A very Happy New Year to all. As usual it’s time to post my annual Top 10 of the year list for music. It was VERY hard to limit it to 10! So many great new albums this year. Sadly many went virtually unnoticed and were gone and off the radar in a week. It’s a really awful trend that seems to get worse every year. Lack of true support for new rock music, especially new music from classic bands. I pride myself on always supporting new music on both of my radio shows and feel it is very important. This coming weekend for New Years my annual FM Best of 2015 radio special airs on all affiliate stations (as usual this is free to stream as well). All of my Top 10 will be heard and much more. So please have a listen. Maybe there is something you missed and can go rediscover. If you want the bands you love to still make new music you must seek it out and support it and buy it! If you don’t it will all come to an end and we are in serious risk in my view of that happening. That being said a ton of great new stuff was released and here are a few of my favorites of 2015. Please feel free to post a comment with yours!

1: Black Star Riders- The Killer Instinct
TRAGIC this album was essentially ignored by rock radio in the US! The second album from the band born from what was Thin Lizzy. But in reality this band now has only one member who was in classic Lizzy (Scott Gorham) and has very much evolved into it’s own original entity with the best qualities of Lizzy. 10 tracks, meat and potatoes hard rock, great songs and playing. Not a bad track on the album. They’ve spent much of their time working Europe. I hope America wakes up and they can do more here soon. Favorites tracks: “The Killer Instinct”, “Charlie I Gotta Go”, “Bullet Blues”, “Finest Hour”, but really top to bottom great, which is why it earns top honors.

2: The Winery Dogs- Hot Streak
The band took some turns on album two, and honestly some of it took a little time to grow on me. The first 4 tracks slam you just like album 1, then the fun begins with various twists and turns. But once it fully sinks in it’s easy to appreciate the growth and evolution they are exhibiting. Many thought these guys would never truly be a “band” and make a second album. Not the case, and they made a hell of a statement with Hot Streak. The talent and playing ability is obvious, but it’s SONGS that make this band special, and Kotzen remains in my view one of the singles greatest all around talents in rock. Favorite tracks: “Oblivion”, “How Long”, “Captain Love”, “Think It Over”, “Empire”, “Hot Streak”, “The Devil You Know”.

3: Europe- War Of Kings
In a year where Europe was on every TV in the US non stop with an insurance commercial, they also released new music that was maybe the best album they ever made, and sadly also went ignored here for the most part. I always liked the band but this was a huge growth to me for them. Great performances and songs! Europe grew up with UFO, Thin Lizzy and Deep Purple, and those influences are fully on display. If anything it is more inline with classic Purple than anything. Just a rich, well written, classic sounding album. Great vocals from Joey Tempest and of course John Norum on guitar is killer as always. Love where this band has gone 30 plus years after they formed, and they were great live. Favorite tracks: “Second Day”, “War Of Kings”, “Praise You”, “Nothin To Ya”, “Angels With Broken Hearts”.

4: Farmikos- Farmikos
Former Ozzy guitarist Joe Holmes finally returns and has a killer new band. Loaded with massive riffs and amazing solos and playing. I’ve always felt Joe was very overlooked in Ozzy history and couldn’t be happier that he is playing like a monster again. Singer Robbie Locke has a howl like Chris Cornell. Metallica bassist Rob Trujillo helps out on bass and now A7X drummer Brooks Wackerman crushes on drums on most tracks. Joe needs to find a permanent bass player and drummer and get this band out live. The music begs to be heard like that. He’s already working on a second album. Love the guys playing and this was an awesome first step with a diverse mix of hard rock and tremendous guitar playing and tone. Favorite tracks: “Scapegoat”, “Sound Of My Gun”, “Am I One”, “Exit Stencils”,

5: Marilyn Manson- The Pale Emperor
Lifelong Manson fan and he continues a creative comeback with another strong album. I love Manson less industrial and more Bowie, and that’s where this album sits. But it still has the signature heaviness at times as well and the always amazing production that is a trademark of his albums. On this album Manson worked with writer, producer, guitarist Tyler Bates for the first time, and the results illustrated a perfect pairing. Favorite Tracks: “Deep Six”, “Third Day Of A Seven Day Binge”, “Warship My Wreck”, “Killing Strangers”

6: Michael Monroe- Blackout States
Make it 3 in a row for Monroe as far as great in your face raw rock albums that just kick ass! It’s easy to just call Michael a glam pioneer, and he is, but there is so much more going on. Not many glam artists are loved by Lemmy and GnR equally like Michael is and Hanoi was. Attitude, aggression, catchy songs, and in your face playing make this another great solo release. Nod to Michael’s killer band, which includes playing and writing contributions from Steve Conte, Sami Yaffa and Rich Jones, who write some great hooks! Can’t wait to see them live on Monsters Cruise. “This Ain’t No Love Song”, “Old Kings Road”, “Blackout States”, “Good Old Bad Days”, “Goin Down With The Ship”.

7: WASP- Golgotha
Blackie has made one of his finest albums. Loaded with great songs and super tasty guitar playing. The band has been largely off the radar in the US focusing more on Europe where they get more traction, but I hope that changes soon. Trust me, take the time to seek this album out. Chock full of epic hard rock/metal, well written songs, great performances! Favorite tracks: “Miss You”, “Last Runaway”, “Scream”, “Golgotha”.

8: Iron Maiden- The Book Of Souls
Epic would be an understatement! There’s a side of me that kind of wishes Maiden would give us a 45 minute 10 songs fast heavy metal album. But this is 2015 and they have evolved really into a progressive metal band in recent years. If you take the time to absorb this massive undertaking it’s truly amazing what they have accomplished at this stage in their career. And Bruce’s performance considering what he was dealing with is just incredible!
Favorite Tracks: “Speed Of Light”, “If Eternity Should Fail”, “The Red & The Black”, Tears Of A Clown”.

9: Tremonti- Cauterize
Album number 2 from this project is another beast! Mark’s playing is top notch and his voice gets better and better. Wolfgang VH on bass and an incredible performance from drummer Garret Whitlock. Elements of rock, metal and thrash and massive riffs and grooves throughout. During downtime from AB this is an awesome band to have new music from!
Favorite Tracks: “Another Heart”, “Radical Change”, “Flying Monkeys”, “Cauterize”, “”Fall Again”.

10: Motor Sister- Ride
Like most people I was exposed to the songs of Jim Wilson through this passion project by Scott Ian and Pearl. If you grew up loving classic 70’s feeling hard rock than Ride had that in spades. I’m curious if this band continues what all new songs would sound like. But kudos to Scott and the band for shining a light on this overlooked artist and his songs. Favorite Tracks: “This Song Reminds Me Of You”, “Fool Around”, “A Hole”, “Beg Borrow Steal”.

I know, I know, what about __________! Like I said there were a TON of great albums and way more that I liked and played. But this is what I came up with for 2015 and only picked 10. So post your lists in comments and thanks for reading, listening, following, watching, etc! It is appreciated. Happy, healthy, safe 2016!

41 Responses

  1. Stryper – Fallen………hands down, best album of 2015! If you haven’t heard it, check it out! They can back it up live too, can’t wait to see them in June!

    1. What a fantastic album…I think it’s the best they have ever done, honestly!

  2. 1. Tommy Thayer: “I am not Ace Frehley but Gene and Paul force me to act like him on stage”. Great EP.
    2. Eric Singer: “The watch collection of rock and roll”
    3. Kiss: “Monster 2: How to suck even harder”
    4. Aerosmith: “Steven Tyler ruins everything, including this record”
    5. John Deacon: “Picnics and firepits”
    6. Journey: “Nobody cares”
    7. Skid Row: “300 Skid Row fans can’t be wrong”
    8. Freddie Mercury: “Rolling over in my grave”
    9. Slayer: “Not paying Dave, not selling tickets either (Live in Satan’s Bathroom)”
    10. Lenny Kravitz: “Rock and roll is dead” (oh wait…that came out years ago…)

  3. I’m with you with the first three along with Tremonti and Iron Maiden, but would add Joe Satriani, Queensryche and Operation Mindcrime to the top ten. Whitesnake’s version of the Deep Purple albums was great until I bought the original albums. Was overall disappointed with the releases by Def Leppard, Scorpions, Symphony X, Jeff Lynne’s ELO and Distburbed as they all seemed to go soft and slow. Enjoyed seeing you in McKinney, TX!

  4. Odd choices there. WASP is top 10? Tremonti?

    I’ll do top 5.

    1. Ghost – Meliora
    2. Iron Maiden – Book of Souls
    3. Clutch – Psychic Warfare
    4. Armored Saint – Win Hands Down
    5. Europe – War of Kings.

    The Winery Dogs, to me, just sound like a version of Mr. Big. I haven’t listened to it since I bought it. Tremonti I don’t get, neither do I get WASP. The Black Star Rider’s release was ok, but to me it sounds like rehash of Lizzy songs, but to each their own.

    Farmikos is a great disc, as it, btw the Art of Anarchy release with Ron Thal and Scott Weiland. It’s currently being offered for free by them as a tribute to Scott. Not sure why it isn’t up on Ed’s website yet.

  5. I don’t think I bought/heard 10 new albums last year, so I can’t honestly give a full 10 list. I’ve really been enjoying Joe Satriani’s “Shockwave Supernova”. I’ve grown to listen to Joe as much for his songwriting as the great guitar playing, and this one ranks high on the list of all time Satriani albums for me. It doesn’t blaze from start to finish like “Surfing With the Alien”, though it definitely has those moments, but Joe is as good with melody and being laid back as he is torching a fretboard. There’s a good span of variety on Shockwave, and almost all of it works.

    I kind of give Queensryche’s “Condition Human” and Iron Maiden’s “The Book of Souls” high marks for the same reason: they sound more like they’re supposed to again. Sometimes I don’t like that Todd La Torre sounds 98% exactly like Geoff Tate, but the band overall really does sound like classic Queensryche. Both albums this version of the band have done so far are generally pretty solid, though I’m not sure how ultimately memorable compared to the original 4 or 5 albums.

    Unlike some other comments here, I’ve generally liked the last few Iron Maiden albums. No, they’re not on par with the best of their classic era, and parts of them have maybe reached a little bit too far (I’ve always felt the “progressive” side of rock and metal is hard to strike a good balance with). The reality is they’re just not the same band they were 30 years ago, few are. However I do think BOS has more of a classic Iron Maiden sound blended into it than, well maybe anything since 7th Son. It definitely drags a bit too long on a few tracks, and there are still sections of “I’ve heard them do this before, several times…”, but if I really think about this one compared to just about everything else after 7th Son I think there’s a real case for saying it’s the best they’ve done since then. But I think that also says as much about the other albums in between as it does this one. As a long time Maiden fan, BOS isn’t going to dethrone any of the classics but I find myself liking it more than anything else they’ve done in quite some time.

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