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Best Rock Music Blog

It is almost impossible to imagine Western society without the influence of rock n roll; the artists that became renowned as (rock)gods, the aesthetic, the culture that so many live and breathe, and of course, the music that became the soundtrack to our lives. Many of the greatest artists of all time are of some rock inclination; whether that be Buddy Holly, Nirvana, or The Rolling Stones – the charts simply wouldn’t be the same without the unpredictable and volatile genre.

Rock started to emerge in the 1940s through the masterful rhythm of Chuck Berry and his contemporaries. Twenty years later, The Rolling Stones became the true face of rock n roll as they advocated for sex-positive youthful rebellion; this controversy became synonymous with rock which took the genre to brand-new cultural heights. By the 70s, artists started to push rock music into heavier, darker territories. At the same time, hard rock and metal were behind conceived; Pink Floyd gave rock trippier, more progressive tendencies with their seminal album, Dark Side of the Moon. Another major move in alternative music happened in the 70s as punk artists, such as The Clash and The Sex Pistols extrapolated rock elements and fused them into their punk sound.

The 80s was the era for sleaze rock, indie rock and college rock bands, while the 90s delivered the grunge movement with Nirvana, Hole, Soundgarden and Pearl Jam chomping at the aggressive discordant bit. Mainstream rock artists from across the globe became part and parcel of the music industry at the start of the 90s, but with the death of Kurt Cobain, the popularity of alternative music took a nosedive – despite the best efforts of Limp Bizkit, Staind, Puddle of Mudd and The Red Hot Chilli Peppers.

In any definitive guide of the best rock bands of all time, the rock artists that made their debut in the 21st-century are few and far between. But regardless of how much you want to pull the plug on the life support of rock, it isn’t quite dead – yet. For irrefutable proof, you only need to consider Black Midi, Yungblud, Greta Van Fleet, Highly Suspect, The Snuts, and Dirty Honey, who are all bringing in the new wave of classic rock – in their own way.

Contemporary rock may not sound like it used to, but that is one way in which rock has remained consistent over the past eight decades – it never has sounded like it used to. Each new generation of artists has found room for expressive and experimental manoeuvre.

Lewis Shepperd primed the masses for a clash against the classes with ‘Council Estate Reject’

Lewis Shepperd

Lewis Shepperd is set to viva la revolutionise the airwaves with his latest single, Council Estate Reject; whichever way the UK election swings on the day of the release, the scathed synthesis of indie, punk, rock, and Britpop will prime the masses for a long overdue revolt against the elite classes. Instead of placing faith in populist politicians and the façade of democracy, tune into this scintillating sonic insurrection.

The hypercharged punk pulse fed through the propulsive basslines and antagonised tempo of the percussion sends sparks of kinetic energy through the frenetic release which captures the collective sense of ennui, fires shots at the mindless monarchists, and evokes an insurgent riot. The three-minute liberation from the dystopia of our age is a sanctuary of electrifying escapism away from the misery that breathes down the neck of the working class.

So, if you miss when John Carpenter’s ‘They Live’ was fiction and the media didn’t solely serve to sink us into subordination, find the ultimate outlet in Council Estate Reject. The embodiment of the punk ethos filtered through an indie rock lens with croons far more seductive than Johnny Rotten was ever capable of, delivers a high-octane shot of vindication which amplifies in potency when the guitar solo slashes through the palpitatingly sweet production.

Council Estate Reject will be available to stream on all major platforms from July 5th; stream it via this link.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Samana Rising is radiantly irreplicable in their summer soul-rock anthem, Sunshine

Samana Rising’s summer soul-rock anthem, Sunshine, is a radiant declaration of musical vitality and versatility. This first release since their debut album in 2020 confirms that the Norwegian band hasn’t just been biding time. Between life’s milestones and global upheavals, they’ve refined a sound that shines and erupts with irreplicable radiance.

Recorded at ArtBeat Studio in Bryne, with the adept Bjørn Erik Sørensen at the production helm, Sunshine marries an instantly memorable guitar intro with a reggae-inspired rhythm that’s irresistibly danceable. This track is engineered to lift spirits and coax listeners from the mundane to the magical. Mastered with precision in Nashville by Alex McCollough, every note is crafted to perfection, capturing the essence of pop rock while promising more than typical chart-toppers.

Hanne Sivertsen’s vocals could light up any room, soul or playlist; the immense power in the delivery, paired with the charismatically magnetic proclivity, ensures that this latest sonic triumph resounds with maximum euphoric impact.

Lyrically, Sunshine presents an opportunity to celebrate the people who light up your world as much as solar rays; wherever you play it, you won’t be able to resist its demand to be played LOUD.

Sunshine was officially released on June 21; stream the single on Spotify now.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

The Serenity Club launched an attack of anthemic alt-rock reclamation with ‘Taking Back My Life’

The Serenity Club

With pop-fuelled alt-rock choruses that will be euphony to be the ears of the Foo Fighters between verses that reanimate rugged 90s Britpop swagger, The Serenity Club’s latest single, Taking Back My Life, is an unforgettably emboldening anthem of reclamation.

The high-octane synthesis of volition, redemption and serotonin is set to put the London-based triadic powerhouse on the map ahead of their debut five-track EP, Obsession Submission, which is due for release later this summer. The timely release of the single also means that it incidentally coincides with the General Election; I couldn’t think of a better track to listen to on the way to the polling station.

Hints of 90s-era Manic Street Preachers (think along the lines of Slash n Burn, You Love Us, and Kevin Carter) resound throughout the vivaciously fuelled guitar licks and the razor-sharp hooks that don’t stop at pulling you into the centre of this intensely liberating hit. They open the doorway to one of the most determined-to-embed earworms you’ve ever encountered as they work alongside the unflinchingly dynamic vocals of Mit Inajar.

With an exhilarating sound that Wembley Stadium could scarcely contain, The Serenity Club has exactly what it takes to take their career to stratospheric heights this summer; just try standing in their way.

Taking Back My Life will be available to stream on all major platforms, including Bandcamp, from June 28th.

Discover more about The Serenity Club via their official website.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Nostalgic Smells filtered emo through a grunge lens in his third release, On an Axis

Nostalgic Smells’ latest single, On an Axis, is an ennui-loaded continuation of the sludged-up rancour introduced in his 2024 debut single, Glimmer. The distinction in this third release lies within the tensile textures of grungy, Deftones-esque hooks that tumultuously pull you along with rhythmically infectious progressions reminiscent of My Bloody Valentine.

David Weir, the independent musician behind Nostalgic Smells, showcased his adeptness at weaving visceral, pulsating progressions with lithe guitar lines that wind sinuously around the rhythm section through On an Axis, which alludes to how easy it is for worlds to be knocked out of kilter. His diaphanous voice works in striking contrast to the grungy instrumentation, creating a dynamic interplay that transforms an aural experience into an emotional connection.

Drawing inspiration from legendary bands like Deftones, Hum, Failure, and Quicksand, Weir leverages his 20 years of experience as a drummer to craft a sound that pays ode to pioneers, while charting his own path by following intersections through grunge, emo and shoegaze.

On an Axis became a discordant presence on the airwaves on June 17th; stream the single on Spotify now.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Jordyn Rayne captured the zeitgeist of digital culture with ‘1-800-Cyber-Bully’

In her latest seminal single, 1-800-Cyber-Bully, the indomitable breakthrough icon, Jordyn Rayne, lyrically modernised rock n roll while staying reverent to the roots of the genre.

With a powered-by-dynamism voice to rival Donita Sparks of L7 and Joan Jett, Jordyn Rayne proved her mettle as a rock vocalist in the hit that pours with conviction as it berates antagonists who spinelessly sink their teeth into their victims behind the security of screens.

The emotional underpinnings of 1-800-Cyber-Bully serve as a tragic sign of the times, yet, rock has always served to speak for the disenfranchised and Rayne affectingly carried the genre’s rebellious legacy on the overdriven crunched chords in this high-octane hit that ticks all the right rock boxes and distinguishes Rayne as an artist unafraid to lend her ferocity to fighting injustice.

Whichever vanguard she stands at next, one thing is for sure, the Alberta-hailing visionary is worth keeping at the front and centre of your memory if you seek sanctuary in hair-raising rock anthems.

1-800-Cyber-Bully was officially released on June 7th; stream the single on all major platforms and follow Jordyn Rayne via this link.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

The Poetic Journey of Todd Hearon: An Intimate A&R Factory Interview

In this exclusive interview, we explore Todd Hearon’s latest poetically virtuosic ventures, highlighting his departure from traditional roots towards a distinctive sound with his single, “Looking Glass.” Under the influence of the esteemed producer Don Dixon, a key figure in shaping early REM’s sound, Hearon has reached his creative zenith. This interview sheds light on his upcoming album “Impossible Man,” where Hearon’s rich heritage and Dixon’s innovative production converge to forge a path that promises to redefine his musical trajectory.

Todd Hearon, welcome to A&R Factory!  We couldn’t get enough of your last single, “Looking Glass.”  We don’t want to ruin the magic of the release too much, but could you give us an inside view of how the sublime single pulled together?  What inspired it? 

There’s so much self-absorption in our world.  And with it, mental illness, loneliness, depression.  I see it in the young people I work with, and I think a lot about that connection—the one between Narcissus and his sadness.  Whether the “looking glass” is a reflection pool, a make-up mirror or an iPhone screen, sometimes you just want to get the person out of him- or herself to engage with the greater, wider world and the beautiful, vibrant other people in it.

Your new album, Impossible Man, is due for release on August 16th; what can we expect from the LP?

Eleven tracks of homegrown, hard-driving original Americana with a rootsy/retro/rock feel that takes quite a different direction from my earlier two albums.

What inspired you to move away from the sound exhibited on your debut and sophomore albums? 

The songs on Impossible Man, with exception of the title track, were all written before the songs on Border Radio and Yodelady, when I was definitely and self-consciously crafting a more classic country/alt-country/Americana and folk sound.  The new songs—which are actually the oldest songs—were among the first that I wrote after coming back to songwriting in 2016 after a twenty-five-year hiatus writing poetry.  A lot had been stored up in that time, and I think the songs harkened back to my experience in the ’nineties playing in an alternative rock band. I find the return to that type of music invigorating, and I plan to take it even farther on my next album.

If you could name one core element of the Todd Hearon sound, what would it be?

“Poetry-in-song.”  I’m a poet as well as a songwriter, and I’m always looking for ways to optimize the two, having them work in tandem, the one contributing fluently and flowing into the other.  It’s not the same as putting poems to music—poems are poems and have to work on their own; and it’s easy enough to write lyrics that satisfy the song’s superficial demands but have no substance.  I’m trying to bring all the skills I learned from those years of writing poetry to the crafting of song lyrics, to make them durable while also workable, singable and immediately accessible.  The challenge is seeing what lyrics the song itself wants, in its melodies, chord changes, inflections and moods, and then finding the words that are just right for it.

How has being born in Texas, raised in North Carolina and currently residing in New Hampshire shaped your sound? 

If you’re a songwriter from Texas, you’re going to be laboring under and within a very formidable shadow—which is also inspiring, as a night sky in Texas is inspiring, but can be artistically crippling.  Texas is the home of some of the best songwriters this country has produced:  Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark, Steve Earle, just to name one short beeline of influence on me.  There are myriads more.  I had to leave Texas for a long time in order to appreciate my inheritance, and then begin to assimilate what I wanted to absorb from it.  To be there, immersed in it, was much too stifling, claustrophobic.  I couldn’t find a direct line to what I wanted my own voice and my own contribution to be.  North Carolina—and the greater South in general—helped me to discover other roots which turned out to be just as fructifying.  The deep-running river and song-ways of traditional folk music were wonderfully inspirational to me, and they helped me to discover the kind of sound, musically, that I wanted to make.  That sound is all over my first album, Border Radio.  New England, where I’ve lived now for more than half my life, provided an unexpected (to me) richness of local and regional music; New Hampshire in particular, and our little corner of the Atlantic seacoast, is abundantly thriving with artistic talent—so many musicians and poets all making their own sounds, which have combined into a community of artists supporting each other, playing gigs together, playing on each other’s albums.  I couldn’t ask for a more generous—and more talented—group of friends.  You’ll hear lots of them on my first two albums!

What did the legendary Don Dixon of early REM fame bring to the new album? 

Preeminently, Don brought a vision for the songs.  He said to me on the first day of our work together, “We’re making a rock album.”  I’d been listening to his sound for all of my adult life—those early REM albums, bands like Guadalcanal Diary—and so I instinctively trusted him.  Besides that, he brought the abundance of experience, instinct and wisdom that he’s known for.  When I listen back to the demos I originally sent him—just me singing with an acoustic guitar—the magnitude of his presence is driven home hard.  He made the Sistine Chapel out of a shotgun shack.

What was it like to record in the Fidelitorium Studio alongside top Nashville talent? 

It was a dream inside of a dream, from which I don’t think I’ll ever awake.

When I saw the list of musicians Don was assembling for the session—Peter Holsapple, Rob Ladd, Sam Wilson—and heard that we were heading to Mitch Easter’s equally legendary studio in North Carolina, I had trouble scraping my jaw up off the ground.  Then I had time to panic.  But they, magnanimous souls that they all are, immediately set me at ease.  I was amazed at their generosity and commitment to these songs—and to the unknown me.

How much of a role do your fans play in your music career? 

As an independent artist, I feel like I have a very small pocket of people whom I aim to please.  And they seem tolerant—supportive even—of my whims, experiments and idiosyncrasies.  It’s important to have even a small listening base; actually, I prefer it to the other thing.  I like knowing the faces and tastes, personalities and stories of the folks I make music for.  It makes their approbation more genuine and substantial.

How does your upcoming album fit into your career ambitions?

Impossible Man completes the trilogy of albums that, with Border Radio and Yodelady, I had hoped to release into the world.  Their songs are a selection of the 150+ numbers that have poured forth after “Myrtle,” the 1950 Gibson J-50 acoustic guitar—a slope-shouldered songwriting machine—came into my keeping in 2016.  Sure, there are some—lots—that didn’t make the cut, songs that I’d intended someday to record.  But this, what’s now done, is what I’d intended and hoped to do.  I’m going to do my best to promote it, and I hope it reaches the audience it deserves.  Thank you, A&R Factory, for helping it as it takes its first steps into the world.

Stream Todd Hearon’s single, Looking Glass, on Spotify now; follow the artist on Facebook to keep up to date with new album news, and head to his official website for more info.

Interview by Amelia Vandergast

Photo by Nate Hastings

Brandon Bing took his inimitable sound down a dark country-rock road with Burnt Out at Both Ends

With one of his most sombrely affecting singles to date, Burnt Out at Both Ends, the peerlessly roots-reverent troubadour Brandon Bing took his sound down a dark country-rock road to explore a relatable dichotomy of desire.

Bing found a poignantly powerful way to attest to how impossible it is to have it all, especially when chasing dreams at the cost of connection. While never letting the single fall into a ravine of self-pity, Bing bared his burnt-out soul in a way that will sting your own. The underpinning theme of never feeling quite enough while failing to make yourself whole and the ones you love content resounds throughout the flawlessly executed country-rock anthem.

The touches of reverb on the opening guitar lines as they reverberate around the motifs of violin strings instantaneously set a melancholic mood. Yet, Bing ensures the following bolstered with passion high-octane riffs raise the energy beneath his evocatively expressive vocals that expose the raw nerves which inspired this tour de force of a triumph. His intuitive relationship with his guitar is enough to put him up there with Brad Paisley, Chet Atkins, and Vince Gill as one of the country-rock guitar greats. As for his voice, just try keeping a dry eye while being consumed by the Whiskey-soaked timbres.

Burnt Out at Both Ends was officially released on June 21; stream the single on Spotify now.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

STARR became queen of the femme fatales in her dark pop anthem, Die 4 Me

STARR usurped every femme fatale that came before her with her eagerly anticipated follow-up to her 2023 debut single, Novocaine. Her dark and sensuously debauched electro-pop-rock sophomore single, Die 4 Me, is a bass and seduction-drenched exploration of how luring the sinister side of love can be in a mind inclined towards fatal attraction. After all, what could be a more devoted gesture than a hypothetical willingness to die for the one you love?

Following a film noir-esque intro, STARR emerges as one of most striking sirens on the airwaves with her irresistible vocal lines before the spectrally decorated harsh reverberant beats transform Die 4 Me into an infectiously foreboding dance-pop track that makes Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance seem pedestrian at best.

Like the pop lovechild of In This Moment, STARR knows exactly how to infuse scathingly sultry energy into a rhythmically kinetic anthem that will leave you under her unfuckwithable spell.

Die 4 Me is now available to stream on Spotify.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Prisoner harnessed thunder in their hard rock hit, Skies Are Blackened

Prisoner

Prisoner brought the hard-rock hammer down once again with their latest single, Skies Are Blackened. Prepare for the colossal impact of their hell-hath-no-mercy riffs, tumultuously tight breakdowns, and lightning bolts of dynamic vocal energy that pull you right into the centre of the frenetic furore Prisoner is quickly becoming infamous for.

There are high-energy rock bands, and there are powerhouses who go sonically supernova. With Skies Are Blackened, the Canadian three-piece firmly planted themselves in the latter camp, which any fans of Metallica, Black Sabbath, AC/DC, and Iron Maiden will want to join them in.

Vocalist Murray Emery’s ability to keep the power surging through his mirthfully electrifying vocal lines in the higher register and the instrumentals being tighter than Mick Jagger’s jeans is enough to seal the trio a place in the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame. They’re not an outfit to underestimate. Watch this space as they tear it up with hedonically high-voltage hits.

Skies Are Blackened will be available to stream on all major platforms, including Apple Music, from June 19.

Discover more about the Prisoner via their official website.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Stitcher Unchained a Relentless Sonic Onslaught with ‘Distant Mirage’

Stitcher opened a mystical portal to the unfiltered soul of rock n roll with their sophomore single, Distant Mirage, which rhythmically taps into Eastern esoterism to add an arcane Arabian aura to the speaker-ravaging hit lures you in with a dusky overture before the hellbent-for-distortion guitars bolster the track beneath Annabelle Piper’s siren-esque soaring-with-soul vox.

Her ferociously infallible vocal lines that burn red-hot throughout the release are enough to lead you to believe that the spirit of Medusa resides in her vocal cords. The monolithic middle eight allows you to tear away from her spell, but you won’t meet any mercy here, the alchemic brutality of the guitar solo hits hard enough to leave bruises. If you thought you knew the meaning of frenetic before listening to Distant Mirage, you’ll think again once your senses begin to function after the exhilarating rampage.

Distant Mirage first played on June 6th; stream the single on Spotify and follow Stitcher’s debauched rock n roll journey on Instagram.

Review by Amelia Vandergast