Anybody that says there isn’t good new music in 2019 isn’t looking very hard. This year saw numerous quality releases across the rock and metal genres. Here are my 10 personal favorites. This is in no way a definitive list, and as you’ll read, my tastes tend to lean more towards the rock and melodic rock side of things.
What are your favorites from 2019? Let’s get the conversation going on Twitter. Tweet your favorites along with a YouTube video using the hashtag #WebIsJerichoMusic or hit me up — @BLiskoREP.
10. Block Buster, “Losing Gravity”
Proudly flying the rock flag from their native Finland, the youthful Block Buster sound like they’ve been thrown out of every party they’ve ever been to. Catchy, ham-fisted anthems — think AC/DC meets Extreme with a modern edge — that will end up sending you to the drunk tank.
Choice cuts: “Out In The City,” “Gone By The Morning,” “Back From The Shadows”
9. A New Revenge, “Enemies & Lovers”
I’ve joked in the past that former Judas Priest vocalist Tim “Ripper” Owens is in at least 178 bands. While that’s only slightly exaggerated (Hi, Tim!), the output of his 2019 projects is among the strongest of his career. Spirits of Fire is rip-roaring Savatage-style metal. The Three Tremors (also featuring vocalists Sean Peck and Harry Conklin) is of the anthemic power metal variety. But my personal favorite, A New Revenge, is hard-driving and to-the-point melodic rock ’n’ roll. The band also features guitarist Keri Kelli (Night Ranger, Alice Cooper, Slash’s Snakepit), drummer James Kottak (Scorpions) and bassist Rudy Sarzo (rivaled only by Ripper in his gigantic resume). A very strong debut effort.
Choice cuts: “The Distance Between,” “The Way,” “Glorious”
8. Airbourne, “Boneshaker”
Australian AC/DC worshippers Airbourne had arguably one of the greatest rock debut records of all time with 2007’s “Runnin’ Wild.” While the band’s output has been solid since, it all started sounding like the same song over and over (And yes, I’m highly aware their idols did this at times, too). With “Boneshaker,” Airbourne dial back the distortion and polish a notch but crank up the intensity. It’s the most raw record the band has ever done. This is Airbourne’s “Let There Be Rock,” and it’s damn good.
Choice cuts: “Boneshaker,” “Burnout The Nitro,” “Rock ’n’ Roll For Life.”
7. Eclipse, “Paradigm”
Eclipse frontman Erik Martensson is one of the most prolific and talented songwriters in the melodic rock genre. “Paradigm” is a collection of massive arena choruses coupled with heavy guitars and stellar vocals. One of Sweden’s finest exports strikes again (More on Sweden later).
Choice cuts: “Viva La Victoria,” “Blood Wants Blood,” “When The Winter Ends.”
6. Danko Jones, “A Rock Supreme”
People say there can never be another Motorhead. With all due respect to the late, great Lemmy Kilmister, Danko Jones is a band that was championed by God himself and is close as we’re ever gonna get to an able replacement. “A Rock Supreme” is another excellent effort from Canada’s kings of rock consistency.
Choice cuts: “Fists Up High,” “That Girl,” “I’m In A Band”
5. Royal Republic, “Club Majesty”
To the uninformed, I describe Royal Republic as “disco Danko Jones.” Ridiculously catchy, fun and highly danceable rock ’n’ roll, something this unique in the genre could only come from one place. You guessed it — Sweden strikes again. Truly the definition of feel-good music, if this took the place of nightclub DJ nonsense, everyone would get laid a lot more.
Choice cuts: “Fireman & Dancer,” “Can’t Fight the Disco,” “Anna-Leigh”
4. D-A-D, “A Prayer for The Loud”
Danish rock veterans D-A-D returned with their first album in eight years and made it well worth the wait. A return to rock form bursting with infectious hooks and pure energy, “A Prayer For The Loud” is the sermon D-A-D fans and rock aficionados alike have been waiting for.
Choice cuts: “Burning Stars,” “A Prayer For The Loud,” “The Real Me”
3. The Lazys, “Tropical Hazards”
Back to Australia, The Lazys are definitely AC/DC-inspired, but there’s an upbeat, melodic punk element to their sound, too. “Tropical Hazards” is a well-written, fist pumping rock record rooted in the past but updated for 2019. (And yeah, this came out in 2018, but I didn’t hear it until recently. And besides, who’s keeping track?)
Choice cuts: “Nothing But Trouble,” “Little Miss Crazy,” “Take Back The Town”
2. Work of Art, “Exhibits”
Work of Art, with tongue firmly in cheek, once listed their influences as “Toto, Toto, Toto.” That’s pretty accurate, as these Swedish masters of melody returned with their highly-anticipated fourth album. Harkening back to the glory days of Journey, Survivor and all-things AOR, Work of Art’s name is entirely appropriate on “Exhibits,” which at any time sounds like it could morph into the soundtrack to “Rocky IV.” This is not only the melodic rock record of the year, it’s perhaps the best in the last decade.
Choice cuts: “This Isn’t Love,” “Gotta Get Out,” “Let Me Dream”
1. Crazy Lixx, “Forever Wild”
Was there any doubt where my record of the year was gonna come from? Swedish sleaze metal titans Crazy Lixx returned with “Forever Wild,” their best record to date and true ’80s rock to the max. “Silent Thunder” sounds like it should’ve been used for a montage in “Top Gun.” “Eagle” could very well be a lost Bon Jovi/Dio collaboration. “It’s You” sports the catchiest chorus this side of 1987, and all of “Forever Wild” is one memorable and fun hook after another. Someone’s gonna have to blast the smile off my face after listening to this.
Choice cuts: “Silent Thunder,” “Eagle,” “It’s You.”
Honorable mentions: Life of Agony — “The Sound of Scars”; Steel Panther — “Heavy Metal Rules”; Michael Sweet — “Ten”; The Defiants — “Zokusho”; Michael Monroe — “One Man Gang”; The Dirty Deniims — “Ready, Steady, Go”; Hammerfall — “Dominion”