Over the couple of years before the global pandemic forced everything into lockdown, UK blues rock band Big River found their profile steadily rising. The release of their debut album ‘Redemption’ showcased a band who were much better than their early singles – all huge riffs and overtly macho lyrics suggested – when mixing their grittier elements with a few more AOR-centric rockers and a couple of soulful rock ballads.
Back in 2019, The Morning Line released their third album ‘North’. With its retro sound calling back to some of the 90s college rock greats, it was easy to draw parallels with the album’s best material and past classics by Buffalo Tom, Soul Asylum and Third Eye Blind. It became one of that year’s best DIY releases and gained praise from all seventeen people that actually heard it. A follow up single ‘Back On Earth’ appeared at the beginning of 2021, and although it showed off a more sedate side to the band with hints of ‘Behind The Sun’ era R.E.M. at its core, the same retro charms were more than present, cementing Stephen Smith’s reputation as a fine songwriter.
Following their debut single ‘Sea of Thieves’ Boston’s Nightspell have returned with a great new track ‘Pegasus’. Going even deeper into the band’s world of swirling, dark riffs, the track is a perfect throwback to the sounds of 90s shoegaze.
Following the release of their digital EP ‘All Done With Rock N Roll’ in 2017, the members of Watts took a little time out to work on other projects. Over the following two years, drummer John Lynch recorded a new LP with garage rock legends The Neighbourhoods; both he and guitarist John Blout (along with Neighborhoods man David Minehan) contributed to a great solo release from The Dirty Truckers’ Tom Baker, and vocalist Dan Kopko eventually surfaced as a member of a member of The Shang Hi-Los, a brilliant power pop band also featuring The Deadbeat 5’s Jen D’Angora. You could never accuse the band of being lazy but, on top of all of that, several Watts singles appeared digitally via Bandcamp over the course of the period. By giving fans a new track every few months, it really helped to keep the Watts legacy alive during the relative downtime.
One of the best things to happen during the early 10’s was the resurgence of AM radio styled pop music. For decades, bands like Electric Light Orchestra and Supertramp were considered hideously unfashionable, but in the ultimate example of “what comes around goes around” or perhaps “everything old is new again”, ELO somehow – and against the odds – became everyone’s favourite band. Pinpointing the instigator for this resurgeance in popularity for 70s pop is difficult, but it’s fair to say the very retro soundtrack for Guardians of The Galaxy may have been largely responsible. By 2019, the 70s pop wagon was rolling at full speed once more. No longer were The Feeling and a couple of bands on the Lojinx record label swimming against the tide.