If last week's Tracks Of The Week competition taught us anything, it's never to give up. As late as Sunday, Lancastrian rockers Wytch Hazel were still on the campaign trail, encouraging their congregation to vote, and, by jingo, they've only gone and done it. So congratulations to them, for Angel Of Light is a worthy winner. May you continue to kick ass.
Congratulations also to previous winners When Rivers Meet, whose Play My Game came second, and congratulations to the The Dust Coda - who might also be previous winners but we're not keeping track – for Road To Hell, which finished third.
This week, we've got some big names in the mix. And some small names. And several names that are definitely longer than average. We hope you enjoy their sonic splendour.
Greta Van Fleet - Meeting The Master
Michigan’s prodigious maestros of lavish, prog-slanted classic rock are back, and this time they’ve loosened up somewhat. Josh Kizska’s enduring, Jon Anderson-grade tenor gives them the sort of tartness that will always be slightly divisive (in a good way), but otherwise this new single finds them in sonically warmer climes. Kicking off the campaign for their next album, Meeting The Master is softer and prettier than its predecessors, tapping into Led Zeppelin’s folky, forest nymph-y side, building to a grand climax with the same startling confidence that’s driven their music so far.
Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit - Middle Of The Morning
Alabama-born singer/songwriter/astute observer of life Jason Isbell has come up with something deceptively heartbreaking with Middle Of The Morning. Written during lockdown, it has a twinkly West Coast edge that juxtaposes sweetly with Allmans-esque guitar warmth, allowing lines like ‘I ain’t used to this/I was raised to be a strong and silent southern man’ to sneak up into your chest to quietly devastating effect. “It was about trying to keep my mind from unravelling over the couple of years there,” Isbell says. His next album, Weathervanes, is out in June.
Teen Jesus And The Jean Teasers - Lights Out
There are bright, punchy flavours of Elastica and Garbage, along with a sizeable amount of Riot Grrrl DNA, in this fuzzy new alt rock ripper from rising Aussie gang Teen Jesus And The Jean Teasers. One of those songs that manages to be messy and super-tight at the same time, it’s the 90s-infused sound of horny summer holidays and dancing like nothing matters until the sun comes up. Like what you hear? They play their debut UK shows in May.
Texas Hippie Coalition - Hell Hounds
Revelling in their self-coined ‘red dirt metal’ genre, Texas Hippie Coalition conjure the sound of southern rock in a meat-grinder, all biker rally beef with Black Label Society-meets-Alice In Chains smokiness in the chorus. The sort of beery, bearded, bong-smoked stuff you’ll find on their new album The Name Lives On. “Where there once was an appetite for this style of music,” frontman Big Dad Ritch says, “I witnessed a hunger grow and now I see the lovers of real music starving for it. The Name Lives On is an album that is a dinner bell ringer… I was sent to ring that bell!”
Tanith - Olympus By Dawn
Brooklyn, NYC-based revivalists Tanith make like a dreamy 70s rock kaleidoscope on this piece of new album Voyage (out 21 April). Blue Oyster Cult and Uriah Heep nods are plentiful, along with a background bite of NWOBHM. "The lyric relates the feeling of performing while sleep-deprived, something we experienced on our last tour,” the band say. “With the video, we were trying to reinforce the feeling of the song with a dream-like vibe.”
The Night Flight Orchestra - The Sensation
The Night Flight Orchestra continue to inhabit that strange spot on the map where Survivor meets Studio 54, welding the slickest of AOR to a world of disco balls and confetti cannons. The lustre of The Sensation is such that it's almost a surprise when the chorus isn't delivered by Bianca Jagger astride a white horse. "The Sensation is the first in a series of brand new singles being released this year," say the band. "It carries everything this band is about: glorious riffage, soaring vocals, infectious rhythms and unforgettable melodies." And so say all of us.
Beaux Gris Gris & The Apocalypse - Alone
Beaux Gris Gris & The Apocalypse's Greta Valenti and Robin Davey continue to treat the world of blues, country, soul and roots rock as a mystical realm rather than a collection of genres, and new single Alone is no different. It's the kind of melancholy, almost other-worldly piano ballad you can imagine soundtracking an end-of-season montage from some LA-noir Netflix series, possibly involving great tragedy and deep personal trauma, with a climactic final scene in which the protagonist weeps in the rain as an SUV burns in the distance. Or something. Either way, it's very good.
Ghost - Jesus He Knows Me
Ghost covering late-period Genesis sounds exactly like you'd expect it to sound – there's enough pop-prog in Ghost's DNA to make it an entirely natural fit – but throw in a video that's the second cousin of The Prodigy's epochal Smack My Bitch Up and you've got something that's as entertaining as it is accomplished. Like Metallica, Ghost's willingness to enthusiastically embrace the music of others suggests an absolute confidence in their own deep well of ideas rather than a paucity, and we predict that the upcoming Phantomine EP – which features covers of songs by Television, The Stranglers, Iron Maiden and Tina Turner – will be glorious.