2017 was one of the most memorable years for me musically in quite some time. I rediscovered my love of rock music, started a Twitter account dedicated to rock and roll, got my own little music blog going, attended some fantastic concerts (Lee Aaron 2x! Kings of Leon, Helix, Lita Ford) and fulfilled a lifelong dream when I finally got to meet Nikki Sixx! It was also one of the best years in recent memory for new rock music releases. When I sat down to come up with a list of my favorite albums of 2017, I originally thought a top 10 list would be easy to do however I quickly realized that would be impossible (given the sheer volume of great albums), so I’ve decided to share all of my favorites without limiting it to a specific number. I’m going to highlight a few of them with some detailed comments and then list the remainder.
So, without further ado, here are my absolute favorite albums of 2017 (in no particular order).
REVOLUTION SAINTS: LIGHT IN THE DARK
Revolution Saints, a rock supergroup comprised of Deen Castronovo, Jack Blades and Doug Aldrich released their debut album in 2015 to little fanfare. Needless to say they returned in a big way in 2017 with the stellar Light In The Dark album. Castronovo handles drums and lead vocals flawlessly and the vocal interplay between he and Jack Blades is absolutely perfect. I’ve always been a big fan of Deen’s drumming but his vocals on this album are fantastic and remind me of Steve Perry. Doug Aldrich’s guitar chops are on full display , reminiscent of his Whitesnake days.
The first song on the album, the inspiring and uplifting title track “Light In The Dark” is my absolute favorite on the record. It’s quickly become a song that I listen to whenever I need a quick lift or want to just rock out. From Doug’s killer opening guitar riff this song grabs hold of you and doesn’t let go! You can’t help singing along with Deen and Jack especially on that huge chorus.
“I Wouldn’t Change A Thing” is one of the best rock ballads of the year, Deen’s vocals are so moving and heartfelt and Doug Aldrich lays down a truly memorable guitar solo. A poignant and emotional song that is beautifully written and performed, I guarantee you will get goosebumps listening to it.
The album continues with more solid rockers including personal favorites “Back On My Trail” , “Locked Out of Paradise”, and “Turn Back Time”. There truly isn’t a bad track on the entire album. Revolution Saints have delivered one of the strongest records of the year and a true must own for every rock fan.
TOKYO MOTOR FIST: TOKYO MOTOR FIST
2017 saw the birth of another supergroup, with Frontier Records uniting lead singer Ted Poley (Danger Danger) with guitarist Steve Brown (Trixter) to form Tokyo Motor Fist. Rounding out the band are drummer Chuck Burgi and bassist Greg Smith, both former members of Rainbow. If you love 80’s hair metal and melodic hard rock in the Def Leppard mold then you will love this album and it may even become your new favorite (it certainly has become one of mine).
This album is truly all killer and no filler, with every song guaranteed to blow you away. Big hooks, big guitars, chugging bass riffs, killer drums and massive melodic choruses are all hallmarks of this stellar release. Filled with blistering rockers and brilliant power ballads, this record deserves a prominent place in your hard rock collection. Here are a few of my favorite tracks:
“Pickin’ Up The Pieces” might be my favorite rock song of the year. The guitar riff that kicks the song off is one of the best I’ve heard in years and then the drums and bass kick in and Ted starts singing…. mind blown!! I dare you to play this song and not get instantly hooked.
“Put Me To Shame” is another fast paced hard rocker, with those big hooks evident throughout, and a fantastic chorus. Pretty killer guitar solo too! A bit of a Dokken feel perhaps?
“Love Me Insane” is the perfect kickoff to this album, setting a blistering pace that doesn’t let you go.
Overall, this album is like a gift from the 80’s hair metal gods! So impressed with the musicianship and production on this record and I really hope this isn’t a one off album and we get another one from Tokyo Motor Fist soon.
ONE DESIRE: ONE DESIRE
One Desire’s self-titled debut album was one of the biggest surprises of the year for me. The band actually formed in Finland in 2012 and eventually caught the attention of Frontiers Records owner Serafino Perugino. Thankfully for us, they signed to Frontiers and their amazing album was released in March. The album is a really interesting mix of classic AOR melodic rock, with hints of metal and even electronica thrown in. There are so many amazing European rock bands putting out great new music right now and One Desire is one of the best.
This album is filled with song after song of big melodies, lead singer Andre Linman has outstanding range and his voice conveys so much emotion and is so powerful. I absolutely love his vocals on my favorite track on the album, “Whenever I’m Dreaming”
One of the heaviest tracks on the album is the wicked “Buried Alive” which incorporates some pretty cool synthesizers into the metal feel of the song. I love cranking this one up!
First single “Hurt” is an instant classic hard rock song, powerful and melodic. This song transports me back to the best years of the 80’s hard rock scene.
One Desire’s debut is a force to be reckoned with and has taken the hard rock world by storm! If I have any complaint (and it’s a small one), the production may be just a touch too slick especially on Andre’s vocals. Here’s hoping their next album lets his true voice come through. Pick this one up if you don’t already have it and enjoy one of the best releases of the past few years.
2017 was a special year in rock music for many reasons and one of the greatest moments was the return of the Riverdogs! Original members Rob Lamothe, Vivian Campbell and Nick Brophy along with Marc Danzeisen, reunited and released one of the greatest rock records of the year, California.
California takes you back to the sounds of the Riverdogs classic 1990 debut, with big guitars, soulful vocals and fantastic melodies. I always loved the blues-rock feel of the Riverdogs and this album continues in that vein.
Hands down my favorite song on the album is the hard rocking American Dream, highlighted by Rob’s outstanding vocals and a blistering solo by Viv.
I Don’t Know Anything is a classic ballad, with an emotional vocal performance by Rob Lamothe.
The entire album is a gem, filled with fantastic songwriting and stellar musicianship. A must add to your collection!
WARRANT: LOUDER, HARDER, FASTER
Warrant returned in a big way in 2017 with the fantastic “Louder, Harder, Faster” ; an album that completely blew me away with its hard rocking tracks. Produced by Jeff Pilson and featuring the vocals of lead singer Robert Mason (Lynch Mob) it’s a classic Warrant album with the perfect mix of ballads and rockers. That title track is kick ass!
NIGHT RANGER: DON’T LET UP
Night Ranger recaptured the hard rocking sound of their classic 80’s albums on their new Frontiers Records release “Don’t Let Up”. Featuring original members Jack Blades, Kelly Keagy and Brad Gillis, Don’t Let Up is a great time from start to finish and has quickly become a regular album in my musical rotation. My favorite song on the record is the rockin’ ‘Somehow, Someway’.
JACK RUSSELL’S GREAT WHITE: HE SAW IT COMIN’
I’ve been a huge fan of Jack Russell since the 80’s heyday of Great White and I absolutely love this new album featuring his version of Great White. Great White was always a more bluesy hard rock band and Jack continues that legacy on “He Saw It Comin'”. His voice is as good as ever, especially on tracks like ‘Sign Of The Times’ , ‘She Moves Me’ and ‘Blame It On The Night’. The future looks bright for Jack Russell’s Great White!
I was introduced to a number of rock bands in 2017 that I had not previously listened to and Swedish rockers Eclipse were one of the most pleasant surprises for me. I knew I was in for a real treat as soon as I heard the opening track ‘Vertigo’ followed up by one of my favorite rock songs of the year, ‘Never Look Back’. What a fantastic 1-2 punch to open an album! Melodic hard rock with massive hooks at every turn, Eclipse delivered one of the best albums of the year with “Monumentum”!
BONFIRE: BYTE THE BULLET
German rockers Bonfire have been around since the mid 80’s and although I had heard some of their older material I wouldn’t have considered myself a huge fan. That all changed this year with the release of their stellar “Byte The Bullet” featuring new singer Alexx Stahl who absolutely delivers one of the best performances of the year on this album. Heavy and melodic with blistering guitars, Bonfire nails the power metal sound on this one. ‘Praying 4 A Miracle’ is my favorite song on the album and an excellent representation of the overall vibe of the record.
L.A. GUNS: THE MISSING PEACE
One of the albums I was looking forward to the most in 2017 was the new L.A. Guns record, “The Missing Peace”. For the first time since 2000, Tracii Guns and Phil Lewis were together again making absolutely killer rock and roll. This album recalls the sleazy, high energy rock that L.A. Guns has always been famous for but adds a touch of blues for an updated 2017 sound. First single ‘Speed’ is vintage L.A. Guns , and the perfect song to reintroduce you to one of the most underrated bands from the 80’s metal scene.
What an impressive debut by these young Canadian rockers from Calgary Alberta. Influenced by the 80’s hard rock/metal music of Van Halen, Motley Crue, Def Leppard and more, Dextress has crafted a fantastic album laden with massive 80’s style hard rock hooks. Guitarist Mark Janz in particular stands out, with prowess reminiscent of guitar heroes Nuno Bettencourt and Eddie Van Halen. My favorite songs include ‘Wild In The Night’ a fast paced rocker with vocals that remind me of Sebastian Bach and the party track ‘Sex, Drugs, Rock n Roll’. It’s so refreshing to have young bands like Dextress bringing their fresh take on 80’s metal to a new generation of fans.
DOWN ‘N’ OUTZ: THE FURTHER LIVE ADVENTURES OF…
I’ve loved Joe Elliott’s side project Down N Outz since the very first time I heard them and the recently released “Further Live Adventures Of…” has made me love them even more (if that is even possible!). As you know Down N Outz pays tribute to Joe’s favorite band, the legendary Mott The Hoople. Released as a DVD and CD, the live album was recorded in Sheffield and is an absolute rollicking good time from start to finish! Joe and supporting cast (now including bassist Share Ross of Vixen fame) knock out 16 classic tracks including my personal favorite, ‘Storm’ on which Joe I don’t think has ever sounded better! Any fans of Mott the Hoople and 70’s rock need to pick this one up!
BIG WRECK: GRACE STREET
Big Wreck have been one of my favorite bands since their classic debut album “In Loving Memory Of..” so I was absolutely stoked to get my hands on their new album “Grace Street”. “Grace Street” maintains the classic Big Wreck sound; thick heavy guitars and drums but front man and creative genius Ian Thornley also incorporates many new experimental techniques, especially on the band’s first instrumental track, the fantastic Skybunk Marche which showcases the band’s stellar musicianship. The first single ‘One Good Piece of Me’ is an instant classic with a real 80’s feel; very Asia-esque. Ian Thornley’s exquisite vocals are evident on every track and his underrated guitar prowess is featured on many songs. If you get the chance, make sure you catch Big Wreck live, they are one of the best live bands on the planet!
HONEYMOON SUITE: HANDS UP
I grew up in the 80’s with iconic Canadian rockers Honeymoon Suite and their now classic albums Honeymoon Suite, The Big Prize and Racing After Midnight. “Hands Up” is their first release since 2008 and it doesn’t disappoint. The album features seven great new songs, including the awesome title track, a mid-tempo rocker that you will definitely find yourself singing along to and ‘Market Square’ which features guitarist Derry Grehan’s daughter Leah Marlene sharing vocals with Johnnie Dee. There are also live versions of classic Honeymoon Suite songs ‘New Girl Now’ and ‘Burning In Love’ which showcase the energy and talent of this band live in concert. Overall a fantastic return to form for one of Canada’s most loved rock bands.
HAREM SCAREM: UNITED
Rock music was alive and well in Canada in 2017, and Harem Scarem’s 14th studio album “United” was one of the highlights for me. Harem Scarem has always been a band that delivers hook laden melodic hard rock songs and their new album continues that and more. Title track ‘United’ is a massive guitar driven piece of pure AOR rock gold that is a perfect kick off to the album. Frontman Harry Hess’ vocals are so powerful and heartfelt, especially evident on songs like ‘Here Today Gone Tomorrow’. ‘Sinking Ship’ is another personal favorite, heavy and fast with killer guitar riffs. ‘United” is a perfect album to showcase Harem Scarem’s 30th year as one of Canada’s best rock bands.
MATTHEW GOOD: SOMETHING LIKE A STORM
This album was easily of my most anticipated releases of 2017 and has become one of my favorite Matthew Good records. This nine track record is filled with the classic Matthew Good harmonies and vocals and also branches out into new creative areas, as evidenced in my favorite song on the album, ‘Bad Guys Win’ with that thumping bass and drum intro and cool guitar reverb effects. As always, Matthew isn’t afraid to stray from political commentary and Bad Guys Win is another stellar example of his lyrical wit. Another brilliant release from one of Canada’s most talented singer-songwriters.
2017 was definitely a stellar year for rock music and the albums I have written about to this point are my absolute favorites. There were many more great albums that have become key parts of my music collection and are featured prominently in my new playlists! Here are the other great albums that I recommend becoming part of your collection:
HELIX: THE DEVIL IS HAVING A PARTY TONIGHT
ALICE COOPER: PARANORMAL
KEE OF HEARTS: KEE OF HEARTS
LYNCH MOB: THE BROTHERHOOD
PINK CREAM 69: HEADSTRONG
KROKUS: BIG ROCKS
VOLLMER: GET YER HANDS DIRTY
I thoroughly hope you enjoy these amazing rock albums as much as I do. From early indications 2018 looks to be another very strong year for rock and roll and I’ve already got my sights set on new albums from Whitesnake, Def Leppard, Lee Aaron and more!