Editor Ken’s Top Ten Albums of 2017
Rock and roll has made a wondrously epic return in 2017, with bands such as L.A. Guns, Junkyard, and Autograph unveiling absolutely amazing comeback albums. The same could also be said for alternative, with Animotion releasing an all-new collection of modern day songs that soared above and beyond even their classic material. Pop punk is very much alive and well, with collectives such as As It Is and Grayscale presenting career defining endeavors upon the world at large. And the merging of Nancy Wilson from Heart and Liv Warfield of Prince’s New Power Generation resulted in the the compelling Roadcase Royale – a staggering prologue from an exciting meeting of the minds.
As usual, The Highwire Daze Top 10 EP list is jammed packed up and coming bands ready to take the nation by storm. Led by a dynamic covers recording by the critically acclaimed Halestorm, the listing features many local talents as well – including JennaSyde and the Watcher, Divided Heaven, Vigil Of War, Next Door To The Moon, and Neon Coven. All this, and a thrilling work of pop rock artistry from the vastly underrated The Color Wild, whose anthems should be all over the radio airwaves!
And so here are Editor Ken’s selections for The Highwire Daze Top 10 Albums and EP’s of 2017. Read on…
Raise Your Expectations by Animotion (Invisible Hands Records)
Animotion, the iconic new wave band who unveiled the notorious Obsession single back in the 80’s, has returned with Raise Your Expectations, their first studio album in over 27 years! Newly reformed, with the line-up including both original front-people, Bill Wadhams and Astrid Plane, Animotion crashes into 2017 with 10 stunning new songs as well an updated version of their hit single Let Him Go. So what exactly does Animotion sound like in the year of 2017? Pretty much like they did back in their heyday, and then some! Raise Your Expectations is definitely well worth the wait, containing a good amount of tunes that would fit in well with the classic Animotion repertoire such as Last Time, Not Your Lover, Everything, You Love It, and Bad Review.
Animotion on Facebook
okay. by As It Is (Fearless Records)
As It Is possesses imaginative insights and a cool sense of irony – just one look at the cover photo on their sophomore release okay. and you very well know you are in for something truly remarkable. Presenting sparkling pop punk reveries combined with deeply personal lyrics, okay. is the perfect follow up to their Fearless Records debut Never Happy, Ever After – the next exhilarating chapter for a band ready to take on the New Found Glory/Yellowcard mantle and totally bring their own unique depth and perception into the rollicking scheme of things. Incessant touring all across the country has gained As It Is a solid fan base, and with the unveiling of okay., the UK based collective delivers the goods in an epic way! Rainy days and heartbreak has before never sounded this joyously vibrant!
As It Is on Facebook
Get Off Your Ass by Autograph (EMP Label Group)
Autograph does indeed have a brand new full length endeavor out – Get Off Your Ass is their first official release since Buzz from 2003 – and it’s jammed packed with rock and roll anthems that will make you stand up and take notice. Whether it’s the jamming refrains of the title cut Get Out Your Ass, the fan community celebration of You Are Us, We Are You, the vibrant choruses of I Lost My Mind In America and well beyond – Autograph 2017 is still very capable of writing those hit singles aka Turn On The Radio. If only major stations would play songs as vibrant and timeless in this day and age. Along with the terrific tunes is an absolutely stellar lineup looking to the future with a stunning sense of adventure ready to inspire another generation of rock and rollers.
Autograph on Facebook
Adornment by Grayscale (Fearless Records)
Grayscale is an up-and-coming collective from Philadelphia who are ready to take on the nation with their vibrantly emotional pop rocking anthems. They’ve toured across the country opening for bands such as As It Is and Trophy Eyes. With an album as stunning as Adornment and energetic live performances to back it all up, expect 2018 to be an epic year of Grayscale. Standout cuts such as the dazzling Let It Rain, the anthem-like Come Undone, the tremendously moving Beautiful Things, and the bitterly ironic refrains of If I Ever See You Again present a celebration of this strange and wonderful life was all live. Fronted by the charismatic Collin Walsh and featuring rock solid musicianship, Grayscale is a dynamic outfit well worth seeking out.
Grayscale on Facebook
High Water by Junkyard (Acetate Records)
High Water marks Junkyard’s long awaited third official album, and you could definitely tell that this IS the recording the band has always wanted to create. Drenched in heart, booze, and the regrets one has in this crazy journey we call life, High Water is a captivating rock and roll extravaganza featuring 11 dynamic songs showcasingh a band at the very height of their craft. Junkyard has been associated with the hair metal genre for years, yet were always the guys who fearlessly unveiled songs about the trials and tribulations about working class, blue collar America. High Water is the next glorious chapter of the mighty Junkyard legacy and it’s sure to enrapture longtime fans as well as newer converts looking for passion and grit in their hard ass rock and roll experience.
Junkyard on Facebook
The Missing Peace by L.A. Guns (Frontiers Records Srl)
The immense and wonderful news of 2017 for rock and roll fans was the rejoining of forces between founding members Tracii Guns and Phil Lewis – who up until that time had two different versions of L.A. Guns traversing the world. The revitalized team has been incessantly touring and issued The Missing Peace via Frontiers Records Srl – the first L.A. Guns magnum opus featuring both Guns and Lewis since 2002’s Waking The Dead. Slamming cuts such as Speed, It’s All The Same To Me, Baby Gotta Fever – as well as the power ballad Christine, present a band raging with life and ready to rock your world well into 2018 and beyond. Also featuring the crucial participation of Michael Grant on guitar, Johnny Martin on bass, and Shane Fitzgibbon on drums.
L.A. Guns on Facebook
unReal by My Ticket Home (Spinefarm Records)
My Ticket Home unleash the grand and elusive Puke Rock – their own brand of auditory intrigue that has captivated the senses of all adventurous music fans ready to give a good listen. unReal is the name of their latest sonic manifesto, now available worldwide via Spinefarm Records. Featuring a collection of songs that will tantalize the senses and set the imagination in flight, unReal by My Ticket Home is as inspiring as it is intensive. The band recently fascinated the early arrivals at The Loudwire Music Awards Kick Off Party in Silver Lake, CA, playing their first show within the Los Angeles area in four years. Whether one envisions My Ticket Home as the second coming of the Deftones and Tool, just remember to call it “puke rock” and prepare to be thoroughly enraptured by the spiraling sounds of unReal!
My Ticket Home on Facebook
Regenerations by Nick Douglas (Metalville Records)
Nick Douglas is best known as the long time bassist for Doro Pesch, performing within the Queen of Rock and Metal’s band for 25 years and counting. Douglas has also worked with the likes of Blaze Bayley and Chris Caffery, as well as found his humble beginnings at 19 in a heavy metal collective called Deadly Blessings. And now toss all of your preconceived notions out the window, because Nick Douglas has unveiled his second solo endeavor – and the recording sounds absolutely nothing like the projects he has participation with in the past. Regenerations is a stunningly captivating work of contemporary rocking artistry, filled with highly reflective lyrics and vibrantly melodic tapestries. The 11 tracks contained throughout Regenerations should appeal to all types of music fans looking to be thoroughly enraptured by the artists they listen to.
Nick Douglas on Facebook
First Things First by Roadcase Royale (Loud and Proud Records)
Roadcase Royale is the brand new project brought to you courtesy of Liv Warfield of Prince’s New Power Generation and Nancy Wilson, co-founder of the legendary Heart. First Things First is the appropriate title for their truly mesmerizing debut album, filled with the remarkable jams one could only expect from a pairing this phenomenal. Get Loud, Not Giving Up, and Hold On To My Hand present Roadcase Royale at their most impassioned, ready to absolutely change the world. And for ardent Heart devotees, reworkings of These Dreams, and Even It Up will infinitely enrapture the fan base. First Things First is a thrilling commencement and certainly an all-out triumph for all of the seasoned musicians involved.
Roadcase Royale on Facebook
Can’t Go Home by Unruly Child (Frontiers Music Srl)
Progressive AOR melodic rock is certainly alive and well these days, and Unruly Child presents the genre at its most imaginative and poignant. Can’t Go Home is a gloriously liberating experience, showing core member Marcie Free, Bruce Gowdy, and Guy Allison at height of their creative energies. Ms. Free is especially expressive, singing with an absolutely stunning amount of heartfelt conviction and urgency. Songs such as The Only One, Four Eleven, Get On Top, See If She Floats, and She Can’t Go Home truly stand the test of time, while packing quite an emotional punch in the process. One of the truly great, underrated releases of 2017! Hopefully we see a tour from Unruly Child in 2018!
Unruly Child on Facebook
Editor Ken’s Top Ten EP’s of 2017
To Be Or Nothing At All by ANSON (Self-Released EP)
A few years ago, solo artist Anson Li found himself with a pair of noteworthy EP’s entitled Go My Way and This Is Love, traveling across the country and making a name for himself. Li would soon take some time off to reevaluate both his personal and professional goals. This short break for Anson Li has resulted in a newfound passion for his art. Joining up on this journey would be bassist George Tello and guitarist Zack Mueller. And ANSON the band would be created, a truly collaborative effort in every sense of the word – and this collective has unveiled their self-released debut EP entitled To Be Or Nothing At All. Just as poignant and introspective as the title would suggest, ANSON has presented sweepingly reflective lyrics combined with infectious melodies that will jangle on in your head for ages.
Anson on Facebook
Sunday Brunch EP by Chapel (Rise Records)
Chapel consists of two core members ready to rock your socks off with their super infectious songs – the kind of pop rocking tunes that are stuck within your head for ages. Interesting to note that both members are originally from metalcore bands on the Rise Records label – vocalist / guitarist Carter Hardin fronted Nightmares while drummer Kortney Grinwis spent time within the ranks of Favorite Weapon. Chapel is sure to garner both these amazing talents a good deal of attention. And while this project is different than anything they’ve ever done in the past, Chapel is a band absolutely brimming with possibilities. Stay tuned and don’t forget to attend Sunday Brunch by Chapel and check this band out live the next time they show up to convert your town with their exhilarating tapestries.
Chapel on Facebook
Clean by The Color Wild (Artery Recordings)
Presenting pop rock at its most gloriously inspired, The Color Wild from Sacramento has unveiled the most wondrously underrated EP of this or any year. Clean is a captivating collection of songs that will surely set the imagination in flight as they buzz within your head long after the disc spins to its dazzling conclusion. Whether it’s the wide-eyed wonder of The Wild Things, the towering infections of Somebody’s Daughter, or the instantly memorable refrains of the title track, Clean by The Color Wild is a grand commencement of what should be a long and brilliant career in music. An absolute stunner that you’ll want to revisit time and again.
The Color Wild on Facebook
Pacific Avenue EP by Divided Heaven (This Is LA Records)
Divided Heaven presents L.A. power pop rock and roll in its finest hour and with the unveiling of their Pacific Avenue endeavor, this collective is more than ready to explode all over the collective ears of a nation. Fronted by the massively talented and lyrically perceptive Jeff Berman, Divided Heaven recently completed a West Coast run with Brian Marquis and has even spent time on the Vans Warped Tour. Listen to finely tuned slices such as the pop rocking perfection of Scott #1, the blistering Mourning City, Bleeding Town, or the scathing observances spewed forth within Bipartisanshit – and be prepared to meet your next favorite sonic obsession.
Divided Heaven on Facebook
Reanimate 3.0 – The Covers EP by Halestorm (Atlantic Recording Corporation)
As we await the next Halestorm magnum opus, the band would sneak out Reanimate 3.0 – The Covers EP upon the world at large. Another glorious collection of cover tunes given the Halestorm shot in the arm treatment, this EP kicks off with a fiery rendition of the Whitesnake classic In the Still of The Night and rages through such tunes as I Hate Myself For Loving You by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts and Ride The Lightning by Metallica. Tragically their rendition of Fell On Black Days by Soundgarden would turn out to be a tribute Chris Cornell – whose passage a few months after Reanimate 3.0’s unveiling would be felt all across the world. Halestorm cover these songs with a grand amount of inspiration and conviction, rendering their Reanimate series required listening for all fans of rock and roll!
Halestorm on Facebook
Grind EP by Hang Tight (Standby Records)
Picture Perfect was surely one of the most scandalously underrated pop punk bands in the States – and yet like so many massively talented outfits caught in the shuffle of an over-saturated market, Picture Perfect would pretty much call it a day after a remarkable debut full length entitled Rose and a lot of hard work. Well ‘kind of’ anyway, because the members have regrouped, launching an even more ambitious collective aptly titled Hang Tight! Still very much in a pop punk state of mind while adding in influences such as indie rock, shoegaze and surf, Hang Tight has unleashed their first wildly infectious manifesto of auditory bliss entitled Grind on Standby Records. Music of fans of all ages will find a whole lot of ear candy to enjoy within the five rapturous tunes that Hang Tight has to offer the world at large.
Hang Tight on Facebook
Prey For Los Angeles by JennaSyde and The Watchers (Self-Released EP)
JennaSyde and The Watchers has arrived and are ready to take the nation by storm with their rapturous brand of Hollywood style sleaze rock and roll. If you think you are experiencing the second coming of Axl Rose when listening to what this hot and heavy entity has to offer the world at large, it may just be because charismatic front woman JennaSyde also sings for the almighty Paradise Kitty – an all-girl tribute to Guns N’ Roses. Destined to captivate the senses of anyone who likes their rock down and dirty, Prey For Los Angeles by JennaSyde and The Watchers is one of the most explosive EP’s of the year – and its destined to garner this band a good deal of attention above and beyond the notorious City of Angels.
JennaSyde and The Watchers on Facebook
Risen EP by Neon Coven (New Ocean Media)
This amazing new recording pretty much arrived out of nowhere and what a captivating gothic rock treat Risen EP by Neon Coven is! Channeling a bastard amalgamation of genre greats such as Guns N’ Roses and Nine Inch Nails and slamming it all into the 21st Century with a stunning precision, the electro-anthems found within the Risen EP are destined to garner this Los Angeles based collective a good deal of attention well above and beyond the notorious City of Angels. Featuring Jacob Bunton from Lynam and Adler as well as Ace Von Johnson from Faster Pussycat among the membership, Neon Coven is sure to thrill all types of auditory fanatics looking for an adventure through inspiring dance hall darkness.
Neon Coven on Facebook
Can’t Quit It EP by Next Door To The Moon (Self-released)
Next Door To The Moon is the thoroughly memorable sonic exploration of lead vocalist / guitarist Connor Weinstein and drummer Jacob Guzman. Will Pugh of pop punk legends Cartel produced and recorded Can’t Quit It – the current EP from the Los Angeles-based collective. With lively tunes that would feel just at home with both the New Found Glory brigade and the Five Seconds To Summer set, Next Door To The Moon is primed and ready for the big leagues. Be sure to check into the Just Can’t Quit It EP by Next Door To The Moon, and discover a collection of songs from a rising star about to launch into the pop rocking stratosphere.
Next Door To The Moon on Facebook
Bite The Bullet EP by Vigil Of War (Self-released)
Vigil Of War is a rock and roll band from the Los Angeles ready to break on through to the big leagues in nothing short of an epic way. Fronted by the vibrantly charismatic Alicia Vigil, the debut Vigil Of War manifesto is entitled Bite The Bullet, and it’s sure to enrapture all fans of hard rock laced with heavy doses of punk and metal. With deeply personal lyrics that exude a thrilling sense of perseverance, and melodies that are sure to rage within your head for ages, Bite The Bullet EP by Vigil Of War is the perfect sonic artillery that all adventurous music fans will want to revisit time and again. Produced by Kevin Thrasher of Escape The Fate!
Vigil Of War on Facebook
A sampling from the very best releases of 2017. Now bring on the music classics of the New Year!
(Compiled by Ken Morton)