Jackson Browne and his all-star team led by guitarists Greg Leisz and Val MacCallum have collectively forced their way onto Guitar Planet’s countdown. If Jackson’s name wasn’t on the tip of our tongues in January, his startling comeback album Standing In The Breach (his first since 2008) ensured the country-folk singer-songwriter dominated the winter months.
Jackson shot to fame capturing the tragedy of receding hope as 60s optimism gave way to 70s paranoia – and his return is timely in the extreme. This collection of intimate, personal, immaculately arranged songs is perfect for a western world stripped of its joie de vivre in the post-crash years. His tales are chocked full of simply expressed sorrow and scathing social critiques. He is baffled by a political discourse that considers life and death problems secondary to ideological posturing:
“It’s never been that hard to buy a gun,
Now they’ll sell a Glock 19 to just about anyone,
The seeds of tragedy are there in what we feel we have the right to bear
…With all we disagree about, the passion burns, the heart goes out”
Mercifully, Jackson has never been the moribund sort and, while he may be excellent at shaking his head in dismay, he’s even better at finding cause for hope and strength in humanity. He’ll share a joke (“My mother married an octogenarian ladies man, he'd take her dancing with a tank of oxygen”) and dream of a brighter future: “You don’t know why, but you still try/For the world you wish to see”.
Enter Shikari renew their archly political assault while expanding their sonic horizons on The Mindsweep.
Brutish, brazen and ungodly satisfying, Royal Blood rode a barrage of chugging bass grooves all the way to the top of the charts in 2014.
Opeth may preach exclusively to the converted, but to overlook the Swedes’ staggeringly consistent brilliance is foolhardy.
Soothing and sorrow-laden in equal measure, Lost In The Dream by The War On Drugs left Guitar Planet speechless.
Guitar Planet has had a love/hate relationship with Slash since Velvet Revolver split, but it remains impossible to deny his freewheeling riffs and slippery solos.