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The Metal Excess Awards: 2011 Edition

Last year I said 2010 was a better year for music than 2009 was. I went on to wonder how 2011 could even begin to top it. Well, guess what… 2011 did indeed top 2010! I’m looking back at my Top 25 list for 2010 and while those albums are all still good, this year’s Top 25 list is much stronger top to bottom.

2011 was a great year that saw classic rock/metal acts like Whitesnake, Warrant, Riot, Alice Cooper, Journey, Black N’ Blue and King Kobra deliver some of the best albums of their career while younger acts like Steel Panther, Reckless Love, Savage Messiah, Evile (who missed the list by this much) and Black Veil Brides have shown that they are more than capable of carrying rock & metal into the future.

Top 25 Albums of 2011

1. Whitesnake – Forevermore
2. Sixx:A.M. – This Is Gonna Hurt
3. Riot – Immortal Soul
4. Warrant – Rockaholic
5. Alice Cooper – Welcome 2 My Nightmare
6. Steel Panther – Balls Out
7. Megadeth – Thirteen
8. Anthrax – Worship Music
9. Sebastian Bach – Kicking & Screaming
10. Reckless Love – Animal Attraction
11. Edguy – Age of the Joker
12. Hurtsmile – s/t
13. Journey – Eclipse
14. Chickenfoot – III
15. Mike Tramp & The Rock ‘N’ Roll Circuz – Stand Your Ground
16. Black Country Communion – 2
17. The Poodles – Performocracy
18. House of Lords – Big Money
19. King Kobra – s/t
20. Saliva – Under Your Skin
21. Foo Fighters – Wasting Light
22. Black N’ Blue – Hell Yeah!
22. Savage Messiah – Plague of Conscience
24. George Lynch – Kill All Control
25. Joe Bonamassa – Dust Bowl

Best E.P./Single
In light of a few non-album singles being released this year, I’ve decided to make this a hybrid category.

1. Sixx:A.M. – 7
2. Black Veil Brides – Rebels
3. Who Cares – Out of My Mind / Holy Water
4. Wildstreet – II …Faster …Louder!
5. The Last Vegas – The Other Side E.P.

Best Compilation/Cover/Live/Reissue Albums
Kind of a catch-all category this year. Instead of listing each category individually, I decided to lump them all into one list and rank them that way.

1. Black Sabbath – Born Again [Deluxe Edition]
2. Stryper – The Covering
3. Vains of Jenna – Reverse Tripped
4. Whitesnake – Live at Donington 1990
5. Slash featuring Myles Kennedy – Live: Made In Stoke 24/7/11
6. Hell – Human Remains
7. Scorpions – Comeblack
8. Def Leppard – Mirrorball: Live & More
9. Eric Carr – Unfinished Business
10. Black Sabbath – Dehumanizer [Deluxe Edition]

Want to read more about the year in music? Check out some of the fine sites & blogs listed below! And be sure to keep checking back for more Year-End posts here at Metal Excess!

All Metal Resource — http://allmetalresource.com/

Bring Back Glam — http://bringbackglam.squarespace.com/

The Crash Pad of Ray Van Horn, Jr. – http://www.rayvanhornjr2.blogspot.com/

Hair Metal Mansion — http://hairbangersradio.ning.com/

Hard Rock Hideout — http://hardrockhideout.com/

Hard Rock Nights — http://hardrocknights.com

Heavy Metal Addiction — http://heavymetaladdiction.com/

Heavy Metal Time Machine — http://metalmark.blogspot.com/

Imagine Echoes — http://www.imagineechoes.com/

Layla’s Classic Rock — http://laylasclassicrock.blogspot.com/

Metal Odyssey — http://metalodyssey.wordpress.com/

The Ripple Effect — http://www.ripplemusic.blogspot.com/

The Last Vegas – The Other Side E.P.

The Last Vegas – The Other Side E.P. (2011, Electric City Entertainment)

1. “It Ain’t Easy” …  4:08
2. “Other Side” …  3:05
3. “Evil Eyes” … 4:16

Band:
Chad Cherry – Vocals
Adam Arling – Guitar
Johnny Wator – Guitar
Danny Smash – Bass
Nathan Arling – Drums

Producer: Johnny K

In preparation for The Other Side, a full-length album coming in early 2012, The Last Vegas have released The Other Side E.P., which is free to download from thelastvegas.com.

If you’re familiar with The Last Vegas and like them then this E.P. is for you. All three songs still have that garage meets glam meets sleaze sound The Last Vegas have always had. There’s nothing here with the urgency of “I’m Bad” (“Other Side” is the single) but I like all three songs so I’m positive once The Other Side LP is released it will be another solid album from these Chicago rockers. I’m still waiting for a Last Vegas album to really knock my socks off but in the meantime their albums have been FUN and that’s what really counts, right? I’ll bet they’re a great live band.

For those of you that want/need a little something more than just 3 MP3 files, you can head on over to CMDistro.com and order yourself the E.P. bundle which includes: the E.P. on CD, a t-shirt & poster all for $20. Cool deal and it’s pretty cool of the band to put out this EP for free in digital format too. Hopefully it’ll build a buzz for the band before the proper album comes out because they really are a good band and deserve the recognition.

Unfortunately, it appears the guys are no longer on the Eleven Seven label (home of Motley Crue, Sixx:AM, Buckcherry and Papa Roach). Which is sad because I was hoping label president Nikki Sixx would continue to flex his muscles to get these guys on some good tours and it’s to my understanding that the “I’m Bad” single did very well on iTunes. I think Eleven Seven dropped the ball on this one.

At least they have a successful producer working with them on this new album. Johnny K most recently produced Megadeth’s Thirteen but has also produced for Disturbed, Staind, 3 Doors Down, Black Tide, Sevendust and Bad City’s excellent Welcome to the Wasteland.

So there ya go. New music from The Last Vegas — check it out for free or spend $20 to get some cool merch as well.

http://www.thelastvegas.com
http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Last-Vegas/277828629131

Most Disappointing Albums of 2009

Chickenfoot – Chickenfoot

I’m surprised this album is showing up on so many “best of 2009” lists because upon its release, I didn’t see a lot of glowing reviews. In some ways, this album is exactly what I expected — a competent yet lifeless release. Not that anyone believed him, but Sammy did the band no favors by claiming Chickenfoot was creating music as good as or better than Van Halen and Led Zeppelin. Perhaps he was referring to Van Halen III. Because, yeah, I’ll give him that — this album is better than Van Halen III. These guys are are professionals and rock legends and I think its great the album has gone gold, but it just didn’t gel for me. I didn’t hear any magic or chemistry. I’m thinking maybe Satriani is the problem and that the band needed someone who had a more loose, rock ‘n’ roll style.

Bon Jovi – The Circle

Okay, so I guess I shouldn’t have been disappointed because the last two Bon Jovi albums have been really lame, but I always hold out hope for these guys considering they’ve one of my favorite bands of all time. The fact that Jon was touting The Circle as a “big rock record” and a return to form really got my hopes up. In one interview, he even likened the album to the band’s ’80s stuff. Um, okay, Jon, what are you listening to because you definitely weren’t spinning New Jersey or Slippery When Wet when trying to get inspired for The Circle. You’ve lost it, man. You can’t write a catchy hard rock stadium anthem to save your life, can you? Richie’s lost it too and I’m starting to think so has Desmond Child.

Tim Ripper Owens – Play My Game

I debated whether to consider this “disappointing” or not but what the heck — it isn’t bad, but it isn’t what I hoped for either. Considering the talent involved, this should’ve been much better and in the long run, there just weren’t many memorable songs (trying to sound too modern) and I don’t think Owens’ voice was properly utilized.

The Last Vegas – Whatever Gets You Off

The Last Vegas is a shining example of the future of rock ‘n’ roll being strong but this release was just plain lazy with six of the eleven songs released just one year prior on the band’s self-released album. The songs are good and I can understand the band wanting to show off some of their best self-released work once getting signed to a label but did they really need to eat up half the album to do that?

Heaven and Hell – The Devil You Know

How could this be? The Devil You Know landed at #9 on my Top 10 of 2009 list! Yes, but given that this is the same band that released Heaven and Hell, Mob Rules and Dehumanizer as Black Sabbath, I couldn’t help but think this album was way too slow and not heavy enough. It’s a respectable effort but doesn’t come close to previous works.

THE LAST VEGAS – Whatever Gets You Off

The Last Vegas – Whatever Gets You Off (2009, Eleven Seven Music)

1. “Whatever Gets You Off” … 3:48
2. “I’m Bad” … 3:38
3. “High Class Trash” … 3:33
4. “Loose Lips” … 4:24
5. “Apologize” … 5:28
6. “Cherry Red” … 3:16
7. “Another Lover” … 3:58
8. “Dirty Things You Do” … 3:22
9. “White Lies” … 5:16
10. “Love Me Bad” … 5:19
11. “Outta My Mind” … 3:03

Band:
Chad Cherry – Vocals
Adam Arling – Guitar
Nat Arling – Guitar
Danny Smash – Bass
Johnny Wator – Drums

Produced by: Marti Fredrikson, DJ Ashba, Nikki Sixx and The Last Vegas

One of rock’s most promising young bands is back again with their second release in just as many years, this time with major label support from Eleven Seven Music (the home of Motley Crue, Buckcherry, Drowning Pool, SIXX:AM, Trapt, Charm City Devils).

I’m slightly disappointed by the track listing though. 6 of the 11 songs on this album are from their 2008 self-released and self-titled album. “Love Me Bad” is a reworking of “Love Me (When I’m Bad)” from last year’s album and “Whatever Gets You Off”, “I’m Bad”, “Apologize”, “Cherry Red” and “Dirty Things You Do” are the only brand new songs.

I wasn’t even sure if I wanted to bother buying this CD, because of that fact, but the album can be found for around $7-9, so it was worth the risk to just to hear the new songs and also to own “I’m Bad”, which is my favorite song from them. Though it’s not an uncommon practice to see bands re-release or re-record their indie material for their major label debut, it’s still a bit of a letdown for listeners who were already following the band.

With that gripe out of the way, let’s focus on the new songs (which Nikki Sixx, DJ Ashba and/or Marti Fredrikson had a hand in writing), which are all good and fit right in with the older songs. The funny thing is, most of my favorite songs from last year’s release, didn’t even make it this album, so in my opinion, the would’ve been even stronger if they were included.

As it is, the album is full of solid garage/glam hard rock but the new songs are best on the album (except for “Cherry Red”, which kinda fell flat for me) with “Whatever Gets You Off”, “I’m Bad” and “Dirty Things You Do” getting constant spins from me.

Highlights: “Whatever Gets You Off”, “I’m Bad”, “High Class Trash”, “Apologize”, “Dirty Things You Do”, “Love Me Bad”

www.thelastvegas.com
www.myspace.com/thelastvegas

Recent purchases

Man, I’ve been on a roll lately with buying music. And I’m not talkin’ iTunes. Nossir! I’m talking about that silver shiny disc that comes in a square plastic case with a little booklet that contains lyrics and artwork and band pics.

I don’t know, I just don’t get the rush of “HEY! NEW MUSIC!” when I think of downloading an album (even if they are usually a few bucks cheaper on iTunes) as compared to going out and finding a physical copy. I’m only 27, you’d think I would be embracing the iTunes era like all the other teens and 20 somethings, but I’m not.

Granted, I mostly have to use the internet to do my CD shopping anyway because Best Buy, Walmart, Target and FYE aren’t really cutting it when it comes to the music *I* want to hear…

Here’s what I’ve ordered in the last few days:

Thin Lizzy – Bad Reputation
Thin Lizzy – Jailbreak
Mercyful Fate – Melissa/In the Beginning
Saxon – Into the Labyrinth
The Last Vegas – Whatever Gets You Off
Tim “Ripper” Owens – Play My Game
Charm City Devils – Let’s Rock-N-Roll
Freakshow – s/t
Wildstreet – s/t

I should be getting the Lizzy & MF albums by Friday or Saturday and the rest should appear by the end of next week. Obviously, reviews will be coming once I feel I’ve gotten a good enough handle on the albums and man, is that list of “albums to review” still gigantic! I’ve got plenty of material even if I don’t receive/buy any new albums for the rest of the year.

THE LAST VEGAS – The Last Vegas

The Last Vegas – The Last Vegas (2008, self-released)

Track Listing:
1. “High Class Trash” … 3:46
2. “So Young, So Pretty, So What” … 4:01
3. “Loose Lips” … 4:46
4. “Good Deal for Bad Times” … 2:58
5. “Velvet Cream” … 3:26
6. “Just One Look” … 5:36
7. “Room at the Top” … 3:45
8. “Another Lover” … 4:01
9. “White Lies” … 5:00
10. “The Cruelty” … 3:00
11. “Dead Roses” … 3:09
12. “Love Me (When I’m Bad)” … 5:21
13. “Outta My Mind” … 3:03

Band:
Chad Cherry – Vocals
Adam Arling – Guitar
Nate Arling – Guitar
Danny Smash – Bass
Johnny Wator – Drums

I had heard a really cool song on one of the local rock stations that had a strong 80s hair metal vibe. After listening to a few of the lyrics and going a Google search, I came up with nothing. So, eventually I figured out which station it was I had been listening to and hit up there play list and found out the song was The Last Vegas’ “I’m Bad”. I knew I had to check out this album, as was actually surprised when I went to their site to find out this 2008 self-titled release is actually their 2nd full album.

Anyway, a sign of the times, “I’m Bad” is available exclusively as an iTunes download… it’s not on this album! Just seems really odd to me to have an album and a single out, yet, the single isn’t on the album. But upon closer inspection, seems like this album was self-released and “I’m Bad” is a single released under Eleven Seven Music (the home of Motley Crue, Buckcherry, Trapt, SIXX:AM). Well that gives me hope. I’d love to see Eleven Seven Music President Nikki Sixx help with the writing/producing of their next album (not that they really need the help). A quick check reveals a new album will supposedly come out Spring 2009.

This release is being push more as a digital release, but I picked up the “limited pressing” digipak. I much prefer having a physical copy of music over a digital copy. So, despite my disappointment over not getting “I’m Bad”, I still really wanted to check out the band and they’re very good. How good? Good enough to score the opening slot for Motley Crue’s Saints of Los Angeles 2009 tour ! See how it all ties in together?

No songs jump out as “hair band-ish” as “I’m Bad”, but it’s all still a good mix of glam, sleaze and garage rock. Even a bit of southern rock and punk seeps in from this Chicago-based group. The album has a very rough feel and it’s a nice refreshing take from some of the slicker rock acts out there. It’s good time rock ‘n’ roll with a very loose “who cares” feel.

Highlights: “High Class Trash”, “So Young, So Pretty, So What”, “Velvet Cream”, “Just One Look”, “Room at the Top”, “The Cruelty”, “Love Me (When I’m Bad)”

www.thelastvegas.com
www.myspace.com/thelastvegas

Gearing up for tons of reviews…

Wow, I can’t believe I haven’t posted anything in six days! Time has been flying lately, but don’t worry, music has been on my mind (and in my ears) all week long.

I’ve got TONS of reviews coming up as more and more is coming across my desk (and I’ve also been very active in purchasing lately). I hope to get at least one review out tomorrow, but here’s what bands you can expect to read about into all of next week, in addition to whatever oldies I pull from the rest of my personal collection to review…

Chicks With Guns – On Your Mind EP
Automan.ca – Pocket Change
Syrym – Syrym
1977 – Rock ‘N Roll (Much thanks to Steve at Heavy Metal Addiction for tipping me off to these guys!)
Axiom
The Last Vegas

Saliva – Cinco Diablo
Idols Are Dead – Mean
Avenged Sevenfold

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