In the wake of Manchester United's 7-0 one-sided drubbing at the hands of Liverpool, we're delighted to report that our most recent Tracks Of The Week competition was a much tighter affair, with Leicester power trio Skam eking out the narrowest-possible edge-of-the-seat victory against the legendary Ian Hunter. We probably won't see a battle as tight as that for months. Possibly eons.
But we'll try. And that's why we've listed this week's candidates below, so that you may listen to them all, make a choice based on your opinion and/or musical loyalties, and then place your vote in the voting contraption at the foot of the page. Thank you.
Starcrazy - Egging Me On
Inspired by “the stupid things we do under the influence of alcohol”, the Aussies’ new single Egging Me On is a noisy rocketful of sin and sweat that burns hard n’ fast (really fast; it’s over in under two minutes). Dirty, noisy rock’n’roll with fire in its belly and Hanoi Rocks’ hairspray in its veins, it’s music for breaking speed limits, drinking irresponsibly, purging your demons at some ear-splitting club night and waking up the next day with hangover of galactic proportions. And who doesn’t want that?
Karman Line - King Of The Day
Formed during the pandemic and therefore unable to take first steps as a live band, these UAE-based rockers instead knuckled down and honed their sound; a tight, swaggering hit of bluesy hard rock with a flannel-shirted 90s bent, a slightly funky edge and the classic chops of Purple, Zeppelin and co in its DNA. “It’s been quite a journey piecing this record together, from the late-night writing sessions to days on end in the recording studio and the odd hurdle along the way,” they say of debut album Like A Machine, from which King Of The Day is taken, and is due out in May. “We’re all super excited it’s finally going out into the world, and I think we’re even more excited to take it on the road.”
Verdena - Crystal Ball
Huge stars since the 90s in their native Italy (and coming to London for a show in April, when they’ll also release a new album, Volevo Magia) Verdena were flying the Italian-language rock flag before Måneskin were even A Thing. On the strength of this single they’re just as worth investigating. A groovy, unhinged rumble of psychedelic thunder and grunge fuzz, Crystal Ball comes with an arthouse film-style video of cult worshippers, with the band cast as wide-eyed witch doctor types. Not unlike Smashing Pumpkins biking out into the desert with Queens Of The Stone Age.
Elegant Weapons - Blind Leading The Blind
The oomphy supergroup of Judas Priest guitarist Richie Faulkner, this new track is billed (by Faulkner) as “a mix of Jimi Hendrix, Priest, Sabbath, solo Ozzy and Black Label Society, but with a lot of melody, sort of old school and modern at once if that makes any sense, and actually down-tuned a whole step.” Yes Richie, it makes total sense; galloping, righteous hard rock with a heart of melodic heavy-fucking-metal, nodding to the 70s and 80s stalwarts that inspired Faulkner and co to do what they do. Catch ‘em live at Steelhouse this summer.
Extreme - Rise
Back to launch their first album since 2008 (titled Six and due out in June), Boston hard rockers Extreme lean into their heavier side on this first taste. Get The Funk Out it aint, but it is a hearty wallop of grooving metallic crunch, peppered with industrial grit and a riff you’ll struggle to not air-guitar along to. “Musically, it’s aggressive,” singer Gary Cherone says. “Lyrically, it’s a cautionary tale on the rise and fall of fame. You get seduced into it. Once you’re on top, they’ll rip you apart and tear you down. That’s the nature of the beast.”
Connor Selby - Love Letter To The Blues
“This song, as the title suggests, was just written as a love letter to the blues music that I love and that I grew up listening to," says Connor Selby. "The blues for me has always been the rock that I’ve built my entire life upon and really, it’s what I’ve always used to define myself." Love Letter To The Blues is as smooth as a velvet swan gliding through a tub of cream cheese, but don't let that put you off: young Selby has the voice of a seasoned veteran, with flashes of Dr John and Van Morrison adding gravitas to a vocal performance that's as relaxed as it is slick. It'll be worth watching out for him on Beth Hart's upcoming UK tour, we very much suspect.
Samantha Fish & Jesse Dayton - Deathwish
Deathwish is the first single taken from Death Wish Blues, the new album from blues siren Samantha Fish and Texan guitarist Jesse Dayton. Produced by Jon Spencer (yep, him from from the Blues Explosion), it's less than three minutes long. but it's steeped in grit and gospel, with the kind of raw blues power so typical of Fish's best work. "We got together and had this vision of making something of an alt-blues record," says Fish, "but it turned out to be so much more exciting and layered than I ever imagined."
Austin Gold - Cut & Run
Peterborough's finest Austin Gold continue to put out really strong singles without people paying as much attention as they probably should, and Cut & Run (from last year's Those City Lights, album) is another contender, with a rock-solid riff and the kind of uplifting chorus that's custom-made for big rooms. "It’s a tale urging a companion to stick it to the man and head off in cloud of tire smoke," says frontman David James Smith. "Hear the lyrics, ‘Take your chances, Cut & Run‘ and you can get a sense of its urgency."