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The 50 Best Rock Albums of 2019 (so far)

Albums Of 2019 So Far
(Image credit: Pexels / Pixabay)

"Rock is dead!" bleat the naysayers, probably because AC/DC or Aerosmith haven't released a new album. "No it isn't!", responds anyone who's actually listening. 

We're used to this. The marquee names make their money out on the road, with a single night's gate receipts supplying a band like Metallica with the kind of income a successful album might take months to generate.

Instead, we look towards new music. And for anyone open-minded enough to keep exploring, anyone still excited by the prospect of hearing something they haven't heard before, 2019 has seen a bumper crop of releases.

So we asked you to choose your favourite albums of 2019 so far, the results are in, and we're delighted to see plenty of new music amongst some very familiar names. 

Congratulations to all who who made the Final 50, and to those artists who created enough noise to leap unexpectedly into the reckoning. You know who you are, and we salute you.  

And that album at the top of the list? Absolute landslide

50. Puppy: The Goat

This debut from Puppy has been a long time coming, but the legwork was worth it, giving Puppy time to hammer home their USP: a sound which fuses alt.rock, grunge, glam metal and art-pop and draws from myriad bands, from Smashing Pumpkins, to Weezer, to Black Sabbath

Poor Me draws from all three of those influences, World Stands Still would sound at home on Ghost’s Prequelle, and on Black Hole and Vengeance a 90s vibe permeates with a strong whiff of cock-rock and plenty of hooks.

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49. Royal Republic: Club Majesty

This singularly focused album hustles, struts and sprints unapologetically for the finish line in an exuberant blur of instantly memorable good-time tunes. Only thundering heavy hitter Like A Lover trades pace for added intensity, otherwise Blunt Force Trauma, Under Cover, the extra-sweary Fortune Favors and Can’t Fight The Disco (natch) rock stupidly hard and addictively fast. 

Weirdly, the result isn’t a million miles in spirit from, say, David Lee Roth’s Eat ’Em And Smile for sheer relentless exhilaration. Club Majesty is smart, funny and impeccably entertaining.

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48. Little Steven & The Disciples Of Soul: Summer Of Sorcery

Back in the saddle as bandleader, Steve Van Zandt's tangible labour of love defiantly captures old-school New York’s cross-pollinating melting pot with rich infusions of Latin (Party Mambo), blues (I Visit The Blues), blaxploitation (Vortex), classic rock’n’roll (Superfly Terra Plane), Southside Johnny And The Asbury Jukes (Soul Power Twistin’) and still making a social point on Education

The widescreen, even over-the-top production is delightfully Spectoresque, pumped with brass and backing singers, going the whole sonic skyscraper hog on Communion and an epic title track. It’s a bonus that this unashamed celebration of endangered music and city life also makes a great party soundtrack.

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47. Texas Hippie Coalition: High In The Saddle

A profane coagulation of groove metal, southern rock and outlaw country, High In The Saddle is a ridiculous yet somehow magnificent album, riddled with redneck clichés, with songs that might be cast as novelty were they not so well written. 

Why Aren’t You Listening could be a lost Soundgarden classic, Ride Or Die might just be 2019’s biggest power ballad, and Bullseye steers a perilous course between NRA endorsement and Bon Jovi-style stadium singalong.

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46. The Damned Things: High Crimes

The Damned Things are a Frankenstein’s monster that shouldn’t walk but does. Featuring Anthrax’s Scott Ian alongside members of pop-punk bands Fall Out Boy and metalcore screamers Every Time I Die.

This is shiny modern rock with a scuffed heart and a sense of constant restlessness of spirit. Given how closely associated its protagonists are to their respective genres, it’s no small achievement that The Damned Things don’t sound like any of the bands that spawned them.

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45. Black Mountain: Destroyer

Like the restored 1985 Dodge Destroyer muscle car it’s named after, the fifth album from Vancouver’s Black Mountain beats with an FM radio rock heart. 

But unlike the vehicle mainman Stephen McBean painstakingly pieced back together, Destroyer is not so much slavish recreation as a hot-wired jumble of sounds and styles welded together. Its nine tracks fritz with ideas and energy.

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44. The Heavy: Sons

Since forming in the West Country in the mid-noughties, The Heavy’s rock‘n’soul has conquered festivals and top US TV shows and sold out their spring European tour. Switching labels from Ninja Tune to BMG, this fifth album could be their breakthrough.

The rock bombast of opener Heavy For You could be misleading; by Better As One, the single inspired by Charlottesville’s racist rally in 2017, The Heavy are transcending their name, kicking up a storm on scathing missives like Fighting For The Same Thing, Fire and Burn Bright. The Heavy are a band we really need right now.

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43. Duel: Valley Of Shadows

Impressively prolific Texas stoners Duel just seem to get better and better, with their fourth album in as many years demonstrating an ever-growing mastery of psych, doom and primal proto-metal. 

Building impressively on 2017’s Witchbanger, the precision of Duel’s brutal occult boogie is immediately apparent on opener Black Magic Summer, Red Moon Forming and Tyrant On The Throne – tight and trippy powerhouses led firmly from the front by Tom Frank’s gravelly roar, his vocal style not dissimilar to Clutch’s Neil Fallon. Praise indeed. 

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42. Ed Wynne: Shimmer Into Nature

Ed Wynne has been masterminding Ozric Tentacles for nearly 40 years. On Shimmer Into Nature, his first solo album, he lets his music expand into so many differing mazes that he could easily have got lost. 

Yet across the album’s five instrumentals he binds everything together by allowing multiple themes to develop in parallel. There are touches of electronica, reggae, funk, classical and space rock juxtaposed in a manner that could easily have unravelled.

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41. Bob Mould: Sunshine Rock

This is Bob Mould's biggest, brightest, most crackling and electric album since his Sugar days, the product of a conscious decision to fight a great battle against the clouds of darkness to which he has been personally prone in the past.

It’s also the unlikely upshot of a move to Berlin, where he currently resides. Unlike David Bowie, however, for whom the city’s atmospheres inspired the ambient, atmospheric shades of Low, for Mould, the city has inspired a burst of California-like vitamin D to pour forth from his fretboard.

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Fraser Lewry

Online Editor at Louder/Classic Rock magazine since 2014. 35 years in music industry, online for 22. Also bylines for: Metal Hammer, Prog Magazine, The Word Magazine, The Guardian, The New Statesman, Saga, Music365. Favourite Serbian trumpeter: Dejan Petrović. Likes cats.