Loathe as we are to revisit the dreary old "rock is dead" theory, 2021 has given us actual, statistical proof that it's very much alive.
How's that, you may ask? Well, there have been eight UK number one albums so far this year and five of them – yes, five – have been rock albums. So let's salute Bring Me The Horizon, You Me At Six, Foo Fighters, Mogwai and Architects, who've all out-sold Billie Eilish, Ed Sheeran, Beyonce and the rest to clamber to the top of the album chart.
In the only other chart that matters, congratulations are very much due to Chris Catalyst, who triumphed in last week's Tracks of the Week competition, and to Blackberry Smoke and SKAM, who fell short by mere inches and finished second and third respectively.
We've got a brand new set of candidates below, so please give them a moment or two of your time before voting, but first, here's last week's winner again.
Zach Person - Can't Stop Running
Now this is what you need to start your Monday right; one of the latest hot new faces of blues, proving (if proof was needed) that it’s really not the knackered old carthorse of a genre some make it out to be. Looks cool, sounds even cooler, Zach Person kinda makes us think of rock’n’roll power trio The Record Company – albeit with a freakier, woozier streak – on this commanding single. Originally released in 2020, this new live session version enlivens things delightfully.
Dirty Honey - California Dreamin’
A couple of years back, LA’s rising “new-fashioned rock’n’roll” foursome surprised everyone by topping Billboard’s mainstream rock songs chart (the first unsigned band to do so). 2020 was supposed to be their year, until… yeah, you know the rest. Now they’re raring to go again with a new record, the first taste of which is this firecracker party of Black Crowes blues rock and Aerosmith swagger, complete with a video that shows California to be, like, the coolest, sexiest place in the world. Or something.
45ACIDBABIES - Mommy’s Favourite 1
If you enjoy the sparky bong-fests of (Tame Impala offshoot) Pond, but prefer their rockiest moments, these Dutch weirdos are for you. Buoyant, bouncy garage punk painted all colours of the rainbow, Mommy’s Favourite 1 starts off in cute enough fashion, before leading you into a legit earworm of a chorus. Gleaming yet gritty.
Mason Hill - Broken Son
The young Scots’ debut LP just came out last week, and if you like Broken Son you should definitely check it out. “Sometimes it’s dangerous to look back with regret,” singer Scott Taylor says of this ripped, moody mesh of hard rock, atmospheric textures and big-ass ‘woaah-oh’ chants, “so the song is an affirmation of trying to always look forward with a balls out attitude!”
Low Cut Connie - Charyse
Another searing blend of pain, sweetness and tenderness from Adam Weiner’s opus maximus Private Lives. Bringing a dash of Springsteen-esque balladry to LCC’s rock n’ soul cocktail, it’s a vivid snapshot of human hope and struggle. "There are 8 million stories in the Naked City,” Weiner says (quoting Jules Dassin’s 1948 noir NYC-based flick The Naked City). “Charyse is just one of them. I love singing about her.”
Sweet - Set Me Free (2020)
Set Me Free was originally the opening track on Sweet's 1974 album Sweet Fanny Adams, but here it's been rerecorded in isolation by the band's current line-up. Former Cats In Space singer Paul Manzi lends his substantial pipes to a version that whips along with a more metallic edge than the original, but not much has been lost in translation. It's taken from the band's upcoming Isolation Boulevard album, a collection named in tribute to 1975's Desolation Boulevard.
Wild Spelks - Dreamer
One man band Jonathon Sabiston does everything on Dreamer, a punchy three and a half minutes of melodic alt-rock that comes on like Weezer playing Teenage Fanclub. In other words, it's dripping with melody and harbours a chorus so catchy you'll have it committed to memory before it's even finished. Rather improbably, the whole thing was recorded in Jonathan's flat in Newcastle. And in case you're wondering what a spelk is, wonder no more: we looked it up, and it's Geordie slang for a small splinter of wood.
Nestor - On The Run
Swedish melodic rockers Nestor say that On The Run "relives the glory days when we were young, confident and the future was filled with endless possibilities". It also relives the days when spandex was the fashionable gentleman's fabric of choice, and when the back-combing of one's hair was a perfectly legitimate way to while away the hours. In other words: it gleams, it shines, it pouts, it's dripping with very strong cheese, and if you enjoy the kind of Scandi-rock purveyed by the likes of H.e.a.t., you're probably ahead of us already.