Hard Rock: Meet the 2014 RFT Music Award Nominees

The 2014 Riverfront Times Music Showcase will be held this year on June 7 in the Grove! Think of it as St. Louis music's own official holiday and consider this the season. Throughout May we at RFT Music will be making our cases for all 140 bands and artists nominated for an RFT Music Award this year, so that you will be able to make a fully informed decision with regards to your vote. Read on and get yourself acquainted, and we'll see you at the showcase!

See also: Vote Now For the 2014 RFT Music Awards

click to enlarge Hard Rock: Meet the 2014 RFT Music Award Nominees
Bryan Sutter

Dad Jr.

Dad Jr.'s brand of rock is definitely "hard," as-in, "hard-to-play." At times, the band's gutter-rock guitars feel more prog than punk, and the drums come packed with busy beats. But the band pulls it off without any significant hitches. The songs feel tongue-in-cheek, as if the band's members don't give a shit, but they're not fooling anyone -- tunes this succinct and perfectly played don't come without hours of practice. This band is for the kid who never grew up -- the kid whose mom played Raw Power by the Stooges to her unborn child while it was still in the womb and unable to escape the rock & roll. -Joseph Hess



St. Louis might as well be built on an ancient burial ground for grunge-rock gods of ages past. Fumer worships at the altar with crippling volume, choosing to gut showgoers with warbling bass. The drummer plays his kick with a lead foot, leading each song with colossal heft. While Fumer teeters on the edge of rock and metal, the band rarely ventures far into the latter, with most songs sitting in half-time -- a comfortable 90 or so BPM to be specific -- a.k.a., the perfect tempo for a full-body head-bang. -Joseph Hess

Bandcamp | Website


Everything about Shut-In is cranked up to twelve, including vocalist Chris Bacott's desperate howls behind the mic and the heavy-handed beats crawling out from behind the band's tonal wall of guitars. This power trio maybe takes the word "power" too literally, but there's plenty of song to be had within the noise. Shut-In tends to rail on riffs ad infinitum, but that's not to say its use of repetition is boring -- quite the opposite. Bacott and company know when to release a song into the wild, only to wrangle the sum of its parts into catchy, heavy rock music. Highly recommended for music nerds who believe 1988 to 1994 were the only years worth living. -Joseph Hess

Bandcamp | Facebook


Tilts is understandably less active than it used to be. That will happen when your frontman moves to Atlanta to join stoner-rock heroes Torche. But St. Louis' finest purveyor of classic heavy rock is far from dead, and if last December's blistering performance is any indication, upcoming full-length Cuatro Hombres will keep the bodies dancing and fists pumping. That title should clue you in to Tilts' influences: ZZ Top, Van Halen and AC/DC can all be heard in its growling, down-tuned guitars, thumping drums and cheeky lyrics. All cuatro of these hombres have skill to spare, but Tilts shows are a blast because the band approaches its material with a healthy sense of humor, proving rock can still be fun. -Bob McMahon


click to enlarge Hard Rock: Meet the 2014 RFT Music Award Nominees
Matthew Sawicki


Two decades into a career is an odd time for a band to be in its prime, but that's where Tok is. Part of this is explained by the fact the group formed when brothers Bryan and Matt Basler were adolescents, but it's mostly because the two of them are now writing the best music of their lives. The duo's sound is the missing link between classic '70s punk and '90s grunge, with some epic guitar heroics thrown in (rapid-fire solos never sounded so smooth). But Tok's pop sensibilities would fit in any era because its members have honed their ability to make superb hooks flow naturally into each other. Simply put, Tok's take on rock just feels right. -Bob McMahon

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Previously: - Folk - Hip-Hop (Solo) - Soul/Funk - Indie Rock - Psych - Americana - Country - Pop - New Band - Indie-Pop - Singer/Songwriter - R&B - Jazz - Hip-Hop (Group) - Garage Rock - Blues

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