5. Live at Hammersmith by the Darkness
I was lucky enough to see the Darkness live back in 2003 when they were still touring for their kickass debut album, Permission to Land. Oh, and as a brief side note, the opening act on that tour was a group called the Wildhearts, and at one point their lead singer/guitarist got pissed off that the crowd didn’t know who they were and threw his instrument at a roadie. Anyway, in my opinion, one of the signs of a really good band is that they sound just as good (if not better) live as they do on their albums. Well, the Darkness happens to be one of those bands. So go get this album, crank up the volume, and roll down your windows. Your neighbors might not be very happy, but you definitely will.
4. Anthem of the Peaceful Army by Greta Van Fleet
For some inexplicable reason, this album and the band who recorded it have been getting, shall we say… decidedly mixed reviews. The sound has even been derided as “half-baked boomer fetishism.” Why? Because it sounds like Led Zeppelin. But hey, guess what! You know why this album is awesome? Because it friggin’ sounds like Led Zeppelin! Ya know, one of the greatest rock bands of all time? Thank God there are still young people out there who both love and understand what real rock n’ roll is supposed to be like. Speaking of which, here’s a video of Robert Plant (the Golden God himself) talking about how lead singer Josh Kiszka sounds just like him. You’re welcome.
3. Vaxis – Act I: The Unheavenly Creatures by Coheed & Cambria
Who doesn’t like progressive rock/emo/metal that tells a vague yet complicated sci-fi story about a messianic figure (named after the lead singer) who must defeat someone called the Archmage in order to save Heaven’s Fence, a collection of 78 planets held in place by interconnecting beams of energy? That’s what I thought. Seriously though, the latest release by Coheed & Cambria is arguably more radio-friendly than some of their darker and more experimental albums (Year of the Black Rainbow comes to mind), so its sure to appeal to a wider audience. The album has a more poppy, anthemic feel, as if Claudio Sanchez had co-written it with Gerard Way from My Chemical Romance. It’s also nearly 80 minutes long, so hey, you get a lot of bang for your buck!
2. Greetings From the Neon Frontier by the Wild Feathers
This one almost took the #1 spot, but it was beaten out at the last minute. Regardless, Greetings From the Neon Frontier is still a fantastic album that goes a long way toward proving the Wild Feathers are essentially the second coming of the Eagles. The band is unique in that it’s led by three guys who all used to be lead singers for other bands, and even though they have very different vocal styles, their voices somehow blend together into a mellifluous, crystal-clear sound that will surely stand the test of time. On this new album, the harmonies are tight and rich, the guitars are rootsy and organic, and the songwriting is soulful and heartfelt. It’s just really damn good country rock.
1. Young & Dangerous by the Struts
If you can listen to this album while driving without banging your head and drumming on the steering wheel, then you just might not have a soul. Oh man… I’ve missed big, fun, fist-pumping arena rock so much! Flamboyant lead singer Luke Spiller looks like Joan Jett, moves like Mick Jagger, and sings (kinda) like Freddie Mercury, which is obviously awesome on its own. But it’s also a breath of fresh air when so many musicians these days tend to be either pretentious, self-serious “artists” or political activists. But not these guys. The Struts play the kind of rock n’ roll that belongs in a stadium packed full of 20,000 people with explosions and and lasers and confetti and burlesque dancers and everyone spilling beer on each other. Young & Dangerous, aside from rocking your face off, is just a balls-out tidal wave of unrestrained joy. Seriously, go buy it right now.