BAMM.TV Best Albums Of The Year: The Flashbulb, Vandella

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We asked some of the great acts who have performed for to pick their favorite albums from the year gone by. Today it’s the turn of Benn Jordan (aka The Flashbulb) and Vandella …

THE FLASHBULB Presents: The Flashbulb – “Virtuous Cassette” (live at SXSW) from on Vimeo.

1. The Future Sound Of London – Environment Five

When I was a teenager, I was probably listening to FSOL more often than not, so maybe I’m biased here. Environment Five is the apex of what these 2 musicians are capable of. Everything is gentle and unpredictable, no beat “drops”, no melody reaches a climax, no idea is illegal, and sounds that would seem cheesy everywhere else are welcomed on this canvas. Dazed And Confused era guitars dance with wind chimes while relaxing waterfalls give way to something ominous and terrifying in the distance. Nothing short of brilliant.

2. Teig – For No One In Particular

The debut LP for this guy. Over-production and perfection gives way to creativity, ideas, and exploration, which is always a good thing. Nothing about this spacey and dynamic album lasts long enough to get boring. This is a must-listen, as well as an artist to watch.

3. Gustavo Santaolalla – Camino

For the first time since 1998, seemingly out of nowhere, Gustavo takes a break from his multiple-Oscar-winning film composing to make a very accomplished and intimate solo album. The melodies are as breathtaking and tear jerking as always, while they never feel like they leave the sonic region Argentina. The production, on the other hand, has exploded over the years. Santaolalla can make you feel not only with his writing, but with his creative production and engineering as well.

4. Cliff Martinez – Far Cry 4

As a fan of the Far Cry series, I happily picked up the latest edition and traded sleep to play it. As I was climbing the Himalaya’s watching herds of animals below, I couldn’t help but notice how incredible the score was. I actually told a friend of that it’s a elegant homage to the style of Cliff Martinez (who we know from brilliant film scores as Traffic, Solaris, Narc) blended with Tibetan music. Well, duh, I Google it and it is Cliff Martinez making Tibetan music. This might not sound flattering if you’re not a score composer, but everything that he attempted to achieve in the score, he did, which is rare. You usually have a beautiful score that doesn’t quite live up to the exciting parts, or an exciting atonal score that doesn’t give you the chills or pull emotion. Cliff does it all here, and it’s a treat to have the score released as well.

5. Pat Metheny Unity Group – Kin

Even if I wasn’t blown away by his arrangements and guitar playing, Pat Metheny would be a hero to me simply because he is one of the few jazz musicians who is constantly working and evolving. Seriously, how has this dude avoided getting the flu in the last 40 years? He’s 60 years old, tours more than a top pop act, manages to pump out new releases every year, and still has time for massive, mind-blowing projects like the Orchestrion (Google it, it’s…wow). Anyways, Kin revisits his famous unpredictable anthem style with his Unity Group. What makes this release stick with me so much is how “huge” it sounds, and title track is a great example of this. If you’re not an active listener of jazz, put on some headphones, close your eyes, and pay attention to everything that’s happening. You’ll be able to understand what Pat’s 40 years of sweat, blood, and dedication accomplished.


(Catch Vandella live on January 17th at Neck Of The Woods in San Francisco …) Presents: Vandella – “Red Ribbons” from on Vimeo.

1. J. Roddy Walston and the Business – “Essential Tremors”

2. Blake Mills – “Heigh Ho”

3. Jenny Lewis – “The Voyager”

4. Bahamas – “Bahamas Is Afie”

5. Goodnight, Texas – “Uncle John Farquhar”

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