RPM Online Album Of The Year

Well, we’ve reached that time of year again where the writers of RPM were forced into the voting both given a blunt pencil and forced to vote for their album of the year.  Unlike a certain General Election result this time I don’t think people were too disappointed with the final result and by a landslide rock and Roll won.

 

Interestingly this years winner didn’t win any single writers vote but featured very heavily throughout the writers lists more than any other artist or artists so its a fair cop guv and, to be honest, had the live show count been anything to go by it was a landslide and another good year all around. With writers coming from several continents and five different countries there might be a few miles between us but we all have some things in common and one of those is a love for Rock and Roll. I’m sure had it been a Top 20 people would have still had a headache as to what to put in.  Don’t let anyone tell you that it’s been a shit year for new music as there were plenty of records released and many of them reviewed on RPM Online and with over 50 albums getting a mention from the team of writers (that’s just their top 10!).

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank not only all the artists who’ve released new records in 2019 and to all the excellent press departments and Labels especially the independent ones who’ve worked tirelessly to bring us the music and obviously to the songwriters and musicians whose work we’ve had many many hours of enjoyment listening to and raving about you know who you are many of whom it’s been a pleasure to get to know throughout the year.

What we’ll do is give the top ten a rundown in reverse order then each individual writers ten albums in no particular order so here goes.

Number 10

Duff McKagan – ‘Tenderness’ (UMC)

Review 

 

Number 9

Jim Jone & The Righteous Mind – ‘Collectiv’ (MaSonic Records)

Review

 

Number 8

Jesse Malin – ‘Sunset Kids’ (Wicked Cool Records)

Review

 

Number 7

Redd Kross – ‘Beyond The Door’ (Merge Records)

Review 

 

Number 6

Rich Ragany & The Digressions – ‘…Like We’ll Never Make It!…'(Glunk Records)

Review

 

Number 5

Andy McCoy – ’21st Century Rocks’ (Ainoa Productions)

Review

 

 

Number 4

Hunt Sales Memorial – ‘Get Your Shit Together’ ( Big Legal Mess Records)

Review

 

Number 3 

The Hip Priests – ‘Stand For Nothing’ (several independent labels)

Review 

 

Number 2

The Wildhearts – ‘Renaissance Men’ (Graphite Records)

Review 

 

Number 1

Michael Monroe – ‘One Man Gang’ (Silver Lining Music)

Review 

 

 

So congratulations to all the bands who made the RPM Online top ten.  Especially Michael Monroe for taking top spot in the hotly contested category as well as all the ones that didn’t there were dozens and dozens of albums released in 2019 that we reviewed.  We managed to catch up with a few of the bands who made it onto the pages of RPM Online in 2019 to find out what made it onto their turntables this year and to find out any highlights they might have had.  Here is some beginning with Jeff from The Brothers Steve…

 

Jeff Whalen (Guitar /Vocals – The Brothers Steve)

“I don’t think I listened to any records that came out in 2019!  So I picked my top 5 records that were new to me in 2019!”

 Tiny TimGod Bless Tiny Tim
The BeaglesHere Come the Beagles
White ReaperThe World’s Best American Band
The SpeediesYou Need Pop
The MillenniumBegin
Rich Jones Guitarist (Michael Monroe/Black Halos)
Pup – Morbid Stuff
The Wildhearts – Renaissance Men
Jeff Rosenstock – Thanks, Sorry! / Sorry, Thanks!
Berlin Blackouts – Nastygram Sedition
The Menzingers – Hello Exile
BEST RE-ISSUE: The Replacements – Dead Man’s Pop
Duncan Reid – Duncan Reid & The Big Heads
Starcrawler – ‘Devour You’ (especially the track No More Pennies)
2 Albums which spoke to my Country Side:
The long Ryders – ‘Psychedelic Country Soul’ (especially Greenville)
Kim Lenz – S’lowly Speeding’
Not an album but the single ‘Fire Ready Aim’ by Green Day which was superb
And The Baby shakes  ‘Cause a Scene’  (especially the title track)
As for Highlights, there were Many highlights of 2019 especially Rebellion which went superbly for us and I’m really looking forward to the release of our new album early 2020 as well as playing the Kubix Festival.
Steve Coulter – (Drums) The Brothers Steve 
The Gold—T’he Gold’
The Armoires – ‘Zibaldone’
The Cutthroat Brothers – ‘Taste For Evil’
The Coolies – ‘Uh Oh! It’s…The Coolies’
The New Pornographers – ‘In The Morse Code Of Brake Lights’
As for the highlights of 2019 it has to be making the Brothers Steve ‘#1’ & The Go All The Ways as well as writing about music ‘Go All The Way A Literary Appreciation Of Power Pop!

Lee Love (The Hip Priests)

Clowns – ‘Nature/Nurture’

TV Crime – ‘Metal Town’

Bitch Queens – ‘City Of Class’

The Drippers – ‘Action Rock’

Schizophonics – ‘People In The Sky’

 

Melchior Quitt (Bitch Queens)

Clowns – ‘Nature / Nature’

Amyl & The Sniffers – ‘Amyl & The Sniffers’

The Hip Priests – ‘Stand For Nothing’

Saint Agnes – ‘Welcome To Silvertown’

The Schizophonics – ‘People In The Sky’

As for the Highlight of 2019, There are several. Two for Bitch Queens were to put out our brand new album ‘City Of Class’ and to finish our new recording studio to keep on doin’ what we are doin’ far away from the big business.

The Best event this year was Sjock. “What could be better than hanging out with my boys from The Hip Priests and seeing the best Action Rock bands from all around the world! I am looking forward to touring with Bitch Queens in Europe next year and to record a shitload of new singles and split 7“ And of course, there are two of the probably best records 2020 in the pipeline – The Good, the Bad & the Zugly and Kvelertak. 2020 is gonna be good!

Mathius Engelbrekt Carlsson – “Demons”  – 
 All right. My top picks for 2019.
Jeff Dahl – ‘Electric Junk’
Guitar Wolf – ‘Love & Jett’
Amyl & The Sniffers – ‘Amyl & The Sniffers’
The Hip Priests – ‘Stand for Nothing’
Bitch Queens – ‘City of Class’
The Drippers – ‘Action Rock’
Dead Furies – ‘Stay Gold Ponyboy’
“One of few highlights of 2019 was getting ‘Kiss Off’ off the ground. This has been one of those years. For music it has been a great year though and especially for Rock’n’Roll.
Next year it’s the 25th anniversary for “DEMONS” and we hope that we can tour as much as possible starting with Japan in January. A new record will be out as well as some old stuff. Hopefully our first unreleased album and possibly a Demonology II. See you on the other side.”

Bath Komedia was a new venue for the intrepid travellers from South Wales but we love an adventure and tonight we had to get there on time to catch the support of Janus Stark seeing as we’ve heard the new album and loved what we heard and wanted to see if Gizz Butt could knock it out live. After negotiating the Bath one-way system and eventually finding a place to park by the time we reached the venue the band had already taken the stage and were knocking out songs old and new.  they reminded me of a punkier Eureka Machines and Gizz is something of a guitar players guitarist with a great sound in the venue they were entertaining and engaging and the catchy power pop/rock sounded great. these were the perfect opener for The Wildhearts and ending the set with the best track off ‘Great Adventure Cigar’ was a bonus because ‘Every Little Thing Counts’ is just about spot on.  I can look forward to hearing a lot more of the band when the album is released hopefully in December.

When it was announced that The Wildhearts were adding another string of dates and that there would be the Renaissance Men tour part 2 I couldn’t wait to get another slice of loud rock’n’roll live-action after catching the boys in Cardiff on the first leg of the tour earlier in the year.

The nearest venue to me was the Komedia in Bath with a couple of hundred miles round trip (on a school night) I planned my latest Wildhearts action. Around 9:15 pm I heard the opening guitar riff to the lead-off track to the bands latest great ep the title track ‘Diagnosis’ and bam the band were on stage and away we go. 

The band are tight and as the glorious noize of ‘Diagnosis’ comes to an end the band launch into another Renaissance men soon to be live classic ‘let em go’ and this anthem gets the Bath crowd jumping and singing along with Cj taking lead vocals on the bridge doing the Frank Turner vocals.  Next up we have that all-time classic hearts tune ‘I Wanna Go Where The People Go’ and Ginger is on top form with some blistering guitar work and those rough yet melodic vocals of his soaring loud and proud. Some familiar favourites such as ‘Sick Of Drugs’ is welcomed and this night is turning out to be a show and a half as both band and crowd are right up for it in the confines of a really nice tight venue tucked away in the narrow streets of Bath.

‘The Revolution Will Be Televised’ sees the white album being represented and this leads us into ‘My Kinda Movie’.  Ginger announces that each band member is taking his turn in picking a track to play live and tonight’s choice is by Danny and what has mister McCormack picked, well he’s treated us to a P.H.U.Q. b-side the stunning “Mindslide” and that throbbing bass of his leads us into a rare treat and what seeing The Wildhearts on form is all about. ‘Caffeine Bomb’ is up next and this fast as lightning track showcases what a machine of a drummer Ritch Battersby is and why he is one of my favourite drummers and boy does he hit those skins hard.

‘Dislocated’ is greeted by this reviewer with a huge smile on my chops as this is my favourite track off ‘The Renaissance Men’ album and the guys blast it out with some real punk rock fury.  Great also to hear “Jackson Whites” being blasted through again at a furious pace. A real fan favourite is “Red light green light” and already this set is proving to be an excellent reason to venture out on a School night for a shot of Rock and Roll – could this night get any better?

‘Vanilla Radio’ has the Bath crowd singing “where’s my Elvis” in unison and that leads us into the 5th ‘Renaissance Men’ track of the night ‘The Fine Art Of Deception’ which is another Ginger penned classic. Tonight seems like the night for the lesser-known rare track getting a good airing as we are treated to ‘Action Panzer’ Nestled in with all the classics you’d expect to hear at a Wildhearts show.

The lights come up and with that the band walk off to a thunderous roar of appreciation from the crowd  – you’d think there was a couple of thousand in tonight by the sounds of them and shouts of “more, more, more” and as if by magic the boys walk back onstage and launch into the mighty riff of ‘Greetings From Shitsville’ and this crowd goes nuts.  Part two of the encore we are treated to the icing on this particular party cake as the band unleash the stunning earth vs b-side ‘Beautifull Thing You’ and indeed it is a glorious racket of loud harmonic beauty. It’s not quite done yet as there is one last song of the night and the fan fav ’29 X The Pain’ and with both band and fans singing their hearts out it is truly a great end to a special night.

All that is left for this reviewer to say is if you can get to a Wildhearts show please do as the band are on top form and are tight and clearly enjoying themselves and you will not be disappointed. Bring on round three and the doubleheader of the Backyard Babies slugging it out with the in-form and on fire Wildhearts Bring it on! 2020 is shaping up nicely if tonight was anything to go by.

 

Author: Gareth ‘Hotshot’ Hooper

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‘Diagnosis’ Review Here

Tour Dates for 2020 Here 

‘Renaissance Men’ Review Here

 

Hey Wildhearts fans, are you feeling lucky right now?  With a critically acclaimed album in the bag, half their discography remastered and available on vinyl, and more live action than a Pornhub subscription can give you, The Wildhearts are giving their fans everything they desire and more. Did I mention the excellent solo album Ginger just dropped in the middle of all this action? It’s called ‘Headzapoppin’, you should buy it right now.

Well, if your bank account has recovered, even just a little bit, do you think you can handle splashing out a bit more? Because Ginger and co seem to think you can!  How about a six track mini album with 5 brand new songs to back up lead track ‘Diagnosis’, one of the most well received songs from the recent ‘Renaissance Men’ long player. You can even purchase this beast on 10” splatter vinyl if you are that way inclined. Are you salivating yet?

 

If you are reading this then you have probably heard ‘Diagnosis’ more times than you’ve had hot dinners already, it’s a keeper! The building AC/DC riffage that blasts into a gargantuan diatribe, aimed at a system that has fucked so many over. Totally relatable to those who struggle, from the heart of a writer who is struggling more than most of us can imagine. With the anthemic “You’re not an animal” refrain, it has already become a live favourite and it just had to be a single.

 

But let’s concentrate on the new songs shall we.

 

‘God Damn’ sees CJ take lead vocals for a power pop-tastic three and a half minute earworm that wouldn’t sound out of place on one of his own solo albums. Chugging guitars and sneering vocals lead the way. With a signature slow/fast  rifforama section, and enough time signature changes than most metal bands manage on a whole album, it’s an epic burst of sleazy noise, something The Wildhearts do so well. Guaranteed to hit the spot, is there a song more aptly titled right now?

With magnificent, urgent drums from Rich Battersby and killer hooks aplenty, ‘A Song About Drinking’ is a 2 minute incendiary burst of noise. Anthemic gang vocalisin’, fist pumping “woah-woahs” and punky melodies aplenty, all the boxes are ticked. What’s not to like here?

‘Could It Be Just Like The First Time’ starts with the chorus refrain. I feel like I’ve heard it before, and you will too, but Ginger always has that knack right? This is the one out of the five that will imbed itself in your subconscious, grab on tight and refuse to leave.

I wonder if bassist Danny McCormack had a hand in ‘That’s My Girl’? It sure has a rumbling Yo-Yo’s feel to it. Distorted power chords rule with a catchy chorus to boot. It’s all leather jackets, greased back hair and attitude.

Uneasy on the ears and not for the fainthearted, closing song ‘LOCAC’ is a wall of distortion and disjointed riffage that would not sound out of place on ‘Endless Nameless’ or even a Mutation album come to think of it. Brutal heaviness that could possibly make your ears bleed at the right sound level.

 

It’s well known in certain circles that The Wildhearts are the kings of the b sides. How many bands have (or even could) release an album of non-album tracks that can stand tall against their best albums? Oasis have one, anyone else? Well, The Wildhearts could release 3, that is the quality I’m talking about.

And that same quality overflows on this mini album that clocks in at just over 20 minutes. Short, sharp and no fucking about. That seems to be Ginger’s outlook for The Wildhearts in 2019 and who are we to argue? As he has just released the perfect companion to ‘Renaissance Men’ and given his fan base yet another essential release before the year draws to a close.

Buy Diagnosis Here 

Author: Ben Hughes

 

 

 

The Wildhearts are riding on the crest of a wave right now. ‘Renaissance Men’, their first album in 10 years is an absolute monster, it’s currently at number 11 in the album charts and at least 3 of these 8 dates to promote it are already sold out.

It’s not just a good time to be a Wildheart either; it’s a good time to be a Wildhearts fan. With a sizeable chunk of the back catalogue getting re-mastered and re-issued on deluxe vinyl and the promise of plenty more dates this year, it is also an expensive time to be a Wildhearts fan, but we wouldn’t want it any other way would we? In 2019, there is more interest and more excitement about this band than I can ever remember.

Re-united and re-invigorated, the classic line-up of The Wildhearts is back, but are they back for good? Only time will tell. While this current wave of excitement could open doors and see great opportunities for a band who, let’s face it, have certainly paid their dues, I keep getting this niggling feeling that it could all go drastically tits up at any moment. So let’s enjoy it while it lasts.

Talking of things going tits up… fuckin’ Towers Of London are back! Where the hell did that come from?  The original line-up that recorded the most excellent debut album ‘Blood, Sweat & Towers’ and then proceeded to burn out in a blaze of arrests and fisticuffs, are back together. There’s new music on the way too, they have unfinished business to attend to. What a time to be a rock ‘n’ roll fan!

Donny Tourette and the boys take to the stage with air raid sirens blaring and fire straight into ‘I’m A Rat’. It sounds fuckin’ ace! Dressed in matching black boiler suits and shorn of the gravity-defying hair of ten years ago, they may look a bit different, but with a newly reinstated The Rev delivering cool licks and a bare-chested Snell bashing seven shades of shit out of his kit, the band are on fire and looking like they really mean it.

While Donny’s nonchalant punk attitude is more Gallagher than Iggy, the delivery is still fantastic. ‘Beaujolais’ is punked-up to the max goodness, and newbie ‘Get Yourself Out Of Here’ with its chanting chorus and sleazy delivery is full of the right kind of attitude, it promises much for the new album.

A blistering version of ‘Fuck It Up’ surely silences any non-believers in the room and ends a high energy set from a band that is truly back to their best form.

While Towers Of London are not the fucked up kids of yesteryear, they have matured, learned a few things, but still have that edginess I desire from sleazy punk rock. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, no one can deny they were spot on tonight.

Whether they’ve got the new songs to rival the likes of the fantastic ‘Air Guitar’ or ‘On A Noose’ we will see, but I for one can’t wait to find out. Bring on new music, headline gigs and world domination then.

Now, if someone could please explain the appeal of Massive Wagons I would be most grateful, as I don’t get them at all. I’ve tried, but they are just not for me. A band fronted by a diminutive Game Of Thrones extra who sounds like Biff Byford, backed by a band who look like they scan your shopping in Aldi, call me fussy but…

Joking aside, in a live setting I can’t really fault them. They have energy, I’ll give them that much. Baz is an animated frontman and a loveable character, who can work a crowd and The Wildhearts crowd seems to love them. But that’s not enough. It would probably be ok if they had the songs, but for me, Massive Wagons just don’t have the songs, pure and simple.

I’ve seen them live several times now and my opinion hasn’t changed. I’m afraid to say I head for the bar not long into their set. Most Massive Wagons reviews I’ve read are positive, with many citing them ‘retro’. Me, I cite them ‘dated’. And in my defence I present their closing song ‘Fee, Fi, Fo, Fum’ as evidence, the cheesiest song I’ve heard in many years, and on that note I rest my case.

In all my years of seeing Wildhearts live shows, I can honestly say I have never seen a bad one, come to think of it I have never seen even an average live performance from Ginger and co, whatever the line-up has been.

Tonight is no exception, in fact tonight is probably the best I have seen them. It’s up there with the hot and sweaty Bristol Bierkeller show of ’94, its as heavy and loud as Edinburgh and Glasgow were in 2004, and it’s even as euphoric as the Chutzpah! show in Leeds 10 years ago.

From the moment Ginger cranks out that opening riff to ‘Dislocated’, the place goes nuts. Such a great response to a new song. A relentless cacophony of riffs and melodies that has the pit bouncing as one, signaling that this brand new song is already classed as a fan favourite.

It leads perfectly into ‘Everlone’, ‘Vanilla Radio’ and ‘Suckerpunch’ all delivered in quick succession, leaving no time to talk or even breathe. Going with the theme of ‘Renaissance Men’ it is a well chosen, heavy set of songs tonight. Mixing it up nicely, there are a few surprises in amongst the usual live favourites. ‘The Revolution Will Be Televised’ and ‘Jackson Whites’ are especially awesome and even ‘Urge’, which I imagined would be a disjointed mess, actually sounds amazing.

Bearing in mind that most people have only had ‘Renaissance Men’ in their ears for a week, the new songs get a great response. ‘Let ‘em Go’ was always going to go down well, it’s got a stadium-sized chorus that is up there with their finest hits. But it is ’Diagnosis’ that probably gets the best response of the whole night. What a fucking tune live! The way they build that AC/DC style riff to gain momentum, before releasing that main hook on an unsuspecting crowd, who in turn go absolutely bat-shit crazy for it. It’s a great feeling being right in the middle of the chaos for the duration. Like being a teenager discovering live music for the first time, all over again.

The band seems truly invigorated and on fire. Ginger and CJ’s vocals are spot on and the pair are full of energy, bashing out riffs and jumping in unison, giving photographers every opportunity to capture that elusive jump shot.

With bassist Danny McCormack now fit enough to make it through a whole set without needing his stool is a big, big thing. The loveable Geordie with a big heart and an even bigger bass sound just brings something special to The Wildhearts and it’s a joy to see him back where he belongs.

Post encore, the band mime through a version of ‘The Renaissance Men’ which is being videoed for a commercial single release on each night of the tour. Bit weird for all concerned, but the show doesn’t suffer or lose momentum.

A five-song encore is pretty good value at any show and with the likes of ‘Mazel  Tov Cocktail’, ‘My Baby Is A Headfuck’ and ‘I Wanna Go Where The People Go’  rounding the evening off nicely, who could ask for more?

 

Where The Wildhearts go from here is anyone’s guess, but my advice is to go out of your way, sell your children or steal money if you have to, but whatever you do, do not miss The Wildhearts live right now, as they are on top of their game.

 

Buy Renaissance Men HERE

Author: Ben Hughes

Photographs: Neil Vary