The first half 2019 has seen some big time rock releases with varying degrees of success. Some of my most anticipated releases failed to live up to my giant expectations while other under the radar albums delivered the goods. But as of today, there has yet to be what I would consider a great record. It’s either been a strong record with few great songs or an underwhelming record with one or two fantastic songs.
So here’s my Top 10 albums of the year so far followed by my Top 10 songs of the year.
Top 10 Albums
10. The End Machine — S/T
I was really looking forward to this record. It’s basically Dokken with Robert Mason of Lynch Mob/Warrant on vocals. I like the overall sound of the record and Lynch is still a beast but the songs just aren’t there. Dokken brought a lot of big hooks that gave us memorable songs and that’s what’s missing here. A decent record, but I was hoping for so much more.
9. Sammy Hagar & The Circle — Space Between
Sammy teased this record by saying he was hoping for a Grammy nomination. It’s a “concept” record but I would use that term loosely. Sammy still sounds amazing but the record is very short and I was a little let down on the songs. It’s a good record, but it doesn’t measure up to his work with Van Halen or better solo stuff, although a big improvement to his last few solo records.
8. Whitesnake — Flesh & Blood
Released the same day as The Circle record, David Coverdale and band are back with their first album of original material since 2011. The sound is back to the late 80s glory days but Coverdale’s voice isn’t quite the same. The band sounds great and Coverdale relies on attitude to deliver a quality record.
7. Bryan Adams — Shine A Light
I’m so torn on this record. As you’ll see below, this record has some very high points that are hard to ignore. But the duet with Jennifer Lopez almost kept this album off the list. It’s good to hear Adams do some rock and roll again, but hopefully a full out rock record is next.
6. Starbreaker — Dysphoria
After a short stint with Skid Row, Tony Harnell of TNT fame is back with a new Starbreaker album. I hadn’t heard the previous two records but I really liked Dysphoria. There’s some metal and some Journey sounding stuff and everything in between. Harnell’s voice is still great and he does a quality job of taking it to the edge without going over the top.
5. Toby Hitchcock — Reckoning
Hitchcock is most known as the vocalist for Jim Peterik’s Pride of Lions. His latest solo record sounds like a heavier and more modern Survivor album. It’s very melodic with big hooks and that keyboard sound up in the mix. It was a pleasant surprise that there’s only one ballad on the record. An under the radar release that should be checked out if you like melodic rock.
4. Inglorious — Ride To Nowhere
I had never heard anything by Inglorious before Ride To Nowhere and let’s just say I’ll be checking out their other records. It sounds like a 70s hard rock record. Nathan James (Trans-Siberian Orchestra/Uli Jon Roth) sounds great and has that 70s Coverdale sound. Kevin Shirley, who has produced everyone from Led Zeppelin to Journey, is at the helm and the end product is a quality hard rock record.
3. Queensryche — The Verdict
I’m not sure I’ll ever truly embrace this version of Queensryche. Geoff Tate is one of hard rock’s greatest vocalists and front men. Todd La Torre does a fine job vocally on The Verdict and handles drums as well. The band is back to their early sound with touches of Mindcrime and Empire thrown in. As always, the sound of the record is impeccable. I think it’s their best record with La Torre but it’s just not the same without Tate.
2. Hardline — Life
Johnny Gioeli is one of the hardest working men in hard rock. He probably should do a record with hard rock’s other busiest man, Doug Aldrich. Gioeli is back with another Hardline record and it reminds me of their first album. It’s heavy and melodic and full of very good songs. Gioeli’s voice is still top notch and he sounds great on the heavier melodic songs.
- L.A. Guns — The Devil You Know
L.A. Guns released their second post reunion record in March. Their previous record, “The Missing Peace” was one of my favorite albums of 2017. “The Devil You Know” doesn’t have quite the same high points but the quality is there throughout the entire record. There is just something about the Lewis/Guns combination that produces high quality songs with great energy and attitude. Some of rock and rolls greatest pairings had rocky relationships (Jagger/Richards, Lennon/McCartney, Bon Jovi/Sambora, Tyler/Perry, etc) and Lewis/Guns has a similar feel about them. I’m not sure how long this run will last, but so far the pair have produced two great records.
Top 10 Songs
10. Well I Never — Whitesnake
Sounds like it could have been on Slide It In. Enough Said.
9. Last December — Starbreaker
Mid-tempo rocker with big hooks.
8. Wild Butterflies — Starbreaker
Sounds like a newer Journey tune.
7. Tomorrow — Inglorious
Best song on the stellar hard rock record.
6. A Place To Call Home — Hardline
Great opening track to one of year’s best records so far.
5. Vanishing Signs — Vanishing Signs
Best song from Dilana-led new band. Album would have easily made my Top 5 if Dilana sang lead on full record.
4. All Or Nothing — Bryan Adams
Closest sound to Reckless that he’s done in two decades. Top notch rock song.
3. Another Season In Hell — L.A. Guns
Six minute epic that ends the regular version of the record. One of their best tunes ever.
2. The Mission — Tesla
The only Tesla-sounding song on the new record. A gem in a disappointing album.
- Part Friday Night, Part Sunday Morning — Bryan Adams
Ridiculously catchy, toe-tapping song that makes you want to listen to it over and over. How I long for a true Bryan Adams rock record.