Everybody likes to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to music, and being the first to latch onto a new band or album often brings with it a certain satisfaction reserved for hipsters or audiophiles. With that in mind, the staff here at Goliath have sat down and hashed out a list of 10 great up and coming rock bands that we feel are worth checking out immediately. We weren’t naive enough to put bands like the Arctic Monkeys on here, as we feel bands of that level are popular enough to have received airplay at an international level; no, we’ve done our research on a much smaller scale, and pulled together some lesser known bands who deserve more attention than they’re given, and who we think are likely to get it in the near future. These guys and gals are all on the verge of a major breakout, so be sure to check them out and get your cool fix before they begin to blow up your radio.
You’ve no doubt heard “The House That Heaven Built,” the debut single from the Japandroids second studio album, Celebration Rock (released in 2012); it was absolutely everywhere when it was released, but we’ve heard little else from this Canadian rock duo from Vancouver, British Columbia. With recent rumblings that the duo are working hard on a third studio album, we thought this an excellent opportunity to draw attention to the stellar music they have already released (which does stretch beyond the aforementioned single) and prepare our readers for a Japandroids invasion of the airwaves sometime in the near future. Keep your ears open for more of this up and coming rock outfit.
9. The 1975
We’ve left Canada but not the Commonwealth for this four-piece rock band who hail from Manchester, England, and released their self-titled debut album in 2013 after a series of previously successful EPs. The 1975, who are equal parts pop and rock, blend a smooth sound with some familiar rock and roll elements, although we’d venture to say they trend closer to the former than the latter. Are they going to bring the house down with pure rock ferocity? Probably not. But as the video below illustrates, they’re more than capable of providing a solid soundtrack to an evening drive with a pretty partner in the passenger seat. With tones evocative of the Britpop movement, The 1975 seem prepped to usher in a new era of quality pop-rock from the UK.
There’s a good chance that HAIM, the four-piece rock band from Los Angeles, California, are the most popular band on this list, but we’ve decided to include them if only for their quality tunes and the now-legendary story of their formation, which is sure to go down as one of the most intriguing band stories in recent memory. The band, which consists primarily of sisters Alana Haim, Danielle Haim and Este Haim (along with drummer Dash Hutton), was formed way back in 2007, but broke up after Este began to study Ethnomusicology and Danielle became a successful touring guitarist with Julian Casablancas (of The Strokes). It wasn’t until 2012 that the sisters reformed the band, released their debut EP titled Days Are Gone, and began to make a name for themselves as pop/rock performing artists in the vein of Stevie Nicks.
It’s a tough sell any time a band gets labelled spiritual heirs to The Strokes. How do you follow up a band who practically re-invented what it meant to be cool? That’s just too much pressure, man. Regardless of how you feel about iconic comparisons, it’s pretty evident that the Drowners, who (much like The Strokes) are from New York City, are a cool all unto themselves. Trending more towards indie rock than the garage rock of their “spiritual forefathers,” the Drowners had some success in 2013 with their first single, “Luv, Hold Me Down,” that primed them for the release of their debut LP, Drowners, in January of 2014. Having opened recently for the Arctic Monkeys, it’s a safe bet you’ll hear more from these Big Apple rockers before the year is through.
6. Black Pistol Fire
We don’t know whether you’re all into blues rock like we are here at Goliath, but we grew up on the likes of The White Stripes, and while we can’t claim to enjoy all the bluesy rock we here are on the radio, we are glad that the genre is here to stay. A sure sign of the its staying power is the innumerable young bands who’ve chosen to engage with that style of music, and one of the very best of those bands goes by the name Black Pistol Fire (yes, we love it as much as you do). An explosive and chaotic musical experience, this two-piece rock outfit hail from Toronto, Ontario, although they’ve also spent time down in Texas, the latter of which is notable since southern rock plays a huge role in the sound they’ve crafted. Hear it in the sample track below, and then go and enjoy every bit of bluesy goodness these two have eked out so far.
We’ve written of the Arkells before, the well-known Canadian band who call Hamilton, Ontario, home. The reason we’re writing of them again is because we’re convinced that this band, who blend pop sensibilities and reverb-laden hooks with the good old fashioned traits of rock and roll, is on the verge of becoming a commodity not just in Canada, but in the rest of the world. With three extremely solid albums under their belt (Jackson Square, Michigan Left and the recently released High Noon), the Arkells are a radio-friendly outfit who seem to revel in indulging their fondness of pop music, as they’ve been known to cover artists as varied as Hall & Oates and the Clash. And with ear worm tracks like “Kiss Cam” and “Leather Jacket” ready to play on repeat, they’re about as poised as you can get to breakout on a multi-national stage.
Billed as a “one man blues rock army,” Reignwolf (A.K.A. Jordan Cook) hails from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, and trust us when we say he’s worth the price of admission. Truly a one man show who spends much of (and oftentimes all) his time on stage all by his lonesome, Reignwolf makes excellent use of his guitar and trusty kick drum to produce some incredible blues-laden rock and roll, the likes of which haven’t been seen since Jack White picked up a guitar and started to let it rip. Seriously, this guy is that good. For more convincing, check out his KEXP (Seattle) performance, where he performs original tunes and a rousing cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain.” Or check out his festival performances, which feature him doing everything from climbing stage equipment to blasting tunes despite torrential rainstorms. Or, you know, just watch the video below and be amazed that one man can make so much glorious noise.
3. Royal Blood
After opening for the Foo Fighters on their recent Sonic Highways/Broken Leg tour, one could make the argument that Royal Blood are already too famous for a list like this. But we wouldn’t buy that argument, which is why we’ve slotted them in at number three on this list of breakout rock and roll candidates. Royal Blood, a two-piece rock outfit from Brighton, England, who consists of Mike Kerr and Ben Thatcher, released their first LP in 2014, an eponymous effort that has earned them oodles of respect from rock and roll’s finest, with some of the biggest voices in rock and roll (including Foo Fighters front man Dave Grohl) speaking to their ability to bring down the house with their grungy and bluesy tunes. A unique due who use only a drumset and a mic’ed up bass guitar, Royal Blood are a band to be on the lookout for in the coming years, as they’re going to be making damn good tunes for a very long time.
2. The Strypes
We can’t say enough about The Strypes, the four-man rock outfit who call Cavan, Ireland, home. Consisting of members who range from ages 18-20, The Strypes released their first LP, Snapshot, in 2013, and was it ever a doozy. Channelling the blues-inspired rock and roll of the 1960s and the 1970s, Snapshot is an album out of sync with its time, and it listens as though you found your copy on vinyl after rummaging around an old geezer’s garage sale, not like something you just downloaded off of iTunes. Snapshot, which combines the best elements of blues and pub rock of the aforementioned eras with a shameless exuberance not often found in contemporary rock, is the reason why we’ve gone and placed The Strypes all the way up at number two on this list. They’re young, they’re hip and they’re ready to break out in a big way if things continue to line up accordingly.
1. Metronome Jones
This little-known rock band hail from Ottawa, Ontario, but don’t let their frosty roots fool you; these fellas are producing some red hot alternative rock, with a vast set of influences that include funk, progressive rock and metal. The owners of three successful EPs (for a dominating five-track rock experience, go grab yourself a copy of their Porch EP; it’s spectacular), Metronome Jones are perched precariously at the edge of anonymity; however, if the band keeps producing stellar tunes on par with what they’ve put together so far, it won’t be long before you’re hearing their songs all over the airwaves. Fresh off the successful release of their most recent EP, the eponymous Metronome Jones, this three-piece alternative rock outfit are poised to make a whole lot of noise in the near future. Check out their newest single, “Waiting on the Winter,” if you need any more convincing.