Tracks of 2014: Blue Collar Heroes

Our look back at the best tracks of the year continues with the very best from those with hearts of grit

Ryan Adams - Gimme Something Good The three years between the self-titled new album and 2011’s Ashes & Fire is a lifetime in terms of Adam’s usual prolific output, but the wait was more than worth it as this perfect, soul searching return to Petty-tinged classic rock - with an emphasis on the class - proves. A true American treasure.

**Augustines - **Cruel City Raw emotion and pain have never been far from the surface with Augustines, but Cruel City shows the vital glimmer of hope constantly clawing its way to the surface. It’s this gritty, grimy, realistic optimism in the face of the harsh realities of life that makes them special.

**The Gaslight Anthem - **Get Hurt Brian Fallon has fought tooth and nail to distance himself from the Springsteen comparisons, and with this tough-guy tearjerker he ditches the third-person working man tales to wrench his heart out and reveal all about the emotional bomb that went off during his divorce. Devastating stuff.

The People The Poet - Molly Drove Me Away The very DIY nature of South Wales’ The People The Poet’s album The Narrator meant that much fewer people heard it than it deserved. Soulful and spirited, with the right backing they could easily take on the Kings Of Leon at their own game and come out on top.

The Hold Steady - Spinners We see the well-trodden mean streets of the US metropolis through the fresh eyes of a girl “two years off some prairie town” here, as Craig Finn and co return to what they do best - evocative anthems for those searching for meaning and belonging in the big city.

Lonely The Brave - Backroads Post-hardcore’s not dead, it’s just evolving, as evidenced in this enormous singalong belter from the Cambridge band with a eye on Biffy Clyro’s crown. Dramatic, radio-friendly and unashamedly emotional, the highlight from their album The Days War doesn’t even pretend to hide their ambition.

Counting Crows - Elvis Went To Hollywood Yep, they’re still here, more than 20 years after their debut August And Everything After stormed the airwaves while the grunge wars raged around them. Their success lies in their consistency, Elvis… showing their perkier side while the innate melancholy of Adam Duritz’s unique voice provides a thread to their past.

Old 97’s - Let’s Get Drunk And Get It On The Dallas veterans are on gloriously, air-punchingly unsubtle form with this sweet but simple blast of wonky country rock in praise of booze and shagging. As unrestrained and joyful as bad dance moves that emerge after six pints of lager.

Gentlemen Husbands - Come Down It’s fitting that the band were born out of frontman Derrick Ballard’s dad’s motorbike shop, because Come Down has that classic, grease monkey Americana that could have come from any time in the last four decades. A warm pean to friendship and companionship that fits like an old slipper from the first listen.

Fraser Lewry

Online Editor at Louder/Classic Rock magazine since 2014. 38 years in music industry, online for 25. Also bylines for: Metal Hammer, Prog Magazine, The Word Magazine, The Guardian, The New Statesman, Saga, Music365. Former Head of Music at Xfm Radio, A&R at Fiction Records, early blogger, ex-roadie, published author. Once appeared in a Cure video dressed as a cowboy, and thinks any situation can be improved by the introduction of cats. Favourite Serbian trumpeter: Dejan Petrović.