70) Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – “Lullaby”
I’m gonna need to go back and revisit BRMC’s back catalogue at some point because I’m really digging their 2013 album Specter At The Feast. They do something almost U2-ish with their music and while I’m not Ireland’s Favorite Sons’ biggest fan by any stretch, at times I can appreciate bands that follow that path. I’m not sure I’d call this a ballad, but it certainly moves in no particular hurry, doing more of the Radiohead thing where it sounds like somebody might be a little bit drunk and they’re all trying to adjust to keep pace.
69) Sergeant Steel – “Cry Out Your Heart Baby”
This song and video is so cheesy it deserves to be on the list no matter how many songs I put ahead of it. I mean they dare to bring back the KEYTAR for crying out loud! But it’s catchy in a goofball way and I admire that, these guys seeming to truly revel in their fromage rather than hide from it. I can’t rightly mock something this purely driven even if it is tacky in its slavish attachment to 80’s excesses and clichés.
68) Ugly Kid Joe – “I’m Alright”
Known for early 90’s novelty rocker “(I Hate) Everything About You”, UKJ made a mini comeback this year with a half-album’s worth of new material. I never really noticed their similarity to AC/DC until I heard this track. Singer Whitfield Crane sounds like a dead ringer (pardon the pun) for the late Bon Scott. Dig it.
67) Lorde – “Royals”
So yeah, this is only one of the most popular and played songs of the past 12 months. It’s no surprise it eventually made its way into my ear even though I never listen to top 40 radio. Not that this is typical top 40 fodder, Lorde going the Norah Jones/Adele route and making things all smoky and old school, yet with a surprisingly stark backing track. I can’t even really tell you why I like this song so much. Certain things just are.
66) Blue October – “Sway”
The more I delve into this album the more I discover, Blue October’s Sway revealing new gems with every listen. For a Texan, vocalist Justin Furstenfeld has a surprisingly British sound, at times sounding equal parts Peter Gabriel and Marillion’s Fish; a little husky but passionate and somehow sophisticated at the same time. I appreciate good lyrics but more often than not they wash over me during casual listens. These grabbed me one day and made me say, “yeah, send this song to someone special”. So I did. And now they’re a fan.
65) Five Finger Death Punch – “Battle Born”
The modern-day version of Mötley Crüe’s “Home Sweet Home” in effect rather than sound, 5FDP going for the ever popular “life on the road” song and video, but with their overly macho stamp all over the thing. A little like Volbeat, the Punch have filed down the edges on their music as their success has grown (not that it’s necessarily a bad thing) and this song doesn’t really suffer from a lack of growl. Sure to be a concert anthem for years to come, not that this band ever was lacking in that department. The righteous guitar solo reminds me of Chris DeGarmo of Queensrÿche, which is indeed a compliment.
64) The Civil Wars – “I Had Me A Girl”
Albums often just grab me even when the style they come from is not part of my normal rotation, such as the latest from the Civil Wars. It’s a very mature country that doesn’t quite rock out in part because it’s a little too thoughtful for that. The combination of the male and female vocals are worked exquisitely throughout the album and on this track its John Paul White who does more of the heavy lifting, giving it more grit than some of their other songs, which is why it tends to jump out at me even though I love damn near every track on the album.
63) Sin 4 Sin – “Through The Night”
Sometimes, in fact OFTEN times, I just like plain old sex/drugs/rocknroll music wrapped in all of it’s 80’s hairband glory, and for some odd reason there are a lot of bands out there now attempting to bring it back. This is one of them.
62) Halestorm – “Gold Dust Woman”
Lizzy Hale has the perfect voice for what her and her band are trying to do, namely straddle that line between modern heavy rock and the classic arena sound of yesteryear. She has tons of grit and can really belt and rage when she needs, but on softer songs she can sing sweetly without losing any edge. I love pretty much everything they’ve put out mainly because of her voice. With their second EP of covers they once again tackle a number of different genres (their version of “Get Lucky” is pretty awesome), but it’s this remake of the old Fleetwood Mac Rumors track that really blows my mind. Her vocal performance here is flawless, hinting at Stevie Nicks’ rough moan without falling into parody. They don’t doing anything new with the song and in this case, I’m totally okay with it. It’s a fantastic rendering either way.
61) Intronaut – “Milk Leg”
Heavy metal doesn’t often get too experimental, usually relying on energy and youthful anger to carry the day. But sometimes bands pop up that are into taking the weight and feel of it and adding new dimensions. I don’t listen to this often, but when the mood hits this is really good stuff.