SLEAZE ROXX’S TOP TEN ALBUMS OF 2009:
Welcome to the fifth annual Sleaze Roxx Top 10 list.
2009 was an interesting year for hard rock fans as few mega-successful bands released albums this year, instead we were bombarded with CDs from ‘mid-card’ 80s groups and hungry young upstarts vying for their piece of the pie. As with any list, many reader’s will be wondering why their favorite band wasn’t included, and I could have rectified that by turning this into a Top 50, but by keeping this list limited to 10 CDs it doesn’t become an exercise in naming every band I could think of.
Because of this, 2009 made for the most difficult year to narrow down to ten favorites. It was a year where several 80s stars returned with exceptional releases, yet they are always judged against their previous recordings. Newer bands on the other hand have the element of surprise, and with no previous expectations are able to catch you by surprise. With the massive amounts of material being released upon the public these days it can also be difficult to keep up. Personally, I listened to roughly 300 CDs over the course of 2009, and if something didn’t make an immediate impact it may not have been given the time needed to grow on me. So, for better or worse, here it is…the Sleaze Roxx Top 10 of 2009!
Also check out the Sleaze Roxx Top 20 Reader’s Choice for 2009.
I can’t think of another group this year that captured the energy, decadence and outrageousness of the 80s as well as The Last Vegas. The band’s major label debut proved that winning Motley Crue‘s ‘Make Rock History’ opening slot contest was no fluke. Something else his album proved is that while the majority of new sleaze rockers are coming from Sweden, America still has a few tricks up its sleeve. With The Last Vegas on the scene the hard rock genre may have hope yet!
Essential tracks: Whatever Gets You Off, High Class Trash, Loose Lips
While things were quiet on the Airbourne front as they wrote new material, someone had to step into their shoes in 2009 and Bonafide did just that. Truth be told, this Swedish four piece probably has more commercial appeal than even the Aussies do. On Something’s Dripping they managed to meld AC/DC riffs with a heavy dose of attitude and created the ultimate shit-kicking rock album. Bonafide were able to walk the fine line between being too heavy for the mainstream and too soft for headbangers, landing right down the middle for an incredible sonic assault.
Essential tracks: Dirt Bound, Fill Your Head With Rock, Dog
Steel Panther received more press than any other metal band in 2009, and deservedly so. Some people get upset at this tongue-in-cheek group because they are making a mockery of the glam genre (which is true), but no matter how juvenile the hilarious lyrical content is, the music speaks for itself. It could be argued that Steel Panther is doing more harm than good for glam in general, but at the same time they are attracting new fans who would normally disregard this type of music. And when you think about it, people don’t need Steel Panther to laugh at hair bands, all they have to do is watch an old Dokken video.
Essential tracks: Death To All But Metal, Eyes Of A Panther, Party All Day (F*ck All Night)
Talk about a triumphant return! Best know for his work with the flamboyant Tigertailz, Steevi Jaimz returned with a darker direction and new outlook on life in 2009. Teaming up with production guru Chris Laney, the seasoned frontman released a work of art that showcased his demons and ended up being a CD to be proud of. With Laney‘s contributions the duo created a sound reminiscent to that of Zan Clan, one that is current, heavy, melodic, memorable and everything else a great CD needs to possess in this day and age.
Essential tracks: Amazing, Something Good Something Bad, Still Crazy
Koritni have always been decent, but 2009 same them elevate their game to a new level. The grooves and rhythms laid down on Game Of Fools rival that of anyone else this year. It is no surprise that these guys hail from Australia, a country that seems to have a monopoly on this brand of toe-tapping pub rock. Koritni add a hint of southern rock to simplistic (not always a bad thing) grooves that would make fellow countryman Angus Young proud. How incredible would it be if Koritni opened for Airbourne on a world tour? It would be a dream come true for sleaze fans.
Essential tracks: 155, Roll The Dice, V8 Fantasy
Plagiarism can either happen by accident or be a tool used by jealous and uninspired people, but what happens when you imitate your own work? In the case of Blackie Lawless is it a case of running out of ideas, or offering fans what they really wanted all along, a return to the classic W.A.S.P. sound? Regardless of the outspoken one’s motives, there is no denying Babylon captured an earlier time in the legendary band’s career, right down to the riff on “Crazy” that directly copies “Wild Child”. I’ll admit that it took awhile for this CD to grow on me, but once it did I stepped into a time-warp back to 1985.
Essential tracks: Crazy, Babylon’s Burning, Godless Run
For years Sleaze Roxx readers have been telling me to check out Hardcore Superstar, and 2009 was the year I finally got around to it. Hailing from Sweden, this four piece have been slugging it out in the trenches for over a decade with decadent sleaze metal. Beg For It is an incredibly satisfying album, dripping venom from start to the strong finish. Crashdiet have often been heralded as the purveyors of the ‘New Wave Of Swedish Heavy Metal’, but while listening to this platter it becomes obvious who the real godfathers of the current Swedish Invasion are… Hardcore Superstar.
Essential tracks: Into Debauchery, Don’t Care ‘Bout You’re Bad Behaviour, Illegal Fun
Chris Laney shows up once again on the Top 10, this time producing the latest Babylon Bombs CD. This Swedish band have always played hard rock with the precision of a skilled surgeon and on Babylon’s Burning added everything but the kitchen sink, and it resulted in an even bigger sound than before. Like Crazy Lixx, the Babylon Bombs have more commercial appeal than the average sleaze band as their lush melodies and huge harmonies propel them towards the top of the current hard rock heap. The Babylon Bombs may have as much potential as anyone on this list and they just seem to get better and better as they mature.
Essential tracks: Liberation, Anywhere The Wind Blows, Rattle My Bones
Just like Eclipse and Hungryheart in 2008, this year Outloud set the bar for melodic metal. As incredible as new albums by Winger, Danger Danger and Europe were for me, it was Outloud that rose to the top. They seemed to have more exuberant energy than anyone else, and their huge wall of sound made for a near perfect debut album. Originality may not be Outloud‘s strength, but who cares about that when the musicianship is this good, raining down picture perfect guitar riffs and soaring vocals at every turn.
Essential tracks: What I Need, We Run, Out In The Night
The return of Little Caesar was the best kept secret of the year, mainly because Ron Young and company did things on their own terms. Released without any label support, these seasoned veterans decided to truly ‘do it yourself’. One listen to this CD and the first thing that came to mind was… how could these guys disappear for so many years and come back sounding identical to their heyday? It is a testament to the band’s ability, as the only things missing from the Little Caesar we all remember is one guitarist and some hair. A nice touch is the mention of Sleaze Roxx in the outro of “Real Rock Drive”… a first for this website.
Essential tracks: Loving You Is Killing Me, Redemption, Sick And Tired