Sitting at the top of this month's countdown of the top 15 new rock releases are three names very familiar to any and all fans of rock 'n' roll: ZZ Top, Bob Dylan and Rush. Not surprisingly, it's Dylan's Tempest -- one of the icon's darkest forays into classic folk storytelling -- that music critics are busy raving about. It's a must-hear for sure, yet it can't help but play second fiddle to ZZ's top dog, La Futura. Produced by legendary sonic guru Rick Rubin, it's the group's most pleasurably scrappy and hard-grooving album since Afterburner. Lead single "I Gotsta Get Paid" totally rocks. And as for Canadian power trio Rush, well, their Clockwork Angels is a potent and excellently crafted journey.
Speaking of classic rock, the top 15 also contains a smattering of albums that feel vintage in both sound and attitude. The Darkness, after a seven-year hiatus, return with Hot Cakes, yet another enjoyable slab of glam-rock audaciousness. Significantly more granola-y (i.e. hippie) is The Magic Door, Chris Robinson's second full-length with his new ensemble, Chris Robinson Brotherhood. And then there's The Sheepdogs' self-titled full-length. Produced by Black Key Patrick Carney, it's an all-you-can-eat buffet of wildly catchy nostalgia, boasting touches of Creedence Clearwater Revival, Tumbleweed Connection-era Elton John and The Allman Brothers Band. The tune "Feeling Good" even sports a Gary Glitter stomp!
Last but surely not least, Dave Matthews Band's Away from the World just might be their best album since the '90s gave way to the '00s. This shouldn't come as a surprise; after all, it's their first in nearly 15 years with Steve Lillywhite, who produced Under the Table and Dreaming, Crash and Before These Crowded Streets.
And now on to Rhapsody's top 15 rock albums of the past month or so.