That Wraps Them Up: Unsigned Artists Of The Year 2008

After a year during which we have analysed, sorted and, most importantly, heard a vast collection of music by unsigned bands from across the globe, it is time to recollect, reminisce and remember the best of the bunch, the few which have made the wrap.

Ultimate Guitar

A remarkable year is to be concluded on December 31st 2008. After a year during which we have analysed, sorted and, most importantly, heard a vast collection of music by unsigned bands from across the globe, it is time to recollect, reminisce and remember the best of the bunch, the few which have made the wrap. There are various options that loom upon me as I introduce this concluding, but not conclusive article (for there shall be more next year). Firstly, I felt that I should perhaps choose my favourite artist from edition of the article. However, it is fairly obvious as to why I shall not be following such a rigid system: it is too rigid. I would much rather pick and choose my overall favourites and leave you, the readers, to disagree with me.

Do take care of yourselves this Winter Break. Don't get indigestion on Christmas Day, and don't kiss the wrong individual on New Year's Eve. Most importantly, do not stand on guard duty between 22:00 and 00:00, because you might find yourself solitary and alone during the final ten seconds of the year. I do hope that won't be me, but it is somewhat possible, if not likely.

You are a White Noise Astronaut.

She does simply ooze sophistication, and if there were to be an unsigned artist of the year, the award might have been directed to this young musician. Rachel Trow, or RT, as she shines her messages, writes little opals of songs. They shine with a creamy iridescence that can perhaps be attributed to Rachel's own self-alleged ability to write songs during her dreams. Whether singing in French or English, finding another artist with Rachel's own originality, articulacy and empathy has proved to be an almost insurmountable task. I just don't understand what the mass media has to do with your music RT.

Incontrovertibly one of the outstanding bands of the year is Exemption, as featured in the February edition. The New York band's album, The Rabbit Hole, was a Cartesian inquiry into the sea of doubt that shrouds everyday life. Some of you, or many of you, depending on the sort of praise Exemption wants, will remember tracks as feisty and charged as Chunderpuss (Motherf*cker), a song which epitomizes the rhythm and groove of the band. For much of 2008 Exemption promised a new EP, featuring fresh new songs sporting a new direction. Whilst the band's promises have failed to materialize, this is more to do with dilemmas facing the band regarding the principles behind the music and how best to officially release it than a lack of new material. Of the new songs to surface, one need not look further than I Wanna Die to be impressed. Sounding almost like a tougher Avenged Sevenfold, Tom (Vocals and Bass), Nicky (Guitars) and Ray (drums) kill themselves for a pinched-harmonic laden metal rush. It isn't quite as much to my liking as the general sound of the Rabbit Hole, but I'd be disappointed to purchase a new Exemption single entitled: Recycled. Tom's vocal flexibility, conviction and acuity really come to light like my LED flashlight on the two new songs; it is this conviction, alongside the elephant artwork to Trench Foot, which enables me to endorse Exemption as a band that has made an elephant sized hoof-print in my memory.

Gandhi's Cookbook : resident in Dubai, made the first ever edition of this column back in January. In the vein of the great punk bands, Gandhi's Cookbook provides biting ska-punk socio-economic commentaries on topics varying from Vivienne Wetwood to consumerism.

Touring India during the summer months of this year, Gandhi's Cookbook made NDTV Newsthe biggest news station in Indialargely due to the band's name, which stoked interest in the former Jewel in the British Empire's Crown for one reason or another. Following the following link to NDTV's web-archive on cannot help but admire the band members' courage on camera; such footage is publicity that most bands can only dream of. Drummer Chris Ryan's comments were conveyed somewhat controversially, even bordering upon a lack of respect for Gandhi; however, bassist Adarsh Sekhar confirmed to me that when Ryan said: "we would like to try and reach his level of stature, but aren't willing to put in the effort", 'we' was in reference to our degenerate, lazy society, rather than the band. Sekhar added that, in spite of the generally favourable news feature, he did feel that NDTV tried to portray the band as Gandhi's poster boys rather than focusing upon the high regard and respect in which the band members hold the icon. That said, it is manifest to me that the band members do not back opinions such as: We believe also that the white race in South Africa should be the predominating race." Which were, of course, made by a young, less refined Gandhi.

Hardly content with resting upon their laurels, Gandhi's Cookbook is set to embark on a UK tour during summer 2009, by which point a new EP will have been prepared. More information can be accessed via the band's website, although I can confirm that Public Refuse shall be co-touring with Gandhi's Cookbook in the UK, and the bands are continuing the search for venues, accommodation and hospitality: give them a shout, and just wait until the band's myspace demos are replaced with more polished recordings.

Arguably playing the starring role in March 2008, Souljacker represents Classic Rock played in a classy manner. Since the band's inclusion on the UG front page, Souljacker's myspace music box has reflected the band's newfound maturity; songs such as Jimmy Page Drank My Tea have long since been discarded in favour of a more refined wine, a classic, let's say. Tunes such as Oracle Bones provide the perfect platform for Hamish Denny's Led Zeppelin- influenced guitar riffs and grooves. The musicianship is excellent, from the drums and bass to Robby Moore's keyboards, which certainly create a more accomplished sound. However, it is Patrick Burley who truly steals the show; he boasts many talents, from his presence to his window shatteringly powerful gritty rock voice. He's not all passion, folks. Talent plays a big part in Souljacker, and whether it be the intelligent use of the whole recording spectrum on songs such as Professional Dropout, or the band's victory at Mooncalf's Battle of the Bands competition which persuaded ex-Darkness-front man, Justin Hawkins to reportedly proclaim that Souljacker is onto big things, this band will win you over.

While most bands are boisterously ensuring that everyone from the postman to me are able to hear their new music, news and ideas, Andy Mitchell recorded and released Infinite Complacency with minimum fuss and even less ado. I salute his industry, but also of note is his song writing dexterity. Infinite Complacency served as a reminder that not every Radiohead-influenced musician is a plagiarist. Whether or not Mitchell is aware of the fact that since his first inclusion in this column his myspace music box has become witness to an increase of over 8000 plays, I do not know, but the outstanding brilliance of controlled-intensity tracks such as Break Away is testament to the cause. So have some Faith in Mr. Mitchell, and make sure to buy a copy of Infinite Complacency.

Al Baker, black flag toting, Rupert Murdoch-despising anarchist-extraordinaire deserves a serious mention for his song writing, mellifluous singing voice and acoustic hits from the left wing of the political compass.

Do not overlook his song writing skills and harmonies because of a disagreement over politics.

With a play count that, at the time of writing, reads 158,219, Voodoo Johnson has earned an indisputable inclusion in this article. Ultimate-Guitar did ensure that Voodoo Johnson experienced a rise in plays, but it is testament to the band's capabilities that their play count has doubled. Persistence and tenacity can be attributed to Voodoo Johnson's success. This is a rock band in every respect. From a rock 'n' roll mascot to a personal endorsement by Bruce Dickinson (Iron Maiden) on a BBC Radio 6 broadcast, Voodoo Johnson has all of the credentials necessary to be featured in this wrap. When featured in a previous edition of this column, EP II, showcasing Aerosmith-edged songs such as Nowhere In between, was all the rage. EP II, the band's then-current EP was consistently in my CD player. However, if Bad Habit is anything to go by, Into the Red, the band's forthcoming EP, available for pre-order via the band's myspace and paypal, should prove to blow even EP II out of the cold blue depths and Into the Red.

Victor Gann, virtuoso GIT-graduate and seasoned guitarist was featured in this column alongside personal favourites JT Spangler and Dumb Blond, Dead. All three musicians deserve an individual accolade for what they brought to the column, and how can one forget the infectiously youthful energy of heavy metal band Insurgence in the same month. At this rate, this article shall become a mere reminder of the artists that have featured; and, in many respects it goes against the principles with which this column was commenced to have an all-out competition. In any case, do listen to Victor Gann's forthcoming album, to be released on December 18th. Treat yourselves to a Christmas paypal purchase.

Having promised Kain Vinosec( that I would write him a summary of one of his many albums, I really feel terrible for, thus far, leaving that promise unfulfilled. That is not why I'm featuring him in this wrap of my favourite tastes; it has more to do with his burning drive and compositional enthusiasm.

The Scariest Little Tune Ever is a paradigm of Vinosec's adaptability and comfort in any musical genre or atmosphere. An eerie Halloween piece, Kain's fearless take on it should win him much respect. He is by far the least trendy inclusion in this wrap, but warrants his position here in spite of his obvious desire to be a recluse regarding his firmly solo stance on his music. Perhaps it is this idiosyncratic nature that motivates the man in an ageless battle against his previous works; his greatest accomplishment, in my opinion, being Daniel I, a tasteful buffet, offering the full course of his metallic lead guitar style in an admirable song.

The Class Of November

Warpath is most certainly one of the most established bands to be featured in this column. A relatively recent distribution deal means that the band's album, Damnation, is stocked by major retailers including HMV, Tesco and Virgin Megastores. The thrashers' music can be heard from continental Europe to Japan, according to the band's myspace, and has received several positive reviews along the path to such exposure. However, bold claims that Damnation sold out in both the UK and in Japan, in two and fourteen days respectively merely beg the question of exactly how many copies were sold.

Kelly Izzo has no idea that she is being featured here; in fact, it is somewhat of an accident that I came across her, but a happy accident at that.

Cold Megan, the culmination of several years' worth of various musical projects including The Trash Kittens, is undoubtedly the apex that every unsigned artist should hope to reach within the boundaries of genre. Presumably named after a less than pleasant ex-girlfriend of Matt Smith, brainchild of the band, Cold Megan is the psychologically-distressed ramification of a recluse scientist sporting his classic punk influences with a rubicund, even hysterical glee.

Brought to my attention by our very own Petter Carnbro, The Vala is, if you recall that grandiloquent adjective I used in the introduction to this article, the tenebrous element to this month's article.

The above four bands should be fresh in your minds, considering the band was featured last month. I find it difficult to add much to what I wrote last month, and can only encourage Ultimate Guitar readers to further their support of these exhilarating talents. Aside from these bands, do remember Outvile, Ukrainian eccentrics experimenting in their own delectable brand of prog-rock.

It is time to end the year, and I cannot deny that if I had the funds, I would be travelling the world, covering these bands on a more regular basis. Paramount to judging the worth of any band, but even more so, an unsigned band is the live show. It is for this reason that my work is somewhat lacking in evaluation, but I do hope to at least change this in coming years. Unfortunately, time restraints and my service in the National Guard have also caused what I see as a slight deterioration in how thoroughly I execute my research. For example, before I was conscripted, I discussed with an artist their inclusion in my articles, and could learn a little bit more about their principles and ideas behind the music. Unfortunately, because of the lack of time, there obvious inconveniences of discussing whether or not an artist deserves to be included in this column. It is with this thought that I wish Ultimate-Guitar Readers all the best for the New Year. The article shall perhaps recommence in February rather than January to allow for some serious assessment on the structure of the article and whether or not any improvements can be viably undertaken. As usual, I can be contacted at and

73 comments sorted by best / new / date

    What about Black Saints Cartel, They just got added to the jagermeister tour. Check them out myspace/blacksaintscartel They are bad ass!!!!! and they are unsigned but Im sure not for long
    nutinpwnsgibson wrote: add periphery to the list!
    Very much agreed good sir! and Lightbulb I believe he is called.
    Conditions are great I'll look into the bands on this list soon.
    It doesn't make sense that bands that are widely recognised like that remain unsigned, unless they choose that of course.
    nutinpwnsgibson wrote: add periphery to the list!
    **** yes add periphery! they are the best unsigned band I have ever heard lol check them out on myspace
    i agree with the periphery posts. they are sick and will be very successful in the future in my opinion.
    Periphery definitely need a spot on this list. Definitely.
    Check out The Severnaya Complex. The guitar work is amazing and their live show is exceptional.
    WGsimbaKG wrote: We Came As Romans defenatleyy deserves to be on this list.
    They are good. And they have a great live show. But they aren't really anything new.
    Man Stigmata shud hav totally been on dis list dey fukkin rule!!\m/ single on dere myspace page is pure awsomness!!!fukkin amazin'
    Megadeth2011 wrote: Check out a band called Loud N Clear. Theyre a great little unsigned band, but I dont think theyre big enough to make this list. Where's The Answer?
    as immense and deserving recognition the answer are, they aren't unsigned lol aww we do love cormac
    WooHoo!! Haha. I go to the same school as Ghandi's Cookbook! They are so good it's unbeleivable! So glad they made the list! X
    Check out a band called Loud N Clear. Theyre a great little unsigned band, but I dont think theyre big enough to make this list. Where's The Answer?
    AL BAKER! AL BAKER! I just made a new sig and blog to help others discover him actually yesterday. So pleased to see him on there!
    speaking of sweet unsigned bands ya'll should check out the grey company i just saw em live (their from my hometown of fort worth and i think most of em went to the same school as me) and they put on a great show and their ep is great
    the author of this article clearly has never visited Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. there's an amazing funk/rock band here called The Jungle. i have listened to their entire album start to finish at least once a day for the past 4 months. they're incredible.
    Nice to see Gandhi's Cookbook on here. I've been really happy with the choices for these columns, and the representation various punk forum members' bands have been getting on here