Rock is dead? Plenty of albums released in the past 12 months prove it’s not. From AOR to metal, prog to blues, here are the 50 best…
The Demon Joke (Medium Format)
Mike Vennart made a welcome reappearance with this darkly autobiographical debut solo album on which his honeyed croon is married to crunchy electronica and twisted metallic riffs for an atmospheric rebirth.
49. Joe Satriani
Shockwave Supernova (Sony)
The virtuoso guitarist sharpened his melodic album run of the past few years with Shockwave Supernova, his love of Albert King and Jimi Hendrix shining through its bluesy tracks.
48. Blitzen Trapper
All Across This Land (Vagrant)
Past masters at making antique Americana sound fresh and timeless, Blitzen Trapper’s sixth album was a musical road movie blending folk and funk, country and alt.rock with freewheeling ease.
47. Michael Monroe
Blackout States (Spinefarm)
Blackout States continues the singer’s purple patch, tapping into his days in London with Hanoi Rocks. Blessed with contagious choruses and foot-stomping beats, Old Kings Road and Dead Hearts On Denmark Street pay tribute to those spiky-topped days.
46. King King
Reaching For The Light (Manhaton)
Gradually, modern bluesers King King’s sound has absorbed more of a hard rock edge. Third album Reaching For The Light saw this rocky side emerge more strongly.
45. Nordic Giants
A Seance Of Dark Delusions (Kscope)
Nordic Giants made a powerful statement with their first full-length release, a rich, steaming cauldron of proggy post-rock, electronic and experimental elements.
Hope Is Made of Steel (Xtra Mile)
Crammed with anthems of hard-won hope, wounded pride and widescreen romance, Canadian folk-rock troubadour Matthew Goud’s third solo album virtually had its own beard and lumberjack shirt.
43. Marilyn Manson
The Pale Emperor (Hell, etc/Cooking Vinyl)
Manson’s ninth album had a spacey, percussive, new wave feel, nodding to vintage Bauhaus and Iggy Pop with its zombie vocals, ravaged power ballads and aura of wasted decadence.
Heroes And Villains (Frontiers)
With Heroes And Villains the veteran British rockers continued in their long-established style, but a contemporary sound mix gave the album a telling cutting edge.
41. Dan Patlansky
Dear Silence Thieves (Self-released)
Back in January the South African bluesman was a domestic-market minnow. With its thumping, funk-inflected songs that flicked the finger at twelve-bar dogma, seventh album Dear Silence Thieves changed everything. If anything happens to Gary Clark Jr, we’ve got a backup Saviour Of Blues.
Man It Feels Like Space Again (Caroline)
On their sixth album, Pond hit a freaky, funkadelic seam similar to that mined by Perth neighbours Tame Impala on Currents. Tracks range from the psych sparkle of 90s Flaming Lips to glam swagger, cosmic slop and, in the shape of the title track, eight minutes of acid delirium and fuzzed-out space rock.
39. Walter Trout
Battle Scars (Provogue/Mascot)
With great songs that deviated from the blues-rock template, and his Strat set to ‘stun’, Battle Scars consolidated Trout’s comeback after defeating the Grim Reaper, and might just win him a new fan base.
Innocence And Decadence (Nuclear Blast)
On third album Innocence And Decadence the Swedes finally forged their own sound, lashing together blues-rock heaviosity, vintage soul and nosebleed metal into a thrilling, coherent whole.
37. The Pretty Things
The Sweet Pretty Things (Are In Bed Now, Of Course…) (Repertoire)
Clocking in at just 37 minutes the first studio album from the Pretty Things in seven years might have been short on playing time, but the stoically timeless nature of the music reminded us why those who created it have outlived genre after genre for more than five decades.
War Of Kings (UDR)
Frontman Joey Tempest made no attempt to hide the fact that Europe had attempted to channel the spirits of Led Zeppelin, Rainbow and Deep Purple with their tenth album. However, attempting to do so would have been futile. Produced with crystal clarity, its sleek purposefulness saw the band continue to bury their spandex and hair-metal heritage.
Dark Black Makeup (Little Man)
Three brothers from Missouri, one killer heavy rock debut laced with Misfits-style guts and Motörhead-esque oomph. The three of them are barely old enough to drink and drive back home (the youngest actually isn’t) but with Dark Black Makeup they came up with a tight, fearsome racket. Punked-up rock hadn’t sounded this hard, or groovy, in a long time.
Return To Forever (Sony/UME)
The Scorpions harked back to the glory of the 80s here, with vital freshness; this never sounds like a veteran band hovering in a self-imposed cul-de-sac. The band know what brings out the best in them, and Return To Forever fizzed with anthemic passion.
Right To Rise (Razor And Tie)
Detroit party-metallers Wilson’s second album was a something of a revelation. Gone was the puerile, frat-boy schtick with which they made their name. Instead, Right To Rise was a heartfelt tribute to the rebirth of their home town, set to a backdrop that bridged Black Flag, Motörhead and AC/DC.
32. David Gilmour
Rattle That Lock (Columbia)
David Gilmour might have put Pink Floyd to rest with The Endless River, but on his first new solo album since 2006, there are heavy echoes of the past: ambient rock textures; the voice of the late Richard Wright; and throughout, the expressive guitar playing that was so integral to Floyd. A subtle, beautifully crafted record.