(By Leanne Ridgeway, Owner/Chief Editor, RiffRelevant.com)
ZED has been part of the Ripple Music family for a while now. When I stumbled upon their ‘Trouble In Eden‘ record, I was hooked. I bought every release they’ve put out. I’ve also had the pleasure of meeting some of the gents in ZED and let me tell you – they’re insanely sincere, hilarious, and genuinely nice folks. Nice, as in they picked me up at the airport & took me out for awesome divey-diner food nice. The truly deciding factor was that they also love Clutch, we’ve had multiple conversations on that band.
ZED is currently writing songs for their fourth album, as well as making a future appearance at SXSW Music Festival in 2018. They are also planning a quick tour on the East Coast this year, with a special performance stop at the Maryland Doom Fest in June 2018.
I asked ZED bassist Mark Aceves if he would contribute a list of his favorite 2017 music releases. Mark is a vinyl record collector, like myself, and he likes to post photos of his collection, also like myself. His musical leanings are all over the map, and Mark enjoys a fairly amazing array of genres and eras, much of which is centered around heavy music. I could talk tunes with this cat for days…
RiffRelevant.com presents to you Mark Aceves’ Top Ten of 2017! He included his reasons for choosing these records, and we also have an audio stream for each release. Check out Mark’s list and listen to these bands! – Leanne
10 – Quicksand – Interiors
A surprisingly great album by a band that hasn’t been active for a while. Usually these returns are full of missteps (see Prophets of Rage), but this album is a return to form with more mature songwriting and sonic exploration. Walter S. is a man of many talents and keeps writing consistently good songs.
9 – Skunk – Doubleblind
This Bay Area band makes music that makes you wanna go cruising in a ’73 Camaro with T- Tops open, smoking a big joint, blasting this album on the 8-Track. This album front to back has some of the catchiest guitar wizardry this side of 1980. Just listening to it will give you a contact high. You need this album in your collection.
8 – Elder – Reflections of a Floating World
What more can be said about this band that hasn’t already been said? This album takes you on a musical journey that is everything and nothing combined. Music for both the brain and the heart, creating moods and feelings, where instruments go beyond just being instruments and become talismanic. This band will be listened to long after they are gone.
7 – Zeal & Ardor – Devil is Fine
This one caught me by surprise. The mix of what sounds like old-time Afro-American/Negro slave spirituals and hymns with heavy ambient, and sometimes black metal infused guitar, seem like strange bedfellows, but it works. Really well. There is nothing else out there like this album, or band for that matter. It’s a work of art.
6 – Queens Of The Stone Age – Villains
This album. Hell, this band polarizes a lot of people. Me? I don’t give a shit what anyone says. This band is still badass and puts out killer grooving records. Years ago, after Kyuss, Josh Homme said that for his next band he wanted to make music that the female crowd would get down to, and he has succeeded in making slinky, sexy grooves accompanied by killer guitar work. The bass lines alone sell it for me. Every. Damn. Time.
5 – Royal Thunder – Wick
I’ve been a fan of this band since the beginning, and they get better and better each album. Miny has a voice of the ages, bring both beauty and aggression together, with such passionate delivery, while the band creates heavy soundscapes for her to explore. This band is a joy to see and hear. Comparisons to Janis Joplin would not be wrong, as she sings with the same intensity and power that commands your full attention.
4 – Sasquatch – Manuevers
Ok, so I’m not just picking my friends’ bands here, I promise! However, my friends make some of the most badass records around, and the latest from Sasquatch is no exception. These guys have been consistently putting out smasher after smasher for years, and this album is one of their best, if not THE best! Every song is filled with catchy ass hooks and dirty riffs. This band is great both live and on record, and capture the true essence of rock and roll. Cas is easily one of my favorite bass players around, with his mega massive Rickenbacker tones.
3 – Greenbeard – Lödarödböl
This Austin, TX band manages to capture some of the same vibe that bands like Earthless capture. Pure heavy psych bliss where the guitar takes you on a journey. Having been fortunate enough to play with these guys in Texas, I can say the amount of groove and riffage these three guys manage to invoke is a right gift to those of us listening!
2 – Kadavar – Rough Times
These boys from Germany are hit or miss for me. When they first came out, I felt they were way too much of a Sabbath tribute for my tastes, but over time they have evolved into their own righteous rock and roll entity. Their latest album throws the gauntlet down with the production and songwriting, giving a contemporary feel to seventies inspired riff magic. From the get go these are hard grooving songs, with a bass tone that is burly as fuck. It really grabs you in the nether regions.
1 – Foo Fighters – Concrete and Gold
I never in my life would have imagined a Foo Fighters album would be on my top 10 year end list, much less be in top position, but rarely in my life has an album from front to back created such a strong emotional response or connection to the music like this one. I feel like Mr. Grohl has finally put all he’s learned under the greats of our time and created a masterpiece that completely stands on its own. I still can’t get enough of this album. Maybe I’m getting old.
Much thanks to Mark Aceves for sharing his Top Ten for the year, as well as to all the gentlemen in ZED for sharing their music with the rest of us. – Leanne
Here is ZED’s most recent release ‘Trouble In Eden’. Stay tuned for more ZED in 2018.