END OF THE YEAR LISTS: BEST ROCK OF 2018 (CHART + PLAYLIST)

Rock never disappoints. It may seem like a miracle that in the age of trap and Autotune we can still enjoy beautiful records of pure and healthy rock and roll, but that’s fortunately the case. This year, in particular, we had so many good albums that I felt the need to extend the list to the best fifteen records instead of the classical Top Ten chart. Nonetheless, in the end there were still a number of good LPs that didn’t enter the chart, and I had to mention them in a small appendix that you can find at the bottom of this long article.

There is so much good music in this post that it makes no sense to waste your time with other introductory notes. Before you jump into the list, however, let me just say that there’s now a special playlist on Spotify where I have put together all the best songs from the albums that are presented in this article: 40 songs in total, for more than two hours and thirty minutes of exciting music.

Enjoy the reading, listen to the music, and spread the word!



#15) Alien Sex Fiend, “Possessed”

(Gothic Rock / Deathrock)
Alien Sex Fiend are an English gothic rock band, formed in London, England in 1982. The current lineup of the band consists of Nik Fiend and Mrs. Fiend.

Visionary and experimental music, when it brings inside the spark of innovation, becomes a timeless work of art and, consequently, it’s always actual and contemporary. It’s now more than 35 years than Nik Fiend and Mrs. Fiend started playing their unique recipe of dark and industrial gothic rock under the name of Alien Sex Fiend, but the music of their last album is still fresh and communicative as few other things that we’ve heard this year. Possessed, their new LP, arrived eight years after their previous publication, but we’re evidently in the presence of that special and precious category of artists who enter the recording studio only when they have 
in their hands first-class material to manipulate.

For those who aren’t familiar with the music of Alien Sex Fiend, we’re talking about a band that has published so far something like 13 studio LPs, 6 live records, and that have been included in more than fifteen compilations. Surely their fame reached its peak back in the 80s, but their influence is still present in modern music through many followers.

It was about 25 years ago when Alien Sex Fiend has definitely taken the shape of a duo, but today Possessed still features all the basic elements of their particular approach to gothic rock. The new album, in particular, shows a special attention of the two musicians towards obsessive rhythms and hypnotic repetitions. The simplicity but the effectiveness of the rhythmic component is probably the aspect that impressed me the most in their new LP. In many parts of the album you feel like being in a dark and isolated hall of a disco pub, with pulses and beats arriving muffled by layers of walls, while disturbing sounds, distorted guitars and pieces of phrases fill the space around you. Something like a discomforting nightmare that however has something absolutely fascinating.

In short: that’s an impressive and brilliant collection of music that proves once more how true class never ages. Not suitable for all tastes, but absolutely unique and intriguing.



#14) Modern Space, “Flip for It”

(Indie Rock / Alt Rock)
Modern Space is a five piece band out of Toronto, Canada. They play fast, fun, energetic indie alternative rock.

The world of indie rock is characterized by talented bands who struggle to find the limelight and other formations, much more fortunate, that are able, or lucky, to intercept the magic mixture of creativity and taste for the melody that meets the taste of large masses of listeners. Modern Space, from Canada, seem to belong to this second group of bands if we consider that in the relatively short time span of only 4 years they have already gained a good recognition both in their Country and abroad.

Their style may be described as a light and melodic version of indie with influences from alternative rock: one of the most immediate references for their sound is given by The Strokes, from which they managed to imitate the ability to compose sticky, catchy and “pop banging” riffs and choruses.

Modern Space’s new album, called Flip For It, offers an absolutely enjoyable collection of songs that are made to dance, to have fun outside or to shake your head while driving the car. This is “cheerful rock and roll”, without any desire to reach particular depths of expression or to use the music for transmitting any universal message. But when the premises are so clear and the music is so catchy, you can easily forget to search for any element of innovation, even because the absence of any tangible deviation from the canons doesn’t mean that the music of Modern Space is flat and anonymous. On the contrary, the band shows an impressive ability to vary rhythms, melodies and themes among the different songs of the LP, whilst maintaining the same level of enjoyability and catchyness across the whole record. And sometimes is definitely healthy and liberating to leave aside all the complicated things and indulge in pure and simple catchy rock.



#13) Basement, “Beside Myself”

(Alt Rock / Melodic Hardcore)
Basement are an English rock band formed in 2009 in Ipswich, Suffolk, England. They have released to date four full-lenght LPs.

In the last ten years, British rock band Basement has gained increased attention for having released a bunch of interesting records, and it’s no secret that these guys candidated themselves to become the European representatives of that kind of melodic rock that is played by many famous formations on the other side of the Atlantic ocean. This is why the announcement of a new album by the band, on August 2018, was received with great attention. And when their new LP, named Beside Myself, was released on last October, all the expectations were definitely confirmed.

One of the elements that has been always remarkable in Basement’s music is the brilliant balance that they manage to keep between anger and melancholy. This characteristic seems further enhanced in their new work and in fact most of the songs result at the same time energetic and deeply intimate. The rhythms are generally high and the songs are short and compact: you won’t find in their songs any accessory element that’s been introduced for the sake of prolonging the running time. Incipit, melodic section, catchy riff with anthemic chorus, bridge, and conclusion. Nothing more than that, but extremely effective and enjoyable to hear.

Beside Myself signs also the passage of the band to a major record label. With their new LP, Basement have left formally the world of independent music and this has certainly given more brilliance to their work, making every individual song of the new record a sort of masterpieces of “communicative effectiveness”. Probably something has been lost in terms of originality and spirit of experimentation, but the overall balance, in my opionion, is positive. Many years and tours have passed from their impressive first two albums (2011′ I Wish I Could Stay Here and 2012’s Colourmeinkindness) and today, as a matter of fact, these guys look for confirmations rather than surprises.



#12) Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, “Hope Downs”

(Indie Rock)
Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever (often summarized as RBCF) is an Australian indie rock band, formed in Melbourne in 2013. After two EPs they have published in 2018 their first full-lenght studio LP.

After a couple of really interesting EPs, Australian indie rock band Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever arrived this year to the release of their first LP, named Hope Downs, which is an extremely promising work from the Melbourne quintet. The release notes say that many of the band members had played so far in a number of local garage and rock bands, garning a relatively good reputation in the Australian underground scene. And it’s not by chance, therefore, that Hope Downs shows a band which is fully aware of their possibilities and surprisingly (given their age) characterized by with a mature and well-defined musical style.

The genre of music played by RCBF is not particularly original or innovative, but the band has undoubtedly the gift of knowing how to instill interest and enjoyability in all of their songs. The tracks of Hope Downs arrive one after the other like a single flow of simple but effective indie rock tunes. There are no avant-garde ambitions in their music, rather we enjoy a solid collection of genuine and catchy songs, with the minimum necessary quantity of distortions to get the interest of indie music fans, but which never result so heavy and introspective to keep away the casual listener.

Many have compared RCBF to a softer and more commercial version of the early years of R.E.M., and the comparison if far from being wrong. These guys, however, seem to have all what’s necessary to develop and consolidate a style of music that won’t require, in the future, too many comparisons with the sacred monsters of rock.



#11) Alkaline Trio, “Is This Thing Cursed?”

(Punk Rock)
Alkaline Trio (sometimes abbreviated in Alk3) is an American rock band from McHenry, Illinois. Formed in 1996, they have released so far nine full-lenght records.

With the exception of a few but still relevant cases, traditionally American punk bands have always favored the melodic and popular aspects of this genre of music compared to the more controversial and rebellious ones. In this context the American rock band Alkaline Trio, from Illinois, represents another important member of that large family of bands which have contributed to the success of the so called “pop-punk”, a special version of rock that has become universally known mostly thanks to bands like Green Day and Blink-182.

Alkaline Trio’s last album, named Is This Thing Cursed?, is the ninth of their discography and it interrupts a five-year gap since their previous studio LP. The first impact of the album is absolutely positive if you like glossy rock with catchy choruses, and in this respect the new material is definitely reminiscent of what the band has done in the last twenty years, which is definitely a good thing if you don’t look for innovation but you just look for a new collection of good pop-punk melodic rock songs.

Anyway, when the recipe is simple and the ingredients are always the same, finding the way to compose and offer another set of exciting songs requires  a big dose of creative skills and inspiration, something that the American band has never struggled to find. In this respect, the collateral experiences that some of the members of the band have tried in the last few years may have contributed to give new life to their creative vein. But whatever the reason, the only thing that matters is that the Alkaline guys are back on track, with the same feeling and energy of the past.



#10) Audrey Horne, “Blackout”

(Hard Rock / Heavy Metal)
Audrey Horne is a hard rock band from Bergen, Norway. The band took its name from Sherilyn Fenn’s character in the cult TV series Twin Peaks.

Norwegian band Audrey Horne is one of those formations that have clearly established what their models are, what music they want to play, and they just continue to refine and improve their style album after album. With their last LP, named Blackout, they arrived to the remarkable result of six albums in thirtheen years of career, all of them dedicated to carrying forward the banner of their special style of hard rock.

The music played by Audrey Horne is deeply rooted into the legacy of 70s classic rock, enriched with the insertion of melodic elements of heavy-metal derivation. The songs are generally enjoyable and also extremely accessible, plenty of anthemic choruses, catchy riffs and triumphant guitars. There’s nothing original and innovative in Blackout, but for those looking for a good and healty dose of rocking energy the album gives absolutely satisfaction. It’s really like being in a rock’n’roll party: at some point it’s no longer important if you’re listening to trendy and modern music or rather old-school heavy rock, what really matters is the pulsating rhythm in your head and the electricity that runs through your veins.

Sometimes it’s nice to let ourselves be carried away by such retro music as Audrey Horne’s. We can forget that we have grown up, that our kids polarize our spare time and that there are a couple of bills on the table that must be still paid. In these moments, if there’s the right song and we close our eyes, we may find ourselves running again with our small cars along the streets of the city, at night, with rock music playing loud from our low-fi stereo systems and the wind blowing our hairs.



#9) Cancer Bats, “The Spark That Moves”

(Hardcore Punk)
Cancer Bats are a Canadian hardcore punk band from Toronto, Ontario. They are active since 2003 and have released six studio albums.

The heaviest entry of this chart is one of those album which lays on the thin border between rock and metal. The spirit with which it was recorded and published, however, is definitely “rock” and that’s is one of the reasons why, in the end, the LP by Cancer Bats has found its place in this chart. The Spark That Moves arrived absolutely by surprise and without any warning on April 2018; the band later explained that they were tired of waiting and decided at one point to drop the LP all at once, deliberatly choosing to skip the traditional lead ups and teaser singles.

Cancer Bats are a well-known Canadian band that have achieved a certain notoriety during the last fifteen years thanks to their intriguing and effective mix of hardcore punk and crossover. Since the beginning of their career the group has released their LPs with a good regularity and in 2018, three years from the previous album, they released the sixth record of their interesting discography.

Cancer Bats owe much of their success to the particular style of music that they managed to craft and refine with the years, which consists of a base of hardcore enriched with many elements of southern rock and metalcore. The band, however, has always shown the ability and the willingness to evolve their sound and keep it fresh at each stage of their career. In this respect, one of the key elements of The Spark That Moves is how it’s founded on vast and caried catalogue of musical expressions and the songs, although marked by and equal and impressive level of sonic violence, result so varied and also different one from the other that the experience of going through the record in one single shot is definitely rewarding and exciting.

The music of Cancer Bats doesn’t want to be cool or trendy and it’s not surprising that their videos show random people eating pizza or cars drifting in the snow. But the beauty and violence of their riffs is so genuine and visceral that their songs never disappoint.



#8) Ash, “Islands”

(Indie Rock / Pop Rock)
Ash are a Northern Irish rock band, formed in Downpatrick in 1992. They have released so far eight full-lenght studio albums.

Northern Irish band Ash has been around for over 25 years in the world of rock. Between highs and lows, the band has released so far 8 full-lenght albums spanning through alternative, punk and britpop (even if the band, for obvious reasons, han never felt comfortable with this last association). Their last LP, Islands, aims without any hesitation towards the direction of an easy to listen version of indie rock, enriched here and there by splashes of pop music.

Beyond the relative and physiological variations of style from album to album, however, in its essence their music has been extremely consistent across their releases: quick-setting and catchy rock and roll. Accordingly, Ash’s new work features a new enjoyable collection of songs that are extremely engaging and funny to listen to.

If their sound is substantially a consolidation of what we heard from them to date, there are also a few elements of innovation that allow their music to remain sufficiently modern and appreciable. Compared to their previous works, today the band lingers a little more on intimate and introspective pieces, but we still have in the LP a good handful of those ferocious and happy songs from which we can extract our daily dose of rock energy.



#7) Tonight Alive, “Underworld”

(Alt Rock / Pop Rock)
Tonight Alive is an Australian rock band from Sydney, Australia. In January 2018 Tonight Alive have releases their fourth LP, “Underworld”

Remained only four members after that guitarist Whakaio Taahi quit on October 2’17, the Australians alternative rockers Tonight Alive went quickly back to the studio to compose and publish a new LP, Underworld. The new album follows the three previous good records that the band from Sidney released since their formation, approximately ten years ago. And despite it was published at the very beginning of the year, Underworld has resisted many fierce contenders and it eventually maintained his position within the best rock records of 2018.

The music played by Tonight Alive demonstrates that it’s absolutely possible to play simple and catchy rock, which may still result exciting and interesting. The songs of Underworld are in fact clearly oriented to mainstream radio and big audiences, but without necessarily having to compromise the quality of the songs.

From a musical point of view, because of their style of music Tonight Alive have been often compared to tAmerican pop-rock band Paramore, although with their latest works the Australian band has tried, and somehow succeeded, to develop their own and unique sound. This is particulary evident from the relevant use of the electronic inserts, which have acquired an important role in the development of Tonight Alive’s new songs.

The presence of this record in the final chart at the end of the year thus testifies that alongside conceptual and articulated albums, occasionally it is absolutely healthy to launch in the music player a sequence of easygoing, direct and energetic songs like those offered today by Tonight Alive, provided that the quality of the music is of the same level of the adrenaline that you want to get trhough it.



#6) Titus Andronicus, “A Productive Cough”

(Folk Rock, Indie Rock)
Singer and guitarist Patrick Stickles, leader and founder of American indie rock band Titus Andronicus. Since their formation in 2005, the band has released 5 LPs.

There are times when you need to change, restarting from the scratch. For indie rock band Titus Andronicus this moment coincided with the writing and publication of their fifth studio album, A Productive Cough. Started as an irriverent, raw and genuine punk rock act, Patrick Stickles has guided his band through many different areas of the indie rock world and today, after the last sharp turn, they started playing what we could actually define as folk-rock or “bar-room rock”, as it was also said by someone. The rusult, however, is extremely good.

A Productive Cough reminds us how beautiful are folk acoustic ballads, and how exciting is pure and simple rock music, without too many embellishments or refinements. Two guitars, one bass, drums, simple and cantabile melodies, nice and catchy choruses inspired by popular and street music. This music was stripped down of all that’s superfluous and brought back to its primordial significance: an element of communion and sharing of emotions among different people.

The abum never exceeds in any direction: seven songs – one is a Bob Dylan’s cover – for a little more than 45 minutes of total duration. Fast, simple, essential to the bone, and extremely enjoyable to listen in many different occasions.

On the other hand it’s clear that an album like A Productive Cough can’t leave everyone equally convinced, especially those who were expecting a much more complex and articulated record. But the fans of the band know that beyond the punk and rough surface of their music, Titus Andronicus have always concealed a second level of interpretation. Today, with their new album, they have clearly decided to take a beneficial break and abandom themselves to the desire of playing music and give emotions in the most direct way possible, like a rolling stone.



#5) Jeff Rosenstock, “POST-“

(Punk Rock / Indie Rock)
Jeff Rosenstock  is an American musician and songwriter from Long Island, United States. He was the lead singer of the ska punk band The Arrogant Sons of Bitches, the musical collective Bomb the Music Industry! and the indie rock band Kudrow. After the breakup of Bomb the Music Industry!, he began a solo career.

Let’s start with a recommendation: if you have never listened to POST-, which is the latest album by American rocker Jeff Rosenstock, you should go immediately to the album’s bandcamp page and download it for free (or maybe make a donation). The album was in fact produced by Rosenstock’s free/donation-based digital label called Quote Unquote Records. Go and take it, and then come back here for the review.

Jeff Rosenstock is an american rocker from Long Island who’s playing punk since a couple of decades. He started singing in a few relatively influential local bands such as The Arrogant Sons of Bitches, Bomb the Music Industry!and Kudrow. After the breakup of Bomb the Music Industry!, in 2013, Rosenstock eventually embarked in a solo career and released to date three full-length albums. The last one, POST-, was published on January 1st, 2018 and – as arleady highlighted – it was made available for free download.

There could be many ways to describe Rosenstock’s music and his latest album. Surely we could start mentioning the punk roots of his sound and then continue with the description of the individual pieces. We could focus in particular on the track called USA, which is undoubtedly the most important and significantof the album, with its 7 and a half minutes of pure rage and despair. But what I will say, instead, is that POST- is an album full of contradictions, definitely not homogeneous, but really because of these inconsistencies it looks the best representation of the world in which we live today. It didn’t happen to me since a long time to listen to an album and feel like being a part of it. POST- is genuine, raw, contradictory, but this is music that speaks to you as a friend, with songs that become more engaging each time you listen to them.

There are highs and lows among the ten tracks of the record. The structure of the LP is also completely out of the standard: there are two masterpieces that open and close the album, which are also the longests tracks of the record. And in the middle we can enjoy an handful of quick and effective sketches of punk rock, flowing fluidly one after the other. Crazy? Brilliant? It’s up to you to decide, anyway it works.

I believe that the music produced by Jeff Rosenstock is the truest version of punk rock that is in circulation today. This is not the kind of street punk which tries to imitate the atmospheres of the 70s, and not even the ska-punk which has been so succesful in the last years. But this music speaks from the heart. Compliments.



#4) Starcrawler, “Starcrawler”

(Hard Rock)
Starcrawler is an American rock band formed in 2015. They have released their debut and self-titled LP in January 2018.

The moment I started to assemble this final chart for 2018 I realized that the very first positions were all occupied by famous groups with already many albums and many successes behind them. I was starting to worry about the fact that there were no emerging groups in the top positions, but then I rememberd of Starcrawler and their impressive debut album.

Starcrawler is a band of very young rockers from California who met and started playing music in High School. In an extremely short time – at least compared to what’s generally the case for every rock band – they managed to polarize the attention of fans, critics and even a number of old glories of rock of the caliber of Ryan Adams and Elthon John, who also contributed to promote their music. When a band reaches fame and attention in this explosive way there is always the risk that the musical aspect remains in the background. And in this case it would be really a shame because this self-title debut LP provides the listener with an impressive sequence of solid and exciting rock songs.

From a musical point of view, much of the beauty of the record comes from the natural way in which multiple influences were blended together to form something definitely new, and fresh. There is also a persistent flavour of garage rock that permeates the LP, and this provides a nice feeling of immediacy and roughness to many of the tracks of the album.

Coming back to the overall phenomenon that has been generated around Starcrawler, it’s evident that this kind of success can not be for pure chance. The turning point will be given by the forthcoming works. We will understand if the creativity and the special touch that these young rockers demonstrated in their debut album were only the result of a quick sparkling of fire or, on the contrary, they will become one of the most important rock groups of the next decades.



#3) Hot Snakes, “Jericho Sirens”

(Post Hardcore / Garage Rock / Indie Rock)
Guitarist and singer John Reis formed the Hot Snakes in 1999 in San Diego, California, together with guitarist Rick Froberg. The band released three albums between 2000 and 2004, and then a fourth LP in 2018.

There is a particular emotion every time we come across to the new album from a band that has spent so much time in silence. Jericho Sirens, the fourth and latest LP by Hot Snakes, arrives fourteen years after their previous release. And as only the exceptional records can do, the new album looks so strong and vigorous that it has really the capacity to excite both the old fans of the Californian band and also those new generation of listeners who just got in touch with the scratchy sounds of indie rock and post-hardcore.

The line-up of the band is basically the same of their early works, and this for sure helps. But what’s really remained unchanged is their rebellious spirit and also the musical creativity they manifest with their songs. To some extent one could feel that all the time which separates their two last records has passed – musically speaking – in a flash. And that’s for sure the result of all the effort and committment that the band has dedicated to the making of Jericho Sirens. Nothing here is improvised, there are no gap fillers and we don’t have the impression to be in front of a mere commercial operation. I feel here the genuine desire to switch on for one more time that spark of light that illuminated the rock scene during a few, but intense, years at the beginning of the new century.

The ten tracks of Jericho Sirens are strongly based on that intriguing mix of garage rock, post-hardcore and indie rock that the band consolidated with their first three albums. The rhythms are always sustained, John Reis and Rick Froberg hit hard on their guitars from the first to the last minute of the album. Such blast of energy, however, is not a barrage fire. The shots are chirurgical: all the instruments play strong and compact, the energy is directed in one single direction and the balance between dissonance and melody reaches in some passages the absolute perfection. As expected the lyrics are generally polemical and negative: the guys from San Diego are not here to tell us that life is easy and beautiful. But what we hear is not a cry of abandonment and despair, it is rather a scream of rage and disgust towards mediocrity, something that pushes you to react rather than to give up.

This is perhaps the secret of Hot Snakes: they have the ability to combine a genuine protest towards the system with a sharp, essential and effective musical assault, something which goes straight to the point without dispersing any beat with unnecessary nuances or music frills.



#2) Cloud Nothings, Last Building Burning

(Indie Rock / Post Hardcore)
Dylan Baldi is the singer, guitarist and leader of indie rock masters Cloud Nothings. The band started in 2009 as Baldi’s solo project but it soon became a full formation with other permanent members.

There are bands that represent the essence and the spirit of rock. Among these I surely include Cloud Nothings, the spectacular indie rock from Ohio. I follow this band with particular attention since their 2014 album, Here and Nowhere Else, and from then I’ve always felt a natural attraction for their music and I’ve literally fallen in love with many of the intense and profound songs they wrote. I’ve always found their approach to music as the perfect paradigm and synthesis of rock and roll in modern times. Their songs manifest the urgency of communicating something strong, and the musical language they’ve built in order to transmit their feelings is raw, immediate, dissonant and full of contradictions as is our life nowadays. No frills, no masks, a kind of music that is stripped of all what’s superfluous but that, in doing so, shows a monstrous and impressive substance. I feel that Cloud Nothings have achieved the perfect synthesis between the immediacy of punk, the aggressiveness of alternative rock, the melodies of power pop, the research and experimentation of avant-garde music, and the the angularities of noise rock. Their sound is the point where all these different ways of interpreting modern rock eventually meet together, and their albums are gifted by a sense of spontaneity and naturalness that makes everything alive and exciting.

Last Building Burning is the new LP released by Cloud Nothings, the fifth of their discography. The publication notes say that the album was recorded in only eight days in a studio located in a border town of Texas. It’s not surprising, therefore, that the album offers such intense feelings of immediacy and spontaneity. Don’t expect the balance and the crystalline perfection of those over-produced albums where clear sounds and catchy melodies are tuned and refined up to the smallest details. Instead, prepare yourself for rough sounds and a genuine flow of electric anger, with songs that point straight and without hesitations at the heart of music, at the essence of rock.

Last Building Burning is yet another great record by a fantastic band. The album has no false steps and every song is a little gem. There are of course some tracks that shine with a particular light of beauty. I can mention the song In Shame, perhaps the most melodic, fast and accessible song of the LP, one of those tracks that you want to listen again and again everytime it ends. On the other end of the music spectrum there is Dissolution, a song that produces in my mind the image of Dylan Baldi and his bandmates that are hitting hard on their instruments with rage, fury and passion, until at some point they find themselves blocked on a single note, a chord that they cannot leave for some magic spell, and they are unable to move forward into the song until the drums eventually arrive to wake them up and then, as a response, they embark on a three minutes psychedelic trip which results in one of the most exciting song finals that the band has ever composed to date.

In more general terms, if we compare Last Building Burning with the band’s more recent releases we see many confirmations and a few elements of difference. The confirmations mainly regard their general approach to music and songwriting, which includes the immediate and “urgent” style that I mentioned above. Among the differences we can highlight a more evident recourse to gloomy and disheartened tones, both for the music and the lyrics. But, in the end, this is just another evidence that their music doesn’t only reflect the current state of rock music, but the more general situation of our society.



BEST ROCK ALBUM OF 2018

Turbonegro, “Rocknroll Machine”

(Punk Rock / Hard Rock)
Turbonegro is a Norwegian rock band, initially active from 1989 to 1998, and then reformed in 2002. Their style combines glam rock, punk rock and hard rock into a style the band describes as, “deathpunk.”

Given the recent explosion of the rock and metal scene in the Scandinavian countries, today it may seem natural that among the best records that are coming out every year there are lots of bands from Sweden, Finland and Norway. Back in the 90’s, however, there was a relatively unique and exceptional case of a crazy band from Oslo, named Turbonegro, which got the attention of fans and critics with a series of incredible albums. Their style was so special and original that people had to coin a new name for it: “deathpunk”. Surprisingly, however, their fame remained limited to the underground world of punk rock and metal, without reaching that universal celebrity that they would have deserved. From a certain point of view, however, we could be selfishly grateful to the band for not achieving a larger success, because we know how strong can be the process of sterilization that typically occurs with mainstream music. Surely they weren’t facilitated by the exaggerated and extravagant image they gave to themselves, including the crazy titles of their albums. At least for this single aspect, however, the guys from Norway seem to have made some progress and in fact, today, instead of Ass Cobra or Hot Cars and Spent Contraceptives we see them out with a definitely more moderate name for an album: Rocknroll Machine.

Turbonegro’s new LP interrupts a period of silence of six years from their previous record. To be honest, when I became aware of their new publication I had initially mixed reactions. But from the first moment that Rocknroll Machine was launched through the speakers of my music system, I realized that all my concerns were totally unjustified. This is really one of the few bands that gives no attention to trends and fashions, and which still play a straight and genuine version of rock with no needs for additives or unnecessary elements of “modernity”.

Musically speaking, Rocknroll Machine is basic divided in two parts. The first half of the LP looks like a tribute to classic hard rock (think of AC DC), while the second group of songs is more reminescent of the signature “deathpunk” style that the band consolidated in their early years. In both the two sections, however, there is the same impressive charge of musical energy, direct and effective as only the best music can be. This is 
timeless rock and roll, with no frills, easygoing and high voltage. Just play it loudly and enjoy the 40 minutes ride.

But the question is: what’s the difference between a good record and the best rock album of the year? Easy: when you see your whole family (wife, teenage guy plus kid) singing the antemic choruses of a record every single time it runs on the stereo, the answer is there in front of you.



Other notable rock releases of 2018:

  • Tales from the Backseat, the debut studio album by Irish indie rock band The Academic
  • Cleave, the fifteenth studio album by Northern Irish alt rock legends Therapy?
  • [Untitled], the seventh studio album by American post hardcore band mewithoutYou
  • Always Ascending, the fifth studio album by Scottish indie rock band Franz Ferdinand
  • Master Volume, the second studio album by Canadian punk rock band The Dirty Nil
  • Snares Like a Haircut, the fourth studio album by American noise rock duo No Age
  • The Free Life, the third studio album by English hard rock band Turbowolf
  • Peace and Love, the ninth studio album by American punk band Swingin’ Utters
  • Reiði, the second studio album by English indie and grunge band Black Foxxes
  • Vide Noir, the third studio album by American rock band Lord Huron


As already anticipated, you may enjoy all the best songs from these bands in a single and breathtaking compilation: BEST ROCK OF 2018. Now Playing on Spotify!


Best New Music: LAST BUILDING BURNING by Cloud Nothings

Cloud Nothings 1300.jpg
Dylan Baldi is the singer, guitarist and leader of indie rock band Cloud Nothings. The band started in 2009 as Baldi’s solo project but it soon became a full formation with other permanent members.

There are bands that represent the essence and the spirit of rock. Among these I surely include Cloud Nothings, the spectacular indie rock from Ohio. I follow this band with particular attention since their 2014 album, Here and Nowhere Else, and from then I’ve felt a natural attraction for their music and I’ve literally fallen in love with many of the intense and profound songs they wrote. I’ve always found their approach to music as the perfect paradigm and synthesis of rock and roll in modern times. Their songs manifest the urgency of communicating something strong, and the musical language they’ve built in order to transmit their feelings is raw, immediate, dissonant and full of contradictions as is today the world around us. No frills, no masks, a kind of music that is stripped of all what’s superfluous but that, in doing so, shows a monstrous and impressive substance. I feel that Cloud Nothings have achieved the perfect synthesis between the immediacy of punk, the aggressiveness of alternative rock, the melodies of power pop, the research and experimentation of avant-garde music, and the the angularities of noise rock. Their sound is the point where all these different ways of interpreting modern rock eventually meet together, and their albums are gifted by a sense of spontaneity and naturalness that makes everything alive and exciting.

 

 

Last Building Burning is the new LP released by Cloud Nothings, the fifth of their discography. The publication notes say that the album was recorded in only eight days in a studio located in a border town of Texas. It’s not surprising, therefore, that the album offers such intense feelings of immediacy and spontaneity. Don’t expect the balance and the crystalline perfection of those over-produced albums where clear sounds and catchy melodies are tuned and refined up to the smallest details. Instead, prepare yourself for rough sounds and a genuine flow of electric anger, with songs that point straight and without hesitations at the heart of music, at the essence of rock.

 

 

I’m here to say that Last Building Burning is yet another great record by a fantastic band, and I’m sure that its arrival, in this cold November, has the effect of warming the soul of all the fans of indie music. The record has no false steps and every song is a little gem. There are of course some tracks that shine with a particular light of beauty. I can mention the song In Shame, perhaps the most melodic, fast and accessible song of the LP, one of those tracks that you want to listen again as soon as it ends, without going on with the rest of the album.

 

 

On the other opposite there is Dissolution, a song that makes me think of Dylan Baldi and his bandmates hitting hard on their instruments with rage, fury and passion, but at some point they find themselves blocked on a single note, a chord that they can’t abandon to move forward into the song, as if they were imprisoned by a magic spell, until the drums eventually arrive to wake them up and then, as a response, they embark on a three minutes psychedelic trip which gives life to one of the most exciting finals that the band has ever composed to date.

 

 

In more general terms, if we compare the new LP with their more recent releases we find many confirmations and a few signs of difference. The confirmations mainly concern the general approach to music, which includes the immediate and “urgent” style that I mentioned above. Among the differences we can highlight a more evident recourse to gloomy and disheartened tones, both for the music and the lyrics. But, in the end, that’s another evidence that their music do not only reflect the current state of rock, but rather the more general situation of our society.


 

If you enjoyed the music of Cloud Nothing’s last album you will like INDIE INSIDE, the playlist I’m curating on Spotify with all the best and latest Indie Rock songs. Listen to it, follow it and spread the word!

 


 

Mid-Year Verdicts: TOP TEN ROCK ALBUMS IN 2017

This is the third half-of-the-year list published in the blog after those about Electronic music and Jazz. The Top Ten chart features quite a wide family of sub-genres spanning from indie rock to post-punk, passing through alternative rock and celtic punk. The top positions of the list are almost stationary since a few months, while there are a few interesting movements in the lower positions. Enjoy!

 

#1) Modern Ruin by Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes

Readers of this blog have seen myself explaining many times about how good is the last album by Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes, Modern Ruin. This is the second LP produced by the British band and it arrived on the shelves a year and a half after the sensational debut album, Blossom. Frank Carter, the leader of the band, became however famous first as the frontman of the English hardcore punk outfit Gallows, then as the leader of the American-British rock band Pure.

Compared to Carter’s previous works, Modern Ruin may seem more inclined to melody and somehow less visceral, but this didn’t affect the overall energy of the pieces. An instant classic, a must have album for 2017 and beyond.

 

#2) Near to the Wild Heart of Life by Japandroids

Near to the Wild Heart of Life is the long awaited third studio album by the Canadian rock duo Japandroids consisting of Brian King (guitar, vocals) and David Prowse (drums). The album fills a gap of five years since their previous beautiful Celebration Rock, the album which gained a widespread acclaim from both critics and fans, and it also interrupts a long time span in which the band has been also totally silent.

Musically speaking the album is still characterized by the raw and garage-style rock sound that has marked all their previous works. The band, however, has somehow eased the most aggressive tones maintaining in any case a good emotional tension in all the tracks of the LP. A very nice characteristic of their music is given by the perfect way in which the different sounds and instruments fit one on the other, adding incremental layers as the song develops. A confirmation from a great indie rock band.

 

#3) Life Without Sound by Cloud Nothings

Life Without Sound, the fourth studio album by the American indie rockers Cloud Nothings, finally shows the most serene and enjoyable face of this fantastic band. Although always influenced by the dirty and scratchy guitar of Dylan Baldi, the ecletic singer, musicians and lead songwriter of the band, the songs of the album seem to manifest a happy point of arrival in the articulated musical path the band went through in their 8-years career.

This album is also relevant since it features the official new entry of a second guitarist in the band, which has now become a quartet. Chris Brown, who had joined the band earlier in the year only as a touring member, is now a full-time element of the indie rock group together with Baldi, drummer Jayson Gerycz, and bassist TJ Duke.

After a few moments of frequent listens, I can say that a very positive element of this work is the longevity of the songs. The positive opinion Ihad initially of the album has been not only consolidated but further improved with time, and some of the songs which didn’t capture my attention at first are now among the songs I appreciate the most. Solid modern rock, definitely recommended.

 

#4) Laune der Natur by Die Toten Hosen

I was honestly surprised when I first heard Laune der Nature (Freak of Nature), the new album from German punk rock veterans Die Toten Hosen, which is the seventeenth studio album from the band. I was fascinated by the freshness and immediacy of the songs, and it’s clear that the guys from Dusseldorf still have a lot to say after so many years of playing together.

The band became famous for their heavy political approach to punk. Their last album, however, seems less involved with politics and more focused on the music itself. Maybe this won’t be remembered as the best release of their long discography, but it remains a very good and refreshing album and it’s a recommended listen in particular for those that are not familiar with these German punkers. Combat rock from Germany, sehr gut!

 

#5) 11 Short Stories of Pain & Glory by Dropkick Murphys

Hardcore Celtic-Punkers Dropkick Murphys shoudn’t require too much introduction since these guys from Massachussets have been rocking the scene for over twenty years and their last album, 11 Short Stories of Pain & Glory, is the ninth of their long career. Musically speaking, this work presents their signature irish-inspired rock sound, without to much innovation or diversion from the successful recipe that they have been perfectioning through time. Catchy anthems, celtic rocking melodies, fast and fun energetic song.

Beyond the purely musical aspect, most of the songs are inspired from the work that the band did in support of the “The Claddagh Fund”, a charity organization which the band established since 2009 for actively helping the drug recovery community and other children’s and veteran’s organizations. As a result, most of the tracks are permeated with a sense of positive energy, a sort of encouragement to go beyond the little or big failures that we may encounter in our lives. This is not going to be the best album ever released by the band, anyway it’s a solid and valuable work which contains quite a good number of very high quality songs. If you want blood…. we’ll give you some!!

 

#6) Damage and Joy by The Jesus and Mary Chain

The Reid brothers are back. After about twenty years of silence (their previous LP dates back to 1998) the two belligerents Scottish rockers have put aside differences and incompatibilities and eventually found the inspiration and motivation to get back into the studio and produce a new album. Damage and Joy is the seventh album in the career of The Jesus and Mary Chain, and it is almost unbelievable to recognize how this record seems in every respect the natural evolution of their earlier works, despite all the time that has passed in the meantime.

The album collects together a few tracks written by the band during the last ten years, basically since they started again to play music together, and some newer songs composed specifically for this record. Their music is always very interesting to listen: they have a special gift in balancing immediacy with inspiration and, as a matter of fact, their melodies never transcend into banality or the pure replica of an established pattern. The songs of Damage and Joy are less energetic and raw with respect to their previous works and the songwriting has evidently matured towards a more calm and introspective approach.

 

#7) Night People by You Me At Six

Night People is the new album from the English alternative rockers You Me At Six and it arrives three years after the previous succesful album Cavaler Youth, which topped the UK chart on the same week of its release. The reception from critics and fans for Night People, however, hasn’t been the same as the previous LP, and many reviews pointed oud that the new album is less coherent and homogeneous than the previous works, and that aside a few songs of clear value there are a number of tracks of much lower level.

If I can agree that not all the songs of the album have the same enjoyability I typically like to focus on the best tracks of each LP and Night People, despite the highs and lows, contains a good number of pretty damn catchy rock songs. Certainly their sound has taken a more commercial and “pop” direction, but the final result is definitely not to be overlooked.

 

#8) American Beauty by CJ Ramone

CJ Ramone was the “young guy” within the Ramones – and the last one to join the band – when the punk rock masters were playing their punk songs in the last ten years of their influential career. After the American punkers retired, CJ kept on playing and singing in a Ramones’ cover band and he eventually started a solo career which has already generated a few albums. American Beauty is the last release of CJ Ramone’s solo production and the third album of his studio discography.

As you might expect, CJ has kept the Ramones in his heart and the music he plays is basically what his fans want to hear: simple and straight punk rock. It would be really a complete madness to compare CJ’s songs to those of Ramones: there is honestly an abyss that he couldn’t fill even by calling the support from a few punk veterans as his backings. Anyway, it’s not crazy to say that American Beauty, judged as a stand-alone product, doesn’t look bad when compared to today’s rock scene, where it rather brings a breath of freshness and immediacy.

 

#9) For Crying Out Loud by Kasabian

Fun and easy. This has always been the motto for the four rockers from Leicester. And in an era where too often we’re provided with over-conceptual albums, such a relaxed approach to music sometimes is just what we need. For Crying Out Loud is the the fifth album from Kasabian, and it topped the UK music chart in the same week of its release. The album contains 12 new tracks and the deluxe version contains a second disc with a live performance recorded last year at the King Power Stadium.

The musical formula of the album remains essentially the same of Kasabian’s last works, the disc is packed with easy to listen rock grooves and melodic anthems. These are songs which don’t pretend to bring any particular message or to represent any form of innovation but which manage to stay away from trivial mechanism for the mere research of the commercial success. To some extent we see here that the process of simplification has reached a further level and this is combined also with a sense of urgency that emerges from many of the tracks of the album. As a matter of fact, all the songs have been  recorded in only a few weeks and this further contributed to preserve the spirit of immediacy of the entire album.

 

#10) Mosaic by 311

Long time alternative rockers three-eleven came back after three years since their last LP with another excellent release. Their last album, named Mosaic, is the twelfth studio album of their long career and in the few weeks that have now passed from the date of release, it has already received very good reviews from both music critics and fans.

The band has achieved a very good recognition in the alternative rock scene for their smooth but energetic rock anthems, most often featuring very nice and enjoyable influences from reggae and ska. And their last production definitely confirms their unique skill in mastering so many different genres into a captivating and coherent package of songs. Possibly one of the most complete rock albums of the last few months, Mosaic keeps the band’s unique rap/rock/reggae mix alive and at same time introduces a few additional elements in their palette of sounds which make the album somehow new and refreshing.

Contemporary Punk Rock, the Best Albums of 2017 (so far!)

Edit: if you arrived to this page via a search engine, please be aware that there are updated charts about Rock for the year 2017. Check them out from the home page, yuo can jump easily into the the Rock section from the website menu. 


Today the punk scene is definitely different (and less influential) than 40 years ago. Nevertheless, there are still a number of good releases that appear periodically on the shelves and the genre is characterized by a varied number of influences and different sub-styles. There are a few punk veterans who continue to publish very good albums, but also new groups entering the scene with nice and energetic punk songs. We have selected here the best punk rock albums that have been released since the beginning of the year, presented in strict alphabetical order. Did you miss anyone of these?

CJ Ramone: American Beauty

CJ RAMONE 2 - 1280x300

American Beauty is the third solo album by CJ Ramone, the American rocker best known for working from 1989 to 1996 as bassist and vocalist of the legendary Ramones (and today one of the three surviving members of group)

Cloud Nothings: Life Without Sound

CLOUD NOTHINGS - 1280x300

Life Without Sound is the fourth studio album by the American indie rock trio, which managed to balance a punk rock approach with hardcore and power pop sonorities.

Danko Jones: Wild Cat

DANKO JONES - 1280x300

Wild Cat is the eighteth album by the Canadian rock trio from Toronto, which features an impressive selection of mainstream-ready hard rock and garage punk Tunes.

Die Toten Hosen: Laune der Natur

DIE TOTEN HOSEN - 1280x300

Laune der Nature (Freak of Nature) is the seventeenth studio album from the German punk rock veterans, which confirms their consolidated recipe of punk metal and hardcore punk.

Dropkick Murphys: 11 Short Stories of Pain & Glory

DROPKICK MURPHYS . 1280x300

11 Short Stories of Pain & Glory is the ninth studio album by American celtic punk band from Boston, which have nowadays accumulated more than 20 years of honest and good punk music.

Dune Rats: The Kids Will Know It’s Bullshit

DUNE RATS - 1280x300.jpg

The Kids Will Know It’s Bullshit is the second album released by the Australian three-piece punk rock band from Brisbane, which are among the youngest representatives of the contemporary international punk rock scene.

Flatfoot56: Odd Boat

FLATFOOT56 - 1280x300

Odd Boat is the seventh album by the American celtic punkers from Chicago, and it’s probably one of the best they released so far.

Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes: Modern Ruin

FRANK CARTER - 1280x300

Modern Ruin is the second studio album by the English punk rock band led by singer Frank Carter. Here in this blog it still maintains the top position in the overall rock chart for 2017.

Japandroids: Near to the Wild Heart of Life

JAPANDROIDS - 1280x300

Near to the Wild Heart of Life is the third studio album by the Canadian rock duo, which features a more polished version of the garage punk style that made them gain a well-deserved public success in their 10 years career.

Nothington: In The End

NOTHINGTON Band - 1280x300

In the End is the new studio release by San Francisco alternative-punk rockers. The album interrupts a period of silence of almost five years since their last studio release and it arrives when the band is celebrating ten years of activity.

Rejected: Suicide Hotline

REJECTED - 1280x300.jpg

Suicide Hotline is the new album from the Finnish punkers. The  band is active since the end of 90’s and their music combines catchy choruses with typical bitterness and irreverence of street punk.

True Sound of Liberty: The Trigger  Complex

TRUE SOUND OF LIBERTY - 1280x300

The Trigger Complex is the eleventh album released by T.S.O.L., the hardcore punk veterans from California which are active since 1978. The album is their first release since 2009.

Best of Rock in 2017, the Top Ten of Indie, Alternative and Punk Rock (updated May 2017)

Edit: if you arrived to this page via a search engine, please be aware that there are updated charts about Rock for the year 2017. Check them out from the home page, you can jump easily into the the Rock section from the website menu.


Despite the fact that in the last weeks there have been a few nice and interesting new releases for the rock category, the highest ranks in our rock chart remain basically untouched. In the bottom part of the list, of the contrary, we had a number of changes with groups leaving the chart (such as AFI and TSOL) and some other entering the Top Ten (Kasabian and  Nothington). In view of this changes, let’s see the updated chart for rock music in the moment we enter the second third of 2017.

 

#10) For Crying Out Loud by Kasabian (NEW ENTRY)

KASABIAN - 1280x300

Fun and easy. This has always been the motto for the four rockers from Leicester. And in an era where too often we’re provided with over-conceptual albums, such a relaxed approach to music sometimes is just what we need. For Crying Out Loud is the the fifth album from Kasabian, and it topped the UK music chart in the same week of its release. The album contains 12 new tracks and the deluxe version contains a second disc with a live performance recorded last year at the King Power Stadium.

The musical formula of the album remains essentially the same of Kasabian’s last works, the disc is packed with easy to listen rock grooves and melodic anthems. These are songs which don’t pretend to bring any particular message or to represent any form of innovation but which manage to stay always far from those trivial mechanism for the mere research of the commercial success. To some extent we see here that the process of simplification has reached a further level and this is combined also with a sense of urgency that emerges from many of the tracks on the album. As a matter of fact, all the songs have been  recorded in only a few weeks and this helped to preserve the spirit of the immediacy of the entire album.

Overall this is an album of simple celebration, not mindful reflection. (The National)

 

#9) In The End by Nothington (NEW ENTRY)

NOTHINGTON Band - 1280x300

In the End is the new studio release by San Francisco alternative-punk rockers Nothington. The album interrupts a period of silence of almost five years since their last studio release and it arrives when the band is celebrating ten years of activity. Born on the ashes of their former band Tsunami Bomb, Nothington’s founders Gabe Lindeman and  Jay Northington have developed through the years a special and successful mix of catchy end energetic punk rock, which allowed them to gain a relatively high commercial success and made them as one of the most important rock groups from the Bay Area.

In their last work, the guys from California repeat their successful musical recipe without any particolar innovation: radio-friendly catchy rock and melodic punk-rock anthems. There are a few moments where the tones are a bit more thoughful and introspective, but the essence of the album is definitely on the energy side. Sometimes we don’t need at any cost musical innovations or masterpieces, but just nice and good rock songs to put in our musical playlists.

This is an album full of triumph and tenacity, turmoil and turbulence. Just the way you like it. Even better yet is that now that the band has awakened from hibernation, they’re going to be active with tours and festival plays. Welcome back, gents. (Bandcamp)

 

#8) Wild Cat by Danko Jones (=)

DANKO JONES - 1280x300

Wild Cat is the eighth studio album by Danko Jones, which is the Canadian rock trio led by vocalist and guitarist Danko Jones, supported by John ‘JC’ Calabrese on bass guitar amd Rich Knox on drums. The band is active since almost 20 years, and this is one of those groups that didn’t reach the attention of their fans thorugh changes and innovations. And this last album is no exception. Wild Cat gives us in fact just another bunch of furious and totally enjoyable “macho” rock-party anthems. These guys draw on an inexhaustible source of catchy rock melodies and they just keep doing what they can do best, without too many frills or ambitions for musical evolution.

The album is crammed with groovy, sleazy riffs and hooky choruses, all delivered with a surge of raw energy from Danko himself, whose enthusiasm for his craft clearly hasn’t dipped after eight albums. (Team Rock)

In addition to this successful and field-proven recipe, the Canadians have understood very well how important may be an excellent production, in particular if you’re going to the easy listening way to rock. Wild Cat benefits from a perfect recording which is consistent with their style and which gives an furhter element of enjoyability to their work.

 

#7) American Beauty by CJ Ramone (=)

CJ RAMONE 2 - 1280x300

CJ Ramone was the “young guy” within the Ramones – and the last one to join the band – when the punk rock masters were playing their tunes in the last ten years of their influential career. After the American punkers retired, CJ kept on playing and singing in Ramones’ cover band and he eventually started a solo career which has already generated a few albums. American Beauty is the last release of CJ Ramone’s solo production and the third album of his studio discography.

As you might expect, CJ has kept the Ramones in his heart and the music he plays is basically what his fans want to hear: simple and straight punk rock. It would be really a complete madness to compare CJ’s songs to those of Ramones: there is honestly an abyss that can’t be filled even by calling the support from a few punk veterans as his backings. Anyway, it’s not crazy to say that American Beauty, judged as a stand-alone product, doesn’t look bad when compared to today’s rock scene, where it rather brings a breath of freshness and immediacy.

Once again CJ Ramone managed to record an album that not only pays great tribute to the band he helped continue until 1996, while also keeping the Ramones sound fresh. His song-writing and vocals get better and better with each release and American Beauty is no exception. Fans of the Ramones and CJ’s past solo work will be extremely happy with this album. I’m sure Joey, Johnny, Dee Dee and Tommy are looking down and totally rocking out to it. (PunkNews)

 

#6) Night People by You Me At Six (↓)

YOU ME AT SIX - 1280x300

Night People is the new album from the English alternative rockers You Me At Six and it arrives three years after the previous succesful album Cavaler Youth, which topped the UK chart on the same week of its release. The reception from critics and fans for Night People, however, hasn’t been the same as the previous job, and many reviews pointed oud that the new album is less coherent and homogeneous than the previous works since aside a few songs of clear value there are a number of tracks of much lower level.

If we can agree to some extent that not all the songs of the album have the same enjoyability, here in this blog we prefer to focus on those bunch of tracks that gave a very positive vibe. Despite the highs and lows, in fact, Night People still contains a good number of pretty damn catchy rock songs which are today regular guests of our rock playlists. Certainly their sound has taken a more commercial and “pop” direction, but the final result is definitely not to be overlooked.

Upon first listen to the opening track of You Me At Six’s new album, it’s easy to see its potential for polarising opinion. The euphoric sheen of their last record ‘Cavalier Youth’ has been swapped for something altogether darker, groovier, and it sounds like nothing they’ve ever dared to try before. Yet, by the end of ‘Night People’s succinct ten tracks, it’s clear they’ve navigated their new musical direction very well. (DIY)

 

#5) Damage and Joy by The Jesus and Mary Chain (↑)

JESUS AND MARY CHAIN - 1280x300

The Reid brothers are back. After about twenty years of silence (their previous LP dates back to 1998) the two belligerents Scottish rockers have put aside differences and incompatibilities and eventually found the inspiration and motivation to get back into the studio and produce a new album. Damage and Joy is the seventh album in the career of The Jesus and Mary Chain, and it is almost unbelievable to recognize how this record seems in every respect the natural evolution of their earlier works, despite all the time that has passed in the meantime.

Damage and Joy is a keen reminder of what the Jesus and Mary Chain naturally possess that too many newer bands lack: a strong and inimitable personality, one that cannot be separated from their music and how it works, and one that is still largely intact.  (Pop Matters)

The album collects together a few tracks written by the band during the last ten years, basically since they started again to play music together, and some newer songs composed specifically for this record. Their music is always very interesting to listen: they have a special gift in balancing immediacy with inspiration and, as a matter of fact, their melodies never transcends into banality or the pure replica of an established pattern. The songs of Damage and Joy are less energetic and raw with respect to their previous works and the songwriting has evidently matured towards a more calm and introspective approach.

 

#4) 11 Short Stories of Pain & Glory by Dropkick Murphys (=)

DROPKICK MURPHYS . 1280x300

Hardcore Celtic-Punkers Dropkick Murphys shoudn’t require too much introduction since these guys from Massachussets have been rocking the scene for over twenty years and their last album, 11 Short Stories of Pain & Glory, is the ninth of their long career. Musically speaking, this work presents their signature irish-inspired rock sound, without to much innovation or diversion from the successful recipe that they have been perfectioning through time. Catchy anthems, celtic rocking melodies, fast and fun energetic song.

Beyond the purely musical aspect, most of the songs are inspired from the work that the band did in support of the “The Claddagh Fund”, a charity organization which the band established since 2009 for actively helping the drug recovery community and other children’s and veteran’s organizations. As a result, most of the tracks are permeated with a sense of positive energy, a sort of encouragement to go beyond the little or big failures that we may encounter in our lives. This is not going to be the best album ever released by the band, anyway it’s a solid and valuable work which contains quite a good number of very high quality songs.

Loss and the possibility of redemption represent the twin themes of pain and glory fueling the Celtic-punk band’s ninth album, a collection of songs by turns bleak and triumphant, and sometimes both at once. (Paste Magazine)

 

#3) Life Without Sound by Cloud Nothings (=)

CLOUD NOTHINGS - 1280x300

Life Without Sound, the fourth studio album by the American indie rockers Cloud Nothings, finally shows the most serene and enjoyable face of this fantastic band. Although always influenced by the dirty and scratchy guitar of Dylan Baldi, the ecletic singer, musicians and lead songwriter of the band, the songs of the album seem to manifest a happy point of arrival in the articulated musical path the band went through in their 8-years long career.

“Generally, it seems like my work has been about finding my place in the world,” Baldi says. “But there was a point in which I realized that you can be missing something important in your life, a part you didn’t realize you were missing until it’s there—hence the title. This record is like my version of new age music,” he adds. “It’s supposed to be inspiring.” (Bandcamp)

This album is also relevant since it features the official new entry of a second guitarist in the band, which has now become a quartet. Chris Brown, who had joined the band earlier in the year as a touring member, is now a full-time member of the indie rock group together with Baldi, drummer Jayson Gerycz, and bassist TJ Duke.

A very positive element of this work is that the quality of the songs improves with time. The positive opinion we had initially of the album has been not only consolidated but further improved with subsequent listening, and some of the songs which didn’t caputre our attention at first are now among the songs we appreciate the most. This fact, for our experience, is a typical characteristic of the great albums.

 

#2) Near to the Wild Heart of Life by Japandroids (=)

JAPANDROIDS - 1280x300

Near to the Wild Heart of Life is the long awaited third studio album by the Canadian rock duo Japandroids consisting of Brian King (guitar, vocals) and David Prowse (drums). The album fills a gap of five years since their previous beautiful Celebration Rock, the album which gained a widespread acclaim from both critics and fans, and it also interrupts a long time span in which the band has been also totally silent.

Musically speaking the album is still characterized by the raw and garage-style rock sound that has marked all their previous works. The band, however, has somehow eased the most aggressive tones maintaining in any case a good emotional tension in all the tracks of the LP. A very nice characteristic of their music is given by the perfect way in which the different sounds and instruments fit one on the other, adding incremental layers as the song develops.

The duo have nailed the art of the crunching, life-affirming crescendo. The title track has rousing get-in-a-moshpit-and-hug-your-mates choruses but it’s also pleasantly grown-up: emo-rock for those who still wear plaid shirts and skate shoes but who also now brew their own craft ale. (The Guardian)

 

#1) Modern Ruin by Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes (=)

FRANK CARTER - 1280x300

As soon as we started playing the new album by Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes we knew that we were in front of a great work. Modern Ruin, in fact, not only does contain quite a good number of good songs, but it is graced as a whole by a positive energy that emanates from every one of the 12 tracks included in the disc.

Don’t come to Modern Ruin looking to be cheered up then, but if it’s catharsis you’re after, there’s nothing more fitting. (NME)

This is the second LP produced by the British band and it arrives on the shelves a year and a half after the sensational debut album, Blossom. Frank Carter, the leader of the band, became however famous first as the frontman of the English hardcore punk outfit Gallows, then as the leader of the American-British rock band Pure.

Compared to Carter’s previous works, Modern Ruin may seem more inclined to melody and somehow less visceral, but this didn’t affect the pleasantness of the songs and indeed the album has gained fluidity and longevity.

 

 

 

 

 

The Sound of My City, Best of Indie, Alternative and Punk Rock in 2017

You will find in this compilation the best rock music of 2017 (so far!), selected and mixed into a single explosive playlist. With artists such as Frank Carter, Japandroids, Cloud Nothings. Dropkick Murphys, The Jesus and Mary Chain, CJ Ramone, Danko Jones, Nothington, Kasabian, AFI (and many others), this is the definitive playlist for the first 4 months of the year. Enjoy!!

 

Best of Indie & Punk Rock in 2017 (so far!) – The Playlist

Edit: there is a new playlist for Indie & Punk Rock which can be accessed from the home page!

We’ve selected and mixed the best songs from the Top Ten Indie & Punk Rock Albums in 2017. This playlist features tracks by The Menzingers, CJ Ramone, Rejected, Danko Jones, AFI, You Me At Six, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Cloud Nothings, The Sounds of Liberty, Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes and Japandroids.