Awolnation are one of the most underrated rock bands of the last few years who are fronted by Aaron Bruno who has previously played in other bands such as Under The Influence of Giants and Home Town Hero. First formed in 2009, they released their debut album titled Megalithic Symphony in 2011 which contained the single “Sail” which was a successful hit peaking high on several individual Billboard Charts.
They released their second album Run in 2015 which received positive reviews but did polarize several critics somewhat due to its rather less accessible musical direction. They followed this up three years with their third album Here Come The Runts. Their most recent album was Angel Miner and the Lightning Riders in 2020.
Awolnation are a band who combine a lot of different genres, with their music being a mixture of rock, alternative, electronic dance and pop. So here at Classic Rock we will look at what their ten best cuts are.
# 10 – Slam (Angel Miners)
Kicking off our top ten Awolnation songs list is the fourth and final single taken from the band’s most recent album Angel Miners and the Lightning Riders released in 2020. It is one of two of the album’s partial title tracks with the other being “Lightning Riders.” The album is very dark in nature due to being inspired by two tragic real life events. The first was when frontman Aaron Bruno’s home studio and much of his property were destroyed in the 2018 Woolsey Fire that occurred in Los Angeles whilst they were out on tour with the band Twenty One Pilots. The second was a mass shooting that occurred nearby where twelve people were killed.
# 9 – The Best
This is a single taken from Angel Miners which was the debut single which had a promo video. During last year’s Covid Lockdown, they reworked it as a collaboration with vocalist Alice Merton, with this version also having its own video. However, unlike the original video it was a basic performance piece showing the band playing in a studio with Merton performing her parts in a separate studio.
# 8 – Here Come the Runts
Here we have the title and opening track from the band’s third album released in 2018. The name of the album is reportedly a reference to the Bruno’s wife foster’s puppies. The album as a whole had a more organic sound than the previous two records, with this track in particular having an almost metal feel to it in parts. It was recorded almost entirely at Bruno’s home studio and received generally positive reviews from critics.
# 7 – Passion
Here is a single taken from Here Come The Runts. It was one of two official singles to be taken from the record with the other being “Handyman.” There was also two promotional singles called “Seven Sticks of Dynamite” and “Miracle Man.” It is the album’s second track which like all of the band’s other singles has its own music video.
# 6 – I Am
This was the second single to be taken from the band’s second album Run released in 2015 which had a music video released the same year. The song has two remixes. The first was by DJ and producer Steve Aoki and the second was by Beastie Boys member Mike D. It charted in several different charts with its highest being number four on the Billboard Alternative Airplay charts.
# 5 – Hollow Moon (Bad Wolf)
This song was Awolnation’s second single to be taken from Run. Upon its released in 2015, it became their first number one hit on the Billboard Alternative Songs Chart. Aaron Bruno stated that this song was not his first choice of single to be cut from the album and he did in fact want the song “Windows.” However, he compromised with the record company and thus this was released as the single. A music video was made for it directed by Hayley Young.
# 4 – Thiskidsnotalright
Here we have a song that was only just put out this year which is included as a bonus track on the tenth anniversary deluxe edition of the band’s debut 2011 Megalithic Symphony. When the album was first released it got to number eighty-seven on the US Billboard and number fifty-seven in Australia. It received platinum status in 2016. This track is a rather experimental track that seems to be about a young person suffering from mental health problems.
# 3 – Kill Your Heroes
At number three is a song taken from Megalithic Symphony which was written by Aaron Bruno and musician Brian West. It was the final single to be taken from the album and got into the top twenty on the rock and alternative Billboard charts. It has a rather amusing music video where it parodies the children’s tv show “Mister Rogers Neighbourhood.” The song has a very powerful sound to it, being very soulful and emotive and is definitely the kind of song that goes down well live at a festival.
# 2 – Not Your Fault
Just off the top spot is another single taken from Megalithic Symphony. It was written by Aaron Bruno and was released as a radio single in the US in October 2011 as well as a single in both the United Kingdom and Bosnia. It peaked at number three on the Billboard Alternative Songs and eleven on its Rock chart counterpart.
It had a unique music video to it which made use of clay animation. The song is a mixture of eighties-style electro pop and contemporary rock, having a very emotive feel to it. It has been certified gold in Canada where it has sold over 40,000 copies.
# 1 – Sail
At the top spot is Awolnation’s signature song. It was first released as a single 2010. After initially being featured on their debut ep Back From Earth in 2010, it was featured on Megalithic Symphony. Aaron Bruno wrote the song in Venice, California while Kenny Carkeet provided the audio engineering. “Sail” is Awolnation’s most successful song. It entered the Billboard Hot 100 at number eighty-nine and remained there for twenty weeks. However, it would re-enter the same chart the following year where it would reach the much higher position of seventeen. It is the first song to ever reach such a peak. The only song to have other spent more time on this chart is “Radioactive” by Imagine Dragons.
The song is a mix of electronic and alternative rock. Bruno has never explicitly stated what the song is actually about but has stated that when he wrote it he was going for a dark sound. There was a promo video of which there was some controversy when a Youtuber named “Nanalew” uploaded her own fan made video of the song two years prior to the actual video being made. Her video surpassed the real video in terms of viewing figures. It was taken down from Youtube due to copyright issues and despite being reinstated a few days later the Youtuber would then later take it down herself.
The song has been sample by rappers such as Kendrick Lamar and Machine Gun Kelly and has also been covered by the metal band Devildriver.
Awolnation Songs Ranked article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2021
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