I am a bit late in discussing my favorite records of 2016. But here it is anyway. I think this was my favorite album release of 2016. And those you know me personally, probably wouldn't see this as a surprise. I decided to take my time before writing about the latest album from Rich Robinson. The man has never written easily digested songs upon first listen. In my world, this is a compliment. Some of the greatest rock albums were designed for the listener to dig in, and to draw them back, not to quickly consume, and then toss away.
Music is important in his world, which means no disposability allowed. It seems as if all of Robinson's work is created with a natural flow. But once the ideas are discovered, the work begins, with an end result being a deeply rich recording, not only with the instrumentation, but with the lyrical themes and arrangements as well. That said, I believe it takes time to soak it all in with multiple listening sessions. That is probably what Mr. Robinson has always intended while creating his original brand of rock n roll. His legendary and classic body of work with The Black Crowes, as well as his solo records displays this beautifully.
The recording of "Flux" took Rich and his long time Drummer Joe Magistro back to their beloved Applehead Studios in Woodstock New York, where Robinson recorded his last two solo albums. The duo routinely finds renewed inspiration at this special place. I recently sat down with Joe Magistro for an interview on our podcast, where we talked about the creative process for the Flux sessions at Applehead. You can listen here: http://rocksavagepod.squarespace.com/vinylblog/2016/9/19/ep10-joe-magistrodrummer-for-rich-robinson .
I had a chance to visit Applehead, back in 2014 when I traveled there to partake in the first of Rich's Woodstock Sessions. We watched them record in the barn studio that was formerly owned by Rick Danko from The Band. It's a vibey studio, and has been used by some legendary musicians over the years. Combined with Applehead's built in history, and tranquil scenery, it makes for a fantastic place for musicians to create. And it definitely contributes an essence to the work Rich Robinson has done there.
Flux might be one of Rich Robinson's best albums of his career. I am aware that this is a tall thing to say when reflecting back on his body of work, but damn, this album is fantastic. Stand out songs for me include Astral, Everything's Alright, & Sleepwalker. There isn't one mediocre song on it. That is amazing considering that they went into the studio with almost nothing completely written, and proceeded to hammer out one song a day until completion. This is yet another attribute to the talent behind Flux, including all of the musicians involved, as well last the studio engineers. I have been a fan of Rich, since the beginning of his career. And I am completely thrilled by the fact that his work keeps getting better as the years roll on.
Even though The Black Crowes appear to be gone for good, I am excited for what the future holds in the Rich Robinson camp, and encourage any fan of The Black Crowes to give his solo work a chance if you haven't already. It more than fills the void, and deserves a good, long listening session or two. Or fifty. Or one hundred. You get the point. Go check out RR's solo catalog now on Eagle Rock Entertainment. You will be a happier rock fan for it.