1) Vulture City - Biters
Part Sharp Dressed Man by ZZ Top, several parts teen idol fearlessness, Vulture City is the song to soundtrack quitting your job, taking up motorbiking, going on an overdue holiday and generally sticking two fingers up to The Man. Coming from these Atlanta upstarts, who delighted us with the gleefully nostalgic Electric Blood in 2015, we expected nothing less.
2) No Lives Matter - Body Count
Back in full effect, Ice-T’s metal crew have never sounded sharper, angrier, more driven or inspired. Reacting to the diluting ‘all lives’ rhetoric that’s been applied to Black Lives Matter by the forces of international liberalism, here’s the glorious, undeniable sound of self-righteous fury.
3) Meadowland - Big Big Train
The upwardly mobile prog-rockers were completing the mix of this beautiful pastoral piece when they learned of the death of John Wetton, a big supporter of their band. Taken from the forthcoming album, Grimspound, Meadowland does Wetton’s memory proud.
4) Down By The River - Seafoam Green
Ah, it’s as if Rich Robinson swerved into yet another rootsy, post-Black Crowes project and made some sweet, Creedence Clearwater-esque noises! Oh wait, that’s exactly what’s happened here. Spearheaded by Dave O’Grady, the dulcet swampiness of Down By The River suggests Seafoam Green could be more than a flash in the pan.
5) April Showers - Royal Thunder
It’s not the most instant track on WICK, Royal Thunder’s upcoming third album, but it’s easily one of the most affecting. That tantalising build-up, Mlny Parsonz’s gut-grabbing battle cry of a voice, those brooding guitar chords (part Zeppelin heavy rock, part woozy psychedelia)… Profoundly moving stuff, from (to use a clichéd but apt expression) ‘a very real place’.
6) Biff Bang Pow - The Creation
Bludgeoning modernist brutality, pill-blocked brevity, art-school ambition, rolling Shel Talmy My Generation-esque piano niggles – this lost classic from Edsel’s soon-to-come Creation Theory definitive box will remove any doubt that Eddie Phillips’ name belongs alongside those of Townshend and Page.
7) Witness - Benjamin Booker
In February last year, the beautifully breathy-voiced boy from New Orleans headed to Mexico. He spent days in silence (not knowing any Spanish helped) and began to reflect and write again, increasingly impacted by the surrounding racial tensions and news headlines. This gospel-laced, peaceful call to arms is a quietly potent testament to troubled times.
8) Show Yourself - Mastodon
It’s all there: the immensity, the complexity, the titanic power, but there’s so much more too – groove, commerciality, swing, immediacy. This engaging entry point to Emperor Of Sand sees Mastodon embrace a new level of accessibility that could reap Metallica-challenging rewards.
9) Tomorrow Dies - Mostly Autumn
Described as “an album that celebrates life”, Sight Of Day captures Mostly Autumn in laid-back, sombre mood. Sung with nightingale clarity by Olivia Sparnenn-Josh, Tomorrow Dies adds a little force yet retains the overall feeling of contemplation.
10) Currency - The Black Angels
Upon which the Austin psych specialists transcend even themselves. Dark, desert‑tripping sounds envelop a gloriously nihilistic examination of consumerism’s ultimate futility and the empty bondage of nine-to-five slavery. Worth considering while staring into the mirror as you watch your face melt.
11) Aldecide - Jim Jones & The Righteous Mind
Jim Jones has taken us to various hostile rock’n’roll environments since first coming to our attention walking on the hands of Thee Hypnotics’ audience. While JJ’s Revue dropped us off at Jerry Lee’s Star Club, his Righteous Mind dumps our fresh corpse in Lux Interior’s fetid swamp.
12) Maggot Brain - Funkadelic
Just one of many highlights of Running The Voodoo Down, a handsomely curated compilation of psychrockfunksouljazz, Maggot Brain finds Funkadelic guitarist Eddie Hazel trawling the depths of his soul for one of the most coruscating solos of all time. Ten minutes exceedingly well spent.
13) Read All About It - Inglorious
There’s a whiff of Whitesnake to this ripsnorting, peed-off rebuke of somebody or something responsible for pissing off Nathan James and company. It’s the first track from the band’s Kevin Shirley (Maiden, Zep, Aerosmith)-produced newie, Inglorious II.
14) Taste Of A Champion - Brother Firetribe
Now four albums into their career Brother Firetribe have long since surpassed being considered a mere Nightwish breakaway act. Had Jim Peterik and Frankie Sullivan hailed from Finland and not Chicago, Eye Of The Tiger might have sounded something like this.
15) Demon In Profile - Afghan Whigs
Frickin’ gorgeous highlight from the Whigs’ upcoming album In Spades, which comes out via Sub Pop in May. At once mournful and deliciously dark, with enveloping layers of keys, guitar and brass, it’s Greg Dulli and co on prime form.
16) Sigma - Lonely Robot
The Big Dream, the second solo album from John Mitchell of It Bites, Frost* and Arena fame, eschews the special guest-driven format of its well-received predecessor for something that’s better focused and every bit as entertaining.
17) Somehow Somewhere - Night Ranger
A boisterous yet relentlessly hummable opening track from the veteran San Franciscan band’s new album Don’t Let Up. Searching for a masterclass in commercial hard rock? Look no further.