Our quarterly selection of top albums are based on GRTR! reviewer ratings.
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The Best Of …
2020 Albums of the Month
(April – December)
Thunder fans will love this album as it touches all the band’s key strengths – memorable songs, party rockers, ballads, lyrics to make you think and above all, well-crafted hard rock tunes. An Album of the Year and one that could turn out to be their best since their legendary debut album. ****1/2
Review by Jason Ritchie
TOUCH Tomorrow Never Comes (Escape Music)
This is an intriguing release, with enough of the classic Touch sound yet in places harking even further back to the seventies. Yet it is boldly diverse, rarely formularised and even experimental in places. While nothing will ever compare to the majesty of the debut this is a better comeback than even their most fanatical fans could have realistically imagined. **** 1/4
Review by Andy Nathan
ANNEKE VAN GIERSBERGEN The Darkest Skies Are The Brightest (InsideOutMusic)
Many will say that Giersbergen hasn’t really achieved the wider recognition she deserves. “The Darkest Skies…” may be the album of much more wider acceptance. Simply lovely. And for anyone who has loved and lost and loved again. *****
Review by David Randall
SCARDUST Strangers (M-Theory Audio)
At a point in time when superlatives have been devalued by overuse, it’s no exaggeration to say that Strangers, the album is immense – an extraordinarily rich, intoxicating, complex mix of progressive rock styles and sources. ****1/2
Review by Brian McGowan
TROY REDFERN Thunder Moon (Timezone Records)
After the more introspective ‘Island’, I didn’t see ‘Thunder Moon’ on the horizon. It’s belligerent, intelligent, adventurous, imaginative, brilliantly played and easily a career highlight *****
Review by Pete Feenstra
BEN RANDALL Before The Rain (Thoroughbred Music)
All told, a breathtaking guitar album of the highest order from a player with other-worldly skills and, what’s more, an absolute blast. *****
Review by Alan Jones
FISH – Weltschmerz (Fish Music)
…this is a rich, accessible, profound album invested with heaps of integrity, passion and insight. ‘Weltschmerz’ stands as the best album of Fish’s solo career, and easily amongst the best of the year by anyone…
***** (Dave Atkinson)
DORIS BRENDEL & LEE DUNHAM – Mass Hysteria (Sky Rocket Records)
It all adds up to Mass Hysteria being Brendel’s most focused, consistent, and powerful offering in a decade. A seriously impressive album, and one that rewards repeated listens.
**** (Pete Whalley)
BLUE OYSTER CULT – The Symbol Remains (Frontiers)
For a band who survived the hedonistic, life shortening heights of fame, a seen-it-all, done-it-all mindset would have been understandable. But the fact that they are still going strong, writing and recording truly great rock music is cause for quiet celebration.
***** (Brian McGowan)
MUDDY MANNINEN – River Flows (Running Moose)
an engaging album full of substance, loving care and creativity
****1/2 (Pete Feenstra)
AC/DC Power Up (Columbia)
Across the album we have twelve tracks of classic AC/DC – hard riffing, catchy choruses, bouncy rhythms and a lead singer screaming his lungs out as he has for the last forty years … Brilliantly, expertly, joyously predictable, Power Up is exactly what we needed in 2020.
****1/2 (Darren Johnson)
L.A. GUNS – Renegades (Golden Robot)
The L.A. Guns are back with a new album, demonstrating exactly why they are not only still relevant today and in touch with their fan base, but that they are absolute rock royalty.
**** (Karen Clayton)
MAGENTA Masters Of Illusion (Tiger Moth)
It turns back the years without ever being ‘retro’ and I would suggest is comfortably the best Magenta album since Home. Masters Of Illusion – The Musical, anyone?
***** (Pete Whalley)
WALTER TROUT Ordinary Madness (Provogue)
‘Ordinary Madness’ is a triumph of creativity, vim and vigour. The future of rock-blues is in inspired hands.
***** (Pete Feenstra)
DEEP PURPLE Whoosh! (earMUSIC)
The band do not sound like they are going to quit any time soon. Only actual physical death, or serious arthritis, is going to stop these guys. No pressure, no expectations, just album of the year so far.
***** (Joe Geesin)
LEGACY PILOTS Aviation (indie)
I suppose the best general description is “pop prog/AOR” of the sort purveyed by Alan Parsons Project. In other words, well constructed songs, highly accessible, and great musicianship … A truly wonderful album, one to restore your faith during these covid-constrained times.
***** (David Randall)
KAT RIGGINS Cry Out (Gulf Coast Records)
‘Cry Out’ demands repeated listening if only for the perfect balance of lyrical substance and inspired playing. This album is a real step up for Kat Riggins. Previously known for being a blues campaigner, ‘Cry Out’ pushes her to the forefront of the very genre she so passionately champions.
****1/2 (Pete Feenstra)
PERFECT PLAN Time For A Miracle (Frontiers Records)
While not quite attaining perfection, Perfect Plan’s second album lifts the bar even higher and four or five of the tracks are as good as anything I have heard in a long while. For fellow lovers of more traditional melodic rock, this is a dream of an album.
****3/4 (Andy Nathan)