Tracks of 2014: Party Hard

Our look back at the best tracks of the year continues with those best suited to ushering in a new one.

Märvel - Hadal Zone Express The Swedish gonzo rockers returned in some style this year, and this title track of their fourth album epitomises the rock-like-dad-used-to-make carefree anthems they specialise in. That said, there’s also a whiff of AOR-style melancholy creeping in there. Getting contemplative in your old age boys?

Urban Voodoo Machine - Your Hour Of Darkness Paul-Ronney Angel and his cast of thousands further enhanced their reputation as one of London’s finest nights out with their fourth album Love, Drink & Death. This vintage stomper is as good a starting point as any to convert the innocent to their devilishly entertaining ‘gypsy blues, bop & stroll’.

Wilson - If You Ever Leave Me I Will Find You This hard-partying Detroit outfit have made a reputation from walking a questionable line between sexy and sexist, screamo and trad rock, but this single has a distinct air of menace about it that belies their ‘beers and boobs’ manifesto.

Electric Mary - Sweet Mary C This Aussie quintet’s brand of boogie-loving barroom blues rock could have come out of any of the last six decades, but that’s a tribute to their talent for timeless whiskey-sodden hard rock. This stuff never gets old.

The Treatment - Running With The Dogs These rising stars from Cambridge pull off a neat trick – echoing several iconic acts at various points in the same song without sounding like they’re imitating any of them. It’s the style and swagger with which they mix broad strokes of AC/DC, Aerosmith and G’n’R that helps them get away with it.

**Nashville Pussy - **Rub It To Death Blaine Cartwright and co are onto their sixth album now, but there’s no sign of them modifying their irresistible formula of riff-based southern-fried rock’n’roll with a healthy edge of humour. This track shows that when you rock this hard, you don’t need to worry about repeating yourself.

Blackwolf - Keep Moving On This Bristol-based five-piece crowdfunded their debut album with help from a growing live following, and if they keep producing sleaze-soaked rock belters like this lead single, there’ll soon be plenty more punters queuing up to part with their rock dollars.

Santa Cruz - We Are The Ones To Fall Squealing fretwork, huge rabble-rousing choruses, swearing and sizeable barnets – it helped make hair metal one of California’s most successful 1980s exports, and these talented Finns are doing a fine job of selling it back to them, 30 years on.

Kory Clarke - Payback’s A Bitch Warrior Soul were always essentially a vehicle for sour-throated frontman and producer Kory Clarke, and he showed again this year he can fare just as well under his own name. This potty-mouthed rant is all the better for sounding like it’s been recorded after an all-night drinking session.

Death From Above 1979 - Trainwreck 1979 It’s taken 10 years for the Canadian duo to come up with a second album, but fans of their highly original 2004 debut will be delighted to know that their super-heavy bass growl and funk-with-big-boots-on stomp hasn’t mellowed at all with age.

Johnny Sharp

Johnny is a regular contributor to Prog and Classic Rock magazines, both online and in print. Johnny is a highly experienced and versatile music writer whose tastes range from prog and hard rock to R’n’B, funk, folk and blues. He has written about music professionally for 30 years, surviving the Britpop wars at the NME in the 90s (under the hard-to-shake teenage nickname Johnny Cigarettes) before branching out to newspapers such as The Guardian and The Independent and magazines such as Uncut, Record Collector and, of course, Prog and Classic Rock