The best new rock songs you need to hear right now, including Mdou Moctar, Wytch Hazel, Marjana Semkina and more

Tracks Of The Week artists
(Image credit: Press materials)

Last week we spoke of Praying Pantis in glowing terms, and they've only gone and rewarded our faith by triumphing in our latest Tracks Of The Week brouhaha. So congratulations to them!

Big props also to Trev Lukather's spangly new rock project The Effect, who followed swiftly in second place, and to Beth Hart, who trailed not-quite-so-swiftly in third. In our eyes, they're all winners. Even the losers.

Here's Praying Mantis again, to rub victory into your hair. 

And now? Eight more fighters. Ready, set, go!


Tempt - Two Ways

Originally released on the melodic rockers’ self-titled album last year, Two Ways now gets the single/music video treatment, and rightly so because it’s an absolute joy. So ‘80s you can taste the hairspray. So Def Leppard you’re sort of waiting for Joe Elliott to join on vocals, or for some Collen-n’-Campbell guitar action to come soaring in. Big-hearted and hooky, with just the right balance of gloss and beefy crunch. Plus they all look like they’re having the best time, in an utterly unironic way.

Mdou Moctar - Imouhar

A heady, highly danceable swirl of hypnotic blues hooks and Saharan sand, Imouhar finds Moctar and his bandmates calling on their fellow Tuareg people to preserve their Tamasheq language (Mdou is one of few in his community who can still write in it). "People here are just using French," he says. "They're starting to forget their own language. We feel like in a hundred years no one will speak good Tamasheq, and that's so scary for us." 

Battlesnake - Alpha & Omega

The freaknik Aussies’ new track starts off super-dreamy, but it’s not long before they’re rocking out like dinosaurs after a few espressos. Boasting one of the most addictive riffs we’ve heard this year (think Ghost via King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard) plus swooping synths and a prog-tastic sense of adventure, Alpha & Omega is a mini-epic which “represents the further uncoiling of Battlesnake lore.” As the band explain: “It captures the adventurous energy of this album [The Rise and Demise of The Motorsteeple, out in June] in five and half minutes of thematic and sonic carnage.”

Dead Posey - She Went Bad 

With artfully gothic visuals, a whiff of Dorothy in the vocals and a ‘hey!’ refrain straight out of Nirvana’s Heart-Shaped Box, the LA duo’s new single offers a spicy brand of alternative hard rock. Long interested in the dark side of life (their band name stems from the plague nursery rhyme Ring Around the Rosie), singer/producer Danyell Souza and guitarist/producer Tony Fagenson turn introspective themes and fears into a big, vibey ‘fuck-you’ statement of intent. ‘She’s heading to hell anyway,’ Souza sings, all vampish energy with a wry slant.

Spell - A Waxing Moon Over Babylon

A cover of Dutch occult rockers The Devil’s Blood, Canadian duo Spell’s take on A Waxing Moon Over Babylon comes wreathed in graveyard mist, twin-lead guitars and the enigmatic ghosts of classic heavy metallers known and obscure. Devoted TDB fans, in 2009 Spell travelled to Oberhausen, Germany, to see them on their first ever tour – after which they slept in a local graveyard. Continuing the nocturnal spirit, the single is coming out as part of a split 7” on Bad Omen Records with another Canadian group, Pøltergeist. Lovely.

Marjana Semkina - We Are The Ocean

Iamthemorning mastermind Marjana Semkina returns to our ears, as a soloist, with this ethereal yet urgent protest song – stirring her Tori Amos-meets-Kate Bush soprano into a marriage of contemporary progressive rock, searing lead guitars and darkly folky textures. "This song was inspired by all of my Russian friends coming out to protest against the war when it started,” Russian-born Semkina says, “despite the fact that there was a very good chance they’d get arrested for doing so – a lot did in the end.” Its parent album, Sirin (named after a creature in ancient Slavic mythology), comes out in May.

The Strike - The Getaway

Judging by the sound of The Tempt (see above), the 80s are trying to sneak back into popular music, and here's more evidence. The Strike are straight outta Provo, Utah, and sound like they've been raised on a strict diet of Miami Vice, Capri Sun and Mr. Mister. Indeed, new single The Getaway could only be more 80s if the climax were heralded by a soaraway sax solo. Oh wait, it is! Slicker than the Amoco Cadiz oil spill, it's the title track of their third studio album, which will be out sometime this year, we imagine.     

Wytch Hazel - Ride On

Taken from a split vinyl 7" with Spanish prog rockers Phantom Spell (another such release on Bad Omen, see Spell, above), Ride On finds popular Lancastrian spiritualists Wytch Hazel in sparkling form, with a NWOBHM-meets-Church Of The Cosmic Skull banger that trots along in triumphant fashion, with duelling guitars and a chorus so earwormy we may have to get 'em de-waxed. "Who would win in a debate, Robin Hood or Gandalf?" ask the band, before revealing that the single doesn't answer that question. Thanks guys!

Polly Glass
Deputy Editor, Classic Rock

Polly is deputy editor at Classic Rock magazine, where she writes and commissions regular pieces and longer reads (including new band coverage), and has interviewed rock's biggest and newest names. She also contributes to Louder, Prog and Metal Hammer and talks about songs on the 20 Minute Club podcast. Elsewhere she's had work published in The Musician, delicious. magazine and others, and written biographies for various album campaigns. In a previous life as a women's magazine junior she interviewed Tracey Emin and Lily James – and wangled Rival Sons into the arts pages. In her spare time she writes fiction and cooks.

With contributions from