Posts tagged Indie
The countdown continues with the Top 10 Albums of 2014…
10) Weezer – Everything Will Be Alright In The End
After all this time Weezer are still a good as ever on their latest LP. Looking backwards to blue In a good way, focusing on those fabulous understated college pop melodies, cool for being uncool vibes and as ever their dash of special doo-waah hooks. Packed with witty and self mocking lyrics, it’s also quite a fun listen also. But with chorus’ like these, destined to be stuck in your head all day, It’s not surprise it’s been such a success!
9) Marmozets – Weird & Wonderful Marmozets
Like a true abstract collage of pop, math, metal and punk all on a broad canvas of youthful energy and disregard for the rules….this is perfect modern rock! Erratic swerves from all out aural assaults to complex technical riffs, scything synths, pop punk gang harmonies and spiteful screeches. Also shows huge songwriting potential on some impressive piano rock balladry too. Exciting new talent which like to push the boundaries.
8) The Smith Street Band – Throw Me In The River
Akin with Frank Turner or Hold Steady verbosity, The Smith Street Band’s latest is steeped in poignant, poetic and passionate lyrics. Lines you sit learn and scream out at live shows like nothing else exists. A spectacle of raw honest, open hearted tales both world-weary and awestruck that captivates from the first line to the last chord. All the while the ever melodic alt rock back-flips from dour picked strings to all out thrash outs via exuberant melodies almost as impressive as the vocals. Truly Captivating!
7) Grand Magus – Triumph & Power
Triumph & Power is as collosal as rock gets. Evoking images of Vikings plundering the frozen wastelands of Scandinavia, knights riding to death or glory and scenes of epic battles past. Galloping riffs, giant melodies and a knack for catchy chorus’ only serve to elevate this above 2014’s kings of hard rock.
6) I Am The Avalanche – Wolverines
Wolverines is a rampaging pop-punk record with gnarling flashes of hardcore punk coursing through its veins. Encapsulating this vibe are the stand-out vocals which soar and snarl in equal measure, howled with real intensity and vigour throughout. Emphasis here is on all out punk attach with a clean polished punk rock sound with all the pop boxes ticked for good measure. Huge sing-a-long chorus’s, Check. Simple but effective power chords, Check. Enigmatic vocals, check. Gang Wow-ohhs, check. A packed LP of fist aloft anthems, waiting for widespread appeal!
5) Cloud Nothings – Here & Nowhere Else
Clocking in at a blistering 31 mins 24 secs the raggedly lo-fi garage punk of Cloud Nothings barely stops for breath. Exhausting energy bounds throughout charting the demise of a relationship is one of the most openly honest lyrical outings this year. Despite this, it has to go down as one of the most high octane breakup records ever penned. Lightning punk strikes, exhilarating drumming and machine gun lyrics fuel what’s a true out of control joyride of indie rock prowess. Uncontrollable but unstoppable!
4) Destrage – Are you Kidding Me
Destrage mix a unique concoction of Diamond tipped metalcore, off kilter math riffing, punkish tempo’s and accelerating and twisting melodic phrasing brings the most eclectic explosions of 2014 (occasionally all within the same song). Dance and dub heavy electronic surges and erratic tempo changes makes this album totally unpredictable, shifting from politically charged acid tongued vitriol to big chorus’d melodic chaos punk. Can be pretty heavy in places but the screams and the cleans are both do well balancing anger and enigmatic qualities. Whilst varied, the album is (somehow) cohesive and the fun/crazed lyrics (“We shoot zombie’s in the face” anyone?) match the unrestrained vibe of a band at a creative peak.
3) Black Pistol Fire – Hush Or Howl
Two men, One Guitar, One Drum kit. the simplicity and effectiveness of execution which elevates this retro garage blues ablum above the pack this yeat. Doing Blues soaked rock better than anyone else like a former White Stripes or once a Black Keys these guys have enough vintage vibes crossed with an abundance of corking riff heavy tunes to make his a rip roaring bonafide modern blues classic.
2) Märvel – Hadal Zone Express
Above all else Marvel’s latest has brought the most whimsy and fun to 2014’s rock roster, harking back to the glory days of the 70’s hard rock of Thin Lizzy and the garage rock revivalists of the early 00’s. A pure pop rock album infused with rock and roll blood pumped along at a fair gallop. Focused upon creating inventive but addictive riffs and a constant stream of singalong songs means Hadal Zone Express both excels in rocking hard and captivating the popular ear. Beware the Danish Rush as these (gimp-esque) masked Scandinavian retro rockers are coming for you too!
1) Johnny Foreigner – You Can Do Better
Whilst not breaking their scatterbrain indie rock mould, JF have produced their most consistent and enigmatic album of their career to date, Mixing the melodic musings of Wifi Beach with the ramshackle riff-meisters of Shipping, there is so much to fall head over heels for. Never a dull moment as each song ducks and dives in its unique JF way where noisy clattering guitars somehow combine to form addictive melodies. The JF boy/girl duelling vocals again are both sweet, smooth and edgy highlighting the irreverent but addictive lyrics. A heady and pulsating adventure in indie-rock which has climbed to the top of the 2014 DiR.net mountain.
That’s all folks…2015 here we come!
I’ll be honest, I checked out a far more music this year than usual in search of the album which would to the top of this countdown. But there was a distinct lack of big hitting rock monsters from an established artists, with disappointing releases from Black Stone Cherry, Foo Fighters, The Gaslight Anthem, F**cked Up ,Death From Above 1979 but to name a few, has typified my year. However that has given the Album of 2014 list a more diverse feel to it which is never a bad thing. The albums which have made the grade have done so with high praise from DoesItRock HQ.
Without further ado I present this 2014’s DoesItRock.net Album of the Year countdown. (As usual free from critical sneering and driven purely by honest love of guitars, drums and voices.)
EP/Mini-Album) Hey Vanity – Blindfolds
Chelmsford based Post-Hardcore rockers released their first mini album after last years promising EP. Standing out from the crowd, they mix challenging riffs and razor edged guitars with stunningly catchy pop hooks.
25) Toseland – Renegade
Former Superbike World Champion James Toseland turns his hand to rock by fronting his own hard rock band. Turns out he’s got a damn good rock voice. Backing this up with some tasty riffs and pop slanted melodies this album was an unexpected treat. Not exactly original and lyrics are standard fare, but they do rock pretty hard!
24) The Datsuns – Deep Sleep
The Datsuns whilst still lighting the classic rock canon have changed the fuse and gone Sabbath. Still packed with fuzz packed, riff heavy garage rock and roll but this album is darker in mood and tone. Such marked progression from a retro rock band is rare, hence it’s being celebrated here.
23) Orange Goblin – Back From The Abyss
Thirsty for riffs? These lumbering Stoner Rock mammoths deliver a earth shattering set of monster amp maxing anthems packed with pure guitar power. Uncompromising whilst retaining the accessible vibe of uplifting rock anthems. Worth thumping the head for!
22) Blues Pills – Blues Pills
Of all the current new wave of old retro rockers Blue Pills are by far the most dynamic and unique. Taking raw production values and a youthful vigour for blues they meld boisterous energy and drifting psychadelia to mind spiralling effects. At their best when flicking between loud/soft and slow/fast all whilst blasting our rawkus guitar licks and seductive vocals.
21) Slash – World On Fire
The legendary behatted Gibson Les Paul slinger returns with the greatest rock vocalist of a generation Myles Kennedy for another adrenaline fueled romp through the classic/hard rock songbook. Loads of quality riffs and guitars driving huge chorus’ as you would expect from 2 men on top of their games. But there’s too much slash being slash genericism for this to place higher, plus its waaay to long as well.
20) The Brew – Control
A concept album from this hard working British blues band tips the right scales on their latest album. Pop laced rock numbers with supremely catchy melodies and guitar hooks aplenty. Honest, addictive with true swagger and style. Amazingly its also recorded LIVE!!! Control throws of the shackles of overproduced rock and blasts out raw powerful rock and roll!
19) The Treatment – Running With The Dogs
Hard Rocker’s The Treatment’s latest album is packed to the rafters with pop friendly chorus’ and killer guitar hooks. Snarling vocals, thunderous riffs, and bold steamroller energy reinforces their status as once of the best new classic/hard rock bands in the UK. Running With The Dogs is more radio friendly than their debut, but this doesn’t hinder this a stellar set of headline grabbing tunes which have grown into some of my favourites this year.
18) Audrey Horne – Pure Heavy
Exactly what it says on the cover, Pure Heavy! For their latest album these Norwegian rockers went all traditional metal with some startlingly good results. Songs are driven by diamond tipped melodies and huge booming chorus’s. Huge array of upbeat, uptempo and romper stomping anthems sure to set pulses racing!
17) Joe Bonamassa – Different Shades Of Blue
The premier blues man of the 21st century delivers yet another brilliant addition to his growing back catalogue. This is a more traditional LP, laced with soul, heartbreak and plenty of rhythm n’ blues to match. Guitar workouts are less prominent, allowing the fully backed songs to shine for themselves. One thing is for certain, the blues will never fade away while Joes’s in town!
16) Royal Blood – Royal Blood
Hype machine finally tunes into rock.fm! This Brighton duo produce some of the dirtiest bluesy riffed hard rock under the guise of cool scenesters, following in the trail og bluesy rockers previous Black Keys & White Stripes. The real winner on this album is the Production. Royal Blood pump out a magnificent racket which emanates stunning super-power from every conceivable angle. Whilst not the most inventive or best big scuzzed up rock around, it certainly the most stylishly polished.
15) Antemasque – Antemasque
Latest incarnation of alt rock legends Omar Rodríguez-López and Cedric Bixler-Zavala, sees them strip away all the unnecessary indulgences and focuses on high tempo, high impact punk infused rock. Antemasque married tight indie-rock songs with enigmatic vocal hooks, off-kilter clanging guitars and a knack for a nifty melody or two. A total change in direction from Mars Volta’s excesses, but elements creep back to keep us on our toes to ensure this is anything but a dull listen.
14) The Hold Steady – Teeth Dreams
Everyone’s favourite bar band is back to doing what they do best, weaving shaggy dog stories in and out of their melody-centric rock songs. Songwriting are every bit as good as ever, leaving you tied to the lyric book for the next quotable line. Bringing the focus back onto the harmonies and chorus’ has paid dividends as this is a return to their early career highlights.
13) Mean Creek – Local Losers
Indie rockers Mean Creek know how to write classic pop ditties and clearly also know how to throw caution to the wind. Its the intersection of the frenzied indie rock attack, punked up guitars, pop melodies and sugary sweet girl/boy vocal harmonies ensure a headline grabbing sound. Local Losers is a real rapid fire album of short sharp addictive tunes which breeze past leaving you humming them all day.
12) Manchester Orchestra – Cope
Manchester Orchestra’s twee indieness has been well and truely shattered with this “their big rock album” which succeeds with self-confident swagger at odds to their more normal introspective/subdued standards. The template is clearly let’s make Pinkerton 2.0, it almost a succeeds too! A combo of hulking indie rock noise, wailing guitars and tight insistent melodies is truly fantastic. I’m a fan of their new rawkus direction, but it won’t stay long seeing as the companion acoustic version LP Hope” is already out.
11) Against Me – Transgender Dysphoria Blues
The punk bands first outing after the outing of lead singer Laura Jane Grace (Tom Gabel) is a very important record. Bringing LGBT issues to the fore in an open, honest and raw way with Laura’s rough vocals opening a window into her former/new life. The fact that it’s wrapped in Against Me!’s usual pop heavy vocal harmonies and driven by some damn catchy upbeat rock numbers keeps you coming back for more. Transgender Dysphoria Blues is about as punk a record could be in 2014!
Stay tuned for the top 10 (sometime soon…..)!
23rd July 2013
After a rip roaring outing at the Monto Water Rats many years ago (Over 7 years ago now, wow), I could not resist the lure of The Thermals once more. This time they come after a couple of poppier LP’s laying back their sound, would their show be equally electrifying? The support tonight came from Slowcoach. After 6 months has elapsed, it turns out I have no recollection of the performance or their sound, which in itself is evidence in its own right.
The Thermals however left another rampaging wake in my memory with their blistering indie punk which belies their relatively polishes LP’s. Each song was a short sharp burst of energy, played with buzzing fuzz guitars and romping bass lines, enough of which have memorable pop chorus’s to keep the crowd happy. Alongside their true rock out moments which sparked crashing bodies to fly this was a balanced set of songs from old aggression, recent fine melodic moments all delivered with bursting enthusiasm.
Set highlights includes the recent return to fine rock out form “Born To Kill”, slow melodic bounder “Never Listen To Me” and the terrifyingly brilliant assault of “Here’s Your Future”.
The advancing years have not taken any toll on The Thermals, plus there’s no sign of them slowing down any time soon either.
18th July 2013
***Playing catch up on the review front…memories are hazy at best…Pics AWOL***
One of the less widely known buzz bands of the past few years made the trip to London in the summer for a rather intimate outing in Camden in support of their latest album Celebration Rock. Mr Flowers and I were in the venue early and caught their support act The Wytches.
Their inoffensive indie rock was jaunty and light. Mr. Flowers was suitably impressed with their style and tunes, their underground lo-fi’ness an attractive attribute (henceforth shattered by their rise over the last 6 months). For me however it sounded like every other indie band who seem to all share an effect pedal/rig harking to surfy 60’s guitars packed with reverb which lacks in punchy tones (I think they all must use the same one on timeshare). Still young and with far to go they get a half thumbs up from doesitrock.net on this occasion.
Japandroids are not your typical indie rockers, they are a power duo who like to play rawkus noise rock, yet want people to sing along too. This was all in evidence this evening as they started their aural assault kicking head splitting drums and amping up layer of fuzz, over overdrive, over fuzz, over overdrive etc… Their thumping melodies were only matched in stature by their towering chorus’ from their latest LP.
Standout moments included the rampaging Evil’s Sway and the summery sprinkled chant vocals of The House That Heaven Built. The venue was packed and crowd in fine voice throughout generating a buzz of its own all night.
With just guitar and drum kit it’s hard to be truly diverse, where on occasion they suffered from repetitive riff syndrome on their lesser known album tracks. But with enough cannonballs in their arsenal there was plenty enough bombardment of fret board firepower to keep us happy, ranging from chugging punk strikes to chimed high notes providing the backdrop for the effect heavy vocal howls.
Tonight Japandroids showed themselves to be a star band, deceptively big and heavy despite their pop angles and love of a huge sing-a-long melody.
16th April 2013,
It was a busy night in north London, police lined the streets and the riot gear was out in force. Thankfully the couple of hundred fans of And So I Watch You From Afar were not the reason behind such tactics. An Arsenal home game was in fact the cause of the red and white army moving towards The Emirates for a clash with Everton.
Crowd troubles aside (it took over 10 mins to get ascend to street level from the tube!), The Garage was stiflingly hot and already packed as Antlered Man took to the stage (I do admit to being a tad disappointed that there were no Minotaur’s in the band). This London bunch of alt-rockers plundered the stage with their heaving and hefty whirls of clanging guitar noise. A vast array of odd sounds and warped effects were generated with gusto and frenetic intents. Shame a lot of it was buzz and wailing amp feedback, especially the slide guitar which howled extra-terrestrial whoops and whizzes throughout the set. They were however enjoyable and had a good set of book end tunes with opener and closer being incredible hook heavy eclectic rock chaos. The meat of the sandwich however was a blur of noise which passed primarily unnoticed. However they get extra marks for basing a song on a 4 note riff played on a tin whistle. Not bad, but room for improvement in the depth of quality, time will tell for the Antlered Men.
Next up (well almost) were Gallops, who decided a full 10 minutes before their set time that they were too ill to play. Groans from the busy crowd but having almost slept through their set supporting Maybeshewill, this was fine by me. It did mean an awkward pause ensued, but earlier than planned the instrumental post-rockers …And So I Watch You From Afar took the stage.
And So I Watch You From Afar
ASIWYFA, only have 1 gear so it seems…full throttle! From the very first sombre chords to the highest pinnacle of their epic rock repertoire, they bombarded The Garage with bomb after bomb of explosive guitar power. For a band with no lyrics, they manage a very good job of manufacturing a connection with their audiences, sparking crowd exuberance through bombastic man-rock sections and rising spirits alongside the harmonious crescendos of their muscular and often chaotic tunes. Somehow the music is better for their omission, but that has not stopped ASIWYFA attempting to slip some in on their newest album. While a simple tool, the odd “yeahs!” of yore have been updated with “woos!”, “las!”, and most vexing “Ka Ba Ta Bo Da Ka” alongside other actual words. Sometimes they word to bring the crowd up in reflected harmony, other times it’s just filling a gap where another corking fret board run could be inserted.
Tonight was special for ASIWYFA as this was their biggest sell out crowd outside of their native land of Northern Ireland, something which could be read from the beaming smiles on the faces of the band. In fact at every opportunity they could not help but thank each and every one of the crowd for being here. Truly genuine and honourable, as this venue is a long way from Shepherds Bush Empire, let alone Brixton Academy or Wembley.
After an extended run of sonic pummelling ASIWYFA retired knowing that each of the crowd would be back for another sample of their intense and exhilarating performance, most probably dragging all their friends along for the white knuckle ride too!
It’s time to complete the countdown of DoesItRock.nets favourite albums of 2012…
10) The Darkness – Hot Cakes
There was much excitement here at DiR.net when news broke that the brothers Hawkins ‘were gettin’ the band back together’. Live they’re still a hoot, enigmatic and brilliant as ever…but I didn’t expect how good their return LP would be. Yes its cheesy, yes it’s full of glittery glammed guitars but who cares, its The Darkness! Their tongue is still firmly in cheek, but thankfully far from the overly druggy themes of album #2. Hot Cakes is smothered in big fun romps of incredibly catchy guitar fueled genius.
9) Corrosion Of Conformity – Corrosion Of Conformity
This album has been the revelation of the year. Blending both metals deep and sludgy riffs with the angry attack and unrelenting energy of no hold barred punk, CoC have a label unto themselves. Masters of their own genre, this album riffs like a lumbering dinosaur on rocket skates shifting erratically from stoner grooves to thrashed palm muted chugs. The slow/fast dynamic has never been so apparent, or so finely executed within the abundance of cracking heavy rock tunes.
8) Foxy Shazam – The Church Of Rock And Roll
Another DiR.net favourite, the boundless oddity and eccentric songwriting of Foxy Shazam was restrained somewhat on this years gospel themed offering. By anyone else’s standards though, they are still totally bonkers. Assisted by Justin Hawkins on production duties the Darkness man influences the more driving rock tunes here, producing the finest uplifting pop-rockers of the year. Their pop aspect is hugely enjoyable and with a emotional dose of beautiful balladry, this album has much to recommend and explore.
7) Torche – Harmonicraft
It’s been a while in coming, but critics have finally caught up with the point that big rock can be beautiful too! These stoner rockers with progressive ambitions have created both huge and expansive head throbbing titans that have a catchy edge. Strong trippy vocals and lumbering guitars demand your attention, but it’s as they add the pop spice into their concoction, their potent drug of rock pleasure is complete.
6) Orange Goblin – A Eulogy For The Damned
Relentless onslaughts of wave after wave of earthshaking power chords dominate the hard rocking album of the year. These veteran Stoners have crafted a album packed with gigantic melodies, infectious de-tuned riffs which you just want to blast out at 11 obliterating all in their wake. In among the plodding systematic bass lines lie a raft of vengeful vocals and a burning urgency for chaos. Monolithic Stoner rock has had a good year in my books.
5) The Gaslight Anthem – Handwritten
Another album of the highest order has only served to push Gaslight towards becoming the most essential band on the planet. Still burning with passion and pride, Fallon’s lyrics are as beautiful and tale telling as ever bouyed by the driving yet understated retro guitars. They have carved a good balance here between slow emotive balladry and uplifting road songs with one foot in springsteens shoes to raise the spirits and fists skywards. A great album which both satisfies both old and newcomers alike.
4) Tallest Man On Earth – There’s No Leaving Now
The odd out out in this years top ten comes courtesy of the fantastic folk icon, The Tallest Man On Earth. On this LP he channels a fragility which is both heartbreaking and heartwarming in equal measure. His simple guitar melodies, however low key, are incredibly hard to shake and are iresistably matched to this lo-fidelity record of lyrical and emotive beauty. However nasally, dylan’y and seemingly un-romantic his voice resonates, the delicacy of the fraught verses is in itself an un-expected triumph. An honest and true album of stunning proportions.
3) Halestorm – The Strange Case Of…
In 2013 there was only one lady of Rock and Roll, her name is Lzzy Hale. This powerhouse vocalist and guitar slinger is responsible for some of the most catchy pop rock of the year, some of the biggest rock anthems and definitely some serious girl power attitude. Melodies galore and more sing-a-longs than a cockney pub piano this is a joyous album of high octane guitars and driving attack wrapped in a pop package that’s hard to resist.
2) Japandroids – Celebration Rock
Anthemic indie rockers Japandroids have struck gold with their combo of raw rock power, polished production and ear for a massive chorus. Producing one of the best indie albums for years, these songs set sights for the sky with sweeping reverbed guitars and lo-fi vocals blasted with euphoric bliss. From the first pulsating soaring anthem to the last Celebration Rock is pure quality, all killer, no filler. An A* lesson in indie rock which captures both heart hearts of the pop fans, the passion of the rock acolytes and the minds of the indie crews.
1) Accept – Stalingrad
Heavy Metal!!! Yeah right on, Accept have recreated the glorious 80’s scene with this their second comeback LP without founding vocalist Udo. He is not missed one bit as the guitars let rip with riff after head spinning riff, thundering hooves of melody across this monumental record of unadulterated rock and roll attack. Powerful high pitch vocals and lightning guitars are let fly at every angle taking of string old school grip on your metal head. Epic and colossal, Accept have bridged this hard rocker into trad metal and so rightfully sits proudly on the iron throne of 2012.
Roll on 2013!
Honourable Mentions: Sharks – No Gods, The Menzingers – On The Impossible Past, Screaming Females – Ugly, Blood Command – Funeral Beach, Coheed & Cambria – The Aftermath: Ascension, Baroness – Yellow & Green
Click here for the top 25 as a Spotify Paylist
It has to be said that 2012 was an awe inspiring year for the UK. What with the Queen’s Jubilee and the Olympic Games, national pride and enthusiasm has never been higher (hell… I witnessed a Mexican wave down 2 tube carriages! Unspeakable behaviour !). So it was only fitting that the year also brought with it one of the strongest contests in years to, the bout to be crowned DoesItRock.net’s Album of the Year. A prize to be scoffed at by critics and one loved by fans of honest rock and rollers everywhere.
Let the (slightly delayed) countdown commence!
25) Katatonia- Dead End Kings
Dark and menacing, Dead End Kings is a brooding melodic metal record of the princes of doom. This is a starkly barren soundtrack to a cataclysmic end of the world event, where great waves of guitar noise sweep across the landscape backed by fittingly clean and soulful vocals. It is a superb master class in atmospheric melodies, yet somehow they retain an unexpected accessibility to those less ‘metal’. Often brutal, mostly beautiful.
24) Cancer Bats – Dead Set On Living
Abrasive ranting vocals spit lashings of gravel baked growls, drums thrashes, bass thumps and dirt bag guitars soaring anthems from the underbelly of the rock monster. A gargantuan effort which veers further into hard rock territory than they have before, bringing with it the punk beast who’s still a kickin’ and screamin’.
23) Hot Water Music – Exister
Chuck Ragan has won me over with his solo material, so it was about time he pushed his raggedy vocaled chords back into the punk rock arena. An album packed with standout tunes which are seriously catchy, showing there’s plenty of life in the old dog yet.
22) …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead – Lost Songs
Reigning in the progressive angles, Lost Songs has struck out on the pure rock sound of AYWKUBTTOD’s earlier releases. Full on face planting into their walls of noise is not uncommon throughout this cathartic and unpredictable release of pent up energy. Oddly unrestrained from the loose binds of prog they have taken up the battle axes and brought us their most edgy and surprising release for years.
21) Joe Bonamassa – Driving Towards The Daylight
Joe Bonamassa is the new King of the Blues, his latest album showcases everything which makes the man every bit the undisputed bluesman of his generation. Melodies flow effortlessly from his fretboard, vocals of deep heart and emotive soul, slow burning grooves and funky upbeat shuffles all with a country twist thrown in for good measure. Oh did I mention he can play demon guitar. If ever there was another who went down to the crossroads… JB is that man!
20) Jack White – Blunderbuss
Whatever this man touches turns to gold (ignoring The Dead Weather for augments sake) and his first official solo release is no different. A bluesy, country inflected track list of swaggering tunes which swing from pop groove to rawkus retro rock whilst retaining an enigma only Jack White can conjure. His personality flows free lyrically and stays musically true to his vintage sounding ethos. Dramatic and unmissable.
19) Train – Highway 37
A pop rock record, my! my! Yet somehow with every spin a ray of California sunshine brightens the air and fills your life briefly with the kind of roller-skates by the beach, driving down the pacific coast highway kind of carefree optimism, rarely managed by a record (not by the Beach Boys). For this alone they hit the countdown in 2013. A number of pop classics line the track list which only bolsters it’s credentials further.
18) Tenacious D – Rise Of The Fenix
What a fantastic return to form Rise of The Fenix proved for the hard rocking acoustic-men. Crammed full of tongue in cheek lyrics, big riffing and comedic moments. But a chuckle only gets you so far, these tunes are bigger and better, returning to former glories, instantly banishing any ‘Pick of Destiny’ demons with the euphoric opening title track. This rollicking romp of a record is fun and kick-ass, just as we’d all hoped for.
17) The Smith Street Band – Sunshine & Technology
This band’s sound is almost perfectly aligned for me. If Frank Turner hooked up with the Gaslight Anthem and moved to Australia you’d have something very special, in the meantime though The Smith Street Band are a pretty close approximation. Rasping ranting vocals with potent lyrics documenting life the universe and everything from an everyman’s perspective. The lo-fi punk melodies back the spoken verse perfectly, being understated but never forgotten. yet it’s the passionate delivery and chorus’s which shouldn’t work, but do, what make this record stand out from the crowd.
16) Danko Jones – Rock And Roll Is Black And Blue
One of the most underrated Hard Rock bands on the planet. These Canadian ambassadors of no-nonsense guitar, bass, drum, voices with driving punk attitude and succinct songwriting have again produced the goods. Plenty of rousing anthems for long drives, sing-a-long choruses for the shower and fiery riffs for those air guitar moments when no-ones watching. This album is a whole lotta fun, which by not taking its ‘we’re rock’ credentials too seriously, only boost it further. We all know Danko lives and breathes rock and roll anyway.
15) Dinosaur Jr. – I Bet On Sky
For the third album in a row since their reformation, Dino Jr. produce a brilliant collection of rough around the edges, fuzzed up indie rock numbers. Plenty of pop melodies maintain focus on the slacked vocals and songwriting rather than the master guitar work of J. Mascis, which as ever is totally mesmerizing!
14) Fighting With Wire – Colonel Blood
FWW aren’t messing about upon their long overdue return. Colonel Blood is packed with big mainstreamed rock numbers brimming with infectious sing-a-long choruses and nifty guitar licks, its hard not to let them embed in your head. Song for song, these guys would give the Foo’s a good run for their money… straight laced fist pumping rock and roll for the masses.
13) Pulled Apart By Horses – Tough Love
DiR.net favourites are back and still have plenty of energy to burn. PABH clearly do not like to be tamed in the studio, hence this record sounds like the band going bat-shit, crashing every ounce of blazing rawkus energy into each guitar freak-out or throaty howl. Short sharp songs with minimal lyrics aping both punk’s abandon and heavy metal’s epic riffing. Not to be missed live!
12) Killing Joke – MMXII
For all their back catalogue, this release is the first Killing Joke album to set these ears a wagging. Deep booming bass lines, and sedate atmospheric guitars dominate the bleak industrial backed wasteland vision of MMXII. Only the walls which suddenly blast into euphoric waves of noise provides any sense of escapism. Its this thunderous meld of electro-keys, menacing guitars and robotic drone vocals which transports to another world, one dominated by the impending of total annihilation. Dark, emphatic and unmissable.
11) Million Dollar Reload – A Sinner’s Saint
Exuberance, energy and enthusiasm…everything a fresh hard rock band should be striving for can be found on A Sinner’s Saint. This Northern Irish Sleaze/Punk influenced bunch have the attitude for chaos, the canny knack for pop melodies, the ability to pull off a decent ballad and pen some epic driving rock anthems. A solid sophomore which has really grabbed my attention by the scruff of the neck and doesn’t look like relenting anytime soon.
Stay tuned for the top 10!
9th November 2012
So another night in Newcastle and two of my favourite bands were unhappily playing on the same night. I Shunned the all-out hair metal parody and all round good times of Steel Panther, in orderto be found in the relatively meek surrounds of Trillian’s Rock Bar. Not a bad place actually, a basement pub with plenty of authenticity, you feel the walls have many tales to tell of wild nights in the past.
Tonight there were three young math rock inspired bands out to make an impression. Each at different points down the music career river…
Near the rivers mouth we find the unpredictable, twisting, Human Sacrifice Club at their humble beginnings. A band full of youthful wide eyed enthusiasm and energy whose rawkus duelling math rock riffs presented an unrestricted and thoroughly enjoyable set of melodic indie guitars. Vocals were yelped with a fierce intent as were their numerous noise rock outs. This Jekyll and Hyde set of carefully crafted songs (a la Maps + Atlases) and riotous chaos was as thrilling as it was addictive. I hope the river takes them on the course to a record deal sometime soon, my eyes are peeled!
Further down the river are Gallops, who (for purposes of this analogy) are floating along near the mouth. After flowing for some time they have arrived here and in the process have lost much of their earlier power and are happy to sway gently with the tide. Being a predominantly electronic outfit their looped beats were absolutely hypnotic, coasting me to sleep as the loops kicked and the keys tinkled. Only woken by the karrang of the guitars when they interspersed the ambient ramblings. One for a casual listen i feel, but they failed to engage me enough tonight.
By contrast Maybeshewill have escaped the repetitive motions of a river and are out in the unhinged wilderness of the ocean. It the same stroke of their thunderous guitars they are ‘The perfect storm’ at the same time stunningly beautiful and immensely powerful like a great force of nature. Waves of massive guitar power chords crash down over the crowd at every turn, turbulence thrashing through the air only to be broken by still and melodic keyboard breaks. But the threat is always menacing and as always it returns to kick your ass once again till the final chord rings. Performance wise these guys have the whole shebang, precise musicianship (even swapping instruments), coordinated head thrashing and bursting energy. Plus they are very polite, even asking very nicely for the crowd to come forwards with a meek restraint in their voice. A thinking man’s heavy rock this was and the crowd demographic of students and oldies backs this claim (for big dumb fun, see Steel Panther above). They played the pick of the tracks from their latest LP including loud/soft rocker Accolades, sweetly tapped lighter waver Red Paper Lanterns and the euphoric piano driven Critical Distance whilst not turning their back on mathier outings such as Japanese Spy Transcript and the epic closer Paris Hilton Sex Tape.
A great mathty “ebb and flow’ of bands, to whom it was hard to ‘wave’ goodbye.
Beyond the handful of singles there was little more tunes to recommend. One album and an unreleased EP of pretty similar sounding material was their eventual downfall. Despite changing tempo (mainly slowing) the variety was seriously lacking, eventually leading to yawning and mind meanders. So plenty of work still to be done and plenty of time to cement their status as headliners, which in my opinion has come one album to soon.
So overall Little Comets did not hit the highs expected of their lively pop antics, all in all…It’s A Cosmic Shame.
It’s time to complete the countdown of DoesItRock.nets favourite albums of 2011…
10) Mastodon – The Hunter
Prog metal kings Mastodon’s latest LP is by far their most accessible, weaving a path of destruction though chunky heavy metal grooves, gorgeously powerful backdrops and infectious melodies. The mix of super smooth clean lyrics and snarling tongue lashings are superb as each track flips from lightning fast metal riffs to thunderous hard rock in an instant. Mixing up their sound with meandering prog-outs, straight laced rockers and metal assaults this album has much to offer all music lovers. Simply put, there was no better metal in 2011.
9) The Treatment – This Might Hurt
Ok, so technically this is a re-issue. But it is very rare that you get a chance to make amends for overlooking an album within its release year. Bolstered with a handful of brilliant bonus tracks, This Might Hurt screams like Aerosmith, drinks with Gun’s n’ Roses and parties like Motley Cru. Good old fashioned rock and roll is safe in their hands as they combine huge Marshall backed riffs with classic rock solo’s and catchy ass vocals. If you’re looking for a big time rock and roll album of head banging, balls to the wall and drunken debauched anthems. The Treatment are all the medicine you need!
8) Frank Turner – England Keep My Bones
Frank’s Turner esquire, punk poet laureate extraordinaire has focused his lyrical eye towards his homeland, producing a fine folk album with stadium ambitions. Slightly faded are his everyman tales, replaced with beautiful compositions and ever growing confidence to write bigger and better than the last. This album has shown his adept ability to write lyrics close to his heart, retaining his honest Englishness while his musical arrangements reach for the skies. There are no better melody maker alive, and no better man to lead a sing-a-long with his utterly impassioned delivery. England Keep My Bones signals a significant step up.
7) The Rural Alberta Advantage – Departing
A hugely underrated album which I keep on coming back to. Its graceful and beautiful in its soothing softness backed with folky nasal vocals which are oddly fitting to their sound. This is not a happy album by any imagination stretch, feelings of isolation, despair and mellowness are present throughout. Yet when they crank up the dials and start to unleash some energy with crashing percussion and thrusting guitars their outstanding melodies take centre stage. A delightful album of perfectly staged catchy tunes that are emotionally fraught and honest.
6) Maybeshewill – I Was Here For A Moment, Then I Was Gone
Strings and Guitars gleefully unite on the most stunningly beautiful album on this year’s countdown. This collection of instrumentals send soaring violins crashing into waves of guitar noise and sends fizzing electro keys flying into epic cymbal smashes. When these elements all collide in one huge melodic crescendo, there is simply no better sound of 2011. Sit back and bask in it’s magnificence!
5) …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead – Tao of The Dead
This year,… AYWKUBBTOTD have never ventured far from the play button. With repeat listens this album just gets better, revealing new melodies each time or a new favourite track dependent on my mood. Their ability to retain their melodic groove throughout some apocalyptically massive prog-outs of guitar noise is hugely enviable. Tao of the Dead, once you give it a fair shot, will mesmerize you too.
4) Black Spiders – Sons Of The North
UK’s new rock heroes finally dropped their debut album in february, and my word…it ROCKS! Tongue in cheek lyrics and a huge sense of fun only increase my love for this album, one that’s already steeped in humungous melodies and no-nonsense all out attack guitars. Every song is a winner, from bluesy swaggers, recklessly energetic romps to foot stomping plunderers. Black Spiders wear the Hard Rock crown of 2011!
3) Foo Fighters – Wasting Light
After a couple of rather dull albums of run of the mill pop rock, this years return from the Foo’s billed as a return to roots was a welcome addition to their catalogue. True to word, from the very first tune the guitars are cranked up, the vocals are in attack mode and the amps are set to 11. Taking the best of the Foo’s arsenal of pop rock melodies, memorable choruses and high octane rock power, Wasting Light sees the return to form we’d been dreaming of.
2) And So I Watch You From Afar – Gangs
For the second year in a row, a debut album reaches #2 on the countdown with this offering from Northern Ireland’s Post-Rock saviors ASIWYFA. This album full of super tight instrumentals takes slices of metal, rock, prog, pop and post-rock and amalgamates them into a glorious storm of musical storytelling. Astounding guitar harmonies range from super technical metal to the ambient melodies, driving each and every tune. The lack of vocals doesn’t seem to matter as intricate instrumental interplay feeds this addiction. All that’s left is to sit back, be blown away by the often brutal, often beautiful but ever-infectious grooves of Gangs.
1) Fucked Up – David Comes To Life
David Comes To Life is such a brilliant rock record that it most definitely deserves it place at number 1 this year. Looking through a critical eye, it’s hard to fault this inventive concept album on its epic 80 min scope, unbridled energetic outbursts and for bringing hardcore punk back into fashion. For me this was an album which has some of the most infectious guitar melodies, choc a block with wall to wall riffs, thunderbolt drumming and angst tongued lyrics (matched beautifully by female clean vocals). Without lifting their foot off the pedal for David Comes To Life’s duration, who cares about the storyline when the soundtrack is this good! A rock and roll ride of stratospheric proportions.
Roll on 2012!
Honourable Mentions: Fair To Midland – Arrows And Anchors, You Animals – Crimes Creeps & Thrills, Turbowolf – Turbowolf,
Click here for the top 25 as a Spotify Paylist