2015’s Top New Albums Come From Across The Musical Universe

The countdown is near, folks. And with the end of the year nearly here, the end of Phil’s Picks’ year-enders is officially here. We have finally come down to the last of this year’s “Best Of” lists. To close out this year’s group of year-enders we come full circle and finish where we started; back in the music world. To close out 2015, Phil’s Picks offers up its list of the year’s top new albums overall. This list was anything but easy to compile. That is because the top 10 albums and five honorable mention titles really represent so many galaxies within the musical universe. There’s some blues in this list courtesy of The Rev.Shawn Amos in this list. Salvador Santana, Carlos Santana’s son is also on this list, along with Pimps of Joytime and Fort Knox Five representing the rap and hip-hop galaxies. George Strait, The King of Country himself, is also here as are Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard. Even jazz great Terence Blanchard gets a nod as do Joe Satriani and electro-rock duo NYVES. There are others included here. And they are noted in the list below. Being that each album comes from a different part of the musical universe, figuring each album’s place in this list was what really made assembling this list so tough. The ability of listeners to take in the album without skipping tracks was taken into account as was each album’s production values and combined lyrical and musical content. That goes back to the albums’ ability to keep listeners fully engaged from start to finish. So no offense was meant to any act in its placement on this list. EVERY one of the albums included in this list was far more than deserving of being included in this list. That taken into consideration the following is the final list of this year’s top overall albums from Phil’s Picks. And as always, the top 10 albums make up the main body of the list while the bottom five each receive honorable mention. Without any further ado here for your reading pleasure dear readers, is the Phil’s Picks 2015 Top 10 New Albums. Happy New Year!

PHIL’S PICKS 2015 TOP 10 NEW ALBUMS

1. BOARDWALK EMPIRE: BOARDWALK EMPIRE VOLUME 3

2. JUDITH HALL: BACK IN TIME

3. SALVADOR SANTANA: FANTASY REALITY

4. GEORGE STRAIT: COLD BEER CONVERSATION

5. WILLIE NELSON & MERLE HAGGARD: DJANGO & JIMMIE

6. SCALE THE SUMMIT: V

7. JOE SATRIANI: SHOCKWAVE SUPERNOVA

8. BLACKBERRY SMOKE: HOLDING ALL THE ROSES

9. FORT KNOX FIVE: PRESSURIZE THE CABIN

10. PIMPS OF JOYTIME: JUKESTONE PARADISE

11. NYVES: ANXIETY

12. DELTA RAE: AFTER IT ALL

13. THE REV. SHAWN AMOS: THE REV. SHAWN AMOS LOVES YOU

14. SUGARCANE JANE: DIRT ROAD’S END

15. TERENCE BLANCHARD: BREATHLESS

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Diverse Field Of Acts Makes Up 2015’s Best New Independent Albums List

Yesterday, Phil’s Picks kicked off the countdown to the year’s end with the first of its year-ender “Best Of” lists. The first of those lists was the list of the year’s best new EPs. Today, we move away from EPs to full-length records. In today’s list, Phil’s Picks presents its list of the year’s Best New Independent Albums. Just for clarification, Independent does not necessarily refer to albums released by unsigned acts. It also includes albums released by acts signed to independent labels as compared to the major labels (Capitol, Warner Brothers, etc.) This was anything but an easy list to compile. That is because there were so many deserving acts this year including the likes of the independent rock act Rubikon, Americana act Sugarcane Jane, and even legendary musician Carlos Santana’s son Salvador Santana just to name a few. Topping the list this year is Washington, D.C.-based electronic/hip-hop act Fort Knox Five with its new album Pressurize The Cabin. As with yesterday’s list, this list also features the top ten new titles as analyzed by Phil’s Picks. That list is followed by five other albums that receive honorable mention. Having said that why don’t we jump right in? In the second day of the Phil’s Picks year-ender countdown we have the year’s best new independent albums.

PHIL’S PICKS 2015 TOP 10 NEW INDEPENDENT ALBUMS

  1. Fort Knox Five – Pressurize The Cabin
  2. Pimps of Joytime – Jukestone Paradise
  3. Salvador Santana – Fantasy Reality
  4. Brooklyn Funk Essentials – Funk Ain’t Ova
  5. Sugarcane Jane – Dirt Road’s End
  6. NYVES – Anxiety
  7. Holy White Hounds – Sparkle Sparkle
  8. Rubikon — Delta
  9. Buzz Cason – Record Machine
  10. Sea of Storms – Dead Weight
  11. Dubbest – Light Flashes
  12. Radiodrone – The Truth Syndicate Diaries
  13. Better Off – Milk
  14. Killset – Know Your Killer
  15. Twinsmith – Alligator Years

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Salvador Santana’s Latest LP Is A Dream Come True For Real Rap, Hip-Hop Fans

Courtesy:  Press Junkie PR/Salvador Santana

Courtesy: Press Junkie PR/Salvador Santana

Late this summer Salvador Santana released his latest full-length studio recording Fantasy Reality.  For those that might be wondering, yes, he is related to the one and only Carlos Santana.  As a matter of fact, he is the famed guitarist’s son.  Let’s just get that out of the way right now.  The twelve track, forty-nine minute record is a breath of fresh air.  It is a rap album.  But it is the complete antithesis of every rap and hip-hop album out there today.  That is because both musically and lyrically, it is a completely uplifting record that will have listeners of all ages completely engaged from beginning to end.  Yes, you read right.  It is a record that listeners of all ages will enjoy.  There is not one foul word to be heard anywhere on this record.  And the songs’ lyrical themes in general are just as positive.  Coupled with the songs’ equally uplifting musical content, the album in whole proves to be a collection of songs that is among the best of this year’s independent albums and rap/hip-hop albums, and potentially even the year’s best overall.  The album’s opener ‘Be The Change’ is just one example of what makes Fantasy Reality such a welcome record in any listener’s home.  The positive vibes and lyrical content of ‘Keep Pressin’ On’ makes it one more wonderful addition to this record.  The album’s title track, which comes later in the album’s run is one more prime example of just how much this record has to offer audiences of all ages.  It shares those same positive vibes and lyrics that make the rest of the album so enjoyable.  Each of the noted songs show in their own record why this album is well worth the listen.  Together with the rest of the album’s remaining nine songs, the collection in whole makes Fantasy Reality a dream come true for rap and hip-hop fans of all ages.  It gives hope that just as rap and hip-hop were once safe for the whole family, so can they be once again given the right support.

Salvador Santana’s new album Fantasy Reality is a dream come true for every member of the rap and hip-hop communities.  That is because over the course of its twelve songs and forty-nine minute run time, the album does something that no rap or hip-hop album has done in a very long time.  It proves that both can be enjoyable without having to be just like all of the other albums within the noted communities.  That is made obvious right from the album’s outset in the song ‘Be The Change.’  The positive vibes of the song’s musical content instantly set the song’s tone.  Those vibes, obviously influenced through the music that he has recorded and performed with his legendary father, will instantly have listeners moving happily.  They are just the starting point of what makes this song a solid starting point for Santana’s new record.  The song’s lyrical content builds on that foundation and will just as quickly put a smile on listeners’ faces as they move to the music.  He writes in this song, “We’re celebrating life/Here to have a good time/Harness the light/The sounds and sights/The future is bright without pride and vanity/Keep the sanity in the chain of humanity/Every soul is a link that makes me think/The whole world still needs clean water to drink…Be the change.”  He goes on to write in the song’s second verse, “Unified vibes comin’ live to you right now/I’m on a natural high/Check it out how I plant seeds/To feed the mind/We give to receive/Celebrate humanity/So many answers/Same questions/Same story/Different lessons/Future generations will clean up our messes/As it collect/Share different perspectives/I wanna stay connected and hold on/Make it last/In Iraq/Make an impact/Find a better way for the people in pain/Dance to the rhythm and we’ll be the change.”  The social activism presented in these verses together mix with the song’s equally uplifting musical content to make a solid opener for Fantasy Reality and just the beginning of the album’s positivity.

‘Be The Change’ is a solid start to Fantasy Reality.  The uplifting musical and lyrical content contained within the four-minute opus sets a solid tone for the rest of the songs that follow.  One of the best of the songs that follows comes later in the album’s run in the form of ‘Keep Pressin’ On.’  The song is a narrative about a young man named Manny.  Manny was at a crossroads in his life.  He was working hard in school to do well but also living the gang banger life at night.  Suddenly a young lady came into his life and helped tip him completely in the right direction.  So while it is a love song of sorts it is also a song that teaches in its own way that it is possible to walk the right path in life.  One just needs the personal drive and the proper support.  Regardless, it is possible to live a positive life.  The song’s pure hip-hop vibes generated in its musical content added to those positive lyrics make this a song that is just as enjoyable and inspirational as ‘Be the Change’ and every one of the other compositions included in this record.  It is one more piece proving just how positive this record is in whole.  It is hardly the last example of that positivity, too.  The optimism and positivity exhibited through the album’s title track shows just as much as ‘Be The Change’ and ‘Keep Pressin’ On’ why this record stands out among this year’s new rap and hip-hop albums and in turn why every fan of said genres should have it in their own music libraries.

‘Be The Change’ and ‘Keep Pressin’ On’ are both clear examples of the optimism and positivity that make Fantasy Reality a clear hit among this year’s crop of new rap and hip-hop albums.  As enjoyable as they are they are just a small glimpse of why it is such a landmark album in both communities this year.  The album’s title track exhibits just as much of that optimism and positivity as those songs and the rest of the album’s featured numbers.  In regards to the song’s musical content, it boasts something of a rock vibe thanks to a foundation established by the song’s guitars and drums. It’s a sound that is just as certain to have audiences on their feet as that presented in any of the album’s other offerings.  In terms of the song’s musical content, Santana writes about his drive to succeed, overcoming all of the obstacles put in front of him and just overcoming whatever difficulties come his way in life. He writes, “Great achievement always takes a great risk/And I’m on a hot streak/With luck I never miss/Greatful for what I got/Believing in my progress/Fantasy reality a never-ending process/If I’m losin’ I won’t lose the lessons/I’m never giving up/If I choose to move I keep I’ll keep pressin’/I’m gonna live it up/The sacrifices I’ve made for who I am today/Turning the negative to positive and I’ll find a way.” There’s no question as to the message being sent here. It would be easy to just point and say that the young Santana couldn’t have possibly had it that hard, growing up the child of a famous musician, only to become a famous musician himself. But only he and those closest to him know the real situation. So with that in mind, Santana’s words in this case can really serve as great inspiration for anyone. This is the case regardless of whether one is trying to become famous or just trying to get through life’s tough spots. He is saying through his song (and not just in this one verse alone) that it takes self-determination and gumption to get through those tough situations in life that would otherwise knock a person down. It is yet another wonderful positive message delivered by Santana and just one more of a whole group of positive messages sent throughout the course of this record’s twelve songs. Together with the rest of those songs and the ones noted here, the overall positive vibes generated through this album make it a collection of songs that audiences of every age should hear. They make it an album in whole that is one of the best of this year’s crop of new rap and hip-hop albums and potentially a candidate for a spot on this year’s list of the best new albums overall.

Salvador Santana might not have the acclaim of his legendary father. But in listening to Fantasy Reality, his latest full-length studio recording, he has shown that he doesn’t care. He cares more about entertaining audiences and sending out the same positive vibes through his music as his father than being famous. The fact of the matter though is that in listening to this record, it is a surprise that he is not a bigger name in the rap and hip-hop communities. That is because of the fact that there is not a single foul word to be heard on this record. What’s more there is not one mention of drugs, guns, or any of the other trappings of most of today’s rap and hip-hop records at any point in the album’s forty-nine minute run time. It makes this album a breath of fresh air not just within the rap and hip-hop community but in the music community in whole. More information on Fantasy Reality is available online now along with all of Salvador Santana’s latest news at:

 

Website: http://www.salvadorsantana.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/SalSantana

 

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.