The 11 Best New & Unknown Bands of 2014

 

We’re on the verge of the big fall release season for music.  Leading up to that, let’s take a quick look at some of the new musical entries from this year.  For a band to be eligible for one of my usual lists, they need to have at least two full length albums out (or one album and two EPs).  So for this list, I’ve only included bands releasing their first full length album (or EP) this year.  This list goes to 12 because the last two bands only released EPs this year. Enjoy!

Here are the 11 Best New & Unknown Bands of 2014:

  1. Antemasque (Antemasque) - This is the greatest album that At the Drive-In never made.  With Omar and Cedric from ATDI and Mars Volta on board, it’s tight, neat punk that delivers with all the force of their angriest moments.  Having Flea as your bassist never hurts either.
  2. Eagulls (Eagulls) – This band is as punk as they are 80s. It’s hard not to listen to the band and not hear Robert Smith’s guitar influence supporting the raspy vocal explosion.  Ian Curtis would be proud.
  3. White Sea (In Cold Blood) – Morgan Kibby of M83 branches out with a solo project that is as much M83 sounding as it is her own.  The lyrics can be surprisingly vulgar for such an innocent sounding voice.
  4. Cheetahs (Cheetahs) – While a lot of critics are quick to call this band the second coming of My Bloody Valentine, there’s equal parts Jesus and The Mary Chain & Echo and the Bunnymen trickling from under the fuzzy guitars and droning vocals.
  5. Ought (Ought) – While we patiently wait for Fugazi to release some new material (or old material) we have Ought to fill in the gap.
  6. The Sunshine Underground (The Sunshine Underground) - Don’t call them the Killers part 2, though hints of the Nevada lads may be in there, you can also hear the best parts of other dance rock bands from VHS or Beta, Bloc Party, the Editors to The Bravery.
  7. Protomartyr (Under Color of Official Right) – Remember the Libertines?  Well, the Libertines were never cool enough to sing about Judge Mathis.  Protomartyr sings and plays like they grew up in a working class neighborhood in Brixton, UK…that said, they’re from Detroit.
  8. CLAIRE (The Great of the Escape) – With no M83 album this year, the softening of the Naked and Famous, and Ellie Goulding shedding her indie skin for the pop chanteuse crown, an alt EDM void has formed; CLAIRE is here to fill that void.
  9. Oh My! (Slow Moves) – Sometimes it’s okay to be a generic rock back.  You don’t have to be emo, grunge, punk, nu metal, or brit pop.  You can just bust out a guitar and dominate with good old fashion riffs and fist pumping songs.  Just ask U2 how it worked out for them.
  10. Temples (Sun Structures) – What is most compelling about Temples new album is how much fun they sound like they’re having.  They draw on influences from almost every decade, creating music so layered with melodies, you can’t help but be drawn in to their festive atmosphere.
  11. Wolf Alice (Creature Songs EP) – If Tegan & Sara were angry, angst-filled rockers they may sound something like this.  It’s also the closest thing we may hear that sounds like the band lush for awhile.
  12. Movement (Movement EP)- This band is so overtly sexual, you feel like you need a cigarette after each song.  Taking the sensuality of the xx and combining it with R. Kelly at his dirtiest, you begin to crack the surface of what Movement brings to the dance.

Honorable Mention: This is one of the best new bands out there, but this being their second album, I didn’t want to include them in the above list.

  1. Garden & Villa (Dunes) - Their song Colony Glen is blowing up the scene but their entire album has just as many great songs sprinkled through-out.  The music is so 80s, I have to double check check if I’m listening to G&V or Talk Talk.

 

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The 11 Best Songs By The Gaslight Anthem

 

Last time the Gaslight Anthem released an album it was a couple days after the Dark Knight tragedy in Colorado.  This time, their new album comes on the heels of another tragedy, just of a different nature.  Yesterday, we lost a comedy giant.  The greatest of all time could be an understatement.  I remember a story Bruce Springsteen told that inspired him.  It was a couple of months after 9/11, when Bruce and his family were at church.  A fellow church-goer shouted to him in passing, “We need you, Bruce.”  That sentiment helped push Bruce to make “The Rising”…one of the best albums of the past twenty years.  We needed Bruce’s music to help us through the malaise.  He delivered.  Not everyone can be Bruce Springsteen.  But music can soothe our savage beasts.  In times of need, it’s music that can keep us centered.

The Gaslight Anthem is one of those bands rooted in the veins of what it is to be an average person in America.  What it means to bust your ass just to make rent, what it means to know happiness comes from a backyard bbq with friends rather than bottle service at a club, and what it means to endure extreme hardship and have to power on.  We all lost Robin Williams.  The world is less funny today without him in it.  Bands like The Gaslight Anthem remind us that we’re not alone, we all share this loss together.

Here are the 11 Best Songs By The Gaslight Anthem:

  1. American Slang (American Slang)
  2. 45 (Handwritten)
  3. I Coul’da Been A Contender (Sink Or Swim)
  4. Handwritten (Handwritten)
  5. The Patient Ferris Wheel (The ’59 Sound)
  6. Howl (Handwritten)
  7. Stay Lucky (American Slang)
  8. The ’59 Sound (The ’59 Sound)
  9. We’re Getting A Divorce, You Keep The Diner (Sink Or Swim)
  10. 1930 (Sink Or Swim)
  11. Orphans (American Slang)

Buy The Gaslight Anthem’s new album, Get Hurt…now!!

 

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The 11 Best Songs By The Civil Wars

For anyone who followed the career of The Civil Wars, it came as no surprise when they announced last week that they were breaking up.  The band hasn’t played live in 18 months.  They never toured for their sophomore album, let alone do much publicity for it.  And from many rumors, it seems that Joy Williams and John White have almost no contact with each other.  And we thought Guns N Roses had problems.  If I had to guess, there was too much pressure for super stardom allotted on this modest band.  Fame demolishes even the best of them…not even The Beatles could survive it.  From Michael Jackson and Smashing Pumpkins covers to heartfelt folky bluegrass anthems, the Civil Wars had something unique to offer.  It’s sad to seem them go…but I’m sure there will be more to hear from them in the future.

Here are the 11 Best Songs By The Civil Wars:

  1. Eavesdrop (The Civil Wars)
  2. I’ve Got A Friend (Barton Hallow)
  3. My Father’s Father (Barton Hallow)
  4. The One That Got Away (The Civil Wars)
  5. Birds of A Feather (Barton Hallow)
  6. Poison & Wine (Barton Hallow)
  7. Barton Hollow (Barton Hallow)
  8. Pressing Flowers (Poison & Wine)
  9. Billie Jean (Between The Bars)
  10. Dust To Dust (The Civil Wars)
  11. Finding North (A Place At The Table)

Buy The Civil Wars music now!!

 

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The 11 Best Songs By Spoon

Fun Fact:  Britt Daniel made his acting debut in an episode of Veronica Mars.  In the episode, he sang a karaoke version of Elvis Costello’s “Veronica.”

Here are the 11 Best Songs By Spoon:

  1. The Two Sides Of Monsieur Valentine (Gimme Fiction)
  2. You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb (Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga)
  3. Me And The Bean (Girls Can Tell)
  4. Rhthm & Soul (Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga)
  5. The Way We Get By (Kill The Moonlight)
  6. Out Go The Lights (Transference)
  7. Sister Jack (Gimme Fiction)
  8. I Summon You (Gimme Fiction)
  9. Everything Hits At Once (Girls Can Tell)
  10. Laffitte Don’t Fail Me Now (Series of Sneaks)
  11. The Book I Write (Stranger Than Fiction Soundtrack)

Buy Spoon’s new album, They Want My Soul…now!

 

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The 11 Best Songs By Jenny Lewis

Coming up with a “best of” list for Jenny Lewis is more complicated than it seems.  Jenny has had such a rich, complex musical career, it’s challenging to narrow it down to one specific aspect.  First you have her stint with Rilo Kiley, an amazing noughties band, which only cracked the surface for exposure.  You have her solo career, which is really only one album, since Rabbit Fur Coat is more of a collaboration album with the Watson Twins and Jenny and Johnny is a duet album with Jonathan Rice.  Then there are all her guest appearance for bands like Postal Service, Bright Eyes, and Elvis Costello. So where do I start?  Should I do an exhaustive list of all the best songs of Rilo Kiley or just a slice of her solo section?  What about her movies and TV shows?  I couldn’t decide…so let’s just do them all.

The 11 Best Songs By Jenny Lewis:

  1. More Adventurous (More Adventurous)
  2. Love and War 11/11/46 (More Adventurous)
  3. The Execution of All Things (The Execution of All Things)
  4. Under The Blacklight (Under The Blacklight)\
  5. My Slumbering Heart (The Execution of All Things)
  6. Melt Your Heart (Rabbit Fur Coat)
  7. Portions For Foxes (More Adventurous)
  8. You Are What You Love (Rabbit Fur Coat)
  9. With Arms Outstretched (The Execution of All Things)
  10. Sing A Song For Them (Jenny Lewis – Acid Tongue)
  11. Straight Edge Of The Blade (Jenny and Johnny – I’m Having Fun Now)

Buy Jenny Lewis’ new album, The Voyager…now!!!

 

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The 11 Best Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers Songs of the 80s

Tom Petty rules.

Petty owned the 70s.  It was this decade when Petty crawled out of the Florida swamps and kicked us in the ear drums with jangle-rific rock n’ roll that infected us with push play, rewind, repeat.  ”American Girl” & ” Refugee” will out live us all.  In the 90s, Petty had a massive rebirth ignited by the late 80s iconic solo album, Full Moon Fever.  ”Learning To Fly” had us strumming along as they went to the top of the rock charts, Johnny Depp and Faye Dunaway were making video cameos, and indie filmmakers were hiring the band to score soundtracks.  Like the decade did for other 70s icon, John Travolta, the 90s reminded us why we loved them in the first place.

Twenty years down the road, TP & the HBs were as dominant as ever.  But in between the 70s and the 90s, Petty took the road less traveled.  The 80s may be Petty’s most subversive decade.  The 80s were owned by MTV.  Petty couldn’t dance like Michael Jackson, and he couldn’t wear a dress (or not wear) like Madonna.  He couldn’t rap like LL Cool J and claymation just wasn’t his thing.  But that didn’t mean Petty and the boys weren’t churning out music that stood on par with the best of their career.

Here are the 11 Best Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers Songs of the 80s:

  1. Rebels (Southern Accents)
  2. A Woman In Love (It’s Not Me) (Hard Promises)
  3. Insider (Hard Promises)
  4. Change Of Heart (Long After Dark)
  5. The Waiting (Hard Promises)
  6. Deliver Me (Long After Dark)
  7. It Ain’t Nothing To Me (Southern Accents)
  8. Runaway Trains (Let Me Up I’ve Had Enough)
  9. You Got Lucky (Long After Dark)
  10. We Stand A Chance (Long After Dark)
  11. Jammin’ Me (Let Me Up I’ve Had Enough)

Buy Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers new album, Hypnotic Eye…now!!!

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The 11 Best Songs By Sebastian Bach

That’s right, this is a list about Sebastian Bach, former lead singer of the seminal 80s glam metal band, Skid Row.  Why would I do a list about Sebastian Bach?  A man who seemingly puts his music IQ on par with the best of the best Rock N Roll Jeopardy champions.  Because Sebastian Bach kicks ass.  Bach has one of the most unique rock voices of all time.  It’s loud, timid, angry, emotional, bellowing, caustic, and ethereal all at the same time.  It has the power to get you up in the morning and make you pancakes.  It has the power to make any woman fall in love with you in just three notes.  Bach’s voice is so powerful that it once traveled back in time and helped end World War II.   If angels sang bad ass rock music, they’d sound like Bach.  Though glam metal has all but fizzled away outside of the occasional Darkness release, Bach’s current music is still solidly on par with the strongest of the 80s releases.  Twenty five years down the road, Bach still knows how to make an album and the guy deserves credit for proving that only the strong survive.

Here are the 11 Best Songs By Sebastian Bach:

  1. Love Is A Bitchslap (Angel Down)
  2. My Own Worst Enemy (Kicking & Screaming)
  3. Kicking & Screaming (Kicking & Screaming)
  4. Our Love Is A Lie (Angel Down)
  5. You Don’t Understand (Angel Down)
  6. Caught In a Dream (Kicking & Screaming)
  7. Falling Into You (Angel Down)
  8. By Your Side (Angel Down)
  9. Lost In The Light (Kicking & Screaming)
  10. Blasphemer (Bring ‘Em Bach Alive)
  11. Dirty Power (Kicking & Screaming)
  12. Counterpunch (Bring ‘Em Bach Alive)

Buy Sebastian Bach new solo album, Give ‘Em Hell…now!!

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