Happy Holidays Listening Family,
Let me start by saying- "Thank You" …. for requesting on WDHA…engaging and being passionate about music. For telling us what you think, what you want, what you love and what you don't!
Believe me, I am listening. 2018 was a rock revolution. From so many fantastic releases filling the airwaves, to a Tour De Force smash movie with Bohemian Rhapsody, to killer tours from every conceivable band to new bands like Greta van Fleet and Ghost garnering multiple grammy award nominations. A great year for rock indeed.
That is why I decided to post a "top 18" list. (10 just wouldn't cut it, not this year) 2018 was a grand year for the ear….so why not? It was hard though…. these 18 were not the ONLY releases I devoured….there were so many great choices and bands like Pop Evil, Fozzy, Bad Wolves and Breaking Benjamin that surely grab an honorable mention. But I went with 18- my most listened to….so here we go….In no particular order.
Myles Kennedy- Year Of The Tiger- Myles autobiographical journey becomes your journey when you give this one a listen. Emotions set to music. The songwriting is dazzling, Myles plays basically everything which highlights his brilliance and of course that voice is one of a kind. The singer/songwriter is back in a big way- Thank God…I have missed a good song man . Sit back, listen and get ready to feel.
Tremonti- A Dying Machine- A concept record from one of the planet's most brilliant guitar players, Mark's playing and storytelling takes this release to a whole new level. It's almost like a movie for your ears! This release was one of the brightest of lights this year. It's a trip you must take- LOUD. Get ready to be floored.
Godsmack- When Legends Rise- A slightly different approach for these Boston legends led to a solid, hard rock reinvigoration as the band celebrated their 20th anniversary. No big surprises- just big hard rock, Sully style.
The Magpie Salute- Highwater 1 - The best way to describe this record is "sweet" …every riff, tune, vocal….mad sweet! It's a summer day for the ears. Can't wait for Highwater 2.
Disturbed- Evolution- Best of their career, hands down. Disturbed doesn't have to make the same record multiple times…they are too talented. This one rendered them fearless and led to a masterful collection of tunes.
Dorothy- 28 Days In The Valley- The talent that Dorothy Martin puts out is off the charts. She is a headliner, not an opener. Great songs, HOT band, TREMENDOUS vocals. She is my hero. A rockstar. And she is just getting started…..look out! Dorothy has arrived.
Sevendust- All I See Is War- I have always loved this band. Any new Sevendust record makes me happy. This one sounds like……Sevendust…as it should. The worlds most underrated hard rockers for sure..rocking HARD…love it.
Red Sun Rising- Thread- A record that has it all. Darkness, light, heavy, melody, pop, this is a breakout, re-birth for this band who have really found their groove. There is no rock record that sounds quite like Thread this year. Congratulations to Red Sun Rising on creating a new bar for the rock sound.
Halestorm- Viscious- Lzzy and company don't disappoint. They aren't afraid to take chances. The heavy sounds we love about them are front and center on this rocker with a more mature approach to songwriting and a real synergy in the band that highlights a grand group of sexy songs. And congrats on more Grammy nominations too.
Shinedown- Attention, Attention- Another concept record on the list, which I LOVE! Bands telling long form stories? We need more of that. Overcoming negativity and the journey through the songs translates to a strong listening experience here, I hope it does not get lost on the casual listener. This record is deep, so listen with two ears, and really hear it. It will take on a life of it's own if you do.
Ghost- Prequelle- I LOVE these swedish ghoulish little devils! These guys are killer….pop meets death metal, Blue Oyster Cult meets Backstreet Boys…(sort of)… The Ghost sound JUMPS out of the speakers. If you don't love it…you don't get it! You will horns up and boogie at the same time. All Hail Ghost!
Judas Priest- Firepower- Judas Priest came back with one of the strongest albums of their career. I called it a "Master-Priest" when I interviewed Rob Halford and he has since used the phrase in other interviews…..I was honored. The Metal God using my schtick! Anytime baby…I meant it. Firepower is power. The Metal God's vocals are perfection and Richie Faulkner's playing and writing brings a fresh energy reminiscent of Painkiller. Priest fans like me can't get enough of the classic Priest sound, imagery and sense of Metal community. THIS is how it's done kids.
Monster Truck- True Rockers- Don't --ck with The Truck! MT is one of my favorite bands. This record took some chances, with some dare I say it "pop sensibilities" rearing their heads. Still the heavy Truck sound shines through. If you don't know this band you should!
Slash, Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators- Living The Dream- This just rocks. A guitar punch in the face from the master (I could listen to him all day), Slash and Myles operate like a fine machine. Myles voice is the instrument that melds with Slash's instrument. Slash never over plays. His feel and virtuosity are what the guitar is all about. The album is simple. Each tune simple. Simply delicious.
Greta Van Fleet- Anthem Of The Peaceful Army- The unstoppable band of the year finally released a full length for their hungry fans, and they did not disappoint. The boys from Michigan surely didn't invent this sound, but they have caused a revolution and revival that includes a passionate fan base unlike any I have seen in a very long time. The tunes are infectious. So is the band. Check out Lover Leaver, The Cold Wind and Anthem for a real throwback. Im grateful GVF released this record because the fans keep telling me how much they love them. I love them too. They are addicting. You will join the peaceful army in no time.
Steve Perry- Traces- An odd choice? Hell no! Steve Perry was the big voice of big rock. He left us for 24 years and I was like…"where did he go"? "When is he coming back"? I was devastated. The songs on Traces are exactly what I want to hear from Steve Perry. Girls, Boys, relationships, love, loss, sadness, strength. I was drawn to this record because I couldn't get enough of Steve f'ing Perry! I missed him and I'm so happy he is back…with us…the fans…where he belongs.
Alice In Chains- Rainier Fog- This is one of Alice In Chains best releases. Heavy, dark and melodic, William Duvall has accomplished what Brian, Sammy and Ronnie have. Breathing new life into a killer band when the chips were down. The heaviness and harmonies have always been the bands signature sound and while this may be Chapter 2 for AIC it certainly isn't any less important. AIC are evolving while staying true to the sound we demand from them.
The Record Company- All Of This Life- 3 guys…..crazy good noise….introducing the blues to a new generation. If you haven't PLEASE check out The Record Company. When I listen to All Of This Life I am 15, on my porch, stomping my feel on a warm summer night. I love a good power trio and this one is great not good. Bluesy, rocky, funky and punky. What could be better? Fresh, fun and fantastic.
Well friends, those are my Top 18. It was wicked tough. I hope I inspired you to give a listen to a band or tune you may not have known. Feel free to send me your lists as well. I'm always up for a new jam!
Have a rocking holiday season and may 2019 be even better for us rockers!