My first blog post of 2016 is about two records from 2015 I heard recently that I enjoyed
The Fiction Aisle's debut HEART MAP RUBRIC is a beautiful record, orchestral, moody, genuinely pretty arrangements and melodies, fans of the Lilac Time/Prefab Sprout/Trashcan Sinatras will like this. The low register vocals may remind one of Elbow as well. The Fiction Aisle's leader is Thomas White whose previous band Electric Soft Parade made one of my favorite records of the 2000's HOLES IN THE WALL. My favorite tunes after a couple listens - Sleep Tight, Love Come Save Me, Major Seventh, The Colour of Morning, Outskirts.
Saxon may be viewed as Spinal Tap ridiculous but they are one of my favorite metal bands with a big proto thrash sound, great vocalist in Biff Byford, and epic songs. Their first five records are relentless culminating in 1983's POWER & THE GLORY - One of my favorite metal records of all time, a metal band at their musical apex. Their only weakness was a predilection for the occasional power ballad (which sandbagged their career from the mid 80's to the mid 90's when they came back with the excellent UNLEASH THE BEAST)....Their 21st studio album BATTERING RAM eschews the ballads for one power riff fest after another starting with the one two punch of the title track and the Devil's Footprint which open the record. These are old dudes but they get that power metal should be listenable fast and melodic.