On October 1st, 2021, the New York-hailing four-piece Mainline delivered the psyched up classic rock revival album of the year, The Unholy Idol. Right from the first single, Sanctum, the vintage tones pull you into the grip of their unassimilated anthemic rock prowess.
You will soon see how they came about their moniker with their ability to make you feel like you’ve just mainlined adrenaline through track two, Out of the Shadows. The 10-track album is almost wall to wall with anthems, but they still found space to exhibit their dynamism as alt-rock alchemists. Standout singles include the grunge influenced title-single, The Unholy Idol, and the bitter-sweet serenade, A Distant Memory. The concluding single, No Warnings, No Signs, is where Mainline prove that they can rip through solos just as well as any of the accoladed guitar heroes and seal a place in your memory.
Any fans of Metallica, Iron Maiden, White Snake and Black Sabbath won’t want to sleep on this release. Classic rock revivals are in no short supply on either side of the pond, but when we say that Mainline are reminiscent of Metallica, that extends beyond sonic appeal and runs through to their ability to leave you enlivened. With Mainline, you get the sense that creating energising anthems that can easily become party rock hits comes naturally.
The Unholy Idol is now available to stream on Spotify.
Left of the Slash are the harbingers of doom in their latest single, The Time is Now, which uses screeching sleaze rock solos around the trepidation-laden rhythm section. In the vocals, you’ll find a sense of urgency for awakening that becomes infectious throughout the high-octane hard-rock hit.
Left of the Slash is easily one of the most promising alt-rock outfits to have fallen on our radar this year. Their expansive array of influence covers everyone from TOOL to The Yeah Yeah Yeahs to Black Sabbath to Pixies; which gives you an idea of how they came to cultivate such a dynamic sound that is unpredictable from one release to the next.
Washington DC singer-songwriter, Jon Fritz, pulled back love’s façade with his single, Love Ain’t What it Seems’. It strips away the romantic ideation implanted in minds from a young age (thanks, Disney) and gives you a far more realistic account of the role of love in our vast and chaotic world.
Love Ain’t What It Seems resonates on such a deep level it almost makes every love song that made your soul fizz seem superficial with lyrics such as “follow your heart, follow your dreams, take all of your memories and don’t ever think of me because love ain’t what it seems”.
The unforgettable acoustic pop-rock ballad is enough to leave you reaching for the tissues and for your lighter to hold in the air. Which might be pretty hard to do simultaneously.
Love Ain’t What it Seems is now available to stream on YouTube.
Glasgow hailing solo artist Billy Sinclair shared a sentiment that we have all felt over the winter with his latest single Gotta Get Away. His retro rock vibes emanate the same rhythmic prowess as Springsteen, The Eagles and Generation Terrorists-era Manics; through the simplicity of his soulful sound, you will catch his folk influences that bleed through his intimate vocals and driving guitar riffs.
The clever repetition of the line ‘gotta get away’ increases the sense of desperation for escape, in the same way that the Doors’ single, People Are Strange, hammers home the sense of alienation.
Rarely do you encounter a single that is intimate and sonically powerful. But thanks to Billy Sinclair’s eclectic array of influence and non-assimilative approach to production and instrumentation, he’s offering something that no one else is; his unapologetic self.
Gotta Get Away is now available to stream via Spotify.
Rather than serving up yet another archetypal slice of Sunset strip sleaze, USA’s Orson’s Well brought modernism to their raunchy grooves with their latest single, ‘Serve the Verve’.
With Blues weaving its way into the anthemic stormer, Serve the Verve comes with a guarantee that you’ll find yourself mesmerised by the scuzzy yet soaring guitar solos that affirm Orson’s Well are bringing the pinnacle of modern rock.
Serve the Verve is rooted in the past, but it taps into that contemporary need for abrasive smoky rock n roll orchestrated for the discerning rock fan in 2021. For any fans of Guns n’ Roses and Aerosmith, Orson’s Well is definitely worth a spot on your radar.
You can check out the official video to Serve the Verve via YouTube.
80s post-punk coalesces with classic rock in the lead track, ‘Gods Run’ from Jimi Hemp’s debut EP, ‘The Lockdown Tapes’. Driving angular guitars amp up the energy within the anthemically atmospheric release while the rock vocals are sweet enough with their despondency to leave you placated as you listen to the passion-fuelled release run through.
If Echo and the Bunny Men collaborated with Bryan Adams, I’m fairly certain that the aural result wouldn’t be all too far from what is contained in the viscerally captivating single.
Recently, I’ve found gratitude for a great number of things, Jimi Hemp finishing their tracks which have been on the shelf for decades to make their debut is definitely up there. In a time when ennui is hard to break through, their EP has plenty of feelings to spare.
The Lockdown Tapes is available to stream on all major platforms via this link.
Classic rock conservationists, The Leafs, dug up the roots of 70s rock and spliced them with elements of 90s Britpop in their latest single ‘Mr. Coffey’. With driving guitar tones as vintage as Keith Richards himself, the preservation of classic rock is safe in the deft hands of The Leafs – and so is the future of alt-rock.
With vocals which are sweet to the point of seduction, a psychedelic kick to the synthy euphoria-spilling instrumentals and tenderly romantic lyrics, you can expect your soul to be filled and your rhythmic pulses to be arrested while this earworm crawls in.
The Berlin-based artist may have only made their debut in 2020, but you’d be hard-pressed to find another 2021 release containing more commercial potential than Mr. Coffey. It’s an obsession-worthy track.
After their debut album, ‘Pancea’, amassed over 1.1 million streams and the standout single hit the iTunes UK Top 100 Rock chart at #36, Wisconsin-hailing alt-rock artist, The Star Prairie Project, unleashed their equally as compelling sophomore album ‘Surreal’.
The standout single, The Crying, demonstrates the evocative potential which Rock has always possessed but few have managed to achieve. With a sense of grief running deep in the veins of the classic rock-inspired single, it is safe to presume that plenty of people will find resonance when they hit play, given the 2020 we’ve collectively endured.
With the soul of a rock ballad and the monumental impact of a rock anthem, The Star Prairie Project allows you to enjoy the best of both worlds while introducing you to a brand-new realm of emotionally explosive rock.
The maturity and nuance delivered by The Star Prairie Project with The Crying definitely isn’t something which we encounter frequently. If they’re not on your radar, we’d recommend making room.
The Crying is available to stream now via Spotify.
‘Car Stereo’ is just one of the instant classic hits found on Major Fantasy’s self-titled debut album. The Vancouver based newcomers may have used the same formula as Rock icons such as Zeppelin and Whitesnake, but there’s no denying that the artist’s signature zeal was infused.
Major Fantasy formed in 2016, but they’re already amassing plenty of hype with their ability to cook up psych-tinged vintage Rock earworms. Setting aside the usual sleaze, aggrandised pretence and ego, Major Fantasy opted for a more self-assured soulful sound which you can’t help but get gripped by as you feel the soaring guitar hooks pulling you in deeper.
You can check out Car Stereo for yourselves by heading over to Spotify.
Birch Riley gave us a taste of their highly-anticipated album with the monster of an Alt Rock hit “One Life to Live”. If you need frequent reminders that the sands of time are always slipping, this sonically electrifying hit from the Washington-based powerhouse will gladly hammer home the temporary state of your existence.
Despite the ferocity, there’s plenty of soul to be found in this viscerally enticing hit which was made for radio. With the vocals soaring as high as the guitar solos in the chorus, you can expect to be as adrenalized as the soundscape when you hit play.
There may be some Classic Rock touches to the single, but indisputably, there’s enough distinction and nuance in the deftly crafted track to assure you that Birch Riley are as authentic as Rock acts get in 2020.
You can check out Birch Riley’s single One Live to Live along with the rest of their interstellar album Fragments of Space and Time via Bandcamp.