If loss was the overwhelming theme of 2019’s biggest rock stories, the reverse was true for the year’s best albums, with many of our favorite rockers releasing long-overdue records.
The Who, Duff McKagan, Tool and the Raconteurs each offered up their first LPs in more than a decade, while Bruce Springsteen and the Black Keys — both of whom had been prolific throughout the ’00s — returned from five-year gaps between albums. Sammy Hagar gave us his first collection of new songs since Chickenfoot‘s 2011 second effort, showing off what his new band the Circle can do in the studio. Robbie Robertson‘s Sinematic was also his return after eight years away from the studio. And although Neil Young has remained active, his Colorado saw him working with Crazy Horse again for the first time since they put out a pair of records in 2012.
The time off did all of them good, with McKagan and Springsteen (whose Western Stars had actually been tracked around 2012) expanding their sonic palettes, albeit in opposite directions. Hagar’s Space Between was his first-ever concept record, dealing with the effects of greed and substance abuse, and came with a short film that expanded on those themes. The Black Keys and Young went in the opposite direction, giving precisely what’s always been expected from them, as did Tool, whose Fear Inoculum delivered plenty of the dense musical twists and turns that have defined their work.
Of the others, Jeff Lynne‘s ELO continued his late-career renaissance with From Out of Nowhere, which wouldn’t have sounded out of place in 1979, and the soulful blues-rock of the Tedeschi Trucks Band‘s Signs showed why they’re in the upper echelon of the jam band scene.
Check out what we have to say about all of 2019’s best rock albums below.