SLEAZE ROXX’S TOP TEN ALBUMS OF 2011:
Welcome to the seventh edition of the Sleaze Roxx Top 10 list.
2011 seemed to be a year filled with many good releases but few that completely blew me away, which made this Top 10 one of the most difficult to put together. However by using a complicated algorithm that the most skilled mathematician wouldn’t be able to decipher (in other words I picked whatever the hell I wanted!) I put together this list of, what I consider to be, the best 2011 had to offer.
No doubt this list is flawed, as albums from veterans like Sebastian Bach, Michael Monroe, Warrant and Tora Tora were worthy of consideration, not to mention impressive releases from relatively unknown bands like Gasoline 67, FarCry, Kidd Havok and Humbucker — who each deserve special praise. One thing I noticed about 2011 was that some of the year’s best music was found on EPs (I’m talking about you Santa Cruz and The Last Vegas), but unfortunately I only include full-length albums on these yearend lists thus excluding some remarkable music.
Also make sure to check out the Sleaze Roxx Readers’ Choice Top 20 Of 2011.
I’ve been running this website for a decade now and the majority of music that comes my way falls into two groups — young bands who try to sound like the ’80s, and ’80s veterans who try to recapture their classic sound (with varying degrees of success). That is what makes Vain‘s reunion album so magnificent… it not only rediscovers the sound of ‘No Respect’, but equals that cult classic in every conceivable way. The guitar work is stunning, Davy Vain‘s voice hasn’t missed a beat, and the songs themselves scream 1989 by capturing the sexual decadence and outrageousness of that time in history.
Essential tracks: Triple X, Solid Gold, Worship You
Bullet topped this list in 2008 with their adrenaline-fueled AC/DC meets Accept album ‘Bite The Bullet’ — and almost did it again with the exact same formula. It will be this approach that hinders Bullet in the future though, because there really is no room for growth without losing their signature sound and alienating their fan base. If they can continue to release high-energy heavy metal like that found on ‘Highway Pirates’, regardless of how unoriginal it may become, they will continue to be one of the most entertaining bands in hard rock.
Essential tracks: Back On The Road, Down And Out, Citylights
Whitesnake are a prime example of a band with a long and storied career, one that their new releases will always be compared against. Because David Coverdale and company have released some of hard rock’s best, and most successful, albums over the years their new material will always have big shoes to fill. That is what makes the current version of Whitesnake so impressive, they manage not only to live up to their name but continually release songs that do justice to their massive discography. It’s not an easy task, but Whitesnake Mark ‘who the hell knows’ continually succeeds.
Essential tracks: Steal Your Heart Away, Love Will Set You Free, Dogs In The Street
I’ll be honest, the thought of King Kobra resurfacing with Rough Cutt frontman Paul Shortino didn’t exactly get my hopes up — mainly because both bands in question have had up and down careers and because the new singer was nothing like Mark Free. However the partnership worked, completely exceeding expectations and blowing my preconceived notions straight back into my face like a Mike Tyson right hand. King Kobra 2011 was a new beast with little in common to their past, instead what we got was a bluesy hard rock record that was one of the year’s most consistent.
Essential tracks: Rock This House, This Is How We Roll, Midnight Woman
When a young rock band manages to release their debut album, and then have a major label pick it up for a reissue, you know they are onto something special. Such was the case with the UK’s The Treatment, who captured the attention of several people with their energized take on ’70s influenced hard rock. Even more astonishing was the fact that one of the new songs on the aforementioned reissue was as good, if not better, than the tracks that were originally found on the release — which means that The Treatment are either getting even better, or that they have songs in their vaults that most groups would kill for.
Essential tracks: The Doctor, Lady Of The Night, Shake The Mountain
With Sweden’s biggest names hibernating in 2011 it was the perfect time for The Itch to make their entrance. While the Swedish sleaze scene is overrun with band’s copying and trying to recreate Crashdiet‘s success, these newcomers took an entirely different approach. By mixing simplified hard rock with the southern sounds of ‘Gator Country’ The Itch lived up to their name — like a bad rash that you can’t stop scratching (have I ever mentioned the time I got poison oak on my scrotum?) their songs embedded themselves into my cranium and damn near overstayed their welcome.
Essential tracks: Calling Me Back, Sold My Soul, Losing My Mind
Its only a matter of time before Steel Panther‘s locker-room humor gets stale, but right from the opening intro of “In The Future” you could tell that time has yet to arrive. Songs about sex, masturbating and crapping in a supermarket aisle may not be for everyone yet Steel Panther has the musicianship to back up all their childish outbursts. And as silly as their lyrics are, sometimes Steel Panther‘s satire is more entertaining and bone-cutting than anything Saturday Night Live has produced in years — their take on Tiger Woods especially nails it.
Essential tracks: Supersonic Sex Machine, It Won’t Suck Itself, Gold Digging Whore
Could Italy be the new Sweden? If Hell In The Club is any indication the answer would be a resounding yes! Being released in early January means ‘Let The Games Begin’ may have gotten overlooked on many yearend lists, yet it is completely deserving. While Crazy Lixx are arguably the current champions at recreating the huge melodies and harmonies of slick ’80s rock, Hell In The Club are right behind. There is little doubt that this album would have been a chart-topper if it debuted in 1989.
Essential tracks: Never Turn My Back, On the Road, Natural Born Rockers
I have always been, and likely always will be, a sucker for attitude driven rock in the vein of The Four Horsemen and Circus Of Power, and no band captured that sound as well as American dirtbags Planet 9 in 2011. Snarling and barking like an abused Doberman Pinscher, this foursome simply laid down straight-forward riffs and delivered everything with a pissed-off philosophy. Call it biker rock if you want, all I know is that Planet 9 could sing gospel hymns and get the Devil himself to join in on the chorus.
Essential tracks: 40 Days, 1,000 Years, Bad Attitude
I had a hell of time narrowing down the final CD to appear on this Top 10 list. I got down to four albums, then five, then six… it was quickly becoming apparent that I was going backwards until I got fed up and played it safe with Spain’s ’77. High Decibels not only pays homage to Bon Scott era AC/DC, it completely rips it off — but it does it with such conviction and consistency that you can’t help but feel a sense of admiration. I’ve always had a soft spot for the so-called AC/DC clones, simply because it is the sound of honest hard rock.
Essential tracks: High Decibels, Backdoor Man, Things You Can’t Talk About