(by Velina of “My Rock Mixtapes”)
It’s been such a long time since we had a rock & roll year that prolific and exciting as 2017! I am almost sad that it’s gone, because each month was like a brand-new musical adventure, full of endless opportunities and surprises and I just wish it never had to stop. If you have to give it a name, I’d say 2017 was “the year of long-overdue comebacks” or “the year of the supergroups”. So many bands decided to get back together and recreate the magic that once ruled our radio stations. They did and in some cases the results were fantastic. Riverdogs, for example, released “California” –their first album in many years and so unexpectedly shook the melodic rock community with what many refer to as one of the albums of the year. Not just Riverdogs, but Europe, Lynch Mob, L.A. Guns, Warrant, Steelheart, Bonfire, Night Ranger, Harem Scarem, Thunder, Styx, Deep Purple and many other big names made their grandiose comeback this year, which is absolutely delightful, needless to say. Supergroups were formed and names were justified in many cases with bands such as Revolution Saints, Sweet & Lynch, ALL41, Kee of Hearts, Sons of Apollo and others. The solo acts didn’t fall back. Artists such as Jeff Scott Soto, Jack Russell (with his Great White), Stephen Pearcy (Ratt), Mark Slaughter (Slaughter), Alice Cooper, Roger Waters, Robert Plant and even Ringo Starr made triumphant and rather surprising comebacks but all were met with excitement and adoration. New bands that caught my eye this year were plenty. The ones that stood out the most to me were the Finnish guys from One Desire with their self-titled debut album and Inglorious with their sophomore release. The new albums of H.E.A.T and Pink 69 re-introduced me to those bands which I somehow forgot in time.
There’s plenty more to be said but I think it’s time we get to my Top10 albums of 2017 list. Please keep in mind that this is a personal selection, based on nothing but my own preferences and ideas of what a great album should sound like and what emotions should it bring to the listeners. I would LOVE to know your picks and what did you think of some of those albums so don’t hesitate to post your comment below. Here we goo….
Be careful, we’re going with the speed of sound!
It has been a busy year for one of my most beloved musicians of all time – Jeff Scott Soto. In October we were totally mesmerized by Sons Of Apollo’s Psychotic Symphony and a month later, he once again penetrated our fragile rock harts with a solo release, titled “Retribution”. Nothing but praises and fascination for this album and I’m not just saying it because it’s Jeff freakin Scott Soto; I’m saying it because obviously tons of work, heart and passion have been put in the making of this album. He sounds as confident as ever and his music is as good as ever. I was prepared for something like this from the veteran rockstar and it’s all here – heavy melodic rock, epic vocal culminations, striking lyrics and excellent fiery solos. “Feels Like Forever” is my instant stand-out though it’s not necessarily the highlight of “Retribution”. “Bullet for My Baby” is another personal favorite and a pretty solid reason why this album made it into my top10! Though “Retribution” came out in November, it became one of my albums of the year – this should tell you enough!
9. H.E.A.T – Into the Great Unknown
“Into the Great Unknown” re-introduced me to a band I have completely forgotten about. There’s just something about Swedish rock, you know that, right? This proves it! The album is just so much different from what they used to do and so distinctive among the huge pile of hard rock records that came out this year. One listen would tell you why – the guys focused on crafting a modern-day sound with the help of cutting-edge production possibilities. The album is challenging, that’s for sure. You either love it or hate it. Thankfully, the majority of fans and also critics (not surprisingly) are loving it.
“Redefined” is arguably the highlight and one of the catchiest songs that came out in 2017. “Eye of the Storm” gives another 100 points to “Into the Great Unknown”. The amount of energy coming out of that song is immeasurable.
I didn’t have the chance to grow up in the ’80s and experience that magical, flamboyant, so attractive to me hard rock scene that forever changed the music industry but with albums like “The Missing Peace”, young fans like myself can get a pretty good taste of those old-school vibes, presented in a modern-day environment. I am still mindblown by the authenticity of L.A. Guns‘ new album and the tasteful manner in which such energetic, a bit forceful and instantly-consuming Sunset Strip-staple hard rock music was delivered to the audience of 2017. It took me just one listen from start to finish to realize that what we have right here might be one of the best representations of how to sustain your original sound that made you famous back in the day and still stay musically-current even 30 years later.
“Speed”, “The Devil Made me Do It”, and that beautiful ballad “Christine” proved that something was indeed truly missing in today’s rock&roll scene; I’ve been waiting for an album with that extra danger, extra roughness and that beloved ’80s attitude for so long and now when it’s finally here, I just can’t get enough of it.
My adoration for Survivor and Jim Peterik was transferred to his Pride of Lions, naturally. It’s been indeed a while since they released a new record but thankfully this was their year! I can’t think of another melodic rock album that has so much class, sensitivity and musical richness. “Fearless” is everything I was hoping to get from Jim Peterik and vocalist Toby Hitchcock. This album also proved that Pride of Lions is not just a side project – it’s a serious band that makes great music. This was the first album I bought back in January and I knew it would signal the arrival of a strong year. “The Tell” and “Silent Music” are my two favorite tracks; I can’t express the strength of the melodies and all that, combined with the A-level vocal performances of both artists showcase that the challenge was accepted and passed with grace!
I met Inglorious last year but their follow-up album, simply titled “II” cemented my position as their devoted fan. The moment this album came out this past May, it took my work by storm and earned my utter admiration and respect. It all starts with one single life-changing song…The moment I heard “I Don’t Need Your Loving”, I just knew that it has the potential of becoming one of the top rock tracks of 2017 and not just in my book.
Inglorious make straightforward, mind-blowing and 100% authentic hard rock, respectfully following the ways of ‘70s rock bands, such as Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple. With that in mind, vocalist Nathan James, lead guitarist Andreas Eriksson, guitarist Wil Taylor, bass guitarist Colin Parkinson and drummer Phil Beaver recorded a heavenly-organic, modern-day / classic rock album that brings nothing but satisfaction to every little rock&roll heart out there. The magic of “Inglorious II” wasn’t taken out of the hat of a legendary producer. The right words and production tricks were all done by the members themselves, which makes it even more exceptional.
You all know how much I love Fair Warning and their lead singer Tommy Heart. I knew I wasn’t going to be disappointed by what might be one of the strongest voices of melodic rock and yes – I sure as hell wasn’t.
“Kee of Hearts” is a melodic rock bliss from start to finish. This album represents just the kind of class and nobility we so desperately need on the rock music scene these days. Tommy Heart and Kee Marcello crafted a fine release that rocks, entertains and keeps our spirits lifted from start to finish. It’s a must-have for every AOR fan out there who knows what is true and what is not…I pray those two come up with a follow-up! My favorite track would be the opening song, “The Storm”; the title pretty much sums it up all! A powerful blazing melodic rock impact right from the very beginning, signalling the arrival of something truly valuable.
Don’t you just love albums that take you out of your comfort zone and challenge your listening habits? This album right here did this for me and it did it in the most pleasurable way you can think of. I know that by default everything that Jeff Scott Soto does is superb and I will love it, but this album right here goes one step further from my perceptions of how incredibly versatile and mindful he is when it comes to music.
Stand-out songs include “God of the Sun” – which is one of my favorite openers this year; the 11-minute tornado of a song is a clear highlight and how can it not be with that speed, intensity and lyrics. “Sings of the Times” is my ultimate number 1 song from this release – that intro knocked my socks off. Don’t even get me started on the instrumental “Opus Maximus” which arguably might be the best progressive instrumental that came out this year!
Ah… “California” – where do I even begin? The moment this album came into my life, I just knew that this will change and that’s exactly what it happened. I distinctively remember how excited I was when it was finally available on Spotify and how fulfilled I felt when I played it from start to finish. I just couldn’t get enough of the blissful feelings, warmness and comfort this beautiful album brought to my world. “California” is a stunning set of sing-alongs, rock anthems, bluesy soul-touching tracks, all brilliantly decorated with thoughtful lyrics and memorable melodies.
Reasons why I love this album that much? Number one –“You’re Too Rock and Roll” which became one of the most important songs of my life just within weeks after the release of the album. Number two – Rob Lamothe who enriched my life with what might be the best interview I ever had with a musician… the other reasons you gotta look inside the album!
German rockers BONFIRE came back this year with what can easily be referred to as one of the most electrifying, mind-blowing and hair-raising rock releases so far. Guitarist, original founder and basically Mr. Everything, Hans Zilller is back with his strong team of musicians, including bass player Ronnie Parkes, guitarist Frank Pane, drummer Tim Breideband and a brand-new vocalist Alexx Stahl. I still can’t get over how amazingly well-done this album is. Most importantly, if you are one of the people (like me) who is always seeking their self-empowerment in music, you would also pick this album as one of your favorite releases of 2017. “Lonely Nights” is probably the biggest reasons behind placing this album at #2. As the ultimate rock ballad enthusiast, you can trust me on this – it’s a phenomenal heart-breaking song, full of emotions and character. “Stand Up 4 Rock” is a superb rock anthem, with one of the best intros this year. The cover of Jethro Tull’s classic “Locomotive Breath” is another highlight that deserves a standing ovation.
& my number one is…
You know, I thought a lot about which album to place at the number one spot and it took me a few days to finally make my decision but ultimately, I let my heart do the thinking. I picked One Desire’s self-titled album to be my number 1 album for 2017 because I can’t think of another album I got so obsessed with or another album which I’ve played as much as I did this one. I literally know the lyrics to all the song and you know why – because every track on it is that strong, impressive and memorable. Not a second on this album is wasted on trivial and well-known moments. I can’t remember the last time I’ve been that hooked to an entire album. It’s not just the singles, “Hurt” or “Apologize” – it’s every second of it. The sound is everything I looked for in an album, coming out in 2017 – modern vibes, strong vocals, old-school rock influence, unimaginable hooks and the ability to captivate the listener right from the very beginning. Discovering this album months after its release was indeed one of the most precious musical moments I had this year.
Cheers to One Desire and their debut album which won again many established names and their newest releases this year. I’m a proud fan and seeing how new bands conquer worlds is immensely satisfying. Now, go and listen…
Obviously, many of the albums share a significant characteristic and that is a certain label, under which they were released. Yes, I’m talking about Frontiers Records which redefined the hard / melodic rock scene of 2017 and entirely blew the competition away by not only giving chances to new rock bands, hungry for the stage but by also welcoming long overdue reunions of old-school hard rock bands. I praise and bow to the hard work of the team of Frontiers Records for being responsible for the comebacks of bands such as L.A Guns, Riverdogs or Warrant, for example and for taking under their capable wings, new and exciting artists, such as One Desire. I cannot wait to see what they have in mind for the following year!
You know, I had to draw the line somewhere because we cannot go on like this for ages, unfortunately. You just saw my top10 favorite albums of 2017 but I couldn’t just end the publication like this because there are so many more rock releases that caught my attention and conquered my playlists. Yes, the following albums were not included in my Top10 2017 releases, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t have the musical qualities and strengths needed in an album to be in a such list. I deeply encourage my readers to pay attention to the following titles and in case some of them went off your radar, there’s always a chance to come back and check them out.
Remember…when it comes to good music, years are irrelevant. Whether it’s 1982 or 1997 or 2017,
Europe – Walk the Earth
Lynch Mob – The Brotherhood
Revolution Saints – Light in the Dark
Warrant – Louder, Harder and Faster
Thunder – Rip it Up
Pink Cream 69 – Headstrong
Bigfoot – Bigfoot
Steelheart – Through Worlds of Stardust
Pretty Boy Floyd – Public Enemies
Sweet & Lynch – Unified
Tokyo Motor First – Tokyo Motor First
Lionville – A World of Fools