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Tracks of the Week: new music from Joe Bonamassa, Howlin Rain and more

Tracks of the Week artists
(Image credit: Press materials)

Anyone watching the Olympics? Us neither. And why would you, when our weekly roundup of the best new rock'n'roll features all the competition you might possibly need, and there's no drug testing?

But before we advance to this week's finals, here's last week's results. Bringing up the rear was Joanne Shaw Taylor's That Ain’t A Reason, while a tightly contested battle for gold saw The Wildhearts' Sort Your Fucking Shit Out losing out by the slimmest of margins to The Cold Stares' Prosecution Blues. Congratulations to all.    

So before we start again on our latest weeklong battle for supremacy, here's The Cold Stares again, to remind everyone of exactly what victory looks like. 

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Blacktop Mojo - Wicked Woman

With a name that sounds like it was assembled from a set of hard rock-themed fridge magnets (see also Dead Man's Whiskey, Black Smoke Trigger, etc), Blacktop Mojo have graced this column several times in the past, and lo!, here they are again. Wicked Woman writhes and judders like an jack-knifing truck, with bits that sound like Alice In Chains and bits that don't, and it's all very slick and exciting. The video is enlivened by some interesting non-music interludes.    


Howlin Rain - Dharma Wheel

If there's a better way to announce a new album that by releasing a 16-minute, gospel-tinged, psychedelic hunk of loose-limbed guitar jam space rock funk delirium, then we haven't seen it this week. Dharma Wheel comes from the upcoming album The Dharma Wheel, which, the band's Ethan Miller says, is "the triumph of a working band, a transmission from a never-paused before arriving for our strange, bruised, spectacular now." And so say all of us.  


The Pinpricks - Ritual

Every wonder what Halestorm might sound like if they were influenced by Pixies rather than whatever it is Halestorm are influenced by? Well, wonder no more, for Ritual, the latest from German rockers The Pinpricks, answers the question. Singer Ronja Kaminsky has an excellent voice, the guitars crunch convincingly, and the song has a the kind of chorus that earworms its way deep into your, uhm, ears. Consider our ass well and truly kicked.   

Justin Stewart Cotta - Just Enough

Just Enough sounds like the work of someone who knows their way around a recording studio, and it's quite possible that Justin Stewart Cotta is that man. Once of Aussie/American rockers Memento, Justin has a new album out, and Melodies for Eulogies is its name. Just Enough is a rather epic, thoroughly modern sample from said collection, and we're especially keen on the crescendo just before the three-minute mark. "The shapeshifting mirage of sex addiction and love addiction are the backdrop here to a genuine cry for rescue, solace and meaningful love," says Justin. Yikes!


The Halloween Project & The Fluffy Jackets, feat. Ronni Le Tekrø and Neil Murray - Telegram

Telegram is a cover of the Nazareth song, originally recorded for the band's 1976 album Close Enough For Rock 'N' Roll. This version has been recorded to celebrate the 80th birthday of Nazareth founder Manny Charlton by a plethora of musician including Norwegian rockers The Halloween Project, London's very own The Fluffy Jackets (whose debut album Fighting Demons featured Charlton), plus former Whitesnake bassist Neil Murray and TNT's Ronni Le Tekrø. If the song were a Venn diagram it'd be all over the place, but it isn't. Instead, it's a convincing take on a song that should probably be wheeled out more often. 


The Protest - Show Up To The Showdown

“Everything about Show Up To The Showdown is arena rock," says Josh Bramlett, singer with Indiana band The Protest. "If it wasn't for artists like Def Leppard and Kiss, we wouldn't have been inspired to play rock music." With that in mind, you're probably about 54% of the way towards understanding exactly what Show Up To The Showdown sounds like. It's got bits designed for fist-pumping, it's got a chorus bigger than a barn, and it's a slick, modern banger, with crunching, metallic chords and a video that features an unusual amount of sport.      


Joe Bonamassa - Notches

The world's busiest bluesman continues to punt out releases a rate that suggests he records albums in his sleep, but Notches - taken from JoBo's upcoming, as yet untitled 176th album - doesn't see the standards slipping, so we're not complaining. If anything, Bonamassa's singing better than he ever has, and he still turns in a foot-stomping blues riff better than most. Interestingly, Joe Bonamassa is an anagram of "Samoa Banjoes," so that's nice.          


The Glorious Sons - I Will Destroy The Void In You

In which The Glorious Sons continue their journey to sound like the biggest band in the world who aren't yet The Biggest Band In The World. I Will Destroy The Void In You comes across like they've been taking lessons in arena craft from U2 at their most melancholy, with the kind of clever restraint that's custom designed for big spaces. We can already see the smartphone torches being held aloft.   

Fraser Lewry

Online Editor of Classic Rock magazine since 2014. 35 years in music industry, online for 22. One of the UK's first bloggers. Also bylines for: Metal Hammer, Prog Magazine, The Word Magazine, The Guardian, The New Statesman, Saga, Music365. Favourite Serbian trumpeter: Dejan Petrović. Likes cats.