2017, you’ve been killer so far. A year in which I have discovered so many insane new bands, I wanted to a do a feature on the best 5 live bands I’ve discovered, as live music is where it’s at. Some of these bands I had heard of before the start of the year but not yet seen live, others are beautiful majestic discoveries I’ve made on random nights out. Big up all the bands involved, and please go check them out live when you can (trust me, you’ll wanna). Head to my playlist at the end to check out some of my favourite tracks; all beautiful pieces of art, the music floating around right now is absolute quality, so go check ’em out.
A lucky discovery I made at Reading on the Jack Rocks/ This Feeling Stage, Avalanche Party are insane. They create this harrowingly brooding explosion of post punk filth, with this hectic riotous feel on stage. As a five piece, their sound is nothing short of intense. There’s a feel of brooding intimidation, with lead vocalist Jordan almost coming across as possessed. Tracks like I’m So Wet and Solid Gold are insane pieces of music, with these raw thrashing build ups which tore that stage at Reading to pieces. It’s refined post punk music, with a bitter twisted edge giving Avalanche Party something raw and riotous and filthy. This nasty raucousness has a mosh pit feel, and their live aura is breathtaking, intimidating, and enticing all in one. Using keys, a bass and two guitars builds up a sense of dark thrashing rock music, which packs a forceful bite of power live. Garage dark rock’n’roll with a post punk bite is how I’d describe Avalanche Party, a lethal combination which is deadly live.
Dirty Orange, the name first of all is sick. “We’re dirty (George and Connor) and he’s orange (Scott).. And it sounds fucking cool as” the band told me in a recent interview. I heard of the band a while back and fell in love with the dark grit and post punk grunge bite their music had. I love the heaviness and richness of the bass guitar, and Dirty Orange make the most of the instrument, playing riffs on the bass and amplifying it up and up to give their tracks really solid strong foundations. Tracks like Too Much andJulie You Ain’t No Clara have fast become favourites of mine, with the raw distorted vocals complimenting the gritty distortion of the guitar perfectly. I recently caught the band live at Nambucca, and what an insane way to start the night they were. The band are ridiculously tight, with this solid meticulous aura of perfection running through their sets, but with enough post punk edge and carelessness to it too to give them that abrasive arrogance on stage.
Back in June I went so see BlackWaters headline The Social in London, Naked Six being a last minute addition to the lineup. I didn’t know what to expect, but fuck they were unbelievable. A three piece at the time (bassist Caleb has since left the band), Naked Six embody the filthiness and rawness of post grunge punk perfectly. Their on stage sound is heavy and vivid, yet tight as hell too. Riff wise they could play riffs for days, understanding the crucial points of rock’n’roll and knowing exactly how to make a post punk track click in that way. What I loved about Naked Six was the filthy sense of purity they had. It was honest, open punk music, with an almost nostalgic old school feel yet something very modern and fresh intertwined too. They ripped that tiny stage at The Social to bits, those heavy pounding riffs echoing throughout the venue. It’s neo-punk rock, with grunge and garage vibes chucked into the mix too, full to the brim with Hendrix/ Zeppelin-esque grit.
Shoegaze, neo-psych indie rock is embodied perfectly by London five piece 485C. The band are one of the most interesting, unique bands out there, one who could have easily stepped out of some underground 90s warehouse or an 80s indie dance bar. The band have a raw nostalgic feel, almost like Joy Division or The Smiths, but have a fresh vibrant edge which they build up through their stunningly polished tracks. Tracks by the band like Manic Filters and In My Cell are magical pieces of art, simply stunning live. The band play three, sometimes four, guitars at the same time, making for a bold powerful on-stage sound. Lead vocalist Adam often stands still too, swaying his hips ever so gently as he screams those vicious vocals into the mic. I love the unorthodox and borderline Avant-garde edge the band have, which transcend insanely well on stage. The tightness of the band is what makes their sound so good; each riff has been written with meticulous skill to balance out the other guitars, as well as to compliment the filthy rawness and gravely punch that is Adam’s voice. I caught the band for the first time at The Horn, and remember just standing there for the entirety of their set completely blown away. Big up the 485C lads.
A three piece I’d been aware of for well over a year thanks to Wonk Unit and False Heads’ Luke, I finally caught Calva Louise live at the Windmill Brixton back in April. I knew they’d be good, as their pure punk sound is evident on record, but I didn’t expect them to be that good. What is so special about Calva Louise is how well all the components of the band’s music fit together. Ben is an incredible drummer, some of his riffs and loops are unbelievably good. As a bassist Alizon is lethal, with front woman Jess simply being blinding. Her crazy shredding and riffs are mindblowing, and she manages to play in such a way whilst delivering some of the sickest vocals ever. Her screams and raw screeches build up the punk intensity of the band’s sound perfectly. The raw heaviness of their music is cutting edge, with a blinding dark angst and passion bubbling beneath those killer riffs and vocals. The vicious immensity to Calva Louise is revitalising the idea of punk music, and they provide you with a dose of pure, real punk.
Notable mentions also to Strange Bones, BlackWaters, J.W. Paris, False Heads, Rosko, Dead Pretties and LIFE
Listen to these bands below (and thank me later x)
Indie Underground was set up by me last year with one sole purpose; to help give some form of publicity to new upcoming rock bands who deserve as much attention and success as they can get. From post punk to indie rock to grunge, the current music scene is absolutely buzzing, and the impact DIY independent music is having on the industry is blinding. With the help from ‘zone lords’ This Feeling in particular, as well as small venues like Nambucca, The Water Rats, Lexington, Windmill Brixton, and The Horn (to name but a few), the current rock scene is unbelievably good, and this list will round up the top 25 bands you need to know. Essentially what inspired me to write this piece was an unbelievably naive and inaccurate statement from The Sherlocks (who champion bland, shitty, landfill indie in their music) about being ‘the pioneers of guitar music when our new album drops.’ The stupidity in this comment is that a) The Sherlocks aren’t that good, let’s be honest, and b) the pioneers of modern day guitar rock are right here already.
Many of these bands are destined to explode sooner or later, so get on them while you can. And the truth is, if you think there aren’t enough good guitar rock bands, you simply aren’t looking hard enough.
Edit: since this post’s publication I’ve become a huge fan of one other incredible band…head down to number 26 to see who they are, and check ’em out in my playlist at the end
1. False Heads
False Heads are the best band right now, fact. They have this heavy, killer presence both live and on record and their backing from Iggy Pop and The Libertines’ Gary is very much deserved. Luke is a legend, and his lyrics and riffs are backed up by the aggressive power of bassist Jake and drummer Barney. Packing a brain explosive punch, False Heads are a killer force, and you’d be mad not to take notice of them.
For fans of: anti-establishment rock, in your face blaring riffs, killer bass-lines
Top tracks: Slew & Weigh In
Paves are pure class; a raucous rock four piece from London, they are a classic indie rock band with a slightly heavy, rough edge. Their charisma and confidence is blistering, and they have this unapproachable attitude which makes their sound even more bold and exciting. They really are leading this resurgence in DIY guitar rock’n’roll, and really excite me as a new band. Luke’s voice is full of raw indie grit too, just adding to their intense aura.
For fans of: in your face indie rock, blistering guitar riffs, quirky and lively rock’n’roll
Top tracks: Baby & Take Me While I’m Here
This four piece are a blistering explosive mess of raucous post punk indie. Their energy and attitude is undeniable, and they’re possibly one of the country’s most promising new bands. Max is a sick vocalist, with really raw rough punk vocals, and David and Oliver on guitar just add to the intense sound the band have, backed up by James’s Libertines-esque drumming. The lyrics are messy and blaring too, and the band always deliver 110% live.
For fans of: gritty post punk, raucous indie rock, wild mosh-pits and hectic live sets
Top tracks: So Far Out & Fuck Yeah
A recently formed band, BREED are a killer four piece from the Essex area. They’re really intense and heavy live, and Jake’s voice and charisma as a frontman is blinding. There’s this immense force the band have, and I was lucky enough to catch them live last month; I really was blown away by the harsh rock grit they have, and the unapproachable aura they have as a band.
For fans of: statement rock music, anthemic post punk, raw and honest rock’n’roll
Top track: Starman
5. The Wholls
A deeply brooding, intense force of indie rock, The Wholls are a killer group. From Bedford, they have a really rough gritty sound, and they just have a crazily unique edge. Arturo’s voice has this rough punk gravel to it, and this is backed up by heavy indie infused guitar. They always draw brilliant crowds live too, and just listening to their broodingly sensual tracks makes you want to get up and mosh.
For fans of: cutting edge indie rock, powerful mosh pits, energetic fun rock’n’roll
Top tracks: Angry Faces & X21
6. The Blinders
A harrowingly brooding, deeply sensual rock band, The Blinders seriously channel post Led Zeppelin vibes in their music. There’s a raw bitterness to the tracks, and the band don’t shy away from political commentaries or social observations either. Their music is packed with raw grit and a DIY bite; it’s messy, rough round the edges rock, which is a blinding sound for any band to have.
For fans of: Led Zeppelin, blaring guitar riffs, sensually romanticised lyrics
Top tracks: Ramona Flowers & ICB Blues
A band full of artsy indie charm and a rough post punk bite, 485C are one of the most meticulous bans I know. The five piece play together perfectly in sync, and the harrowing pain and richness to Adam’s voice layers over the delicately heavy guitar and raucous drumming perfectly. There’s something captivating and mesmerising about the band, and their whole image and sound leaves nothing to be desired whatsoever.
For fans of: progressive artsy rock and unique art movements, 80s indie, unorthodox guitar rock
Top tracks: Primal Concerns & American Walls
8. Strange Bones
Full of fucked up punk angst and heavy politically charged aggression, Strange Bones are creating their own version of punk music. Riff wise, the band are blinding, and create the heaviest most raucous pieces of music I’ve ever heard. Their lyrics reflect all sorts of political issues, and the band are so abrasive and confident that they scream anti-Tory slogans all over the place. Live, their crowds are hectic, reflecting the insanity you get on stage. The balaclava and rat masks used by the band just add to their unorthodox nature and sheer punk authenticity.
For fans of: rough mosh pits, heavy blaring riffs, unpolished messy punk
Top tracks: Pussy Galore’s Flying Circus & Big Sister Is Watching
9. Concrete Caverns
One of my favourite local bands, Concrete Caverns are a lively force of raw indie rock, with a carefully polished indie rock sound. Joseph’s voice is really rough and raw, and this is backed up by Liam and Zach who are both killer guitarists. What I love about this band (aside from how lovely they are in person) is the catchiness of their riffs and sheer brilliance of their Britrock sound. They’re unreal live too, and are full of energy and skill and talent which they showcase on stage brilliantly.
For fans of: Arctic Monkeys, old school authentically British rock’n’roll, boldly catchy riffs
Top tracks: Jenny & That’s Why
This three piece are an immensely fun band live, and pack their sets with a heavily intense feel. Their sound really is a burst of power and aggressive riffs, which gives the band a killer aura. I really enjoyed seeing them live a couple months back, and their tracks have that head-banger feel which makes them all the more intense to listen to.
For fans of: loud heavy riffs, blaring rowdy rock, experimental vocal distortions
Top tracks: Feel It & Sucker
11. The Scruff
Where do I even begin with The Scruff! I saw them live for the first time in 2015 supporting The Bohicas, and have been gripped ever since. They have a really classic, pure rock sound to their music, and Adam’s voice is authentically British, with the bold accent coming through giving it an almost nostalgic feel. They’re full of energy too, and use blaring guitar distortions and highly amped up effects to give their music even more of a bite.
For fans of: Britpop, old school rock from the 70s like The Jam, evocative guitar rock
Top tracks: Leave It Alone & Bricks and Bottles
12. Yes Problem
Heavy, loud and intense; Yes Problem are one of my favourite bands to have discovered this year. They have this pure grunge/ punk sound to them, with two bass guitars being used alongside one lead to give the band this hectic heaviness. The power they have is blinding, and when I saw them a couple months back at the Brixton Windmill I was stunned by the sound they were able to create.
For fans of: proper gritty punk, heavy blaring riffs, killer DIY rock
One of my favourite new bands, hands down, Rosko are a sick four piece who are crazily unique in terms of sound and style. They fuse indie and punk with reggae and hip hop, and have just enough talent and meticulous skill to pull this off with ease. Bruce’s vocal is sick too, and his rapping on stage alongside filthy heavy rock’n’roll riffs gives the band a very quirky Jamie T/ The Streets kinda vibe.
For fans of: indie grime, hip-hop infused punk with elements of rap and reggae, Jamie T, The Streets
Top track: The Boys
This band really excited me when I saw then live the other month at Nambucca, mainly due to their unique boldness, charismatic flare, and artistic fashionable style. Something about them has a really classic late 60s/ mid 70s feel, and their whole look and sound gives you that classic rock’n’roll feel. Their riffs are blaring, and the whole look and sound they have is killer- quite something for a band who are only a year old or so! They’re a thrilling force, and I would highly recommend catching them live at some point.
For fans of: Hendrix, 70s rock’n’roll, rock music with a creative and artistic flare
Top tracks: Walking On Water & Surrender To The Night
15. The Americas
Another blinding band, The Americas are (again) one of my favourites. Like seriously seriously good. Despite the name, there’s a quintessentially British sound to the band, with bluesy post grunge elements to their music. Their tracks ooze confidence and attitude, which is so key to rock’n’roll, and they merge desert grunge with post punk sounds wonderfully. There’s an authentic rock power and boldness to the band, and their clever branding with the American flag and the classic red, white and blue colours adds to the band’s image brilliantly.
For fans of: desert grunge, vintage rock’n’roll with a classically retro edge, infused with a fresh youthful vibrancy
Top tracks: Hot Minute & Tenth Day of May
A band heading up the indie scene in London, Sisteray are one of the coolest upcoming bands. Guitar rock at its best, Niall, Dan, Mick and Marco have a wonderful chemistry and all play wonderfully together. Their latest EP is full of political and social commentaries, and it’s refreshing to see a band fiercely channelling anti-austerity and anti-establishment views in their music. And if there was ever a band to be the face of London’s indie rock scene, then Sisteray would be strong contenders. They’re very smart and unique too in terms of their recordings, with their EP 15 Minutes essentially an artistic/ political project based on Andy Warhol.
For fans of: anti-establishment rock’n’roll, classic rock music, Brit-pop/ noughties post punk
Top tracks: A Wise Man Said & Queen’s English
Literally every blog post I do similar to this one features Mummy, and the reason behind that it simple; they are the best. The face of DIY punk, Mummy are a raucous, loud, aggressive force of authentic punk music. This archaic feel to them is thrilling and gripping, and the heavy crashing nature of the guitar gives their music a brain-explosive edge. Live, the band are truly thrilling and their DIY bite makes them an unreal force of punk rock in the London music scene.
For fans of: gritty DIY punk bands like Wonk Unit and Pizzatramp, music with a bit of character and humour, punchy dirty riffs
Top tracks: Hey & Busy Doing Nothing
18. Nova Twins
Two of my favourite ladies, Nova Twins are proof that two people with guitars is all you need for that heavy aggressive punk sound which is becoming so dominant in the underground DIY punk scene. Killer riffs and hooks are blazing in their tracks, with cocky raw vocals (both sung and screamed) used to build up this sense of hardcore intensity. Nova Twins have the perfect punk look going on too, and their unique approach to music gives them a real edge. ‘London is calling back’ indeed.
For fans of: DIY punk (i.e. Wonk Unit, Mummy, Calva Louise), dirty bass lines, catchy riffs and killer guitar hooks
Top track: Bassline Bitch
19. The Black Roses
Indie rock buoyancy comes your way with The Black Roses, who capture this brilliantly nostalgic 2000s indie sound perfectly. Arctic Monkeys are a clear influence on the band, yet their recent EP Utopia pushes them into a more individual, unique sphere of their own. They know that the classic roots of indie rock (i.e. two guitars, a bass and drum kit) work just as well as more unique musical variations coming through into the industry, and the band’s determination to retain a sense of classic indie rock to their music is paying off, as they really are killing it right now.
For fans of: noughties indie rock, quirky guitar riffs, anything Alex Turner related
Top tracks: She Makes The Rain Dance & Bad Habits
20. Calva Louise
Calva Louise are one of the most insane bands I’ve ever seen live; Alizon on bass and Ben on drums build up an aura of heavy punk angst, all completed by Jess who is an unreal front woman. As a guitarist she is insane, with an unreal guitar and pedal board, and the killer screams she projects adds to the killer punk intensity the band have. There’s a very meticulous disciplined feel to their music too; the band practice every day, and the cutting throat perfection of every riff they play is evidence of this. The way Jess, Alizon and Ben play together is outstanding, and the riotous archaic punk sound they create is blinding.
For fans of: killer punk, raspy screeching vocals, heavy rich guitar riffs
Top tracks: Living In The Wild & I’m Gonna Do Well
21. October Drift
Manic chaos and hectic raw unorthodox filth hits you in the face with October Drift. The band use heavy killer riffs, with amped up chaotic guitar, to create this undeniably strong sound which really is mindblowing. Kiran’s voice too is deep and dark and raw, which adds an element of brooding mystery to the band’s sound. Live, they are one of the coolest most exciting bands I’ve ever seen, and the complex grunge edge they have is electrifying. There’s a harrowing brooding feel to their lyrics too, especially the line ‘cherry red, like the blood that’s rushing to my head’.
For fans of: uncompromising grunge, deep and dark lyrics, rock music oozing in attitude and confidence
Top tracks: Cherry Red & Cinnamon Girl
22. J.W. Paris
Yet another blog piece on J.W. Paris (no surprise there), I can’t stress how sick this band are. The three piece blend raw gritty vocals with heavy bluesy guitar and grunge infused rock’n’roll. Their sound and image and live presence is unbelievable, and the way Aaron and Dan sound when they sing together is mindblowing. There’s a filthy gravel to the band, with a very special quality of abrasive honesty to their brooding lyrics. This rough DIY edge shines through, and every single track that band come up with is killer.
For fans of: grunge and blues music, gritty messy rock’n’roll, chaotic messy bass lines
Top tracks: Wanted More & Berlin
23. Wonk Unit
DIY punk! Such a sick, exciting concept in rock music, and it was introduced to me back last year by Wonk Unit. The kings of DIY punk (they record and produce on an independent label and host Wonkfest every year), Wonk Unit are one of the sickest bands I know. Alex is a wonderful frontman, and Pwosion is genuinely one of my favourite people ever. What the band channel is heavy punk aggression, through their roaring riffs and bass lines and Alex’s cutting edge vocal which has this cocky London sound so unique to the authentic roots of punk music. Their humour and quirky image (such as their ‘dinosaurs are wankers’ slogan) makes them all the more fun and exciting.
For fans of: the London underground punk scene, skate culture, DIY independent punk music
Top tracks: We Are The England & Nan
Guitar rock doesn’t necessarily have to be hardcore and heavy; a lot of the time it can have a more buoyant indie sound, whilst maintaining a certain rawness and proper rock edge, and this is something Pages do perfectly. The way Matt and Danny play guitar together is brilliant and they are one of my favourite local bands to see live. The band have been turning towards a more heavier sound recently, and there are really exciting prospects ahead of them. There’s a sense of chilled, light indie to their music, but the band can still lose it completely on stage, resulting in these really raw bursts of powerful rock’n’roll.
For fans of: bands like Foals and Wolf Alice, soothing indie rock
Top tracks: Keep Your Love & The Road
Yonaka are fast becoming a really big band, but now is your chance to catch them in small venues whilst you still can. The group contrast raw, distorted, heavy guitar with Theresa’s clear, cutting edge vocals which collide with the heaviness of the guitar and drums perfectly. Her voice is unreal, and the ability she has to adapt her vocal range throughout the tracks the band play really is blinding. On one hand there’s a very disciplined meticulous feel to their music, yet on the other hand the band really do lose their shit live which makes for undeniably raucous and exciting performances, drawing dancing and mosh pits from their crowds.
For fans of: heavy guitar, rich riffs and powerful bass lines, deep and rich vocals
Top tracks: Pride & Gods and Lovers
26. Bang Bang Romeo
Powerful, 60s infused rock’n’roll vibrancy is what you get from Sheffield four-piece Bang Bang Romeo. Authentic rock dynamism and unapproachable bold vocals give Bang Bang Romeo a very special edge; there’s something very unapproachable and dark about them, their bold rock sound laced with a very delicate, refined aura. Riff wise, there’s a distorted artsy elegance to their tracks, particularly the brooding opening of Carnival. Heavy distortions and richly heavy and deep rock authenticity sets the foundations for Bang Bang Romeo’s unreal sound. One of my favourite elements of Bang Bang Romeo is (of course) the quality of Anastasia’s vocal; fuck, she can sing. Kinda like this generation’s Alanis Morissette or Janis Joplin, the unbelievable intensity and power of her raucous rock vocal adds to the band’s brooding Led Zeppelin-esque vibe. The atmospheric cutting edge the band have is blinding, and I can’t recommend them to rock’n’roll fans highly enough.
For fans of: post-60s rock’n’roll, explosively intense vocals, vibrant & creative rock music
Top tracks: Chemical & Carnival
You can listen to these killer bands on my Spotify playlist below:
So Kasabian’s Serge recently made some pretty interesting comments about the current state of rock music, claiming that the band’s new album is all about “saving guitar music from the abyss- because it’s gone.” Hmm. The word ‘abyss’ surprised me, as that implies guitar music is well and truly dead and gone, when in reality it’s more prominent in current day rock music than ever before. I’ve been out at gigs every weekend of this year so far (no lie), and the amount of sick new bands I’ve seen has been astonishing. To me, the concept of guitar music is referring to the authenticity of rock’n’roll, with the passion and vibrancy and energy of the music coming from loud blaring guitar riffs and rich heavy basslines. Guitar music may seem to have been engulfed by a rise in synthetic/ electronic rock music (for example bands like Blossoms, and ironically Kasabian themselves), but the current rock scene is dominated by these rough DIY guitar rock bands.
This is thanks to a lot of things- politics for example, leading to anger and frustration and subsequently more assertive guitar rock bands, like False Heads or Strange Bones, bringing back a rough 70s punk aura, which was very much so built on this idea of guitar rock. It’s also down to a rise in independent promoters, big shout out especially to Scruff Of The Neck, This Feeling and Double Denim Live. I thought I’d round up my top current guitar bands, who all embody that rock’n’roll rawness and authentic edge which makes guitar music so fucking brilliant. These bands are all small, new upcoming groups and you can support them by following them online, buying their merch and going to their gigs. Get on them now!
This band embody rough DIY punk perfectly, with this pure London punk edge to them. Like bands such as Wonk Unit and Slaves, Mummy are full of blaring riffs and heavy crashing guitar which is explosively mind-blowing. Having seen them live before, it’s the guitar which makes Mummy so sick; it builds up and up and up before crashing down in the heaviest, most brutal way it can do. What Mummy are doing is revitalising what guitar punk rock really is, and they’re intimidating and raucous in doing so.
Top tracks: Hey & Busy Doing Nothing
Fresh off the release of new EP Gutter Press, False Heads have this distorted heaviness reminiscent of early 90s Nirvana, and have this wild abrasive attitude on stage and on record. Luke plays lead guitar with Jake on bass and Barney on drums, and this combination is deadly. The riffs are enthralling, with this immensely powerful mosh pit-esque edge. Riff wise, their music is ridiculously catchy and mesmerising too- which is maybe why I’ve had Gutter Press playingon a loop since its release.
Top tracks: Slew & Twentynothing
An explosive five piece managed by Andy Ross (who only went and discovered Blur), 485C feature two lead guitarists (Dom and Rory), with vocalist Adam occasionally playing rhythm guitar too, all backed up by Sam on bass and Lucas on drums. It’s intricate guitar rock, bringing back a raw 80s guitar rock’n’roll sound. They’re incredibly unique and captivating, with a fantastically meticulous way of playing perfectly in sync as a band. And when the four guitars play together, the heavy intensity and rich vibrancy their sound has is simply mindblowing.
Top tracks: American Walls & Strange Medicine
Politically charged lyrics, staggeringly loud vocals and raucous fucked up riffs come your way with Strange Bones; the band are full of anger and aggression and power, and they channel this in the most heavy gritty way possible. Their riffs are stellar, with an immense heavy bite and pure sense of punk authenticity. Their abrasive riffs are savage and honest and raw, with crazy amped up distortions adding to this punk aggression.
Top tracks: Dead & Spitfire
This band are a pretty last minute addition to this piece, but having seen them live over the weekend at the Windmill in Brixton how could I not include them? The set up of Yes Problem is what’s so enthralling and unique about them. With a huuuge pedal board, the band have one lead guitar and two bass guitars, one of which is played almost as if it’s a lead. This slightly weird combination made for the most gritty, heavy sound I’ve heard in ages; the sound this band produce live is bulky and weighty, full of this aggressive punk power which just ripped the venue to pieces. What a mental sound to hear in such a tiny venue- Yes Problem alone promise a hell of a lot for the future of guitar music.
I saw October Drift live last year, and it’s safe to say I’m yet to recover from it. They have this manic, hectic aura which makes their music all the more intense and vivid and dark. It’s very rich and raw and brooding, with the most aggressive bass ripping through their tracks. Their roaring riffs are really vibrant and filthy and rough, with this nasty unrefined edge which just makes them all the more captivating. To me, it’s the blaring madness of the two lead guitars and rich graphically deep bass which make October Drift such a sick guitar band, especially on stage.
Top tracks: Cinnamon Girl & Cherry Red
Cocky indie rock with a post punk slur would be the best way to describe Londoners King Nun. My reaction the first time hearing them has been the same each time I listen to this group, and it’s one of bewilderment, and a thrilled sense of anxiety almost. Their music puts you on edge, and this comes down to the heavy weighty guitar and those deep fucked up riffs. Latest single Hung Around has one of the most staggering opening riffs I know, with a gritty clever little riff played over the richness of the bass and lead guitar which crash in sync with the drums and vocals. King Nun mix indie rock with post punk, putting a refreshing spin on grungy guitar music.
Top tracks: Hung Around & Tulip
Some of my favourite snaps of guitar bands over the last few months…
2016 has proven an explosive year for rock music, with the emergence of bands such as Black Honey, INHEAVEN, Spring King, Yak and Blaenavon into the mainstream rock scene. With releases from large rock acts like Catfish and The Bottlemen (The Ride), Jamie T and Slaves (Take Control), and comebacks to the industry from The Last Shadow Puppets, Radiohead and The Stone Roses, the amount of rock music dominating 2016 has been unreal. But whilst these large more mainstream bands have released hit after hit this year, the emergence of small groups has been what’s made the rock scene so thriving, with more intense indie-rock grunge bands popping up in local venues (i.e. Fiende Fatale and False Heads), as well as more bad-ass women emerging (i.e. Nova Twins and Jess in Calva Louise). This list will round up some of my favourite new bands, who are definitely ones to watch for the new year.
I caught this band live supporting Black Honey at The Lexington early October, and the heaviness and blunt grit to their sound blew me away. They’re such a fierce powerful force of grunge rock, very intense and aggressive on stage; their talent is more clear on stage too than it is on record, and the band are one who are a blistering explosive act to catch live. The Brighton four piece released debut album Dream Soda last year, a class album full of raw distorted vocals and killer heavy riffs. The colossal force of the band has carried through into this year with ease, and I hope they’re able to channel even more of their dirty rock sound into 2017.
Top tracks: Wash It Down & Succubus
Reminiscent to me of early Nirvana, False Heads have the most exciting interesting image and sound I’ve come across all year; their tracks are full of heavy blistering riffs which rip through their music, giving it a heavy, weighty bite. With the support of Gary from The Libertines (the band are signed to Gary’s 25 Hour Convenience Store record label) and rock icon Iggy Pop, it’s clear why False Heads are growing into the dynamic force that they are. Live, they are a killer presence, and are building this reputation up and down the UK for being one of the most uncompromising edgy new rock bands. The opening riff on Slew also happens to be one of the catchiest, most hardcore riffs out there.
Top tracks: Slew & All Eyes
Pure punk force and a vivid aggressive on stage presence is what you’ll get from Mummy; it’s hardcore punk at its best, which when witnessed live is unreal. Mummy exist in the coolest London DIY punk scene, with bands like Slaves, Pizzatramp and Wonk Unit part of their circle. Seeing them live supporting Slaves last month was one of the most killer sets I’ve experienced; the guitar is messily loud and blaring, building up and up until crashing down in their roaring choruses. The Milk EP is easily one of the best EP releases of the year, with Bed For Good being one of the most aggressive tracks I know. If punk music overall is being revitalised, it’s Mummy who are leading this.
Top tracks: Hey & Busy Doing Nothing
I caught this unique three piece live earlier on this month at The Horn St Albans supporting The Amazons, and what I loved about them was the dirty grit and rough gravel their tracks had. The band embody DIY punk, with elements of indie rock to their music. Their tracks are similar to bands like Pulled Apart By Horses and Baby Strange, with a ‘no-shit’ attitude on stage which gives them an unapproachable, intimidating edge. Attitude is so key in rock music, and J.W Paris embody this with ease. The fantastic thing about J.W Paris too is how unique they are; they’re a three piece (like False Heads), with a messily gritty bite and unorthodox sound. Like Demob Happy, it’s live where the band excel; for my gig review of the band at The Horn, you can read it here.
Top tracks: Berlin & Rapture
October Drift are manic, a chaotic hectic band whose grit transcends in their music both live and on record. They are a crazy burst of grunge rock, with a mesmerisingly heavy aura on stage. Kiran’s voice is deep and raw and dark, paired by the crashing roaring sound of the guitar and drums. Live, the band are able to tear up the venue, with their intense strength and force ripping apart each track. They’re a hypnotic presence, a really filthy burst of roaring riffs. What I like about the band, especially live, is how uncompromising they are; they come across as strange and weird, and this unique approach to their music gives them a killer aura. Their music is mad, frantic and mental…all you could want from a punk rock band.
Top tracks: Cherry Red & Cinnamon Girl
I’ve been lucky enough to catch Fiende Fatale live twice now, and the thing about them which makes them so enthralling is the refreshing burst of punk energy they possess. Dom, Rolph, Alex and Matt have been playing for a couple of years now, something which is apparent through the meticulous riffs and intricate drumming. Dom always blows me away on the drums, with brilliant drumming on tracks like Car Crash and Good Intentions. There’s a lot of eccentricity to their tracks, with the heavy riffs and Matt’s cocky North London vocals giving their music a unique edge, a really harsh gritty rock’n’roll bite which comes through especially on new track Script. Re-energising the meaning of DIY punk and giving garage rock a whole new meaning, the London four piece embody the rawness and grit of punk music perfectly, 100% a group to keep your eye on.
Top tracks: Dizzle & Yours Untruly
Other bands to keep your eye on…
For fans of: gritty grunge bands like Nirvana, messy punk rock, killer riffs and bad-ass women in punk
Top track: I’m Gonna Do Well
For fans of: fun indie rock, hectic moshpits, classic British 70s punk
Top tracks: So Far Out & Jarr’ed Up Generation
The Black Roses
For fans of: feel god indie rock, The Libertines, 2000’s indie-Britpop
Top tracks: She Makes The Rain Dance & Utopia
You can read my interview with The Black Roses here
For fans of: blaring guitar rock, satirical sarcasm, cynical indie-punk
Top tracks: I’ve Seen Your Face In A Music Magazine & Wet Dream Fanzine
For fans of: raw indie grit, raucous live crowds, raspy rock vocals
Top tracks: Angry Faces & X21
For fans of: intense rock’n’roll, politically charged rock, blaring guitar riffs
Top track: A Wise Man Said
You can read my interview with guitarist Daniel Connolly here
For fans of: soothing indie-pop, quirky rich vocals, energetic music you can dance to
Top track: Polaroids in Paris
For fans of: killer grunge, intense heavy rock, deep and dark power with heavy riffs
Top tracks: Call Me Out & Gilded Lily
For fans of: fun feel good indie, light chilled guitar, The 1975, early Wolf Alice and The Japanese House
A few months ago I published a top 50 music videos post; since then, I’ve become a fan of so many more bands, and have really explored a greater variety of musicians and music genres, from hardcore rock, to desert-rock grunge, to light indie music. Videos can be such a vital accompaniment to a good track too, and some videos are so aesthetically stunning with such insane production and editing that they become a stand out piece of art in their own right. This list will round up my top 50 videos (part 2), with a playlist of all these incredible tracks at the end. Enjoy!
1..Is This What You Wanted- The Last Shadow Puppets
2. Sticks ‘n’ Stones- Jamie T
3. If You Wanna- The Vaccines
4. Make A Man- Estrons
5. Snap Out Of It- Arctic Monkeys
6. Loveblood- Sundara Karma
7. Charlemagne- Blossoms
8. Nervous Energy- Slaves
9. I Punched A Lion In The Throat- Pulled Apart By Horses
10. Why Do You Hate Me?- Marmozets
11. Karma Seeker- VANT
12. No Care- Daughter
13. Let’s Pray- Blaenavon
14. Heart of The Matter- The Libertines
15. You Don’t Get Me High Anymore- Phantogram
16. Duet- Everything Everything
17. The Sound- The 1975
18. National Anthem- Lana Del Rey
19. White Knuckle Ride- Slaves
20. Ten Tonne Skeleton- Royal Blood
21. High Five, Swan Dive, Nose Dive- Pulled Apart By Horses
Black Honey are Brighton’s coolest four piece, with a desert rock glare, and messy grunge edge. They encompass Tarantino style thrills, straight out of a 90s neo-noir film. With captivating mesmerising soft tracks like ‘Madonna’ and lively roaring choruses on tracks like ‘Hello Today,’ there’s a soft, melodic romanticism in their lyrics. Izzy’s vocals are stunning, particularly her eerily gripping screams on ‘Spinning Wheel’ and the light, melancholy spirit in her voice when she broods the line ‘tell me how you sleep, I drag you back from every dream’ (‘Madonna’). The guitar is blaring and sharp, with a melodramatic distortion on tracks like ‘Spinning Wheel’ and ‘You Said It All,’ which are heaven to the ears performed live. Straight out of a desert cowboy film or Tarantino movie, the band are messily stylish with such an artistic fashionable flare to them; they dress like rockstars, like characters from a film, with Izzy’s wide eyes coated in mascara, and her messy pale blonde hair and stained red lips. They’re quite theatrical and intense, with a creative artistic flare on stage, and they’re trendy and stylish with a stunning aesthetic and aura of glam elegance. Izzy’s ‘girls only’ guitar is a beauty in itself, as well as their drum kit with the band’s striking black and white logo. They’re similar to bands like Peace, Sundara Karma and Wolf Alice; their music is messy and grungy but aesthetically soft and carefree too. The melancholy distortion and hectic mad beauty they have encaptures audiences live, and pulls listeners in on record. Their album artwork has this beautiful pop-art style, with a clear appreciation of art and fashion visible. For fans of unorthodox, interesting rock music, that’s messy and indie but has flamboyancy and elegance about it, Black Honey are perfect. Their immensity on record is one of the most beautiful things I’ve heard, and their stylish image is reminiscent of rock’n’roll perfection.
Music videos have always played a huge role in rock music- they add an element of intensity to a track, bringing a bite and edge to it. Many focus around black and white filters, other on the atmospheres of live shows, and others on soft indie aesthetics. I’ve listed my top 50, most being from the last couple of decades. I’ve tried to focus on modern indie rock and grunge, most being from the last few years. The tracks themselves are amazing, so make sure to check out the Spotify playlist at the end too. Enjoy!
2. You’re a Germ- Wolf Alice
3. Sockets- Slaves
4. Song 2- Blur
5. Flame- Sundara Karma
6. Fake ID- RATBOY
7. Kathleen- Catfish and the Bottlemen
8. Little Monster- Royal Blood
9. No Fun- The Magic Gang
10. To Die For- The Bohicas
11. Leave Before the Lights Come On- Arctic Monkeys
12. Reptilia- The Strokes
13. Sway- The Kooks
14. Everyday I Love You Less and Less- Kaiser Chiefs
15. Lazarus- David Bowie
16. The Hunter- Slaves
17. R U Mine? – Arctic Monkeys
18. Robbers- The 1975
19. Gunga Din- The Libertines
20. Everything You’ve Come to Expect- The Last Shadow Puppets