2014 was a year highlighted by it’s fair share of impressionable new releases, whether it be your regular installment of new material, the solid revival of a prominent musician’s solo career, the emergence of a new rising force driven towards leaving their own mark on the genre, the heartfelt farewell album, or the seemingly unfathomable comeback from multiple heavyweight musical identities.
It’s during such prolific periods where determining which albums left more of an impact becomes all-the-more challenging, as we found during the formation of our rundown of the Top 10 Rock Albums of 2014, however after much debate we now present our decisions.
10) ‘Kings and Queens of the Underground’
The punk rock mainman announced his return to 2014 with a long awaited rebel yell – his first in nearly a decade. ‘Kings and Queens of the Underground‘ represents everything longtime listeners have been anticipating since the release of Billy Idol‘s last collection of new material, 2005’s ‘Devil’s Playground’: familiar anthemic rockers, relevant new stylistic statements, and the assaultive guitar stylings of longtime contributor Steve Stevens.
9) ‘Crazy Lixx’
Rising glam metal collective Crazy Lixx returned this year with their first compilation of new material in two years, and familiar followers expected something truly remarkable was in store when the band confirmed their decision to provide their fourth studio album with the eponymous banner. Centered around ferocious duel guitar harmonies, overtly melodic group refrains, and an identity which isn’t hesitant to reveal their influences, Crazy Lixx delivers the necessary resurgence to the genre that needs to be more apparent in new groups.
8) ‘Rock Your Face Off’
Having been one of the many victims of the Seattle sound movement during the 1990s, Kix submitted to the demands of veteran listeners and returned to the studio to forge their first new studio album in nearly two decades. The band’s first with bassist Mark Schenker in the lineup, ‘Rock Your Face Off‘ reinforces the same unchainable, sexual innuendo-centered character which played such a predominant role during the developmental stages of the band.
7) ‘I’m Not Your Suicide’
Stryper mainman Michael Sweet is apparently incapable of enjoying the luxury of free time which many listeners fantasize about. Despite having just last year issued a well-received return-to-form with his main band, as well as recently authoring an autobiography and forming a new rock supergroup with George Lynch of Dokken fame, Sweet issued what is perhaps his most varietal solo effort to date. ‘I’m Not Your Suicide‘ alternates from piercing heavy metal to soulful country ballads, all while keeping a propelling momentum.
6) ‘Better Days Comin”
“Heading for a Heartbreak,” they are not; the members of Winger strike a vengeful tone with their sixth studio album, ‘Better Days Comin‘.’ The majority of their latest offering is bracketed by shredding guitar work attributed by Whitesnake‘s Reb Beach and former Black Oak Arkansas axeman John Roth, which when paired alongside the impressively preserved vocal range of frontman and band namesake Kip Winger leaves Winger in what is easily their finest form since 1993’s ‘Pull.’
5) ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll Telephone’
After an impressive run of twenty-three full-length studio efforts and nearly five decades of activity, it’s with the release of Nazareth‘s ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll Telephone‘ that founding lead vocalist Dan McCafferty has made what appears to be his permanent departure from the band due to health problems. As the members of Nazareth continue forward with a new singer at the helm, ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll Telephone’ proudly stands alongside their earlier releases as a take-no-prisoners compilation of hard rock commanded by McCafferty’s always striking vocal abilities. If you ask our opinion, you would be pressed to find a more fitting farewell for an iconic rock frontman.
4) ‘Space Invader’
“Ack!” Former KISS guitarist Ace Frehley became the first musician ever associated as a full-time member of the iconic rock band to attain a US top 10 album position as a solo artist following the unveiling of ‘Space Invader,’ a concrete assemblage of guitar-oriented anthems that could arguably stand as the Space Ace’s most authoritative release since his self-titled debut arrived nearly four decades ago in 1978.
3) ‘The Endless River’
Easily the most unexpected and hastily-welcomed release of 2014, progressive rock moguls Pink Floyd (namely, guitarist/vocalist David Gilmour and drummer Nick Mason) returned to their studio archives and returned with a collection of largely instrumental compositions, with the intention of paying homage to fallen keyboardist Richard Wright. The end result was ‘The Endless River,’ which serves as Pink Floyd’s first album in twenty years and reassures their position as one of the leaders in rock and roll.
2) ‘Hypnotic Eye’
Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers
The aspirations of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers to revisit the blues rock identity of their earlier releases was welcome news to dedicated fans, however few would assume that the end result would even be reminiscent of what comprises the consistently rewarding ‘Hypnotic Eye.’ Taking more than the occasional excavation into politically and societally relevant lyrical content, the album’s strongest quality is it’s modernized take on the band’s original approach, rather than a casual step into nostalgic territory.
1) ‘Rock or Bust’
AC/DC remains one of the most inextinguishable forces on the planet; while their audience of critics will seemingly always insist (outlandishly so, might we add) that their decision to reinforce the same songwriting chemistry which developed their rise into rock prominence is evidence of some sort of weakness, ‘Rock or Bust’ fails to reveal anything of the sort – instead providing nearly thirty-five minutes of explosive hard rock. Without completely emphasizing the fact that their admirable ability to progress forward despite their significant loss, being the departure of founding member and guitarist Malcolm Young, AC/DC’s resilience and musical fortitude allows them to land at the top position on our run through of the Top 10 Rock Albums of 2014.