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« | Main | Rock Music Star - "Top 10 Rock releases of 2014" »

Rock Music Star - Top 10 of 2015

As the time came upon us, once again - here at Rock Music Star - to compile our Top 10 (rock) music releases of the year, we noticed one startling fact about our own website.  We noticed that we did not have ONE CD review posted on our site in 2015.  While the omission of CD reviews was certainly not completely intentional, it did make us ponder on how this actually came to be. 
Looking back, one of the reasons why we decided on not posting reviews on some of the releases we really enjoyed in 2015 was simply due to the fact that many of the interviews we conducted with the artists coincided with their release of their albums.  Considering we thoroughly discussed the albums during the conversation, it seemed kind of redundant and overkill, to post a separate CD review.
Aside from that, 2015 was a pretty lackluster year for Hard rock music.  It seems as though the amount of rock releases has really dwindled and some of the more solid stuff, really flew under the radar.  So we really had to go back and check, and double check the list of what came out in 2015, and revisit some of these CDs, in order to come up with this year's, "Rock Music Star Top 10 Rock Releases."
1. Def Leppard - 'Def Leppard' - At the top of the heap is the only band from the 1980's that started out as part of the NWOBHM and transformed into one of the biggest 'hair metal' bands of the same decade, without ever really getting lumped in with the rest of the genre.  Perhaps the band's ability to transcend genres and successfully fight the tag of being a 'hair band,' is what has helped give them the longevity they have achieved and has allowed them continued success throughout the 90's and even 'til this day.
Their self-titled 2015 release is an extremely solid, 14 track album of songs.  With great production by Ronan McHugh, one would have to agree with the band's assessment of the album, as they refer to it as their "everything" record.  As vocalist Joe Elliot put it, 'Def Leppard' features "every single aspect of anything we've ever wanted to put out - acoustic, heavy, soft, slow, fast - it's there."  In addition, Elliot stated, they were successful in being "capable of coming up with vastly different kinds of songs."  While it would have been easy for the band to release a paint by numbers 'Hysteria' sounding record, while all the signature Def Leppard sounds are present, they really pushed the envelope in going in various musical directions, with terrific songs like, "Man Enough," "Invincible," "Wings Of An Angel" and "Sea Of Love."
2. Marilyn Manson – ‘Pale Emperor’ – This certainly could be the comeback release of the year.  The aging shock rocker joined forces with Grammy award music composer, Tyler Bates, for a mature, raw, and unique 13 track southern-goth flavored masterpiece. Tracks such as “Deep Six,” “The Mephistopheles Of Los Angeles,” “Third Day Of A Seven Day Binge,” certainly made Marilyn Manson a relevant artist again in 2015.
3.  Ugly Kid Joe - 'Uglier Than They Used ta Be' - One of the last true 'rock bands' to come out in the 90's, playing heavy music when it wasn't cool to be heavy and playing grunge rock before "grunge" existed.  It's ironic that some people say the opening track of 'Uglier Than They Used ta Be,' "Hell Ain't Hard To Find," sounds like a lift from Dave Grohl's Foo Fighters' song, "Learning To Fly," as Ugly Kid Joe sounded like the Foo Fighters before there was a Foo Fighters.
The album is just full of great new songs by UKJ, like "Let the Record Play" & "Bad Seed," and the 2 covers, "Ace Of Spades" (Motorhead) and the Rare Earth song, "Papa Was a Rolling Stone" (featuring the Australian sensation Dallas Frasca) are simply brilliant.
4. Devil City Angels - 'Devil City Angels' - In 2015, an unlikely "supergroup" of sorts was formed, comprised of hard rock's 'unwanted' side-men.  Put together by the sidelined Poison drummer Rikki Rocket and one of the best 80's guitarists - who can never seem to hold down a gig - Tracii Guns, along with bassist Eric Brittingham - of Cinderella fame (who's main band is also in limbo due to their lead singer pursuing a solo career) and rising upstart, vocalist Brandon Gibbs, the Devil City Angels put together one of the most solid albums to come from the hard rock genre this year.
While the members of DCA refer to their sound as "modern vintage," you can definitely hear the culmination of their influences throughout their 10 song debut.  From the classic rock stylings of Aerosmith and Billy Squier, to more recent sounding blues-rock like the Black Crowes, the band hits all the marks on almost every song, with the only dud being the song, "All I Need," which for some reason, wound up being the 2nd single from the CD being pushed by the label.
'Devil City Angels' features, perhaps, Rikki Rocket's most inspired sounding drumming since Poison's 'Crack A Smile' CD, definitely bringing that funky side of Poison to the table, as Tracii Guns shows what a diversified guitar player he can really be, when put in the right situation.  While Gibbs vocal delivery can sometimes be on the vanilla side of the musical palate, the guy's got great tone and his youthful energy is exactly what this band needs in order to have any hope at longevity.
5. W.A.S.P. - 'Golgotha' - Founder, and the only remaining original member, Blackie Lawless has pretty much, turned his group, W.A.S.P., into the theatrical rock version of AC/DC, as with every release Lawless has put out in the past 20 years essentially sounds like he's been re-writing the same song(s) over and over.  However, for the 2015 rendition of Blackie's "ghoulash," it seems as though he got all of the ingredients in the right order this time, as 'Golgotha' may be the best album he's released since 1992's, 'The Crimson Idol.'
6. Motorhead - 'Bad Magic' - With the death of Motorhead leader, Ian "Lemmy" Kilmister,  'Bad Magic' serves as a fitting swan song of an intense and groundbreaking 40 year career.  All 13 tracks on this release are noteworthy, with "Til The End," "Victory or Die" and the closer, a cover of the Rolling Stones' classic, "Sympathy for the Devil," as the highlights.  Every fan of metal and hard rock needs this album in their collection.
7. Scorpions – ‘Return to Forever’ – German hard rockers celebrate their 50th anniversary with their 19th studio release.  ‘Return to Forever’ consists of vintage Scorpion rockers and power ballads.  Interestingly, 12 of these tracks were unfinished demos from the 80's, and early 90's, which the band members finished for this release.  Time will only tell if this is the band’s final release.  If so, it is a fitting end to an illustrious career.
8. Tommy Henriksen - 'Tommy, Tommy, Tommy' - One could easily describe Tommy Henriksen's style as: the Cars meets Kraftwerk, Bruce Springsteen with a backbeat, an acoustic Iggy Pop or even Lou Reed on a loop, once you get past the culture shock of all of his combined musical influences and really delve into the music, you realize Tommy Henriksen has successfully created his own unqiue sound and flavor, providing the listener a great musical journey throughout, 'Tommy, Tommy, Tommy.'
More 'Nu Yawk' than the Jets and Giants combined, while you could imagine the songs were written somewhere in the East Village, the majority of the tracks are surprisingly upbeat, in a pseudo-sarcastic, punk rock-ish type way.  Whether it's Henriksen channeling his inner Alice Cooper/Iggy Pop on "Teenage Kicks Part 2" or paying homage to all of his musical influences (by mentioning them by name) in "All My Heroes," it's just fun, uplifting music, with choruses that will stick inside your head, having you singing them for days.
9.  Beauvoir-Free - 'American Trash' - It's rare when you find artists who aren't phased by musical trends or fads and no matter what the consequence, continue to write the style of music they truly love.  A perfect example is Jean Beavoir.  The former Plasmatic, aka 'the black guy with the blonde mohawk,' is not defined by the color of his skin, the style of his hair or whatever genre you wish to categorize his music as.
In 2015, Beauvoir reunited with long-time musical partner, guitarist, Micki Free, as Free was once a member of Beauvoir's continuing Crown of Thorns band, and considering the group still exists today, albeit with a different lineup, the duo went with the Beauvoir-Free moniker, as not to confuse any fans into thinking Free rejoined the Crown of Thorns lineup.
'American Trash' is a very enjoyable 11 song album, mostly killer, with very little filler.  Songs like "Angels Cry," "Shotgun To the Heart" and the Journey-esque, "She's A KO" are great melodic rock songs that deserve to be heard, no matter what decade they were released in.
10.  Bumblefoot - 'Little Brother Is Watching' - From Guns N Roses, to David Bowie, to Queen, to the Sex Pistols - and that's only the first song, "Clots," from Ron Thal's aka Bumblefoot's 'Little Brother Is Watching' CD.  Rounding out our "Rock Music Star Top 10 Rock Releases" of 2015, this album from Bumblefoot is by far, the most eclectic release on the list.  And that's a very good thing!
Not only is Thal a very underrated guitar player (best described by Guitar Network Magazine as Ridiculous... in a good way"), but he's a very solid lead singer and his vocal abilities shine throughout 'Little Brother Is Watching.'  Whether he's channeling David Bowie on songs like "Argentina," Chris Cornell (Soundgarden) on "Don't Know Who To Pray To Anymore" or replicating harmonies which would make the Beatles envious throughout the disc, Bumblefoot treats his voice just like the six string instrument he has mastered for so many years.  Looking forward to many more great releases from Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal in the future... 


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