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) Jason Charles Miller – In The Wasteland
Lead singer of Godhead steps out as a solo artist on a record with a ton of thump. This is a record that mixes heavy rock with a bluesy vibe, gutsy vocals, and plenty of songs about rabble rousing!
29) Bad Touch – Shake A Leg
Uk rockers come in here with record #3, a record that rocks mightily with plenty of bottom end and soulful vocals. One of those bands that should be much more widely known by rock fans everywhere.
28) Royal Sons – Praise Warships
Big, powerful, in your face rock songs the way they were meant to be written and performed. If 70’s style rock is ever going to make a full comeback, this is one of the bands that should be leading the charge!
27) Drivin’ & Cryin’ – Too Late To Turn Back Now
Just D & C doing what D & C have been doing for 30+ years. Writing amazing stories about life’s struggles set to some of the finest music known to man.
26) Black Stone Cherry – Family Tree
What I like to call ‘Driving music’. Throw this record on in the car, roll down the windows, and crank it loud…then just drive like a madman!
25) Gin Wigmore – Ivory
There’s just something about Gin’s voice that sucks you in and won’t let go. I wish most of the female vocalists these days were half as fiery or interesting. Gin has a knack for really mixing it up the tempo musically so that no two tunes really sound the same. A must hear.
24) The Struts – Young & Dangerous
Taking a page from the Queen handbook and mixing it with some Rolling Stones style boogie, the guys put on a rock n roll clinic in how to write songs that are bigger than life, while still rocking like crazy. One of the best new bands going right now, these guys are proof that rock n roll is still alive and well.
23) Dave Bray USA – Music On A Mission
Mixing Patriotic tunes with amazing storytelling in an almost VH1 Storyteller style. The message on this will NOT be for everyone, but for those non-snowflake types, this will be right up your alley!
22) Damian Wilson & Adam Wakeman – The Sun Will Dance In Its Twilight Hour
Acoustic based prog rock with Damian on vocals and Adam providing the music accompaniment. Stark, haunting songs that pack a wallop in the emotional department. The perfect record when you just want to chill.
21) The Night Flight Orchestra – Sometimes The World Ain’t Enough
Funky, Groove oriented rock jams that take all the best elements of 70’s style and fuse them together into one giant, irresistible affair that is sure to have booties shaking and feet moving.
20) Rick Springfield – The Snake King
We’ve long passed the point of being able to guess where Rick is going to go musically anymore, from record to record. He takes a turn toward heavy blues rock here and proves that no matter what style he chooses, he pretty much does it with ease. He has nothing left to prove and at this point, is just making records for the pure love of the art.
19) Blackberry Smoke – Find A Light
Southern tinged rock n roll with a ton of soul. If you don’t know this band by now, you’ve obviously been living under a rock.
18) The Low Countries – We Weathered The Storm
Ever wondered what it’d sound like if Pink Floyd and The Beatles had a jam session? This is the record for you then. Going flawlessly from one sound to the other without missing a beat, this UK group delivers a sound that is eclectic as it is diverse.
17) The Lockhearts – Americana Doom Fuzz
Some might say this record suffers from identity crisis, I say those people would be small minded simpletons who can’t see the grand vision this Aussie band had for this record. Exactly as the name implies, this record has elements of all 3 styles flawless melded together into something that would have been perfectly at home in either the 70’s or the 80’s, while still sounding like something modern Springsteen might pull out.
16) Smash Fashion – Rompus Pompous
Good ole fashioned rock n roll meant to get the adrenaline pumping and the speakers kicking.
15) Tax The Heat – Change Your Position
UK based rockers come in here with a record that is full of in your face rockers that combine retro influences with a big modern production that make for one hell of a mix. Bombastic and emotional, these songs let ya know these guys are here to stay!
14) Sulo – Nightshift & Brilliant Outsiders
Sulo comes in here with a double release of records that showcase his ability as a pure songwriter, away from his more hard rock oriented stuff that he is known for in Diamond Dogs and The Crunch. Totally stripped back and relying totally on his ability to tell a story, it’s very Dylan-esque in style. The second part is very country oriented but still very good.
13) 1916 – Far Beyond The Pale
What would it sound like if Brian Setzer rocked out a record with the Dropkick Murphy’s back him up? I believe 1916 do their best to answer that riddle. This is their raucous take on Irish styled Psychobilly. It’s loud, it’s brash, but most of all…it’s freaking FUN!
12) Adam Norsthworthy – The Circus Moon
No artist is more present this year on my lists than Adam, who comes in here with one of the THREE releases that he figures into this year. This time it’s his solo record, which is full of foot stomping, hand clapping goodness that is sure to have you singing along well after the record is over and done.
11) Jessie Galante – The Show Must Go On
Buffalo based rocker comes in here with a storming set of tunes written as a tribute to her late husband. Delivered with all the passion of a Gospel singer, but one that knows how to rock faces, I can’t imagine a more fitting way to honor her late mate.
10) Brass Owl – Brass Owl
With a sound that is like a heavier Bad Company with some fiery, heavy blues elements for good measure, this Ohio based outfit puts on a clinic on how to rock with passion.
09) Eric Lauer – Eric Lauer
I first discovered Eric a few years back upon the release of the last record by his band, Dead Man’s Ransom. Coming in here with his first solo record, he continues the sound forward from DMR but adds a more haunting, bluesy approach that is completely engaging. It’s like listening to the ultimate one man band pour his soul out for the world to hear.
08) The Mustangs – Just Passing Through
This one could have gone into the blues category, but I decided to put it here, simply because it seemed to have more of a rock personality to me than a blues one. Don’t ask me to explain my reasoning here, this is just where I felt this one belonged. Also the 3rd of the CD’s featuring Adam Norsworthy’s contributions.
07) Sari Schorr – Never Say Never
Like a female Gary Moore, Sari rocks her way into position #7 with a sound that is equal parts blazing rock and wailing blues vocals. She can tell a hell of a story with her songwriting and is equally as powerful when she chooses to cover a classic, in this case, the Bad Company classic, “Ready For Love.” One of those records you have to hear to really believe.
06) Valentine – The Alliance
With all the pomp and circumstance that you loved about Queen’s music, Valentine delivers a big, raging rock record here that has enough personality to satisfy stadiums full of rocks and art rock types alike. If this record doesn’t establish these guys as a serious mainstream band, then there simply isn’t justice in the world.
05) Ginger Wildheart – Ghost In The Tanglewood
Ginger has long been one of the most underrated songwriters in the business and this is just more proof that the guy writes a damn amazing record while not really conforming to anyone’s standards but his own. Every single song on this record has it’s own unique personality that is unlike any others. A must have record for any serious fan of the songwriter style of music.
04) Sir Reg – The Underdogs
Swedish based Celtic Rockers storm in here with an ass-kicking, full on blitz of tunes guaranteed to get any Pub or Bar fired up! Includes the tune, ‘Conor McGregor’, an ode to Ireland’s favorite son! I might add as well, one of the most fun and hilarious interviews that I got to do this year! These guys (and lady) are freaking crazy fun!
03) Supersuckers – Suck It!
Eddie Spaghetti and crew return with a balls out record that is one part Johnny Cash, One part Lemmy, and one part fuck society’s rules! Nobody does it quite like the Suckers and that doesn’t change here. It only takes one listen to ‘The History of Rock n Roll’ or ‘Breakin’ My Balls’ to understand what you’re getting here. Beer soaked, Blood stained, kick your buddy in the nuts rock n roll!
02) The Gold Web – Acidchrist Superspice & The Candyboys
Now, this was a record that came out of the blue like an absolute bolt of lightening! The band posted they were giving the record away to fans for free and having been a fan of previous works, I jumped all over it.
Take everything amazing that you can think of about 70’s glam rock and create a modern sound that embodies all those sounds, you’d end up with this! Queen, T. Rex, Slade, Sweet, The Bee Gees, Kiss…it’s all in here but with a giant mix of psychedelica on top for good measure. If this record had been released in 1976, They’d be enjoying legendary status now along side all of the aforementioned bands from above. Turn on your black light, your lava lamps, and crank this up while you let the tunes carry you into another era!
01) Jason Kane & The Jive – Hellacious Boogie
And here we are, at #1! Ladies and gentleman, I give you my most listened to record of the year, bar none! When this trio debuted last year, I immediately took note of them and knew they were gonna blaze a path of musical destruction in the near future.
Here they are on record #2 and make no mistake about it, They’ve come to blast the hair off your head with a sound that is near equivalent of staring down a runaway locomotive! It’s a flurry of blues, funky hard rock, and Hendrix style riffing that leaves you dizzy from the absolute fire these guys are throwing down.
If there was any band that I had to bet money on becoming one of the next BIG things, it’d be these guys! Get out and check them out while you can still see them at local clubs, because I guarantee they’ll be getting the Greta Van Fleet treatment very soon!