Notice anything about these tours announced for next year? They are not pop, rap, R&B or country bands. They are rock bands. A well sculpted rock song with mighty music sticks with fans for decades. Pop and rap may be dominating the mainstream right now, but many fans – fans who will actually pay for the music, not just stream it for free – are hungry for kickass rock & roll. Arenas and stadiums full of people. When done right, homecoming visits are a lot of fun. It’s exciting to have giants roaming the Earth again. And 30 years ago, it was no coincidence that some cool new bands popped up in the wake of the Rolling Stones’ “Steel Wheels” reunion tour. In 2019, many exciting new rocks were created. And next year there will probably be many more. It works like this. Below are 30 of my favorite rock songs from this year. It’s probably the only best-of listicle ever to feature both Drive-By Truckers and LA Guns.
“When I’m Gone” Dirty Honey
Young, the Los Angeles quartet summons “Black in Black”-ish burn.
“Barely to Blame” Sheer Mag
The hook-and-hook metal Philadelphia punks are the most accessible yet.
Truckers “Armageddon is back in town”
Southern treasure, Patterson Hood, wraps his grater around contemporary calamity.
“The Devil You Know” LA Guns
Guitarist Tracii Guns and vocalist Phil Lewis invoke Sabbath-level witchcraft.
Mannequin “Drunk II” P—y
The Philadelphia band did the best Hole song Hole ever recorded.
Black “Lo/Hi” keys
Poppy Black Keys bad, blues-glam Black Keys good.
“I don’t want to become wise” The Who
For two guys who apparently can’t stand each other, together Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey remain a strength.
“Distract My Life” Hollywood Horses
The Birmingham band’s shimmering grunge sounds loud enough for the whole world to hear – like, now.
“Taste” Ty Segall
The prolific rocker from Los Angeles hits the high point with synth saturation.
“Pearl Cadillac” Gary Clark Jr.
If Gary Clark Jr. isn’t hired to play the lead role in the inevitable Prince biopic, you’re all fired.
Rainbow Shiner Ex Hex
The Washington trio make some street sugar swagger that would make The Runways proud.
“Rage With Me” Damon Johnson
Hailing from Geraldine, the former frontman of Brother Cane is back on the mic, the pen sharpened after playing guitar for Alice Cooper and Thin Lizzy.
“Under the Graveyard” Ozzy Osbourne
Prince of Darkness recaptures the gothic magic of his legendary early solo records.
“The Pirate Punk Politician” Perry Farrell
The world is a better place when Perry Farrell rocks weird hard rock.
Starcrawler “No more pennies”
Los Angeles buzz band kicks off the (infectious) jams.
“Renegade” Dylan LeBlanc (featuring The Pollies)
Muscle Shoals’ new wave talent weaves haunting vocals and synths, jagged guitars and outlaw groove.
“Last day under the sun” Volbeat
The Danes reinterpret Kiss’ “Let’s Put the X in Sex” riff with contemporary brilliance.
Rival Sons “Feral Roots”
Los Angeles-based rockers tap into the heart of Muscle Shoals and Zeppelin transportation.
“I don’t want to put you down” Trigger Hippy
Powerhouse, former Black Crowes drummer Steve Gorman fuels the soul-rock swing.
“Say You Will” Marcus King
The Greenville, South Carolina prodigy commands plump vocals, gnarly guitars, with production from Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach.
“Quiet Heart” Cheerful Wolf
First Pearl Jam level choir and passion of the rising quartet of Los Angeles,
White reaper “headwind”
The Louisville band turns new wave guitars and hooks it up to 11.
“The Beyond” Tesla
Favorite 80s denim-rockers still have it.
Hi to the magpie “here”
Black Crowes guitarist Rich Robinson flies high with fellow “Southern Harmony” shredder Marc Ford.
“Now That You’re Gone” Les Raconteurs
Jack White’s fuzz-guitar tackles Brendan Benson’s R&B-tinged ballad.
“Son of Zebedee” Tora Tora
The Memphis combo resurfaces with toothy guitars, a golden howl and a pocket deeper than Jeff Bezos.
Station “A matter of time”
Melodic, the New York group evokes the skyscrapers and radio eaters of the 80s.
“Can I Carry On” Sleater-Kinney
Critical ’90s favorites sound refreshingly accessible and deliciously weird, with St. Vincent’s production.
“Chauffeur’s Daughter” Chris Robinson Brotherhood
That’s my list and I’ll put every Black Crowe on it if I want – although Chris’ hippie love song deserves props anyway.
For many superfans, prog-metal “Chinese Democracy” was worth the wait.