This page is not a preview of British rock music in 2014. Neither is it a year in review. Think of it more like a progress check. Like a parents evening halfway through the school year, to check up on how the kids are getting on. This year, it looks as though the kids are getting on really quite well.
Rock n’ roll is dead is a phrase used more often than you’ve belted out Livin’ on a prayer when it comes on the radio. Despite slowly fading from the charts in the mid noughties, rock music simply refuses to roll over, and still has an avid following, just on a more underground level you could say. There are still massive bands out there, and our nation has its fair share of these monsters of rock; Muse, Arctic Monkeys, Coldplay, Franz Ferdinand, Bullet For My Valentine, Biffy Clyro – I could go on.
Rock music has always been a bigger hitter in album sales over singles, and 2014 has done little to buck the trend. Perhaps the biggest success of the year so far are Surrey rockers You Me At Six, who surprisingly debuted at number one in the official UK chart with their fourth studio album Cavalier Youth, seizing the top spot from Ellie Goulding’s Halycon Days ahead of huge names such as Beyoncé and Avicii back in January.
This is a pretty impressive achievement, I think you may agree. I mean, Beyoncé? That takes some doing. The quintet, who only released their debut album Hold Your Colour in 2008, have shifted from a pop-punk to a more alt-rock style, honing a more mature sound whilst still retaining the catchiness that elevated them to fame six years ago. Lead single ‘Lived a lie’ made it all possible, gaining 1,000,000 hits on YouTube in less than 24 hours and reaching number 11 on the UK singles Chart.
Music is of course not all about chart positions. British bands lacking in radio friendly appeal have made some excellent albums this year, critically lauded and adored by loyal fans, and have also been surprised by charting. Welsh band Skindred, who infuse Metal with Reggae (check it out – it’s as amazing as it sounds) released their album Kill The Power, which as well as garnering good reviews, also reached number 28 in the album chart.
Other highly praised records released earlier this year include Architects’ Lost Forever//Lost Together. The Brighton quartet released their heaviest album to date, to rave reviews, with review accumulator site Metacritic showing the album as ‘universal acclaim’ with a score of 90 out of 100. Welsh pop punk band Neck Deep put out their debut album Wishful Thinking in January. Praised for its fun, catchy selection of songs, the band is rapidly gaining in popularity locally, and also nationally, as they will be embarking on a headline UK tour, before supporting American outfit We Are The In Crowd on their tour.
As if this impressive slew of releases wasn’t enough, 2014 has a few more tricks up it sleeves. Numerous bands are hard at work in a sweaty studio, waiting to unleash their new material upon us. Despite not really falling under the rock music moniker these days, megastars Coldplay will be releasing their sixth album Ghost Stories on the 14th of May.
Bullet For My Valentine frontman Matt Tuck announced that they were heading back into the studio via Twitter back in January, which hopefully means a late 2014 release could be on the cards. Indie rockers Kasabian will be releasing their new album on June 16th, as confirmed in Sony Music’s March newsletter. The as yet untitled record will be their fifth, which they say will be a big “F*** you to critics”, so expect to be hearing something a little out of the ordinary. Metalcore act Bury Tomorrow will be releasing their third album Runes on May 26th through Nuclear Blast records.
The quintet hail from Southampton, and are currently flying the flag for the local music scene. Moving just a tad up north to Scotland, Twin Atlantic are also working on their third album, which is tentatively being penned for a 2014 release.
So there we have it – 2014 is shaping up to be a pretty big year for British rock music, in terms of both quality and in sales. You Me at Six topping the charts will take some beating this year, as it’s becoming harder and harder for rock music to break into the charts, but Cavalier Youth, if nothing else, is a beacon of hope for other bands that they too can buck chart trends.
By Dan Jones