Nominees revealed for 7th annual music awards

We are pleased to announce the nominees for this year’s 7th Annual Limelight Magazine Music Awards. Like prior years, the nominating process was completely fan driven, with the exception of “Song of the Year” which was nominated by four radio DJs (Steve Scarpetti, John Shea, Lori Welch and Cat Wilson) who support the local music scene. In addition, the Legend and Unsung Hero awards were selected by the co-owners of Limelight and will be announced at a later date.

Over the past two weeks, we solicited nominations for each category. The top eight artists who received the most nominations were placed in them. Anyone who won an award in a specific category last year is ineligible to be nominated for that same award this year, unless it’s for new music being released (such as a song, album, or video). Public voting begins today and lasts until 11:59 PM on Friday, Feb. 6.

An all-ages awards ceremony will be held at Spire Center for Performing Arts in Plymouth, Mass., on Saturday, March 21, 2015, at 7 p.m., where the winners will be revealed. Advanced tickets can be purchased online HERE. Tickets will also be available at the door on the day of show.

Like last year, eight artists will be randomly selected from all the nominees and asked to perform at the awards show. Performing at the ceremony does not mean that artist has won an award.

We’d like to acknowledge the generosity of the following businesses for sponsoring this year’s awards show: Cannery Music Hall, Carmela’s Restaurant, Mamma Mia’s Restaurant, Rok Pix by Kristen Pierson, and Tiny & Son’s Auto Glass Repair.

If you have any questions, many of them will likely be answered at this link: http://limelightmagazine.com/music-awards/faq. Please take the time to read this before contacting us.

Check out the list of nominees below and be sure to vote in our poll HERE. (Please note that while the poll will let you vote as many times as you want, only four votes are counted for each I.P. address per day).

Young Performer of the Year
As We Know It
Black Diamonds
Dogtown
Coda Sky
Conundrum Nine
Joey Grieve
Emily Hodges
Aaron Norcross, Jr.

Tribute Band of the Year
Beatles for Sale – Tribute to The Beatles
Bikini Whale – Tribute to B52s
Gun Powder Gelatine: Tribute to Queen
Let It Bleed – Tribute to The Rolling Stones
Pretendica – A Tribute to The Pretenders & Elastica
Stormbringer – Tribute to early Deep Purple
Welcome to the Jungle – Tribute to Guns N Roses
Young Rust – Tribute to Neil Young

Metal Act of the Year
Absense of Despair
All For Blood
Along Came the Flood
False Images
On Your Deathbed
Protean Collective
Revisions
Without Warning

Country Artist of the Year
Kate Cameron
Matt Casey
Ben Cesare
Brianna Grace
Alec MacGillivray
Katie Perkins
Mariah Rose
Shana Stack Band

New Artist of the Year
Angry Ginger
Cardboard Ox
Cold Engines
Dionysus Park Ranger
The Dust Ruffles
Jones River Band
Shell Shock
Wild Surfaces

Live Act of the Year
The Copacetics
Mindset X
The Quins
Sidewalk Driver
The Sleepeaters
Smith & Weeden
Marianne Toilet and The Runs
21st Century Fugitives

Singer-Songwriter of the Year
Emily Correia
Amy Fairchild
Jeff Gobush
Jake Hill
Leighann Alexandra Hodgkins
Esmeree Skye
Monica Rizzio
Jennifer Teft

Song of the Year
Bim Skala Bim – “Buses, Boats. Plabes, Trains & Taxis”
Crooked Coast – “Loose Tooth”
Christa Gniadek – “You”
Jenna Lotti – “Medicine”
The October Accord – “Better Off Without You”
Hayley Sabella – “February”
Sex Coffee – “What It Takes”
We Own Land – “Life”

Female Vocalist of the Year
Petrina Foley
Jen Kearney
Jenna Lotti
Molly Pinto Madigan
Alissa Musto
Bethany Pierce
Ilene Springer
Lisa Yves

Male Vocalist of the Year
Walter Barlow
Paul Horton
Joe Macey
Bruce Macksoud
Seth Newton
Michael Spaulding
Carlin Tripp
Mark Whitaker

Album of the Year (Group)
Bees Deluxe – Trouble In Paradise
Blocks of Seven – Outta Nowhere
Haunt the House – Jack Rabbit Jones
Dan Lawson Band – Soldiers of Fortune
Rula Bula – Townies
Erin Harpe & The Delta Swingers – Love Whip Blues
The Quins – A Tale of Love and Evil
We Were Astronauts – Artificial Light

Album of the Year (Solo)
Krista Baroni – The Alabaster Girl
Susan Cattaneo – Haunted Heart
Mark Erelli – Milltowns
Jane Fallon – Tangled in a Tree
Dan Masterson – Learn To Live
My Silent Bravery (Matthew Wade) – Diamond From Coal
Jeff Root – The Pig in the Python
Carlin Tripp – Back To The Soil

Video of the Year (Group)
Aurora – “Changing Winds”
Parsonsfield — “Let The Mermaids Flirt With Me”
A Simple Complex – “Felo-de-se”
Singlecast – “Running to You”
Special Guests – “What You Do To Me”
Trophy Wives – “I’m Gonna Make You Famous”
War Games – “Mountains (Acoustic)”
Weld Square – “Rip That Sucker Off”

Video of the Year (Solo)
Boston Catalano – “Stronger”
Sam Chase – “Nebraska”
Jessie Chris – “Chameleon”
Munk Duane -“Some Rivers”
Jenna Lotti – “Red Line Love”
Jilly Martin – “Kiss Somebody Tonight”
Joe Merrick – “Kiss Me Like It’s New Year’s Eve”
Andrew Smith – “Pop”

Band of the Year
Blue Cat Groove
Closer Than We Appear
Didn’t Planet
Elephants of Scotland
The House on Cliff
Karma and the Truth
Most Dangerous Men Alive
The October Accord

limehomepage

Frequently asked questions about Limelight Music Awards

Limelight Magazine is committed to supporting the local music scene of New England with its annual music awards ceremony which is held in the late winter or early spring. Each year dozens of musicians are recognized for their immense creativity and talent. Please read over these frequently asked questions before contacting us with your own.

When and where is the 2015 Limelight Magazine Music Awards?
The 7th Annual Limelight Magazine Music Awards will be held at the Spire Center for Performing Arts, located at 25 ½ Court Street in Plymouth, MA, on Saturday, March 21, 2014, at 7 PM.

How long does the ceremony typically last?
The ceremony typically runs between three and four hours.

Is it all ages?
The Limelight Magazine Music Awards is an all-ages event.

Is there beer and wine?
Beer and wine is available for purchase at The Spire.

Is there food?
Light refreshments will be available for purchase.

Is parking free?
Parking is free across the street from the venue.

How much are tickets?
Tickets are $10.50 in advance and $13 day of show. Please visit brownpapertickets.com or spirecenter.org to purchase them.

How does a musician get nominated?
The nominating process is completely fan driven, with the exception of “Song of the Year” which is nominated by radio DJs who support the local music scene. For two weeks in mid-January, we solicit nominations each day for a specific category. Nominations can be e-mailed to limelightmusicawards@gmail.com. The top eight musicians for each category are placed on the ballot for public voting. Please like our Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/limelightmagazine to stay up-to-date. Due to the high volume of nominations we receive, all nominations must be in the subject of the e-mail. Only one nomination per e-mail.

What are the categories for the Limelight Magazine Music Awards?
The categories generally stay the same each year, but we are open to adding new ones. The categories for 2015 are: Album of the Year (Group), Album of the Year (Solo), Band of the Year, Country Artist of the Year, Female Vocalist of the Year, Live Act of the Year, Male Vocalist of the Year, Metal Act of the Year, New Artist of the Year, Progressive Rock Act of the Year (NEW), Singer-Songwriter of the Year, Song of the Year, Tribute Band of the Year, Video of the Year (Group), Video of the Year (solo), and Young Performer of the Year.

The following special awards are also presented: Legend Award (given to an artist from New England who has been around for at least 25 years and is going strong today) and Unsung Hero Award (given to a musician from New England who made a contribution in the lives of others without asking for anything in return). These are decided by the staff of Limelight Magazine.

Are there any restrictions on who can be nominated?
Anyone one who has received an award in a specific category last year is ineligible to be nominated for that same award this year, unless it is for new music. For example, the act who won Tribute Band of the Year in 2013 is ineligible to receive that award in 2014. However, the group who won Album of the Year in 2013 is eligible to be nominated in 2014 if they have a new studio album out. (Runner ups can be nominated since they didn’t win).

Will I be notified of my nomination?
You will be contacted by Limelight Magazine either by e-mail or through Facebook before public voting begins.

When does public voting begin and end?
Public voting runs for one week. It begins on Saturday, January 31, at noon and ends on Friday, February 6, at 11:45 PM.

I’ve been nominated for an award, can I perform at the awards ceremony?
Eight artists will be randomly selected from all the nominees and asked to perform at the awards show.

I’ve been selected to perform, does this mean I’ve won an award?
Once again, you’ve been randomly selected to perform. This does not mean that you’ve won an award.

Do nominees have to pay for tickets?
Unfortunately, we have to charge everyone who attends, except the musicians who are performing at the awards ceremony. It is our hope to one day get enough sponsors to cover our overhead costs but that hasn’t happened as of yet. All proceeds from the awards show go toward our efforts to support and promote the local music scene in New England.

Are the musicians who’ve won an award told beforehand?
No. The winners are only announced at the awards ceremony, with the exception of the special award (i.e. Legend, Unsung Hero) recipients.

I have a gig or another commitment on the night of the music awards, can you please tell me if I’ve won?
No. Unfortunately, secrets are never kept and we abide by our own rules. If you cannot attend and no one can accept on your behalf, we will notify you on the following day and your award can be picked up at a mutually agreeable location.

How can my business sponsor the Limelight Magazine Music Awards?
We offer two affordable sponsorship packages that range from $150 to $250. Here’s how your business will be showcased through your generous sponsorship.

Package #1: $150
• Your business will be featured on the online poll. We’re once again expecting over 40,000 votes.
• Your logo (or business name) will be placed on all promo materials for the music awards, including posters, flyers and web-based ads.
• Your logo (or business name) will be placed in the program for the event.
• At least one mention per week until the music awards on our Facebook pages. We reach over 5,000 people.

Package #2: $250
• All of the above, plus:
• A clickable sidebar ad on our website, limelightmagazine.com, that will run until June 30, 2015. Our website typically gets over 3,500 unique visitors per week.
• One ad in our monthly e-blast that is sent to nearly 15,000 people to promote our upcoming events. Our open rate is between 50 and 57 percent and our list keeps growing.

If you are interested in a sponsorship, please contact our publisher, JKB Entertainment Group, by e-mail at jkbbooking@gmail.com by January 28, 2015.

Jake Hill and Hayley Sabella join forces as Billington Sea

Billington Sea (Photo by Allison DiMaggio)
Billington Sea (Photo by Allison DiMaggio)

Hailing from Plymouth, Mass., critically acclaimed singer-songwriters Jake Hill and Hayley Sabella have joined forces on a new project called Billington Sea. The duo recently recorded a self-titled E.P. that draws from the sensible musicality of Sabella threaded with the raw lyrical style of songwriting storyteller Hill. Swooning and introspective, the twosome use thoughtful wordplay, mindful, panoramic imagery and nostalgic folk melodies to comment on the good and evil of the eternal human condition. Seamlessly melded vocals evoke the feeling of eras past while crafting it together with memorable stories of the modern age. The duo have a CD release party for their premiere album on Saturday, January 31, at 8 p.m. at the Spire Center for Performing Arts, located at 25 ½ Court Street in Plymouth, with Cape Cod singer-songwriter, Monica Rizzio, opening the show. We recently caught up with Hill and Sabella to discuss their exciting new project.

Limelight Magazine (LM): You’re both established musicians on the South Shore, why did you decide to collaborate and form Billington Sea?
Hayley Sabella (Sabella): Cause it’s fun! We have good creative chemistry and have helped each other develop as writers. “Iron sharpens iron” is the metaphor I like to use for it.
Jake Hill (Hill): We decided we should write together because we live about 10 minutes away from one another. And, once I heard her Farm Fingers EP, I knew she had the same sickness that I have, and that is the unbreakable bond to the language and music.

LM: Why did you decide to name yourselves Billington Sea?
Sabella: Being Plymouth natives who spend a lot of time outside (I’m a farmer, Jake’s big into fishing) we looked at local pond names for inspiration. Originally we just liked the ring of the name, but finding out the story behind its namesake won us over.
Hill: You have to name the band something, or else you will be stuck with an acronym or something cheesy.

LM: In a press release, your music is described as “a spellbinding blend of rootsy folk with country undertones.” Can you elaborate on this?
Sabella: We found that once we hit the studio, the songs developed pretty effortlessly and the collection of songs took on its own distinctive sound. As an individual writer, I tend to be a bit unfocused and enamored by all kinds of possibilities, so I was intrigued by the fact that the Billington Sea songs fit so naturally within the parameters of what people classify as “folk” music. It’s relaxing to be a part of something that has an easy identity. (Not that the identity matters a whole lot). But the instrumentation and production styles support what people think of as a folk/country genre—upright bass, country shuffle percussion, finger-style picking, simple but polished.
Hill: I’m not sure why people need to describe music at all, but it needs to be done I guess. Hayley’s a much better guitar player than I am, so anything that is described musically is her fault. We’re folk singers. We both are obsessed with the artistic side of rap music. We’re totally weirdos. I’m surprised we made anything palatable at all.

LM: How long did it take to record your debut EP? Can you discuss your songwriting process?
Sabella: We were in the studio for four days total, but there was careful pre- and post-production that really made the outcome something we’re proud to share, even with a limited amount of time. The songwriting process all happens in the music room at Jake’s residence. I don’t want to unveil the creative process entirely because I hear its bad luck. But there’s usually a healthy combination of unfocused play and hyper-focused, nitty-gritty, “that song will be finished today” style writing. I will say that while we each do both, I tend to have a more musical approach, and Jake tends to come at songs from a literary perspective.
Hill: We were prepared, we were professional (kind of), and we were in amazing hands at the Anchour Studio. I wish we could have done seven more songs, but alas the cost of making professional records is a serious investment, and in this economy, we could only do five.

LM: The album also features Cameron Lopez and Danny McKellick on percussion, Karl Anderson on keys, Mike Burd on upright bass and Josh Ray on bass guitar. Why were these musicians selected and will they be performing with you at your CD release concert at the Spire on Jan. 31st?
Sabella: These are all players who are fairly local to Anchour Studio, the place we recorded at. We selected [them] because they’re good at what they do and we knew they’d enhance the project. They won’t make it for the CD release. Jake’s Deep Creek band will be backing us.
Hill: It was amazing to work with all those cats. Mike Burd is in my opinion the best roots/folk bassman to ever live. Having him in the studio was a treat. He’s been playing with David Mallett for like 30-something years and those records have shaped me as a writer and a singer. Also, Karl and Josh were amazing producers [who have] wonderful execution and beautiful ideas. Cameron Lopez was a hot shot too. Like a drum machine, that new a little Spanish….My boys will be backing us. They’re amazing. Some of the best musicians I’ve ever been around.

LM: Speaking of your CD release concert, what can your fans expect at this show?
Sabella: A grand ol’ time! A sprinkle of songs, new and old, combined with a big heaping pile of goofing off. We like to entertain ourselves with good banter, and hope it entertains the audience too.
Hill: They can expect the best show that either of us has ever performed. Maybe even a headstand.

LM: Monica Rizzio is opening the show. She’s also built a loyal following throughout the region, especially Cape Cod. For people coming to your show who may not know her, why was she selected to open the show and what does she add to the bill?
Sabella: Monica is super talented and a good friend of ours. We thought her style and personality would fit the vibe.
Hill: Monica is a doll. She does amazing things in the musical community, especially on the Cape, and is revered for her fiddle skills and songwriting abilities. We picked her because she promised to play some fiddle with us, and because she rules.

LM: As a singer/songwriter duo, what do you admire most musically about your colleague?
Sabella: Jake is a lyrics genius. He’s studied the greats in both songwriting and literature and it shows. He has a knack for communicating layered concepts using the smallest possible words. In doing so, he’s able to stir up all kinds of feelings, but he’s never self-indulgent or gratuitous.
Hill: Hayley’s one of the best singer/songwriters I’ve ever heard. I admire everything that it has taken to become that.

LM: Do you expect this collaboration to continue into the foreseeable future?
Sabella: So long as we’re both in Plymouth writing songs, I don’t see why we’d end it. I just know we’ve stumbled upon something special that both of us have grown from and it’s hard to imagine writing a song now without at least getting Jake’s feedback.
Hill: I would assume yes. We have a wonderful time creating with one another. It is my life’s joy to make beautiful music with wonderful people.

LM: How can our readers purchase your music?
Sabella: The usual online markets (Bandcamp, iTunes, Amazon, etc.) and in person at our merchandise table.

LM: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Sabella: One of the songs on the record, “Let It Pass,” is actually also a video. We recorded the audio live, and shot the visuals at the same time. Thought that was a unique way to do things, and it’s available for a preview as of January 13th.
Hill: Viva la Billington Sea!!!

These ‘Cats’ are ready to “Groove’

Sam Bowen & Blue Cat Groove
Sam Bowen & Blue Cat Groove

Founded in July 2012, Blue Cat Groove is a four piece, blues band hailing from central Massachusetts. Its members include Samuel Bowen (guitar/vocals), Vincent DePolo (drums), Kimberly Hodgens-Smith (lead vocals), and Jeff Oosterman (bass). They released their debut album in 2013 and are currently gearing up for the release of their second studio album in February 2015. They were nominated for “Breakthrough Artist of the Year” and “Album of the Year” at the 6th Annual Limelight Magazine Music Awards in 2013. We recently caught up with Bowen who was excited about their forthcoming album and what the future holds for the band.

Limelight Magazine (LM): You’re about to release your second studio album in February. What can we expect from the disc?
Sam Bowen (SB): After being together for two years now a much tighter groove. We’ve really jelled regarding arrangements and feel. And, although we stick to our blues roots, we have a few songs that could be called alternative rock or Americana.

LM: How was recording this album different from your debut CD?
SB: No keyboard for one thing. As much as we love keys, we’ve worked hard on our style and tone to get all we can out of three musicians and Kimberly’s vocals. Also, we did few overdubs on this record. We are a live band and recorded most of the music live in the studio…together, so what you hear is who we are.

LM: Of the nine-songs on the album, there is a mix of original songs, covers and blues classics. How did the band decide what songs to record and include on the album?
SB: Some of the songs are fan favorites like “Stormy Monday” and “Power of Love.” The originals are our sound and all the covers we do are based on songs we hear and say “what a great song, we can Blue Cat Groove that one.” Our process is having every member pick songs they feel fit us. Then, we listen together and play with it to see if it works. We realize that we love some songs that are not going to work in our style. We’ve also been surprised how a song we believed would not work for us wound up part of us.

LM: One of the of the songs is cover of Joan Osboune’s hit single “One Of Us.” That kind of took us by surprise. Why was that song chosen?
SB: Yes, it took us by surprise too. I use to sing this song solo. Last summer, I did a solo gig and pulled it out. With the groove on guitar, I thought it fit us. So, we started playing with it and it sounded great. Kimberly took the lyrics and made the song her own. Although people will immediately recognize the song, it’s a little different arrangement (and I love the telecaster sound on it). Actually, this is the most produced song on the CD, as it has three guitar parts overdubbed. We really love the layering of the whole song. What’s funny is we have some interest from alt radio on this one, which we probably would not have gotten being a blues rock band.

LM: How will you be promoting the new disc?
SB: Our promotion is all about one fan at a time. Our Facebook and social media have grown our fan base this past year. Our fans are loyal and interact with us all the time. We have internet radio and underground blues stations playing our stuff around the country so the CD will get to all those people. It is amazing to live in a time when a regional band like us can sell lots of tunes to people through iTunes, CD Baby, Amazon and so forth. We‘ve sold lots of music to people in France, England, Ireland, Pakistan, Australia, Greece, Asia and all over the USA. And, of course, playing live as much as are able to get the word out. We are a grassroots band and rely on word of mouth. We had a great 2014 and appreciate all our fans that have turned folks on to us. We played gigs all over, like the Bull Run, Blue Plate Lounge, Rockport Music Festival in the Park, Blues and Barbecue Festival, Water for Life Music and Car Show, Octoberfest concerts, church concerts, radio station and small club venues.

LM: You’re listed as the primary songwriter for the band. What’s your own personal songwriting process?
SB: Process? What’s that? (LOL). I tend to start with a chord structure on guitar, a melody that has a “Groove.” Then after Jeff, Vinnie and Kimberly hear it, the arranging begins. Lyrics come at differing times. One new song on the CD is called “Small Things.” It was inspired by an acoustic guitar run I had been playing with my strings tuned in the key of D. Then I saw an old movie called “Night of the Hunter” with Robert Mitchum. One of the main characters was praying for children in her care and she said “It’s a hard world for Small Things.” That just hit me and I wrote the lyrics in 20 minutes and it matched the guitar run perfectly.

LM: Since the band has only been around for a short period of time, how did everyone initially come together?
SB: Our time keeper Vinnie (Cleveland) Depolo and bass player Jeff (The Doctor) Oosterman had played on a couple of my solo CD’s previously to Blue Cat Groove. As we talked about playing live as full band, I was back to my blues roots. I put on my producers hat and knew we needed a vocalist whose voice was a big as the music. Kimberly Hodgens-Smith was a fan of my music and I first met her when she came out to see me and Michael Sweet [of Stryper] do a show. Awhile later, I heard her sing back up in a band and knew she had chops. It would be in 2013 that I would call her and ask if she was interested in singing in a blues band. The rest is history. We all sing back up and I sing a song or two, but Kimberly is the voice of Blue Cat Groove.

LM: Why was the name Blue Cat Groove chosen?
SB: Well, we were tossing around names and the word “cat” is used a lot in the blues and jazz vocabulary. And for us the word that described a lot of our music was “groove”. I don’t remember who specifically called it out, but after brainstorming and laughing at all the bad names someone said “Blue Cat Groove.” It wasn’t long after one of our fans designed our mascot blues cat “Luther.” You can see him and his paws all over our website (www.bluecatgroove) and on our Facebook page. He’s the cat with the sunglasses.

LM: What’s the best part for you personally about being in this band?
SB: I have to say besides the thrill of creating music, it’s playing live and talking to people who love music. And these Cats I play with have become like family to me. It’s an honor to know them. When we get together to play, it’s like the best therapy there is (I’m not saying we need therapy, well maybe we do).

LM: If there is anyone interested in purchasing the band’s music, how can they do so?
SB: Our debut CD, and the two new singles from our soon to be released CD, are available on CD Baby, iTunes, Amazon, Rhapsody, Xbox, and all other online music retailers. The new CD will be available through these channels and at live gigs of course.

LM: Is there anything you’d like to add?
SB: We are so thankful to Limelight and all you do to support local music. You not only bring in fantastic national artists, you expose great New England music that deserves to be heard. You have also created an environment where musicians and fans can connect with each other. Really, thanks so much to you and Katie and the entire staff.

Looking back on 2014 and ahead to 2015

As 2014 comes to a close, we’d like to take a moment and look back on this past year. Given these tough economic times, we are very fortunate to have the success we’ve had. JKB Entertainment Group, the publisher of Limelight Magazine, booked a total of 15 shows in 2014. Amazingly, we sold out 11 of them, while three did between 93% and 98% attendance and only one sold below 90%. As for Limelight Magazine, our annual music awards was once again more successful than the previous year in terms of participation. We received more nominations than ever before and a whopping 44,906 people voted in our online poll, which is nearly 10,000 more people than the previous year. Furthermore, our website continues to be a popular destination for music lovers around the world.

At this time, we’d like to thank everyone who supported us in 2014. Whether it was purchasing a ticket to a show or even sharing a post on Facebook, we are extremely grateful and never take our success for granted. We’d like to offer a special thanks to our family and friends for believing in us, our small but dedicated staff, and the venues where we book our shows, along with their personnel and volunteers.

As we look ahead to 2015, we will continue to bring top notch talent to New England and take a few risks along the way. We’re already in the planning stages for our 7th annual Limelight Magazine Music Awards and have some exciting things in the works. Lastly, we’re very close to launching a sister publication to Limelight called Press Pass Magazine that will be your all access to pass to pop culture and the entertainment world, covering everything from movies and television to video games, animation and more. A very special thank you to our Indiegogo donors and to Leah Astore for collaborating with us on this project and for sharing our vision and excitement.

Happy New Year!

Jay & Katie

Our top 10 movies of 2014

2014 was another great year for quality films. In fact, I’d say this list easily outshines last year’s top 10. With the exception of only one movie, my top 10 didn’t include any big budget films released by major studios. Quite honestly, their films are getting stale and boring. They may make money, but they often lack originality and substance. So, my list contains several independent and foreign films that were only given limited releases in the United States. Thanks to local art houses like the Coolidge Corner Theatre in Brookline, Mass., and the Brattle Theatre in Cambridge, Mass., as well as a two week long trip to Los Angeles, I was able to see many of these films in an actual movie theater. Rather than go into detail about each film, I’m only going to list them. You can discover these movies for yourself. (Disclaimer: This list is based on films I’ve seen as of Dec. 31, 2014. It could be adjusted in the future as I view other films from 2014).

#1 – The Babadook

The Babadook

#2 – Tusk

Tusk

#3 – Blue Ruin

Blue Ruin

#4 – Snowpiercer

Snowpiercer

#5 – Afflicted

Afflicted

#6 – The Sacrament

The Sacrament

#7 – Me & You (a.k.a. “Io e te” in France)

Me & You

#8 – Annabelle

Anabelle

#9 – Starry Eyes

Starry Eyes

#10 – VHS: Viral

vhs viral

Our top 10 albums of 2014

#1 – Tesla – Simplicity (Tesla Electric Co)

Tesla - Simplicty

Each year, our top album typically goes to a band that has completely outdone themselves and Tesla has raised the bar high with Simplicity. Jeff Keith’s vocals are spot on and the band is on fire, delivering 14 well-crafted songs that stand up with their best work. As the title of the album suggests, Tesla deliver unapologetic, straight forward rock and roll that just smokes. We love every second of this one and think you will as well! (Standout Tracks: “Time Bomb” & “Ricochet”)

#2 – Judas Priest- Redeemer of Souls (Columbia)

JP Reedemer

Judas Priest is one of the most consistent metal bands going today. With each release, you can always expect great metal songs and Redeemer of Souls is no different. This album seems to recapture some of the sounds from various periods of Priest’s history with some new twists along the way. New lead guitarist Richie Falkner fits in nicely and his solos only make this album better. Crank it up and let it rip! (Standout Tracks: “Redeemer of Souls” & “Battle Cry”)

#3 – Neil Diamond – Melody Road (Capitol)

Neil Diamond

After releasing two stellar albums with producer Rick Rubin, we were a little nervous when we found out he was working with Don Was. When the first single, “Nothing But A Heartache,” was released from Melody Road, our fears we quickly put aside. The album contains 12 tracks that are reminiscent of Diamond’s work in the late sixties and early seventies. He knows how to write and perform a great song and that hasn’t changed with age. This is an enjoyable listening experience from start to finish. (Standout Tracks: “Seoguah & Jimmy” & “Something Blue”)

#4 Michael Sweet – I’m Not Your Suicide (Big 3)

Michael Sweet

After Stryper released the best album of their career in 2013, front man Michael Sweet followed it up with a solo album that is the best of his solo career. What stands out about I’m Not Your Suicide is that Sweet isn’t afraid to experiment with a variety of styles. With songs that range from heavy rockers to ballads to some in the vein of country music, Sweet doesn’t disappoint. Every song stands on its own and the album is great from beginning to end. (Standout Tracks: “Taking On The World Tonight” & “Miles Away”)

#5 Primus – Primus and the Chocolate Factory (ATO Records)

Primus

While Primus and the Chocolate Factory seems to have polarized a lot of fans, it is actually very atmospheric and gives you the feel of the original “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.” It’s also an album that grows on you with time. If you like your music sick and twisted, this is the album for you. (Standout Tracks: “Pure Imagination” & “Golden Ticket”)

#6 Godsmack – 1000hp (Universal Republic)

Godsmack 1000hp

Unlike many of their contemporaries, Godsmack has always been a consistent hard rock band who doesn’t change things around too much. On their sixth studio album, 1000hp, they have embraced their age with grace, while serving a blast of energy that never disappoints. Overall, another great Godsmack album. (Standout Tracks: “1000hp” & “Living In The Gray”)

#7 Linkin Park – The Hunting Party (Warner Bros)

Linkin Park - The Hauntin Party
After missing the mark on their last two studio albums, Linkin Park return to form on The Hunting Party with their best material since the underrated Minutes to Midnight. It recaptures the vibe and energy of Hybrid Theory while still sounding fresh at the same time. The angsty rap-metal that made the band popular is front and center and the songs are heavy and filled with adrenaline. If you’ve given up on the band, this album should bring you back to the fold. (Standout Tracks: :”Guilty All The Same” & “War”)

#8 Accept – Blind Rage (Nuclear Blast)

Accept

While not quite as heavy as their last two albums, Blind Rage continues on the quality level of its predecessors. It contains fantastic twin guitar attacks, fierce drumming, and lyrics that are meaningful. Andy Sneap’s production is once again stellar. This is a must have for any metal fan! (Standout Tracks: “Stampede” & “Fall of the Empire”)

#9 Hammerfall – (r)Evolution (Nuclear Blast)

Hammerfall

After shaking things up on their last album, Infected, this power metal band from Sweden returns with 10 tracks that easily stand up with their classics. If you like old school heavy metal with soaring vocals, astounding lead work and slick production, (r)Evolution is the album for you. (Standout Tracks: “Hector’s Hymn” & “Live Life Loud”)

#10 Stevie Nicks – 24 Karat Gold: Songs from the Vault (Reprise)

Steve Nicks
This collection of 14 never-before-released songs that were recently recorded is Nick’s finest solo work in years. Her voice is in fine form on 24 Karat Gold and the music delivers all the emotions you’d expect from her. This is the album her fans have wanted for a long time and Nicks has delivered. (Standout Tracks: “Mabel Normand” & “24 Karat Gold”)

Music and entertainment coverage since October 2006!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 679 other followers