We've found a particularly lively bunch of new releases for this week's Tracks Of The Week battle, and we trust that you will come to enjoy their company over the next seven days. They're below, ranked in no particular order. And why's that? It's because we leave the ranking to you, dear rocker. So don't forget to pick a favourite, and vote at the foot of the page.
But first, our heartiest congratulations to H.e.a.t., whose Hollywood single triumphed in last week's battle for rock gold. Runners-up were Monster Truck's Golden Woman and Black Star Riders' Better Than Saturday Night, although they're all winners in our eyes. Apart from the losers, obviously.
Whiskey Myers - The Wolf
ZZ Top fans, take note: there’s a new lil’ old band from Texas in town. Whiskey Myers are cut from a newer kind of southern cloth, though you can hear the desert sand and spit n’ sawdust guitars of Gibbons and co on The Wolf, spliced with fat horns – a driving ingredient on upcoming new album Tornillo, instigated after they came upon a visiting mariachi group. A grizzled yet rich, soulful yarn of battle scars, blue collar trials and don’t-fuck-with-me intent.
Porcupine Tree - Rats Return
Perhaps the gnarliest moment on Porcupine Tree’s surprise comeback (Closure/Continuation, out this week), Rats Return comes with the sort of creeping menace, jagged edges and heavy guitar chops that hark back to 2002’s In Absentia record. “The rats are politicians who express having an interest in the public but, when it comes down to it, only want to save themselves,” Steven Wilson explains in an interview with NME. “Having lived through Brexit, Trump and Boris Johnson, it wasn’t hard to get depressed about what’s going on in the world.”
Clutch - We Strive For Excellence
Need a little groove in your life? Maryland’s beloved purveyors of the fattest, hairiest grooves north of Tennessee are here to help. Huge, generously bearded and liberally doused in Jack Daniels, We Strive For Excellence will put hair on your chest and deepen your voice to Neil Fallon levels of gravelled beef. Fallon says: "We Strive For Excellence looks back fondly on childhood summers filled with grand plans gone awry, inexplicable bruises, untreated injuries, and of course, the timeless wisdom of Evel Knievel." And fair enough. Evel Knievel was, after all, renowned for his wisdom.
Starcrawler - She Said
“She Said was one of the first songs written for this album,” says singer Arrow De Wilde, of this gauzy punk mix of power-pop, indie rock and grunge flavours. “It was at the beginning of the pandemic and Henri came to my window and played me the demo, and we wrote the lyrics together like Romeo and Juliet. It's what really kicked off the writing process of this album, and it was such a powerful moment that we wanted to name the record after that song." The album of the same name is out in September.
Datura4 - Going Back To Hoonsville
Datura4 stalk a darker, dirtier species of psychedelic boogie than their fellow cool West Australia types (Tame Impala, Pond..), and their latest single stirs Jim Jones-esque nastiness into a hypnotic, head-pounding shuffle. The dirty guitar tone and feedback creates a cool sonic chaos in the song,” frontman Dom Mariani has said. “I felt like Link Wray was looking down from above when I was recording it.” Taken from the brilliantly titled Neanderthal Jam, which is out in August.
Tim Bowness - Only A Fool
Possessing one of those strange, dreamy voices that seems to come from another galaxy – even while singing about deeply human thing – Tim Bowness has a knack for twisting just when you think you have him figured out. Written and produced by Tim and Brian Hulse (from Tim’s 80s indie band, Plenty), Only A Fool is a pulsating, uptempo marriage of post-punk urgency and soaring electronic landscapes. You could say it’s like hearing Blackstar-era Bowie in a club with Anathema, but Bowness’s voice is so unique (and, therefore, kinda Marmite-y) he never sounds much like anyone else.
The Cruel Intentions - Venomous Anonymous
The title track from the second album by Swedish/Norwegian rock'n'rollers the Cruel Intentions, Venomous Anonymous has a real Sunset Strip swagger, with all the buoyancy and bluster of early Bon Jovi but with added muscle. You may remember singer Lizzy DeVine from sleaze rockers Vains of Jenna, who relocated to California back in the mid-2000s, where they toured with Poison and found themselves signed to a label run by Jackass star Bam Margera. But back to the song: "There's a party inside tonight," goes the chorus, "nanana na na na nanana na na na yeah." And so say all of us.
Måneskin - If I Can Dream
Taken from the soundtrack of Bazz Luhrmann's new Elvis movie, Måneskin's cover of Presley's 1968 classic is, quite frankly, astonishing. The original was one of The King's greatest performances, a tour-de-force triumph with full orchestra and choir gradually winding up to an exultant, emotional climax. Måneskin's version is the opposite, with the instrumental backing stripped back to the very basics, but such is the force of Damiano David's vocal that the band's cover retains all of the dramatic impact of the original. Goosebumps.