Midway through the winter, I’m starting to get a feeling that we may see a resurgence in guitar rock in 2023. Or is that just wishful thinking?
1. Sierra Pilot, Adrenaline
Phantom Pains (RPM Promotion)
Recommended If You Like: Canadian guitar rock
Is it just me or are we experiencing a renewed interest in 90s-era guitar rock? f we are, then Toronto/Kitchener-Waterloo’s Sierra Pilot is well-positioned to take advantage of that. With a new album coming in April, they’re following a track created by that decade’s bands (think Big Wreck, Econoline Crush, Headstones), they’re fellow travelers with Crown Lands, Monster Truck, and The Blue Stones. It could be a good summer for them.
2. SYML, Believer
The Day My Father Died (Nettwerk)
RIYL: Father John Misty, Fleet Foxes, Band of Horses
SYML, headed by Seattle’s Brian Fennel (ex of the indie band Barcelona) has just released his second album which, as you might guess from the title, deals with the death of his adoptive father. Writing music to cope with death is something that started with his very first song which came after a schoolmate died when he was 18. The method seems to work because he’s already got overall 1.5 billion streams overall. And if you’re wondering, SYML is Welsh for “simple.”
3. Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs, Ultimate Hammer
Land of Sleeper (Missing Piece Group Records)
RIYL: Songs with big, BIG riffs.
I like this British group. A lot. They’re a psych-y, garage-y, metal-y band that pushes what the original Black Sabbath did, adds in some Motorhead, and pushes things further down the road toward the apocalypse. “Shouting themes of essential dread,” is how they describe it. They’ll be at Wise Hall in Vancouver on March 26 and at the Garrison in Toronto on March 29. It could get loud.
4. The Scarlett Opera, Big City Thing
Single (SB Projects/Republic Records)
RIYL: Songs with an uplifting vibe
My people in SoCal tell me that this is one of the hottest bands in LA right now. Originally from somewhere in rural Pennsylvania, this five-piece (originally known as Petra until last year) is fronted by singer and lyricist Luka Bazulka. According to him, he offers “an escape into the throes of love, lust, glamour, and passion. This particular song has hints of Primal Scream, Lorde, and Scissor Sisters. An album is in the works.
5. Wilderado, Surefire
RIYL: Indie Americana
This one has been around for a while. First appearing in the pre-pandemic days of 2019—and after the California wildfires destroyed The Misty Shrub, their home and rehearsal space in Latigo Canyon—the song kind of languished until things returned to some semblance of normal. The four-piece have since returned to their original home base of Tulsa, Oklahoma, and have been touring ever since. If you want to go deeper, this song was inspired by a poem by Tabitha King (Stephen’s daughter) and tells the story of a bear’s awakening after a winter of hibernation.