Sleaze Roxx Writers’ Top Five Albums of 2018
Welcome to the fourth ever edition of the Sleaze Roxx Writers’ Top Five Albums of the Year! How time flies!
Once again, Sleaze Roxx has been blessed with many contributions throughout the year from many Sleaze Roxx writers throughout the world with Canada and the USA being the main strongholds. Below are the Top Five Albums in 2018, favourite concert of 2018 and favorite contribution to Sleaze Roxx in 2018 from the most prolific Sleaze Roxx contributors in 2018 (and also from the ones that submitted the above-mentioned write ups). I always set a minimum contribution for the contributors who get to participate in the Sleaze Roxx Writers’ Top Five Albums of the Year and obviously the eight people below met the “criteria.” It’s not only Sleaze Roxx writers that make the website what it is but also people like IT guru Ed DeGagne (who kept the website afloat during the site’s most prolific year ever), ace photographers Christopher Carroll and Joe Schaeffer who continually agree to the use of their splendid photos on the website, and a few other behind the scenes “secret” people.
In terms of my own favorite concert in 2018, I saw 74 different live performances with The Lazys leading the pack as I got to see them play live six times in 2018. There were really four concert performances that stood above the rest for me.
Number One Favorite Concert of 2018: Last Bullet‘s final and sold out gig at Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto, Ontario, Canada on January 27, 2018 was off the charts. The energy in that room was through the roof as singer Bryan Fontez (who called for the band break up) and the rest of the Last Bullet members intended on playing every one of the songs that they ever released but fell short by one song as the sound man cut them off when they played past their allotted time. A portion of Fontez‘s parting Facebook comment after the show summed up very well how the concert went: “…last night was one of the most amazing nights of my life. I didn’t have to sing half the lyrics because all of you were screaming them at me.”
Number Two Favorite Concert of 2018: If you’ve read some of my concert reviews, I have always stated that former Skid Row frontman Sebastian Bach has that “it” factor and he is one of the best frontman in heavy metal today (now that Dee Snider hardly plays live). On Day Two of the M3 Rock Festival on May 5, 2018, Bach simply put on an incredible performance. He seemed to be in a very happy mood and that translated into a fantastic performance which I ranked as the top performance out of the 33 bands that I saw between the M-Pre Party, M3 Rock Festival and Sleazy Slimey Sunday 3 over the course of four days.
Number Three Favorite Concert of 2018: I had heard that The Lazys were a good live band but I certainly didn’t expect them to blow away The Wild! who are themselves a fantastic live band. That’s exactly what happened as The Lazys put on an energy filled performance at Lee’s Palace in Toronto, Ontario, Canada on April 19, 2018. After being literally blown away by The Lazys‘ live show, I picked up their new album Tropical Hazards and within a week of listening to it, I knew that I was likely listening to the top album of the year, and lo and behold, Tropical Hazards finished at #1 on the Sleaze Roxx’s Top Ten Albums of 2018!
Number Four Favorite Concert of 2018: There are not too many bands for which I will take an overnight bus ride for but Helloween have always had a special place in my heart. I just couldn’t resist going to see Helloween‘s Pumpkins United World Tour which featured not only the current Helloween band but also band founder Kai Hansen and vocalist extraordinaire Michael Kiske. Helloween did not disappoint as they put on a simply marvelous concert in Montreal, Quebec, Canada on September 12, 2018 that I will never forget.
Favorite contribution of 2018: I have to give the nod to my interview with drummer Steve Riley who has played in two of my favorite bands of all-time — W.A.S.P. and L.A. Guns. Not only is Riley one of the most professional guys that I have ever interviewed (his interview was booked a week in advance and he called exactly on time a week later) — and I’ve run into just about every situation interviewing some rather unprofessional artists in the past — he was very understanding with the mishap that happened when I first interviewed him on December 21st. For my first time (and hopefully last time), I inadvertently recorded over the interview that I had just done with him. You can imagine my disbelief when I realized that I had somehow lost the recording to his interview about nine hours after doing it. I reached out to Cole Riley to see if Steve would redo the interview. Cole wrote back saying “shit happens”, Steve redid the interview with me on December 27th (calling once again right on time) and Steve kidded with me at the end of that second interview stating “Now Olivier, watch out for those buttons.” Steve Riley is a class act through and through.
Ed DeGagne’s Top Five Albums of 2018:
Year started with Sleaze Roxx: 2017
01. Dee Snider – For The Love Of Metal
02. Phil Campbell & The Bastard Sons – The Age of Absurdity
03. The East Side Gamblers – The Big Machine
04. Hardcore Superstar – You Can’t Kill My Rock ‘N Roll
05. Shiraz Lane – Carnival Days
Number One Choice: A little background here — I am not a huge “metal” guy. But damn, a good album is a good album, no matter what the genre. I wasn’t a huge Twisted Sister fan as a teenager, and I thought “We’re Not Gonna Take It” was a horrible song, and an even worse video. And even though I wasn’t a huge metal guy, all of their other songs were anthemic, hard hitting, and more reflective of what Twisted Sister is/was, regardless of what light “We’re Not Gonna Take It” put them in on MTV. As a result, I ended up being a little more than casual fan of not only the band, but Dee Snider as well.
Yes, we know Dee Snider didn’t write the songs on this album. But, the people who did are clearly HUGE Twisted Sister/Dee Snider fans and get the vibe and groove that Twisted Sister and Dee have maintained over the last 30+ years. In my opinion, they absolutely nailed it with this album. Dee‘s vocal performance is simply superb — classic Dee — hard hitting, heavy, unapologetic, in your face. Seeing that backed up on his current tour made me that much more of a Dee fan this year. He is one of the best frontmen in the business. I find myself going back to this album, over and over. I like it that much. Every song is just so damn good. Every time I hear “American Made” or “For The Love Of Metal” (just to name a couple), I am instantly banging my head and stomping my feet. Did I mention I am not a “huge” metal guy? If a metal album has this old sleaze rocker acting like a teenager every time the headphones go on with this disc playing, then it’s gotta be good in this guy’s book.
Note: Get out and see Dee Snider on this tour, it’s an absolute killer show for an absolutely killer album featuring a living legend among metal frontmen.
Favorite contribution of 2018: Keeping this site up and performing well for the best fans on the planet.
Concert of the year: At the risk of sounding like a broken record, Sleazy Slimy Sunday 3 at the Cancun Cantina in Hanover, Maryland, USA. It was another great ending to the M3 Rock Festival weekend. Again, the line-up was absolutely killer and the atmosphere was off the hook. It was well past 2:00 a.m. by the time L.A. Guns tied it up for the evening, and their show was not only one of the best by themselves, but one of the loudest as well! Hats off to Brad Lee of Brad Lee Entertainment for what appears to have been the last Sleazy Slimey Sunday. All three events for the past three years have been stellar. We will all miss Sleazy Slimey Sunday this year.
Dee Snider‘s “For The Love Of Metal” video:
Greg Troyan of Lipstick’s Top Five Albums of 2018:
Year started with Sleaze Roxx: 2009
01. Paul McCartney – Egypt Station
02. Billy Morris & The Sunset Strip – Holdin’ All The Aces
03. Stryper – God Damn Evil
04. Judas Priest – Firepower
05. Smashing Pumpkins – Shiny And Oh So Bright Vol. 1 / LP: No Past. No Future, No Sun.
2018 was an interesting year for music. While Lipstick did not release any new music in 2018, the two biggest contributors outside of myself (Billy Morris, Stephen Smith) released fantastic albums, one of which was the biggest pleasant surprise of the year in terms of sheer quality. If not for the excellent new Paul McCartney album, Holdin’ All the Aces would have taken my number one spot. That said, this list is incredibly close in terms of quality and was difficult to put in order because in my opinion these albums were the best albums of the year, but the difference in quality between them is minimal, aside from the clear winner that is Egypt Station. Loudness, Judas Priest, Smashing Pumpkins and Stryper all released great albums capturing the magic of their classic eras, Billy Morris released a strong and diverse party rock album, Regdar released a fun concept record, but ultimately McCartney continues to prove why he’s the most successful songwriter in pop music. He’s just that damn good.
Billy Morris & The Sunset Strip‘s “Party Like The Weekend Never Ends” song:
John Stoney Cannon’s Top Five Albums of 2018:
Year started with Sleaze Roxx: 2017
Number One Choice: Hardcore Superstar‘s You Can’t Kill My Rock N Roll. So in discussing top 2018 rock albums with fans from around the world, I was repeatedly asked why the 2018 Treat album didn’t make my top 5 (never mind placing 1st) and the answer is simple. Yeah, I dig old AOR but my rock tastes follow my love for raw music from early Bowie to the Ramones to the first Guns N’ Roses album. Beyond bored in the ’90s when my fellow local musicians were trading in denim and leather for cargo shorts and colored tees, I eventually found musical solace in rawer bands like Thee Hipnotics and Backyard Babies, and then The Hellacopters and Hardcore Superstar — bands that to me rocked with a raw energy and abandon that Guns N’ Roses lost after Appetite For Destruction. Hardcore Superstar fill that space in my ears that begs for rock and roll with attitude — raw, fun yet at times snotty and angry. Plus, as a guy whose relationship with rock and roll bordered on something akin to a religious experience, how could I not raise a fist for an album with a title like “You Can’t Kill My Rock N Roll?” Just cuz Gene Simmons’ bank account is heavier than his rock cred these days doesn’t mean rock n’ roll has died. It just means bands like Hardcore Superstar grabbed the baton when Mr. Simmons traded in his Demon attitude for a facelift and a nap.
Number Two Choice: The Dead Daisies‘ Burn It Down. OK, to start with, The Dead Daisies have yet to put out a clunker and despite “supergroups” usually releasing product lacking in quality far below any lofty expectations, it’s tough to argue with an album loaded with the likes of John Corabi, Deen Castronovo, Doug Aldrich, David Lowry, Marco Mendoza and producer Marti Frederiksen. But unlike most “supergroups”, The Dead Daisies aren’t just a one and done album blunder now fine tuning a sound (that fans of bluesy acts like Whitesnake, Badlands, early Aerosmith, and even the heavily underrated Cry of Love would dig) into four studio releases, a couple of EPs, and a live album. Even the band’s cover of the Stones‘ tune “Bitch” kicks ass at a time when covers are a dime a dumb dozen.
Number Three Choice: Ace Frehley‘s Spaceman. Being a KISS fan since I was old enough to lay a needle on wax, I still to this day keep up with the band’s stuff including former members and especially Ace and Peter. While not so moved by recent release Monster, I did like Sonic Boom more than faux-reunion release Psycho Circus but even so, musically I have been into Ace’s production way more than his ex-band’s stuff. Let’s get serious here (that might make Ace cackle but whatever), Ace had the best record out of the four 1978 KISS solo albums hands down. In 1987, the first Frehley’s Comet album was more raw and rocking than KISS’ glossy release Crazy Nights (which I do love). While kinda juvenile lyrically, Anomaly was far better musically than Sonic Boom and ever since, Ace has only gotten better releasing four albums solo to KISS‘ two in the past decade and yeah, Spaceman is the best yet in my opinion. Compare Ace’s post 1978 solo releases to Gene and Paul’s and it’s not even a close contest. Yeah, Gene still can weave a sexual innuendo despite having his nuts tied up by Shannon, and Paul can still sing pretty solid but Ace does best what KISS fans should really want KISS members to do — rock and roll all nite.
Number Four Choice: Saxon‘s Thunderbolt. One of the bands that got me interested in heavier music early, I have been a Saxon fan since grabbing a vinyl copy of their debut in Germany in 1980 and albums like Strong Arm of the Law, Denim & Leather, Crusader, and everything in between only strengthened my love for this no frills hard rock group. Yeah, I was already into Sabbath, Deep Purple and Rainbow but Saxon (along with very early Maiden and Judas Priest) presented me with just the inspirational anthems needed to take on anyone who might think me uncool. Uncool? How can that be when one of the baddest singers on the planet is named Biff Byford? Now, I am excited to be going to see the band in 2019 in Atlanta nearly 40 years since the day they first kicked my ass live! This band never lets up and aside from Johan Hegg’s growling on “Predator”, Thunderbolt rocks balls as much as anything the band has produced over the years.
Number Five Choice: The Cruel Intentions‘ No Sign of Relief. So picking a fifth was tough and in the end, it required a steady rotation of The Cruel Intentions‘ debut album, Löve Räzer’s first full-length record Border City Rebels, and an unexpected killer album from old fave Lizzy Borden a la My Midnight Things, a follow up to equally rocking 2017 release Appointment With Death. Yeah, all three of these records rocked my world in 2018 but in the end, the return of ex-Vains of Jenna singer Lizzy DeVine with his new group The Cruel Intentions eeked it out due to an album of raw, chunky, snotty, catchy sleaze that bridged my love for bands like the Murderdolls, Pretty Boy Floyd, and early Backyard Babies. It simply had more edge and a looseness lacking in a lot of today’s rock and roll. Sure Löve Räzer have some hooks and Lizzy Borden, a whole mess of visual stimuli, but at the end of the day, I like my rock and roll to be able to chew me up and spit me out like a big fat wad of sticky bubblegum. No Sign of Relief does that.
Concert of the year: It would be the Nashville, Tennessee stop of the Frank DiMino / Punky Meadows of Angel tour this past August — a journey that was a late coming of age / healing piece of magic event for me and turned into a weekend of music, personal history, and more. Oh yeah, and hearing the songs of Angel while merely inches from Punky and Frank was awesome too!
Hardcore Superstar‘s “You Can’t Kill My Rock N Roll” video:
Lance Lumley’s Top Five Albums of 2018:
Year started with Sleaze Roxx: 2017
Number One Choice: Judas Priest‘s Firepower. Even though I do not have all of their releases, I am a big Priest fan (I even loved the Ripper Owens years as well), and getting to review K.K. Downing‘s book this year for my blog page, made me a bigger fan of the band’s history. The bottom line is, in my opinion, 2018 was the year of Judas Priest. Firepower is just under an hour of outstanding solos, vocals, drumming, and solid metal grooves. The title says it all — you get an attack full of power. This is a rare album that I can listen to all the way through and want to repeat it. Songs like “Evil Never Dies,” “Lightning Strike” and “Never The Heroes” are just some of the great tracks off of this soon to be classic. I can’t name one bad song off of this, which is why it’s my top pick. Priest are showing their timelessness while keeping modern fans happy with Firepower.
Number Two Choice: Stryper‘s God Damn Evil. Being a Christian, I can see the backlash of some critics and retail outlets about the title of this album, but the saying of never judging a book by it’s cover applies here. Stryper‘s latest is marvelous to say the least. There are heavy guitars, great vocals, drumming, and songwriting on this release. You know what you will get in the lyrics when buying a Stryper CD, but this band has proven that Christians can rock as hard as other acts, without the typical cheesiness of some other Christian acts. Stryper still re-invent themselves by not always putting out dated music. The song “Sorry” has a chugging rhythm, a la Extreme, which is a stand out song for me. This album is metal at its finest, not just Christian metal. This may have been my top pick if my top choice was not released the same year.
Number Three Choice: Nita Strauss‘ Controlled Chaos. I can not name a newer musician (newer meaning in the past 10 years) who I respect more than Nita Strauss. Not only her playing with Alice Cooper, but her association with the WWE (I have followed pro wrestling since 1985). I read almost all articles and interviews she is a part of, and just think she’s a wonderful musician. Her solo debut contains her exciting musicianship, filled with heaviness and melodies. I am not normally a fan of instrumental releases, nor am I a normal fan of speed playing shredding guitars. I believe in the idea Gene Simmons once said in an interview, that he’d rather hear one chord crack your ribs than the “Flight of the Bumblebee” playing. However, Strauss proved me wrong. There are nice ballads on here as well, and this may be perfect to play during your workouts at the gym (another reason I respect her is her dedication to her health) . I especially like the songs ” Hope Grows” and “Here With You,” but every track I was fond of listening too. Nita is true talent. I am not a guitar player, nor do I know about techniques in her playing (I was a drummer), but I can hear skill within the songs, and think she shines on her first release.
Number Four Choice: Saxon‘s Thunderbolt. Being a substitute teacher, I get to hear some different genres of music in the classrooms at time with the play list of some students. However while on a field trip, I encountered the new Saxon release. I heard of the band, but never actually took a major listen to them. This is filled with some heavy and melodic musicianship that I have now become a fan of the band. There is not a bad track on this release, and I am partial to the songs “Sons of Odin,” “They Played Rock And Roll” (a tribute to Motörhead) and “Nosferatu, The Vampire’s Waltz.” If you have not listened to this band yet, check them out. This release seemed to be under the radar with naming top albums of this year.
Number Five Choice: Ted Nugent‘s The Music Made Me Do It. Nugent is still putting out some great music. I have a love for musicians who were influenced by music in the 1950s and 1960s, and the listener can hear Ted‘s love for classic R&B with his playing. This release (with the exception of two songs) is a bombastic assault of guitar and drums. I especially liked the track ” Cocked, Locked, And Ready To Rock.” No fillers here, just straight rock n’ roll and blues.
Concert of the year: I could not list my favorite concert for this site, since I went to only one this year, and it was out of the rock genre. The Oak Ridge Boys are my pick and they are still putting on a vocal show in their ’70s.
Judas Priest‘s “No Surrender” video:
Mark Hovarth’s Top Five Albums of 2018:
Year started with Sleaze Roxx: 2012
Number One Choice: The Cruel Intentions‘ No Sign of Relief. Lizzy DeVine‘s departure was such a loss for the ‘sleaze rock’ genre because it appeared that Vains of Jenna were growing in popularity and were having a small break in the Americas. Vains of Jenna continued with a new singer and new direction, which didn’t last very long. It was quite a wait for Lizzy to make a return but what a return it was with a smashing contribution to the sleaze-rock genre with No Sign of Relief. A blistering effort filled with sleaze, ’80s style hooks and a good measure of punk thrown in.
Number Two Choice: Greta Van Fleet‘s Anthem For The Peaceful Army. Just when you may have thought rock and roll was going the way of jazz and the big band era, the world is buzzing with this new band that seemingly has been taking the world by storm out of nowhere. Greta Van Fleet continue to obliterate concert attendance numbers and physical unit sales over competing rap and hip-hop acts today. I don’t care that they sound like Led Zeppelin, this debut full-length album rocks with quality from start to finish and may be the humble beginnings of a complete rock resurgence to the mainstream in the next decade.
Number Three Choice: The Struts‘ Young And Dangerous. The Struts have released a dynamo of an album (that I have not even reviewed yet) that combines classic ’70s glam-rock with a modern pop-rock sound. Young And Dangerous is appealing to the masses and also is helping get rock back into the mainstream as well as making it ‘OK’ for the masses to like rock and roll again.
Number Four Choice: Löve Räzer‘s Border City Rebels. Our favourite Canadian indie band returned with a monster album full of hard rock riffs and hooks influenced by Guns N’ Roses and Mötley Crüe complete with a glammed up gutter look. I still believe there is an outlet for this type of rock today. If only the major labels would give Löve Räzer a chance. They could blow up to stardom like some other fast-rising rock acts of today.
Number Five Choice: Ghost‘s Prequelle. Who else could create a new sound for the metal genre while not completely alienating the rest of the world? Tobias Forge‘s genius songwriting has somehow combined the sounds of Kansas and Blue Oyster Cult with metal for a complete new punch into the music scene. Along with Ghost‘s incredible stage shows, this band is blowing up as fast as Greta Van Fleet globally….and for the sake of the overall rock genre, I am thankful.
Favorite Contribution: Review for The Cruel Intentions‘ No Sign of Relief. I was a little overjoyed to see (and hear) the return of Lizzy DeVine and his style of rock as I feel it just continued where Vains of Jenna left off after his departure from that band. The album just delivers on all fronts and I feel is a must-have for fans of the sleaze rock genre.
Concert of the year: Greta Van Fleet at Rebel in Toronto, Ontario, Canada on July 6 2018. While I wasn’t a fan of their long meandering instrumentals, they were forgiven since the band did not yet have a lot of material to draw from without performing a significant amount of cover songs. For such a young band, their live performances are top notch and seeing Greta Van Fleet play live at a theatre-sized venue as they skyrocket to super-stardom was both exciting and rewarding. These kids really have mastered their instruments including Josh Kizska‘s mastering of his high pitched screams that reverberated throughout the Rebel niteclub that evening.
The Cruel Intentions‘ “Jawbreaker” video:
Metal Mike’s Top Five Albums of 2018:
Year started with Sleaze Roxx: 2016
Number One Choice: The Lazys‘ Tropical Hazards. Honestly, Olivier doesn’t push bands on me often, telling me I have to check them out. Yet, he talked about The Lazys for awhile before I took the time to pay attention, and wow! To me, this band epitomizes the spirit of freewheeling sleaze in the here and now. Where fellow Aussie compatriots Airbourne are consistent with their post-AC/DC sound (not that there’s anything wrong with that), The Lazys take a tangent into something a little more musically diverse. These boys have the right stuff and are touring their asses off to prove it.
Number Two Choice: Marco Mendoza‘s Viva La Rock. Yes, Mendoza has been around for awhile with Whitesnake, Lynch Mob, The Dead Daisies, etc. but this really is only his second solo album. It helps he took one of my favourite bands (Nitroville) on tour with him as support this summer. It also helps that this album features another of my favourites, Soren Andersen (Electric Guitars), on guitars. Hell, this is simply a flat out solid guitar rock album by some talented performers. Accessible while still providing quality is a tough combination to pull off successfully, and I think it was done with Viva La Rock.
Number Three Choice: Electric Boys‘ The Ghost Ward Diaries. OK, this is an odd choice, even for me. But there was something about this album that was unique. The combination of solid hard rock and a bit ‘o funk made it a funlisten. It’s kind of hard to describe, but when faced with a year’s worth of new albums trying to replicate’ 80s sleaze and/or newer bands imitating Volbeat, this just stood out from the crowd as a genuine labour of love. Ghost Ward Diaries may not be for everyone. I get that. et I dare you to find fault with “Swampmotofrog”!
Number Four Choice: Monster Truck‘s True Rockers. Sure, I wasn’t blown away by this release as much as their previous works, including Sittin’ Heavy. But these guys are leading the charge of hard rock in Canada, and the fans are behind them. Been a big supporter since their beginning, and still believe in this band. I hear they’re pretty wild live, and I am waiting for my chance to catch their live act.
Number Five Choice: The Handsome Dogs‘ Unleashed. The Handsome Dogs offer some pretty good rock n’ roll. I really enjoyed this German band that can mix old style sleaze with current European power rock. Bullet and Junkyard Drive were in the running here too for fifth, but the Dogs won the day. There should be good things to come from them in the future.
Concert of the year: I didn’t get to many concerts this year, but probably the best concert I saw this year was the one that our esteemed editor Olivier invited me to in Barrie, Ontario, which turned out to be to go see Sebastian Bach. Olivier left me wandering the streets for an hour waiting for him and the tickets while he was stuck in traffic. Baz hit the stage just after we walked in, and upon my turning around, Olivier disappeared to the VIP section taking pictures! Aaaah, good times, but never mind. The pictures were good and the show was even better. After the show, Olivier and I had a great long chat and even met up with Priya Panda of Diemonds, which was pretty cool too.
The Lazys‘ “Little Miss Crazy” video:
Ruben Mosqueda’s Top Five Albums of 2018:
Country: The Pacific Northwest, USA
Year started with Sleaze Roxx: 2008
01. Little Caesar – Eight
02. Enuff Z’ Nuff – Diamond Boy
03. Metal Church – Damned If You Do
04. Ted Nugent – The Music Made Me Do It
05. Night Flight Orchestra – Sometimes The World Ain’t Enough
Number One Choice: Little Caesar‘s Eight is stripped down, soulful, no frills rock ‘n’ roll, at its best. Little Caesar should have been huge. They weren’t. Instead, Ron Young has to settle for being an excellent songwriter.
Number Two Choice: Enuff Z’ Nuff‘s Diamond Boy. Enuff Z’ Nuff never disappoint. There’s always great tunes on their albums. Diamond Boy is all killer and no filler from beginning to end.
Number Three Choice: Metal Church’s Damned If You Do. The only ‘metal’ album on my list and ironically the band has ‘metal’ in its moniker. Damned If You Do arrived at the tail end of the year and continues the brilliance that is the Mike Howe and Kurdt Vanderhoof union.
Number Four Choice Ted Nugent’s The Music Made Me Do It. You can try to convince me, that Ted Nugent is one of the worst human beings to ever roam the earth. He is polarizing like that, but you can’t deny the man’s contribution to rock ‘n’ roll music. The Music Made Me Do It is the best album that Ted has released since 1995s Spirit Of The Wild.
Number Five Choice: Night Flight Orchestra‘s Sometimes The World Ain’t Enough. It’s power pop, it’s progressive rock, it’s rock ‘n’ roll, it’s experimental. While most were listening to Ghost, Night Flight Orchestra quietly released Sometimes The World Ain’t Enough to critical acclaim.
Little Caesar‘s “Time Enough For That” video:
Tyson Briden’s Top Five Albums of 2018:
Year started with Sleaze Roxx: 2016
01. Rob Lamothe – And The River Reveals Itself
02. Damon Johnson – Memoirs Of An Uprising
03. Johnny Gioeli – One Voice
04. Slash featuring Myles Kennedy & The Conspirators – Living The Dream
05. Little Caesar – Eight
Number one choice: The reason I chose Riverdogs lead vocalist Rob Lamothe’s latest work as my number one is partially to the fact that this album emotionally touched me. There is something to be said when an artist truly gets inside your soul and takes a hold of it. From start to finish, this album possesses a genuine quality to it. The album actually revolves back to the beginning, which is not an easy task. Is this a hard rock album? Not in the least, but for those that can look outside the box and appreciate something different than balls out hard rock, you will find it here. It’s an eclectic mix of well told stories. Some would even go as far to say that it has a very Canadian rural vibe to it. What also makes this album truly special is the fact that three of Rob Lamothe’s children — Rose, Zander and Josh — make up the band. I had the privilege of going to see Lamothe this past November in his hometown just south of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. It was at that time that I obtained a copy of this very CD from Lamothe himself. To be honest, for a short time, I was the only person in Canada to actually have a copy. The album was only available to those that went to see Lamothe on his European tour this past fall. Thank you Rob!!!
Number two choice: Damon Johnson’s latest solo album Memoirs Of An Uprising really made it hard for me to decide between one and two. This album is truly a stellar piece of hard rock music. Yet again, like choice number one, the material is a personal account of Johnson’s thoughts. Every track is a finely, crafted masterpiece. In terms of Johnson’s material throughout his 25 year career, this may well be some of his best work. That says a lot considering the man has written and recorded with simply amazing artists such as Brother Cane, Alice Cooper and the Black Star Riders. As I spoke with Johnson this past summer, it seemed very obvious that this album truly meant a lot to him. In comparison, Johnson summarized this material as very close in relation to that of Brother Cane’s Wishpool album. What also makes this album special is the fact that the vinyl itself is a very cool looking red. There’s something to be said about colored vinyl. For a collector like myself, the colored vinyl really adds a specialness to an amazing piece of work.
Number three choice: I have been a fan of Johnny Gioeli since the first Hardline album. There is something about his voice that truly attracts me. In terms of Gioeli’s One Voice album? I can honestly say it is not Hardline, but that’s not a bad thing. This album stands on its own. The material is more radio orientated. What does that mean? Well, in some spots it reminds of such ’90s bands like Vertical Horizon and Pearl Jam. The songs created are so well written and create the perfect mood. As I get older, I find myself being attracted to material that captures the essence of lyrics with the music being in the background. This album also has a depth within that makes the listener want to turn over the vinyl at the end and play it again. As for the production itself, it is very well executed. One Voice possesses a nice precision from each and every instrument.
Number four choice: From the moment of listening to Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators‘ latest work, I was mesmerized by the execution of Myles Kennedy compounded with the amazing harmonies of bassist Todd Kerns. Of course, need it be said of Slash’s guitar work? We already know how great he is, so to blow more smoke up his ass would be wrong. The bottomline is that this an actual band and it shows throughout. Of course, The Conspirators are a band which stands on its own. There is truly no other band on this planet that sounds like Slash and his Conspirators. As for the songs themselves, each is different. The track listing is perfect as the flow of each track into the next keeps the album driving. For instance with no pun intended, the album’s lead off track “Driving Rain” really may be one of the best radio album tracks of 2018. This song is a perfect sing along track that has you moving and shaking as you’re speeding down the highway. I myself always find myself singing Todd Kerns‘ harmonies. Overall, a very brilliant album.
Number five choice: Little Caesar’s Eight may actually be the band’s best material since 1990’s self-titled debut. Now take that with a grain of salt, as the material is nothing close to the slick production of the debut. I mean more in terms of the actual material put forward. The overall substance I guess you could say. Singer Ron Young is in fine form as usual. Young has such a distinct voice. When he sings, you take notice. Making a comparison to that debut album once again, I’d say the songwriting is really more calculated then what was put forward in 1990. Let’s not forget though, the record industry was fueled by those paying the bills back in the day. “We’re fronting the money, so you will do what we want!” This is a more honest account of what Little Caesar really is as a band. Possibly those that have heard the bands original EP Name Your Poison could make more of a comparison to that album in sound rather than the debut. Very well done!
Favorite contribution of 2018: I’d have to say my favorite contribution is a really tough one to decide. I really stretched myself forward in 2018. My interviews became more in depth with some being three parts. Having to choose one, I’d have to say the interview (Parts One, Two and Three) I did with former Bulletboys/Lies, Deceit & Treachery guitarist Mick Sweda. Why is that? Easy really. Sweda really opened himself up to me and gave an honest interview. I am sure there was one individual, who will remain nameless, that was not impressed, but the truth is the truth. Now with that said, was it the truth? I firmly believe it was. Of course, you can make that judgement yourself, but just keep in mind that for years, Sweda had remained quiet. It was his time to tell the real story, to which I think he did. For me, the interview was epic. It was from that that I started to feel that my work was getting better. I was asking questions that really made sense, that our readers wanted to know. Almost as if I was beginning to come into my own. That interview to me was my Slippery When Wet!
Concert of the year: Primarily, the one that really comes to mind was Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators. I was in the pit for the first three songs taking photos, with Slash literally sweating on me. That was truly an honor. As for the band themselves, they were tight and didn’t miss a beat. The great thing was the lack of Guns N’ Roses material that was played. That to me was a band coming into its own not relying on the previous work of the guitar player. Having been the first time seeing The Conspirators, I quickly decided that every time they roll into town, I will make sure to catch them live. They are definitely a must see.
Rob Lamothe‘s “Back To The Beginning” video: