It is now time for my 2013 “Best Of” list. This time around, the list will be slightly different for me: There will be the usual best albums of the year; however, some of the selections did not appear on the Rock And Roll Report. Greater Alexander and Cole Hermer and the Ravens were reviewed over on my blog. I also have made the list slightly longer as I have also included two artists (Alert New London and May Stands Still) who I wanted to include in the list, but Alert New London put out a new EP since I reviewed their Youth album and I did the review of May Stands Still’s When You Come Home back in 2012 but decided to include it on my Best Of list this year because the album has grown on me throughout the last 12 months. For those reasons, the list contains the top ten reviews from me in the last year plus two extra. Check out these talented artists and their solid releases.
Dave Hill, a man who has made a name for himself as a comedian and writer, has returned to his rock and roll roots that he cultivated in Cleveland as part of several bands including Sons of Elvis and Uptown Sinclair, among others. Lately, Hill has been creating music with a New York-based rock outfit by the name of Valley Lodge. Along with Dave Hill on vocals and guitar, the rest of Valley Lodge consists of John Kimbrough on guitar, Phil Costello on bass and Rob Pfeiffer on drums.
One of the things that you will notice when listening to the music of Valley Lodge is that the band has a wide amount of influences that help shape the sound of their music. Because of that, the music of Valley Lodge moves from current rock to a more retro feel to the music. Valley Lodge has recently created a new album entitled Use Your Weapons.
The end of the year usually means three things: resolutions, new challenges and opportunities and, of course, lists! Flipping through a music magazine (whether online or in print) at this time of year and not finding a list of the Top 5 This and Top 10 That is pretty much impossible.
So, we here at RRR decided to jump on the bandwagon (after all, we like to give the people what they want!) and bring you the best of the best from the music of ’09, with a twist. Rather than asking staff to fight it out and put together one sole comprehensive list, we decided we’d let everyone sift through the gems (as well as all those painful albums that made you cringe and think “What in the world were they on?”) and put together their own individual Tops.
But before we begin I’d like to wish everyone a Happy New Year (even though I’m a bit late) and thank you all for making RRR a regular part of your musical intake. (Please don’t leave us in 2010, we love you!)
In Part 1 you’ll find:
1) Top 10 Albums – Stefany Mohebban
2) Top 10 Albums – Bill Sullivan
3) Top 10 Albums (Rock & Metal) – Jon Asher
4) Top 20 Albums (Power Pop) – Aaron Kupferberg
Valley Lodge burst onto the power pop scene in 2005 with a smashing self-titled debut. This long-awaited follow-up, “Semester At Sea”, continues to blaze the same trail, but runs down the path with a great deal more noise and speed. In the band’s own words, “It’s power pop meets pop rock meets your best friend’s parents going out of town when you are sixteen and think that they won’t notice if you threw a pool party. Oh, and it’s 1978 and you are hooked on glue.”
There’s an abundance of swagger and cockiness here, but the band’s confidence in their work is well-justified. The vocals are a cross between Marc Bolan (T. Rex) and Tom Petty, and the guitars a cross between Cheap Trick and AC/DC. But what really rocks the boat on “Semester At Sea” is some incredible drumming. The band launches from the dock and makes serious waves with four consecutive tracks that exude awesomeness, bowling the listener over with rousing guitars, jubilant harmonies, and thundering drums. While the drums and guitar riffs on “The Door” sound a lot like Marilyn Manson’s “Beautiful People”, the track is clearly more of an arena rocker paying homage to 80s rock. The ride stays strong with the driving “When The Rain Comes” and catchy “Baby It’s A Shame”. The boys revisit the Joan Jett and the Blackhearts stadium drumbeat and hand claps in the crowd pleasers, “Comin’ Around” and “My Baby”. The record slacks off a bit towards the end as the band comes to port, with the last decent track being a sloppy and strangely entertaining cover of Bob Welch’s “Sentimental Lady”.
Valley Lodge is the Hummer of the pop rock world – big and brash with a ‘get out of my way or I’ll run your ass over’ attitude. “Semester At Sea” is straight up rock and roll with a nod to glam, for fans of Cheap Trick, OK Go, Dumb Dog Run, and Sloan.
iPOD-worthy: 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 8, 9