Melodic Music Reviews’ Best Of 2017!
It is hard to believe another year has come and gone already!
2018 is here.
2017 was a great year for our music with a lot of great releases coming out, unfortunately due to circumstances beyond my control I was unable to spend much time at all working on the site and getting reviews posted of those releases, as such there are many albums listed here that I have not had a chance to review yet for which I am very sorry.
I will be going back and reviewing those however, among other new releases we have coming this year, as time permits.
Being that I kept the list shorter I was forced to make some tough choices on what to list and what to cut, and there were many tremendous records that are not listed here that certainly deserve to be mentioned as well as a few that I have not added to my collection as of yet.
As always, I do not expect you all to agree with my choices, which is totally fine, so please feel free to share your favorites as I love to hear about them.
As suggested by several of you after last year’s list, I branched out and added a bit more than just melodic rock this year, hopefully you will enjoy it.
Thank you all for sticking with me through 2017 and my lack of posting, I do appreciate your continued support, and thank you for taking the time to read this.
Now, onto the list!
Top 10 Songs Of The Year:
‘Tonight‘ – Sunset Neon
With the exception of Jon Siejka over at Magic Dance then I could hardly call myself a fan of SynthWave music, but this song by Sunset Neon has such a strong 1980’s film feel to it that I can’t help but just love it!
A terrific, upbeat song that is a major throwback to the 80’s and brings back memories of watching films like Rocky, obviously the reason the fan made video features such.
‘Falling‘ – Wolfpakk
The project from Michael Voss and Mark Sweeney have been consistantly releasing albums about every two years since 2011, always featuring the two veterans and a bevy of superstar guests along with some excellent music.
This song features Claus Lessman (ex-Bonfire, Phantom V) and is easily the strongest track from the newest record, ‘Wolves Reign‘.
A very catchy track with superb vocals from all three and despite somewhat cheesy lyrics, it is a real standout for me
‘Blind And Frozen‘ – Beast In Black
This was the first single from the album and even though it is a little outside my usual tastes, I was sold as soon as I heard it. Just a very catchy melody and a fantastic, albiet unique, vocal delivery and some wonderful guitars.
‘A New Dimension‘ – Kee Of Hearts
This supergroup delivered an excellent record and this track is by far my favorite from the album. A very catchy song that just screams Fair Warning.
‘Straight To The Top‘ – Creye
Newcomers (as a band at least) Creye delivered their first EP in 2017 and what a great set of songs it was.
Band mastermind, Grand Slam guitarist Andreas Gullstrand, gave us the smashing three track EP in 2017 which featured Art Nation singer Alexander Strandell on vocals.
All three songs are wonderful but my favorite is the title track, ‘Straight To The Top‘. Unfortunately this particular track is not available to listen to on YouTube, but you can find one of the other tracks here.
With a new lineup, including vocalist Robin Jihed, the band is now set to take over in 2018 with the release of their first full length album.
‘River Phoenix‘ – Santa Cruz
This catchy little number is the strongest song from Santa Cruz’s third record in my opinon.
A great track from a young band that always rocks and is a lot of fun to listen to.
‘Eye Of The Storm‘ – H.E.A.T.
An excellent power ballad and one hell of a delivery by Erik Grönwall. Perhaps one of the best ballads yet by H.E.A.T.
‘Put Me To Shame‘ – Tokyo Motor Fist
I absolutely love this song! It has such a great Danger Danger meets Trixter meets Dokken vibe to it. Very much a throwback to the late 80’s hard rock sound, what is not to love.
‘Hurt‘ – Eclipse
A beautiful power ballad, and simply put, one of the absolute best ballads of the year for me. What a superb vocal delivery from Erik Martensson here. I cannot get enough of this song, or album for that matter.
‘Hurt‘ – One Desire
Not an easy pick for song of the year given the choices we have out there from last year, just so many great songs to go through, but, after thoughy and debate, this has got to be my favorite one of the year.
The first time I heard One Desire’s ‘Hurt‘, the full album could not come out quick enough to suit me. What an amazing song by a brand new band. I love everything about this one! Just amazing!
Top Melodic Pop Rock Albums Of The Year:
RSO – ‘Making History‘
RSO (Richie Sambora and Orianthi) released their second EP late in 2017 and it is much much better than the first EP, ‘Rise‘. Likely not what you are expecting from the former Bon Jovi axe man, but it is a pretty decent foray into pop rock from two amazing guitarists.
Robin Beck – ‘Love Is Coming‘
Robin Beck – ‘On The Bright Side‘
A former backing vocalist for folks such as Chaka Khan, powerhouse Robin Beck has been consistantly releasing strong albums since she dropped the utterly phenomenal ‘Trouble Or Nothin’‘ in 1989.
With almost no bad albums in her catalogue, this legend has lost almost nothing vocally and returned once again with a great record for us.
Martine McCutcheon – ‘Lost And Found‘
Martine McCutcheon – ‘Say I’m Not Alone‘
Being a bit of a cinephile, I was familiar with Martine McCutcheon due to her film career, but I had never really paid any mind to her music until I heard that first single from her new record (featured in the link above). When that chorus hit it was pure melodic pop rock and I could totally see someone like Robin Beck performing such a song.
The record is far more pop than I would typically like, but I do quite enjoy the album and, for the very little pop rock I listen to, it has stood out as one of the strongest of the lot.
Jessica Wolff – ‘Grounded‘
Jessica Wolff – ‘War‘
I was not familair with this young Finnish artist prior to receiving this album from the label, but what I found in this record, which is not her first I was surprised to find out, was some great pop rock with some strong melodic flavorings.
Wolff has a terrific voice and the songs are all pretty catchy numbers. Definitely worth checking out if you enjoy the pop rock side of things.
Dante Fox – ‘Six String Revolver‘
Dante Fox – ‘Under The City Lights‘
You really cannot ever go wrong with Dante Fox. They have always walked that line between melodic pop rock and melodic rock, but whichever subgenre you think they may fall under, you can always count on Dante Fox to deliver some of the finest female fronted music of the genre, period.
Coming right off the heels of their excellent ‘Breathless‘ record from 2016, this new album is basically a “Greatest Hits” album pulled from their first two records and re-recorded for this new collection.
The band, Tim Manford, Alan Mills and well known keyboardist Eric Ragno (the guy seems to be everywhere!) sound incredible as always and all I can say about singer Sue Willets Manford is holy crap! Does her voice ever age? She sounds absolutely stunning and you can hardly tell a difference in her voice between these songs and the originals recorded back in the 1990’s.
Top Modern Rock/Christian Rock Album Of The Year:
Skillet – ‘Unleashed Beyond‘
Modern rock, not a genre I give very much time to at all, so this was a very easy pick for me, in fact I was able to combine two genres with this one album, modern rock and Christian rock.
So I guess I am cheating here since technically this album released in 2016, but John Cooper and company came back this year with a deluxe edition that features 5 brand new songs and 3 remixed songs. The new songs are terrific but the album lost me on the remixes which seemed totally pointless to me.
Still the same solid album it was before but with five more strong entrees, ‘Unleashed Beyond‘ stands as one of Skillet’s better albums.
Top Live Albums Of The Year:
Tyketto – ‘Live From Milan 2017‘
Tyketto – ‘Wings‘
What a terrific record! Performing the classic ‘Don’t Come Easy‘ album in it’s entirety, back to front, and then adding in ‘Rescue Me‘ from Strength In Numbers and ‘Reach‘ from Reach, Tyketto give us one heck of a live album here. These guys sound just as good now as they did on their debut record and they put on a terrific show, and has Danny Vaughn ever sounded better?
A fine example of how a live record should sound.
Kissin’ Dynamite – ‘Generation Goodbye – Dynamite Nights‘
With their first live album this young German band delivered one of the best live records I have heard in several years.
With great songs encompassing their entire career, a ton of energy and passion and an obviously love for what they do, Kissin’ Dynamite are one of the brightest young bands to hit the genre with their melodic hard rock and this album proves they are a force to be reckoned with live.
Top Melodic Metal Albums Of The Year:
Jorn – ‘Life On Death Road‘
One of the most recognizable voices of the genre gave us back to back albums with 2016’s ‘Heavy Rock Radio‘ and 2017’s ‘Life On Death Road‘, that I consider two of his best records in many years.
Nothing new here really with Lande, but with Alessandro Del Vecchio and most of Primal Fear, Mat Sinner, Alex Beyrod and Francesco Jovino, involved, is it any surprise that it kicks some ass?
Bonfire – ‘Byte The Bullet‘
With a change in singers came a change in style for Bonfire, and while I may be stretching a bit still to call this metal, it definitely has metal elemens to it.
I am a long time fan of the band and I have liked them with Claus Lessman and David Reece. I know many fans have somewhat disowned these guys now due to the change in sound but personally I think it works for them and vocalist Alexx Stahl sounds terrific.
Hans has written some great material here and it is a standout for me.
Pink Cream 69 – ‘Headstrong‘
Pink Cream 69 – ‘Walls Come Down‘
German rockers Pink Cream 69 are always a safe bet if you are wanting some quality melodic metal. With folks like the talented Dennis Ward, Alfred Koffler, Uwe Reitenauer, Chris Schmidt and the always amazing vocals of David Readman you simply cannot go wrong with these guys.
One of their heavier releases to date, ‘Headstrong‘ nevertheless continues on in the same great output we have grown accustomed to getting from this band.
Beast In Black – ‘Berserker‘
Beast In Black – ‘Born Again‘
This is an album that is a bit outside of my usual taste. Anyone who has followed me for a while likely knows that power metal is not really my cup of tea but every now and then a band or album comes along that really captures my fancy and the debut from Finnish metal band Beast In Black is one such record.
‘Berserker‘ is one hell of a catchy record with track after track of great melodic metal that I can’t get enough of!
You will notice several similarities to Battle Beast here, which is to be expected as ex-Battle Beast guitarist Anton Kabanen is the founder of this band, and does an amazing job here.
A very catchy record with superb musicians and an excellent, and at times, unique, vocalist.
An easy pick for metal album of the year for me.
Top 20 Albums Of The Year:
Kickin’ Valentina – ‘Imaginary Creatures‘
Kickin’ Valentina – ‘Turns Me On‘
Once again these Georgia based rockers have delivered a smashing record of straight ahead rock n’ roll that is damn good. If you liked their first album or if you enjoy raw and hard rocking rock n’ roll then this is for you.
Tales From The Porn – ‘H.M.M.V.‘
Tales From The Porn – ‘Perfect Love‘
Based on the band name you may think you are in for another Steel Panther style record full of over-the-top crude lyrics, but what we actually have here is wonderful throwback album to the great sleaze rock sound of the late 80’s.
In fact for a genre that is steeped in that classic sound, this is one of the most purely 80’s sounding records I have heard in a while.
If you are a fan of sleaze rock then check this one out. A very suprising and welcome find for me this year.
Dirty White Boyz – ‘Down And Dirty‘
Dirty White Boyz is a new supergroup out of the UK that features the considerable talents of vocalist Tony Mitchell (Kiss The Gypsy, Kingdom Of Deadmen), guitarist Paul Hume (Lawless, Demon), guitarist Jamie Cree (Lawless), bassist Nigel Bailey (Bailey, Lifeline, 3 Lions) and drummer Neil Ogden (Lawless, Demon). Hard to go wrong with such a group of artists involved, and, not surpisingly, they get almost nothing wrong here.
Revolution Saints – ‘Light In The Dark‘
Revolution Saints – ‘Light In The Dark‘
The follow-up to the utterly sensational 2015 debut had a lot to live up to and, while I don’t feel like this sophmore release is quite as strong as that debut, these superstars have still managed to deliver one heck of a great record, not too surprising knowing the talent involved here.
Confess – ‘Haunters‘
Confess – ‘Strange Kind Of Affection‘
The second record from Confess is a bit more polished then it’s predecessor and, in my opinion, a much stronger album.
Song after song this record presents us with some excellent throwback music.
I love it!
Midnite City – ‘Midnite City‘
Midnite City – ‘Ghosts Of My Old Friends‘
Tigertailz frontman Rob Wylde started this band and then brought in friend and well known artist Pete Newdeck for some help on production and drums. When all was said and done they, along with the rest of the band, brought us a wonderful record of some great throwback music that most any fan of this genre should love.
I certainly do.
Raintimes – ‘Raintimes‘
Raintimes – ‘Forever Gone‘
Raintimes is the brainchild of Charming Grace and Shining Line drummer Pierpaolo Monti and Charming Grace vocalist and keyboardist Davide Barbieri who wanted, according to Monti, to give us an album in tribute to his love of the two classic The Storm albums (‘The Storm‘, 1991, ‘Eye Of The Storm‘, 1997), which is readily apparent throughout the record.
Joining the two are Sven Larsson (Lionville), Ivan Gonzalez, Andrea Gipponi and Von Groove vocalist Michael Shotton, who seems to be channeling a bit of Joey Tempest on the record.
An excellent album full of some wonderful melodies and superb vocals. One that definitely needs to be checked out by any melodic rock lover!
Crazy Lixx – ‘Ruff Justice‘
Crazy Lixx – ‘Hunter Of The Heart‘
These Swedes consistently deliver excellent albums of 1980’s induced glam metal and ‘Ruff Justice‘ is just another album in their catalogue of great records that gives us that same great sound we are used to from these guys.
Song after song this album screams of the 80’s and these guys do it so well they make it seem easy. Catchy, memorable melodies, great vocals and excellent musicianship made this an easy pick for me.
Kryptonite – ‘Kryptonite‘
Kryptonite – ‘Chasing Fire‘
A supergroup consisting of Jakob Samuels (The Poodles), Michael Palace (Palace, ex-Bulletrain), Pontus Egberg (Treat, ex-The Poodles) and Robban Bäck (ex-Eclipse) released what could most readily be described as the next Poodles album, in sound at least.
One of the coolest voices in melodic rock joined by a group of grade A musicians and rounded out by terrific melodies make this one an album to check out.
Scherer & Batten – ‘Scherer & Batten‘
Scherer & Batten – ‘The Sound Of Your Voice‘
Fronted by Marc Scherer, the powerhouse vocalist behind the 2015 Peterik & Scherer album ‘Risk Everything‘, has returned once again with some lost gems from the songbook of the legendary Jim Peterik, this time with guitar virtuoso Jennifer Batten (Michael Jackson, Jeff Beck) and a group of sensational guests like Bryan Cole and Bill Champlin (Chicago), to name only a few, to bring us an album that I think is even stronger than the Peterik & Scherer record.
Fan of Pride Of Lions, Bryan Cole or of Peterik’s output in general should be more than satisfied with this one!
A fantastic album chock full of some excellent AOR music.
Warrant – ‘Louder, Harder, Faster‘
This second album with the excellent Robert Mason continues on in the same vein as ‘Rockaholic‘, which means, to me at least, that it kicks ass.
Not everyone has followed Warrant through the changes in vocalists and sounds, but if you an accept that they do not sound the same as they did with Lane then what you may discover is that they are putting put some fine rock n’ roll still!
Code Red – ‘Incendiary‘
Code Red – ‘Heat Of The Night‘
Here is yet another new band out of Sweden. The brainchild of writer, guitarist and vocalist Ulrick Lönnqvist.
A well known writer within the genre, this is Lönnqvist’s first foray into writing for himself. With writing credits all throughout the genre, the man has finally released an album for himself and damn does he get it right!
With the help of folks such as Michael Palace (Palace, Kryptonite, ex-Bulletrain), well known writer, artist and producer Daniel Flores (Find Me, The Murder Of My Sweet), Morgan Jensen (Swedish Erotica), Oscar Bromvall (Palace) and Kaspar Dahlqvist (Shadowquest), Ukrick has managed to deliver a hell of a great melodic rock record that certainly earned it’s way on to this list.
Kee Of Hearts – ‘Kee Of Hearts‘
Kee Of Hearts – ‘The Storm‘
Seeing the name Tommy Heart (Fair Warning) attached to a project pretty much ensures a purchase by me. Add to that the names Kee Marcello, Alessandro Del Vecchio, Ken Sandin (Alien) and Marco Di Salvia (Polarized) and it was a no brainer to get this one.
I was not dissapointed at all, this album is a fantastic melodic rock record. Tommy is always a pleasure to listen to (has the man lost anything vocally? He sounds amazing!) and Kee, Alessandro, Ken and Marco always deliver the goods in excellent fashion.
If you are a fan of Fair Warning then you most certainly do not want to miss out on this one. An excellent debut from this supergroup.
Pride Of Lions – ‘Fearless‘
Jim Peterik, Toby Hitchcock and melodic rock, what’s not to love there?
Started in 2003 and now five full length studio albums in and I think Pride Of Lions have released their strongest one yet in 2017 with ‘Fearless‘.
Hitchcock sounds as phenomenal as always and Peterik is in top form with his writing here providing us with an excellent record full of outstanding songs.
Any fan of the band or anyone involved with it should be thrilled with this release!
Wildness – ‘Wildness‘
Wildness – ‘War Inside My Head‘
Wildness is a young, new band from Sweden. With the current number one best selling album, aIccording to the sales on the US music site NEHrecords.com, these guys have certainly made waves within the genre with their debut record, and rightfully so. A simply wonderful album!
Jimi Anderson Group – ‘Long Time Comin’‘
This is another album that I had no idea about prior to receiving it. I had never heard of Jimi and had no clue what to expect, so when I popped it into the player I had no expectations as to what I would be hearing, which I have found is usually the best way to experience an album, that way you have no preconceived notions about what it will be like and are less likely to be disappointed if it does not live up to your notions of what it should sound like.
Well what I did hear was an absolutely wonderful record of 70’s and 80’s influenced AOR that blew me away. Not only are the songs just fantastic, but damn can Anderson sing, and he is a super nice chap to boot!
Most definitely a stand-out for me and well worth looking into for any fan of a bit of the lighter side of AOR.
One Desire – ‘One Desire‘
I think any album takes, at the least, a few spins for you to truly appreciate it but rarely has an album grown on me as this one has. Ever since I received it the record has continually grown on me every time I listen to it…to the point that it made it into my top 5 of the whole year!
When I heard the first single from the record, ‘Hurt‘, I was hooked. When I received the record parts of it took a little to grow on me, but after the second and third spins and on I started to really dig the album and with every subsequent listen I have come to love this entire album.
While it does lean a bit more towards the melodic pop rock side of things, there are no shortage of guitars present and every song is catchy as Hell, even one that, upon reviewing this album, I could not get in to at the time, I now love as well.
An absolutely excellent album from a terrific new band and easily one of the most downright catchiest albums of the year with not a bad track present!
H.E.A.T. – ‘Into The Great Unknown‘
H.E.A.T. – ‘Redefined‘
Most fans have their preference with these guys but I have loved both incarnations of H.E.A.T., with Kenny Leckremo and Erik Grönwall. This band just continually puts out great music time and time again.
‘Into The Great Unknown‘ sees the band taking a bit more of a pop rock direction on several tracks and I have seen fans disgruntled by this change, and I will admit, some of it took a little time to grow on me,
but grow on me it did!
Every track here is well written and very catchy with the entire band sounding sensational throughout.
Just an all around fantastic record and another winner from these guys.
I love it!
Tokyo Motor Fist – ‘Tokyo Motor Fist‘
Put Ted Poley on a record and I am there every time. Add to that Steve Brown (Trixter), Greg Smith (Rainbow, Alice Cooper) and Chuck Burgi (Rainbow, Joe Lynn Turner) and what you get is a simply phenomenal album that sounds like it came straight out of the late 80’s and early 90’s when bands like Danger Danger were prevalent.
A sensational slice of melodic rock that any fan of this genre should be thrilled with and one that I knew the first time I heard it would be high on my list at year end.
Poley hardly sounds a day older than he did in 1989 when we got the first D2 record and the rest of the band sound just as amazing as these legends always have.
Without a single filler track this album represents some of the best music the genre saw last year.
#1 ALBUM OF THE YEAR!!
Eclipse – ‘Monumentum‘
With so many phenomenal records released this year I won’t say that picking my personal best album of the year was easy, in fact it was down right difficult.
In truth, I could put many of the albums on this list in this spot and be happy as they are all simply wonderful records that prove time and time again just why we love this music so much.
But, after much thought and countless spins of every album on this entire list, my pick for album of the year has to go to Eclipse and their incredible ‘Monumentum‘.
Anytime these Swedes have a new album out you can bet it will fall on many best of the year lists as this band seems to only get better with time and these guys are so consistent these days with their output that, if you like their style, you simply cannot go wrong with them.
‘Armageddonize‘ was a stunning record, and a tough one to have to live up to with the follow-up album. But with ‘Monumentum‘ Eclipse lived up to their reputation and proved that they have no problem with continually writing some of the strongest music this genre has.
For my money, you just can’t go wrong with this one.
It is amazing on every level and is most certainly deserving of claiming this number one spot.