[Scott Jones often offers up recommendations through this site’s regular “New Music from the Inbox” feature. Here’s his pick for the best rock album of 2015. – AC]
Pleasure to Meet You
In the music business, there are numbers, there are figures, and there is a thing called charting singles. However, all of those nice things aren’t always necessary to define greatness before a band reaches the big time. Such is the case with Dead Sara. The four-piece group from L.A. released their self-titled debut in 2012, and “Weatherman” reached #26 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart. Yet, their follow-up, Pleasure to Meet You, did not see any of its eleven tracks replicate its success. Still, to reiterate, numbers are not the whole story. A group like this will undoubtedly soon reap these benefits with far greater rewards than “Weatherman” three years prior. Seth Meyers inviting Emily Armstrong onto Late Night for a week in November as guest vocalist for his house band most definitely helped her own group gain attention. Clearly, Seth knows a great singer when he hears one.
Where Dead Sara’s debut album was an immediate indication that they meant business, this sophomore effort officially proves that this is their time. Lead guitarist Siouxsie Medley is the backbone of this outfit, constantly ripping heavy riffs that always complement the song, whether it is a mellow track like “Something Good,” or a heavy, blues-laden number like “Mr. Mr.” The rhythm section readies the ship port to starboard, with Chris Null’s bass fills rising above the fold in “L.A. City Slum” and drummer Sean Friday blasting his way through “Radio One Two.” Oh, and there’s Emily Armstrong. Her talent as a frontwoman is absolutely off the charts. She is a musician who plays rhythm guitar and possesses a set of pipes not heard since Janis Joplin. One of the best examples of her talents on the LP is another blues take, undoubtedly reminiscent of the late legend; the reverb-drenched drawl of “Blue Was the Beautiful You.” The track begins in a laid-back mood, but probably more so than any song on the album, its conclusion is worth the wait. After a slow, but undeniably groovy build-up, Armstrong’s longing pleas suddenly reach their apex and become vicious, fire-breathing growls at the 4:16 mark. It is one thing to experience this moment seated alone in a room, but when out walking in public, with the headphones on, don’t be surprised if passerby is staring because you can’t help your eyes from bugging out of your head. It’s cool; they just don’t know. Y’know?
Pleasure to Meet You is an exhilarating release to behold, and not to mention a truly underrated one. Every year, it seems that there is that one record that requires a transcendent listening experience at the absolute highest volume, blown speakers be damned. In 2015, this was that album.