Editor Ken’s Top 10 of 2019
Editor Ken’s Top 10 of 2019
What a terrific year for music 2019 has been! It’s been absolutely difficult to hear everything that’s arrived through the email of Highwire Daze magazine, but what an exhilarating challenge it has been overall. Older bands such as Black Star Riders, Borknagar and Spread Eagle presented career defining albums. Newer collectives such as Diane & The Deductibles, Holding Absence and The Stolen have presented powerhouse albums that should garner them a good deal of admiration and respect. Here is Editor Ken’s listing of the Top 10 Albums and EP’s of 2019 – in alphabetical order – showing yet again his very diverse and unpredictable taste in music. Read on…
Editor Ken’s Top 10 Albums of 2019
Another State of Grace by Black Star Riders (Nuclear Blast Records)
Another State Of Grace is the fourth magnum opus for Black Star Riders, jammed packed with rock and roll anthems that will absolutely exhilarate the senses. A recent tour supporting Judas Priest has placed Black Star Riders on the worldwide map – not to mention their rocking linage, as the band features Ricky Warwick of The Almighty and legendary guitarist Scott Gorham of Thin Lizzy within their ranks. Unveiling a solid collection of songs that will stand the test of time, Another State Of Grace presents a band at the very height of the career – not only extending the legacy of the iconic Thin Lizzy, but further pursuing a new entity whose current sonic output has been thoroughly impressive.
Black Star Riders on Facebook
True North by Borknagar (Century Media Records)
Øystein G. Brun and his comrades in the almighty Borknagar have journeyed to True North, unleashing a masterwork of staggering proportions. The avant-garde Black Metal pioneers and innovators from Norway are at the pinnacle of their artistry with True North, their 11th studio magnum opus album. All this and Borknagar will be touring the States in 2020 on the Devastation On The Nation tour – their 1st since traversing the continent supporting the infamous Emperor on the Kings Of Terror Tour in 1999. True North is jammed packed with imagination and depth, and is well worth travelling the corners of the world to seek out.
Borknagar on Facebook
Unbroken by Carl Dixon (AOR Heaven)
Carl Dixon of the epically underrated Canadian hard rock band Coney Hatch has unveiled a new solo endeavor entitled Unbroken – and the 11 songs contained within are nothing short of a triumph for this inspirational artist. Unbroken is a collaboration between Carl Dixon and Robert Boebel, whose own impressive credits within the German music scene include Frontline and Phantom V. One of the most fully realized AOR melodic rock albums of the year, highlights include memorable selections such as Can’t Love A Memory, Bowl Me Over, and Nothing Lasts Forever.
Carl Dixon on Facebook
TWO by Diane & The Deductibles (DRAIA Productions)
A classic rock band with a thoroughly original modern day approach, Diane & The Deductibles present TWO upon the world at large. Featuring members of Air Supply, Geoff Tate’s Queensryche, and Hurricane, the songs found within are empowering and inspired. Fronted by a powerhouse vocal performance from Diane Adams and featuring the mesmerizing guitar tapestries of Robert Sarzo and Keith Lynch – as well as the jamming rhythm section of bassist Cliff Rehrig and drummer Ronnie Ciago – Diane & The Deductibles will absolutely enrapture fans of acts such as Heart and Bonnie Riatt.
Diane & The Deductibles on Facebook
Holding Absence by Holding Absence (SharpTone Records)
Containing a stunning amalgamation of post hardcore and shoegaze reveries, the Self-Titled debut album from Holding Absence is nothing short of mesmerizing. From the staggering implementations of Perish to the haunting grand finale of Wilt, the passion and dynamic sense of urgency found within the Holding Absence experience certainly renders these tapestries as one of the very best debuts of 2019. It will be exciting to see what the future has in store for Holding Absence and their music that moves the soul and the sets the imagination in flight.
Holding Absence on Facebook
48 Seconds by Phil Lanzon (Phil Lanzon Ditties)
Phil Lanzon has experienced an absolutely epic last few years with his main band Uriah Heep, weaving his keyboard magic upon the proceedings. The thrilling reveries continue with 48 Seconds, Lanzon’s second solo album that vibrantly tantalizes the senses. Jammed packed with dazzling rock and pop tapestries with highlights such as Forty Line, Rock N’ Roll Children, and You Can Make A Living, 48 Hours presents an artist at the very height of his creative energies. And be sure to stay until the end and experience the seismic title track about the devastating 1906 San Francisco earthquake.
Phil Lanzon on Facebook
Subway To The Stars by Spread Eagle (Frontiers Music Srl)
Even hardcore fans of Spread Eagle could color themselves absolutely amazed by this astounding comeback entreaty. Subway To The Stars goes well beyond Spread Eagle’s sleaze/hair metal roots – it’s a thoroughly ambition album that reaches stratospheric heights! Featuring the participation of original members Rob De Luca (also in UFO) and Ray West (also in Weapons Of Anew), Spread Eagle is ready to bring their NYC Street Metal to a whole new generation of fans. Spread Eagle plan to tour in 2020, so expect a galactic thrill ride of live performance featuring selections from all three of their albums!
Spread Eagle on Facebook
The Stolen by The Stolen (Revival Recordings)
The Stolen is a remarkable indie pop rocking outfit from New Jersey whose inaugural full length is jammed packed with absolutely timeless songs. Featuring jangly guitars, sweeping melodies and resourceful musicianship, The Stolen is destined to capture the hearts of music fans worldwide with this auditory gem of a recording. From the gorgeously spiraling sounds of Overboard, the sheer perceptive brilliance of Millennial, the vibrantly hypnotic Only In The Night and beyond, The Stolen unveil ultra-vivid reveries of pure pop perfection. It will be exciting to see where the New Year has in store for this outstanding collective.
The Stolen on Facebook
Big Blue World by Unruly Child (Frontiers Music Srl)
Unruly Child has always possessed a wistful, wide-eyed wonder to their progressive rock compositions. Featuring members who have been in acts such as World Trade, King Kobra, and even the Doobie Brothers, Unruly Child unveils a lineup that is more than capable of imagination and innovation. Big Blue World is the name of their latest magnum opus, and it’s an auditory journey that will impact the senses with its exhilarating soundscapes and passionate vocals. Always in a state of challenge and evolution, here’s hoping Unruly Child make their way to the States for some live shows – in the meantime, travel into the auditory empire of Big Blue World and prepare for an electrifying ride of a lifetime. Top selections include Dirty Little Girl, Down and Dirty, and All Over The World.
Unruly Child on Facebook
Volume One by West Bound (Frontiers Music Srl)
Chas West has made quite a name for himself lending his remarkable vocals to The Jason Bonham Band and Resurrection Kings. Volume One is the debut for his new project West Bound, and what an exhilarating album this is! From the inspiring opening refrains of Never Surrender to the reflective Dance Of Life and beyond, West Bound channel such greats of Led Zeppelin and Ronnie James Dio, while weaving their own imaginative take onto the proceedings. West is a powerhouse of a vocalist, and along with amazing performances from Jimmy Burkard, Roy Z, Dave “Chili” Moreno, and Jason Cornwell, West Bound exudes a passion for hard rock that is epic in scope!
West Bound on Facebook
Editor Ken’s Top 10 EP’s of 2019
1904 EP by Charm City Devils (Self-released)
1904 presents hard rockers Charm City Devils at a crossroads of their already brilliant career. Unveiling an EP that is both reflective and intensive, the five selections contained within are a stunning journey of perseverance and intrigue with front man John Allen and his Charm City Devils co-horts unveiling the next great chapter of their exhilarating sonic legacy. Stay tuned, because Charm City Devils rages on with an auditory fervor that is stunning to behold. Tunes such as Skipping Stone and Dollar Sign$ should be burning up radio airwaves all across the planet and will surely thrill rock and roll fans everywhere!
Charm City Devils on Facebook
Our Time Is Now by Evol Walks (Self-released)
Brought to the City of Angels via Australia, Evol Walks is easily one of rock and rolls best kept secrets. Fronted by the supremely charismatic Leah Martin-Brown, Evol Walks channels the greats such as AC/DC and Heart, placing a decidedly modern day spin on the genre and absolutely kicking everyone’s ass in the process. Featuring co-writes from members of Atreyu, Black Veil Brides and Escape The Fate, Our Time Is Now by Evol Walks slams into your senses with its hard rock and rage anthems of rebellion and are not be missed!
Evol Walks on Facebook
The Jacks EP by The Jacks (EDGEOUT Records)
Hailing from the legendary Los Angeles music scene, The Jacks perform a superb brand of indie pop rock that is wondrously infectious. Their Self-Titled EP features five timeless tracks that will rage on joyously in your head long after the five songs spin to their dazzling conclusions. Local events included a sold out show at the legendary Troubadour in West Hollywood, where band and audience merged together as one, applauding the fine art of seriously rapturous tunes within an explosive live performance.
The Jacks on Facebook
Kill The Blonde EP by Kill The Blonde (Self-released)
Based out the state of New York and ready to explode onto the national scene in nothing short of an epic way, Kill The Blonde present post hardcore reveries that are both infectious and imaginative. Fans of acts such as Crown The Empire and Ice Nine Kills should really check into what the amazing Kill The Blonde has to offer the world. The four songs plus Intro contained within their debut Self-Titled EP will absolutely devastate the senses. Kill The Blonde features a trio of talented musicians ready to enrapture their audience while traversing upon a journey into the big leagues.
Kill The Blonde on Facebook
Harmonies For The Haunted by Nikki Stringfield (Self-released)
Best known for her exquisite axe work within the ranks of The Iron Maidens, Nikki Stringfield has unveiled Harmonies For The Haunted – a stunning solo endeavor that is an absolute thrill to the senses. Ms. Stringfield does all vocals, guitars, lyrics, and bass on the EP, and what a powerhouse work of sonic artistry! With the assistance of Jesse Billson (drums and co-producer) and Patrick Kennison (co-producer and member of Heaven Below), Harmonies For The Haunted is sure to enrapture and inspire all who encounter it’s bewitching soundscapes.
Nikki Stringfield on Facebook
SUZY EP by SUZY (Self-released)
“62 Years Old And Metal As Fuck!” blazes the announcement about the one and only SUZY and her soon to be released Self-Titled EP. A five song testament to hard raging rock and the sounds of perseverance, SUZY is ready to captivate the masses with her melodic metal anthems for the ages. The singer has performed with the likes of Rob Halford and Paul Stanley, and with the arrival of this magnificent debut, SUZY is ready to rock your world on her own glorious terms. With her songwriting partner Norman Matthew of Murder FM infamy, the unveiling of SUZY is an exciting debut listeners will want to revisit time and again.
Suzy on Facebook
Timeless Youth by Telltale (SharpTone)
Presenting their own spirited brand of pop punk, Telltale has traversed the country in support of their dynamic Timeless Youth EP on SharpTone Records. Telltale unleash the next great chapter of the pop punk legacy genre, channeling such greats as New Found Glory and Blink 182 while bringing their own exhilarating visions and memorable songs to the table. Timeless Youth is sure to leave a lasting impression on all who give a listen and cements what is sure to be a bright and glorious future for this East Coast based collective.
Telltale on Facebook
Human Crown by The Unbroken (Self-released)
The Unbroken is a topnotch metal band based out of Brooklyn who perform in the grand tradition of genre greats such as Metallica and Pantera. Modern day thrash metal at its finest is the best way to describe the intensive cuts found within the Human Crown EP. Supreme musicianship and viciously intensive tunes abound, rendering Human Crown by The Unbroken true heavy metal royalty in the making. A stunning collection of songs that will garner this amazing band above and beyond the confines of their Brooklyn home base. Stay tuned cuz this guys are ready to shred your face and leave you wanting a whole lot more…
The Unbroken on Facebook
Hereafter by Vamachara (Closed Casket Activities)
Vamachara is a supremely heavy hardcore collective based out of the Los Angeles area, and their latest EP will send extreme music fans into the stratosphere. Hereafter is the name of their manifesto of sheer intensity, seething with a brutal sense of unbridled urgency. Expect to encounter hardcore pits of sweat and agony when these entreaties are unleashed within a live setting. Their debut for the almighty Closed Casket Activities compound, Vamachara is sure to leave an indelible impression within the pummeling confines of these six volatile selections. Fans of genre stalwarts such as All Out War and At The Gates will want to check into the brutal reveries Vamachara has to offer.
Vamachara on Facebook
Bringing Rock Back by W.A.L.K.E.R. (TTP Productions)
Recently discovered this hard rock band from Dublin, Ireland on the very great Hollywood Hairspray Volume 8 compilation from Perris Records. And what an amazing EP the almighty W.A.L.K.E.R. has bestowed upon rockers all around the world. The ambitiously titled Bringing Rock Back is something bands as freewheeling as W.A.L.K.E.R. could very well achieve. Members of Guns N’ Roses, Britny Fox, and Enuff Z’Nuff have gone on record as being thoroughly impressed by W.A.L.K.E.R., and judging by the 5 songs contained within, these guys are ready to slam into the big leagues in 2020 and beyond.
W.A.L.K.E.R. on Facebook
A sampling from the very best releases of 2019. Now bring on the music classics of the New Year!
(Compiled by Ken Morton)