It seems like every year I put together a top list at Hard Rock Hideout, it becomes a harder task. In 2009, there was a crazy amount of excellent releases, and choosing the best ten was a daunting task to say the least. It was too hard to pick ten, so of course, I had to add some additional releases to my top list. The following releases are my top of 2009. All of these are worth picking up, and I wouldn’t hesitate to purchase any of these a second time. Check them out and see what you think!
#13 Shake City – S/T
Eonian Records has released quite a few undiscovered gems in 2009. Their best release of 2009 is easily Shake City. Shake City features the original singer of Warrant, Adam Shore. I don’t know why Adam left Warrant, but the fates should have been kinder to his band Shake City. If this CD would have been released twenty years ago, this disc could have easily gone platinum. It is better than many of the hair metal releases of the late 80’s. It is a crime that this band didn’t get the mainstream success of their peers. If you are a hair metal fan, you need to find this CD now. You wont be disappointed.
#12 Papa Roach – Metamorphosis
Papa Roach started introducing songs from Metamorphosis into their live sets in 2008, and as a result, I was familiar with several of the tunes by the time this CD was released. In my opinion, this is the strongest Papa Roach CD to date, with several hit worthy tunes. A worthy pick up for the modern rock fans out there.
#11 Cheap Trick – The Latest
I must admit that I have never been the biggest Cheap Trick fan over the years, but I can not deny how good their latest CD, The Latest is. While this may not be the most rocking CD of 2009, it does have some fun rockers, and is quality music all the way through. Robin Zander still sounds great after all of these years. This is a must own CD for Cheap Trick fans, all others ought to give it a shot.
#10 Chickenfoot – S/T
This is another CD that I didn’t really know what to expect. Sammy Hagar and Michael Anthony have been playing together in Van Halen for years, but how would this new band work out with Joe Satriani and Chad Smith? Satriani’s playing on this CD is great, and when he does cut loose, he doesn’t over shadow the rest of the band. Overall, Chickenfoot is a supergroup that could have some legs. I hope these guys stick around for a few more releases. Van Halen’s other half still delivers.
#9 The Answer – Everyday Demons
The Answer’s debut CD Rise was one of my favorites of 2007. I had high expectations for their U.S. Debut, Everyday Demons. Luckily, it did not disappoint me in the least. Everyday Demons is powered by Zeppelin influenced rockers “Demon Eyes”, “On and On” “Walkin’ Mat”. The band couldn’t have asked for a bigger tour to be on in 2009. Opening up for AC/DC has gained them a ton of new fans. I can’t wait to see what the band has in store for us next. The only thing I didn’t like about Everyday Demons was cover art.
#8 Steel Panther – Feel the Steel
Steel Panther could be the greatest hair metal parody band of all time. Feel the Steel is packed full of tongue in cheek lyrics that many folks may find offensive. You can’t deny the stellar musicianship of these California rockers. I had the opportunity to see the band play at M3 earlier this year, and they did not disappoint. When is the U.S. Club tour guys?
#7 Charm City Devils – Let’s Rock N’ Roll
Who would have thought that drummer John Allen would front a new kick ass rock and roll band in 2009? I didn’t at all. I have been rockin’ with CCD’s debut CD since its release. This is quality hard rock all the way through. In case you missed it, Charm City Devils had a pretty big year with their opening slot on the 2009 Cruefest. I am still hopeful that they will do a club tour, (and break out some Child Play tunes in their set).
#6 KISS – Sonic Boom
Sonic Boom is the first KISS CD in a long time that I have been able to listen to, all the way through without skipping a song. While I don’t consider this CD their best, it is definitely in their top ten, if not top five CD’s of all time. I didn’t expect this CD to be much. Sonic Boom was one of 2009’s biggest surprises.
#5 Coldspell – Infinite Stargaze
When I first heard the demo tracks from Coldspell in 2008, I about crapped myself. I couldn’t wait to hear Coldspell’s debut CD. I have played this CD over and over again in 2009, and will continue to do so for years to come. This is melodic rock at its finest.
#4 Winger – Karma
Holy Crap?! I get the feeling that Kip Winger and Reb Beach were pissed off when they wrote this record. This is easily the heaviest Winger album to date. Reb Beach unleashes his fury on his six strings, and Karma shines as a result. The songs aren’t all heavy, but they are all top quality. I am hopeful that Kip and company will tour for this album in 2010. Great Stuff, and worthy to be in anyone’s collection.
#3 Black Robot – S/T
Black Robot – I had no expectations when I first heard Black Robot’s self titled effort. I figured any band with former Buckcherry members would probably rock, but I had no idea that I would enjoy this CD as much as I have. “Cocaine” is easily the best cover song I have heard in 2009. Black Robot
gets the nod for best new band of 2009. If you missed this CD when it was released earlier this year, you will have to wait to grab this in 2010. The original pressing is out of print, but Black Robot will be re-releasing this CD next year with bonus tracks !!
#2 Paul Gilbert & Freddie Nelson – United States
United States has been my feelgood CD of 2009. Paul Gilbert’s guitar work is quite impressive, and Freddie Nelson’s mimicry of Freddie Mercury is pretty incredible. Once I started playing this, I couldn’t stop. Absolutely fantastic music!
#1 The Last Vegas – Whatever Gets You Off
The Last Vegas has been rocking hard since 2003, but their 2009 CD, Whatever Gets You Off is easily their breakthrough release. It didn’t hurt that they had a little help from Nikki Sixx, and DJ Ashba who produced this disc. I still don’t understand why this band didn’t get the nod for Cruefest last summer. They seemed tailor made for that festival but the promoters didn’t ask for my advice. Whatever Gets You Off is crazy good. Apologize might be the biggest power ballad of this decade (no I am not kidding). This is another great party CD, and easily my favorite of 2009.
For more great top lists for 2009, please check out the following websites:
All Metal Resource — http://allmetalresource.com/
Bring Back Glam — http://bringbackglam.squarespace.com/
Hair Metal Mansion — http://hairbangersradio.ning.com/
Heavy Metal Addiction — http://heavymetaladdiction.com/
Heavy Metal Time Machine — http://metalmark.blogspot.com/
Imagine Echoes — http://www.imagineechoes.com/
Layla’s Classic Rock — http://laylasclassicrock.blogspot.com/
Metal Excess — http://metalexcess.com/
The Metal Minute — http://rayvanhornjr.blogspot.com/ (Ray posted his list on 12/4)
Metal Odyssey — http://metalodyssey.wordpress.com/
Rock Of Ages — http://rockofages.wordpress.com/
The Ripple Effect — http://www.ripplemusic.blogspot.com/
“The Hottest Band In The Land” Kiss is back with their first new studio album in 11 years. After two very disappointing albums in the late nineties, “Carnival of Souls” and “Psycho Circus”, a lot of fans were left thinking the band was through; with studio albums anyways. But seriously folks, did you really think Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley would let Kiss go out with a huge stinking thud?? I think not! “Sonic Boom” is everything the Kiss Army has been clamoring for years to hear, which is a step back to the sound of such Kiss classics “Destroyer” and “Rock and Roll Over” and the guys do not disappoint in the lest bit.
Admittedly I was not crazy about the album’s lead off “Modern Day Delilah” at first listen or even the second go around, but after a few listens it has started growing on me, which in my opinion is the best way to go. Paul Stanley sounds great, he can still seduce your mom out of her panties and she wouldn’t have a clue it was happening until it was too late. One thing I had forgotten over the years is that Gene Simmons can actually play bass and play it pretty damn good; here he lays down some nice thumping bass lines. After years on the sidelines Tommy Thayer finally gets a little of the spot light to shine on him and he makes the most of it showing the world he is a disciple of Ace Frehley, without stepping all over Ace’s legacy. On “Russian Roulette” Gene takes over the vocals and as usual it is a slow dirty innuendo laden song that Gene sings to perfection, while also laying down more heavy thumping bass lines, classic sing a long chorus, one of the early surprises on the album. “Never Enough” screams single and rightly so as it is one of the best songs Kiss has recorded in years. They could throw this song into the live show and it would fit right in without missing a beat, definitely a new Kiss classic. “Yes I Know (Nobody’s Perfect)” sounds like it could’ve been taken from the “Destroyer” or “Love Gun” recording sessions, great 70’s feel to it, this may actually be the best Gene Simmons song I’ve heard. “Stand” is yet another anthem with a late 80’s/early 90’s feel to it. Not the best song on the album but still better than 90% of the songs bands are releasing today. All I really need to say about “Hot & Cold” is COW-BELL COW-BELL COW-BELL!!! Honestly Gene has really surprised me with how good his vocals sound on this album.
Of Course, I couldn’t get through this review without mentioning Eric Singer and while his drumming is phenomenal throughout the album it is when he steps up to the mike on “All For The Glory” that he really shines, the sound reminds me of “Creatures of the Night” or maybe “Lick It Up”. “Danger Us” and “I’m An Animal” borrow some influence from Aerosmith and Led Zeppelin respectively, but Paul and Gene borrow with style. “When Lightning Strikes” marks the return of the COW-BELL and if you hear a little Black N’ Blue in the song then it should not surprise you that Tommy Thayer has stepped up to the mike and absolutely knocks this song out of the park!! “When Lightning Strikes” goes with “Never Enough” as my two favorite songs off “Sonic Boom”. The album wraps up with “Say Yeah” and with that I can say yeah to quite a few things about “Sonic Boom”. Yeah “Sonic Boom” is a kick ass ride from beginning to end. Yeah Tommy Thayer finally gets some of the attention he has earned and deserved over the years. Yeah “Sonic Boom” is the best Kiss album in years. Yeah it is possible “Sonic Boom” is Kiss’s best album since the mid 70’s. Yeah it definitely deserves a spot alongside “Destroyer”, “Rock and Roll Over”, and “Love Gun” as a Kiss classic, because that is simply what it is.
Rating: Out of 10
- Modern Day Delilah
- Russian Roulette
- Never Enough
- Yes I Know (Nobody’s Perfect)
- Hot And Cold
- All For The Glory
- Danger Us
- I’m An Animal
- When Lightning Strikes
- Say Yeah!
Paul Stanley – Vocals, Rhythm guitar
Gene Simmons – Vocals, Bass guitar
Eric Singer – Vocals, Drums
Tommy Thayer – Vocals, Lead Guitar
Back in 1989, When Black ‘N Blue broke up, current KISS guitarist Tommy Thayer was looking for a new band/project to join. His associate producer from the Black ‘N Blue Album, In Heat, Pat Regan had recently signed singer/songwriter Teresa Straley.
Thayer agreed to play the guitar on this new group which would become Harlow. Most of the songs were already written by the time Thayer came in, but his guitar work certainly helped to improve the songs on this disc.
Harlow recently announced that they were reuniting and will be playing at Rocklahoma. I had to scramble to find a copy of this record. I originally owned this on cassette back in the 90’s but did not replace it until now. I recalled liking this band, but couldn’t remember much about the songs or the music.
What is even funny, is that I found out after the fact that this is NOT the Harlow that will be playing on the Retrospect Records stage at Rocklahoma. There was a second band with the same name from Kansas City, that will be reuniting for this gig (and I thought this band was obscure).
Much to my surprise, the most powerful instrument in Harlow is not Thayer’s guitar, but is the voice of Teresa Straley. Her style reminds me of a cross between Lita Ford and Heart’s Nancy Wilson. She has the ability to let loose with a powerful metal screams, and then sing with a very clean sounding voice. Thayer’s guitar work shines on this record, but he definitely takes a back seat to Straley on this disc.
The music on this disc fluctuates between early 90’s hair metal and AOR, but it is highly listenable. Some of the best songs on this disc are Chain Reaction, Empty, Cry Murder, Beyond Control (which was dedicated the family and friends of Pan Am Flight 103) and Pictures.
This disc can be found for very little cash at Amazon.com, and is worth grabbing if you are a fan of early 90’s rock.
Rating:Out of 10
1. Chain Reaction
3. Don’t Say We’re Over
5. When You Love Someone
6. Cry Murder
7. No Escape
8. Beyond Control
10. Edge of Love
Teresa Straley – vocals
Tommy Thayer – guitars
Pat Regan – keyboards
Todd Jensen – bass
Steven Klong – drums
This CD is becoming one of the more rare live recordings that I have come across.
I have been a fan of Black ‘N Blue for a long time, but quite frankly, I don’t think this recording captures the best live show the band has ever done. It does have a few of the bands hits, but it is a short set (less than an hour).
This isn’t a live CD that I will grab for regularly. I prefer the studio cuts over the live version here. This disc turns up on Ebay from time to time, and you can find used copies at amazon. This is a disc that the diehard Black ‘N Blue fans will search for only.
Rating:Out of 10
- Chains Around Heaven
- The Strong Will Rock
- Hold On To 18
- Wicked Bitch
- School of Hard Knocks
- I’m the King
- One For The Money
Black ‘N Blue is:
Jamie St. James – Vocals
Tommy Thayer – Guitar
Jeff Warner- Guitar
Patrick Young – Bass
Pete Holmes – Drums