If our Tracks of the Week were the Tour de France we'd be demanding drugs tests, such is the startling ability of our latest batch of contestants.
But before we get onto that, here's last week's results: Degreed picked up the yellow jersey for The World We Knew – you can watch the video again below – while Edenthorn picked up the sprinter's prize with 1993 and Sainted Sinners were named King of the Mountains for Stone Cold Sober. Congratulations to all of them.
And now, on with this week's race. Last one to Paris gets the beers in.
Inglorious - Medusa
Existing fan of Nathan James and his merry men (the newest lot)? You’ll love this. Never really clicked with Inglorious before? This could be what converts you. A big, bluesy chest-beater – about a wicked woman of apparently mythical proportions (who "gives good lovin’", despite all those snakes in her hair) – Medusa is hands-down one of the best things they’ve done, all riffy classic rock swagger and a chorus the size of Saturn. Lap this up, and more, on their new album We Will Ride, which comes out in February.
The Dust Coda - Breakdown
When TDC’s fireball singer John Drake was 27 and in a band back in Australia, a major label A&R man approached him one rehearsal and said: “Great songs! Great voice etc, but I think if you could try and sound more like a male Lily Allen or Jack Penate we might have something”. Fast forward a few years and a lot more experience later, he channels that experience in this punchy cautionary tale for “artists desperately trying to sell themselves” – upping the ante for their Earache debut, Mojo Skyline (out on 26 March).
White Void - Do. Not. Sleep
With band members originating from such diverse backgrounds as black metal, chiptune [Genre Ed: electronic music inspired by video game music and sounds], avant-garde metal, pop and blues, White Void have an interesting, diverse palette at their disposal. Sound like a recipe for a weird, all-over-the-place mess? Oh but it’s not, as this sharp, suave cocktail of 70s occult rock and Ghost-esque theatre proves. And all from a group of Norwegian blokes who look like a modern prog metal band; all dark threads, well-kept beards and cool hair. Intriguing.
The Hold Steady - Heavy Covenant
The Hold Steady are masters of intelligent, contemporary heartland – the sort that makes you think and warms the soul – and their new single makes good on that reputation. “A song about travel, technology, and human connection”, Heavy Covenant tips its hat to influences like Bruce Springsteen and Husker Du, while conjuring an organ-laced, storytelling depth of its own. Like this? Check out their new album Open Door Policy when it’s released on February 19.
Black Honey - Believer
Described as “a foot-stomping, cathartic, religious experience” – but also just a really good, catchy tune that’ll stay with you for days – the latest single from the Brighton alt rockers mixes desert tones, kitsch cinematic vibes and the sort of oddball pop that made us think of [Danish 00s group] The Asteroids Galaxy Tour’s hit The Golden Age. Accompanied by a wonderfully stylised video set in a dusty, deserted Mexican village (with a “dead behind the eyes” singer Izzy B. Phillips front and centre in a nun’s habit) it’s a macabre but fun ride.
Austin Meade - Deja Vu
There's probably a few of us who can identify with the sentiments of this song right now. Rising Texan star Austin Meade has written an arresting, deeply cathartic soundtrack for these return-to-lockdown times, tapping into everyday existential crises (the video helps this) and offering solace through enveloping, Tom Petty-esque tones. Oh, and stick around for the outro skit and closing line – it's worth it.
Andreas Kümmert - Secret
Former winner of The Voice Of Germany, 30-something singer/songwriter Andreas Kümmert reveals big, soulful pipes in this pensive new single. Emotionally raw without straying into sappiness, Secret is a classy, atmospheric mix of contemporary pop, alt rock and soul, crescendoing with driving guitars and propelled by Kümmert's commanding combination of power and vulnerability.
MSG - Sail The Darkness
The mad axeman returns with a tune singer Ronnie Romero describes as sounding like one of the "great old hard rock songs." Which means that Sail The Darkness sounds like Michael Schenker at his best, while Romero himself sounds much like Ronnie James Dio at his peak. It's kinda Holy Diver-esque in the verses with a touch of power metal in the chorus, and there's not one but two guitar solos from the great man himself. Slinky.