It's Monday, which means only one thing: it's time for another round of the nation's favourite music gameshow, Tracks Of The Week. But first, let's congratulate last week's winners, Robert Jon & The Wreck, whose Come At Me single triumphed over the other seven players.
That's not to say it wasn't a close thing, mind. The Game, the glorious new single from Atlanta's glam superstars Starbenders, was a close second, while that fancy new version of The Hu's This In Mongol – featuring Alice In Chains man William DuVall – finished third.
This week is also shaping up nicely, with eight new contestants champing at the bit, desperate to start our latest battle for rock'n'roll supremacy. We wish them all luck.
The Cadillac Three - Hillbilly ft. Elvie Shane, Ketch Secor
TC3 have always excelled in the cracks between genres (rock, country, metal, funk, grunge…). Sonic, cultural intersections where juicy hybrids thrive, and have led this most Nashville of Nashville trios to their signature country fuzz vibe. Lyrics about partying with girls and crackin’ cold ones with the boys (that’s not even a figure of speech; step forward Crackin’ Cold Ones With The Boys) have flowed. So it’s interesting to find them on more introspective form for this, their first new song in two years. Don’t get us wrong, Hillbilly still rocks like a beast, but it’s shot through with haunting, bluegrass-y fiddle strains and tales of substance abuse in small rural towns.
Black Spiders - Hot Wheels
“It’s a party album from top to tail, every one a banger!” the Spiders say of their brilliantly named next record Can’t Die, Won’t Die (due out in May), from which this oomphy, bottom heavy riffcake is taken. “As usual, there is something for everyone and maybe some surprises. We went all out, balls out on this record, each track is an earworm. Never has a title been more apt!” Well, based on this first taste the omens are certainly good. There is nothing complicated about Hot Wheels. Nothing that doesn’t soothe the rock-hungry soul and generally put you in A Good Place. It doesn’t ‘grow on you’, it’s just there.
Chris Shiflett - Black Top White Lines
The Foos guitarist’s rollicking, cowboy boot-stomping solo single was co-written with Jaren Johnston (The Cadillac Three; yes, them again) and John Osborne (Brothers Osborne). Fans of the latter two’s work won’t struggle to hear their influence on this; a low-slung, Nashville-fried rocker with groove in its heart and dirt under its fingernails. Billed as “a dark tale of justice that moves quickly into the fast lane with no intention of slowing down”, it draws out the country twang in Chris’s voice – a few states away from his punk roots, without throwing those out altogether. Catch him live in the UK in March.
Gyasi - Baby Blue
The legacies of Bowie and Bolan continue to reap new proteges, such as this Music City guy. Featuring Jack White band members and riff-loads of dirty 70s glitter, Baby Blue shares so much DNA with T.Rex’s 20th Century Boy they could have been separated at birth (the voice, the threads, the glammed up blues chords). It rocks like a monster, too, without taking itself too seriously (‘Got a rock n roll heart and babe you eat it with a spoon…what a loon’). Sassy, stompy glam rock fun, dripping in sequins and colourful eyeshadow.
Island Of Love - Grow/Blues 2000
The first band signed to Third Man Records’ new London branch, teenage trio Island Of Love have a certain amount to live up to. Happily they appear to have succeeded. A fuzzy, cheery marriage of Dinosaur Jr and Weezer tones that spills into a spacey-but-hooky jam, Grow/Blues 2000 sounds young in a really good way – confident, raw at the edges and raring to do more. And there is more coming from them, so keep yer eyes peeled.
The Lemon Twigs - Any Time Of Day
Oh it’s schmaltzy. Sooo schmaltzy. Wall-to-wall falsettos, star-spangled harmonies and bittersweet pop rock warmth. The stuff of bygone years. Bygone decades. Like hearing the Alessi Brothers’ Oh Lori in a blender with the Bee Gees, Beach Boys and the sort of songcraft values and video direction we assumed died with Jellyfish at the dawn of the 90s… but look, it’s all here! Maybe it’ll become cool again! Not that these guys care either way, we imagine, such is the love that oozes out of Any Time Of Day – and no one makes music like this unless they love it.
Nutana - You Belong
Nutana is a solo project from Sheepdogs drummer Sam Corbett, and You Belong is the first fruit of an upcoming album that began life when Corbett was in treatment for cancer. "The radiation treatments made me very sick and weak," says Corbett. "I couldn’t even play the drums. But I could play the piano, and I started writing a bunch of melodies and songs that later became this album." It's the kind of breezy, sun-dappled, Laurel Canyon-adjacent mix of harmony and sophistication you'd expect from a Sheepdog, and features contributions from the band's keyboardist Shamus Currie and on-hiatus guitarist Jimmy Bowskill, plus some saxophone that's really quite lovely. The album's out on April 7.
Gin Wigmore - Someone's Gonna Die Tonight
Kicking off with a stomping glam beat, Someone's Gonna Die Tonight comes from New Zealand singer-songwriter Gin Wigmore, and proceeds to venture off in all sorts of unexpected directions as it progresses. It's part pop and part rock, with a chorus that's a proper earworm and an instrumental section where blues guitar and psychedelic keyboards gently prod and probe. It's kinda Suzi Quatro meets the Inspiral Capets meets Kasabian meets something else we can't quite put our fingers on, but whatever, it's a good song. And there's an album on the way (her fifth).