Editor Ken’s Top 10 of 2018
2018 was certainly the year of the comeback, when legendary bands such as Judas Priest, Michael Schenker Fest, The Guess Who, Nazareth, and Uriah Heep would return to present some of the most compelling music of their careers. Bulletboys would kick it into the stratosphere with From Out Of The Skies while The English Beat would present Here We Go Love onto a Trumpian world nearly 30 years in the making. The sole new band to be on the Top Ten list this year is L.A.’s own Teenage Wrist, whose Chrome Neon Jesus channels a staggering amalgamation of shoegaze and grunge.
The Highwire Daze Top 10 EP list features multiples artists who released more than one EP this year, including William Ryan Key formerly of Yellowcard, DIY recordings from The Ready Set, and the blissful pop rocking reveries of Dreamers. And if there’s too much pop on the list this year, the punk gaze Tennis System unleashed a little P A I N onto the masses and Letum Ascensus pummeled and devastate with their Wasteland Chronicles death metal manifesto.
And so here are Editor Ken’s selections for The Highwire Daze Top 10 Albums and EP’s of 2018. Read on…
Editor Ken’s Top Ten Albums of 2018
Knights Call by Axel Rudi Pell (Steamhammer / SPV Records)
The adventurers found within Knights Call are musicians reveling in their finest hour, with Axel Rudi Pell at the forefront, delivering inspiring guitar interludes that set the imagination in flight. Vocalist Johnny Gioeli displays a magnetic amount of passion, adding his own thunderous magic and mystique into the proceedings. Ferdy Doernberg thrills the senses with his astounding keyboard work while bassist Volker Krawczak and drummer Bobby Rondinelli make for an unequivocally spellbinding rhythm section. Knights Call is a victorious auditory extravaganza for all! Top tracks include Long Live Rock, The Wild And The Young, and Tower Of Babel.
Axel Rudi Pell on Facebook
From Out Of The Skies by Bulletboys (Frontiers Music Srl)
The Bulletboys has never neatly fit into the hair metal genre – beyond their Smooth Up On Ya / Hard As A Rock anthems, there has always been a whole lot more going on within the hearts and minds of this compelling outfit. First and foremost is vocalist Marq Torien, a massively talented front man, always delivering a song in nothing short of an epic way. Their previous Elefante collection presented the Bulletboys in a brave new renaissance, with songs that were both blistering and empowering. And now with From Out Of The Skies, the Bulletboys leap into the stratosphere – and the results are nothing short of mesmerizing. One of the most fully realized and inspiring albums of the year.
Bulletboys on Facebook
Here We Go Love by The English Beat (Here We Go Records)
It’s been over 30 years since the last iconic recordings of the legendary English Beat. Here We Go Love has been a long time in the making, and judging by the 13 tracks heard within, the album is certainly well worth the wait! The main subjects are love and politics all within a world gone wild, with Dave Wakeling rendering sharp yet witty observations throughout the entire recording. Wakeling is an artist now at the very height if his creative energies, ready to unleash the rapturous ska entreaties complete with a grand amount of wisdom, conviction, and humor.
The English Beat on Facebook
The Future IS What It Used To Be by The Guess Who (Cleopatra Records)
In the year 2018, classic rockers The Guess Who have released one of the most exhilarating albums of the year, jammed packed with memorable songs which will further their already shimmering legacy. Drummer Garry Peterson from the original lineup remains, joined by longtime keyboardist Leonard Shaw, bass legend Rudy Sarzo, Will E. with staggering guitar interludes and powerhouse vocalist D# singing his heart and soul out! When We Were Young, Playing On The Radio, and In America are among the sparkling new genre classics you’ll want to revisit time and again.
The Guess Who on Facebook
Firepower by Judas Priest (Sony Music)
As Judas Priest approach the monumental 50 year landmark of an epic career, the legendary NWOBHM collective has unleashed Firepower – their 18th magnum opus supreme! Firepower finds Judas Priest at the very height of their creative prowess, presenting a massive slab of heavy metal anthems that should thrill their fans all over the world! Each and every member of the Priest machine is in top notch form, exhibiting a passion with the new material that is stunning to behold. Firepower is a massive 14-song manifesto containing soon to be Priest classics that will be revered for the heavy metal ages ahead.
Judas Priest on Facebook
Resurrection by Michael Schenker Fest (Nuclear Blast Records)
The MICHAEL SCHENKER FEST studio album Resurrection has arrived – and what a monumental adventure the legendary guitarist has bestowed upon the world at large. In addition to the one and only Michael Schenker on lead guitar, Resurrection featuresthe three M.S.G. singers Gary Barden, Graham Bonnet and Robin McAuley – as well as Doogie White (Michael Schenker’s TEMPLE OF ROCK). A monumental recording complete with a tour that has upcoming dates in the New Year! Top tracks include Warrior, Take Me The Church, and Night Moods.
Michael Schenker on Facebook
The Last Few Beautiful Days by The Motels (Sunset Blvd Records)
The Last Few Beautiful Days is the 13th studio recording from The Motels, and it’s an absolute stunner! Channeling the heyday of The Motels while looking ambitiously ahead to the future, Martha Davis and her crew has presented a remarkable journey through the twists and turns of the dark side of the crazy endeavor we call life. The Last Few Beautiful Days features 11 rapturous, thoroughly thought provoking selections. Ms. Davis has always enchanted audiences worldwide with her sweepingly haunting vocals, and the emotional compositions found within The Last Few Beautiful Days are destined to be fan favorites for the ages.
The Motels on Facebook
Tattooed On My Brain by Nazareth (Frontiers Music srl)
Celebrating their 50th Anniversary this year, the release of Nazareth’s brand new album, “Tattooed On My Brain” marks their 24th full-length studio album. It is also the beginning of a new chapter for the band, featuring an impressive powerhouse new vocalist Carl Sentance as well as an entire band showcasing their strongest material in years. Selections such as Pole To Pole, Never Dance With The Devil, and the raging title track compare exceedingly well to the Nazareth classics.
Nazareth on Facebook
Chrome Neon Jesus by Teenage Wrist (Epitaph Records)
Teenage Wrist is certainly riding the next epic wave of shoegaze rock which commenced with Ride and Catherine Wheel in the early 90’s and the all encompass genre has been giving us sensational underground entreaties ever since. And while comparisons to the legendary shoegaze collectives may abound, Teenage Wrist infuses their own twist of melodic indie rock, unleashing a glorious sonic manifesto that is certain to enrapture all types of music aficionados. Chrome Neon Jesus is the name of their Epitaph full debut, and it’s a stunning endeavor jammed packed with imagination and auditory intrigue.
Teenage Wrist on Facebook
Living The Dream by Uriah Heep (Frontiers Music srl)
Living The Dream by Uriah Heep is the 25th studio endeavor from this legendary progressive rock and roll collective. Absolutely solid performances all around, from the dynamo guitar wizardry of founder Mick Box, the euphoric keyboard meanderings of Phil Lanzon, the impassioned vocals of Bernie Shaw to the slamming rhythm section of bassist Dave Rimmer and drummer Russell Gilbrook, Uriah Heep 2018 and Living The Dream is a vibrant auditory adventure music fans will want to experience time and again! They’ll be playing tour dates in the New Year with Judas Priest!
Uriah Heep on Facebook
Editor Ken’s Top Ten EP’s of 2018
Launch and Fly EP’s by Dreamers (Fairfax Entertainment Group)
With the unveiling of a pair of exceptional EP’s entitled Launch and Fly, Dreamers from the Los Angeles music scene has captured the attention of music fans and critics alike. Admirers of bands such as Weezer, Smoking Popes, and Mayday Parade are destined to be over the moon when encountering the vast and sweeping reveries Dreamers has to offer the world at large. Expect this power trio to break out of the Los Angeles music scene in an epic way in the New Year and beyond! Dazzling tapestries include The Last Love Song, Misfits T-Shirt, Screws, and Fake It Till You Make It!
Dreamers on Facebook
Wasteland Chronicles by Letum Ascensus (Gore House Productions)
Letum Ascensus present blackened death metal in its finest, most chaotic hour, and they have been scorching the Los Angeles music scene and beyond since the summer of 1995. It’s been a decade since we’ve heard any new recorded material from this ferocious collective, and in the unholy year of 2018, the almighty Letum Ascensus has returned with an all-out vengeance! Wasteland Chronicles is the name of their latest manifesto, featuring seven slices of intensive mayhem straight from the bowels of hell and into the deep entrails of your fever stricken mind. Death metal truly reigns supreme thanks to compelling bands like Letum Ascensus!
Letum Ascensus on Facebook
Come Out And Play EP by Motorbone (Heavy Harmony Music)
Motorbone from the vast and varied Los Angeles music scene is destined to be your next auditory addiction – especially if Come Out And Play EP is indicative of greater glories ahead. In your face and ready to enrapture your senses with their driving melodies, Motorbone unveils a danger and intrigue within their fiery compositions. It is absolutely encouraging to find bands like Motorbone fearlessly reminding us all why we all fell in love with that devil music known as rock and roll in the first place. Turn this one up to ten and beyond for maximum impact.
Motorbone on Facebook
V1 and V2 by The Ready Set (Self-Released Ep’s)
After appearing on various major and indie record labels, Jordan Witzigreuter and The Ready Set fearlessly venture into DIY territory, and the results are absolutely captivating. V1 and V2 are EP’s showcasing an artist at the very height of their creative prowess, with sweeping songs such as Life In Pink and Black Magic unveiling what is sure to be the great glorious chapter of an already brilliant music career. Two Ready Set EP’s in one year equals sheer auditory bliss. Stay tuned for the unveiling of V3 sometime in the New Year.
The Ready Set on Facebook
Creations & Memories by States & Capitals (Self-released)
When investing time in the world of States & Capitals, one notices an array of dark subjects such as depression and addiction as well as tinges of hope within a bold yet distinct light. These are the reflective compositions from States & Capitals’ mastermind Richie Arthur, and the vibrant music and heartfelt lyrics are exhilarating to behold. Fans of Owl City and The Ready Set will surely be inspired by what States & Capitals has to offer. Arthur possesses a vision and originality that will surely captivate the senses of music aficionados looking for well thought out tapestries delivered straight from the heart.
States & Capitals on Facebook
P A I N by Tennis System (Graveface Records)
Imagine an amalgamation of Ride and Fugazi, unleashing their auditory entreaties upon a world gone wild – and you are only beginning to envision what L.A.’s own Tennis System has in store for you. P A I N is the name of the latest masterwork – an EP jammed packed with introspective lyrics and a barrage of sound that is both blissful and daunting. Tennis System has become well known for live shows that are nothing short of epic, and within the realm of the almighty P A I N, their energy and passion is persuasively captured.
Tennis System on Facebook
Thirteen & Virtue by William Ryan Key (The Lone Tree Recordings)
William Ryan Key has toured the world with Yellowcard, from their humble beginnings in 1999 up until their final performances late last year. Now travelling on a grand and intimate journey as an acoustic solo artist, Key has presented his own personal testament of lyrical wisdom and melodic bliss with a inspiring duet of albums. Thirteen and Virtue present a massively talented songwriter in the grand tradition of Elliot Smith and Dashboard Confessional. A headlining tour will commence in the New Year, and it will be exciting to see where Key takes his solo career, new music, and live shows.
William Ryan Key on Facebook
A sampling from the very best releases of 2018. Now bring on the music classics of the New Year!
(Compiled by Ken Morton)