Another seven days has passed on rock's glorious conveyor belt of excellence, and Black Spiders are to be thoroughly congratulated on their success in our most recent Tracks Of The Week competition. Second place was snaffled up by Chris Shiflett, and the Cadillac Three – in a nice display of nominative determinism – came in third.
And now we must embark on our latest mission, to boldly go where others fear to listen. Enjoy the ride, and don't forget to vote.
Crown Lands - Lady Of The Lake
Singer/drummer Cody Bowles says of the mythological universe in Crown Lands' new single: “Lady of the Lake tells a tale of an ancient battle for control over the realm and a powerful goddess who is called upon to dispel the darkness. This takes place in the same world as [previous single] Fearless, but long ago.” Built up by layers of 12-string and electric guitars, drums, moog and Mellotron, it mixes medieval woodland mystique and space-travelling fantasy, with guitarist Kevin Comeau noting “I’m particularly proud of the Leslie-soaked guitar solo in 15/8” – possibly the most prog thing anyone has ever said. And for that we are thankful.
Skam - Do It Again
Riffing straight to the point with AC/DC-style beef and bravado, before shifting seamlessly into brooding shades of grunge, the longstanding Leicester trio hit the spot again on this new single. Part of a remastered edition of album Intravenous, out March 3, it would fit very happily on much bigger stages than the ones in the accompanying video. Though to be fair, said stages do seem to be at the heart of top nights out; the band laying into it like they’re in an arena, while 150%-into-it fans wearing Skam T-shirts have a thoroughly good time.
Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit - Death Wish
Jason Isbell has an author’s ability to capture life’s twists and truths in the form of darkly beautiful americana. In this single from next record Weathervanes, he marries Neil Young-infused balladry with a story about loving someone with depression – dropping quietly devastating lines like ‘It takes a whole lot of medicine to feel like a little kid’ as naturally as breathing. “There is something about boundaries on this record,” says Isbell of Weathervanes, which is out in June. “As you mature, you still attempt to keep the ability to love somebody fully and completely while you’re growing into an adult and learning how to love yourself.”
Tigercub - Play My Favourite Song
On Play My Favourite Song, Brighton trio Tigercub lay on thick, bass-heavy grooves and fuzzed up guitars to meaty yet super-danceable effect. Rock that wants to party and mosh itself senseless. Taken from upcoming album The Perfume Of Decay, which is set for release on Pearl Jam guitarist Stone Gossard’s label Loosegroove (the title track came out in January and it’s a banger), it captures the sort of dark disco vibes found lately in other Brighton-ites like Royal Blood and Demob Happy. Something dancey and bass-y in the water on the south coast, or so it seems.
Ophelia Ray - Unnatural Loving
Next up we're off on a trip to one of the cooler, darker sides of the 80s, without sacrificing the plus-size production values that came with the decade. London based singer-songwriter/newcomer Ophelia Ray captures a feeling of Stevie Nicks trading licks with Alannah Myles on this new single (with Siouxsie Sioux lurking in the background, eyeliner in one hand, dry ice machine in the other). Draped in moody, gothic textures and dreamy synths, it leaves an assuredly stylish impression.
The Dowling Poole - Push Repeat
Swimming in the same sonic waters as late 80s/early 90s nearlymen Jellyfish, The Dowling Poole (aka Honeycrack/The Grip/Wildhearts man Willie Dowling and Cardiacs/Wildhearts alumnus Jon Poole) serve up grim 21st century social commentary in a perky, beautifully crafted pop rock package – all music hall keys, gauzy harmonies and enough subtle gear shifts to keep you constantly guessing yet engaged. Just try not to be too depressed by the animated, phone-staring teenagers in the accompanying video; though, like the song, it’s depressing in a very compelling way. Nice.
The Struts - Pretty Vicious
Pretty Vicious has proved to be something of a sensation since a short clip was uploaded to TikTok last summer, and the band's new Unplugged At EastWest EP is the first time we've head the song in its entirety. Acoustic sessions can often expose any weaknesses in a band's armoury, but this version suggests that The Struts are as at home with an invigorating strum and a piano as they are with the amps whacked up full. Some fine Jaggerisms on display from Luke Spiller, too.
Ian Hunter - I Hate Hate
There's "star-studded", and then there's Ian Hunter's upcoming album Defiance, which includes contributions from the likes Jeff Beck, Johnny Depp, Joe Elliott, Billy F Gibbons, Taylor Hawkins, Duff McKagan, Todd Rundgren, Slash, Jeff Tweedy, Robert Trujillo, Brad Whitford, Mike Campbell and Ringo Starr, to name but 13. I Hate Hate is a piano-driven rocker that sounds like it's been funnelled in from 1975 without touching the sides, and suggests that Hunter hasn't lost any of his fire. “There are a lot of reasons for calling this album Defiance,” he says. “It’s like, people my age shouldn’t be making records, blah, blah, blah. But we’ve still got a bit left." Defiance is due to land on April 21 via Sun Records (yes, that Sun Records).