Once again it’s time for my Annual Best of Top 30 lists. I often get asked how I come up with the lists and what criteria I use to create them.
During the year I receive hundreds of records from each of the 7 genres that I create lists for. There is so much amazing music floating around out there, there simply isn’t enough hours in the day to showcase it all. I try to cover as much as humanly possible but it’s simply not possible for me to get to everything or give each record as much time as I’d love to give them all.
With that being said, my tastes in music as unconventional at best and eclectic at worst. I love the independent spirit of music and find myself much more attracted to underground music than the mainstream stuff that corporate radio pushes.
When choosing the music that makes my year end lists I keep 4 basic rules in mind:
1) No greatest hits, re-issues, live, cover albums or box sets are eligible.
2) A record must contain a minimum of SEVEN songs thus no EP’s qualify.
3) The list is NEVER based on record sales or commercial numbers.
4) Music is Subjective and these are simply MY favorites that have impacted me in personal ways, thus staying on my heavy rotation for the entire year.
Now, let’s get to the fun!
30) The Protest – Legacy
Chunky, riff driven modern rock with killer vocals that will be sure to have your fists pumping in the air!
29) State Champs – Living Proof
Propulsive Pop Punk style with giant sounding rhythms that let you know that the genre is just fine in the hands of these guys!
28) The Casualties – Written In Blood
Legendary punkers return with a balls out record that is perfect for those times when you absolutely, positively need to break shit! Punk the way it was MEANT to be written!
27) Blacklite District – Through The Ages
Mixing heavy electronics with rock to achieve a sound that is somewhere between Muse and Rammstein, Blacklite are great songwriters that write terrific hooks that will stay with you long after the record is over.
26) Alkaline Trio – Is This Thing Cursed
Matt Skiba and gang return with a grooving set of jams that are both super catchy and rocking at the same time. It’s records like this that are reasons why I’m such a Skiba fan!
25) He Who Cannot Be Named – The Good, The Bad, and The Brutal
Dwarves legend comes in here with a set of tunes in the style he’s so well known for. Extremely tongue in cheek and not for the feint of heart.
24) Of Mice & Men – Defy
Cali band featuring both screaming and clean vocals with crushing grooves that set themselves far apart in this genre of often cookie cutter bands. It’s on songs like “Sunflower” and “On The Inside” the band really shines with a sound that sets them above others.
23) Muse – Simulation Theory
Like just about everything this band has released, this one takes a few listens to really register fully. There’s so much complexity and so many layers at work, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the whirlwind of sounds. The persistent listener is rewarded though with a symphony of sounds that are just mind blowing.
22) Alice In Chains – Ranier Fog
I never thought I’d see the day when an Alice In Chains record made one of my lists. I’ve always respected them as musicians but they just never seemed to blow me away. This record though, man, there’s something about it that is just really great. Easily the best work the band has ever done, IMHO.
21) Smash Into Pieces – Evolver
another band that mixes electronic elements with heavy rock sounds and killer hooks, to achieve a sound that is both super catchy while also being able to rock ya head.
20) Sunflower Dead – Coma
With a sound that some may describe as a crossbreed between Korn and Disturbed, this band is more musical than both of the aforementioned, with tunes that are instantly memorable.
19) Dead Girls Academy – Alchemy
One of the records that hit me like a bolt of lightening this year and became an instant favorite. Most people will probably hate this for the Black Veil Brides comparisons but screw them, this is one bad ass record that sounds awesome in the car with the windows down.
18) Therapy? – Cleave
Irish rockers return with a record that should garner them even more critical acclaim. Biting lyrics mixed with bombastic grooves.
17) Street Dogs – Stand For Something or Die For Nothing
Punk music for revolutionaries, plain and simple. The Street Dogs are one of those bands that no matter how fast or heavy the song is, they always manage to load it with massive hooks that are sickeningly catchy!
16) The Living End – Wunderbar
Aussie trio returns with a record that will please long time fans and probably make them a few new ones as well. Singer/guitarist Chris Cheney is sort of like the Brian Setzer of punk rock, grossly underrated but a name that everyone should know! Easily among the band’s best work to date and a must have for anyone that likes Punk style rock n roll music with a Rockabilly tinge!
15) Messer – Messer
Dallas based rockers slide in here with their debut record that is full of Sevendust style monsters that both groove and rip your face off!
14) No Sleep For Lucy – Until The End
Super melodic alt style rock with emotional themes that yank at the heart while assaulting your ears.
13) Hate Grenade – The King Is Dead
Ultra heavy rap metal that rages like a beast. Reminds me a ton of the band Reveille and that’s awesome, as they were one of my all time favorite 90’s bands. Mix is a bit muddy in places and the main reason it’s NOT Top 5 for me. Still a crushing record though and one that I absolutely LOVE!
12) Devilstrip – Gravitate
Chunky, melodic groove rock in the vein of Pop Evil or Buckcherry. This one could have fit on the hard rock list as well but seemed a more natural fit here. The second of the artists from Akron to make my lists this year!
11) From Ashes To New – The Future
Emotional rap metal in the Linken Park vein only far better in every way. Extremely positive lyrics that share a message of hope. One of those CD’s that is meant for cranking full blast in the car.
10) BillyBio – Feed The Fire
Lead singer of Biohazard comes in here with his solo record that will rip your face off. Another record that is gonna be great for breaking shit!
09) Yungblud – 21st Century Liability
You ever get one of those record that you should hate but just can’t? Well, I give you this stupidly catchy, infectious slab of punk infused Pop rap. Imagine if Joe Strummer had a kid that grew up to be a punk rapper. Hands down, the biggest surprise this year and one that I’m now a huge fan of. I hope to hear a ton more from him soon!
08) Hyvmine – Earthquake
Modern hard rock with a serious technical edge that shows this band can seriously rock while still showcasing their brilliant musical chops. The band has since released an ep that further showcases their musical evolution. A definite band to watch in the future.
07) Diamante – Coming In Hot
Blue Haired female rocker comes in here with her Howard Benson produced debut that firmly puts her at the forefront of female singers in the rock arena. Monster sounding debut that should do well to get her lots of notice!
06) Wilson – Tasty Nasty
Detroit area rockers release album #3, a departure of sorts for them. This record is full of hilarious, funky hard rockers that are sure to keep any party raging til 4 in the morning! Put your middle fingers up and crank this one to 11!
05) Mick Blankenship – Crown Of Apathy
Massive sounding debut from Ohio based rocker that should easily put him at the top of a lot of people’s lists. A nearly flawless record in every aspect, this one is a sleeper that should be on everyone’s list to have!
04) Discrepencies – The Awakening
Lead singer ATG already figured into the Hip Hop Top 30 list with his solo record, and comes in here again with his rap metal band that will stomp a mudhole in your proverbial ass and walk that fucker dry! In a genre that can sometimes be a bit cheesy, Discrepancies is the real fk’n deal!
03) Poets Of The Fall – Ultraviolet
Short and to the point, this is one of the most epically beautiful records that I’ve ever had the honor of hearing. What Poets have achieved here is near beyond words. “Moments Before The Storm” and closer “Choir of Cicadas” are worth the price alone and will damn near leave you speechless with their beauty.
02) Blue October – I Hope You’re Happy
One of my all time favorite bands, they return with a record that is once again showcases the band’s unique sound that can be both uplifting and gut wrenching, sometimes within the same song. Number 1 by a mile on a normal year, they come in second this year due to the exceptional record that is #1…
01) Hyro The Hero – Flagged Channel
It took exactly 90 seconds of the first track to know this was gonna be the record to beat this year. An absolutely Herculean record with buzz saw guitars, slamming rhythms, and Hyro spitting absolute venom over it all! If Bad Brains and RaTM had a anything goes, winner takes all brawl, it’d sound something like this!
As much as I was a fan of Hyro’s last record, that one absolutely sounds mellow compared to this one. This is one of the most unrelenting records released this year, regardless of genre. While the message may not be to everyone’s liking, it’s delivered with a reckless abandon that you just have to admire. Hyro is now at the top of my wish list for future interviews! Get this record, crank it up, and just level the neighborhood!