Top Rock/Alternative Hits – January 2015


Milky Chance (top) and The Bleachers (above) landed at #2 and #3, respectively on the current Top Rock/Alternative Hits charts offered by Read on to see if your favorites made the list.

Editorial and Compilation by Rick Hiduk

Through all of the years that America has had its own evolving brand of popular music, there have been artists and fans who were progressive, literally aiming for the avant gard or creating the next new wave. This alternative music base likely always spanned generations, including young and old alike who were bored with the status quo.

Alternative music was long the providence of smoky basement bars and eventually FM radio stations that few people were even yet equipped to receive. The advance of FM stations and Album Oriented Radio (AOR) catapulted the repertoire beyond the double-sided hit single in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Every track on a new release was fair game to rock DJs, before the record companies regained control. For a while, we began to hear many new sounds. New sounds encouraged new artists, and so on.

I had initially enlisted fellow writer Michael Wintermute to help me get caught up with the Alternative scene, which I hadn’t visited in earnest since last Spring. Mike is the newest member of LondonForce, the most capable and dependable alt rock and dance cover band in northeastern Pennsylvania. In addition to offering commentary, Mike presented me with a list of his five current favorites, three of which I’d never before heard.

As I worked my way through about 100 songs current- to six-months old that were even remotely referred to by someone as “alternative”, I was joined online by Skyanne Fisher from Wyalusing, who will shortly embark on a missions trip to Central America, and Todd Stemple, a fellow former Towanda schoolmate. Mike and Sky are closer in age in their early 20s, and Todd and I are in our early 50s. Nonetheless, there were similarities in the playlists each us of us brought to the table that defied the three decades that separates us.

Both Todd and Sky suggested artists and songs that I, after listening and/or watching the video, had to agree needed to be on the list. Alternative music in its many guises seems to be enjoying solid success currently in terms of its influence on other genres and in downloads and CD sales.

The last few months have been amazing for the alt rock scene,” Sky remarked, listing Rise Against, Kongos, Bush, Milky Chance, Weezer, and Royal Blood among her favorite artists. “It’s my favorite genre, and I write (and therefore listen) to it a lot.”

Three sub-genres – folk, hard rock, and disco/electronic seemed to be struggling for dominance, but the blues and Europop refused to take a back seat.

What I’ve seen in alternative music is an extreme embrace of electronic music elements in recording,” Mike noted. He wonders if an incorporation of those ingredients with more classic elements like guitars and live drums might not be necessary to prevent burnout, “as people’s ears get used to (and maybe even a little tired of) excessive electronic elements in music.”

Rhythm may be essential to any hit song, alternative or not, but melodic hooks and creative harmonies have never necessarily been staples of alternative music. “Something From Nothing” by Foo Fighters debuted at #1 almost everywhere last week, and Sky had it high on her list of favorites. The song rocks for sure, but, in my opinion, it seriously lacks the melodic hook of their better songs. On the other hand, Todd cited Broken Bells for their crisp harmonies and rhythms that “are keeping me sustained for months now,” and I had to agree.

Good old-fashioned punk and ska are noticeably absent from the current charts, but I have no doubt that they, like many other progressive sub-genres, will come back around within five years or so and join whatever whatever tangled web of music we call alternative rock at that time.

One thing is for sure; whatever you want to label it as – rock and roll will never die,” Mike stated.

I’m grateful for the contributions of each of the members of my ad hoc board of critics, and I took their suggestions and comments seriously. Each mention of a song already on my broad, fluid pallet of alternative hits by any of them helped it to bump up the chart. In fact, I initially had Hozier’s “Take Me to Church” at #4, but they took it to #1. The first time that I heard “..Church,” I thought it was a very slickly produced new song by Elton John. But I loved it.

Great passion is nothing new in a hit record. Hozier stands out right now because the record companies aren’t allowing us to hear anything else quite like him. But they will, and we might wonder in a year if Hozier really was “alternative” or just extremely talented. Regardless, Irishman Andrew Hozie primarily hits me as Sam Smith with big brass balls.

So here it is. These are the 60 songs that I believe epitomize current alternative music from its hardest to its softest key elements and will take the now very popular genre into the new year. Video links are provided to some top songs, as well as additional commentary from me and my contributors. I invite your comments.

  1. Hozier (below) – Take Me to Church (
  2. Milky Chance – Stolen Dance
  3. Bleachers– Rollercoaster ( – pure alternative pop – Rick)
  4. Julian Casablancas & the Voidz – Where No Eagles Fly ( – It’s been on repeat in my car for two months – Mike)
  5. Kongos – I’m Only Joking ( – I had it on repeat last night – Sky)
  6. Andrew McMahon In the Wilderness (right below) – Cecelia & the Satellite andrew mcmahon
  7. Alt-J – Left Hand Free
  8. Weezer – Back to the Shack
  9. Paolo Nutini – Let Me Down Easy
  10. Spoon – Do You 
  11. Banks (right below) – Beggin’ for Thread banks better
  12. Robert DeLong – Long Way Down
  13. Seether – Same Damn Life
  14. Broken Bells – Holding On For Life
  15. Hozier – From Eden
  16. Imagine Dragons (right below) – I Bet My Life imagine dragons
  17. Fallout Boy – Centuries
  18. Vance Joy – Riptide
  19. Bastille – Flaws – 9.1
  20. Alt-J – Every Other Freckle
  21. Bastille – Torn Apart
  22. U2 – Every Breaking Wave
  23. HellYeah – Moth
  24. Pretty Reckless – Follow Me Down
  25. You+Me – You & Me
  26. The Orwells – The Righteous Ones
  27. Happy Idiot – TV on the Radio
  28. Broken Bells – After the Disco
  29. Fitz & the Tantrums – Fools Gold (hard love lyrics – Rick)
  30. Lorde – Yellow Flicker Beat
  31. Bastille – Bite Down
  32. Foo Fighters – Something From Nothing (hard retro chili peppers funk – Rick)
  33. The New Basement Tapes f: Marcus Mumford – Kansas City
  34. The Head & the Heart – Let’s Be Still
  35. Shakey Graves – Dearly Departed
  36. Young Guns – I Want Out
  37. Bush – The Only Way Out
  38. George Ezra – Budapest
  39. Bear Hands – Agora
  40. Yusuf (Cat Stevens) – Tell’em I’m Gone
  41. Lucinda Williams – Burning Bridges
  42. Arctic Monkeys – Are You Mine (Do all songs from lp sound the same? – Rick)
  43. Cage the Elephant – Cigarette Daydreams
  44. Broken Bells – Perfect World
  45. Rise Against – Tragedy + Time
  46. Three Days Grace – I Am a Machine
  47. Royal Blood – Figure it Out
  48. The Decembrists – Make You Better
  49. Ryan Adams – Gimme Something Good
  50. In This Moment – Big Bad Wolf (LOVE bands with badass female leads – Sky)
  51. Walk the Moon – Shut Up & Dance
  52. Alt-J – Hunger of the Pine
  53. Lucinda Williams – Something Wicked This Way Comes
  54. Nickelback – Million Miles An Hour
  55. Lucinda Williams – Protection
  56. Papa Roach – Face Everything & Rise
  57. Chevelle – An Island
  58. In This Moment – Sick Like Me
  59. Five Finger Death Punch – Wrong Side of Heaven
  60. Ryan Adams – Desire

Michael Wintermute’s favorites:
1. Take Me To Church – Hozier
2. Happy Idiot – TV On the Radio
3. The Righteous One – The Orwells
4. I’m Only Joking – Kongos
5. Where No Eagles Fly – Julian Casablancas and the Voidz

1 Comment

  1. Hozier definitely deserves the top spot! Great list – super excited to see bands like In This Moment and The Pretty Reckless, along with Walk the Moon and Kongos. You got a few songs I forgot to mention but have been loving – Wrong Side of Heaven and Cigarette Daydreams. Tragedy+Time is my favorite song from the new Rise Against album but curious about that making the cut over I Don’t Wanna Be Here Anymore? (T+T is definitely the best but IDWBHA seems to be the one getting the air time.)

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