And a Happy New Year to you too.
We start 2022 as we ended 2021, with vivid proof that new music continues to thrill, with musicians the world over conjuring up magic week after week. Even over the Christmas break – traditionally a barren period as far as new releases go – rock didn't stop rolling.
So below are our first Tracks Of The Week of 2022 – don't forget to vote at the foot of the page – but first, here are our final winners of 2021. In third place were The Moon City Masters with Send It On (opens in new tab), while These Voices (opens in new tab) by the Kris Barras Band came second. Our final winners of the year? The Hellacopters.
Dirty Honey - Let's Go Crazy
Dirty Honey kick things off with a Zeppelin-esque cover of Prince's Let's Go Crazy filmed as an ice hockey promo on a frozen lake in Minnesota. There are two versions: the full audio is below, while the shorter video version (featuring overexcited sportscaster voiceover) is on the band's YouTube page (opens in new tab). Spoiler alert: The Blues beat the Minnesota Wild 6-4, with Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko scoring for the fifth consecutive game.
Simon McBride - The Fighter
Simon McBride may be familiar to viewers from his stints with Ian Gillan, the Don Airey Band and Snakecharmer, but here he strikes out on his own with a song that's as fully-formed as they come. Greasy riff? Check. Soaring chorus? Check. Flashing solo? Checkmate. Simon's upcoming solo album The Fighter will be released via earMusic later this year.
Coleman Rigg & The Ridge Runners - Getaway
Operating in an unusual space somewhere between Joe Bonamassa and The White Stripes, Philadelphia-based bandleader Coleman Riggs comes flying out of the traps with this thundering piece of blues misadventure. "I’ve packed up and started over many times in my life – leaving towns, relationships, jobs, or whatever behind me," Coleman tells us. "There’s a lot of pain in that, but also growth, and I reflected and saw those feelings so clearly when writing this song."
Big Big Train - Bats In The Belfry
Less than two months after the tragic death of singer David Longdon, Big Big Train have released an instrumental that shows the band's unorthodox journey veering off on unexpected tangents once again. Written drummer Nick D'Virgilio, Bats In The Belfry starts off with rumbling, Chris Squire-style bass, almost turns into the theme from Hawaii Five-0, features parping horns and a church organ, and finishes with D'Virgilio rattling round his kit as if he's limbering up for a solo. Remarkable stuff.
Yo No Se - Nova
Bristol-based psychedelic grungers Yo No Se ended 2021 by releasing Momento Mori, a collection of b-sides and songs recorded during lockdown, but don't let the apparently cobbled-together nature of the project put you off. It's a worthy successor to the excellent Terraform album, and single Nova finds the band doing what the band do best, which is answering the question about what Black Sabbath might sound like were Kurt Cobain their singer and not Ozzy Osbourne.
Magnum - No Steppin' Stone
Astonishingly, this year sees the 50th anniversary of pomp-rock lynchpins Magnum, (although their career didn't really kick into gear for a half-decade), but Tony Clarkin's songwriting shows no sigh of ageing. No Steppin' Stone throws in some unexpected horns, singer Bob Catley sounds in fine form, and there's even a delightfully weird hypnotic keyboard passage that less brave bands might have discarded. The late career resurgence continues unabated.
IO Audio Recordings - Sunrise And Overdrive
Sitting somewhere near the centre of a very complicated krautrock/psychedelia /shoegaze/drone rock/space rock venn diagram, Orange County's mysterious IO Audio Recordings may have a name that sounds like an expensive audiophile brand, but there's no doubting the super-fidelity of the music. Listening to the instrumental Sunrise And Overdrive is like being forcibly propelled through some sort of mind-bending sonic vortex into the deepest reaches of the galaxy, and it's some journey, we can tell you.
Emigrate - Always On My Mind (feat. Till Lindemann)
This song has been around a while, but Emigrate have made a video for their stirring cover of Wayne Carson's classic Always on My Mind, and very nice it is too. Rather touchingly, the song is set up to celebrate the relationship between Emigrate leader Richard Kruspe and his Rammstein bandmate Till Lindemann, but – as ever with Lindemann – you're not sure where the truth ends and the weird takes over. Either way, when the strings soar in it sounds like the greatest Christmas hit ever, and the payoff at the end is is a lovely touch.