We've just set a new world record, official. Over the last seven days, the 18 minutes and 22 seconds of Canadian prog duo Crown Lands' single Starlifter: Fearless Pt. II became the longest track top ever triumph in our Tracks Of The Week fandango. It's also (we think) the first track to win the competition that's divided into multiple parts, just like the prog classics of yore. So congratulations to them.
And congratulations to all of Scandinavia, as Finland's Rock-Criminals (feat. Michael Monroe) held off the challenge of Denmark's Ashes Of Billy to finish a strong second. Onnittelut, as they probably say in Helsinki.
This week's competition starts now. Below, your contenders. Below that, the voting form. Please vote wisely.
Starbenders - The Game
On the Atlanta glam mavericks’ new single, singer/guitarist Kimi Shelter (fun fact: she was a prodigious classical violinist as a child) sounds very much like the lovechild of Stevie Nicks and Cyndi Lauper. Now imagine said lovechild joining Ghost on lead vocals. Are you imagining it? That’s the sort of smart, driving fun you can expect on The Game, all heavy, minor key swagger with 70s meat and 80s glitter. They’re on the road with Palaye Royale at the moment. How about a tour with Ghost and Tuk Smith & The Restless Hearts next?
Chris Duarte - Nobody But You
The opening track from this Texan blues guitarist’s fifteenth album, Ain't Giving Up (out in April), Nobody But You is a 12-bar outlaw shuffle with a bouncing, delta heart and a big set of teeth. The latest offering in a career littered with left-turns, it finds him singing like a man just out of jail, riffing the crap out of his instrument and creating the sort of ballsy, bass-in-your-chest toe-tapper you can’t help but dance to. If Duane Allman drank three espressos and borrowed some guitar tones from the 80s, he might have sounded like this.
Those Damn Crows - Takedown
Next up we have this beefy bodyslam of a single from the Welsh hard rockers, taken from the much-anticipated new album Inhale/Exhale (out in full on 17 February). As frontman Shane Greenhall explains, its weight and punchiness come from a very real place. "Takedown is the feeling you get when someone challenges you,” Greenhall says. “I’m a very competitive person and have no issue going up against anyone… Especially if someone tells me I can’t do something…. WATCH ME!”
Lipstereo - Little Spaceships
These young garage rockers are from Melbourne, Australia, but they could have easily come out of New York in the 00s. Or 90s California. In short, this is music to make longtime fans of The Strokes, The Vines and Weezer get all misty-eyed. Twinkly-eyed and rough-hewn, Little Spaceships is a highly likeable burst of dreamy pop and choppy guitars straight out of Is This It – if Julian Casablancas and co spent more time at the beach – wrapped up with a shoutalong chorus that *just* about avoids falling into cutesy territory.
Robert Jon & The Wreck - Come At Me
“Come At Me was one of the first new songs we wrote for our summer recording sessions,” says RJ&TW’s beard-in-chief Robert Jon Burrison, of this rollicking southern rock party tune. If you’re into bands like Blackberry Smoke, and *don’t* already have these guys in your life, this might be the time to rectify that. “The song happened so fast, it almost wrote itself. It’s another fun upbeat song that makes you wanna scream along with the chorus after hearing it just once.”
The Hu feat. William DuVall - This In Mongol
It’s been brilliant to watch The Hu’s unique, compelling fusion of ancient sounds, language and contemporary hard rock gather momentum, and all without kowtowing to established formulas – including English vocals. But there are exceptions to this rule. Previously they teamed up with Lzzy Hale and Jacoby Shaddix, and now they’ve nailed a similarly well chosen non-Mongolian collaboration, this time with Alice In Chains singer Williams DuVall. DuVall’s vocals soar into The Hu’s heavy, almost mythical world, creating a searing new chorus that adds a brightness to their palette.
Emolecule - The Architect
There’s a feeling of Deadwing-era Porcupine Tree to this heavy, riffy title track from Emolecule. The new project of Simon Collins and Kelly Nordstrum (both formerly of prog high hopes Sound Of Contact), it shifts into a spacey, electronic bridge section, changing gears again for a bruising finale. Collins has battled his share of demons since SOC’s end, and it’s not hard to hear that. As the band explains: “The Architect reveals the sinister inner dialogue within the subject of our story. Conflict and anguish stemming from adolescence grind together like gears in his mind as he becomes the embodiment of Avarice."
Manowar - Laut Und Hart Stark Und Schnell
Manowar's new single Laut Und Hart Stark Und Schnell is dedicated to their German fans, and comes with a set of lyrics that couldn't be Manowar if they arrived brandishing a broadsword and threatening to pillage. Rather gloriously, the lyrics reference some of the band's finest previous work. "Battle Hymns cracked the earth," sings Eric Adams, still one of metal's great voices. "Into Glory we did ride," he continues, "We said Hail to England / The Sign of the Hammer's our guide", as riffs crash like thunder and all that. “It is no secret that we have a special relationship with Germany,” says bassist Joey DeMaio. “Maybe because it is the birthplace of Richard Wagner, the father of heavy metal."