By Steve Newton
The more I see pictures of headphone-wearing DJs alone on-stage, dickin’ around with laptops and turntables, the more I think: fvck off.
Bottle Rockets South Broadway Athletic Club
One of the world’s most underrated bands comes up with a killer album of catchy guitar rock that rivals its stellar ’94 release, The Brooklyn Side. Singer and main songwriter Brian Henneman is an overlooked genius on par with Tom Petty, if you ask me. And even if you don’t.
Drive-By Truckers It’s Great to Be Alive!
After last year’s remarkable English Oceans I was totally psyched for another batch of DBT originals, but this live set—recorded over three nights at the historic Fillmore in San Francisco—will more than do. It’s also available as a five-LP, three-CD boxed set for anyone who’s wondering what I need for Christmas.
Joe Satriani Shockwave Supernova
With help from the Aristocrats’ rhythm section of bassist Bryan Beller and drummer Marco Minnemann—as well as former Zappa sideman Mike Keneally on keys—the Bay Area guitar hero leads yet another startling excursion to the outer reaches of instrumental rock.
Steve Earle & the Dukes Terraplane
Bolstered by a backing band that includes primo husband-and-wife duo the Mastersons, songwriting great Steve Earle hits the mark with 11 rootsy tracks that showcase his bluesy side like never before.
For the second year in a row the brothers Alvin make my top 10. Lost Time—which the ex-Blasters featured during a scorching show at the since-shuttered Electric Owl last June—is a fitting follow-up to last year’s Grammy-winning Big Bill Broonzy tribute.
The Darkness Last of Our Kind
The British quartet blends the finest elements of glam and melodic hard rock for an exhilarating blast of Les Paul–driven, ’70s-style boogie.
Jaco Pastorius JACO: Original Soundtrack
I’m not the biggest jazz freak around, but there’s something about Jaco Pastorius’s bass guitar that’s just bloody magical. The soundtrack from the new documentary JACO includes gems from his solo career and his time with Weather Report, guest appearances with the likes of Ian Hunter and Joni Mitchell, and a smashing cover of his “Continuum” by Mexican guitar duo Rodrigo y Gabriela.
Graveyard Innocence and Decadence
With a name like Graveyard, you might expect brutal, grinding death metal, but this Swedish quartet specializes in melodic guitar rock with Hellacopters-style hooks aplenty and deep bluesy vibes à la Peter Green–era Fleetwood Mac.
Joe Bonamassa Muddy Wolf at Red Rocks
American guitar great Bonamassa wowed a sold-out crowd at Colorado’s fabled Red Rocks amphitheatre, borrowing from the playbooks of blues legends Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf, and adding a few of his own killer tunes, to boot.
Iron Maiden The Book of Souls
If you only have one heavy-metal album creeping onto your 2015 top 10—and it looks like I do—then it should be this sprawling, 92-minute epic by Britain’s reigning kings of galloping, triple-guitar raunch.