As Muse once so wisely said: it's a new dawn, it's a new day, it's a new life for me, and I'm feeling good, yessiree-bob.
As 2020 is consigned to history's great wheelie bin of despair and 2021 clatters into view, we can only hope that this year is better than last. For while the rock didn't stop over the last dozen months, there were occasions when it felt somewhat diminished. Here's hoping the next 12 bring less gloom and a gradual return to something resembling normality.
We did end 2020 on a high, though, with Lovesick Radio's timely Nothing Left To Lose being voted our final Track of the Week of the year. They were swiftly followed by Angeline and Prowess, so congratulations to them too. And below you'll find our first selection of this year. We hope you enjoy them.
Foo Fighters - No Son Of Mine
Bursting into 2021 like a hare being chased through a cornfield by a hungry fox, Foo Fighters' No Son Of Mine is the kind of thing The Foos release to provide reassurance to anyone concerned that their next album might be disco, or polka, or some new genre like proto-whimsy (we just made that up). So of course it rocks, like a truck with new suspension. Like a rocking horse. Like rocking chair. But one made out of steel. With daggers. And a bullet belt. And a pint of fuck-you held proudly aloft.
Brothers In Exile - Last Orders
We've featured Welsh rockers Sonny Jim before in these very pages before, and now the band's guitarist Lloyd Jenkins has hooked up with Stu Calder – a man he describes as "the Lenny Kravitz of Cheltenham" – to form Brothers In Exile. They recorded the boisterous Last Orders together in a brief window between the 26th and 27th lockdowns, and very good it is too, with a pumping, Wildhearts-esque riff backing a pumping, Wildhearts-esque verse and a pumping, Wildhearts-esque chorus. More fun than a clown car driven at speed into a bouncy castle.
The Quins - Wild Ones
The Quins are from Boston (Massachusetts, not Lincolnshire), and promise to "resurrect Classic Rock back from the vinyl cemetery to modern day iPod libraries". We'd normally be a bit sniffy about such overt displays of self-proclaimed genius, but Wild Ones is so good we won't (it rocks, and it funks, and it power-pops). And the sinister, narcotic-drenched video is even better. Since this was released a fortnight ago they've already released another clip – for the even spookier Sit And Wine (opens in new tab) – and we'll calculate that they'll probably release somewhere north of 170 singles this year if they carry on at the same rate. We look forward to them all.
Degreed - The World We Knew
This recommendation came from Classic Rock's very own Dave Ling, who knows melodic rock when he sees it, and this is very melodic. Degreed (they actually spell it with a lower case 'd', the fools, but we like to ignore such affectations) are from Sweden, where they also know a thing or two about melodic rock. And so when the chorus to The World We Knew (a song about last year, history fans) arrives, you know what happens: it soars, like a kestrel borne aloft on gossamer wings. Or like Sears Tower in Chicago. Or like something else that soars.
Edenthorn - 1993
Do you remember what you were doing 28 years ago? We certainly do, for we were listening to Nirvana and Smashing Pumpkins. So were Edenthorn, judging by the nostalgia-fest that is new single 1993, and they probably weren't even alive back then. With a riff that may or may not have been influenced by another bunch of 1993 graduates, Buffalo Tom, it also references the films of the day: Groundhog Day, Sleepless In Seattle, and so on. "It was a simple time, with simple things," they sing, "it was 1993." This single would have fit right in, and we're delighted that someone's finally writing songs about a year that isn't 2020.
Sainted Sinners - Stone Cold Sober
If you ever wonder, as we do, what current Tygers Of Pan Tang singer Jack Meille does in his spare time, you'll be delighted to learn that we have an answer: he's in The Sainted Sinners, and they've just released a new song entitled Stone Cold Sober. They tell us it's about "the pub scene how it has been until this year and how we have to deal with it in recent times," so we're back to 2020 again, but it's rescued by being a classy, lively rocker with a chorus that'll bounce around your skull for days and a video featuring bassist Rico Bowen naked in the shower. Happy New Year everyone!
Neil Young - Goodbye Christians On The Shore
If Neil Young has proved anything with his ongoing Archive series, it's that when he was on form he was so prolific his offcuts were better than most artists' choice cuts. Hell, sometimes they were better than his own. And so it proves with Goodbye Christians On The Shore, recorded with the Stray Gators just before the Time Fades Away tour. It's a gorgeous, lilting waltz with all the Young-isms present and correct: that nasal voice, that plaintive harmonica, that gift for melody that's simultaneously melancholy and uplifting. Lovely.
Starbenders - Holy Mother
One of the bands of last year as far as we're concerned, Atlanta glam kittens Starbenders spent most of 2020 releasing singles at a rate that would terrify an epidemiologist. They ended the year going looking back, filming a live version of Holy Mother – one of the highlights their terrific Love Potions album – and one of the songs that got the ball rolling back in 2019. And while the album benefitted from months of studio spit and polish, Holy Mother is clear proof that the band can absolutely cut it on stage. They're even added a new, slow section at the end, in which lead Starbender Kimi Shelter does her best Patti Smith impression. If there's any justice in this world, 2021 will be their year, just as 2020 should have been.