Best of

The Best 35 Albums of 2015: 10 – 1

It’s come to that time of year again where we have the mammoth task of summarising a years worth of quality rock, metal and punk. It’s been tough task as 2015 has been a blinding year across the spectrum of major label, independent and fan funded releases. Enjoy and check out any you’ve missed. We’ll take any thanks in the form of pints of cold beer.

Contributions from: Nix Cooper (NC), Tom Mimnagh (TM), Steve Brixey (SB), Dan Stent (DS), Andy Close (AC), Mark Granger (MG) and Karl Eisenhauer (KA).

10. Frank Turner – “Positive Songs For Negative People”

Following on from 2013’s Tape Deck Heart, Positive Songs for Negative People marks a leap forward for Frank Turner’s already distinctive sound, opting for a more Springsteen-esque vibe, capable of filling increasingly large venues, as witnessed by his recent triumphant performance at Alexandra Palace. Positive Songs for Negative People has a number of stand-out tracks, with The Next Storm, Get Better, Josephine, and Out of Breath providing particular highlights. However, perhaps the track most emblematic of Turner’s widespread appeal is Silent Key, a fictional narrative of the final moments of the lives of the crew of the doomed Challenger space mission in 1986, showing his ability to weave brilliantly unique ideas into his songs, coupled with a an honest and raw emotion that permeates every corner of the album. A much more positive, uplifting affair than TDH, Positive Songs for Negative People showcases another string to Turner’s already very accomplished bow. (TM)

9. Faith No More – “Sol Invictus”

Oh, it’s good to have them back. Picking straight up where 1997’s Album of the Year left off, Sol Invictus is every bit as twisted, funny and uncompromising as you dared dream it would be. Always innovative and always experimental, Faith No More succeed so completely on the eleven tracks here because they still sound like nothing else on this planet. There is something truly special about the music these five make together and tracks like the schizophrenic Superhero or the oddball Cone of Shame show exactly why Mike Patton remains one the most unique vocalists in rock. An album truly worthy of the Faith No More name. Hello, motherfuckers. (SB)

8. The Amorettes – “Game On”

Barrelling out of the northlands like there’s no tomorrow, the Amorettes set themselves up as Scotland’s answer to first album Airbourne with a stormer of a second album. The song titles are almost AC/DC level obvious but when you’ve got such a knack for killer riffs and tunes, that really doesn’t matter. What does matter is that this is a damn good rock album and if it doesn’t induce you to nod your head and grin like an idiot then you’re probably dead. (AC)

7. The Scaramanga Six – “The Terrifying Dream”

One of the British underground’s best kept secrets, The Scaramanga Six returned this year with their eighth studio album and it’s an absolute corker. Multi-layered, brooding and overflowing with atmosphere, this is not a conventional record, despite what your first impressions may be. Tracks like Citadel are epic beasts which suddenly head off on unexpected tangents, while even the poppier moments like Out Of My Tiny Mind have hidden depths. Make no mistake, this is not a straightforward listen as the Six’s ‘evil pop’ is accompanied by lyrics covering a whole host of nightmarish topics including death and haunting visions. Having said that, their lyrical nous and song-writing talent is abundantly clear. This is an album you’ll keep coming back to time and time again. (DS)

6. God Damn – “Vultures”

‘Vultures’, the début album from this Wolverhampton duo, delivers on all the promises their EPs made and then some. From the moment ‘When The Wind Blows’ tears out of the gates you know that you’re in for something special. Ash Weaver’s titanic drumming and Thom Edwards wall of sound guitars are something that will be familiar to those who’ve witnessed the band’s tear your face off approach to the live experience, but here a new dimension is introduced. Throughout ‘Vultures’ their sound runs the sonic gamut, fully utilising Thom’s live experiments with feedback and pedals and wrestling them into an aural cornucopia, ranging from odd psychedelic moments to beautiful art-noise. One minute these boys are in your local sweat-box, the next they’re playing with the Foo Fighters or on showcases for the BBC. See them live, buy the album, then get everything they’ve done and discover a band that are going places. (MG)

5. Role Models – “The Go To Guy”

It’s been a long time coming, but the debut album proper from Rich Rags’ mob certainly delivers the goods. A handful of singles and a good half a decade on the live circuit have seen Role Models hone their craft to the point where there are few bands who deliver this kind of punky, bar room rock as well as they do. The Go to Guy captures Role Models sound in all its brilliant, whiskey soaked glory. If you’re a fan of bands like The Replacements, you’ll find a lot to love here on raw, melodic tracks like Cherry Dear, Saturday Night Sailor and Lie For Today. And just to reinforce their rock ‘n’ roll pedigree, The Go To Guy even features guest appearances from The Loyalties Rich Jones and Hanoi Rock Sami Yaffa. Get your mates round, grab a drink and turn this one up. You know where to go. (SB)

4. The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing – “Not Your Typical Victorians”

Third album from Britain’s premier steampunk band and it shows that they’re continuing to grow in confidence and ability all the time. From the straightforward punk of the title track (albeit with a serious message about stereotyping behind the humour), “Not Your Typical Victorians” takes in everything from lurching Tom Waits style observations through British invasion style pop rock to thundering doom metal in one weird, wonderful and warped package. Lord only knows where they go next but we’re sure as hell looking forward to finding out. (AC)

3. Therapy? – “Disquiet”

“Disquiet” sees a welcome return to the much nastier, angrier and cutting side of Therapy?. Cairns has described Disquiet as Troublegum’s 20 year older cousin, and there’s definitely a few riffs that are semi-recognisable here – Helpless Still Lost and Insecurity definitely bear a slight resemblance to “Unbeliever” and “Isolation” respectively, while “Good News Is No News” could almost be “Turn”’s more cantankerous older relative. (AC)

2. The Darkness – “Last Of Our Kind”

That The Darkness have now reached album number four should in theory see of the skeptics who still think it’s all a joke. Then again, it was, just not one they were ever in on. Last of Our Kind, save for its rampaging opener about invading norsemen, is a grimmer record that the band’s previous efforts, it’s also more adventurous, explicit and naked effort than its predecessors. Fans of Justin’s wordplay and cabaret act may be disappointed by the more sedate approach, but in place comes a diversity and a range of influences outside the realm of retro glam rock revivalism. Rarely has the band sounded quite so nasty as on the pulsating Mighty Wings, as epic in scale as the guitar-driven Roaring Waters or as stripped back as Hammer & Tongs. The gloves are off and The Darkness have come out swinging. (KE)

1. Eureka Machines – “Brain Waves”

They’ve done it again. Eureka Machines kicked off their 2nd fan funded album effort last year and hit their target within a couple of hours. As a standalone album, it’s utterly stunning but with the additional extras that were available in the fan funded campaign, you can’t help but think that EM’s truly have got the Midas touch (even making the likes of Taylor Swift palatable to a rock crowd with a cover of ‘Shake It Off’). Not for the first time in their career, Eureka Machines have set the bar high for their next effort. Brain Waves has got everything we’ve come to expect from the band – killer melodies and hooks, thought provoking lyrics and the ability to experiment, while never straying from being ultra-listenable. Top stuff. Top tunes: “Brain Waves”, “The Golden Lonely” and “Welcome To My Shangri-La”. (AC/NC)

The Best 35 Albums of 2015

It’s come to that time of year again where we have the mammoth task of summarising a years worth of quality rock, metal and punk. It’s been tough task as 2015 has been a blinding year across the spectrum of major label, independent and fan funded releases. Enjoy and check out any you’ve missed. We’ll take any thanks in the form of pints of cold beer.

Contributions from: Nix Cooper (NC), Tom Mimnagh (TM), Steve Brixey (SB), Dan Stent (DS), Andy Close (AC), Mark Granger (MG) and Karl Eisenhauer (KA).

The Best 35 Albums of 2015: 35 – 25

It’s come to that time of year again where we have the mammoth task of summarising a years worth of quality rock, metal and punk. It’s been tough task as 2015 has been a blinding year across the spectrum of major label, independent and fan funded releases. Enjoy and check out any you’ve missed. We’ll take any thanks in the form of pints of cold beer.

Contributions from: Nix Cooper (NC), Tom Mimnagh (TM), Steve Brixey (SB), Dan Stent (DS), Andy Close (AC), Mark Granger (MG) and Karl Eisenhauer (KA).

35. The Crunch – “Brand New Brand”

Now expanded to a five piece, the Crunch’s second album “Brand New Brand” saw them concentrating on their strengths as a band as it veered from fired up gutter-punk through laid back country rock with even the odd reggae rhythm turning up. Overall it was a solid and consistent album and a worthy follow up to its predecessor. (AC)

34. Trucker Diablo – “Rise Above The Noise”

Trucker Diablo hail from Armagh in Ireland. Which on listening to their latest album may come as something as a surprise, as the ten tracks on offer here boast the sort of colossal riffs and don’t give a fuck attitude that would sound more at home in the deep south of the US of A – and I mean that in a good way. “Rise Above The Noise” is loaded with outrageously huge hard rock tunes, from beer guzzling monsters like “Party Like They Started The End Of The World” to defiant anthems like “We Stand Strong”. They even find time to throw in a few lighters in the air moments for good measure, like the touching “Where Angels Fly”. After they nearly called it a day last year, it’s great to see the big truck still rolling. (SB)

33. Diamond Dogs – “Quitters and Complainers”

Unfortunately, “Quitters And Complainers” would turn out to be the Diamond Dogs’ final album after a twenty year plus career but at least they went out on a high note by delivering something well up to their usual standards. Good time bar room rock ‘n’ roll with a bluesy tint and songs aplenty. They will be missed. (AC)

32. Imperial State Electric – “Honk Machine”

Having previously established a reputation as being raw stripped down garage rock ‘n’ rollers, Imperial State Electric’s fourth album proved that they’ve got more strings to their bow than folks were giving them credit for. From the Monkees style pure pop of “Maybe You’re Right” to the big Elvis style gospel singalong of “Walk On By”, this was a good varied effort and the band’s strongest album to date. (AC)

31. The St Pierre Snake Invasion – “A Hundred Years A Day”

Longtime readers of Pure Rawk will likely have seen some of the many live reviews we have put together on The St Pierre Snake Invasion, who have been quietly (or not so quietly I suppose) gaining a cult following on the UK Independent music scene. As such, their debut album A Hundred Years A Day, released earlier this year, was a very welcome sight, and it does not disappoint. Filled with the sort of venom and we have come to expect from them A Hundred Years a Day is a fantastic record, incorporating live favourites like If The Only Way is Essex You Can Kill Me Now, Rock ‘n’ Roll Workshops, Jesus Mary and Joseph Talbot, and Sex Dungeons and Dragons, with the fury of new tracks like Thanks, But the Answer’s No, and the brilliantly named David Ickerumba. It’s an album with something to say, which is something all too rare these days, and even rarer still an album that manages to distill the live experience of one of their gigs onto a record without losing the energy and action the band produce every time they take to the stage. (TM)

30. The Sick Livers – “Mid Liver Crisis”

First full length effort from Rumney’s answer to Turbonegro and it proved that they’re a band getting leaner, meaner and just out and out better all the time. Dark, deranged and full of killer riffs and tunes, make no mistake this was the Sick Livers announcing their arrival as serious players on the scene in the sort of fun ‘n’ filthy way that only they can. (AC)

29. Love Buzzard – “Antifistamines”

If you’re looking for a polished, clean sound you’re definitely in the wrong place. Scuzzy, frenetic and relentless, the Love Buzzard debut album “Antifistamines” is a triumphant slab of intense, psychedelic, garage rock. From the punk-Sabbath in a garage (Cash), to the acid-scuzz of Origins, Love Buzzard deserve to be up there with the likes of fellow two-piece acts, God Damn and Slaves. Over these 13 tracks they mix it up just enough to keep you interested throughout. They’re certainly one to keep a close eye on. (DS)

28. Electric Six – “Bitch, Don’t Let Me Die!”

Eleven albums in and there’s still no sign of Dick Valentine and co growing old gracefully or getting even remotely sensible. And let’s be honest, we wouldn’t have ’em any other way. From demented rockabilly to glammed up stadium rock, Electric Six pretty much cover all the bases in their own inimitable style. Did we mention there’s a six minute concept rock opera on there about a Santa imitator falling to his death on a bed of spikes called “Big Red Arthur” on there? Well, now you’ve got another reason to go and buy it. (AC)

27. InMe – “Trilogy: Dawn”

‘Trilogy:Dawn’ is an example of how a band can release an album that barely puts a foot wrong and still remain inexplicably un-massive (yep, I’m making the choice of using the phrase un-massive). Progressive, hook filled, epic, heavy, poppy, glorious, a masterclass in dynamic song-writing. In a world where Muse sell out stadiums and InMe essentially do a much better version of what Muse do, they should be conquering the universe. This is the best thing the band have ever done, with songs ranging from electronica influenced pop rock (Amnesty: Bonsai Forest) to heavy prog (Hymn: Ivory Elder) and all out epic rock (Reverie: Aquarium). Join the InMe army and help make sure that one day, they do conquer the universe. (MG)

26. Steak Number Eight – “Kosmokoma”

The youthful Belgian atmospheric sludge, noise merchants pop out an utterly stunning fourth effort. There’s a lot of push and pull on this record with aggressive, technical metal sections to almost proggy, epic soundscapes. Top tracks are “Return of the Kolomon”, “Your Soul Deserves To Die Twice” and “Gravity Giants”. Slap them with all the descriptive labels you want – the only thing that matters is this lot know what they’re doing and it’s bloody exciting to see where they’re taking it. Meaty as fuck. (NC)

25. And So I Watch You From Afar – “Heirs”

Possibly one of the most unique bands to make it onto this list (and that really is saying something) And So I Watch You From Afar released their fourth studio album, the follow up the brilliant All Hail Bright Futures. Heirs is a different beast, taking the signature sound of ASIWYFA and boosting it into the stratosphere, with big hooks, catchy choruses, and managing to traverse that most tricky line of being credible but still making music that people can dance along to. There is a certain euphoric quality to some of the tracks on Heirs which I think really marks it out as a very different proposition, such as on Redesigned a Million times, where they sound almost like a cross between Cardiacs and The Polyphonic Spree. Whereas on tracks like Fucking Lifer, they demonstrate an ability to cater to a wider audience with something more akin to Two Door Cinema Club, but better. Heirs has a real positive energy to it, but they still manage to rock out on the likes of A Beacon, A Compass, An Anchor, while Animal Ghosts is frankly unlike anything I’ve ever heard before. They are such a unique proposition, and while this may be their most accessible album to date, I would argue it is by far their best. (TM)

The Best 35 Albums of 2015: 24 – 11

It’s come to that time of year again where we have the mammoth task of summarising a years worth of quality rock, metal and punk. It’s been tough task as 2015 has been a blinding year across the spectrum of major label, independent and fan funded releases. Enjoy and check out any you’ve missed. We’ll take any thanks in the form of pints of cold beer.

Contributions from: Nix Cooper (NC), Tom Mimnagh (TM), Steve Brixey (SB), Dan Stent (DS), Andy Close (AC), Mark Granger (MG) and Karl Eisenhauer (KA).

24. Danko Jones – “Fire Music”

Tight, fast and vicious with attitude oozing out of every lyric and riff, it’s everything you’d want in a rock album to put a smile on your face after a bad day. All eleven of the songs on “Fire Music” are pure energy, from the sinister Danzig-indebted “I Will Break Your Heart” and “She Ain’t Comin’ Home”, to the pure punk energy of “Watch You Slide” and “Piranha”. 35 minutes of pure energy which doesn’t think of letting up for one second. (AC)

23. Michael Monroe – “Blackout States”

Solo album number three from Mr Monroe and it’s up to the same high standards of his previous two – tight as you like garage rock ‘n’ roll from the heart. While the likes of “The Bastards’ Bash” and “This Ain’t A Love Song” were pure in your face rock ‘n’ roll, “Old Kings’ Road” and “Dead Hearts On Denmark Street” were a regretful look at a London that doesn’t seem to exist any more and all the more poignant for it. All in all, Monroe hit a hat trick with all the ease of Phil “The Power” Taylor netting 180 on the dartboard with this one. (AC)

22. Atomic Suplex – “14 Inches of Fist”

“When I say I’m a dick, you best believe I’m a Dick. D.I.K.”. I defy anyone not to be instantly intrigued by that as the opening line of an album, and the breakneck pace of the riff, and the twenty odd minutes that follow is something very special indeed. There’s something wonderfully dirty, sleazy, and absolutely punk about Atomic Suplex, and it’s everywhere on 14 Inches of Fist. From that incredible opening through tracks like Set it on Fire, Firing Line, S.U.P.L.E.X, and Ass Technica, every song moves at frankly breakneck speed, really packing a punch. Imagine a band like The Hives cross pollinated with The MC5, and then set alight, and the ashes shot up intravenously and you get a beginning of the filth and the fury that are Atomic Suplex. Every track oozes an anti-authoritarian swagger, and reckless, exhilarating energy that makes for one hell of a record. (TM)

21. Quireboys – “St Cecilia And The Gypsy Soul”

Although there’s not a lot in terms of surprises here, that was never the point with The Quireboys. Ultimately, St Cecilia And The Gypsy Soul is a nice relaxed laid back affair that you can just imagine soundtracking a lazy summer evening sat in the back garden firing up the barbecue with some friends and a crate of cold drinks on standby to keep you all ticking over. Honestly, what’s not to like about that? In a nutshell, another great Quireboys album. (AC)

20. Dirt Box Disco – “Only In It For The Money”

Now on their fourth album, “Only In It For The Money” saw Derby’s most deranged denizens slinging out another prime time slice of old school rock ‘n’ roll just like it was Soho circa 1985 all over again. While the song titles might suggest a bunch of boozed-up boneheads, the key is that these guys have a way with a catchy hook and tune that reminds you of the Buzzcocks back in their prime. Definitely a band that you urgently need to check out if you’ve not done so already. (AC)

19. Dan Reed – “Transmission”

Abandoning the dog-eat-dog world of corporate rock for something altogether more zen, Dan Reed’s retreat into solo album territory is proving a wise career change. Transmission like so many great records, frees itself of its creator and instead invites the listener to lose themselves in the music. Transmission is an organic, warm and lush forest of thought-provoking lyrics and soft melodies. (KE)

18. GUN – “Frantic”

It’s not quite the greatest comeback since Lazarus, but the reformation of 90s rockers Gun into modern day guitar heroes is one of the highlights of the year. Uplifting opener ‘Let it Shine’, singalong charmer ‘One Wrong Turn’ and the stalwart optimism of ‘Hold Your Head Up’ are all tracks which one heard will feel like they’ve been with you for years. Frantic is a ten-track marvel of resolute and ego-free songwriting. In these troubled times, music remains our greatest saviour. Do yourself a favour and introduce this one to your stereo. (KE)

17. Europe – “War Of Kings”

War of Kings represents the band’s fifth new release since reuniting in 2003, and like their surprisingly spunky comeback album Start From The Dark, it’s a record you won’t see coming. This time around the Scandinavian high rollers have gone full circle, with a sound inspired by their childhood heroes Black Sabbath, Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin. The album’s blues rock roots reveal both a spiritual and emotional link to the album-oriented approach of its elders. These are songs constructed not for instant gratification, but intended for the long play. Great stuff. (KE)

16. Brawlers – “Romantic Errors of Our Youth”

Energy, hooks, brevity. That’s what you get with Brawlers. Romantic Errors of Our Youth is less than 30 minutes long and each song is a burst of melody fuelled pop punk carnage. Clearly sticklers for the ‘Don’t bore us…’ rule of song-writing, no sooner do we get into a verse do they ram huge hook of a chorus in your brain. Highlights? ‘Annabel’, ‘Drink and Dial’, ‘High Again’, hell every song on this album will put a smile on your face and have you dancing like a loon. This album is a highlight in an increasingly dreary world. Unless you listen to Norwegian black metal exclusively. Then you’ll probably be a bit disappointed. (MG)

15. Vennart – “The Demon Joke”

The Oceansize frontman (and Biffy Clyro live guitarist) Mike Vennart is a very talented chap. If you’re familiar with his work you don’t need any proof from me, but if not, “The Demon Joke” – his first solo album, is a great place to start. It’s progressive and ethereal, but never to the detriment of the songs. This is what Vennart does so well – he serves the song, not going over-board on the complexity and oddness merely for the sake of it. Tracks like Operate are big, pop numbers and could be massive radio hits. Of course the weird time-signatures and interesting, atmospheric numbers are still here too, like the scuzzy Cardiacs-esque Doubt. It’s a difficult album to summarise in such a short space, but it’s top notch throughout and well worth a listen. (DS)

14. The Cesarians – “Pure White Speed”

For those who like their bands with a flair for the theatrical, The Cesarians will certainly be of interest. While not perhaps the most ‘traditional’ rock band, they have crafted something truly wonderful with their new album Pure White Speed. The use of the all female wind section who also operate as vocalists alongside lead singer Charlie Finke is an inspired one, especially on She Said, and Control, which traverse the traditional ‘indie sound’ but with an all new spin. The re-working of live favourite ‘Woman’ was somewhat jarring at first, but it has benefitted in the bigger picture, incorporating a more rousing, rambunctious chorus, while Meltdown has some of the most unusual, yet brilliant lyrics you will hear anywhere. A wonderful album, dark and brooding at points, and full of manic energy at others, every song is a joy to behold. A wonderful album. (TM)

13. Raketkanon – “Rktkn#2”

Belgium-based rockers Raketkanon certainly sound like no-one else. Their influences are drawn from far and wide, and this is apparent in their latest offering “Rktkn#2”. It’s an experimental record with elements of doom, noise and psychedelic rock combining to create a blistering, noisy, discordant, feast of an album. Highlights include the stoner-esque Suzanne, crazed groove-rock Harald and the single Florent – a sinister, deranged number which is always threatening to go completely crazy but never does. That’d be too easy. If you’re a fan of experimental music definitely check this one out. (DS)

12. Hawk Eyes – “Everything Is Fine”

The artists formerly known as Chickenhawk have struck gold again in 2015 after their much-lauded previous releases, Ideas, and Modern Bodies. However, Everything is Fine offers a more refined sound, but also demonstrates the ability the band have to move into more expansive territory, as shown brilliantly on tracks such as The Trap, which is perfect as a huge, epic opener setting the tone for what comes next, and TFF. While singles Die Trying and The Ballad of Michael McGlue were rightly celebrated on release, it’s incredibly difficult to pick particular highlights due to the consistency throughout the album. Everything is Fine is bold, intricate, and loud from start to finish, marrying big riffs, with perfectly balanced dual vocals, and a truly unique sound. (TM)

11. Baby Chaos – “Skulls, Skulls, Skulls, Show Me The Glory”

Surely one of the most underrated bands to come out of the heady days of nineties Britrock, there was a lot of goodwill for Baby Chaos when they returned to live action towards the end of last year. But in all honesty, nineteen years after the last record to feature the Baby Chaos name was released, no one could have expected a new album from the Glaswegian quartet to be this immense. Skulls, Skulls, Skulls, Show Me The Glory is all at once melodic and skull crushingly powerful, with hooky, infectious tunes like Poison Ivy Girls and We Were Youth sounding every bit as epic as riff laden, complex beasts such as You Can’t Shut Us Up and Blackbirds. Chris Gordon has lost none of his passion or his ear for a tune and twenty years in, Baby Chaos have just made a career best. (SB)

Best 40 Albums of 2014

We racked our collective brains to pluck out a top album list for 2014 and couldn’t pick less than what you are about to read. 2014 has been an exceptional year for new music and many fan funded efforts have crept in ahead of general commercial release. Treat this as the basis for your wishlists and thank us later …

Contributions from: Nix Cooper (NC), Tom Mimnagh (TM), Steve Brixey (SB), Dan Stent (DS), Andy Close (AC), Mark Granger (MG) and Karl Eisenhauer (KA).





Best 40 Albums of 2014: 10 – 1

We racked our collective brains to pluck out a top album list for 2014 and couldn’t pick less than what you are about to read. 2014 has been an exceptional year for new music and many fan funded efforts have crept in ahead of general commercial release. Treat this as the basis for your wishlists and thank us later …

Contributions from: Nix Cooper (NC), Tom Mimnagh (TM), Steve Brixey (SB), Dan Stent (DS), Andy Close (AC), Mark Granger (MG) and Karl Eisenhauer (KA).

10. Manic Street Preachers – “Futurology”

Twelve albums into their career and Manic Street Preachers continue to do whatever the hell they like. Consequently with each album they run the risk of alienating at least some of their audience and ‘Futurology’ has probably done just that. Influenced by the band’s sojourns around Europe, the album is powered with a musical and lyrical theme that reflects their travels. Throwing up nods to the Manics beloved post punk, euro pop and perhaps most prominently Krautrock. At points they rage (‘Let’s Go To War’, ‘Sex, Power, Love And Money’) but underneath the bristling powerchords and stark drums lies a very reflective band. Whether it be the self critical ‘The Next Jet To Leave Moscow’ (“So you played in Cuba did you like it brother? I bet you felt proud you silly little fucker.”) or ‘The View From Stow Hill’ with it’s damning yet resigned lyrical theme. ‘Futurology’ boasts some of their catchiest and most challenging work in years and is the sound of a band getting a second wind. A classic pure and simple. (MG)

9. Tony Wright – “Thoughts ‘N’ All”

Terrorvision and LaikaDog frontman, Tony Wright released his first ‘solo’ effort this year via a PledgeMusic campaign. Wright’s talents over the years have been extensively complimented with a full on live band so it was difficult to guess this would be hit or miss. Thankfully it was a sure hit. It’s packed with the catchy hooks of Terrorvision tunes with a more serious undertone a la LaikaDog (TerrorDog or LaikaVision if you will). Tony Wright isn’t entirely alone on this record – he’s got the vocal and strumming talents of Milly Evans (Terrorvision et al). Standout tunes are “Love Hold On”, “Great Horton” and “Self Portrait (Rock A Boogie Merchant)”. A fine album. More please, Mr Wright! (NC)

8. The Quireboys – “Black Eyed Sons”

Rapidly following up last year’s “Beautiful Curse”, the Quireboys’ seventh album saw them very much in business as usual territory but when business is this good, why the hell would you want to change that? Ten tracks of whiskey-soaked bar room blues that will get your toe tapping and a smile on your face from the Stonesy “Lullaby of London Town” to the lovely closing ballad “Monte Cassino”. And they even threw a free acoustic CD and live DVD in with it – talk about value package of the year! (AC)

7. The Urban Voodoo Machine – “Love, Drink & Death”

If you had told me at the start of 2014 that one of my albums of the year would be by a seven to ten piece band with soul, burlesque, and rock tendencies, I’d probably have looked at you with confusion and derision. However, that is very much the case, and The Urban Voodoo Machine have crafted one of the most uniquely brilliant albums I’ve had the privilege of listening to. Every second of Love, Drink & Death feels like a journey into the heart of New Orleans, with a bluesy creole quality that is like nothing I’ve ever heard from a UK based band. There is an effortlessness in the way UVM are able to shift seamlessly between melancholic drinking songs like Drinking My Life away, or Pipe & Slippers Man, to more upbeat numbers like Your Hour of Darkness, and the samba infused Jimmy Cuba (a personal highlight for me). UVM have a huge sound, distinctive, original and utterly bonkers, but undoubtedly phenomenal, and Love, Drink & Death deserves to be recognised as something very special and certainly one of the standout albums of 2014. (TM)

6. Foo Fighters – “Sonic Highways”

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. In truth, for all the press around the Foos eighth studio album being recorded in eight different cities around the United States, the influence of these musical landmarks isn’t really evident on Sonic Highways. Not that it matters in the slightest .What is evident is that Grohl & Co have delivered another album packed with the sort of gigantic rock anthems that helped transform them into one of the biggest bands in the world. Something From Nothing is a fantastic opening track, slowly building from a hushed intro to a full-tilt rock monster, with some Zepplin-esque Hammond and QOTSA style guitar thrown in for good measure. The Feast And The Famine sees the Foos at their frantic best, while Congregation boasts an awesome southern guitar lick. After an all too brief seven tracks, I Am A River brings the album to an epic and emotional climax. Festivals and stadiums beckon, and if Sonic Highways is anything to go by, Foo Fighters have earned it. (SB)

5. The Dowling Poole – “Bleak Strategies”

In stark contrast to the rather gloomy title, “Bleak Strategies” is a psychedelic power-pop delight. Rich in melodies and full of catchy choruses, this really is a fine summer’s day in album form (albeit one with a few dark clouds adding an extra element of suspense to proceedings). It’s clear to see both Willie Dowling (Jackdaw4, Honeycrack) and Jon Poole (The Wildhearts, Cardiacs, Lifesigns) have some serious talent. Upon meeting during the recording of Ginger’s “555%” album, they made the decision to work together; writing and recording at Willie’s studio over in France. Good job they did, because this is seriously good. With influences drawn from the likes of 10CC, The Kinks and Sgt. Pepper’s era Beatles; “Bleak Strategies” is a member of that select group of albums without a bad song. There’s chilled-out, harmony-filled opener ‘The Sun Is Mine’, Jackdaw4-esque ‘Empires, Buildings and Acquisitions’, the slow psychedelia of ‘Twilight Subplot’ and even a heartfelt tribute to Cardiacs leader and musical genius Tim Smith – ‘Hey Stranger’. (DS)

4. Electric River – “The Faith And Patience”

Electric River have been a band on our radar for a good couple of years now. Their sound has evolved over the past few years and “The Faith & Patience” is a wonderful collection of ‘singles’ worthy tracks charting their journey on the road, love, loss and fighting to make it. It was recorded live and put together in just under one week with the production assistance of Peter Miles (We Are the Ocean, The King Blues, Dry the River). Tracks such as “Chorus of Fire”, “Keep the Engine Burning” and live favourites such as “In Your Name” and “Happy” make you feel alive. It’s the most honest song writing I’ve heard in years. Get in touch with your soul again and make sure you have this album. File under “Essential”. (NC)

3. Ginger Wildheart – “Albion”

With his seventh album in two years (yes, you heard me right), You’d be forgiven for thinking “Albion” might be a little patchy in terms of quality. But then you need to consider who we’re talking about. Ginger Wildheart has always been prolific, with the uncanny ability to not only write a great song, but to consistently do so. With both an extended Pledge Music version (16 songs) and a commercial release (10 songs), “Albion” is a cracking album regardless of which one you own. Opening track ‘Drive’ sums up the musical ethos on display here nicely. It starts off like a standard mid-pace rock number, before BOOM – it accelerates away into a super-charged chorus. This is an album which is a little unhinged. Songs can go in unexpected directions, and you’ll be left scratching your head. From distorted, thrash verses (‘Cambria’) and power-pop (‘Grow A Pair’) to chilled out (After All You Said About Cowboys) and more progressive, experimental numbers (‘Albion’); the sheer variety and depth of music on display here is exceptional. (DS)

2. CJ Wildheart – “Mable”

Wildhearts guitarist CJ’s first foray into the world of Pledge has been, without question, a resounding success. Mable features all the elements that we have come to know and love from Mr Jadghar’s previous work and glorious melodies, crunching guitars and infectious pop hooks are there in abundance on tracks like “Better Late Than Never”, “Kentucky Fried” and “Devil”. But there is something special about Mable that sets this album apart from his other solo works . On this record, CJ has managed to craft something with more focus, conviction and passion than anything he has produced previously, making Mable arguably the finest thing he has put his name to outside of The Wildhearts and undoubtedly one of the albums of the year. All this, and the guy makes a damn fine hot sauce too. (SB)

1. Evil Scarecrow – “Galactic Hunt”

Evil Scarecrow have stolen the coveted number one spot this year by a mile with their black metal operatics. The best thing about Evil Scarecrow is that it doesn’t matter what genre you’re into. Their wicked, sharp and daft sense of humour shines through what is also a technically brilliant album. The band have dealt with the themes of robot overlords, giant spiders, vampire trousers and hell dogs in the past … so the next logical direction is to take it in to space (of course).

They’ve even managed to get Treguard of Dunshelm (Hugo Myatt of 80’s-90’s kids TV show, “Knightmare” fame) to provide voiceovers on parts of the album – notably “Enter the Knightmare” and the War of the Worlds style epic, “Space Dementia”. A very smart move to widen their already growing army of followers.

So many standout tracks – you just need to buy the bloody thing. They have sent the little crabuloids out to take over the world. It is only a matter of time before we all have pincer hands and are opting for a side strafe gait. (NC)





Best 40 Albums of 2014: 20 – 11

We racked our collective brains to pluck out a top album list for 2014 and couldn’t pick less than what you are about to read. 2014 has been an exceptional year for new music and many fan funded efforts have crept in ahead of general commercial release. Treat this as the basis for your wishlists and thank us later …

Contributions from: Nix Cooper (NC), Tom Mimnagh (TM), Steve Brixey (SB), Dan Stent (DS), Andy Close (AC), Mark Granger (MG) and Karl Eisenhauer (KA).

20. The Peckham Cowboys – “10 Tales From The Gin Palace”

Now, here’s a band that know how to play rock and roll the way it should be played – straight from the crotch, with their tounges planted firmly in their cheeks. 10 Tales From The Gin Palace features a collection of filthy, bluesy rockers full of South Lahhhhndaan charm that can’t fail to bring a smile to the face. Honestly, how can you not like a band with song titles like Bromley Girls?? That’s not to say the Cowboys don’t mean business when it comes to their tunes though. The musicianship on display across the ten tracks on this, their second album, is breathtaking. Tracks like The Debt Collector and Don’t Damn The Hypnotist throw elements of reggae and ska into the mix alongside sleazy rock classics like Quarantined and She Was Sweet On Me, while album closer Knocked Senseless features the kind of colossal riff that Angus Young would probably trade his school uniform for. Nice one, guv’nor. (SB)

19. Weezer – “Everything Will Be Alright In The End”

After a run of shockingly bad albums (that’s right Hurley and Raditude, I’m looking at you), Weezer must have thought it would make a nice change of pace to pull an absolute classic out of the bag. “We belong in the rock world” sings Rivers Cuomo on lead single Back To The Shack, and it’s in remembering what they do best that Everything Will Be Alright In The End succeeds so spectacularly; really, there are few bands that do the pop punk thing as well as Weezer when they are on form. There’s a hint of classic album Pinkerton about EWBAITE’s discordant guitars, irresistible choruses and deceptively simple lyrics that can be heard on track like Ain’t Got Nobody, The British Are Coming and I’ve Had It Up To Here. In places, this album feels like a thank you to the fans who still believed Weezer could still make an album this good. Boys, we never doubted you. (SB)

18. The Bermondsey Joyriders – “Flamboyant Thugs”

The Bermondsey Joyriders’ third album was everything you’d want from them at this stage – a good reminder of what they’re capable of with some cracking tunes into the bargain. Veering from the spit ‘n’ sawdust rock ‘n’ roll of opener “Sonic Underground” through the sly humour of “It’s Nice To Be Important” to the epic political closer of “The Message”, this was proof positive that the Bermondsey Joyriders were still out there and with plenty to say in 2014. (AC)

17. The Hip Priests – “Black Denim Blitz”

Filthier than a night on the town with Frank Bough, the Hip Priests’ third album saw them cement their position as the most catchily debauched rock ‘n’ roll band in Britain today. One part Stooges, one part Motorhead, one part Turbonegro, the ferocious likes of “Motherfucker Superior” and the awesome “Jesus Died So We Can Ride” are the sort of songs that are the best kind of bad fun. By all means check this one out but don’t blame us for the strange place you wake up the next morning … (AC)

16. Supersuckers – “Get The Hell”

The Eddie Spaghetti fronted juggernaut known as Supersuckers made a triumphant return in 2014 with the album Get the Hell. Despite a turbulent history, the band seem to have landed on solid ground with their current line-up, and have produced a record that truly epitomises the dirty rock’n’roll sound that Supersuckers are known for. Standout tracks include the title track Get the Hell, Fuck up, and the gloriously named Disaster Bastard. Get The Hell is an album oozing with swagger and panache, and while I don’t know if I would entirely agree with the band’s self-proclaimed status as ‘the greatest rock’n’roll band in the world’, on the evidence of this album alone that sort of self-belief doesn’t exactly seem misplaced. (TM)

15. Zombina & The Skeletones – “Charnel House Rock”

Back after an extended break, the Skeletones’ fourth album it’s a pleasure to report that they’re just as wonderfully warped as ever and not afraid to throw everything including the kitchen sink into making an album. “Charnel House Rock” saw them putting demented hellbilly hoedowns, ferocious Misfits style horror punk and tribal drum chantalongs all alongside each other with no regards given to conformity. A true treasure of a band and an album and one you really should check out if you’ve not already. (AC)

14. Mongol Horde – “Mongol Horde”

Make way for the Mongol Horde. The eponymous debut album from folk songster and former Million Dead frontman Frank Turner’s newest musical venture. Mongol Horde captures much of the spirit and vitriol of the first Million Dead album, but with a more sneering cynical edge that only comes with age. Turner is joined by Matt Nasir of his backing band, The Sleeping Souls, and Ben Dawson who featured prominently in Million Dead. Much like his former band, you have to expect that this is not going to be a long term proposition, but hopefully there will be a second album, as this is one of the most raw, brutal, and frankly brilliant albums of 2014. No one is exempt from the cutting lyrics (Communists, Hollywood, people who talk too much) with surrealism also on the menu (Stillborn Unicorn is especially bizarre), and a riveting sound that most hardcore bands would kill for. (TM)

13. Knifeworld – “The Unravelling”

Progressive and dense without ever becoming inaccessible, “The Unravelling” is a triumph of modern psychedelic rock. Led by the irrepressible Kavus Torabi, this octet take you on a journey into a realm of sonic majesty, where stabbing metal riffs sit alongside swirling bassoons, twinkling keyboards and honking saxophones. “The Unravelling” twists and turns, the beautiful keyboards of ‘I Can Teach You How To Lose A Fight’ draw you in before the whole song mutates into something much more sinister. The 90-second trip ‘The Orphanage’ is followed by the sprawling, bassoon led ‘Send Him Seaworthy’; then the epic psychedelic prog pop of ‘Don’t Land On Me’. The underlying sense of unease comes to a head with the tense ‘The Skulls We Buried Have Regrown Their Eyes’ and final track ‘I’m Hiding Behind My Eyes’ feels like the sunrise after a rather harrowing night. Atmospheric and intense, this is an album which to fully unravel you’ll need to give multiple listens. Believe me, it’s worth it. (DS)

12. Mastodon – “Once More Round The Sun”

Some bands just don’t know how to stop making top quality albums, and Mastodon are very much a band in that category. Following on from the critically acclaimed, and commercially successful 2011 album, The Hunter, the Stoner rock quartet have produced a truly rme4arkable record, which hammers on from opening track ‘Tread Lightly’ to the album closer ‘Diamond in the Witch House’, unrelenting from start to finish. Aside from the two excellent singles, ‘High Road’, and ‘The Motherload’ (which hit headlines earlier this year due to a slightly controversial video), standout tracks include Ember City, Asleep in the Deep, and of course the album’s title track. Mastodon once again prove themselves to be a force to be reckoned with, and continuing to mix big chunky riffs with psychedelic lyrics and an intangible chemistry that makes them a truly unique proposition. (TM)

11. The Bluefields – “Under High Cotton”

‘Under High Cotton’ is the third album from Nashville rock n’ rollers The Bluefields, a band that are – for want of a better word – a supergroup. Boasting powerhouse frontman Joe Blanton of cult rockers The Royal Court of China, ex-The Cardinals drummer Brad Pemberton and two bona fide legends in Warner E. Hodges (Jason and the Scorchers) and Dan Baird (Georgia Satellites). An intoxicating blend of Scorchers/Satellites country rock and harder sounds of early RCOC, ‘Under High Cotton’ is eleven tracks of pure southern fried rock and roll designed to shake your arse to. If you don’t find yourself dancing uncontrollably to the grooves of ‘Shake ‘Em On Down’ and the title track, the son, you’re already dead. (MG)





Best 40 Albums of 2014: 40 – 31

We racked our collective brains to pluck out a top album list for 2014 and couldn’t pick less than what you are about to read. 2014 has been an exceptional year for new music and many fan funded efforts have crept in ahead of general commercial release. Treat this as the basis for your wishlists and thank us later …

Contributions from: Nix Cooper (NC), Tom Mimnagh (TM), Steve Brixey (SB), Dan Stent (DS), Andy Close (AC), Mark Granger (MG) and Karl Eisenhauer (KA).

40. Sworn To Oath – “Pillars”

Sworn To Oath have always dabbled in the hard and heavy but “Pillars” is an album that has gone to the next level. If you’re familiar with S2O from their “Don’t F*ck About” / “Leave You For Dead” EP and not heard their latest stuff – expect a completely different band. “Pillars” is their debut album and also their first release on rock and metal mammoths, Transcend Records. They’ve naturally evolved into a more intense, heavier version which could be borderline doomy in places which is no bad thing. Standout tracks are the brutal “Outcast”, the chugging assault of “Let The Rain Pour” and the intense “Gave In To God”. There’s a lot of different stuff on here but it works. “Pillars” is the start of something big for the Stoke trio. (NC)

39. Death From Above 1979 – “The Physical World”

In 2004 Toronto’s Death From Above 1979 released the seminal album, You’re a Woman, I’m a Machine. However, after a long hiatus, they returned this year with their long awaited follow up The Physical World, and it did not disappoint. While DFA 1979 have retained their trademark sound, there is a certain maturity to this album which marks it out as a completely different animal to their debut. In particular on the tracks Right on, Frankenstein, and White is Red, there seems to be a renewed focus and a more refined approach when compared to their more anarchic sound on You’re a Woman, I’m a Machine, and it really helps make this an excellent listen. Big riffs, catchy hooks, and a distinctive style make this a landmark record in 2014. (TM)

38. Royal Blood – “Royal Blood”

With the release of their eponymous debut album, Royal Blood have managed to do something that has become increasingly rare in this day and age – namely, create an album that has both achieved mainstream popularity and is really bloody good. There have been White Stripes comparisons, but they really fail to do justice to the majestic noise on Royal Blood. There are elements of blues and grunge here, but the key to Royal Blood’s success is their appreciation and understanding of the almighty RIFF. And that’s something we can never get enough of here at Pure Rawk. Long may they reign. (SB)

37. Ooozing Wound – “Earth Suck”

Following up their debut record after just one year Oozing Wound aren’t ones to mess about, something that’s all the more evident when you learn that ‘Earth Suck’ was recorded in just three days. Taking the thrash riffs and rock and roll abandon of their debut and piling on a whole heap of weird, the bands second album is a seven track onslaught of heavy. ‘Bury Me With Money’ crashes in out of your ears in just over one minute thirty all tremolo riffs and speed fuelled drums, and ‘When The Walls Fell’ conjures up eerie sounds that wouldn’t be out of place on a black metal record before pulling some downtuned and downright grungey riffs out of it’s arse. Challenging, fun, and just plain wierd, Oozing Wound are one of the most unique bands around right now. Accept them into your lives. (MG)

36. Limb – “Limb”

If you’re a doom band with a penchant for Slade and a comedian for a singer, surely your opening yourselves up for ridicule? Well, as Limb’s self titled debut shows, the answers no, actually. Full of bludgeonly heavy riffs, powerful grooves and dark lyrics delivered in frontman Rob Hoey’s powerful roar and you have a band that are far from being anything near a joke. The hooks of ‘Eternal Psalm Pt I’ and its brother ‘Eternal Psalm Part II’ certainly reveal that their glam influences are more than just passive ones but they are also swathed in dirty guitars and screams. Not afraid to get a bit progressive Limb stretch their songwriting wings on album closer ‘Vathek’ pointing towards what should be a interesting future for the London doom merchants. (MG)

35. The Dollyrots – “Barefoot and Pregnant”

Following a successful Kickstarter campaign for their self-titled fourth album in 2012, Los Angeles pop punkers The Dollyrots joined the hordes of musicians who went the PledgeMusic route for album number five. ‘Barefoot and Pregnant’ – while not exactly full of surprises – is 13 tracks of pure, smile from ear to ear, spring in your step pop punk. The band seem to be unable to write anything but catchy tunes as proved by such gems as ‘Get Weird’, ‘Puppy Dog Eyes’ and ‘Come Get It’, each full to bursting with a hooks and earworms. Brighten up your life and get you some Dollyrots. (MG)

34. Moral Dilemma – “Is Anyone Alive Out There?”

Punk as fuck and mad as hell. That seven word sentence pretty much sums up ‘Is Anyone Alive Out There?’, the third album from the now sadly defunct Moral Dilemma. From the hundred miles and hour opener ‘Scare Tactics’ to the rumbling bass and industrial doom sounds of closing track ‘Plague Pits’ the band don’t waste a second of their swansong with filler. ‘Spare The Vote, Spoil The Ballot’ gallops along on a country beat and ‘Building Gallows’ sees them take the folk-punk route travelled most famously by kings of the genre Rancid. Exhilarating from start to finish ‘Is Anyone Alive Out There?’ shows a band that had reached the kind of songwriting maturity that could have taken them anywhere. Here’s hoping for a reunion in 2015. (MG)

33. Kory Clarke – “Payback’s A Bitch”

Quite simply, no-one was expecting this. Although lyrically “Payback’s A Bitch” was just as sharp as anything Kory’s done with Warrior Soul, musically it saw him turning his hand to every genre from lonesome country rock through Quireboys style bar room blues to the epic closer “Meet Me In Las Vegas” and carry it all off with style and panache. You really need to add this one to your CD/mp3 collection now if you’ve not done so already. (AC)

32. The Len Price 3 – “Nobody Knows”

The best kept secret in Britrock today? Quite possibly. Now on their fourth album, “Nobody Knows” saw the LP3 remind us all exactly why they’re such a damn good band. Tight and focused garage rock (with the odd ’60s psychedelic moment thrown in) this is retro rock with power, enthusiasm and some damn fine tunes and riffs. The anti-Black Stone Cherry if you like and, really, what more a recommendation do you need? (AC)

31. Deadcuts – “Dark Is The Night”

Take various reprobates from the Senseless Things, the Wonder Stuff and the Skuzzies and put them together and you’d maybe be expecting some spit ‘n’ sawdust indie punk, right? Wrong. “Dark Is The Night” was a throwback to when goth rock really was majestic, swooping and fascinating by equal turns instead of the horrible whining of emo. Credit to the Deadcuts for pulling off such an accomplished record at the first time of asking. (AC)