Best of Decade (2010-2019) - Jeffrey343


Well, I am wrapping up another decade on this planet. I’ve moved from my early 40's to my early 50's, and my two sons have moved from middle school to college graduates. Other than that, I’m pretty much the same guy I was at the start of the decade.

I’m glad to have had plenty of opportunity the entire decade to enjoy new music, and to enjoy it whenever and wherever I want. At the start of the decade, I could load MP3 files onto a portable MP3 player and onto my cell phone, and to a flash drive for one of my vehicles.

And I could stream a lot of music on my computer. At the end of the decade, I could still do all that with the addition of being able to stream anything onto my cell phone. So I’m never away from music.

As far as the music goes- I don’t think there was a huge change in the overall style across the decade. Each decade through 1999 had a LOT of change stylistically from start to end.

The 2000- 2009 decade had more of a technological change, combined with a growth in the number of artists generating this style of music, but I think the style itself was pretty consistent throughout. There was just more music with better production quality towards the end.

As for 2010- 2019, I think everything has been very consistent. I can pull out albums from 2010 and 2011 that sound the same as one from this year. To me, that’s a good thing. I don’t mind hearing new sounds and experiencing a degree of forward progress, but I know what I like to hear, and I enjoy variations on the same theme.

Rather than a list ranking the albums in any certain order, I’m going to list the essential albums over the decade, in alphabetical order by artist. These are the ones that are on my go-to list, when I’m not sure what I want to hear but know that one of these will fit my mood.

Artists and Albums

Crazy Lixx - Ruff Justice (2017), Crazy Lixx - Forever Wild (2019)
It took me several years to really get into these guys, but really it was mostly because it took them several years to move into the style that is in my sweet spot. They’re there with their latest two albums, which totally hit the mark.

image First Signal - One Step Over The Line (2016) This is the second of three very good albums by this project by Harry Hess and Daniel Flores, and it is the one that I enjoy the most. There are some stunning songs here, and the album flows perfectly throughout.

H.e.a.t - Address The Nation (2012)
Album number three from H.e.a.t was the first one with new singer Erik Grönwall. As good as they were with Kenny Leckremo, they went up a level with this album. Hit after hit- they nailed it. The following two have also been very strong, but the variety within them made them less consistent to me in spite of them demonstrating artistical growth.

image Houston - II (2013) Album number two (duh) of new material, following a good debut with less than stellar production. This one combines strong pop and AOR sensibilities and is full of catchy tunes. The third album, with the obvious name 'III', was also very good if maybe a bit too poppy to make this list.

Jace Pawlak - Promise (2016)
I have followed Jason on Facebook since reviewing this album, and he is an open book on his musical influences. They’re fully on display here, with ten excellent AOR tracks. He may not be the strongest vocalist out there, but he sings his own material with conviction, and his father supplies many searing and soaring guitar solos throughout.

image Khymera - The Grand Design (2015) Album number four from Dennis Ward and friends, and the only one from this decade. I remember thinking that 2015 was rapidly becoming a very unimpressive year, then this gem came along. While the first three were very good, this is the pick of the bunch for me.

Laneslide - Flying High (2013)
My top album of the prior decade remains the excellent one and only (so far) Marcello Vestry album. I simply love Frank Vestry’s voice, and I wish he was more prolific. This is a similar- and similarly excellent- album.

Lionville - II (2012), Lionville - A World Of Fools (2017)
The first Lionville album in 2011 was a nice one, and they upped the ante in 2012. And they upped it again five years later with an album that sounded in a lot of places like Work Of Art (influenced, obviously, because of the outstanding voice of Lars Säfsund). I’m eagerly anticipating what’s to come in early 2020.

Midnite City - Midnite City (2017), Midnite City - There Goes The Neighborhood (2018)
While Rob Wylde has been around in a few other projects over the years, he had flown under my radar. But he and his band showed up in a big way in 2017. And they lived up to the lofty standards in short order in 2018. These albums are the perfect mix of AOR, glam, and party rock to appeal to me.

image Nitrate - Open Wide (2019) While it’s purely a function of alphabetical order that this album follows Midnite City on my list, it makes perfect musical sense. I may have rated some albums higher in my reviews that didn’t make this list, I see this as being one that will continue to get a lot of play. It’s very close to being a 2019 Midnite City album.

Perfect Plan - All Rise (2018)
I may have put this album down the Best Of 2018 list because of lack of lyrical cohesiveness, but man, it just sounds sooooo good each time I play it. It’s very much like mid-80's Whitesnake to me, with more of an AOR flavor.

image Sonic Station - Next Stop (2014) This one came from nowhere in 2014 and lived in my devices all summer. Incredible vocals and musicianship on catch and interesting songs that aren’t too far “out there” to appeal to me. There have been plenty of bands that people have loved that are a bit too progressive or adventurous for my tastes, but these guys stay on the right side of that line.

Stan Bush - Dream The Dream (2010), Stan Bush - The Ultimate (2014)
Stan Bush is the artist on my list with the longest career and the most albums. I’ve really enjoyed most of them, and all of them since 2004. I think he reached his peak with the 2010 album, and the 2014 one was almost at that level. One can make the case that he has repeated himself quite a bit over his career, and by the 2017 album, it appeared that the creative well might be drying up (still a good album, but not good enough even for my 2017 top ten). These two definitely still get a good workout (and they’re good for workouts, too).

image The Defiants - Zokusho (2019) Another 2019 album that manages to make this list after only a few short months. The debut in 2016 had three killer tracks and several good ones, but they upped the consistency on this one. Great vocals by Paul Laine, great guitar work by Rob Marcello, combined with a great production and excellent songs.

Treat - Coup de Grace (2010)
This was a huge album at the start of the decade, and many were very glad for the return of Treat after being away for many years. This was just song after song of great tunes with the right amount of rock and AOR sensibilities. They delivered two more fine albums later in the decade that didn’t quite reach the lofty heights of this one, which is the one I reach for when I want to treat my ears to these guys.

White Widdow - Serenade (2011), White Widdow - Crossfire (2014)
We got five albums from these guys in the decade, starting with the debut in 2010. These two are albums two and three. ‘Serenade’ was the first one I heard, and it was excellent, an improvement over the very fine debut just one year earlier. They really nailed it with ‘Crossfire’. If I had kept track of how many times I played each album over the decade, chances are that ‘Crossfire’ would have been my number one most played album of all. Unfortunately, they fell off a bit on their next two, which were still good but not as strong as the first three. I’m hoping for a return to the level of these two with their next one.

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Work Of Art - In Progress (2011), Work Of Art - Framework (2014), Work Of Art - Exhibits (2019)
I have to admit that Work Of Art was a slow build for me. The 2008 debut was one I liked fine when it came out, with a couple of truly superb songs. And ‘In Progress’ didn’t blow me away the first few spins. Somehow, though, it suddenly clicked. I played both of those a lot, and ‘Framework’ also hit the mark. It took another five years for the next one, and ‘Exhibits’ has proven to be another winner to me.

Others That Were Considered

There were a lot of really strong albums over the decade, and the following are all ones I will continue to enjoy.

Daughtry - Break The Spell (2011)
Faith Circus - Turn Up The Band (2013)
Find Me - Dark Angel (2015)
FM - Heroes And Villains (2015)
FM - Atomic Generation (2018)
H.e.a.t - A Shot At Redemption (2014)
H.e.a.t - Into The Great Unknown (2017)
House Of Lords - Saint Of The Lost Souls (2017)
Houston - III (2017)
Lionville - Lionville (2011)
Moonland - Moonland (2014)
Overland - Epic (2014)
Pride Of Lions- Fearless (2017)
Revolution Saints - Light In The Dark (2017)
Rob Moratti - Victory (2011)
Seven - Shattered (2016)
Seventh Key - I Will Survive (2013)
State Of Salazar - All The Way (2014)
State Of Salazar - Superhero (2018)
Treat - Ghost Of Graceland (2016)
Treat - Tunguska (2018)
White Widdow - White Widdow (2010)
White Widdow - Silhouette (2016)

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    I ran out of Tags room for Houston, First Signal and H.E.A.T. We made 15 tags available, but we went over the limit here.. lol
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    I tried to cull it down to a Top Ten. It was tough, but I think this would be it - at this particular moment at least. In alphabetical order so that I don't have to think even harder.

    Houston - II (2013)
    Khymera - The Grand Design (2015)
    Midnite City - Midnite City (2017)
    Midnite City - There Goes The Neighborhood (2018)
    Sonic Station - Next Stop (2014)
    Treat - Coup de Grace (2010)
    White Widdow - Crossfire (2014)
    Work Of Art - In Progress (2011)
    Work Of Art - Framework (2014)
    Work Of Art - Exhibits (2019)
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    I fixed the Tags issue, I just opened it out from 15 to 20. Everything is included now.
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