So here we are once more, in the playground of the broken hearts. In other words, Valentine's Day has come and gone, and we can concentrate on the day job: bringing you the very best in new music.
But first, tradition dictates that we must congratulate last week's victors. And in a very close battle, Those Damn Crows just managed to scrape past The Treatment, with The Lickerish Quartet bringing up the rear. So congratulations to all of them, and here's TDC again, a little treat before we embark on this week's sonic misadventure.
Arielle - Peace Of Mind
When Brian May describes someone as “a truly phenomenal player”, and then announces that he’ll be releasing her new signature guitar, you can’t help but listen in. Anyone expecting some sort of baby shredder will be disappointed by rising US star Arielle’s Peace Of Mind, but for mature, sun-kissed melody and lusciously layered 90s guitar tones it’s bang on the money. Think Sheryl Crow with a touch of Alanis Morissette, jamming with the Laurel Canyon crowd.
Cats In Space - Listen To The Radio
And now for a slow-burning, avant-garde hybrid of Max Richter-style atmospherics and… just kidding, it’s Cats In Space and they’re armed with a gigantic melodic rock singalong, fresh off their brilliantly bombastic new album Atlantis. If Supertramp, Boston and Jim Steinman decided to make a musical together, this would make the cut in a heartbeat.
Ryan Hamilton - Deja Vu I Love You
Anyone dreaming of being serenaded by Weezer with starry-eyed love songs this Valentines Day would have done well to check this out – it’s cute as a button and it rocks. “Being in love, and in a relationship is a lot like a dance… and you need a good dance partner to be successful,” Hamilton explains. “That’s what this song is about. It’s about that ‘dance’, and being able to weather the proverbial storm in a relationship.”
Lowlives - I Don't Like You
Opening with a shot of a sad clown eating cereal from the box, the new video from Lowlives (the West Coast rockers comprising ex members of The Defiled, Amen, No Devotion and the Ataris) escalates in compelling, unexpected fashion. All the while their deliciously hazed out cocktail of Nirvana and Weezer-esque alt rock takes us back to the early 90s in a most delightful way. You can see why they call it their favourite track from their record
Empyre - Stone
The Northampton rockers were inspired by the True Detective series (in particular the brilliant-but-tortured detective figure Rustin 'Rust' Cohle) for this moody, acoustic-based mesh of outlaw mystique and dark alt rock. In one sense it made us think of Eddie Vedder trading ideas with The White Buffalo, and yet there’s a degree of operatic drama that suggests a certain amount of time spent belting out Dio and Iron Maiden songs in front of the mirror.
Alfavrak - 12 Steg
This was billed to us as “the sound of an unruly shopping trolley being pushed through the gravel, snow and ice in the tired Scandinavian night”, so naturally we dived right in, and yes! The water was extremely invigorating, thank you very much. 12 Steg is a Swedish language rocker that takes the taut, riff-hard rock of The Hives and adds a dose of brittle post-punk guitar. It all ends up sounding like a Bon Scott-era AC/DC engine welded to a Gang Of Four chassis, and there's nothing wrong with that. Great video, too.
Mythic Sunship - Maelstrom
Depending on your threshold for the far-out (and for saxophones), press release lines like ‘free-jazz’ and ‘psychedelic rock gods in waiting’ may have you weeping into your coffee and/or gnashing your teeth in fury. But wait! These Copenhagen experimentalists really rock as well, and Maelstrom sounds just like a track called Maelstrom should: it wails, it squeals, it barrels along like Hawkwind driving a magic bus into a black hole, and it contains over 10 minutes of mind-addling skronk.
Lord Bishop Rocks - Where Did You Sleep Last Night?
Leadbelly’s blues classic gets a groovy, beefy makeover (with a whiff of Nirvana’s noted rendition) by this bunch of “Hendrixian Motör funk” mavericks. Their chops and tones are on the money, but it’s the performance of the whole thing that makes it so much fun. It’s like watching a really cool dressing-up box explode; steampunk accoutrements, Marie Antoinette get-up and (in the case of Lord Bishop himself) enough furry bling and big hats to make George Clinton proud.