bring Me The Horizon, tracks from In Flames, Hatebreed, Chrome Division and several more.  You can find it at this link

Also, if you’re wondering exactly how all of this gets put together – the hows & whys of it – this recent blog entry probably explains more than you ever wanted to know.

Leave a comment

Filed under Music

Ready To Rock (weekly playlists)

The holiday slowdown seems to be taking hold with only one truly new entry among the 3 songs making my Top 40 this week.   And still only two songs that should be included currently missing from Spotify.

Missing songs this week:
False Alarm – Smile Empty Soul, One Pill – Flash Lightnin

New to the Spotify list this week
Spike In My Veins – Korn, We Don’t Belong – Black Veil Brides (re-entry), Spore – Queensryche (re-entry)

Dropping off the Spotify list this week
Die For You – Otherwise, Pain Killer – The Letter Black, You Want To – Rival Sons

For the larger (nearly 200 songs) YouTube version there’s  at least 10 new songs added this week, including the aforementioned Korn track, new music from Adrenaline Mob, a new song from Bullet For My Valentine,  something from the revamped lineup of Full Devil Jacket and several more.  You can find it at this link

Also, if you’re wondering exactly how all of this gets put together – the hows & whys of it – this recent blog entry probably explains more than you ever wanted to know.

Leave a comment

Filed under Music

J3C College Football Top 25 (after Week 15)

What a long strange trip it’s been.

15 weeks, somehow it feels shorter than that.

Florida State spent two quarters making us wonder for just a bit and followed up with two quarters that removed all doubt.  Ohio State removed our suspicions, restored them, and then removed them again.  Auburn made us wonder what ever happened to the quaint notion of defense.   Oklahoma hit a field goal during an earthquake and barely noticed.  Stanford and Baylor both did their thing while Northern Illinois suddenly stopped doing their thing.  Central Florida avoided embarassment while Rice locked up their first football conference championship in over fifty years … hardly anybody cared most likely but it’s nice for them anyhow.

Since the bowl pairings have been announced already I have to admit this almost feels a little anti-climatic but it’s time for my final regular season Top 25.  We’ll get together again soon, hopefully with some bowl predictions but definitely with a season-ending poll after all that is to be said and done is said and done.

1. Florida State (1)
2. Auburn (3)
3. Alabama (4)
4. Stanford (8)
5. Baylor (9)
6. Michigan State (10)
7. South Carolina (7)
8. Ohio State (2)
9. Missouri (5)
10. Oklahoma (13)
11. Oregon (11)
12. Clemson (12)
13. Oklahoma State (6)
14. LSU (14)
15. UCF (17)
16. Louisville (18)
17. Arizona State (15)
18. UCLA (19)
19. Wisconsin (21)
20. Duke (20)
21. Texas A&M (23)
22. Fresno State (25)
23. Northern Illinois (16)
24. Vanderbilt (Un)
25. Iowa (Un)

Dropped Out This Week: Texas (22), Cincinnati (24)

Leave a comment

Filed under Sports

Ready To Rock (weekly playlists)

An absolutely insane week leaves me scrambling to get this posted before it’s time for the NEXT one to be compiled.  3 in & 3 out of the Spotify this week.  Still only two songs that should be included currently missing from Spotify.

Missing songs this week:
False Alarm – Smile Empty Soul, One Pill – Flash Lightnin

New to the Spotify list this week
Spore – Queensryche (re-entry),  Forgive Me Father – Ill Nino, Pain Killer – The Letter Black

Dropping off the Spotify list this week
Misery Loves My Company – Three Days Grace, Bad Man – Bobaflex, Born To Rise – Redlight King

For the larger (nearly 200 songs) YouTube version there’s  nearly a dozen new songs added this week, including music from The Winery Dogs, Trapt, and Amaranthe .  There’s also debuts from Atlanta band Bridge To Grace, White Trash Presidents  and several more.  You can find it at this link

Also, if you’re wondering exactly how all of this gets put together – the hows & whys of it – this recent blog entry probably explains more than you ever wanted to know.

Leave a comment

Filed under Music