The Rockpit’s Best Hard Rock & Blues releases of 2020

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Best of Hard Rock & Blues 2020

 

2020 has been a hard year for bands and fans alike and this year we’ve put together a Top Ten based on the votes of all our regular reviewers. So here it is the 2020 Hard Rock and Blues ‘All of Site’ list…

 

THE ROCKPIT REVIEWERS
BEST HARD ROCK ALBUMS OF 2020

 

Robert Jon & The Wreck - Last Light on the Highway

1. Robert Jon & The Wreck – Last Light on the Highway

Taking out the overall reviewers album of the year is Robert Jon & The Wreck – Last Light on the Highway – an album that I completely fell in love with at first listen and it seems so did our other reviewers too. Robert Jon & The Wreck have been releasing records since 2011, along the way being nominated for numerous awards and touring with some of Blues’ biggest names like Bonamassa, Buddy Guy and Walter Trout as well as some more contemporary  revivalists like The Chris Robinson Brotherhood and The Rival Sons. It’s therefore a record that’s taken me by complete surprise, not having heard the band before. The 11 songs here sound like they come from a band with a history and as a result one of the first things I’m gonna do after this review is track down their past releases – this is that good!

Read the review here

 

Black Stone Cherry - The Human Condition

2. Black Stone Cherry – The Human Condition

Black Stone Cherry – The Human Condition has to be my favourite album out of this horrible year but it was a close run thing this year and in all honesty all of those in the Top 10 and most in the Top 20 could easily have taken that slot such was the quality. What gave The Hunan Condition the edge is simply tat perfect storm of songs and substance and timing. I always expect great things from Chris and the guys but this one swept me away – it may even be the best record so far.

Read the review here | Interview with Ben Wells

 

Holy Roller Baby - Frenzy

3. Holy Roller Baby – Frenzy

In a year that has held so many lows for so many reasons, I have found there to have been some incredible highlights that have helped me get through these difficult times. Music has always had the wonderful ability to take us out of the moment and transport us into our own little world with the power to distract, aid & heal. The debut album from Texas-based Holy Roller Baby has proved to be one of those albums. ‘Frenzy’ was released on October 9 and has rarely been out of my player since I received it three weeks prior to the release date such is its power to please. The brainchild of singer/songwriter Jared Mullins, ‘Frenzy’ is an album full of catchy riffs, blues-rock vibes & fuzzy distorted twin guitars, all delivered with a funky & memorable 70’s vibe to leave you feeling warm & fulfilled inside.

Read the review here | Interview with Jared Mullins

 

HEAT - II

4. H.E.A.T. – H.E.A.T. II

If you’re looking for great modern 80’s influenced Hard Rock the you can’t go past what turned out to be the best H.E.A.T. record in years. ‘II’ took us right back to the sound that made us fall for this band in the first place but interestingly before the end of the year original singer Kenny Leckremo had rejoined the band replacing the departing singer Erik Grönwall who put in a stellar performance on this one.

Read the review here | Interview with Erik Gronwall

 

Devilskin - Red

5. Devilskin – Red

There really is something rather special about these guys from New Zealand. That balance of Hard Rock and Metal with crushing riffs, meaningful lyrics and killer vocals. It’s a mix that’s only going to see them grow bigger and bigger. Check out Devilskin – Red and you’ll find another world class band from our part of the world.

Read the review here | Interview with Paul Martin  –  Interview with Jennie Skulander

 

Blues Pills - Holy Moly!

6. Blues Pills – Holy Moly

Blues Pills are back with their third studio album ‘Holy Moly!’ and it could very well be the best yet.  Released on August 21 through Nuclear Blast, ‘Holy Moly!’ is a collection of eleven songs that will tease and tear at your emotions as well as drag you in to the bands roots & inspirations of yesteryear.

Read the review here | Interview with Zack Anderson

 

Brother Firetribe - Feel The Burn

7. Brother Firetribe – Feel The Burn

Over the years Brother Firetribe have been remarkably consistent and stunningly good. But Brother Firetribe – Feel The Burn really is something else. Sweeping melodies and soaring riffs make every track here more than memorable. If you love your Melodic Rock slick and sugar sweet then you won’t be able to go past this in 2020.

Read the review here

 

Janet Gardner & Justin James - Synergy

8. Gardner/James – Synergy

You can’t honestly say that too many artists from the 80’s are making music as good as they did back in the day but I can name right here one who is making arguably even better music –  Gardner/James – Synergy  the third album in collaboration with partner Justin James is the most accomplished of Janet’s post Vixen output so far and for this listener at least eclipses all that’s come before.

Read the review here | Interview with Janet Gardner & Justin James  part 1  –  part 2

 

Blue Ashes - Checkmate

9. Blue Ashes – Checkmate

Hailing from Miami and now located in Nashville, Tennessee, Blue Ashes are a duo made up of Danish singer Shila Mariposa Zuniga & her husband Alexis Zuniga from Colombia. They released their debut EP ‘Walking Solo’ in April last year and came out firing on all cylinders!

Read the review here | Interview with Alex & Shila Zuniga

 

Thirteen Stars - Finest Ramshackle Jam

10. Thirteen Stars – Finest Ramshackle Jam

A little like with Robert Jon and the Wreck – another band I’d not come across until this year was Thirteen Stars – Finest Ramshackle Jam is a wonderfully rich release heavy on Blues and Hard Rock and which hits a sweet spot that few have in 2020. It’s also an album that isn’t afraid to be different and aren’t afraid to pack in 15 diverse tracks either. As Hoss puts it “Our favourite bands wrote and recorded over a vast array of genres and styles and we felt that made the albums more interesting to listen to. The album title came from a friend of ours who once described our rehearsals as a Ramshackle jam.” These guys could well be your new favourite band.

Read the review here | Interview with ‘Hoss’ Thompson

 

 

THE ROCKPIT REVIEWERS
BEST BLUES ALBUMS OF 2020

 

Robert Jon & The Wreck - Last Light on the Highway

1. Robert Jon & The Wreck – Last Light on the Highway

Taking out the overall reviewers album of the year is Robert Jon & The Wreck – Last Light on the Highway – an album that I completely fell in love with at first listen and it seems so did our other reviewers too. Robert Jon & The Wreck have been releasing records since 2011, along the way being nominated for numerous awards and touring with some of Blues’ biggest names like Bonamassa, Buddy Guy and Walter Trout as well as some more contemporary  revivalists like The Chris Robinson Brotherhood and The Rival Sons. It’s therefore a record that’s taken me by complete surprise, not having heard the band before. The 11 songs here sound like they come from a band with a history and as a result one of the first things I’m gonna do after this review is track down their past releases – this is that good!

Read the review here

 

The Wolf Inside Me - Bag of Nails

2. Bag Of Nails – The Wolf Inside Me

Whenever I’ve thought of Blues music, my mind always immediately takes me to places like Chicago, Memphis & Detroit.  Greece would never have even registered to me as a place where high-quality Blues rock music could be found & heard… but oh how wrong I was, after stumbling across a wonderful ten-track self-produced debut album from Greek psychedelic Blues-Rock trio Bag of Nails.  ‘The Wolf Inside Me’ was released through Berlin-based Nasoni Records back in December 2019 and oozes riffs & sounds of the seventies with hints of Hendrix, Jethro Tull, The Doors & ZZ Top amongst others.  It’s an album that needs to be turned up to really appreciate the rawness of their sound.

Read the review here

 

Joe Bonamassa - Royal Tea

3. Joe Bonamassa – Royal Tea

Joe Bonamassa is back with his new album ‘Royal Tea’, his latest solo studio offering due for release on October 23rd through Provogue/Mascot Label Group.  Ten tracks make up the collection of varying styles & tempos to make this another incredibly enjoyable listen from start to finish.  It’s no secret that Bonamassa was hugely influenced by his British guitar heroes like Eric Clapton and Cream, John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers and Jeff Beck and he has added a bit more of a British twist by writing & recording the tracks in the legendary Abbey Road Studios in St John’s Wood, London.  How could he possibly take it even further?  By enlisting the likes of former Whitesnake guitarist Bernie Marsden, pianist & Squeeze founder member Jools Holland and ex-Cream lyricist Peter Brown to co-write with him, of course.

Read the review here

 

Cormac Neeson - White Feather Deluxe Reissue

4. Cormac Neeson – White Feather (Deluxe Edition)

Even though we normally exclude re-releases in our ‘Best of’ lists – Cormac Neeson’s 2019 release of ‘White Feather’ was rebooted in 2020 and was arguably even more stunning. Honestly if you’ve not heard the album before you need this, if you love the lighter moments of early Black Crowes you need this and if you let love and soul into your heart and are open to something without the constant crunch and scream of guitars this just might be your wisest purchase all year. Magnificent!

Read the review here | Interview with Cormac Neeson

 

Thirteen Stars - Finest Ramshackle Jam

5. Thirteen Stars – Finest Ramshackle Jam

A little like with Robert Jon and the Wreck – another band I’d not come across until this year was Thirteen Stars – Finest Ramshackle Jam is a wonderfully rich release heavy on Blues and Hard Rock and which hits a sweet spot that few have in 2020. It’s also an album that isn’t afraid to be different and aren’t afraid to pack in 15 diverse tracks either. As Hoss puts it “Our favourite bands wrote and recorded over a vast array of genres and styles and we felt that made the albums more interesting to listen to. The album title came from a friend of ours who once described our rehearsals as a Ramshackle jam.” These guys could well be your new favourite band.

Read the review here | Interview with ‘Hoss’ Thompson

 

Lynne Jackaman - One Shot

6. Lynne Jackaman – One Shot

British rock & blues singer/songwriter Lynne Jackaman has released her debut solo album ‘One Shot’ on August 14 through JackamanMusic and it has been making waves in both the US & UK, with her incredible collection of Soul and R&B. If you are unfamiliar with Jackaman then her previous work is something that needs to be checked out, recording with bands like The Quireboys, Thunder & Cormac Neeson and his band The Answer. Factor into that the wonderful Saint Jude, who’s debut album ‘Diary of a Soul Fiend’ showcased the incredible range of her vocal & songwriting talents and you can see that Jackaman’s versatility has been the key to her career so far.

Read the review here | Interview with Lynne Jackaman

 

Blues Pills - Holy Moly!

7. Blues Pills – Holy Moly

Blues Pills are back with their third studio album ‘Holy Moly!’ and it could very well be the best yet.  Released on August 21 through Nuclear Blast, ‘Holy Moly!’ is a collection of eleven songs that will tease and tear at your emotions as well as drag you in to the bands roots & inspirations of yesteryear.

Read the review here | Interview with Zack Anderson

 

The Allman Betts Band - Bless Your Heart

8. The Allman Betts Band – Bless Your Heart

The first thing that hits you about ‘Pale Horse Rider’ the atmospheric opening track and first single from The Allman Betts Band’s new release ‘Bless Your Heart’ is how timeless it sounds, the cascading guitars and the wonderful vocal, it’s a great song to start a new page in the new legacy, but it’s just the first shot fired on an album that continues to hit some fine notes.

Read the review here

 

Dion - Blues With Friends

9. Dion – Blues With Friends

Music has an amazing power to bring back so many wonderful memories. When I was growing up, I have early recollections of my Dad playing rock n’ roll tunes on long car journeys and one such track was ‘The Wanderer’ by Dion (formerly with The Belmonts). This was probably my first real taste of music as a whole and as my love & appreciation for music evolved, these memories once again came flooding back in 1984 when Status Quo recorded & released their version of the same song for inclusion on their ‘Twelve Gold bars Vol.2’ album. Roll forward to 2020 and once again I find myself recalling those early years, as a now eighty-year old Dion has released a wonderful blues infused album entitled ‘Blues with Friends’, featuring a host of globally recognized artists to accompany the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Famer on fourteen original tracks.

Read the review here

 

Mike Elrington - Aftershock

10. Mike Elrington – Aftershock

Victoria-based Bluesman Mike Elrington has released his ninth album ‘Aftershock’ and it’s one that could cement itself as one of the front runners for Australian Blues & Roots Album of the Year, consisting of twelve-tracks of high quality and with Elrington daring to experiment with varying genres at times, you could be fooled into raising your eyebrows but it works so well and adds to the albums attraction. Written & fueled by the break-up of his marriage, Elrington has used his pain & heartbreak to create a body of work that people going through similar life changes can relate to and this is immediately evident in many of the song titles.

Read the review here | Interview with Mike Elrington

 

 

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