Ah, yes, it’s the end of the year so it’s time for my annual best albums post which I always thoroughly enjoy writing. As you will notice almost all of these are rock/metal albums but since that’s my favorite style of music that shouldn’t be too surprising.
Aside from the first two, these are in no particular order.
**Edit as of Jan 18, 2017: I had to come back & add to this post because I’ve discovered 2 more albums (technically 3) which I would be greatly remiss if I left off of this list.
- The Black by Asking Alexandria: I already wrote a whole post about this album because it floored me so much when it debuted. I’m not going to reinvent the wheel, so you can read that post here. However, I should add that since the time this album was released Denis Stoff has exited the band & original lead singer Danny Worsnop has rejoined the band. I never knew AA’s music before this album & what I have listened to since then I haven’t liked as much, so I have to say I was quite disappointed to learn that Denis had abandoned the group, especially after creating such a great album. I’ve since come to appreciate Danny a bit more, but even so it pains me to think that the magic of this album will never be furthered. If you can’t be bothered to read my full post about this album, at least check out the following songs: I Won’t Give In, The Black, & The Lost Souls.
- Kentucky by Black Stone Cherry: Once again I already wrote a blog post about this album when it debuted because I was so impressed with the music. You can read that post here. Since that time I’d like to add that I had the privilege of seeing BSC perform here in Raleigh & they were even more amazing live. It’s so obvious that every single one of these guys is extremely talented so when you put them together they have a truly unmatched synergy. Once again if you can’t be bothered to read this post, at least check out these songs: Cheaper to Drink Alone, Shakin’ My Cage, & The Rambler.
- Straight From the Barrio by Upon a Burning Body: With artwork that looks like graffiti & a title that honors the band’s upbringing in the barrios of San Antonio, this is a diverse & fun album that you do not want to miss. Check out Till the Break of Dawn & Already Broken which include some fantastic Spanish inspired music as well as some Spanish lyrics. Lyrically my favorite song is the inspiring piece The Outcast. Also be sure not to miss the ending ballad My Distorted Reflection which presents a whole new side to this normally very “tough” sounding band.
- Who You Selling For by The Pretty Reckless: This right here is an album that absolutely begs to be played as an actual album, that is from top to bottom without skipping a single song. With strong blues influences this disc shows great maturity both musically & lyrically. I truly believe you can’t appreciate this album for its true genius without listening to it in its entirety, but some stand-out tracks include Hangman with its very dark Alice in Chains vibe, the catchy Take Me Down, & the funky Mad Love.
- Lifelines by I Prevail: This Michigan band made a huge splash two years ago when they covered Taylor Swift’s Blank Space, & this year marked the debut of their first full length album. Don’t miss the catchy & snarky Stuck in Your Head & the equally fun Come and Get It. The other single Scars is also one not to miss.
- Joanne by Lady Gaga: Ah, here’s the lone non-rock/metal album on the list! But as some of you may already know, I’ve long been a Lady Gaga fan. Regardless of what you think of her outfits & some of her more bizarre antics, you’d have to be crazy to deny the beauty of her powerful voice. On this album Gaga displays her best songwriting to date while also showcasing a variety of different musical styles. I have read some reviews that criticized the album for sounding so different throughout the various pieces but I think that’s exactly what makes it so fantastic. Be sure to check out the title track, a gorgeous ballad written in honor of Gaga’s aunt who died at a young age. Anyone who has ever experienced the loss of a loved one will relate to this song. Other stand-out tracks include current single Million Reasons, John Wayne, & Angel Down.
- The Last Hero by Alter Bridge: Back in high school Alter Bridge was one of the first rock bands I ever appreciated & I’ve been a fan ever since. Alter Bridge have always appealed to me because of their intelligent, well written lyrics as well as their combination of heavy riffs & soaring melodies. These qualities are in great display on tracks such as lead single Show Me a Leader, the uplifting My Champion, & my personal favorite Poison in Your Veins.
- Bad Vibrations by A Day to Remember: I’d head of ADTR prior to this album but I wasn’t familiar with any of their music. However, somehow I stumbled across several of the songs from this album & immediately fell in love. I swiftly bought the album & became enamored with the entire thing. Some of my favorite tracks include Paranoia, Bullfight, Justified, Turn Off the Radio, & Naivety.
- Never Alone by Stitched Up Heart: I came across Stitched Up Heart on YouTube one day a few months ago, probably while listening to In This Moment as the bands do have similarities. This album is the band’s first full length compilation & it displays great maturity for a debut album. Tracks like Monster definitely bring to mind In This Moment but even so the band has plenty of their own unique sound. Also be sure to check out Finally Free & my favorite Bleeding Out.
- All This Could Be Yours by Shotgun Revolution: I discovered this remarkable Danish band when Black Stone Cherry posted a link to one of their songs on their Facebook page. I figured if BSC liked their music I would too, & right I was. Why these guys aren’t more famous is beyond me because their music is both lyrically & sonically exceptional. They definitely have a true classic rock sound but with just enough modern flair to not sound like a throwback band. Be sure to check out City of Fire which starts out sounding a bit like a redneck throwdown but quickly morphs into a true rock song. Also don’t miss Rise to Power (especially the guitar solo that starts around 2:27) & Suzie. I feel so strongly about this album that I’m even going to include a link where you can order the album. (The website says “preorder” but you can actually order it now . . . P.S. 12 Euros = about $12.50.)
- Unden!able by Hellyeah: Hellyeah is a band that seems to be getting better with every new release. This latest album makes a great workout disc (& one that is definitely not for the faint of heart) with hard-hitting tracks like Scratch a Lie, X, & Start a Riot. Also check out the somewhat softer but equally interesting Human.
- Getaway by Adelitas Way: Adelitas Way left their record label & self-released this album which includes some of their best work to date. My personal favorite is Low. Other tracks not to miss include I Get Around, Bad Reputation, & Sometimes You’re Meant to Get Used.
- Aggressive by Beartooth: I wasn’t familiar with Beartooth until a few weeks ago when I came across the title track from this album on YouTube. Immediately I knew I’d found an album I had to purchase. Lead singer Caleb Shomo is only 24 years old but you’d never know it by the amount of material he has already produced in his short life. Other stand-out tracks on this album include Hated & Loser. Also don’t miss King of Anything.
- Prayers for the Damned (Vol 1) & Prayers for the Blessed (Vol 2) by Sixx AM: I first discovered this double album when I came across We Will Not Go Quietly from Vol 2 on YouTube a few weeks ago. I quickly delved into both albums & have been thoroughly impressed with the musicianship & lyrics throughout both albums. Guitarist DJ Ashba (formerly of Guns & Roses) particularly stands out on both albums. Other favorites from these albums are Barbarians (Prayers for the Blessed), Maybe It’s Time, & Prayers for the Damned. I’ve never owned a Sixx AM album before but this double album makes me want to go back & listen to all of their older material.
That’s all, folks! I hope you’ll take the time to listen to at least a few of these songs & maybe even purchase an album or two off of this list. I promise you won’t be disappointed. Happy 2017, everyone!