Best Rock Songs of 2014 (So Far)
2014 is nowhere near complete, but it’s never too early to recognize great music. The year is off to a rocking start and already several acts have left their mark on the year with songs that are guaranteed to stay in our playlists for some time to come.
This list provides a wealth of variety, with name rock bands that have populated the airwaves for years, up-and-coming acts that are just making their initial mark on the rock scene and even a parody song (a well-done one at that) pops up.
To qualify for this list, the song itself had to make its impact in the year 2014, whether it comes from an album that was released this year or in 2013. We’ll continue to update this list through the rest of 2014 as more great rock songs are released, but for now, you can check out the Best Rock Songs of 2014 (So Far) below.
'Something From Nothing'
Foo Fighters start innocently enough with a 'Skin and Bones'-type opening to their single 'Something From Nothing,' but the journey of getting from the somber point A to the furious finish of point B is what makes this one of the year's best tracks. There's so much to take in here, whether it be Chris Shiflett's recognizable opening guitar lines, his distortion-filled riffing later on, keyboardist Rami Jaffe's '70s-inspired funk or special guest Rick Nielsen's (Cheap Trick) heavy licks during the song's most furious moments. And let's not forget Dave Grohl's fever-pitched rage as he belts about keeping his name and coming from nothing. It's never sounded better.
You know the formula by now, but it's still as good today as the first time you heard it. AC/DC have returned in 2014 with 'Play Ball,' the standout lead single from their 'Rock or Bust' album. It's just guitar-driven, foot-stomping rock at its finest with Brian Johnson's instantly recognizable vocals on top of it and 'Play Ball' is just adding to one of rock's most impressive legacies.
'Sick Like Me'
Sound the sirens. In This Moment are kicking off their 'Black Widow' album with a full-throttle rocker called 'Sick Like Me.' Featuring Maria Brink's dreamy vocals, Chris Howorth's gritty guitar licks and some brutal beats from Tom Hane, In This Moment's 'Sick Like Me' is an exploration in finding the beauty in the dark side of things. The track leaves you thoroughly pummeled in a good way.
Standout guitar and bass lines. Check. Call and response vocal. Check. Instantly hummable big sounding chorus. Check. Sixx: A.M. are definitely firing on all cylinders with 'Stars,' one of the standout tracks on their 'Modern Vintage' album. Frontman James Michael called it "one of the best songs we've ever written," adding that it "does everything that Sixx: A.M. does on a heightened level." We couldn't agree more.
Welcome to Hellyeah in 2014, a band that is thinking outside of the box from what they've done in the past. And one of the biggest signs of that is the group's single 'Moth,' a darkly beautiful track featuring hypnotic vocals from Chad Gray and a rare 6/8 time signature for the group. As Gray told Loudwire, the song is about dealing with addictive or compulsive behaviors. This is one track that would be easy to get addicted to.
'Figure It Out'
Look out Jack White and The Black Keys, there's a new duo entering your orbit and vying for the ears of your fans. The U.K. outfit Royal Blood have burst on the scene in 2014 with some swampy goodness. 'Figure It Out,' the second U.S. single off their self-titled debut, has a nasty blues guitar line, an infectious foot-stomping beat and just the right amount of aggression courtesy of Mike Kerr and Ben Thatcher. Get to know Royal Blood as their furiously good finish to 'Figure It Out' is just a sign of things to come.
The summer of 2014 gave us a breakout band known as Islander and the track that put them on the map was the oddly titled 'Coconut Dracula.' Featuring some unique sounding guitar licks, a killer bass line and some impressive range from singer Mikey Carvajal, the song drew some Deftones comparisons. 'Coconut Dracula' is an impressive introduction for these upstarts, and their 'Violence & Destruction' album has even more to offer.
'End of Me'
A Day to Remember tested out a variety of styles on their 'Common Courtesy' album, but 'End of Me' may be one of their best songs to date. Starting off with a somber vibe and frontman Jeremy McKinnon's story of a destructive relationship, the song picks up in intensity and emotional impact as it continues. It's the type of performance where the band's intensity and McKinnon's delivery make you feel every ounce of juicy agony and will likely have you singing along and raising a fist to the sky as it draws you in.
Starset broke out with the single 'My Demons,' but 'Telescope' has the potential to be even bigger. The group find that perfect blend between moody atmospherics and intensity, with frontman Dustin Bates leading listeners hypnotically through the beginning of the song before it comes to its heavy conclusion. Bates says the track is about the solitude that comes with love loss and his vocals definitely show that despair.
'World on Fire'
Slash's guitar work is on display right out of the gate on 'World on Fire,' the lead single and title track from the album of the same name. His riffing sets the pace, but the song gets a healthy dose of cowbell and high energy drumming from Brent Fitz. A blistering solo, a bluesy breakdown and a whispery vocal from Myles Kennedy mid-song also help make this track a standout.
'I Don't Want to Be Here Anymore'
Rise Against are back and it looks as though they've knocked it out of the park with the first single from their 'The Black Market' album. 'I Don't Want to Be Here Anymore' is filled with the raspy angst you've come to love from frontman Tim McIlrath. The song also has some mesmerizing guitar work and some off-to-the-races drumming keeping the intensity fierce.
'Talk S--t, Get Shot'
Take notice! Body Count are back and you best respect! Ice-T and his crew are cranking out some serious riffs on 'Talk S--t, Get Shot.' Even though there's the threat of physical harm in the title, we wouldn't talk s--t about this song cause it's just that damn good.
Swampy guitar, wailing vocals and so much more -- Kyng hit paydirt with their single 'Electric Halo' off the 'Burn the Serum' album. This chugging rocker may be about a charismatic leader spinning fables with his words, but there's no falsity when it comes to exactly how much 'Electric Halo' rocks.
'You Know My Name'
Welcome back Courtney Love! The Hole frontwoman returns with the solo song 'You Know My Name,' an anthemic, fist-pumper of a track. Love's full rasp and aggression kicks in full force, providing one of her best tracks in years. Meanwhile, Love's band delivers an undeniable beat that will keep your foot tapping throughout.
'This Is the Time (Ballast)'
Texas-based four-piece Nothing More are well on their way to becoming one of 2014's breakout bands, and part of the reason for that is the single 'This Is the Time (Ballast).' With its trippy opening, heavy bass and guitar and the amazing range provided by frontman Jonny Hawkins, 'This Is the Time' stands out from the masses finding that perfect middle ground between heavy and proggy.
'Cry of Achilles'
'Take Out the Gunman'
If 'Take Out the Gunman' is any indication, Chevelle are in for a big year with their 'La Gargola' album. Pete Loeffler and Dean Bernardini's chugging guitar and bass work leads into some impressive percussion from drummer Sam Loeffler. The song builds and builds from a lurching song into a full-on eruption where you can feel every ounce of emotion of Pete Loeffler's vocals.
Is there anyone having a better 2014 than The Pretty Reckless? Taylor Momsen and her crew have raced up the charts with the chugging anthem 'Heaven Knows.' The infectious track just begs for the listener to clap their hands and stomp their feet alongside Momsen's bluesy swagger. Just like the subjects of the song that are led into temptation and paying the consequences, it's hard for listeners to deny the lure of this seductive rocker and sinful goodness it delivers.
Bring Me the Horizon are showing a more melodic side on the song 'Sleepwalking,' but make no mistake, there's still plenty of heaviness. Frontman Oli Sykes finds that perfect balance that allows his screaming vocals to still feel melodic. And the haunting keyboard play transposed against the wall of guitar sound provides a hypnotic vibe.
There had to be some concern after Three Days Grace decided to continue their career without longtime frontman Adam Gontier, but any fears have been assuaged with the release of 'Painkiller.' The song comes with the signature aggressive guitar and percussion work that fans have become accustomed to, and new frontman Matt Walst does a solid job with the melodic as well as the in-your-face moments.
'Soul to Preach To'
Welcome back Fuel. After making their claim to fame in the late '90s and early 2000s, the band went through several lineup changes. With frontman Brett Scallions returning on their 'Puppet Strings' album, his stamp is all over the disc. The lead single 'Soul to Preach To' offers those great heavy guitars that were a staple of their early sound, but what makes it truly standout is the bluesy swagger and the addition of a Dobro that provides a unique feel.
'Just a Ride'
If you want hard-driving rock, the Virginmarys provide it in spades with their single 'Just a Ride' from their 'King of Conflict' album. Ally Dickaty's blistering guitar work, Matt Rose's bass backing and the frenetic drumming of Danny Dolan blend perfectly to provide the listener with a foot-tappingly infectious rock track.
Palms' 'Mission Sunset' is not your typical mainstream rock song. It's a haunting soundscape building in intensity, much like the soundtrack to an unseen film. But as he's done to some extent with Deftones, frontman Chino Moreno is able to deliver every ounce of emotion to the track. The end result is a mesmerizing ride through pain, triumph, reflection and one hell of a conclusion where it comes to a crashing finish.
'True Trans Soul Rebel'
It's been an interesting journey for Against Me! singer Laura Jane Grace (formerly Tom Gabel). The transgendered singer revealed her gender dysphoria issues in 2012, then let the journey play out on record with the 'Transgender Dysphoria Blues' album. Nowhere on the disc is this more personal, triumphant and infinitely catchy than on the song 'True Trans Soul Rebel,' a definite standout and a poignant moment in the band's career.
'This Is a Trent Reznor Song'
Okay, sure it's a little odd to include a parody song in the Best Songs of 2014, but how good is Freddy Scott's Nine Inch Nails spoof, 'This Is a Trent Reznor Song'? Scott utilizes the patterns of Nine Inch Nails' 2013 track 'Copy of A' for a very ironic comparison, then trots out several other Nine Inch Nails touchtones (random percussion, weird guitar, ascending and descending vocals, creepy piano) that generate smiles while sneakily pulling you in. To quote the song, "Yeah it sounds really awesome."