1) Johnny B Goode - Chuck Berry
Returning to the source in light of the rock catalyst’s recent passing, you’re inescapably struck by how many stone-cold classics Chuck Berry wrote during his late-1950s heyday. And which one to choose as most representative of this man who inspired Beatles, Stones, Hendrix and everyone since? Yep, this’ll do.
2) Heart Of The Matter - Brother Firetribe
If you love Survivor circa Eye Of The Tiger, you’ll get all feverish about this. It has the texture of those days, but never wallows in mimicry. It’s from new album Sunbound, on which the Finns continue their pursuit of 80s melodic rock Valhalla.
3) D.R.K - Hunter & The Bear
Modern, riffy rock from Britain’s most ruggedly named guitar-wielding four-piece. They’ve ingested a lot of classic influences (Skynyrd, Clapton etcetera), which now come stirred with contemporary, metallic punch and hints of soaring ‘arena rock’ scale. Think Wasting Light-era Foos with a touch of Soundgarden, propelled by their own good ideas.
4) Cumberland Gap - Jason Isbell
This former Drive-By Trucker has being playing pretty, acoustic-based solo songs for a few years now, but it’s never been as lush or full-sounding as it is here. Sweet Americana with a healthy splash of Springsteen-meets-Tom Petty ‘heartland’ rock.
5) Springfield - Anathema
Gorgeous, atmospheric yet driving first taste of the Liverpudlians’ upcoming album The Optimist. For a band with so much exquisitely sad music in their arsenal this may seem an odd title, but for all the pensive, ambient qualities and moody melody of Springfield, it’s ultimately a very rousing listen.
6) Bad Advice - Otherkin
“We want our records to be punchy, lean and blazing. Straight in, no kissing,” reads the mission statement of these Irish noiseniks. And judging by Bad Advice it’s working out pretty well for them. This is the driven, dance-along sound of four boys who’ve listened to a lot of Stooges records and hit the Red Bull in a fairly major way.
7) Colder Than Ice - Pond
Those starry-eyed synths will make you think you’ve stepped into the 80s, or possibly a disco demo of Michael Jackson’s Earth Song. Either way, this bouncy highlight from the psychedelic Aussies’ upcoming album The Weather is utterly irresistible – infectious hooks, old spoken-word excerpts and all.
8) Easy Livin’ - Uriah Heep
Who among us knew they needed a splatter-coloured vinyl version of Heep’s ‘73 live album in a faithful replica of its plush original tour-brochure sleeve? And now, who can even imagine life without it? This choice cut barrels along… Those harmonies? Perfection.
9) Into The Woods - Hawkwind
The spacerock stalwarts’ green-themed 30th studio album’s opening track spirals out the usual sonic maelstrom of starstruck interstellar mayhem while seeding a notion that walking in the woods with Dave Brock would be less Children Of The New Forest and more Evil Dead with a side of Agent Orange. Gnarly.
10) Woo Sé Mama - Paul Weller
Mature yet perky, musclebound yet limber, Weller 2017 sounds more vital than punters half his age. Obviously it’d be hard to miss the back of the net with PP Arnold and Madeline Bell giving it plenty in the backing vocal engine room, but gritty psych-soul has rarely packed a firmer punch.
11) I Saw The End - Pallbearer
Pallbearer come from Arkansas and are known for progressive doom. But what this track shows is that the four-piece can now combine technical ecstasy with a hummable tune, as well as forthright heaviness. From new album Heartless, I Saw The End is a darkly inviting anthem, with power surges in all the right places.
12) Law Man - The Dirty Thrills
If Rival Sons were a bit grittier and heavier, and British – but still retained some soul on the vocal front – they might sound like these guys. Law Man doesn’t arse around, striding straight in with the kind of commanding, assured riffage you long to hear from new band, but don’t always get. Ones to watch out for, fo’ sho’.
13) Revolution - Syteria
Here’s Girlschool guitarist Jackie Chambers’s other band. And if you love those early days of Girlschool, when they had a slightly punky edge and lots of mentally metal attitude, then you’ll go a bundle on this song from Syteria’s debut album Rant-O-Bot. It’s a full-on sock on the chin.
14) Stagger Lee - Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
The breadth of brilliance displayed on Cave’s Bad Seeds-era Lovely Creatures box is staggering, but even in such exalted company Stagger Lee stands out. Those familiar with Lloyd Price’s ‘59 take on the enduring murder ballad ought to be prepared, this is Old Nick at his most unflinching and diabolic.
15) Shine On - Overkill
No surprises here. The veteran New Jersey thrashers stick to what has made their reputation – striking, blazing metal. This is an unashamed celebration of thrash refusing to mature. It’s juvenile, and all the better for it.
16) Ghost Rider - Suicide
When the Max’s Kansas City 1976 New York New Wave compilation was first released in a punk-hungry UK, Wayne County, Cherry Vanilla and The Fast only sounded old and tame by comparison to contemporary Britpunk. Not so Suicide. They sounded like a dark dystopian future. Four decades later? No change.
17) Locked In - Judas Priest
Priest’s Turbo album was decried on its release 30 years ago, because they dared to experiment with synth sounds. Now, on the deluxe reissue, it sounds exciting and innovative. Locked In has all the hallmarks of classic Priest, but with an added state of the art edge.