Best New Rock – Leopard Rays, Pennan Brae, Plain Navy, Alta Falls

UK rockers Leopard Rays spilled out of lockdown and wrote the appropriately titled Curtain Call.  The single has all the energy and angst you would expect from rockers who’ve been caged up for months, their stages shut down, relegated to live streams and jamming for the cat.  No matter how you swing it, nothing beats raging for a packed room of sweaty fans, and Leopard Rays is bringing a banger with Curtain Call.  

Leopard Rays use of tube distorted expressive chords accented by trebly leads has traits of Static Prevails era Jimmy Eat World and indie heroes Built To Spill.  Singer Luke Dawkins has post punk swagger, and the band joins for call and response group vocals reminiscent of dirty punk darlings The Replacements. 

The performance is lively and energetic.  This band is tight.  They haven’t missed a step, and everything feels like its in its right place.  They sound like a band that wants to play together.  A well produced and flawlessly executed effort from on of UK’s bright young bands.  Hear Curtain Call by Leopard Rays, now on our Best New rock playlist. 

Pennan Brae

Prolific Canadian Rocker Pennan Brae returns with his 10th studio release, Planted.  The album is full of sweet licks, catchy melodies, and masterful tones.  

Pennan is drawn to the rock influences of the 70s and 80s.  He admits that he was inspired by the Stones and even Mellencamp.  On Night Crawler, you can hear his affinity for the first days of punk. When it still had its origins in the blues foundations of traditional rock and roll, but the  players had the attitude and carelessness to put distorted chords up front and to riff on 3 or 4 chord phrases.  Pennan falls into the dirty retro rock vibe of the Hives and The Vines, with the swagger and intellect of Queens of The Stone Age. 

Pennan has indie rock sensibility, but his roots are in underground music.  Combing the bins at your local vinyl dealer, you’ll likely find hints of what comes from his writing.  True garage bands, 50s rockabilly, early punk, and early indie bands who made music fun and kept it raw.  And Pennan does just that.  On Planted, Pennan offers 10 songs, each with their unique flavor, but all referring back to their origins. The performances are energetic and the arrangements are tight.  His versatility as a songwriter is on display, presenting both originality and the inspiration of his influences.  Pennan is a master of guitar tone.  Like Keith Richards, real tube toned gain, altered between tracks, brings warmth and presence to each song. 

   He also dishes out catchy melodies in tandem, and knows how to write a good chorus.  

Pennan refers to an era in rock when great songs mattered, and he’s got a lot of them.  Check out the full album, and hear Night Crawler now on our Best New Rock playlist 

Plain Navy

Plain Navy know their roots, and pay homage to their hometown on their new song Livin’ Alone.  Hailing from Saddleworth, on the Manchester side of the Pennines, they recently signed to Manchester’s 42’s Records and join the ranks of a rich musical culture from their borough.  

Plain Navy exploded onto their scene, selling out their first headline show, and generating instant buzz.  Young, energetic, and authentic; it’s easy to get excited about their alt-indie potential.  On Livin’ Alone, they display their affinity for gritty guitars and hard hitting drums.

  It’s easy to make connections to The Arctic Monkey’s, but Plain Navy may be closer to the reckless howl of cult favorites The Libertines, but with a more polished modern presentation.  This is the kind of indie rock that has clear punk lineage, with a hint of late 90s emo for feeling.  It’s meant to join the true rock revival in music clubs around the world.  

  Plain Navy hooks you in with catchy melodies and quick swings in the arrangement.  Livin’ Alone picks you up and never lets you down.  There’s meaning beneath these lyrics, but this song is really all about the raw emotion seeping through the performance of the musicians and the lead.  These boys know the moment may be fleeting, and they waste little time making good use of it.  Hear Livin’ Alone now on our Best New Rock playlist.

Alta Falls

Alta Falls stared death in the eye and walked away with an exciting new single.  Inspired after escaping a Bushfire, the Australian natives wrote The Fire.  An authentic urgency and terrified desperation can be pulled from the inspired vocal performance.  Only one who has looked directly into the flames of death understands the impending doom and emotional destruction within, and the elation of having escaped that terror.  With the songs themes in mind, the track plays like a classic movie montage.  

Alta Falls has a fresh take on the cinematic nostalgic retro indie movement.  They have the catchy synth rock appeal of Phoenix and the dreamy aesthetic of Foster the People.  There’s a touch of 80s influence, similar to bands like The Midnight, but with one foot clearly rooted in indie rock.  They admit that they are heavily influenced by both pop and rock.  The pop influence is most prevalent in their polished, flawless execution.  The recording and mix are crisp and clean.  Their vibe is accentuated by bright tones that jump out of the speaker.  

  Upbeat and infectious, The Fire fits just as well in the nightclub as it does as a pumped up late night cruiser.  Hear The Fire now on our Best New Rock playlist

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