It’s time for list #4: The Rock Top 20. This is where I list all the rock stuff. Still to come are the Modern Rock/Punk Top 20, The Metal Top 30 and The Hard Rock Top 30.
I think this category is pretty self-explanatory. It’s the stuff that you’d on mainstream rock radio, except this list will be mostly bands that Clear Channel wouldn’t give the time of day too, because you wouldn’t want them to actually play GOOD stuff.
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20) The Steepwater Band – Shake Your Faith
Steepwater are known for releasing quality rock records and this is no different. Running the gamut from slow, bluesy numbers up to in your face rockers, this is as well rounded as you can expect any record to be.
19) The Damn Ol’ Bones – The Damn Ol’ Bones
18) Watts – The Black Heart of Rock n Roll
Watts are the exact kind of band that FM radio USED to play when rock n roll was dangerous! Inhabiting the area made famous by people like Joan Jett, The Quireboys, and Hanoi Rocks, Watts really kick up the noise on this record. If you’ve never heard of them before now…change that!
17) Brian Fallon – Painkillers
The former singer of The Gaslight Anthem shows up with his first solo record. Produced expertly by Butch Walker, it’s a fun romp through songs about life, love, and alienation. More acoustic in nature, it’s still sure to get your hands clapping and your feet tapping.
16) St. John The Outlaw – L.A.
With songs like “My Motor (Brings all The Girls To The Bar)” and “She’s a Smoker”, St. John The Outlaw deliver a record that is brash, heavy, and teeters right on the verge of going out of control. Guaranteed to keep any party going til 4 in the morning!
15) 100 Watt Vipers – Cold Sunday Blues
14) Rick Springfield – Rocket Science
You always know you’re gonna get a winner of a record when Rick releases something new. This is really no different. Recorded in Nashville, it has lots of country feel to it while still maintaining it’s definite rock edge throughout. When most rockers have long retired, Rick is still out there showing the kids a thing or two!
13) Blackfoot – Southern Native
So, when I heard that this band was going to return but with no original members and Ricky only working as the producer, I was very skeptical. Blackfoot holds a very special place in my musical memory bank and the thought of this band without Ricky was crazy. I have to say though, He did a bang up job of choosing the new members. This is classic Blackfoot in every sense and you barely notice that it’s NOT the originals. This has all the great sonic qualities of the early stuff and really delivers. I look forward to hearing much more.
12) Boneyard Dog – Bluesbound Train
A superb blend of blues and classic rock, Rob Mancini absolutely sings his butt off on this. This harkens back to the classic styles of early Whitesnake, Deep Purple, and ELP.
11) Ricky Warwick – When Patsy Cline Was Crazy (And Guy Mitchell Sang The Blues)/Hearts On Trees
Ricky comes in here with his Double CD solo release. The first half is a rocking affair of songs that are very Thin Lizzy in style yet have a lot more heart. The second half is an acoustic record of songs that are even better than the first half. When the tunes are stripped back, Ricky really shines. This one is a winner on every level.
10) Read ‘Em and Weep – Drawin’ Dead
Hailing from Detroit, MI, this band comes on like The Cult on steroids but with metal cred to back them up. They’re also one monster live band that will peel the paint off the walls of anyplace they play!
9) Damian Wilson – Built For Fighting
The lead singer of Threshhold lands here with his solo record. It’s a shockingly emotional ride with gorgeously written songs that will bring you to the edge of tears. His cover version of the Depeche Mode classic, Somebody, is worth the price alone.
8) The Refusers – Wake Up America
I discovered this band earlier this year while searching for music for a political themed show. The band is fiercely Libertarian in nature and write brilliant songs about the way that things SHOULD be. Musically, it reminds me a lot of early Alice Cooper in style. A great record and I can’t wait to hear what they do in the future.
7) Chevonne and The Fuzz – Chevonne and The Fuzz
This record can pretty much be summed up by their song titled, “Never See Me Coming.” This record totally came out of nowhere and was like a swift kick right in the fun bags! A monster set of tunes that really rock. Another one that is guaranteed to piss off the neighbors!
6) Vandalay – Flicker
I was introduced to this band after I seen them open a show for the band Romantic Rebel. They totally stole the show and made me into an immediate fan. A bit more electronic in nature, this duo still know how to rock out. This is an expertly produced record that loses very little in the live translation.
05) The Virginmarys – Divides
Every once in a while you hear a new, young band that just knocks your balls in the dirt, The Virginmarys are one of those bands. This is no holds barred, take no prisoners, melt your eyebrows rock n roll played at maximum volume. Buy this one, crank it LOUD, and piss off the neighbors!
4) Ray Wilson – Makes Me Think of Home
The second of the two CD’s that Ray released this year, it’s the electric one of of the two. If you’re NOT familiar with Ray’s music, you’re seriously neglecting your ears! Ray is a master songwriter that writes sweeping, epic songs that mirror Pink Floyd at times but with his own unique touch. “Tennessee Mountain”, “Anyone Out There”, and the title track are standouts here.
3) Fifth Freedom – Heartbreak and Hellfire
Hailing from the Portland, Maine area, this band is inevitably going to be compared to Black Stone Cherry though I personally think they’re better. This is a fiery, rocking CD with soulful vocals a plenty. Here’s to huge thing for them in the near future.
2) Ray Wilson – Song For A Friend
It’s not often that someone writes a song that moves me to tears, Ray managed to do it three times on this record. The first of the two he did this year, and the acoustic one, it’s Ray doing what he does best. A gorgeous, sweeping record that plays every emotion like a violin. Ray also includes his version of the Pink Floyd classic, High Hopes, which has to be heard to be believed.
And now, THE NUMBER ONE ROCK RECORD OF THE YEAR, according to me…
1) Snake Head Ritual – Ceremonial Thunder
Snake Head Ritual return with their second record and it’s even bigger, louder, and more in your face than the debut was. This is the kind of music that you just don’t listen to, you feel it in your GUTS. This is rock music played the way it’s SUPPOSED to be played. For Fans of bands like The MC5, The Stooges, Mitch Ryder, and The Who.