The best new rock songs you need to hear right now, including The Hot Damn!, Tuk Smith, The Inspector Cluzo and more

Tracks of the Week artists
(Image credit: Press materials)

It was a right old red-and-blue tangle in our most recent Tracks Of The Week
scuffle, as Scarlet Rebels took on Blues Pills, but at the end of the day it was the former who "hit it out of the park," as they say, so congratulations to them, and to their now-award-winning song Secret Drug. They'll surely be dancing in the streets of Llanelli.

Up next, we go again, as The Hot Damn! join Grace Bowers & The Hodge Podge, Tuk Smith & The Restless Hearts, The Georgia Thunderbolts, Big Special, The Inspector Cluzo, Creeping Jean and the Moon City Masters in a battle to the figurative death. Get stuck in!

Below you'll find this week's hopefuls. 


The Hot Damn! - Jukebox On The Radio

Still comfortably earning the exclamation mark in their name, on their singalong new single The Hot Damn! boogie like The Struts and The Bangles bonding at a party over cocktails with umbrellas and a bowlful of Haribo. In other words, quality sugary fun that rocks. On the subject of their forthcoming album, from which Jukebox On The Radio is taken, singer/guitarist Gill Montgomery had this calm, collected insight: “People of planet earth! Make some space in your ear holes! Because things are about to get SPICY! Our first love child Dancing on the Milky Way will be dropping into your laps this coming September!” 

Grace Bowers & The Hodge Podge - Tell Me Why U Do That

Originally from the Bay Area and now based in Nashville, 17-year-old Grace began turning heads in lockdown by posting videos of herself playing guitar. Since then she's landed a Gibson endorsement, performed at Eric Clapton's Crossroads festival, sat in with the great Tami Neilson and played for Dolly Parton. All without releasing any music. Now teamed with soulful crack squad The Hodge Podge, and John Osborne (of the Brothers Osborne) in the producer's seat, she makes a seriously funky impression with this first single – all loose syncopation, Sly & The Family Stone feels and fluid bluesy licks dotted with clever twists. Definitely one to watch.

Tuk Smith & The Restless Hearts - Little Renegade

The former Biters man is back with an all-singin’, all 70s-lovin’ earworm that takes pieces of Ian Hunter, Marc Bolan, Cheap Trick and Thin Lizzy and stirs them up with the contents of own restless heart (sorry, sorry….). It’s rock’n’roll for those of us who know it’s not the ‘coolest’ thing anymore [WHAT?! - Ed], but listen anyway with a weird kind of pride, because we can’t not love it. More coming from him later this year, so keep your ears open.

The Georgia Thunderbolts - Stand Up

Another band with Georgia roots now – this lot from Rome (Tuk’s originally from Griffin, GA), and swimming in heavier waters on Stand Up. Mixing a healthy helping of Alice In Chains with outlaw southern rock, it’s a gritty yet swaggering number with its heart in a swamp somewhere. “I was raised by my dad and my grandma. He loved 1980s rock, and my grandma loved classic country, like Hank Williams Jr., Waylon Jennings and Merle Haggard,” guitarist Riley says. “As soon as TJ [Lyle, vocalist] opens his mouth you know we’re from the South.”

Big Special - Black Dog/White Horse

Walsall duo Big Special write emotively about working-class issues – fusing old-school blues and hip-hop in the process – but they do it with a level of soul and nuance that stops them feeling too pigeonhole-able. Teamed with a slow-burn video starring Game Of Thrones actor Kate Dickie, their new single packs an arresting punch. "Black Dog/White Horse is about fear, about rumination, intrusive thoughts and cycles of depression,” explains lead singer Joe Hicklin. “It’s about trying to figure out how to reach out when feelings of guilt and shame take hold. It’s about recognising these things in others, noticing the lost and undervalued, and their increasing numbers."

The Inspector Cluzo - The Outsider

Originally released as part of last year’s excellent Horizon, now the beautifully moody The Outsider gets the standalone single treatment with this gorgeous animated video. Bluesy at heart with a grunge veneer (and fuelled by unwavering social and environmentalist values), like so much of what the Gascony duo do it has an emotional weight that sneaks up on you. Just when you’re chuckling at the whole ‘ooh, French farmers in a rock band!’ schtick, they wallop you with something like this. So worth your attention if you missed them before.

Creeping Jean - Sassy Got Shakes

If The Hives shared records and a wardrobe with Rival Sons, they’d be a lot like Creeping Jean – all groovy, retro va-va-voom with an indie rock slant on Sassy Got Shakes. It’s tonnes of fun, and just as well styled as you’d expect from a band who also run a vintage clothing store in Brighton (their hometown). “This song is the tale of someone exhilarating that caught our eye at a festival,” says frontman Olly Tooze, offering precisely the sort of ‘backstory’ you’d expect to inspire a song like this. “They were just completely owning the vibe.” 

The Moon City Masters - Keep Dreaming

Our old friends, Brooklyn-based brotherly duo the Moon City Masters, have released a new one, the title track from an EP that's due to land at the end of next month.  It's predictably lovely, with guitars that chime and guitars that wriggle and other guitars that spiral and vocals that soar like an eagle that's just caught an updraft over a mighty canyon. It gleams and it shines and it's the kind of thing Tim Scholz would be proud of. And so should they.   

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