For a long time, I was convinced that I have become a terrible music snob because I hardly listen to “up and coming bands”, or any bands other than 12-15 favourites of mine that I rotate between moods. That isn’t because I don’t want to listen to new bands or support the “underdogs”, but I thought I haven’t been able to find any new bands to my liking.
With this thought, I started to dig through my saved artists on Spotify and looked for where I was going wrong: Was I being picky? Maybe the bands I was listening to were new-ish? Then I realized it was because I was pretty invested in artists who are struggling to get the recognition that they truly deserve! I wasn’t finding new artists because music magazines, streaming platforms, even festivals, aren’t letting NEW talented artists break past the more commercial rock bands.
Once upon a time, I would go to Spotify’s rock section and check out their new playlists. The playlists would typically be pretty spot-on in their hard-rock playlists, metal playlists, etc. However, I’ve found that lately not only are they confusing the genres, aka the metal playlists would have songs that aren’t metal. Hard Rock playlists would have artists like Vance Joy, etc.
The infamous “Rock Your Block” playlist that I used to be quite reliant on for discovering new bands is now mixed with pop-rock or songs that just barely pass for rock. I am aware that the playlist never intended to be solely for hard rock, necessarily, but Post Malone reallllyyy Spotify? that’s rock music now?
What happened to Rock’n’roll?
My point is these playlists that used to promote cool, up and coming, ROCK bands, no longer do so. Instead, I find people like Harry Styles on the “Rock This” and “Ready to Rock” playlists??? like whaaaaat ?
Listen, his album was dope, I didn’t hate it, but really Spotify? Rock artist… Harry Styles? What about up and coming real rock bands that deserve to have their name promoted? everyone knows the name Harry Style whether they want to, so why not take the time to promote bands who have been working their tailbones off to get their name out there?
Since streaming platforms have become unreliable, I want to take this week to promote bands that I have really been enjoying for quite some time, that doesn’t get the credit they deserve.
When I say a band is underrated, I measure it by what I see on festival lineups, social media popularity and the size of their tour with their level of talent level, and comparing it to bands that are doing things bigger but not necessarily better.
Therefore these bands are underrated in my opinion, however, feel free to disagree in the comments.
1. Grave Pleasures
- Origin: Helsinki, Finland
- Established: 2010
- Genre: Goth-Rock
A genre of music that makes me feel at home is goth-rock, as I am a massive fan of bands like Joy Divison, The Cure, Bauhaus, The Smiths, Siouxie and the Banshees, and dare I say HIM. I was convinced that no matter what, no band in this decade can bring back that adorned style of music without making it cheesy. I discovered Grave Pleasures last year, around the same time HIM announced their breakup.
HIM, like Grave Pleasures, is a Finnish Goth-Rock (well, more pop) band that took over the scene of Mall Goths in the early 2000s. They were one of my most favourites bands, so at the announcement of their breakup, I thought that was the last of good goth-rock bands.
I found Grave Pleasures the classic way of discovering bands, in a rock magazine article! This article was aimed at those mourning the breakup of HIM, telling the readers that there’s another Finnish goth band we can lust over. However, I found that the only true similarities are the origin and genre, but even the genres are loosely similar. Grave Pleasures are definitely more Joy Division/The Cure-esque. Whereas HIM are more, Depeche Mode?
Grave Pleasures’ songs are filled with catchy riffs and chorus’, but balanced with a more rock groove. What I enjoy most about their style is that the vocals don’t overpower the instruments, which I find bands that HIM do, making it lose its rock sound. Grave Pleasures’ allows the instruments to really carry the song, so you feel like you’re listening to a classic Goth-Rock tune from the 80s.
Songs that I think you should check out: Doomsday Rainbows, Laughing Abyss & Haunted Afterlife
- Origin: Gothenburg, Sweden
- Established: 2001
- Genre: Heavy Metal/Melodic Death Metal/Groove Metal
Last year, on a bleak winter day, I fell down a rabbit hole of Scandinavian Black Metal. I consumed myself in all the “scary” documentaries and fell madly fascinated with them and the genre. I then took it upon myself to google “Scandinavian Metal”, because I was already listening to Ghost, but I was aware they are not real metal, or whatever, and was excited to find more Scandinavian metal bands.
Through this quest, I was quick to learn that a lot of people on tumblr were saying that if you like Ghost, you would most likely Avatar, especially if you enjoy Heavy Metal. When I first listened to Avatar it did not take much time for me to realize that the only true similarities between them and Ghost were the craft in their showmanship and origin, because, yes, Avatar is a lot more metal than Ghost.
Avatar is one of those bands that put their heart and soul on stage every night, their theatrics are one of a kind! But, not only that, they too, put a lot of thought into creating concept albums. Every album has a story to tell, and bring you into a different world for however long the show is or the album. Avatar is probably one of the hardest working metal bands out there right now, and it absolutely does my head in that they’re still being booked as opening acts in North America.
I recently bought tickets to see them as an opening act on October 28 (3 days before my birthday, heh) and I am literally only going to this show to finally see their amazing show live. Bands like Avatar deserve to be supported at any chance you get! buy their music, see them live, tweet about them, share their tunes, etc. They sincerely deserve to be bigger than they are, and if you ever get the chance to see them live I highly recommend you do because I know for a fact that they’ll convert you into a massive fan through their live shows.
Songs that I think you should check out: Black Waters, The Eagle Has Landed, The King Wants You, Roadkill & New Land.
- Origin: Birmingham, England
- Established: 2002
- Genre: Dark Wave/Goth-Rock/Goth-Pop
Continuing on the theme of “Dark” and “Gothier” bands, I introduce to your Editors if you haven’t (for some reason) already listened to them. For you to understand how much I love this band, do know that they were my top played artist on Spotify in 2016 AND 2017. Clearly, they are a band that is very true to my heart.
Despite how incredibly talented this band is, and the fact that they’ve been a band for nearly two decades, I hardly ever see anyone raving about them. They have somehow managed to remain underground dark-wave, at least in North America — goddammit North America, can’t you do anything right?
The weird things is though, I don’t know anyone else that listens to them, but I know people who like dark-wave music? I know people in the UK, who are known to attend festivals, and I haven’t heard them speak of this band. It blows my mind because they are incredibly genius lyrically and they make such beautiful haunting songs.
I think one of the most genius part of this band and the craftsmanship of their songs is that they’re haunting, but not blatantly goth. If you weren’t aware of the common way of singing in new-wave music, you would probably just think they’re indie-electro. For example, my sister, who is literally Queen Prep (love you) and she told me she was into it!
I highly recommend this band to anyone who likes bands like Joy Division, Sisters of Mercy and all those kinds of bands.
Songs that I think you should check out: Eat Raw Meat = Blood Drool, A Life as A Ghost, Two Hearted Spider & Salvation (I could honestly recommend 10 more, I love this band so much)
4. The Pretty Reckless
- Origin: New York, USA
- Established: 2009
- Genre: Hard Rock/Alternative Rock
Now moving out of the “Goth” genre, we are going to conclude this list with alternative-rock bands, such as The Pretty Reckless. Despite the fact that most people know who Taylor Momsen is, I feel like the band The Pretty Reckless itself is not as well known, and most people don’t know that the two go together — although, I think Taylor may have wanted it that way.
I have been listening to this band since 2010, I first discovered their self-titled EP not too long after it was released. 13 year old me was obsessed with “Make Me Wanna Die”, and although I had moved on from my middle school emo phase, high school freshmen me was still emo at heart and I will always be emo at heart, so this song spoke to me on many levels.
Just like the most of us, The Pretty Reckless matured from their edgy days and started to produce less forever-21-esque songs and more hard-rock anthems with their sophomore album “Going To Hell”. It wasn’t until their third album The Pretty Reckless really moved away from their bad-ass edgy songs like “light me up”, “factory girl” and “my medicine”, and really proved that they had the chops to be a serious rock band.
However, when I first found them I was super attracted to the overall badass “we don’t give a fuck” aesthetic of the band, I loved Taylor’s scantily-clad-rock-n-roll style, but who didn’t want to be like that at one point in their life? Sadly, I feel like after “little Taylor’s” rebellious phase blew up in media, no one gave the band an actual chance to grow, which is so unfair.
As I mentioned, the band has really changed and grown since then, and they deserve to be given an opportunity to move up in the rock scene. Songs like “Oh My God”, ” Back To The River” and “Already Dead” are badass in a mature way, I don’t understand how rock stations aren’t playing the shit out of them?
It goes to show, that women in rock have a harder time to be taken seriously, but I know The Pretty Reckless will keep producing great albums and evolving their sound, which I’ll be there for.
Songs that I think you should check out: Make Me Want to Die, You, Hit Me Like A Man, Sweet Things & The Walls are Closing In/Hangman
5. Highly Suspect
- Origin: Cape Cod, USA
- Established: 2009
- Genre: Alternative Rock/Hard Rock
To be honest, I am unsure if calling Highly Suspect underrated is completely correct, mainly because I am super out of touch with the alt-rock scene so I may be wrong when I say they aren’t that big, but from what I have seen they’re definitely not as popular as they should be.
Highly Suspect is a band that I’ve been listening to for about three years now, and when I first listened to their song “Lydia”, I was so sure that they’re going to be massive! I could see them being as big as bands like the Neighbourhood, especially since lyrically they’re quite similar. However, when I checked back on them when their second album “The Boy Who Died Wolf” was released in 2016, I was disappointed to see that their level of recognition hasn’t increased.
Initially, I was unsure of putting them on this list because I don’t follow this band closely. I can’t tell you any of the members’ names, I don’t know why it says established “2009” but spotify says their music only dates back to 2015, I don’t know much about them. The reason I do include them, however, is because I think their album “The Boy Who Died Wolf” is fucking amazing. I’ve played the shit out of it, I still go back to it to this day and I don’t get why more people don’t talk about it.
I did read that they were nominated for a Grammy, but they still don’t move up on the festival time slots, nor do they do bigger tours, so it makes me wonder if despite their Grammy recognition, are they big?
Songs that I think you should check out: Lydia, Wolf, My Name is Human, Seretonia & Send Me An Angel
Take this post how you like, some of you may disagree and think that these bands are exactly where they should be in their level of talent, which is fair because music is subjective. But please, tell me this, when you look at some of the more popular “rock bands”, do you agree with their level of exposure? Do you agree that they are the best rock bands at this current time? or do you, too, feel like there are so many other bands who deserve more recognition?
Tell me what you think in the comments, or reach me on instagram to discuss, because I am genuinely interested in knowing what you think.
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