I've always been a lover of music. Guess I always will be. In the last 18 to 24 months I've really gotten into discovering new music. And I'm pretty pleased with what I have found.
Thanks to sites like Saving Country Music, Farce the Music and Bring Back Glam my interest in new music has been rekindled and I'm no longer just relying on the classic stuff.
There are plenty of lists about the best of 2014, the worst of 2014, etc. My take is a bit different. I'm going to give you the five albums that I discovered (not necessarily released) in the past year that I'll be listening to going into 2015 and beyond. Because that's what really matters.
I'm not saying they are the "best" records, but the one's that resonated with me that I will continue to listen to going forward. In no particular order:
Night Ranger - High Road
This is probably the best record of their career and will get no airplay or recognition. It's also the most diverse and heaviest record they've recorded. The guitar work by Brad Gillis and Joel Hoekstra is unbelievably good. The songs are good. It's the kind of record you listen to in your car with the windows down (top down, preferably) blasting for all nearby to hear. Good 80's-style hard rock.
Here's my favorite track from the album, as will be the case all the way down:
Whiskey Myers - Early Morning Shakes
If you like your Texas Country to sound like Southern Rock, Whiskey Myers delivers. Along with Blackberry Smoke, they are keeping the tradition of Southern Rock alive and well. They're not Skynyrd, Marshall Tucker, et al. They are Whiskey Myers. And they are good.
Orianthi - Heaven in this Hell
This was released in 2013. I discovered it in 2014, so it makes the list. This native Aussie is a guitar-playing genius. She was plucked to play on Michael Jackson's last tour that never happened. She has been in Alice Cooper's touring band. She has recently hooked up Richie Sambora. That's a good resume, but irrelevant to this discussion. The album rocks. So many textures and nuances in the guitar work. Plus the songs are good, which is paramount.
Koritni - Welcome to the Crossroads
Another Aussie entry, this one from 2012. This band sounds a lot like 80's hard rock. A lot. They have the chops and the hooks. I find myself going back to this record time and time again. It's an easy listen.
Sunny Sweeney - Provoked
Or maybe this album should be called Breaking up the Sausage Party. She had the first single to reach the top of the Texas Country charts by a female performer since, I don't know, a very long time. And the single that charted was not one of my favorites on the album. Poignant and sarcastic and at times funny, this record has something for everyone. Unless you just can't stand anything county, because it's definitely country.