Despite all of the pop music hoopla, the cross-genre stylings of breakthrough artists, and stuff that just made you give a weird look in confusion and disgust, it’s very safe to say that the timeless art of rock and roll was alive and well in 2014. A genre that has become very broad these days — tying together elements of punk, blues and garage rock — has reshaped and refocused into a style of electrifying riffs and contagious energy. With all of this being said, here are my Top 10 Rock and Roll Songs of 2014:
The only band this year to release two EPs in one night, Providence garage mod revolution rock act Ravi Shavi put out a gem with “Midnight” in August when they released both the Courage & Independent EPs at the historic Columbus Theatre. Catchy as hell with a boatload of bravado, if you’re not dancing after you press play on this bad boy you either need therapy or your music taste is suspect.
9. Skaters, “I Wanna Dance (But I Don’t Know How)”
Boston-to-Brooklyn transplants Skaters put out a groovy indie rock album with Manhattan this year and I really fell in love with “I Wanna Dance (But I Don’t Know How). Reminiscent of The Jam in the early ’80s topped off with a modern pop style of production, despite the song being about a guy not knowing how to dance this track is bound to make to cut a rug in no time.
Dylan Baldi and crew made Generation X joyfully applaud with their grunge tinged breakthrough release of Attack On Memory in 2012, and this year’s follow up of Here and Nowhere Else reestablished the band as one of the best in the independent music realm with the mosh pit rager “Giving Into Seeing” being the crown jewel. The riffs alone make the track a headbanging masterpiece, and it gets more and more intense as it goes along.
Boston rock darlings Mean Creek first caught everyone’s eye with a sound equivalent to a mix of Darkness On The Edge Of Town-era Springsteen and late ’80s Replacements, this year with the release Local Losers they upped the ante with an awesome punk rock album. “Cool Town” has Mikey Holland’s drumming skills acting like a jet engine with frontman Chris Keene getting in your face about how much he misses California when the cold weather hits. So damn fast and energetic, this track leaves quite the impression on the senses.
These days, you can’t really utter the term rock & roll without thinking of the eccentricity known as Jack White. With “Three Women” off his second solo album Lazaretto, the piano keys and drumbeats make this number an entrancing one with perfect syncopation and spectacular rhythm. Jack sneaking a couple cool riffs from his guitar serves as the proverbial cherry on top of this musical sundae.
Against Me!’s “True Trans Soul Rebel” is the most socially important song to come out this year and also brings punk back to life. Laura Jane Grace’s inspiring story of finding her true identity and her true self is all over this song, what I love most about it is that she exemplifies how she couldn’t care less about what anyone else thinks in the best way she knows how. Turn it up, let it rip and let this song punch your senses in the face.
A spectacular combo of styles echoing The Cars and Stardust-era David Bowie, Broncho’s “Class Historian” is bound to get stuck in your head from the first note on. Beauty in simplicity, the guitars won’t melt your brain with solos but the toe tapping riffs make up for it. It’s impossible to not follow in love with this track and the catchiness will bring a smile to your face instead of being like most songs that make you pray for electro shock therapy.
The trophy for teenage rock and roll lust anthem of 2014 has to go to The Orwells’ “The Righteous One”. The chorus of “But it’s not fair/Don’t touch your hair” is sexy as all hell and it’s bound to cause a ruckus when these kids from the Illinois town of Elmhurst perform it live. Cool breakdowns and distorted guitars make this garage rocker a song you won’t stop listening to.
It’s as if everything the Los Angeles based rock and roll wunderkind touches is gold, and that fact became reaffirmed when Ty Segall released Manipulator this year. “It’s Over” from the album has a fuzzy bass line and scorching guitars mixed with a touch of ’60s psychedelia to create a perfect rock & roll song. When the chorus comes in the guitars become monstrous, a wall of sound coming to destroy everything in sight. Purely badass, this song is a must listen to anyone who likes it loud.
It seems as if the kid from The Big Easy came out of nowhere with a signature blues-punk sound that took everyone by surprised. Benjamin Booker self-titled debut that came out this year is a jaw-dropping gem and the first track “Violent Shiver” is a big reason why. An honest song about never really knowing where your going, being a slave to the bottle and thrusting yourself into whatever life puts in front of you makes this track my favorite one to come out in 2014.