90) Megadeth – “Super Collider”
It’s no secret that I love Megadeth. It’s also no secret that I love melodic rock. So when the two cross paths, I’m usually on board. I loved the Risk album even when most other people didn’t and while Super Collider doesn’t go quite where that record went it’s still among the most obviously melodic of the band’s career, if not the least metal. The title track is a prime example as the guitars don’t slice and pummel like past efforts, instead just pushing the song along, almost down a slide. It’s a brighter track than they usually try and for that reason alone it feels new. It may turn off hardcore fans but it suits me just fine.
89) The New Shining – “Out Of My Hands”
From one of my top 5 albums of the year comes this mid-paced number that takes an acoustic bed and just builds inspiration on top of it. Vocalist Xander Stick (now THERE’S a name) has one of those voices that’s juuuuust husky enough to give it character without sounding like he’s been gargling razors for a decade, adding a bit of soul to the proceedings come chorus time. A get a little bit of Crowded House from this track, although I could be way off.
88) Pop Evil – “Deal With The Devil”
I’m not sure it’s fair to call Pop Evil “Shinedown Jr.” (with a nod to Disturbed thrown in), but that’s exactly who they sound like to me, another distant cousin on the Alice In Chains family tree. I love the chugging guitars under the verse and only wish that when they exploded come chorus time it was with a bit more ferocity. Meanwhile the video has some serious Chili Peppers weirdness going on.
87) Black Water Bride – “Dallas”
Black Water Bride deliver the kind of pure southern rock that borders on being straight country, but they never quite get that far. The ghost of Ronnie Van Zant is clearly lingering around the premises although the band lacks Skynyrd’s layers, pushing them perhaps more towards the Kenny Wayne Shepherd camp. Not that it matters, as I gobble up all this stuff when the mood is right. Soulful blues rock never goes out of style as far as I’m concerned.
86) Atom Smash – “Hand In My Pocket”
Well if you’re gonna cover a song from another genre you best go ahead and make it completely your own. Atom Smash does that beautifully here, taking one of Alanis Morrisette’s brighter pop numbers and turning it into an atmospheric and dark dirge, complete with crunching guitars over a haunting, sounds-a-hair-off-key guitar lick of its own.
85) The 1975 – “Sex”
For some reason I have a problem with heavy accents when it comes to hard rockin’ bands but none whatsoever when it comes to lightweight pop like this. I can barely understand a word the guy is saying and yet that only seems to add to the charm. Meanwhile the song bops along with that candy-coated atlerna-pop sound that took root up in the late 90’s thanks to bands like the New Radicals. I like this album way more than I probably should.
84) Thirty Seconds To Mars – “Up In The Air”
When I first got into Thirty Seconds To Mars what hooked me was Jared Leto’s ability to create some interesting sonic landscapes within the tight confines of pop and rock song structures. The key to that was the way the guitars wove with the electronics and played off one another. Well with their new album the guitars are mostly gone, a fact that bummed me out quite a bit but which I came to grips with long enough to at least enjoy the record for what it is. This song grew on me steadily over time (although it could still use some guitar, dammit).
83) The Strive – “Bury Me Under”
These guys are kind of like The Fray, pumping out a very safe and radio-friendly guitar pop although with a bit more of an edge. There’s nothing earth shattering going on here, but it has in incessant beat and I really like the guitar tone. I think it matches what they’re doing real well.
82) Ghost B.C. – “Year Zero”
Ghost B.C. is such a strange outfit and this song/video is living proof. They are often referred to as a throwback doom metal band but in truth there is very little real metal in their sound. It’s more doom rock, a category that I don’t think has too many occupants. The lyrics are overtly satanic and the jury remains out as to whether it’s 100% a joke or something slightly more evil. The full length album is fantastic though if you are willing to give it a try, sort of a Blue Oyster Cult gone dark.
81) Newsted – “Soldierhead”
Poor Jason Newsted got turfed from Metallica a decade ago because he essentially got bored waiting for Lars and James to get their shit together and record some new stuff and they weren’t mature enough to let him do some side stuff until then. He’s toyed with some other bands in the meantime with mixed results, but this eponymously named band is his first real crack at stepping to the forefront. My first pass at the album had me loving the old school metal sound but a little unsure of his vocal style, which is a little odd. But in time I’ve grown to really enjoy it and now I think it’s one of the selling points of the band.