||BEST OF 2014
Best New Band
Blues Pills had an amazing year, and in just over twelve months since the release of their debut EP, we have had the album and a host of live performances showcasing the brilliance of the multi-national quartet. It's like an underground vintage 1960s band time-hopped to the present day, bringing with them all the hard rock sensibilities of the intervening years. They look great, sound great and deserve continued success.
It had to be Motörhead! From watching the set at Hyde Park in July, supporting Black Sabbath and seeing Lemmy diminished due to health issues – only in body, never in essence and presence – to the almighty resurgence at Wembley Arena in November, this is the epitome of rock n' roll. Immortality is guaranteed no matter what, but Motörhead, who are worthy of the title of greatest hard rock band ever, remain fully open for business and look like continuing for a good while longer.
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It's been a great year for albums, but 'When The Crow Flies' by Stonewire is the one I return to again and again. The debut for the Kent based band fuses hard rock, dirty blues and Southern grooves and is piled full of powerful, intelligent songs. Sky Hunter's charismatic vocals pack an emotional punch straight to the heart and the overall sound is pristine, which is no surprise as mixing was done by Tony Newton and Pete Friesen. There couldn't have been a better start for Stonewire, it's exciting to see where they're headed next.
London-based Australian heavy blues duo The Graveltones have come into their own this year and have gigged almost non-stop around Europe. Their raw, passionate energy is thrilling and the wall of sound and the intensity of the riffs they produce is astounding. Also, Jimmy and Mikey are two of the coolest and funniest people you could hope to meet. 'Forget About The Trouble' is taken from the 'Don't Wait Down' album and is a complete earworm.
Oh man, decisions! I'm still reeling from Kate Bush at Hammersmith Apollo in September, which can't be counted here as that was no less than Gig Of A Lifetime. I have seen so many fabulous performances this year, and the festivals have been a triumph too - long may this continue. I just can't choose – but I have to. Ok... Iron Maiden headlining at Sonisphere UK. It sums up everything that is great about the band, the festival scene and the sheer weight of talent and variety in today's Metal scene.
Things To Look Forward To In 2015
Krushfest in Great Yarmouth hosted by the legendary Krusher Joule is essential. Ramblin' Man Festival, the successor to High Voltage, will be worth checking out too. The continuing saga of the AC/DC story will make for very interesting gigs this summer while Pearl Handled Revolver's third album for blues rock of the dirtiest and best kind. The thought of Motörhead's 40th anniversary celebrations warms the heart. I'd like to see a move away from having to watch gigs through other people's phone and tablet screens and return to enjoying the moment please. Oh and World Peace would be lovely too.
Iron Maiden photo - (c) Iron Maiden 2014 (www.ironmaiden.com)