2014 was a wild year. As we all know music is a global language with different dialects so whether you know these bands or they’re from a different part of the world, they are definitely worth checking out.
We would like to take a moment to recognize our favorite discoveries, as chosen by us here at Nanobot Rock Reviews. Thank you to each and every one of you who has shared, listened to, or read about local independent music this year!
We jokingly compared Seattle’s Gumshen to Nickelback because, well if a band does the same thing over and over, well you can see where this is going. But if you’re Gumshen that thing you keep producing is nothing but pure amazing music. The fusion of classic rock with modern electronic beats was nothing short of awe-striking. Simply put, no one makes music like Gumshen makes music.
The comparisons to film for Bombay Royale are obvious, but the degree to which they execute their art is mesmerizing. The quirky façade that veils an immense amount of talent has our attention and won’t let go. In a year of some sensational music, The Bombay Royale stands out.
A lot of bands have a hard time making the leap from “that group with a demo” to “putting out an LP that we can admire and respect.” Unless there was some HGTV-style drama going on behind the scenes, California’s Phosphene seems to have pulled off that transition rather seamlessly and in doing so, won over the hearts and minds of the editors here at Nanobot. Their modern take on shoegaze has us looking at our feet so much, it’s about time we started writing on our Converse again.
Early 2015 is already pegged for another release from The March Divide. And while the band will always be a point of reference for Greg, Billions was something unpredictable. The acoustic swagger and slick electric licks formed something fantastic. The more we listen to it (which is very often) the better it gets.
Part one of a four-part sci-fi concept album from Denver’s electro-pop gurus, Chemistry Club. The album delivers more hooks than a bait shop and does sci-fi right by delving into the humanity and personal stories of failing planets, class warfare, and empires on the brink. We will wait patiently for parts 2-4 while The Electric Hush continues to serve as a soundtrack for all things awesome.
Athens based Little Gold released this record two years and five months after Weird Freedom. We know this because we were basically counting the days. With great expectation came great payoff. Without missing a beat Spectral Sight drives home every single reason you need to discover this band.
If there were an award for “Did Not Expect This” it would go to See-I for the release of Knowledge Shine Bright. Even with all of the pieces glaring us right in the face: links to Thievery Corporation, home in the booming Washington, DC area and the insanely awesome Fort Knox Recordings, the impact of this album could not have been predicted. It is a masterpiece that elevated 2014.
The underground psychedelic movement is strong, but the pace seems to be set by Prince Rupert’s Drops. We hesitated, but the hooks fed us like a psychedelic rock feast for the ages. Like we said before, to use the term “perfect” with “psychedelic” seems almost skewed given the style, but we’ll be dammed if this record isn’t as close as you can get to perfect with psychedelic pop/rock.
We will spare you the back-and-forth and the name-calling that went on while trying to decide who took top billing in this year’s top discovery. Suffice to say, someone had to get the silver, but After The Lights Failed was everything we could ask for from a rock album for 2014: great conceptual narrative, ambitious orchestral rock/chiptune sound, personal depth, that “monumental leap forward” thing we talked about, devastating violin solos, and the ability to discover something new each time we listen to the album (which is still a lot). But what sets this album apart is conviction we have in having conversations about alt-rock and being able to drop tidbits like “sure Jack White nailed it with Lazaretto, but you really need to give Curious Quail a listen.” Bottom line: we don’t want to live in a world where there are no rock bands like this.
To put it plainly, if you have discovered New Madrid, you know why. If you haven’t, you are missing out on a truly game-changing, if not the game-changing, band of 2014. Hooks, transcending riffs, dream-inducing lyrics, and a sound beyond any other sound Sunswimmer is a must. From their live performance(s) to their record, New Madrid is the best discovery of 2014 and one spin of the record and you’ll know why.