This is the second part of our compelling conversation with ex-Flyleaf vocalist Lacey Sturm. Before you dig into this, check out part one of the interview here: Lacey Sturm – Family, Faith and Rock ‘n Roll
The Best Rock Songs of 2013
(Make sure you check out our Top Rock Albums 0f 2013)
2013 was a year packed with interesting entertaining rock offerings. Most commercial radio seems fixated on synth-driven, watered-down, safe music for the masses. At times, I’m a sucker for that stuff, too, but far more often, I enjoy my rock with a little guitar, as you’ll see below…
Click on the sing titles to check out and grab your own copy of each song.
Bonus Track: Golden, Holly Maher – Our own BrokenBirdie sums this one up perfectly: This Nashville native “really knows how to mix sassy and sweet perfectly…” Maher is not an easy fit into our rock ‘n roll genre, but she’s a blossoming singer songwriter with lots of potential.
24. What Doesn’t Kill You – Jake Bugg – Garage rock 21st Century style. This 19 year-old has a great sound, sometimes punk, sometimes folksy, and this is the best offering from his second album.
23. Do I Wanna Know? – Arctic Monkeys – Really like the guitar intro on this one, and just love the focus on Alex Turner’s vocals, which are his best yet.
22. Safe and Sound – Capital Cities – An example of the synth and drum machine recipe that dominates today’s airwaves, but this one is creative and catchy.
21. Harlem – New Politics – A bit of a guilty pleasure. Bubble gum rock, but it’s got infectious lyrics and a memorable guitar riff that you’ll never get out of your head.
20. High School Lover – Cayucas – This one has a slick late 60′s surf rock feel which fits this band from Santa Monica perfectly.
19. Unbelievers – Vampire Weekend – It’s a great showcase for Ezra Koenig’s vocals, and unbelievably, this is actually the band’s highest charting song of their career.
18. 17 Crimes – AFI – This one is carried by Adam Carson’s drums. It’s got a great singalong chorus about a nasty topic. I should have moved this up to #17 just for the symmetry.
17. Recovery – Frank Turner – It’s fun catchy song with deep meaningful lyrics from one of today’s best rock ‘n roll poets from Tape Deck Heart, one of this year’s best albums.
16. Sweater Weather – The Neighbourhood – The first single off of their debut album I Love You and it was a breath of fresh air on the Alt-Rock scene. The first of two tracks from the West Coast band on the list.
15. Wake Me Up – Avicii – My wife rarely turns me on to excellent new rock, but this is an exception. This one makes a great driving song, but it’s excellent in any environment and crosses so many musical genres. Love the music bed…
14. Drive Me Home – The Reason – A big rocker from a veteran Canadian band who sound like Kings of Leon, just with a little more talent and a lot more passion and less pretentiousness.
13. Deal with the Devil – Pop Evil – Reminds me a bit of Alice and Chains which is always a good thing. Love Leigh Kakaty’s vocals, but the music from his band mates is even better.
12. Diane Young – Vampire Weekend – Bit of a different feel, where Koenig’s vocals highlight early; and then the song masterfully devolves into a clever mash-up of sounds eerily reminiscent of the late 80’s dance remixes from Sigue Sigue Sputnik.
11. Hail to the King – Avenged Sevenfold – Best hard rock band around, and this song is a prime example why. Searing guitar solos, hard driving rhythm and killer vocals.
10. Cut Me Some Slack – “Nirvana” featuring Paul McCartney – OK, I named the band… It’s Dave Grohl’s fantastic contribution to Sound City. Paul bringing back haunting “Helter Skelterish” vocals accompanied by the living members of Nirvana, and it works amazingly well.
10. Waves – Blondfire – It’s a great summer vibe, and a tune that highlights the beautiful vocals of Erica Driscoll and an absolutely mesmerizing groove.
9. Bit By Bit – Mother Mother – One of today’s most underrated bands, and this provocative quirky song is the best one from their fantastic album The Sticks. It’s aggressive Alt-rock with a unique blend of boy-girl vocals.
8. Lola Montez – Volbeat – Killer guitar work from new addition Rob Caggiano (Anthrax) and an excellent spotlight for Michael Poulsen’s powerful and distinctive vocals.
7. The Boys Are Back – Dropkick Murphys – Bagpipes and a rousing chorus power this rocker. Just love Ken Casey’s beautifully ragged and harsh vocals. It’s Irish rock at its best, well almost…
6. House of Gold – Twenty One Pilots – Ukelele driven ode to Tyler Glenn’s mother featuring his quirky but perfectly fitting vocals as this duo continues their ascension into rock stardom.
5. Rose Tattoo – Dropkick Murphys – This is Irish rock at its best. Tender mandolin opening with more of a classic Irish story teller vibe and a memorable chorus. They also released a version with Springsteen on vocals as a Boston Marathon victims’ fundraiser which is just as good as the original.
4. Thanksgiving – Stephen Kellogg – It’s a masterpiece, a ten minute masterpiece, but worth every second of it. Poignant, meaningful lyrics, passionate vocals and superb music. This one should become the definitive Thanksgiving song.
3. San Francisco – The Mowgli’s – A positive, happy, upbeat song, and it’s just fun as hell. This octet delivers a wall of sound, and the music is simply addictive. A great song made better by the great vibe.
2. Afraid – The Neighbourhood – Jesse Rutherford’s vulnerable vocals and deeply introspective lyrics are fantastic, and the song is absolutely great. It is the highlight track from the band’s excellent debut I Love You.
1. Four Simple Words – Frank Turner – This one starts with soft piano accompanied by acoustic guitar, then evolves into a raucous punk rock throwdown. It’s everything wonderful about rock ‘n roll wrapped up into one song. Oh, and the lyrics are perfect, too.
There you have it. My list… What did I miss? Let me know in he comments below, and make sure you Follow Us on Twitter and Like our Facebook for rock music updates all year long.
RARA’s FARM’s 2013 Songs of Summer
Here you go, the first rock ‘n roll summer sampler, RARA’s FARM style. Twelve new rock songs that should either get you in the mood for summer, or if you’re already there, be part of your 2013 summer soundtrack. You can click on the title to download the tune for iTunes, or make the leap of faith and download all dozen at the end of the article. You’ll see a heavy tilt to bands from the West Coast and from The Great White North.
Take a look/listen and let us know your thoughts. Special thanks to occasional contributor Chris Carey who recommended a few of these selections.
Bonus track: It’s Time (iTunes Session) – Imagine Dragons – You’ve all heard this one before, but not like this. A very cool acoustic version.
Wagon Wheel – Darius Rucker – A definite country feel to this Old Crow Medicine Show remake. Think this one will be the song that defines the Summer of 2013.
Summer Paradise (feat. MKTO) – Simple Plan – A softer side to these Alt-Rock veterans, but another cool song. This is one that has a nice reggae/ska feel to it. Our first of a bunch of Canadian acts on the list.
San Francisco – The Mowgli’s – They actually took their name from The Jungle Book character, If that isn’t enough, it’s a fun, poppy rock song with a lot of interesting musical “stuff” going on thanks to the eight piece band from So Cal.
Awkward (EP Version) – San Cisco – Another fun tune, this one from from last year, and a guilty pop-rock pleasure. Love the boy/girl vocal trade-offs from these Aussies.
Art & A Wife – Rah Rah – another Boy/Girl vocal combo from North of the border. It’s a cool rocker from this Saskatchewan sextet, with a nice mixture of rollicking good times and tender vocals. Oh, and let’s not ignore that their name is oh so close to ours.
Harlem – New Politics – Simply stated, it’s good old fun pop rock. Great singalong verse and a cool memorable guitar riff from this Denmark import.
Michigan Left – Arkells – Love this band’s guitar and retro alt-rock sound. This one is actually more than a year -old, but new to my ears. Love the chorus which conjures up nice INXS memories. Yup, Canadians, too.
Born To Ruin – Wildlife – Love the big drums that kick off this tune, and the song is just a damn good time from that point on. Another impressive young Canadian band.
Drive Me Home – The Reason – Let’s close with this big rocker which begs comparisons of a more hip Kings of Leon. Good stuff.
As a bonus, here are two more nice choices, and songs which are also appealing fundraisers for good causes.
Thanks, let us know your thoughts below, and remember to Like Us and Follow Us while you;re here.
And now, the entire RARA’s FARM dozen: