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Rock ‘n’ Roll Call: The Best Rock Albums of 2010

Pop artists like Lady Gaga, Bruno Mars, Ke$ha and Rihanna dominated the charts in 2010. For us rock fans, though, this year was equally huge. There were countless bands reuniting, going out on anniversary tours, playing massive festivals and releasing new material.

In no particular order, here are some of the best rock albums released this year!

My Chemical Romance – Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys

Those of us who are diehard My Chemical Romance fans were awaiting the band’s fifth studio album with nervous excitement and eager anticipation. We hoped it would live up to the all the hype, but we were also completely unsure of what style the band would try on this time around, as each release has been vastly different from the last. Luckily, MCR delivered a beautifully bright, energetic and well-produced record that shows a freshly polished sound that includes everything from punk to disco. Check out our full review of the record here!

Recommended track: “DESTROYA”

Pierce the Veil – Selfish Machines

San Diego post-hardcore group Pierce the Veil released their sophomore LP, Selfish Machines, back in June. In the first moments of opening track “Besitos,” this album grabs your attention with hand claps, guitar picking, layers of harmonizing vocals and a Latin-influenced beat. PTV ramped up everything on this release, from Vic Fuentes’ unmistakable tenor shrieking to heavy breakdowns and impressive guitar solos. But these rockers can pull off the ballads as well, with the slow number “Stay Away from My Friends” being one of the strongest tracks on the record.

Recommended track: “Caraphernelia” (feat. Jeremy McKinnon of A Day to Remember)

Automatic Loveletter – Truth or Dare

Charismatic singer-songwriter Juliet Simms of Automatic Loveletter has not been an overnight success story. As she recounts on the track “Story of My Life,” she moved from Florida to LA at fifteen after being offered a record deal from Epic. As the label struggled, Juliet wasn’t dropped, but wasn’t supported either. Armed with her DIY attitude, Simms sold handmade copies of her record and feather hair clips to help support her band out on tour. All the hard work paid off, and Simms became one of the most sought-after guest vocalists, having provided her instantly recognizable raspy pipes to albums from All Time Low, Secondhand Serenade, Cartel and more . On the band’s major label debut, Juliet’s simple acoustic songwriting is taken to new heights, with stadium-ready choruses and charging electric guitars mixed with soft, piano-based ballads.

Recommended track: “Let it Ride”

Envy On the Coast – Lowcountry

Long Island, NY natives Envy on the Coast released the impressive Lowcountry in March. With creative lyrics, daring and experimental musical choices and stellar vocals from frontman Ryan Hunter, this record stands out among its peers as having some of the most original songwriting of the year. Equal parts Incubus, Circa Survive and The Dear Hunter, Envy on the Coast unfortunately called it quits this year as well. Be on the lookout for Hunter’s and guitarist Brian Byrne’s  new project, North Korea, which also features Dilinger Escape Plan drummer Billy Ryan.

Recommended track: “The Great American T-Shirt Racket”

Chiodos – Illuminaudio

When post-hardcore outfit Chiodos kicked out founding member and frontman Craig Owens, many fans were outraged. With his dynamic voice and inspiring stage presence, Owens was not only the band’s most charismatic and well-known member, but also a staple in the modern rock scene. Thousands were sure that this decision was the nail in Chiodos’ coffin, but the release of Illuminaudio showed that this band could carry on, and release one hell of a record. New vocalist Brandon Bolmer not only matches Owens’ range, but he also shows a flair for the dramatic on his lyrics, which was one of Owens’ strongest facets. The band members stepped up their game as well, adding more technical parts to each instrument and keeping the orchestral touches that made 2007′s Bone Palace Ballet a masterpiece in its own right. The breakdowns are heavy, the instrumentation is tight, the vocals are spot-on, so it’s clear Chiodos aren’t going anywhere.

Recommended track: “Those Who Slay Together, Stay Together

VersaEmerge – Fixed at Zero

Due to the success of Paramore, there are now hundreds of identical young female-fronted pop bands trying to find their place in the spotlight. But make no mistake, that doesn’t include Tampa, Florida natives VersaEmerge. Fronted by the electrifying 20-year-old Sierra Kusterbeck, Versa take pop rock to a new level, adding in complex electronic arrangements (courtesy of guitarist Blake Harnage), tightly layered harmonies and wonderfully honest lyrics about Kusterbeck’s own inner conflicts. The band’s first LP, Fixed at Zero, was released this summer and has catapulted the band to buzzworthy status, aided by a full-episode on MTV’s The World of Jenks and placement on the entire 2010 Vans Warped Tour.

Recommended track: “Fixed at Zero”

The Deftones – Diamond Eyes

When The Deftones‘ bassist Chi Cheng was involved in a horrible car accident that left him in a coma, the band shelved their near-completed album, Eros. A year later, they decided to return to the studio (with Sergio Vega of Quicksand filling in for Chi) and wrote what would become Diamond Eyes. The record is mercilessly heavy, verging on metal at times, but also has some slower numbers that add depth and atmosphere to the record. Vocalist Chino Moreno keeps up with the band’s flawlessly-executed prog rock with his high-intensity screams, which can quickly morph into soft and soulful melodies. If you’re looking for a record to rock out to, Diamond Eyes is definitely a front runner this year.

Recommended track: “Rocket Skates”

Ludo – Prepare the Preparations

Few lyricists today have the incredible imagination of Ludo‘s Andrew Volpe. Anyone who needs proof need look no further than 2006′s jaw-dropping five-song rock opera, Broken Bride, which is about a man who mistakenly time travels between the Pre Historic Era and a future apocalypse to save his dead wife. Though Broken Bride is brilliant and beautifully written, it’s going to be tough for Ludo to ever top it. That being said, Prepare the Preparations is an eccentric and quirky pop record, with lyrics that cover everything from robots to dancing skeletons to leprechauns. The songwriting is creative and more experimental than in the past, as Ludo covers everything from acoustic to electronic pop to straight up showtunes.

Recommended track: “Too Tired to Wink”

Foxy Shazam – Foxy Shazam

As we learned in our Q&A with Eric Nally of Foxy Shazam, it’s very difficult to categorize this outrageous and energetic rock group….and that’s the way they like it. Pieces of punk, soul, funk and indie rock make their way into the band’s self-titled record, which dropped in April. This isn’t a record that you’ll listen to and have to wonder if the group is just as fun live, as Foxy are well known for their off-the-wall theatrical performances. They may be an acquired taste, but either way, you have to give Foxy Shazam props for being genuinely original.

Recommended track: “Count Me Out”

Isles & Glaciers-  The Hearts of Lonely People

Since Pierce the Veil and Chiodos were both on our list, it makes sense that a supergroup including PTV’s vocalist Vic Fuentes and his brother, drummer Mike Fuentes, as well as Chiodos bassist Matt Goddard would also be included. Isles & Glaciers also includes (ex-Chiodos, now D.R.U.G.S.) vocalist Craig Owens, Emarosa/Dance Gavin Dance vocalist and solo artist Jonny Craig, Underminded/D.R.U.G.S. guitarist Nick Martin and ex-Boys Night Out/The Receiving End of Sirens‘ Brian Southall on keyboard and guitar. After many months of pushing back the release, their debut EP The Hearts of Lonely People was released in 2010. Different than any of the members’ past or present bands, Hearts is a mash-up of post-hardcore, electronica and pop rock. The three vocalists here, especially Jonny Craig, really steal the show.

Recommended track: “Hills Like White Elephants”

Leave us a comment below and let us know what your favorite rock album of 2010 were…then check back next week for our list of most anticipated rock albums for 2011!

Rock ‘n’ Roll Call: My Chemical Romance’s “Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys”

In an age where many rock bands buy into trends and disappear into the crowd, New Jersey’s My Chemical Romance have always pushed the envelope and dared to stand out. Each of the band’s releases have been built on a strong vision, and the band has reinvented themselves time and time again, both musically and aesthetically. Garnering a massive legion of fans known as the MCRmy, My Chem have been the go-to band for dark lyrics, gothic makeup and screaming vocals since their 2002 debut, I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love.

That is…until now. True to form, My Chem have evolved yet again on their eagerly-anticipated fourth studio album, Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys. A band who is theatrical as their music, My Chem literally become a different band with each album.

MCR, Phase 1

Leaving behind their marching band uniforms from their days as Italian rock group The Black Parade in 2006, the band have now emerged as the Killjoys. Led by frontman/mastermind Gerard Way, the band are ray gun-wielding outlaws from the year 2019 (who aren’t afraid to wear a little color). The Killjoys are fighting against Better Living Industries, the Big Brother organization that is keeping their hometown—Battery City—bland, boring and under control. But the Killjoys, who individually call themselves Party Poison (Way), Kobra Kid (bassist Mikey Way), Fun Ghoul (guitarist Frank Iero) and Jet Star (guitarist Ray Toro), are on a mission: to rebel via a raucous rock ‘n’ roll dance party.

MCR, Phase 2: The band loved their costumes from the "Helena" video so much that they wore them on tour.

Like a comic book come to life, the record opens with a welcome into the world of The Killjoys by radio host Dr. Death Defying, who slyly demands, “Look alive, Sunshine.” His introduction fades into the beginning of “Na Na Na,” the first single released off the album. Once you get over the initial shock of how jarringly different it is from anything else in the band’s discography, you’ll be singing along to this hard, fast and celebratory track.

“Bulletproof Heart” follows, with shimmering spacey sounds leading into another synth-laced, riff-laden rock tune. On the next single “Sing,” Way urges us to “use your voice every single time you open up your mouth/sing it for the boys, sing it for the girls/every time that you lose it, sing it for the world.” The track remains relatively subdued until the band jacks up the energy with a driving and well-rhymed bridge.

Any long-time fan of My Chem might cringe at the idea of a disco song, but “Planetary (GO!)” will calm the fears of any skeptics. This dance-worthy party anthem leads into “The Only Hope For Me Is You,” the chorus of which draws an easy comparison to an arena sing-a-long from 30 Seconds to Mars. “Party Poison” picks up where “Planetary (GO!)” left off, with Way yelping, “This ain’t a party, get off the dance floor/You want the letdown, here comes the gang war.” Fans of The Black Parade will love “Save Yourself, I’ll Hold Them Back,” a charging rocker that finally makes room for some of Toro’s signature soloing. “S/C/A/R/E/C/R/O/W” is a toned-down retro ballad, while “Summertime” is probably the closest the band has ever been to a love song.

MCR, Phase 3: The Black Parade

But don’t get too comfortable, because next is “Destroya,” the hardest track on the album thus far. In between moans and yelps, Way screams “You don’t believe in God/I don’t believe in luck/They don’t believe in us/But I believe we’re the enemy!

Things calm down on the synth-heavy track “The Kids From Yesterday,” right before Dr. Death signs off the air the old fashioned way—by playing out a full orchestral version of the American national anthem.

Just as you think this high-intensity joyride might be coming to an end, the band pulls out all the stops with “Vampire Money,” a song about their refusal to write a song for the Twilight soundtrack. It’s undoubtedly the most energetic song on the record, complete with claps, crashing drums and Toro’s most impressive guitar solo to date.

MCR, Phase 4: The Fabulous Killjoys

From the very first track of Danger Days, you’ll realize that My Chemical Romance have evolved into a band unlike any other, even themselves. The record still contains metaphors and sci-fi imagery, but Way has written some of the most direct and literal lyrics of his career. Unlike Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge and The Black Parade,  Danger Days is not a concept album. Instead, it’s a punk rock free-for-all that allows the band to cut loose musically and metaphorically, freeing themselves of any labels that have been slapped on them in the past. And though this is their poppiest record to date, My Chem still maintain all the aggression, passion and confidence of all of their previous work. No matter what direction they choose to go in or what costume they choose to wear, they somehow always sound like MCR. In always keeping a fresh new sound and look, they keep audiences intrigued, excited and curious about what band they’ll become next.

Killjoys, make some noise! Check out the official video for “Na Na Na” below and pick up Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys now in stores and on iTunes!

 


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