Our Tracks Of The Week celebrations had an international flavour last week, as London-based English/Welsh/Greek/Italian punks HAWXX won our weekly joust, with Los Angeles finding itself on the podium as The Record Company claimed the runner-up prize. Third prize went to Classic Rock faves Starbenders, giving Georgia a taste of the podium.
The future belongs to our latest eight entries. They're below. Enjoy, and don't forget to vote.
The Wanton Bishops - Don’t You Touch The Radio
These Lebanese mavericks have nailed a hypnotic take on blues rock with Don’t You Touch The Radio. Listening to it feels a bit like falling into a kaleidoscope; all burning incense, cavernous production and old-school hill country hoodoo, with velvet-voiced mainman Nader Mansour leading you through the mists like some sort of rock’n’roll Pied Piper. Imagine Queens Of The Stone tripping on acid in Beirut and you’d be in the right headspace. Nice.
NOBRO - Let’s Do Drugs
This made us laugh at first. Then we realised we’d been bobbing our heads all the way through, and had to hit replay as soon as it was over. Armed with a liberatingly stupid refrain – ‘Let’s do drugs! Drugs drugs drugs drugs drugs!’ (one Youtuber comments that their seven-year-old is “singing this all the time”; we really hope that’s true) – Montreal noiseniks NOBRO have created a silly yet super-effective banger that bemoans the trials of ageing with a smile. Musically they call it “a middle ground between Fight For Your Right To Party and Dirty Deeds, but only the dumbest bits of those songs”, which we’d say is pretty spot-on.
C.O.F.F.I.N - Factory
At face value, these punk rockers’ latest single is a dirty, roaring whirlwind of 70s riffs and basement club claustrophobia (they’re mates with fellow Aussie noisemakers Amyl & The Sniffers, and there’s definite connective tissue between them). And yet the inspiration is disarmingly sombre. "The song is loosely based around a close friendship my mum had with a really talented artist." explains singer/drummer Ben Portnoy. "He was not able to support his family on art alone and would do FIFO work in the WA mines to fill out the funds. On one such stint, a cherry picker he was on malfunctioned, and he was crushed, losing his life. This song ruminates on the idea of being lost and defeated by things that shouldn’t define you in the first place".
Bokassa - Garden Of Heathen (feat Lou Koller)
Beefy melodic stoner-punk with a head-swirling whiff of Mastodon, Garden Of Heathen finds the heavy Norwegian trio teamed up with Lou Koller – of New York hardcore punk stalwarts Sick Of It All. With a winning blend of throaty grit, fat riffs and an explosive chorus that descends into thick clouds of pummelling guitars and weed smoke, its appeal is simple in one sense and subtly dystopian in another. Catch them on tour in the UK with Therapy? from 30 November
Thomas Walsh - A Good Day For Me
And now for something completely different. Anyone familiar with Irish pop masters Pugwash will recognise Walsh’s warm, honeyed tones on this gorgeous, gauzy ballad from his solo debut. Co-written with Divine Comedy frontman Neil Hannon, A Good Day For Me offers the sort of spine-tingling, heart-singing, oh-mate-this-is-lush songwriting that’ll grab anyone who’s ever swooned at Jeff Lynne, The Beatles or The Beach Boys… so that’s probably most of us here? The aforementioned album The Rest Is History comes out later this year.
In This Moment - Godmode
The title track from In This Moment’s next album (not out til October) is a monster. Industrial, ferocious and brilliantly menacing – with a smouldering melodic chorus to offset the screamed verses – it’s the sort of layered heaviness that takes you on a journey. Four minutes of dark theatre and exorcised demons. “It’s been a long time since I screamed on an entire verse for a song,” mouthpiece and mastermind Maria Brink says. “I wanted to release a bunch of stuff and it felt visceral.”
Blackberry Smoke - Dig A Hole
With a riff that must surely have time travelled in from 1972 without touching the sides, Blackberry Smoke's Dig A Hole is a fine return from one of rock's most reliable bands. Aided by a touch of psychedelic squelch and some lovely guitar, it's a song whose melodic immediacy and relative brevity is rather at odds with our half-baked theory that the band's future might one day see a detour into proper jam-band territory: just think of the t-shirt sales. New album Be Right Here will come out next February.
Elles Bailey - Long Road Ahead
A one-off single from the increasingly excellent Elles Bailey. Long Road Ahead was first recorded by Delaney & Bonnie & Friends in the late 60s, and eventually ended up on the band's own 1971 Motel Shot album in more relaxed form. Elles's version doesn't stray too far from either recording, adopting the cadence of the first version and the gospel-tinged fervour of the second, but she really makes the song her own. "I’m a big Delaney & Bonnie fan,” she says, "and this song really resonates with me as I travel in this musical journey: 'there’s a long road ahead, and a lot to leave behind.'"