1) Colossus - Triggerfinger
Belgium’s prize hidden gems are back (‘hidden’ in the UK that is; they’re big news in Europe), and Triggerfinger, the opening track on their new album, is a moreish slice of garage-laced rock. Sexy without being sleazy, cool without being jaded, it’s a class track.
2) Permanating - Steven Wilson
Holy moley! It’s Lord of the Prog Steven Wilson, doing a dancey pop track! But this is no fluffy bubblegum fest. Taken from upcoming ‘modernist pop’ record To The Bone, it’s at once joyous and sophisticated, nodding to 70s/80s prime cuts such as Tears For Fears, Peter Gabriel, and even a bit of ELO in the lead guitar flourishes.
3) Stone Cold Rage - Gov’t Mule
A near-perfect mix of blues, funk and hard rock, Stone Cold Rage opens the Mule’s brand new album Revolution Come… Revolution Go in the most convincing manner possible. Warren Haynes is of course known primarily as a guitarist, but the fella also boasts an awesome set of pipes
4) Paranoid Android - Radiohead
It’s easy to forget how refreshing OK Computer’s lofty neo-prog ambitions were when the album arrived into 1997’s backward-glancing post-Britpop doldrums. With a zeitgeist up to its neck in ever-revolving, trapped-in-amber, mid-period Beatles, the arrival of the first ‘new Floyd’ only promised progression, and 20 years on it still delivers.
5) Can’t Go Back - Marcus Malone
Detroit-born, UK-based singer/guitarist Marcus Malone found underground acclaim during the 1970s with hard rockers Marcus. His eighth solo album, A Better Man, including this tasty highlight, offers an exquisite balance of blues, rock, groove-laden and even West Coast sounds.
6) Come Along - Salty Dog
Widely overlooked Los Angeles quartet Salty Dog sneer up a loose-limbed blues-based Zeppelin formula, and with lashings of swagger in their stagger they rock up a storm in the process. This opening salvo from 1990’s second album Every Dog Has Its Day (recently disinterred by Rock Candy) crackles with raw unheeded potential.
7) Get Carter - Jah Wobble & The Invaders Of The Heart
Roy Budd’s wonderfully atmospheric theme for 1971’s classic Get Carter, made-over to maximise its core groove by ex-PiL bass virtuoso Wobble and his super-tight Invaders Of The Heart. Characterised by near-telepathic improvisational ensemble interplay and a bottom end that relocates John Entwistle dexterity way down in the depths of dub, it’s a belter.
8) Enabler - Otherkin
Enabler adds mature, arena-friendly oomph to the Stooges-meet-QOTSA-esque rock we’ve heard from this Irish band so far, which suggests they could be much more than just another bunch of ‘casually’ styled boys with fuzzy guitars. We’re looking forward to the album, currently set for release later this year.
9) Ants - Starcrawler
These LA kids aren’t legally old enough to drink in their homeland, so instead they’re making fiery blasts of groove-driven punky rock’n’roll like the brilliant Ants. And in wiry, six-foot-tall frontwoman Arrow De Wilde they have a proper star. Ones to watch.
10) Strawberry Fields Forever (Take 4) - The Beatles
Celebrating its half-century in characteristically understated fashion, The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper album is unavoidably ubiquitous once more in its latest, weightily boxed, remixed and rebuffed four-disc incarnation. This stripped early take of its iconic accompanying single sounds more laid-back, contemplative and psychedelic than ever before. My God, they were good.
11) Die By The Sword - Accept
Die By The Sword, the opening clarion call from The Rise Of Chaos, the fourth album from the Mark Tornillo-fronted Accept, reminds us that these veteran Germans are doing very nicely without the pugnacious Udo Dirkscheider, danke schön.
12) The Last Plimsoll (Live) - Stackridge
Regrettably, West Country loonies Strackridge called it a day two years ago. Their swansong is captured on the new, two-disc The Final Bow, Bristol 2015. This whimsical song from 1973’s George Martin-produced The Man In The Bowler Hat is among its many highlights.
13) Time And Tide - Kepler Ten
Soon to be seen supporting Lonely Robot, South Coast trio Kepler Ten play tuneful hard rock with a thin yet joyful veneer of prog flamboyance. As demonstrated by their debut Delta – V, they’re card-carrying fans of Rush and they really don’t care who knows it. Ones to watch.
14) Back To The Stacks - Massive Wagons
What? Bon Scott has risen from the dead and rejoined AC/DC?! Although it would great if that was the case, that clearly hasn’t actually happened, but you might think it has when you hear this track. Not that it’s a soulless homage, more an exercise in loveable, feelgood rock’n’roll familiarity. Plus all proceeds go to charity. What’s not to like?
15) Waitin’ On Hollywood - Blackwater Conspiracy
A confident, hummable and uplifting slice of hard rock that’s capable of planting the assumption that Blackwater Conspiracy come from one of the southern states. In fact they’re from County Tyrone (and used to be known as Million Dollar Reload). Their slots at Download and Ramblin’ Man will very likely help to clear up the confusion.
16) Tristesses De La Lune - Celtic Frost
So you had Swiss band Celtic Frost pegged as extreme metal bozos, death grunts ’n’ all? With contributions from a string quartet and the female avant-garde singer Manu Moan, this track from the newly remastered Into The Pandemonium confirms that their ambitions were considerably more grand.