Every year I pull together a list of the most amazing bands/ artists that I saw the previous year that absolutely blew my mind in one way or another. Sometimes they were opening for a band I was already booked to photograph, and other times they just had a great publicist who knows how to get me to listen to and attend a show of a band I have never heard of. In addition I always add in one or two of my favorite artists who I think should have had a break out year and deserve another shot.
With that being said, here are the best live bands I witnessed in 2014 that will likely become much bigger in 2015. Keep your eyes and ears open and do not miss the following, as each one of them is remarkable.
Why: They are the best live band that I saw in 2014 and their debut Get Right is my favorite record of the year.
What they sound like: Somewhere between T.Rex, The Doors, James Brown and The Dave Clark Five with a modern twist of their own. This is brilliant stuff folks and even better performed live at a club. (For San Francisco folks you can catch the band as they start a residency at The Brick and Mortar this week.)
2. Rival Sons
Why: It’s the closest thing to Zeppelin we will ever see again. These guys are bonafide rock start in another dimension and slowly crossing over to earth.
What they sound like: A giant classic rock joint rolled out of The Who, Zeppelin, and The Doors, sprinkled with non-stop grooves. You have to see them live to believe how good these guys are.
Why: Her voice is just remarkable and her songwriting is some of the best in the biz. You have to hear this one to believe it folks.
What she sounds like: Souring, gorgeous, powerful vocals that could make Adele sound flat over the top of some mesmerizing soundscapes and complex arrangements. This is the new breed of singer songwriter and she is currently unmatched.
Why: One of the only bands left that take their music and turn it into a true experience.
What they sound like: Orgy crossed with Filter, but with better storytelling.
Why: Because there will be a revival of AM rock from the 70’s in the new year and MGMT stopped making tolerable music.
What they sound like: MGMT’s first album on Quaaludes
Why: They are bringing back grunge.
What they sound like: Citizen Dick
7. Le Butcherettes
Why: Frontwoman Teri Gender Bender is one of the most unique performers I have ever seen live.
What they sound like: Like Stevie Knicks having a nervous breakdown while performing a freestyle garage rock exploration.
8. Carina Round
Why: She’s an incredibly diverse talent who has worked with everyone from Tears for Fears to Maynard James Keenan from Tool. I’m excited to see what she will do in 2015, as the entire industry should be.
What she sounds like: She’s been compared to PJ Harvey, Annie Lennox, Grace Slick, but I think she simply invokes the best qualities of each while adapting to her musical surroundings.
9. Nick Waterhouse
Why: His latest record “Holly” was recorded entirely in mono using analog tape, a practice that’s long forgotten in the digital age of bloated over-produced radio hits. “This is a Game” is a true standout from the record that makes an immediate statement in a modern era from an earlier time.
What he sounds like: Waterhouse’s Twitter profile reads simply as “Reviving Nothing”. Clearly Waterhouse has heard the comparisons to Brian Setzer, Motown Legends, the Stax family of recordings and from the several interviews I’ve read with him he’s ok with it, but isn’t riding anyone’s coattails. And he doesn’t have to.
10. Tango Alpha Tango
Why: In the current musical landscape where musicianship is few and far between, these guys could single-handedly start a revival.
What they sound like: John Mayer crossed with Stevie Ray Vaughan as the headliner at an all night juke joint.
11. Vaudeville Etiquette
Why: Tayler Lynn and Bradley Laina are a modern day Loretta and Conway.
What they sound like:Civil Wars crossed with Fleetwood Mac.
Why: Atkins made the record of her career with the release of Slow Phaser.
What she sounds like: My favorite female singer in the world, she’s like a cross between Billy Holiday and Fiona Apple but with a tone that is all her own.