Top 20 Rock Albums, April 2014
The heavyweight in this month's rock roundup most certainly is Chevelle's La Gárgola, quite possibly the best hard rock set thus far released in 2014. The Chicago power trio never gets fancy. Rather, they stubbornly (and wisely) stick to their core strengths: exceptionally physical and stripped-down grinders that belie a keen understanding of the Tool to Helmet to King Crimson lineage. Fans of Chevelle, as well as modern hard rock in general, should also check out Sevendust's new all-acoustic set, Time Travelers & Bonfires, and Lacuna Coil's Broken Crown Halo, yet another nightmarish torrent of gothic metal. This time around, however, the latter's overall sound is noticeably influenced by Goblin, the prog rock ensemble revered for creating the creepy-ass soundtracks to director Dario Argento's horror classics Susperia and Profondo Rosso.
As for those of you with a hunger for rock rooted in the old school, definitely don't sleep on Wilko Johnson and Roger Daltrey's super-fun slab of English rhythm and blues, Going Back Home. Daltrey is the legendary lead singer for The Who, you surely know; Johnson, on the other hand, is something of a cult figure -- the longtime guitarist for Dr. Feelgood, he helped to bridge British beat music of the '60s with punk and post-punk with his searing rhythm work. Needless to say, the guy is a monster musician. Significantly more mellow, though equally indebted to classic rhythm & blues, is Leon Russell's Life Journey, far and away his most consistent solo effort in several decades.
Last but certainly not least, Chicago singer-songwriter and ace guitarist Ryley Walker just released All Kinds of You on the Tompkins Square imprint. Featuring a subtle fusion of British-flavored folk rock, jazz and chamber music, the artist's debut full-length is a startlingly mature effort and really is required listening for fans of both modern folk rock (Laura Marling, Valerie June, Angel Olsen) and the genre's vintage expressions (Fairport Convention, Jesse Colin Young, Nick Drake). Now get listening ...