We'll dedicate this week's Tracks Of The Week to England's valiant Lionesses, who stumbled at the final hurdle as they lost out to Spain and failed to bring the World Cup home, in a match that proved – once and for all – that the women's game is more than capable of matching the men's where it comes to dark arts and general shithousery. Well done everyone!
Our Tracks Of The Week was an even more one-sided affair, as Essex blues duo When Rivers Meet took home the trophy with Seen It All Before, while The Struts trailed in their wake with Too Good At Raising Hell. The third place play-off saw Alice Cooper's Welcome To The Show walk away with the prize that no one wants.
And now, it's on with the next round of matches. Go forth and listen! And don't forget to vote (the form is at the foot of the page, right where it always is).
Super City - Getouttahere
This is a lot of fun. Short, sharp and seriously addictive, Get Outta Here so buzzy you can feel the coffee shakes coming through these Baltimore rockers’ limbs. But it’s a cool, swaggery buzz, with a pulsating bassline that keeps it all rocking – rather than buzzing off altogether like some sort of hyperactive bee. It’s like hearing The Knack’s My Sharona getting a dancey makeover by Royal Republic, with the tin-can sound of 00s guitar wavers like The Strokes and The Hives. Like the sound of that? Hit play, and maybe make a note to check out their album, In The Midnight Room, which’ll come out in October.
HAWXX - Embrace The Ugly
Pounding drums. Thick, skull-pummelling guitars. A raw-throated call to arms – or rather, beautiful ‘ugliness’ – that grabs you by the throat from the first beat, and doesn’t let go for the next three minutes. "Embrace The Ugly is a call to come alive in beautiful disobedience of everything that’s expected of you,” the band say. “In the music video everyone performs their own ‘ugly dance’; their own beautiful, unhinged, improvised ritual to shed expectation and transform into something brave, queer and powerful.”
The Record Company - Dance On Mondays
Faced with uncertainty in the run-up to their fourth album (including cancelled shows and being dropped by their label right before Christmas) the LA trio doubled down and returned to what made them click in the first place: raw, old-school rhythm n’ blues with unvarnished soul. Dance On Mondays kicks off the resulting album – the accurately titled The 4th Album – captures the toe-tapping, stripped back blend of honey and grit that first drew us to them. Lush chorus harmonies, too.
Starbenders - Cherry Wine
There’s a gauzy dreaminess to Cherry Wine that brings out the Fleetwood Mac-y side of the Atlanta glamsters – with an ethereal, slightly otherworldly twist. They do sassy stompiness extremely well, but this shows them in a silkier light, all twinkly acoustic strumming, spacious 80s tones and sweet melody shot through with melancholia. Gorgeous. The new album Take Back The Night is out in September.
Needtobreathe - Hideaway
These guys have toured with the likes of Taylor Swift and Tim McGraw, so they know how to write for big spaces. Happily, as evidenced here, this hasn’t come at the expense of sonic richness or intimacy. Falling into an expansive, soulful space somewhere between Bruce Springsteen and The Black Crowes, the South Carolina group’s new single offers a quality taste of the pop-infused heartland to be found on their upcoming album Caves. Nice.
Grace Potter - Masterpiece
A kind of “autobiography in cabaret-pop form”, this piece of Potter’s just-released album Mother Road is a rare gem; a catchy, ‘kooky’ piece of kitchen-sink storytelling (it could very easily have soundtracked a coming-of-age indie film) that isn’t super saccharine. On the contrary, Masterpiece is smart, funny and genuine, wrapped up in warm americana that bites when you want it to. “Masterpiece came from going back home, driving by my high school every day, and feeling childhood memories rushing back,” Potter says. “The kids I’d grown up with were there with a million stories about me, every story got weirder and wilder than the last.”
Scott Stapp - Higher Power
Higher Power rides in on a riff packed with so much thunder and lightning you'll be seeking shelter before the former Creed man reaches the chorus, which is where you'll find him enjoying some very apparent catharsis, singing of his battles against darkness and subsequent, triumphant reemergence into the light. "Life’s mysteries can be unraveled by listening to one's inner voice," explains Stapp. "For me, that means leaning on my faith in God and listening to His voice to guide me through the struggles and darkness."
Baroness - Shine
Baroness are a band whose melodic thrust is most apparent when they back away from the volume and draw breath, and that's the case here. Shine is a sprawling epic that briefly encroaches on the territory occupied by Iron Maiden at their proggiest, but it's much more interesting overall, with riffs that couldn't be more epic if they were carved from marble and displayed atop the pyramids, and an ending that unexpectedly wibbles off into space. New album Stone is out next month.