Album Of The Year
It's been an extraordinary year for Dave Grohl and his band as they reaffirmed their position as one of the biggest and best bands on the planet.
Far from resting on their laurels after 2007's multi-platinum album Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace, the Foos went back to the drawing board for what is easily their most enthralling and complete LP to date, recording it in Grohl's garage to analogue tape with barely any overdubs and a paucity of added instrumentation. This was a ROCK record, and it was sublime.
The trademark Grohl choruses are still there, but there's an urgency here that's been missing on some of their previous efforts. That you can hear the tape edits in the mix only adds to this album's raucous charm across eleven of the best rock songs in recent years.
It will be interesting to see where the Foos go from here, but what is certain is that it will probably take us by surprise.
|2) JOE BONAMASSA - DUST BOWL
Joe's ninth solo studio album saw him dabbling with country as he brought in John Hiatt and Vince Gill to guest on a couple of songs. Typically diverse and utterly compelling, Dust Bowl saw Joe offer up a cracking modern blues record which wears its influences firmly on its sleeve. But what makes this record so special is that it's an indication of Joe's growing confidence and prowess as both a guitarist and a songwriter, with songs such as 'The Whale That Swallowed Jonah' and the title track amongst the finest things that he has ever written
|3) BLACK COUNTRY COMMUNION - 2
Harder, bigger and with a swagger that belies the fact that this is just the band's second studio album, BCC2 is a fantastic hard rock record that harks back to a simpler time in rock music when four guys could go into a studio and just play. The record gives more time to each band member than last year's debut, letting each shine individually, but it's when the four members seem to be on a plain of their very own that the album really soars.
|4) BLACK STONE CHERRY - BETWEEN THE DEVIL & THE DEEP BLUE SEA
Black Stone Cherry's third studio album was another slice of bombastic Southern rock, with catchy choruses and HUGE guitars. The energy levels are upped for a set of songs which became instant fan favourites in their live sets. The band's decision to record away from their home-state for the first time with Grammy nominated producer Howard Benson paid dividends as they found a new self-belief in their own songs. It paid dividends when the album threatened the upper-echelons of album charts all over the world when it was released back in May, landing at number 13 in the UK.
|5) ALICE COOPER - WELCOME 2 MY NIGHTMARE
Easily Alice's best album since 1989's Trash, the sequel to his classic 1975 album is both an homage to his musical past ('I'll Bite Your Face Off' is Alice's tribute to the Rolling Stones) and a bold statement of intent for the future. Alongside producer Bob Ezrin (responsible for nearly all of Alice's greatest moments) Alice has managed to come up with his most subtle and interesting record in decades. A very "welcome" surprise indeed.
|6) MOTORHEAD - THE WORLD IS YOURS
The only thing you really need to know about The World Is Yours is this: it's loud, it's as subtle as punch to the face... it's MOTORHEAD for goodness sake. There's no musical surprises to be found amongst the 10 tracks, but what it does offer is a 40 minute barrage of punk, metal and thrash riffs. No one sounds like Motorhead and - if they keep making music as good as this - no one will need to.
|7) CHICKENFOOT - III
As with their debut, III is a record intended to be heard live. They may be a supergroup made up of multi-million selling rock stars but this is a band born out of bar room jams, and while this record is slightly more nuanced and less immediate than their exceptional first album it is big, riff-heavy, bombastic but above all, fun. This is the type of record that car stereos were made for.
|8) WHITESNAKE - FOREVERMORE
Giving their detractors a good old musical smackdown, Whitesnake prove once again that there's still a bit left in the tank with an album that happily sits amongst their best efforts since 1987. Cov's voice is slightly more world weary than on previous albums, but that's no bad thing, it just reminds you that this is one of rock's grand masters doing what he does best. Don't let naysayers put you off investigating this album, if only for the sublime epic title track which will undoubtedly be ranked alongside the best things that the band have EVER done
|9) THE ANSWER - REVIVAL
Their North American tour with AC/DC has clearly had an affect on Northern Ireland's finest, as Revival is bigger, better and more satisfying than either of their previous albums. Largely gone is the preoccupation with the Free-esque British blues of the late 60s, and instead you have the hard and heavy hard rock of 70s America (with more than a little nod to the aforementioned Aussie hard rock touring companions). It's an album that demands your attention, and once you are hooked you will struggle to get this off the stereo.
|10) RIVAL SONS - PRESSURE & TIME
Take a little Led Zeppelin, a little Black Crowe. Mix in in a little Doors, a little Atlantic soul and some early 70s psychedelia and you will get somewhere near to the Rival Sons' sophomore album, which remains one of the most enduring records of the year. At 10 tracks and just 30 minutes long, Pressure & Time is a staggeringly compact, hook laden gem of an album. If you've been looking for your new favourite band, then your search is most definitely over.
|11) THE UNION - SIREN'S SONG
Luke and Peter trump last year's debut in style. The songs are better, the sound is bigger and you will have a different favourite track from the album on each listen. It's a "classic" album, in the style of the best rock records of the past 40 years - a coherent and complete whole that should be absorbed in one sitting, and then enjoyed repeatedly after that. It's a timeless, and undeniably brilliant rock record and easily sits amongst the best of the year.
|12) SAXON - CALL TO ARMS
Essentially this album is like the best of both classic and modern Saxon all rolled into one very hard and heavy 11 track bundle. There's no experimentation here (well, maybe the orchestral version of the title track) but Saxon are keeping the classic British metal sound alive and well on what is possibly their most "stripped down" album in years. If you're partial to a little Denim & Leather then you really should investigate.
|13) JANE'S ADDICTION - THE GREAT ESCAPE ARTIST
Simply put, this is Jane's Addiction's best album to date. The band's much delayed fourth LP is a departure from their previous work, with TV On The Radio's Dave Sitek on bass adding some serious balls to their previously intricate punky, alt-grunge. It's perhaps the record that the band were always destined to make, and if we never get another from these famously tempestuous Californians then it will be one hell of a swansong.
|14) YES - FLY FROM HERE
Prog's most enduring band prove that a new line-up can still make music that is just as valid as any of their previous work. Typically bombastic progressive rock is tempered by producer (and writer) Trevor Horn's ear for a pop hook, while new singer Benoit David's voice is just different enough from his predecessor Jon Anderson to make this a clearly different beast to the band's iconic sound. Fly From Here demands that you do some of the work to appreciate its subtle beauty - but would you expect less from a band such as Yes.
|15) R.E.M. - COLLAPSE INTO NOW
Though we didn't know it when it was released, Collapse Into Now would be the band's very last album. So it's just as well that it proved to be their best record since 1996's New Adventures In Hi-Fi. This is the spikey, energetic, harder edged R.E.M., rather than the summery, pop R.E.M. that has been producing underwhelming records for much of the past decade and it recalls the band's earlier endeavours, such as Life's Rich Pageant and Document. A genuinely fitting finale for one of rock's biggest oddball bands.
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