Last week’s winners were newcomers 68-75, followed by Metallica and Volbeat in joint second and Trucker Diablo in third. But who deserves to win out of this lot? Listen, ingest, maybe do a little dance, then place your vote at the foot of this page. We’ve got living legends, young blues-rock guns and the king of modern prog in here, so go forth and get stuck in…
The Rolling Stones - Hate To See You Go
In an age of colossal promo campaigns and heavily publicised rock comebacks, it was surprising (and rather nice) to see the Stones drop their new covers album with such minimal fanfare. Blue & Lonesome centres on Mick and co’s first love: the blues. As such it’s adamantly not a cheap, half-arsed excuse for a new record. This cracking take on Little Walter’s original could’ve come from the 50s, albeit with a little more amp oomph.
Steven Wilson - Happy Returns
Happy Returns first featured on 2015’s Hand.Cannot.Erase. – about as close to pop as Steven Wilson gets – and also made it onto his compilation Transience (a collection of his more ‘accessible’ material). A quietly heartbreaking ode to urban isolation in the 21st century, it doesn’t have the complex prog assaults of Wilson’s other work but it sure is beautiful.
Hotei/Iggy Pop – Walking Through The Night
Iggy and Japanese guitar hero Hotei make a killer team, as they weave tales of one man’s journey through “a late night brightly lit Shinjuku street, feeling alone, sexually vulnerable and a little bit angry… a little bit horny…” A classily shot video takes us through the darkened streets of Tokyo, complementing Iggy’s gravelly purr (which seems to be doing a Leonard Cohen and getting even deeper) and the heavy, stylish judder of Hotei’s guitar chops – not to mention a killer classic rocking bridge solo.
The Greasy Slicks – Manipulator
Their band name might not be the most appetising, but this song absolutely is. Manipulator offers raw vintage blues rock in a suave, sharp-as-hell frame – unafraid of big dirty riffage, but still dead cool. Ones to keep an eye out for.
Johnossi – Weak Spots
They’re Platinum-sellers back home in Sweden and, if Weak Spots is anything to go by, 2017 could be the year Johnossi make a few more waves further afield. This one inspires thoughts like ‘Sweden’s answer to Royal Blood’ and ‘I like this!’, with it’s deep fuzzy grooves and chant-along refrain. And the fact that they’re a duo as well. Watch out for their new album in February…
Steve’n’Seagulls – November Rain
What’s the one thing the great GN’R ballad was always missing? Banjos. And a few burly men outside a log cabin in lumberjack shirts (one with a dead furry critter on his head). Voila, a hard rock classic made all pretty and bluegrassy. Yes Hayseed Dixie thought of it first, but there’s something sweetly sincere about Steve’n’Seagulls’ style here.
Phobophobes – Human Baby
Yes that is Will Self reading the poem that precedes this sleek, Bowie-infused piece of modern day glam. The verse was written by the band’s late guitarist George Bedford Russell, who passed away this year, which gives Human Baby a bittersweet backdrop – on top of swaying cabaret rhythms and a sleazy rock climax (set off with a deranged cry of “remind me I’m a human, baby!”). A more-ish marriage of sleaze, seduction and darkness.
Jimmy Ragazzon – Evening Rain
One half of Italy’s Mandolin Brothers, Jimmy (or Alessandro to his mum) sounds like he should’ve emerged from somewhere dusty in the deep South – with his Cohen-infused gravel, harmonica strains and country-rock jangle. Cosy yet contemplative, it’s a promising taste of his first solo album. Tasty bluesy acoustic guitar work too.