Best Of 2018 – John Burrows
Rushonrock is readying itself for a thunderous makeover in 2019 to celebrate a decade delving into the very best guitar-based music on the planet. But first our team is looking back at 2018 and the pick of another landmark year in music. Photo journalist John Burrows kicks things off with a typically eclectic selection…
1. R + R = Now – Collagically Speaking
This album is a sonic powerhouse. Its assembled cast is a who’s who of the hottest musicians in the world right now, and with everybody firing on all cylinders it’s an absolute must have. Colours In The Dark is one of the greatest songs recorded of 2018.
2. Doyle Bramhall II – Shades
A new Doyle Bramhall II album is always an event to behold. They don’t come around that often but when they do, they show why he is the go to guy for so many premier musicians when they require a hired hand. Criminally underrated, he’s the single best guitarist to come out of Texas since SRV but it’s his songwriting prowess, gravel tone voice and eye for a melody that glues it all together. Shades by name, shades by nature, this album is an absolute melting pot of tones.
3. Ben Harper + Charlie Musselwhite – No Mercy In This Land
As soon as I heard the first bar of opening track When I Go, I knew this would make my top three of the year. The interplay between Harper and Musselwhite is incendiary and if you like your blues gritty, low and dirty, this is for you. Raw delta blues.
4. The Story So Far – Proper Dose
Absolutely beautiful pop punk from the band that simply don’t put out bad albums. The Story So Far have once more delivered a masterclass in how to deliver a hook. Turn it up loud, turn, that frown upside down, this is guaranteed to make you feel epic.
5. The Darkness – Live At Hammersmith
The Darkness have hit a resurgance of late and this has caught them right at the top of their game. This is next level live output, recorded in a fashion that throws me back to the albums of old where the band sparked off the crowd. Think Made In Japan, Live And Dangerous, Strangers In The Night – it’s THAT good.
6. Black Stone Cherry – Family Tree
The boys from Kentucky have finally made the album they’ve been wanting to for years. Last years Blues EP was a less than subtle hint as to where they were headed but they’ve delivered in droves. Carry Me On Down The Road tells you everything you need to know about this one and I hope they keep pushing in this direction.
7. August Greene – August Greene
The second of the top 10 to feature Robert Glasper, this blend of live jazz and Hip Hop delivers some seriously hard hitting messages. Don’t bounce in and out of tracks if you can, this is deep and deserves all of your attention from start to finish. As far as lyrical content goes, this is THE album of 2018 when it comes to telling it like it is. Watch out for a standout performance on this from Samora Pinderhughes.
8. Don Broco – Technology
Don Broco managed to drop one of the surprise albums of the year for me. They’ve always been masters of a big chorus, but this time they’ve brought heavier guitars in the mix whilst assembling melodies more suited to 80s synth pop. Sound bizarre ? Don’t be afraid, it really works.
9. Joe Bonamassa – Redemption
A return to form has been long overdue from JB in my opinion, and whilst his output has been very consistent in the last five years, it’s taken until now for one of his albums to cut through the noise. It drops off a touch towards the end, but I dare you to find me an album of hos that starts as strongly as this does. Evil Mama, King Bee Shakedown and Molly O bring the house down. Great stuff.
10. Rolo Tomassi – Time Will Die And Love Will Bury It
2018 was the year when I finally ‘got’ Rolo Tomassi. Always highly rated by the majority of my friends, there’s always been something that didn’t quite sit right for me but this is a game changer. It’s ethereal in places, devastatingly crushing in others. How they came up with this album is anybody’s guess but it’s an amazing journey.
I’m a journalist specialising in sport and rock music. Can’t play either so I write about them instead.