So here we are once more, in the playground of the broken hearts.
That's what Fish from Marillion sung back in 1983, but he could just have easily been referring to last week's Tracks Of The Week competition, in which three songs made it to podium of rock'n'roll triumph while five were banished forever to the bin of musical ignominy.
So congratulations to Carol Hodge, whose The Moan Of A Thousand Years swept all others aside to romp home atop the pyramid, while Joanne Shaw Taylor's Three Time Loser and the Ghost Hounds' Half My Fault fell just short.
And now? It's on with this week's show.
Ghost - Hunter’s Moon
With Halloween just around the corner, Tobias Forge returns with the first new Ghost music in two years – which also happens to be the end credits track for upcoming (John Carpenter-soundtracked) horror flick, Halloween Kills. Carpenter may bring the chills, but Ghost have the disco lights we all need after being scared shitless; along with the sort of pop-come-70s prog quality that builds on previous LP Prequelle. If ABBA were soundtracking this movie, they’d probably have written something like this.
SKAM - Deadliest Sin
The Leicester power trio know how to party with the best of ‘em, but on Deadliest Sin they show their pensive side and it’s rather lush. Complete with a big old stick-in-yer-head chorus, the moody, grungy sweetness at work made us think of the Foo Fighters’ Learn To Fly getting roughed up by Soundgarden. They’re a DIY outfit, but at their best SKAM give the big boys a generous run for their money. Check out this and more on new EP Venous (following on from previous one Intra), which is out now.
Dead Sara - Hypnotic
Ten years ago these Los Angeles rockers were hot stuff, with suckerpunch single Weatherman picking up radio plays and turning a lot of heads. Since then they’ve carried on comparatively quietly. Now, they’re back with a new album and a gear-changing poptastic single that delivers on the promise of its title. It is hypnotic. A slick bump n’ grind sugar rush that swirls garage swagger, 90s production vibes and feelgood pop into one delicious milkshake, it’ll make you forget your troubles, if only for a couple of minutes.
Joe Bonamassa - Time Clocks
For most of his career Joe Bonamassa has been best suited to labels like ‘guitar hero’, rather than ‘songwriter’ – a blues guy with big solos, as opposed to a rock star with great tunes. Over the last few years that balance has begun to shift. Songs have become the focus, without letting the guitar side down. Now, with this big title track from his next album (a chest-swelling, soulful ode to the passage of time, with notes of the Who’s prime 70s output), it feels like he’s fully ‘arrived’. We love this song because it’s a great song, backed by first-class guitar action – not the other way round.
The Velveteers - Father Of Lies
Fresh from sessions with Dan Auerbach and shows with Guns N’ Roses, among others, the Colorado trio are laying waste to our ears once again (in a good way) with this deliciously dark earworm – its rumbling grooves and Stooges-y menace offset by Demi Demitro’s gauzy, haunting vocal refrains. “Father of Lies is about having a little devil who likes to sit on your shoulder and whisper in your ear,” the singer/guitarist says. “It’s about battling the evil voices in your head.”
Gwyn Ashton - Lonely On The Run
On this languid, leathery blues rocker, Welsh-Aussie axe-slinger Gwyn teamed up with bassist Neil Murray (Whitesnake, Black Sabbath, Brian May Band, Gary Moore), Mark Stanway on organ (Robert Plant, Phil Lynott's Grand Slam, Magnum) and drummer John Freeman (Fraternity - w/Bon Scott, Mickey Finn). Shunning polish in favour of loose, raw bite and swagger – prettied up with a sultry organ and backing vocal hum in the chorus – he’s something of a dark horse.
Mastodon - Teardrinker
Mastodon are a band whose music occasionally fails to live up to their album artwork, but we have high hopes for album number nine, Hushed And Grim. Previous single Pushing The Tides was appropriately epic, and so is Teardrinker. It's music with the scale of a weather system; It's the soundtrack to a prairie tornado or a great storm at sea, with riffs that sway and churn and boil with inclement intent. Also, there's a nice video with the fellas in the band reaching into a mysterious box.
John Mellencamp feat. Bruce Springsteen - Wasted Days
Despite sharing a stage on a number of occasions, John Mellencamp and Springsteen have never recorded together before, but that changes right now. Wasted Days finds the duo in reflective mood, two of music's elder statesmen with nothing to prove but plenty to say on a song that feels both Autumnal and celebratory. For anyone who enjoyed the relaxed charm of The Boss's glorious Western Stars album, this is more of the same, and there's literally nothing wrong with that.