We kick off our comprehensive round-up of the best of the year’s songs with a look at 16 bright new things making a big noise.
Purson - Danse Macabre Ex-Ipso Facto frontwoman Rosie Cunningham’s new outfit picks up where early Fleetwood Mac left off and adds some fairground psychedelia to produce a sound that harks back to the days of gaudy kaftans and pungent smoke. Danse Macabre is commendable for the fact it remains sharp and full of attitude, despite heavy use of a Hammond organ.
Royal Blood - Come On Over They may be a duo but Royal Blood are one of the loudest newcomers to rock the 2014 charts. Cementing their place as a serious contender in the UK alternative scene is Come On Over, an abrasive powerhouse that draws heavily from early 90s garage noise. It’s also got one of the catchiest hooks we’ve heard this year.
Kill It Kid - I’ll Be The First I’ll Be The First brings a generous helping of blues to the table, as Kill It Kid break out of the nu-folk box they’re often thrown into and prove they can do ballsy, stripped-back grunge. This is the track that shows singer Chris Turpin at his best, rasping heartily over a chugging riff.
**J Roddy Walston & The Business - **Heavy Bells Hailing from Tennessee, J Roddy Walston and his band of Southern rockers allow their gospel and country backgrounds a heavy presence in their music. The gritty, low-production and slurred vocals of Heavy Bells puts it somewhere between Taj Mahal and early Stones, with a big slice of Americana thrown in.
**King 810 - **Fat Around The Heart The Michigan metal outfit divided opinion throughout 2014, with tales of crime and violence adding to the intrigue around their debut album, Memoirs of a Murderer. Drawing on their experiences of the bleak side of life in Flint, MI, Fat Around the Heart is a dark, snarling, industrial-tinged track, that’s drawn comparisons with Slipknot.
Benjamin Booker - Violent Shiver Benjamin Booker’s raw, bluesy wail belies his 25 years – with its strong echoes of The Undertones and T-Rex, Violent Shiver wouldn’t sound out of place in the early Seventies, when no-frills garage rock was making itself known. It’s no surprise that Booker lives in New Orleans – traditional blues riffs underpin much of his work.
Twin Atlantic - Fall Into The Party The anorak-sporting Scot rockers burst onto the scene last year with Free, and with Fall Into The Party, they’ve recaptured the abrasive, anthemic sound that catapulted them into mainstream consciousness. It’s a playful, irresistible slice of pop-rock that demands to be played loudly.
**Lionize - **Jetpack Soundtrack The name and artwork may lend themselves to an ambient mix of chillout beats, but Lionize deal in no such currency – Jetpack Soundtrack is an explosion of funk-rock that could fill either a stadium or the floor at a party. Of course, the guitar riffs are tighter than a clenched fist; Clutch’s Tim Sult is on axe duty.
Crobot - Nowhere To Hide They may be relative newcomers, but Crobot’s showy grunge instantly marks them as successors to the likes of Clutch, Audioslave and Black Stone Cherry. Nowhere To Hide proves that, as much as hard rock is a tried-and-tested genre with few more avenues to explore, it’s still alive, and Crobot do it well.
Henry’s Funeral Shoe - Janice The Stripper Pt1 Intriguingly-named Welsh duo Henry’s Funeral Shoe was born from guitarist Aled Clifford’s love of Peter Green and Beatles vinyls, and their lo-fi rock and roll lends itself to the medium. Janice The Stripper is a revisiting of Sixties blues-rock, with plenty of solid riffs.
Ming City Rockers - I Wanna Get Out Of Here But I Can’t Take You Anywhere Bringing punk back are the Ming City Rockers – Birmingham’s answer to the New York Dolls. I Wanna Get Out Of Here instantly sounds like a classic from a bygone era – the fast, chugging guitar line, earworm of a chorus and slapdash harmonies make this a seriously catchy gem from the underground.
Preachers Son – Jericho A tale of a man falling victim to his desires, Jericho is a bluesy saga with an incongruous, German arthouse-style video to match (or not). This Irish group cite Hendrix as an influence, and aren’t afraid to draw heavily on his upfront playing style, although they add a little more reverb.
Kongos - Hey I Don’t Know Blending South African kwaito with blues, funk and soul, Kongos bring a unique sound to what’s been a guitar-heavy year. Hey I Don’t Know is upbeat, unashamedly retro, and could probably be filed somewhere between Steve Winwood and the Dave Matthews Band (unless you’re doing it alphabetically, of course).
Rival State - Aces We haven’t had much in the way of sing-along, radio-ready punk rock since early Fallout Boy and even AFI, but Rival State are part of a new wave of melodic, accessible rock – think Thrice or My Chemical Romance (RIP) with more of a polished edge. If HIM were a bit gothic for you, these guys are a happy medium.
Cage The Gods - Falling Some of the members may not have been born when Bon Jovi was releasing their first album, but Cage The Gods have the glam-rock look down to a T – chains, tattoos and sleeveless denim are in abundance. Expect something a little less theatrical from their sound, though – while drawing on American stadium rock influences, Falling is a more sombre melodic masterpiece.
Purple – Wallflower Prepare yourself from an explosion of earnest happy-punk – Purple may just have invented a new subgenre. Vocalist Hanna Brewer also takes on drumming duties, but she beats Meg White hands down in the charisma stakes. Wallflower is a great demonstration of this young Texan outfit’s grasp of harmony and syncopation; there’s serious talent under their crashing sound.