Well, it’s that time of year again. Time to recap the five albums that kept me excited about new music in 2018. The toughest part for me was coming up with the final order, but this is where I stand (for this moment, anyway):
#5: Diamante Coming in Hot
Diamante received an honorable mention in my list last year, with the prediction that if she released a full length album in 2018, she would be on the next list…and here she is. Coming in Hot is a very solid debut full length, containing songs with equal parts fun and female empowerment. As she continues to hone her songwriting and live act, I believe Diamante will remain on track as a force to be reckoned with in the hard rock realm for years to come.
‘Coming in Hot,’ ‘Haunted,’ ‘Kind of Love’
#4: The Dead Daisies Burn It Down
Burn It Down is a straight up, kick-ass hard rock record. Riffs for days and days, plus killer solos by the great Doug Aldrich. Drummer extraordinaire Deen Castronovo just crushes on this album start to finish, and I couldn’t be happier for him that he has found a home with this band. Same goes for John Corabi, whose voice was made for these songs. Add to all this that The Dead Daisies are quite possibly the most fan-friendly national touring band out there, and what’s not to love?
‘Resurrected,’ What Goes Around,’ ‘Can’t Take It With You’
#3: Halestorm Vicious
For my money, Vicious is one of the greatest comeback albums in recent history. I only say “comeback” because the last Halestorm album did not really resonate with me. Vicious checks off all the boxes for me…everything from truly heavy songs, to quite possibly my “song of the year” in ‘The Silence,’ and everything in between. This album sounds like a real band effort, and is EXACTLY the direction I hoped they would take. FINALLY, an album that properly showcases drummer Arejay Hale’s immense talent. Oh, and last but not least, an absolutely flawless vocal performance by Lzzy Hale, from the first track to the last.
‘Uncomfortable,’ ‘Killing Ourselves To Live,’ ‘The Silence’
#2: Fu Manchu Clone of the Universe
Having been a fan of Fu Manchu for around 22 years now, I honestly was not expecting Clone of the Universe to instantly shoot to the top of my favorite Fu releases, but that is exactly what it did. This is a collection of killer, heavy songs, all executed perfectly. The secret weapon to me is drummer Scott Reeder, who is totally on fire throughout. He is the glue that holds everything together on this album, nailing one complex fill after another. Rock solid track after track. Also, you can never go wrong closing out the album with an 18 minute epic titled ‘Il Mostro Atomico,’ featuring Alex Lifeson from Rush on guitar. Love this album to death.
‘(I’ve Been) Hexed,’ ‘Don’t Panic,’ ‘Il Mostro Atomico’
#1: Teenage Wrist Chrome Neon Jesus
Where do I even begin? This is an album that totally blindsided me. It is one of those rare gems that hooked me with reckless abandon upon the first listen. I distinctly recall after finishing my first full spin of the album, it messed with my brain a little bit. I had this very distinct feeling of being in my late teens/early twenties back in the early-mid 90’s, and being so excited to tell my friends about this great new band I “discovered.” With time, I know this album for me will be held in the same esteem as I hold alt-rock juggernauts like Smashing Pumpkins Gish and Failure Fantastic Planet (both of which I feel could have influenced Chrome Neon Jesus slightly). These are expertly crafted songs that are beautiful both sonically and lyrically. I go through phases where I have little hope of having connection to any new bands, then fall back on my favorite legacy bands. Teenage Wrist completely changed the game for me this year in that respect. I am so excited for the future of this band. Special thanks to Kam, Marshall, and Anthony. I needed an album like this to come along.
‘Chrome Neon Jesus,’ ‘Swallow,’ ‘Stoned, Alone’