10. Overdrivers – She’s On Her Period
You’ve got the name of the album, you’ve got opening song “The Best Blowjob In History”; is this a comedy band?
That depends on whether you think Airbourne are a comedy band – because if there is to be a wave of Airbourne “copyists” then these Frenchmen are collectively Duke Kahanamoku, hanging 10 on the crest of it. That, of course, means they’re a band that sounds like a band that sounds like AC/DC – and you know how much we love that around here! Oh, they do have a song called “Show Your Boobies”. Must be a cultural thing….
9.Dizzy Reed – Rock’n’Roll Ain’t Easy
Even more than Slash,Dizzy Reed is doing the sort of music Guns N’Roses fans wish they’d do.
Smack bang in the middle of the gargantuan Not In This Lifetime Tour, the Gunners’ long-term keyboardist put out a dirty Hollywood rock record. Opener “This Don’t Look Like Vegas” tells you all you need to know about Rock’n’Roll Ain’t Easy – this ain’t Radiohead. “Mother Theresa”, “Cheers To R Oblivion”, “Fragile Water” … one reviewer aptly called it “timeless rock’n’roll”. There’s keyboards but not as much as you might imagine. It’s mostly unselfconscious songcraft. Like Little Caesar’s Eight, released by Australian label Golden Robot.
8. Black Stone Cherry – Family Tree
After speeding things up and going all modern rock on Kentucky, this is a return to Black Stone Cherry’s southern rock roots.
There’s nothing here that has so far matched “White Trash Millionaire”‘s 14 million Spotify streams and “Southern Fried Friday Night” is a little corny. However, this is an eminently listenable collection of familiar-sounding rockers that will please fans of BSC – perhaps without winning over anyone new. A real stand-out track and it would have ranked more highly.
7.Bulletboys – From Out Of The Skies
It’s a strange thing, finding your voice as an artist 30 years after your time in the spotlight.
Marq Torien will always be known – by those who know his name anyway – for the Van Halen-esque shrieks in 1988’s “Smooth Up In Ya”. With a new line-up (and the rest of the classic line-up forming a band called Lies, Deceit and Treachery), Torien stretches out on From Out Of The Skies, working with Jesse Hughes from Eagles of Death Metal and mustering some soaring moments such as “Losing End Again” and “Hifi Drive-by”. We loved the previous album Elefante – this is a different beast altogether. There’s a real artistic vision at work, which you can choose to like or not. Can’t wait for the BulletBoys next effort.
6. Reef – Revelation
To many, Reef belong firmly in the ‘what ever happened to..’ file.
They were never mentioned in the same breath as most of the other bands on this countdown. They seemed to come into rock from the other direction than most of us, the same direction from whence Oasis emerged (although Reef had long hair). But they DID rock and it only takes a few bars of the title track and opener of their comeback album to convince us they still do. Revelation is quite a body of work – an aching duet between Gary Stringer and Sheryl Crow, a gospel gem in “How I Got Over” and a memorable ballad in ‘Don’t Go Changing Your Mind”. And I’m only halfway through the record. Fantastic.
5. Stryper – God Damn Evil
Stryper are another band who lost a classic member this year in bassist Tom Gaines.
His replacement, Perry Richardson, didn’t play on the powerful and unrepentant (pun intended) God Damn Evil. To the christian band’s support base, this was a controversial release in two respects. First, there was the title, which many hardline religious types saw as a curse and taking the lord’s name in vain. Then there was the actual music – at times this is thrash, with the chorus of lead-off song “Take It The Cross” sounding positively demonic … if it wasn’t about Jesus. “Sorry”‘s a great hard rock song, the title track’s a lot of fun – not a perfect record but a pretty damn (oops!) good one.
4. Judas Priest – Firepower
The line-up changes within Judas Priest during the year, with super producer Andy Sneap coming in for the ailing Glen Tipton.
. But the metal pioneers turned out another quality release in Firepower – one which seemed to earn respect beyond the genre, which is no mean feat these days. Some of the more recent Priest releases seem to echo Rob Halford’s self-styled mantle as “The Metal God” and forsake the more hard rock stylings of “Heading Out On The Highway” and “Living After Midnight”. But thankfully, there are hard rock moments here, like “Never The Heroes”. No sign of farewell tours for these lads, even if Rob is the last man standing.
3. Little Caesar – Eight
As you are about to see, there’s quite an Australian flavour to this year’s countdown.
Little Caesar are of course not Australian but they signed with an Aussie label in 2018 and hope to record their next album here. Ron Young’s crew are long-time favourites of ours and Eight was this year’s answer to our record of 2017, Junkyard’s High Water. It’s straight-ahead rock delivered through a whiskey-smooth larynx, with sardonic lyrics such as the description of Las Vegas: “Too stupid for New York, too ugly for Hollywood”. Some of the guitar licks are insidiously catchy and tracks like “Time Enough For That” tap into that middle aged philosophy in which we all indulge sooner or later. That song’s arguably one of the year’s finest musical moments, anywhere.
2. Bob Spencer – Saints and Murders
The biggest compliment Angry Anderson could give his Rose Tattoo bandmate about this album was that it’s “very you”.
And that is a big wrap indeed – Bob Spencer, formerly of Finch, The Angels and Skyhooks, is one of Australia’s most venerated musicians. From the opening harmonies of “I Can’t Do That, My Wife Will Kill Me”, this is VERY Bob – sassy, funny, diverse, smart and dextrous. Bob had to have therapy to overcome his fear of singing as he put this together, playing every instrument. There’s echoes of everything Bob has done here and through it all, his love of golden era classic rock shines through. All killer, no filler. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll be blown away.
1.The Lazys – Tropical Hazards
These boys from the NSW Central Coast moved to Toronto and teamed up with Canuck royalty Billy Talent to produce this monster of a record.
When we first saw the video for lead-off single “Nothing But Trouble”, we watched it 21 times in a row, it was that enervating. But this platter is full of gems: “Half Mast Blues” with guitar licks as dirty as the lyrics, the poignant ballad “Somebody’s Daughter”, the rebellious rabble rouser “Take Back The Town”. As we wrote when it was released: “The Lazys have arrived creatively, rewriting the template for Aussie pub rock in 2018. It’s our album of the year so far and it will take some beating.” We’re not biased towards Australian releases – honestly. It’s just that no-one came along and beat it.