Best Of 2013ARTICLE:
Jeff H Best Of 2013YEAR:
2014COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
2013 was a pretty good year overall. Not quite as good as 2011 (which keeps getting better as time goes on for me), but probably stronger than any other year since I got back into the new era of AOR in 2007. Several albums from this year will remain in heavy rotation. I'm having trouble with the bottom of my list, choosing between albums that I liked OK and albums that I've played only a few times and haven't fully absorbed (although one of those did make an immediate impact on me).
The SelectionsLaneslide - Laneslide
The 2008 Marcello Vestry album is one that is still in very heavy rotation on my various media devices, so I was excited to hear of this album featuring the voice of Frank Vestry. It delivered big-time for me. It features some songs that are at the top of the genre for me, and the flow of the album is almost flawless. To make it even better, a bonus track came out (for the Japanese release) late in the year that matches anything on the album. I hope there is another album in the pipeline soon. Houston - II
I had not heard the first album from 2010, or the album of (mainly) covers from 2011, until this one came out. I never got the impression that the first one was worth making a special effort to seek out. So, unlike the Laneslide album, this one was not on my radar. The video for 'I'm Coming Home' intrigued me, but the comments from many of you inspired me to make sure I got a hold of this. This album is catchy as hell, with a great production. I'm hoping for a long career for these guys too. Seventh Key - I Will Survive
Of course this was much anticipated by the majority of us. And predictably, it was every bit as good as anticipated. It's more progressive than most of what I listen to, but all in a way that fits perfectly together. Another one that I can play over and over. Hope it doesn't take nine years before the next one. FM - Rockville / Rockville II
I'm going to put these two together, since it's the same band with two similar and equally good albums. FM is my 'Band Of The Year', both for these two albums and for the older ones which I finally acquired. I really like what they did with these two. I used the term 'modern yet retro' to describe their sound - I can imagine hearing some of these songs back in high school (early 80s) and current classic rock radio. Others would fit perfectly on the modern rock stations in the U.S. beside Daughtry, 3 Doors Down, Lifehouse, Maroon 5, and those guys. They're prolific with the videos too. Nothing fancy - mainly just the guys playing - but they help make the listening experience more personal. Reckless Love - Spirit
Their first two albums contained some killer tracks, surrounded by others that were decent but not really my cup of tea. For album number 3, they decided on a more straight-ahead 'hard AOR' sound with much less emphasis on glam. And it is exactly what they needed to do (according to me, anyway), as this is a spectacular album. They do vary styles to a decent degree from song to song, but it flows perfectly. This is definitely a fun album, reminiscent of the three David Lee Roth solo albums, but even better. Fergie Frederiksen - Any Given Moment
This may very well unfortunately be the last we ever hear from him. If so, he leaves on a stellar note, with a great collection of songs. I played the heck out of this album for three weeks over the summer. 'Last Battle Of My War' is a superb tune. Faith Circus - Turn Up The Band
This is a late addition to my list, as I didn't hear anything from it until George's review on 12/29. But it definitely made a quick impact, as this sounds like it was pulled from a time capsule from the late 80s. It is good fun rock the way I like it, and it is still growing on me. Find Me - Wings Of Love
This one would rank higher in most years. Robbie LaBlanc sounds excellent on here. I do wish it was a little more commercial sounding overall, as these are great songs. I do feel the overall sound is more samey than it should be. James Christian - Lay It All On Me
This one makes my top ten based on the quality of the material. But I really wish the production was more along the lines of the typical House Of Lords album. I wonder whether he tried a little too hard to make it different. I love the songs on here, and JC sounds great, but I wonder what might have been each time I play it. The production takes it from 'heavy rotation' to 'medium rotation' for me. State Cows - The Second One
The first State Cows album grew on me back in 2008, so I was definitely interested in this one. It is pure west coast (remember that 'State Cows' can be rearranged into 'west coast'). This is good music for relaxing. The lyrics are definitely 'out there' in places. Disappointments
Not too many of these, fortunately. I mentioned the production on the James Christian album. 'Baptized' by Daughtry continued the trend where each release deviates more and more from the hard rock brilliance of their debut, to the point where there really isn't anything on it that rocks. I expected that to be a lock for my top ten.
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