1) Megalomania - Black Sabbath
You’d have to search long and hard to find a more unapologetically malevolent piece of music than this. Ozzy Osbourne manages to schizophrenically channel soul in torment and Satan’s own imp in a single vocal performance. Now crisply remastered, exemplifying an effortless, riff-driven complexity perfected on Sabotage, here’s metal’s zenith.
2) American Slang - The Cadillac Three
One of the more Springsteen-y blue-collar tracks on the Nashville trio’s upcoming album Legacy, American Slang offers catchy, southern goodness for the 21st century.
3) The Cove - Black Country Communion
It’s finally here: the album that many thought would never be made. From IV, The Cove captures Messrs Hughes, Bonamassa, Sherinian and Bonham in melancholic although slightly groovy mood, offering distant echoes of bassist /vocalist Hughes’s former band Trapeze.
4) Bastard Of Society - H.e.a.t
While H.e.a.t’s long-awaited fifth album throws the occasional curve ball, its opening track Bastard Of Society presents the Swedes at their tried ‘n’ trusted best: snotty, vulgar, irreverent and at the same time deeply melodic and satisfying.
5) Wicked Garden - Stone Temple Pilots
One of the lesser-known tracks from the just-released deluxe 25th-anniversary edition of Core, STP’s debut album, but a real cracker. Up-tempo, edgy, rough-’n’-raw sounding, with Scott Weiland’s growly vocals and a short but sharp guitar solo. Top track from one hell of an album.
6) Strange Bird In The Sky - Koyo
A fascinatingly seamless fusion of prog, alt.rock, psychedelia, post-grunge and indie sounds from this Leeds-based five-piece. But forget the terminology. Strange Bird In The Sky sounds like quite a few other bands, yet at the same time it’s unique.
7) Edith Piaf (Said It Better Than Me) - Sparks
Showing no sign of losing their endlessly experimental ingenuity, the Mael brothers return in significant style. The repeated core refrain of ‘Live fast and die young, too late for that’ on Edith Piaf (Said It Better Than Me) exemplifies the bone-dry humour that remains at the heart of their enduring art.rock vision.
8) Blindness To Danger - Lionize
We saw the groovy Marylanders play this at the Black Heart pub in London, and it rocked hard. Taken from their upcoming album Nuclear Soul, it steps away from their reggae-infused roots and into the broader realms of big-stage-friendly rock.
9) A Pacific Sonata - Motorpsycho
Taken from the veteran Norwegian trio’s new double album The Tower, a hazy 15-minute epic which begins in a pastoral mood before shimmering off into the stratosphere, will be aural food and drink for fans of latter-day Opeth.
10) Two Fifty Nine - Cats In Space
In which these UK retro-rockers challenge our radio tastemakers to unleash their wares on the airwaves. ‘Hey deejay, don’t fade it… stop counting, just play it. It’s only two minutes fifty-nine,’ they plead. ‘It’s okay… no solo, no coda, short intro.’ Go on, you know it makes sense.
11) Kill My Baby Tonight - L.A. Witch
Possibly coming across a trifle too Spahn Ranch house band for those of a more delicate disposition, L.A. Witch fetch up at an intersection where desert rock and David Lynch collide. Bewitching honey-and-henbane vocals caper across huge Rorschach guitars: part Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, part Shangri-Las, all rock‘n’roll.
12) Hot Tin Roof - Brian Howe
Having kept a low profile in recent years, the former Ted Nugent/Bad Company frontman has bounced back with this joyous, hook-laden anthem. Although now based in Florida, he’s even been threatening to play a gig or two in his UK homeland. If he does, it’ll be welcome back.
13) Two Birds - The Bronx
You may recall The Bronx for their hardcore punk credentials. In which case Two Birds may sound more melodic and garage rock’n’roll-ish than you’d expect (think Foo Fighters or QOTSA at their rawest, plus a layer of subtle-but-sunny harmonies). Either way, we like it.
14) She’s A Rainbow - Rolling Stones
Now we’re all finally over all that nonsense about Their Satanic Majesties Request being the Stones’ psychedelic folly, have fallen in love with the album, fallen out of love with it again, reassessed our position and ultimately decided to just, like, dig it, man, 50-year old gem She’s A Rainbow reveals itself to be the feelgood hit of what’s left of the summer.
15) Absent Friend - Bark Psychosis
Reissued for the first time since ‘94, Bark Psychosis’s Hex has been hailed in its absence as post-rock’s greatest, most innovative album. With songs deconstructed and rebuilt in the studio with dazzling, subtle, sometimes unexpectedly tangential results, Hex, and especially the curiously climactic Absent Friend, astounds repeatedly.
16) Bulls - All Them Witches
One of the dreamiest cuts from All Them Witches’ excellent latest album Sleeping Through The War, Bulls starts off hazily before swelling into a mighty chorus of celestial choral backing and thunderously grungy guitars. Modern-day heavy rock psychedelia at its best.
17) Kebabträume - D.A.F.
Thirty-five years on, and the stripped visceral sound of Gabi Delgado-López and Robert Görl’s minimalist, electro-punk, EDM-birthing Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft retains its startlingly futuristic aura. Straight outta Düsseldorf (where else?), newly boxed alongside the similarly iconic Der Mussolini, Kebabträume is dance music for the fists.