||BEST OF 2014
Best New Band
Red Zone Rider: Supergroup power trios are all the rage, and Magna Carta Records struck gold when they combined Kelly Keeling, Vinnie Moore, and Scot Coogan. Each member outperforms his previous best, and they've made an album of incendiary music that marries nice doses of 70s funk, melodic balladry, and classic hard rock manoeuvers. Who knew Keeling played great organ, and fearless fretless bass? If this band moves forward and plays some shows they could become contenders. It's tough out there for new acts and I wish this bunch well.
Rival Sons: Working the road with the brilliant 'Great Western Valkyrie' album, the band continue their march to greatness, and they come across as a gang, and that's just what we need from our bands. Jay Buchanan and Scott Holiday are as good a team as Butch and Sundance, new bassist Dave Beste is a great shot in the arm, and this bunch is teaching a great lesson in development and perseverance as a way to the top. Producer Dave Cobb has been this band's George Martin since their early days, and Rival Sons are one more great album from the top.
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Bernie Tormé hasn't gone solo for fifteen years and the result is 'Flowers & Dirt: Bernie The Strat', a double album of completely uncompromising guitar rock. No longer having to compromise with bandmates, Tormé is writing like a poet, playing like a man-a-fire, singing with great confidence, and following his muse into equal parts of the blues, psychedelia, and his trademark rem-soaked hard rock. Brought to you via crowd funding, so the album you paid for is the best of the year, rendering many of you brilliant record label executives.
California Breed – 'Midnight Oil': Everyone wondered where Glenn Hughes would end up after crash landing with Black Country Communion, and he came out swinging in early 2014 with an unknown guitar virtuoso in Andrew Watt, and the ever improving time keeping of Jason Bonham. 'Midnight Oil' lives somewhere between Hughes' funk forays, some Zep-ish swagger, and some of the best female backing vocals since The Blackberries supported Humble Pie. Having super producer Dave Cobb onboard was an inspired choice, and this announced the album fabulously. Bonham's now gone, but let's hope there's more of this breed to come.
It was between Judas Priest and Black Star Riders for me! The old schoolers got fists pumping, crowds singing and combined old hits with new creations. Priest is reborn with Richie Faulkner and the patient is revived in a way too rare in a world filled with line up changes. Rob Halford is still the best in the game, and this tour will ride well into 2015. Black Star Riders came to America with a new name and a point to prove, and boy did they. Phil would be proud of Ricky Warwick and Scott Gorham is one of rock's great field leaders. Long may they run.
Things To Look Forward To In 2015
Revolution Saints' debut album, new music from Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Judas Priest, Black Star Riders, Rival Sons, California Breed, Iron Maiden, BigElf, Death Dealer and any other band that made great music in 2014. I'd love for some bold American to step up to the plate and give Frontiers Records and Magna Carta Records some competition in the cob together classic band sweepstakes - there's loads of talent in the US waiting for opportunities. Speaking of cobbled together supergroups, I need to see some of them hit the road, and help keep this thing we love alive. Classic line up UFO anyone?