Top 20 Rock Albums, November 2012
Usually, our monthly Rock Roundup consists of 15 records, but this fall has seen the releases of so many exceptional titles that we feel compelled to bump that number to 20.
Recently reunited, Neil Young and Crazy Horse unleashed Psychedelic Pill, the rock legend's best and heaviest in decades (definitely a strong contender for Album of the Year). Equally thunderous were new joints from Deftones, The Sword and Graveyard, respectively. Soundgarden belong to this group as well, seeing as how King Animal, their first full-length since 1996's Down on the Upside, has proven hard rockers can indeed come back from the dead. This holds true for Aerosmith, too, actually: Music from Another Dimension! certainly isn't flawless, but it does contain a few real gems, like "Street Jesus" and the Joe Perry-fronted "Something."
This month's Top 20 also contains several excellent titles from the Southern- and blues-rock genres. Mighty Kid Rock returns with Rebel Soul. There will always exist a pungent whiff of hip-hip in his style, but let's face it: The dude absolutely worships Lynyrd Skynyrd and (of course) fellow Michigander Bob Seger. For those for whom Kid Rock isn't "pure" enough, there's Gary Clark, Jr., the young Texas guitarist who's being hailed as The Next Stevie Ray Vaughan. Those are big shoes to fill, no doubt. Yet Clark's Blak and Blu will blow away just about any fan of hard electric blues. Also, don't sleep on Afterglow, the latest from Black Country Communion, though admittedly it's the supergroup's least blues-flavored release to date. Apparently, guitarist Joe Bonamassa was hung up with solo commitments, so cofounder Glenn Hughes wound up writing the bulk of the tunes. Not surprising in light of his Deep Purple background, he went for more of a straightforward classic rock approach. It's still aces, though.
Finally, it's been an active season for the jam-band scene. Not only did O.A.R. release Live on Red Rocks and Rusted Root offer up The Movement, but Phish's Trey Anastasio treated fans to Traveler, which is, believe it or not, a genuine power-pop record.