We’re currently counting down the best tracks of the year. One rule: only one track is featured per artist. Today, we display numbers 30-21.
30: Toto – _Orphan _
Huge, heartfelt ballad (and lead single) from the melodic rock giants. Arena singalongs and swaying lighters beckon.
29: Marilyn Manson – Deep Six
Brian Warner’s scarifying alter ego scored one of his biggest hits to date with this single from his ninth album The Pale Emperor, an intoxicating cocktail of gothic sleaze-punk guitars and croaky-voiced decadence.
28: Howlin’ Rain – Big Red Moon
The first single from Mansion Songs stepped away from the classic rock stronghold of The Russian Wilds, into something weirder and more rootsy. A big change, but it worked beautifully.
27: Northcote – Small Town Dreams
Matt Goud does blue-collar, Springsteen-ish rock better than many imitators that have followed the Boss. Not that he’s a mindless copycat, mind you; this swaying ballad is exquisitely fresh and personal.
26: The Sonics – Sugaree
Anyone who caught their shows this year would agree they rock scandalously hard for men in their eighth decade. Sugaree has the energy and attitude of a band half their age.
25: Blitzen Trapper – All Across This Land
Even more than a decade into their career, this Portland-based band are still something of a ‘secret’, but few would turn their nose up at this tasty slice of 70s-influenced boogie rock (with added ‘woo woo’s).
24: Alabama Shakes – Don’t Wanna Fight
The lead single from their second album, Sound & Color, revealed a funkier side to Alabama Shakes – as well as the full glory of Brittany Howard’s wheezing, whooping soulful voice.
23: Michael Monroe – _Old Kings Road _
There’s enough Hanoi Rocks influence here to please old school fans. The song itself, though, brims over the punk snarl and trashy bonhomie. All performed with arrogant passion. Great fun.
22: Dan Patlansky – Backbite
The South African hot-tip described this album highlight as “a modern take on a clichéd blues song”, and with its Kravitzian riff-raff and funk aftertaste, Backbite was a beacon amidst the twelve-bars.
21: Motorhead – Thunder & Lightning
Lemmy & Co. show a bluesy streak in a song that nods at their early days, while never getting caught up in nostalgia. A glorious final blast from a band who’ll be hugely missed. RIP.