ROCK n ROLL IS HERE TO STAY: Best Underground Bands of The Last Decade

As an underdog, myself, I enjoy using my platform to root for the fellow-underdog and share their brilliance. Especially after what I have learned in my short time in this field,  the ‘music industry’, is that a lot of people limit their music library to what is more often shared in big publications. There are not enough people researching things like the opening acts to the big names, or the bands with under 10,000 followers on social media, and most importantly, the bands that are busting their backs to have their voices heard.

I am quite sure that my drive for this campaign of supporting smaller artists, despite not being a musician myself, is because I understand that ambition of wanting to get your name out there. This could definitely be used to explain why I have spent the last several years of my life consuming countless hours of unsigned, local, ‘opening act’ bands’ music, I find it so satisfying watch bands grow from club openers to getting their own headlining tours.

Which brings me to this list. At first, it was huge. I don’t know how many of you are aware, but there are a lot of good new bands out there.  I have never resonated with that cliché boomer saying  “music was better back then”, it’s just simply not true. If that’s truly what you believe about music, then that’s a ‘you problem’ as the kids say. You aren’t doing good music research. The amount of “good” (really subjective word) new music that is out there, is in an abundance.

This list does not even cover half of it, I’ve just boggled it down to my personal preferences and chopped out the ones that have gone from club openers to arena stars in their 10 years of making music (cough- ghost -cough)

Albeit, I did make an exception for some bands, because in terms of their scene they are big. However, in regards to the umbrella “Rock industry,” they can still be seen as underground and small.

Editing Darya: Just a side note, to save everyone time, I’ve decided to not talk about artists from the last decade, and leave it at bands

Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats

British doom-stoner band, kings of all thing fuzz and brilliant rock and roll, reigns at the top of the list for me. Although there isn’t necessarily an order to this list, I am, nonetheless, declaring Uncle Acid as my “number one” band of the decade..(and beyond to be fair).

It’s not often you find a band that has yet to make a single song that you haven’t enjoyed, especially when there’s 5 LP’s under their belt, yet whenever I spend a day listening to them and only them, there is never a time I skip a song. The band is just incredible at curating tunes that are so nostalgically psychedelic, yet so distinct.

The thing with this genre is that it can be so repetitive, it can be hard to distinguish some bands from the other… Especially since they are all called “electric-mushroom-mountain-Wizard”, however, Uncle Acid is not simply another stoner band despite common belief.

With melodic elements that feel like something straight out of a classic James Bond film, mixed with horror thematics, Uncle Acid can be placed in a box of their own. I mean for me,  as someone that is a huge fan of classic rock, the psychedelic era and horror films, it’s just a match made in hell for me.

Genuinely one of the only bands I get stumped when people ask me to recommend them an album because there isn’t an album I prefer over the other.  They’re that good.

‘68

Since my discovery of this American garage-rock band, I don’t think there has been a single article that I have published on this website that doesn’t include them. This infatuation is with reason of course, anyone that has taken my advice and checked them out, has been a satisfied customer. I truly wish it was numerically possible to have two number ones because they really would be up there alongside Uncle Acid.

Despite having a love for all rock and roll music (some even call it an obsession), I can be quite meticulous in what truly tickles my fancy. Meaning, I can like a band or an album momentarily, even be obsessed for a few weeks and then… stop listening to them altogether.  However, since being so lucky and seeing ‘68 live, I’ve been on this path of doing whatever I can to promote them because they are without a doubt one of the most badass and authentic rock bands in the game right now.

The passionate writing by the enigmatic Josh Scogin has yet to cease from taking my breath away at every listen of the ‘68 records. I am not kidding when I say I had “Two Parts Viper” on the loop-setting on a 3.5-hour flight a week ago, and did not feel the need to stop it or change it once.

Monolord

Monolord, my album of the year, the band of the year and now band of the decade. This Swedish three-piece is top tier quality when it comes to doom metal (stoner metal? I still struggle with genres if you couldn’t tell). Thomas, Esben and Mika are a dynamic trio that writes some of the most groovy  modern metal songs that I’ve ever heard.

Since my plunge down the doom/stoner rabbit hole early last year, I’ve listened to an abundance of different bands and albums in this genre. According to my Spotify, it’s nearly 3 months’ worth. From all of that, I can probably only remember 3 or 4 bands that stood out to me, Monolord being one of them.

Much like Uncle Acid, I don’t think the band has ever released a band song. Which is hard to do in any genre, but especially one that is so particular as the doom/stoner universe. Before discovering bands like Monolord, I believed that there’s only so much you can do to keep your listeners excited without either drastically changing the sound to the point you’re no longer in the genre, and/or keeping it so similar to your other work, that there is no point checking out new music from the band.

Somehow these three have this masterful ability, which makes the listening experience always fun and gnarly.

Warish

One of my biggest music fascinations is the Seattle Sound aka the“Grunge” rock scene. I’ve read an abundance of books on the history of that sub-culture, watched documentaries, wrote articles, and even run an Instagram account dedicated to keeping that music scene alive. Since I’ve made that account,  however, my email is regularly flooded with bands claiming they are a “grunge revival” and doing their services in keeping Grunge alive.

Spoiler alert, more often than not, they are not. A lot of them are not bad, don’t get me wrong, I’ve discovered a lot of great rock bands through these emails, but they are often missing that little ingredient that makes the music grunge. Since this bombardment of “hey check my grunge band” emails,  I had become almost cynical in the belief that anyone is. That was until I listened to the SoCal band, Warish.

Self-proclaimed “horror rock” band (I had no idea they were horror-themed until now), instantly grabbed my attention with their Nirvana’s bleach-inspired song “Bleed Me Free”.

Members, Riley Hawk, Bruce McDonnell and Alex Bassaj,  nail the muddy-gritty heart of grunge music. It’s face-melting loud, it’s fast and dirty, and man… I love it. I can’t believe I’ve found a modern embodiment of a genre that I hold so close to my heart. It’s grunge, but not a replica of Nirvana, Soundgarden, Melvins, etc. It’s creatively Warish with enough nods to these great Seattle bands that give the impression of that greatly loved genre, without losing their personal touch.

Nothing But Thieves

Now this next one, isn’t necessarily a small band, nor a very “Miss Mephistopheles” choice. If you’re an original reader of this website, you would know my very strong…feelings towards the brit-alternative scene. Nonetheless, I take a lot of pride in being an honest writer, who puts their truthful front at all times even if it creates the risk of sounding like an asshole, or a “poser”. Therefore, it would be a horrible lie to not only you guys, but myself, if I skip this band.

Editing Darya: Tess, if you’re reading this. I promised you that I would no longer be a music snob that has “guilty pleasures” and will admit if I like something that is uncharacteristically me. I hope you’re proud.

British alternative rock band, Nothing But Thieves are good okay? Conor Mason has one of the best voices in modern rock music, and it’s just a cold hard fact. Mason’s voice has a lot of similar tones to Jeff Buckley (who is one of my all time favourites), but the versatility to his voice [Mason] is uncanny to anything I’ve ever heard. Conor Mason‘s emotive voice, alone, can take you on this moving journey. But, it doesn’t stop there because of the blending of his voice with the true-to-rocknroll-guitar-driven melodies… it’s just wow.

If there were more bands like this in the alternative scene, maybe I would be much less of a snobby hater. Yet, I’ve failed to any other alternative rock band that is as talented as this band. Every single one of their songs has such a groove to it, but still, manages to be emotionally impactful. One of the things I’m drawn most to when it comes to this band is the lyrics.

Songs like “Particles”, “Take This Lonely Heart”, “Forever & Evermore” … wow. The last two are perfect examples of how they can take such heartwrenching lyrics and twist it into this jam-worthy song.

Tainted Lady

Danish rock band Tainted Lady is without a doubt my most favourite rock band discovery of the last year, and I still don’t understand how they’re not more popular. The band released their sophomore LP “Sounds Like Freedom // Feels Like War” in late 2019, and had I listened to it sooner, it 100% would have been on my list of favourite albums of 2019… probably knocking off an album from my original list.

Editing Darya: this is why I need to stop procrastinating on my list of ‘albums I need to listen to’

Tainted Lady captures the essence of wistful rock’n’roll music that the last decade was missing out on. There are so many other bands that claim to be the next big ‘arena anthem’ bands, but fall flat and never really move past that bs hipster trope. Tainted Lady, however, really prove with their last album they cannot only write belter rock songs but also, blues-inspired tunes that pay respects to their predecessors.

Songs like “Down To The River” and “Kiowa Warrior” can easily be mistaken for a classic rock song. Not because it sounds like a replica, because it really isn’t… It’s just that they perfectly incorporate that nostalgic 80s hair metal elements and hard-rock vibes in a 21st century way.

Tainted Lady is most definitely one of those bands that I can see selling out arenas within this next decade.

Skraeckoedlan

A band whose name that I really did wish I could pronounce (at least, at a normal human rate), and greatly appreciated. Another band that I’ve spoken a lot about before, because they are one of the selected few bands in the ‘stoner music’ world that I repeatedly go back to. I know I’ve talked about them at least two other times in the last 12 months, so I’ll save the repetition by stating three things:

One, I hold the utmost respect for the fact that their music is entirely in Swedish. As someone who’s trying to move to Sweden and is learning Swedish, it’s nice to find a band that sticks to their roots and doesn’t sing in English to reach a bigger population. People who like good music will listen to you, no matter what language you’re listening to. Take K-POP bands, for example, they’re selling out stadiums worldwide and sing in Korean. I wish more artists/bands wouldn’t feel so pressured to please English listeners.

Secondly, Skraeckoedlan have an eclectic discography that has a song for anyone that is a fan of rock music, not just stoner/doom/fuzz. They have songs like “Mammutkungens Barn” that is more ‘soft rock, melodic with a hint of fuzz. Then they have songs like “Cactus” and Prolog that are a lot heavier and fuzzier that gets your head banging in seconds.

Thirdly, as I keep mentioning, there are a lot of bands in this scene… Like a lot. Sometimes it can be a little overwhelming. A lot of them are the “electric-mushroom-mountain-wizard” bands, that are good and I jam out to but get lost in my doom/fuzz/stoner playlist. Skraeckoedlan, however, brought something different table with their space theme songs, as well as their cool take on heavy guitar-driven songs with such smooth vocals that are not distorted. That always stands out to me because more often than not these bands rely heavily on this muddy sound that results in the vocals becoming lost in the song. But not Skraeckoedlan.

Vokonis

My last repeat on this list, I’m sorry for constantly droning on and on about the same 5 bands, but you guys ask me for my favourites and my favourites I shall give. Vokonis is another band that made my “favourite albums of 2019” list because the amount of times I played their latest record “Grasping Time” is almost embarrassing, almost. Although what does one expect when they make an album that good??

Similar to Skraeckoedlan — which by the way, the bands often play the same events together, as if I didn’t have more of a reason to move to Sweden — Vokonis has these progressive metal elements that make their music so dreamy, yet have these heavy guttural aspects that have you headbanging.

Bands also worth checking out: Sundrifter, Buffalo Fuzz, The Ugly Kings, Electric Monolith and King Gizzard — y’all are fucking kickass.

check out my playlist that goes with this article

Until next time Interwebs! 🕸


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