Songs I Really Like So Far (2016 First Half)

Well, since I’ve still got my ear affecting me (not to a major extent, admittedly, but certainly not enough for me to feel ready to return to reviewing), I figured that it might be worth doing an article discussing the songs that I feel have most impressed me so far this year. This is strictly a chance for me to discuss some of the songs that I personally have really enjoyed from this year and is no way intended as a list of “best songs ever” or anything like that, so consider this just a chance to see what has stood out to me so far this year on the song front.

So, with that in mind, here’s the songs that have stood out to me so far this year!

HoneyWorks – ‘Magic Melody’

People who know me offline will know that I have an interest in Vocaloid music. Vocaloid is a hard genre to pin down, as it technically isn’t just one genre, but more a variety of genres tied together through the fact that they use a “singer in a box” kind of thing. Think of it as kind of like Gorillaz meets modern pop music and you’re thinking along the right basic lines, except that you don’t have to restrict yourself to just the one genre (I’ve even heard extreme metal Vocaloid music!) and the voice is instead done through a voice bank provided by the Vocaloid’s voice provider which includes every consonant and vowel and whatnot in their appropriate language and at every pitch to provide a vocal range as opposed to a live performer who simply goes under different name…OK, maybe Gorillaz is a bad comparison, when I say that out loud!

Anyway, Vocaloid is generally noted for being a Japanese thing, but it actually was first created in Spain and the first Vocaloids were actually English language voice banks. You’d not think this if your only familiarity with Vocaloid is through Hatsune Miku, though, as the largest audience for Vocaloid music is Japan and it first gained prominence entirely thanks to Japanese Vocaloids. Nowadays, Vocaloid is still generally restricted to Asian countries, with Vocaloids that are Korean, Japanese and Chinese being available, but Spanish Vocaloids and English Vocaloids do still exist.

My first pick, surprisingly, is a Vocaloid that is Chinese, but sings with a Taiwanese accent: Xin Hua. Intended to appeal to the Taiwanese market, her success was somewhat debatable (she was successful, but some reports I’ve read indicate that her voice is difficult to understand to both Taiwanese and Chinese listeners), but one of her songs happened to cross my path fairly recently which really stood out to me. That song, ‘Magic Melody’, is a song which, on paper, sounds kind of unimpressive: it’s a fairly simple pop song which combines elements of rock into it and doesn’t include anything of earth shattering technicality at all.

And you know what? It works very well like that. It doesn’t over complicate itself, it has a genuinely great chorus and it has a vibe which makes it just pure fun to listen to. I could see a lot of people finding it underwhelming and it certainly isn’t going to be a song which I can see appealing to most metal fans, but, for me, it’s a genuinely enjoyable song which I’m happy to listen to in my free time!

Ignite – ‘Begin Again’

Stomping onto this list at the start of the year is usually a sign of one of two things: incredibly low standards or a truly excellent song. Jury’s out on which applies here, but I have to say that this song really surprised me when I first heard it. I had picked up the record partially because I was wanting to play something on the radio which was new and I hadn’t wanted to pick up Bowie’s new release (a decision I regretted a few days later, for the record!), but I was also curious to see how Ignite would follow up Our Darkest Days, which was a huge surprise when I heard it for being a genuinely excellent melodic hardcore record.

‘Begin Again’ being the first song on the record means it was the first thing I heard from it and it just won a place in my heart right away. It felt like a perfect way to start off the year with the lyrics and some great music behind it. Teglas’ vocals have definitely deteriorated since the last Ignite record, but they’re not bad by any measure and he has a huge amount of enthusiasm in the track which shows that he hasn’t lost anything from The Darkest Days.

Time since then has slightly diminished the impact of ‘Begin Again’ to me, but it still is a song which I return to with fondness. The lyrics still hold up fairly well and the music, while simple, is still strong enough to help the song hold up well. It might not be most people’s first pick for a song to sum up the year, but it is a pretty good song and it certainly is one of 2016’s strongest punk songs in my book.

One Last Run – ‘Tell Me’

Female fronted rock bands seem to end up inviting comparisons to Halestorm or Paramore these days. While I can understand why this has happened, as those bands are about the most prominent bands in that spectrum of things, I can’t help feeling that this is a bit of a case of pop culture forgetting that all female rock bands, let alone female rock musicians, haven’t actually been a new thing in rock music since the 60s (if you believe otherwise, Goldie and the Gingerbreads want a word with you) and them being the first comparison points is somewhat dismissive of that fact.

Ironically, considering the previous paragraph, One Last Run are a band that do invite the Halestorm comparison quite justifiably, as they are a female fronted rock band who play hard rock which arguably takes more than a bit of influence from post-grunge. That said, I’ve personally always thought of them as kind of like New Device if Daniel Leigh was female and I might well be onto something, as both bands are British and their sounds certainly are similar enough that you could mistake the bands for each other if you only heard instrumental versions of their songs. This might sound like a dismissive statement, but I honestly like both bands and I don’t have a problem with their similarities: in fact, if anything, I would be all for both bands touring together, because I think fans of both bands will get on like a house on fire!

‘Tell Me’ might be a strange pick to include in this list, considering it is a ballad by the band rather than a rockier track like, say, ‘Unbreakable’, but it’s one of the few ballads by a modern British hard rock band which I can honestly say that I really enjoy! Most hard rock ballads, especially ones by British bands, tend to feel throwaway to me and more akin to a token addition to the record in an attempt at airplay rather than a genuinely strong song in its own right, but ‘Tell Me’ doesn’t give me that vibe at all. It’s a song which genuinely is strong enough to stand up on its own two feet, with a strong chorus, performances which support the song well and an excellent vocal performance from vocalist Becky Roberts. While fans of rockier tracks might find this lacking that special something to truly ascend it to the level of the greats, it’s a surprisingly good song from a band who I think have a lot of potential to go far in the future.

Dynazty – ‘The Human Paradox’

It’s rare that I find a song which I love from the first listen and which I stumbled across purely by chance. It’s especially rare for this to happen in a genre which is typically full to the brim with artists who seem to get by producing just acceptable material. It’s even rarer for this song to impress me so much that I play it on repeat for hours without it feeling like it has gotten any less impressive with time and which I love so much that I am willing to hear the rest of the record just from that song, hype and whatnot be damned. But a song which does all of that AND which I feel is so good that I cannot justify to myself not playing it on the radio and sharing with people I know…that might as well be a once in a blue moon event.

Dynazty’s ‘The Human Paradox’ is one of those songs that did all of that. A song which manages to hit the perfect sweet spot between being melodic and catchy and being heavy and aggressive while containing some very strong performances (for heavy metal/hard rock standards, at least: this isn’t progressive territory at all!) and a lyric which really got me thinking on the concept of morality a lot more than I usually do (“Can you really tell me what is right or wrong/when they’re two sides of the same coin” isn’t exactly Beyond Good and Evil levels of philosophy, I’ll admit, but it does bring up a surprisingly good point when you think about it hard enough), this is a song which I still absolutely love listening to now.

Rick Springfield – ‘Crowded Solitude’

Modern day country music is not something that I normally have a lot of regard for, I’ll admit. While I do appreciate why some artists go for a country pop style, it just falls flat for me because it tends to end up coming across as being pop music with country instruments added in and a heavy American accent. That doesn’t mean I don’t necessarily enjoy it when it is done well, but I wouldn’t exactly shed any tears if country pop disappeared overnight because I’m much more fond of the older style of country music by the likes of Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson and Dolly Parton.

Still, I’m big enough to admit it when I hear a record with country influences to it that I like and Rick Springfield’s Rocket Science is a pretty good record in my book. It was really quite tough to nail down which song to include in this list, if I’m completely honest, and it eventually came down to a three way tie between ‘Crowded Solitude’, ‘All Hands on Deck’ and ‘Earth to Angel’, all of which are genuinely great songs which I love singing along to now.

Since I can’t give three slots on the list to one artist, however, I eventually asked myself which one of them I felt the more comfortable standing behind and I finally came up with ‘Crowded Solitude’ as the final pick. While some of the lyrics can induce a bit of eye rolling, the song itself is incredibly strong, with a great chorus, some excellent performances and a surprisingly good vocal performance from a man old enough to be my grandfather.

Phantom 5 – ‘Blue Dog’

Supergroups are a tricky thing: on the one hand, you have musicians from highly regarded bands working together, which naturally means that you know to expect a solid record because the musicians know what goes into making a solid record, but, on the other hand, most supergroups rarely manage to do anything more impressive than that, as they rarely tend to include any musician who is a key songwriter to one of the highly regarded bands that comprise the supergroup and, on top of that, most supergroups comprise musicians who have never written music together, meaning there are a lot of teething problems as the musicians work out who is capable of what together. All of which, effectively, means that you’re often looking at a completely unproven band with the scrutiny of a top tier release.

Still, that doesn’t mean supergroups cannot put out good material (see The Traveling Wilburys or Cream for proof of that!) and, while I don’t think Phantom 5 quite manage to pull off a success on the levels of the greatest supergroups, they don’t disappoint either, with some great songs that I still enjoy now. My personal favourite, however, is a track which pretty much sums up what a truly great pub should be like: hospitable to strangers, drinks which don’t cost the world, open all night and great staff. Not that that’s all the song is about…

The song itself has a great chorus as well, a strong vocal performance and some great instrumental performances. While ‘Blue Dog’ might not be the best song ever written, it’s a genuinely fun one which will stay on my listening list for a long time…and might just amuse a few pub landlords on my travels as well!

Drive, She Said – ‘In R Blood’

I’ll freely admit that I love melodic hard rock. While most people might regard such a statement as proof that I’m no better than most pop fans, I honestly find that the strong sense of melody to the music is what helps keep it memorable. True, this sense of melody does make it a bit harder to sound distinct in the grand scheme of things, but you at least know that you’ll remember SOMETHING when you listen to a melodic hard rock record, which is all cool in my book and certainly a lot better than something which only leaves an impact because it makes you run screaming away from it due to the sound being godawful, like with crunkcore (my apologies to crunkcore fans, I just can’t stand the genre!).

Drive, She Said are a band who I honestly didn’t have high expectations for when I first heard about them. Granted, they shot themselves in the foot a bit by making themselves nigh on impossible to find anything about, but the fact they hadn’t released anything for around a decade also set off alarm bells for me. Still, I found myself eating my words fairly quickly when I did actually listen to their album, as it was a pretty great record overall! I had to agonise a bit over whether to give the slot on this list to this song or ‘Lost in You’, but, while the latter is more unusual, has crossover potential with dance fans and carries itself well, this is the song which I feel is the stronger listening experience overall. A truly magnificent chorus, a great vocal performance and some great instrumental performances with a sound that is surprisingly distinct from the rank and file of the melodic hard rock scene, this is one song that I just couldn’t help loving from the first listen!

Nordic Union – ‘21 Guns’

With the benefit of hindsight, I feel I was a bit unnecessarily harsh on Nordic Union’s debut. I think part of the problem is that I went into it with the expectation of hearing Ronnie Atkins doing a vocal performance like on Avantasia’s ‘Invoke the Machine’ and I missed some strengths to the record that I should have picked up upon at the time. While I do think that calling it one of the year’s strongest albums would be hard to justify, it’s certainly not a record that I feel I did justice to when I originally covered it.

Still, if there’s one thing which hasn’t changed since my review, it is that ‘21 Guns’ is still a song which I really enjoy replaying every now and then. Being the closest the record comes to letting Atkins cut loose and truly offer his own unique edge to the record’s vocals rather than sounding like an interchangeable melodic hard rock singer wins it points on paper, but the fact that the song has a great chorus, some excellent performances (the drumming is particularly interesting to listen to) and some interesting ideas in it makes it one of the strongest songs on the record by a good measure and certainly worthy of hearing again and again.

Universal Mind Project – ‘Truth’

I thought I was done with being surprised by debut albums by bands without any previously established members, but this year proved me wrong when Universal Mind Project’s The Jaguar Priest crossed my path. With members who pretty much came from nowhere (aside from drummer Alex Landenburg, who has been part of Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody since 2012) and the songwriting handled by musicians who had never been proven as songwriters to most people, this record could have all too easily turned out to be a record which was boosted up more by the presence of guest musicians over actual musical quality.

The fact that my first sentence pretty much stated that this was a surprise and the fact one of the songs has a presence on this list should tell you that this was not the case at all. The whole record has stood up surprisingly well in the last year or so in my eyes, but, if I had to pick one song to sum up the record perfectly, I’d have to go for ‘Truth’. It has wonderful vocal performances from all of the vocalists on the track, some excellent instrumental performances and one of the catchiest choruses that I’ve heard this year in progressive power metal circles. A genuinely great song that I could see being a highlight of the year!

InnerWish – ‘Roll the Dice’

I had to agonise a bit over putting this one on the list, I’ll admit, as I had originally not been convinced by this record and, even now, I’m wondering if there’s something that I don’t get about it which a lot of other people seem to get. It seemed like a step back from Diviner’s debut to me and, while I didn’t think it was a bad record (and still don’t!), I couldn’t see what all the big fuss was about it. Maybe it’ll all click into place when I relisten to the record as preparation for the end of year article, I don’t know…

Still, if you find a great song, you might as well talk about it and ‘Roll the Dice’ certainly fits that category, as it hasn’t left my mind since the record it was on came to my attention. With a chorus that is great fun to sing along to (I still do that now absentmindedly, it’s that good!) and hitting all of the right notes one would expect from a great power/heavy metal song, this song got the record off on a truly excellent note and is still one of the strongest album openers that I’ve heard this year. Say what you will about the rest of the record, but it’s hard to deny that InnerWish know how to open excellently!

Issues – ‘Home Soon’

One of the things that always engages my attention is genuinely excellent examples of music which plays about with genres. Some among the elitist metal scenes may regard this as a blasphemous statement, but I’ve always felt that there is room in the genre for subgenres which maybe aren’t metal in the strictest of senses (like metalcore and nu-metal), as what they offer is quite unique in comparison to the old school metal genres and their attempts to move the genre into new and interesting directions shows that the genre still has a lot of room to grow. As such, any artist trying something which is genuinely new in the music landscape tends to get my respect even if I don’t necessarily like the final result. Volbeat and Amaranthe spring to mind at the moment on the metal side, but this can even apply to the earlier discussed Vocaloid music or even Hakon Kornstad (who combines opera with jazz).

With that fact in mind, you might be surprised to find that Issues were a band that I didn’t take get the appeal behind on my first listen to ‘Hooligans’. Their combination of metalcore, nu-metal and Top 40 music seemed like a bad idea to me (granted, I’m not the biggest nu-metal fan to start with!) and, while I gave them a fair shot, it didn’t really click with me at first. But then I found myself remembering the song better than I thought I did and feeling that it was better than I had given it credit for, so I gave it another go and I was hooked after that!

While I haven’t had a chance to listen to Headspace in its entirety yet (again, ear issues), I did check out bits of it in preparation for my radio show and I fell in love with ‘Home Soon’ from the very first listen. While a far more traditional track than ‘Hooligans’ in terms of overall sound, it manages to come out as an incredibly strong track that, while not the most technical of songs overall, does everything I could reasonably ask of it and does it very well. Definitely worth checking out if their style of music sounds appealing to you at all!

Treat – ‘I Don’t Miss the Misery’

Time hasn’t really been kind to Treat’s Ghost of Graceland for me, I’ll admit. While it was a surprisingly fun listen and still is, I can’t deny that my enthusiasm for the record as a whole has tried up since my review of it. It’s not a bad record, I should stress, but I haven’t really felt a need to listen to the record as a whole since the review of it went live and I feel that I may have been more enthusiastic about the record than it really deserved.

Still, I’d be lying if I said it had failed to offer any entertainment value to me at all and ‘I Don’t Miss the Misery’ is still a song that I feel deserves the praise that the record as a whole got in my review. While not original in the slightest, it has a great instrumental side to it and, some studio trickery on the vocals notwithstanding, I can’t say the vocal side of the song is bad at all. The chorus is also pretty solid as well. There’s also a personal reason why I like this song so much, as it has helped me on two levels personally: it helped me to pull myself out of a depressive streak around the time of the record’s release which threatened to turn into something more serious and it made me realise that I’d been holding onto my past too much and finally encouraged me to let go of the past enough to finally feel that I can talk about it properly and see the good side of what happened in that period of time which I’d long forgotten out of my own determination not to think back on my past.

When a song outright helps you to recover from issues, it deserves the highest of praises in my book, genre or quality of it be damned, and ‘I Don’t Miss The Misery’ is one example of such a song being also a great song in its own right.

Axel Rudi Pell – ‘All Along the Watchtower’

Most long time readers will be aware that I wasn’t the most enthusiastic about Jorn’s upcoming cover album, Heavy Rock Radio. Honestly, I rarely find cover versions worth listening to over the original song, as artists tend to either play the song exactly the same way as the original (which just begs the question of why you’re not just listening to the original track) or try to put a new spin on a song and fail because it doesn’t nail down that which made the original so good.

So the presence of a cover of one of the most iconic songs in rock history on this list might raise more than a few eyebrows. Certainly, I’m not going to lie and say that Axel Rudi Pell manage to outdo the original song by any measure. What they DO do, however, is what any good cover should do: capture the original spirit of the song while giving it a completely new coat of paint that suits what the band normally sound like. This is a cover which gives the song a truly epic atmosphere that ascends the song to the level that it makes the song truly feel like it is telling a story that the music supports, but doesn’t come across as overly technical just for the sake of being technical. One of the greatest covers of the year? Probably not, but I can’t think of a more appropriate way to cover ‘All Along the Watchtower’ and it is certainly the best cover I’ve heard this year, so make of that what you will.

Sunburst – ‘Reincarnation’

Considering I still go on about Fragments of Creation as being one of my guaranteed picks for record of the year now, at least three months after my review of it was released, it should be no surprise to find a Sunburst song on this list. I genuinely was tempted to just save myself a lot of trouble and say “The whole damn album” for this pick, but, since I have a rule of sticking to just the one song for each artist, I figured that I might as well pick the song which I feel is truly the greatest on the record and, after some debate, I finally narrowed it down to this one song.

To say this song is a masterpiece in my eyes would be an understatement. There are literally no criticisms that I have of it: all of the performances on the song are excellent, the songwriting is complicated without being inaccessible, the sound includes influences from enough genres that it would be impossible to call it anything except for metal (although the fact that the song sounds like something out of a Nevermore album might be a sticking point for some people) and it is a highly memorable track which is impossible to forget from the first listen. One of the best songs of the year in my book, without a shadow of a doubt!

Bonnie & The Groove Cats – ‘Summertime’

A more unusual choice in comparison to the rest of the list, I’ll admit, but one which is a genuinely fun listen. Bonnie & The Groove Cats are a female fronted rock n roll revival band from Switzerland who aren’t exactly on most people’s radar, but have released three albums in total and who I originally checked out out of mere curiosity as opposed to already loving them. Feelgood was a very pleasant surprise to me, but the song which always stood out to me is ‘Summertime’, a song which pretty much manages to capture the sound of summer in just under three minutes.

This isn’t a complicated song at all and it is so far from offering anything new that you’d have to have lived in a cave for over seventy years to find anything new in the music landscape in the record as a whole, let alone in this song, but it’s a genuinely pleasant listening experience which is well performed and there’s nothing wrong with that!

…What? Sometimes my reasons for liking songs don’t have to be deep and require entire paragraphs to explain!

Rapheumets Well – ‘Resurrecting the Blood Gate’

If you’d told me this time last year that I’d have been regarding an extreme metal song as one of the best songs of the year, I would have thought you were nuttier than squirrel shit. While I never hated extreme metal, I just didn’t get the appeal behind it and I wasn’t exactly eager to change my opinion on it at the time. For me, extreme metal fell into the trap of trying too hard to be heavy and aggressive without having anything underneath to justify it being like that and I just couldn’t see how a band could produce a record with extreme metal vocals alone.

Of course, that is not my opinion now and Rapheumets Well were one of the bands that helped me to realise my mistake. Progressive death/black metal with some slight touches of symphonic and melodic music, The Exile pretty much could have been a counter-response to my old opinion on the extreme metal spectrum and it shattered that old opinion so rapidly that I dare say that The Exile might well be one of the most important records to my development as an extreme metal fan.

It started this whole development off in style with opener ‘Resurrecting the Blood Gate’, which shattered that old opinion right from the word go with an epic combination of complicated music (even some acoustic moments slip into it), impressive extreme metal vocals and one of the most memorable choruses I’d ever heard in extreme metal. Time has not diminished the impact of this song at all: in fact, if anything, I think it has gotten even stronger with time! If you’re not an extreme metal fan, this might be a bit too far down the rabbit hole to convince you to change your mind, but extreme metal fans should absolutely love this song and it is an extreme metal song which I will always remember for proving to me that there was a lot more to extreme metal than I’d previously thought!

Crimson Moonlight – ‘The Dogma of Chalcedon’

Another one gaining the “taught me that extreme metal had more to it than I thought” praise, Crimson Moonlight’s Divine Darkness was pretty much the moment the floodgates finally opened to accepting extreme metal to me, with uncompromising dedication to the genres it takes influence from (black metal and death metal) that simultaneously has enough melody for even my unprepared ears to appreciate. That this album still occupies a place in my thoughts now whenever I personally think of extreme metal is a testament to its impact upon me and the fact that I nearly passed over covering it when I received the promo honestly astonishes me with hindsight!

As such, I feel this list would be incomplete if I didn’t mention the album’s opening track, ‘The Dogma of Chalcedon’, in this list. Hitting with the ferocity of a freight train and with some quite impressive vocals, the whole song might be one of the biggest surprises my ears have ever been exposed to. Whether the song is going to be for you or not will depend on your personal fondness for extreme metal, but I can honestly say that it made a convert out of me and still stands as one of my favourite extreme metal songs of the year, despite some later material that’s made the original impact of the song less impressive overall.

Salem – ‘Toy Story’

Observant fans will have noticed that this list hasn’t touched upon the NWOBHM genre of the metal genre. That’s because…well, there’s only been 6 NWOBHM releases so far this year (Millennium’s Caught in a Warzone, Oxym’s Passing Through Gateways, Steve Crowther Band’s Flight of the Crow, Vardis’ Red Eye, Diamond Head’s self-titled album and Salem’s Dark Days) and I’ve not really had a chance to listen to any of them up aside from Salem’s record. While six NWOBHM records in just under six months might sound pretty impressive on paper, this is an absolutely tiny amount of albums when you consider that every week usually sees at least a dozen new metal albums released!

Luckily, Salem didn’t disappoint at all with Dark Days, being a record that shows that the band have managed to transform themselves from an easily forgotten band in the 80s to a highly respectable modern traditional heavy metal band who deserve to be paid attention to by fans of such a genre of music. Yet there is one song on the record that I simply have always quite enjoyed because it is a simple, but fun track that has a great chorus, respectable performances that fit what the music is doing and some great vocals. That song, of course, is ‘Toy Story’, which I still find a fun little listen now!

Windy – ‘Arms’

One of the things that made me realise that I am getting too grumpy and cynical in my old(er) age is the fact that I just can’t find any modern British folk music which gives me the same thrill that the likes of The Dubliners, Planxty and Steeleye Span do. Sure, bands like Bellowhead are enjoyable and have their strengths, but they don’t have the same life and spark of the old stuff which makes you want to sing along and dance to their music. Most people seem to think indie folk like Mumford & Sons is what makes good folk, which clashes with my love of the highly energetic styles like Irish folk and Northumbrian folk and also makes me wonder whether people even know what makes proper folk music these days. Hint: it isn’t something which sounds like the vocalist is singing while half asleep!

But enough about me sounding like I’m complaining about the young uns wandering on my lawn, let’s turn to some more modern folk which I actually like (and which, ironically, sounds exactly like the sort of folk music I’ve just railed against). Windy is an artist that I literally can find nothing about (and believe me, I’ve tried!), but, whoever they are, their song ‘Arms’ is one which I took a surprise liking towards. On paper, it sounds exactly like the sort of thing I’d dislike: the vocals are more in the indie folk vibe (though with more of a hint towards actual folk stylings), the music isn’t especially energetic and it bears more than a slight resemblance to Ewan MacColl’s track ‘The Young Trooper Cut Down in His Prime’, one of my favourite folk songs of all time (especially the original by Mr. MacColl himself!).

And yet…I can’t dislike this song at all. It presents a surprisingly strong image of modern day life while still containing some surprisingly touching lyrics that show how a father’s love can be a very powerful thing to feel, no matter what you do in life. It’s not a song that is necessarily great, but it is one which I can attest is a lot more accurate to reality than it has any right to be and it holds a place in my heart for that same reason.

Ted Poley – ‘Higher’

Solo careers are difficult things to do well, especially if you’re known for being a member (former or current) of a well known or respected band. On the one hand, it’s a great opportunity to show what the artist is really like outside of the band and gives them the opportunity to try out new things…but, on the other hand, it also comes with the expectation of having the same level of quality as the other works connected to your name, which can make going completely out of the genre your name is connected towards a very difficult thing to do well.

Ted Poley doesn’t quite go to that extent, sticking for a melodic hard rock sound that is still close enough to the genre of his well known band (Danger Danger) avoid alienating long time fans of his work, but his most recent solo album is still much better than might be expected on paper, showing a guy who still has a great voice on him after about three decades of performing and with some great songwriting from the Martin brothers (best known for being part of Vega). It’s a generally great record overall, but I have to say that ‘Higher’ is the song that I could listen to forever if I had to. With a truly excellent chorus, strong music and great performances (the lead guitar in particular is a joy to behold), this is one song that will never leave my personal listening!

Bridgeville – ‘Save Me’

Old school hard rock is something which you’d be forgiven for thinking has gone the way of the dodo. Maybe it’s the lack of interest in cowbells (cue Christopher Walken references in 3…), but there’s just something that I always find missing in modern hard rock which makes it feel incomplete to my ears.

Luckily, Bridgeville (comprising members of the band Iron Fire, both past and present) seem to be on my wavelength, as their album Aftershock is a genuinely fun old school hard rock record that is hard not to enjoy. Yet there is one song which I feel hits the spot perfectly for my personal listening experience and that is ‘Save Me’. A song that dances the line between being a rocker and a ballad, with some great performances on all fronts and the use of old school percussion instruments like tambourines to bring back a vibe that a lot of modern hard rock records just don’t manage, this is a surprisingly fun ballad which I just can’t help enjoying. If you miss some old school percussion in your hard rock, then this is the prescription to your fever!

…Also, yes, this song does include cowbells. SNL fans, I’m giving you an easy one here!

So that’s just a few of the songs that I personally really enjoy re-listening to that have been released this year. Think I’ve missed anything really interesting? Feel free to let me know!