Best New Rock – Grace Vonderkuhn, Pennan Brae, Afloat, I Am The Unicorn Head

Wilmington based rocker Grace Vonderkuhn has been on our radar since 2018’s Worry made her a mainstay in Philly’s indie punk scene.  Since her 2015 debut EP, Grace and band have stayed true to their raw rock roots.  There’s energy and authenticity to the studio performances. 

  With each album, Grace’s mixes have evolved from garage lo-fi to a more modern, but still gritty rock sound. The new album  Pleasure Pain is her most polished work yet, and a welcome step up for the buzzing songwriter.  With songs like To The Top, it’s evident that Grace is headed to the national stage.

  When Grace sings “another day, another dollar,” it really speaks to the blue collar attitude of the tri-state music scene.  A lot of bands are doing it for the right reasons, the 70s punk aesthetic and the ‘don’t give a f*ck about success’ appeal is as characteristic as the Cheesesteaks and Soft Pretzels.  Philly is a crowded scene, but Grace is carving out her own path, she’s not trying hard to fit in.  She laments “it hurts the worse when you’re not trying, can’t give back the wasted time, look around and you will find, it’s a long way to the top.”  

  To The Top is a rock and roll smash, and one of our favorite songs on the year.  Hear it now on our Best New Rock playlist.     

Pennan Brae is a prolific Canadian rocker with a rich catalog of pensive emotive indie rock.  Often wielding a Fender Mustang, he understands great guitar tones. Donning a thick catalog of gems, Pennan is a true recording artist.  He is about to release his 10th album – Planted. The collection is highlighted by the lead single Mona. The upbeat country-rock-pop track serves as an ode to past love, specifically Mona in Verse 1 & Rhonda in Verse 2. The track has the upbeat edginess of the Knack.  The cut time is like a modern My Sharona, with some My Morning Jacket style indie country leads.  Mona is highlighted by some really great guitar tones, no surprise from the tone master.  Recorded and mixed at Blue Light in Vancouver, the track has a great raw tube feel.  

  Mona’s greatest strength is Pennan’s soft present smoky vocal delivery.  Pennan brings feeling and emotion from his voice.  With lyrics “I could not believe – What she said to me – It was a relief,” Brae is towing the line between dismay and apathy.  After all, this is Rock and Roll, we need to have a good dose of “I don’t give a f*ck” in our Rock.  The music has attitude and swagger, a fine effort from the guitar master.  Hear Mona now on our Best New Rock playlist.  


“Sometimes I feel okay but I’m not, Sometimes you feel good but you’re not.”  NJ based riot rockers Afloat deliver an emo punk anthem on their new single But I’m Not. 

Their second release of this year, the new single has proven to be their most popular track yet.  Feeling like it was plucked out of the late 90s Jersey emo scene, free from the pop punk cheesiness of the hot topic generation.   The style connects more with classic Get Up Kids and Saves the Day than Avril and Co. 

Singer Gabby Relos sings with both passion and accuracy, pushing her voice to its limit.  The band pushes the emo genre forward with creative drum patterns and impressive guitar work. Afloat has plans to release more music in the coming months.  Hear But I’m Not now on our Best New Rock playlist

I Am The Unicorn Head

  Intercontinental retro rockers I Am The Unicorn Head release their catchiest single yet with Omnipresent.  The psychedelic blues rock bop has hints of The Black Keys and The Vines in production and presentation.  A distorted bass collides with smashing drums before pairing up with a 60s style Fender surf guitar tone.  The trippy call and response vocal arrangement feels like its pulled right out of late 60s psychedelic era soundtrack.  The free love feel of the music connects well with the songs metaphorical message.  Formed during the onset of the pandemic, the duo traded ideas from across the pond.  Songs were tracked in isolation, and a band was formed.  

  I Am The Unicorn Head has found solace in their music during these difficult times.  With song titles like “Cornbread in Quarantine” and “Omnipresent,” the band embraces our common futility and manifests ART.  Much like the pioneers of 60s rock, and unlike disconnected modern pop, the band addresses modern themes in their music.  And again, like their predecessors, the duo knows its best to wrap difficult content in a sweet catchy package with a little satire to make it fun.  We can acknowledge the moment and not take life too seriously.  I Am The Unicorn Head is doing it right. Hear Omnipresent now on our Best New rock playlist.

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