Over the last seven days we've experienced one of those online scraps when the two leading Tracks Of The Week contenders went head to head, mano a mano, in a duel to the very death. Or, at the very least, to see who came out top in our regular musical shindig.
The battle between the Cold Stares and Alter Bridge – for it was they – raged back and forth across the internet, but there was only one winner, because that's the way duels to the very death work. And it was The Cold Stares. So congratulations to them, and commiserations to everyone else.
This week it's another eight contenders, and more voting. Let's get started, shall we?
Mammoth WVH - As Long As You're Not You
He shoots, he scores! Wolfgang Van Halen wasn't kidding when he said he had more material in the can, following the release of 2021's Mammoth WVH debut (no. 2 in Classic Rock's Top 50 albums of that year). As Long As You're Not You starts out with a riff that kinda makes us think of Green Day's American Idiot, but deeper and less sugary. From here it grows into a richly melodic mix of grunge, angst and energy, without losing that opening spirit of fun. Wondering who's following in the Foo Fighters' footsteps? Musically at least it could be this guy.
Rival Sons - Nobody Wants To Die
They aired it on their UK tour this year, and now this adrenalised, Little Richard-on-steroids rocker is ready to rip through your home speakers. “I used to work in a mortuary as a service advisor for a few years, driving and opening the hearses,” Jay Buchanan recalls. “I’d attend three funerals per day. Sometimes, they would be filled over capacity. Other times, it would just be me, a priest, and a hole in the ground. It doesn’t matter who you are; the great equaliser is coming. I was thinking of this because the music sounded like a pursuit.” He’s not wrong. It does sound like a pursuit, which presumably helped shape the rip-roaring, Tarantino-esque video that accompanies it; all bloody cigarettes, burning bibles and gasoline. Nice.
The Answer - Blood Brother
“Blood Brother is a thundering slab of positive energy created by four brothers who quite frankly just really missed each other,” says frontman Cormac Neeson of this sassy, boogieing chuggernaut, marking a welcome return for the Irish classic rockers who, back in 2005, scooped our Best New Band award and have paved the way for subsequent nostalgic rock waves ever since. “We’re back and we had more fun writing and recording this new music than we’ve ever had,” Neeson continues. “We truly believe this could be the best album we’ve ever recorded and Blood Brother is a very special track for us!” You heard the man: watch out for said album in 2023.
Austin Gold - Our Last Stand
Austin Gold are one of those bands that quietly, consistently put out really good songs… and yet they remain one of British rock’s better-kept secrets. This latest one (from their next album Those City Lights, out in November) is a warm, big-hearted rocker with a stirring melody that lands in your chest and stays there. As with various tracks of theirs, we feel like we could have known it for years; such is its mix of bulletproof touchstones (Free, the Foo Fighters…) and fresh yet classic-sounding quality.
These Wicked Rivers - Testify
Originally recorded in 2015 and now pimped up with new instruments, band members, sexier production etc etc, fan favourite Testify – a juicy slice of bluesy roots n’ roll, thickly spread with psychedelia – is now enjoying the lease of (recorded) life it always deserved. Think Blackberry Smoke trading joints with Monster Truck over Alice In Chains records, and you’re in the right wheelhouse. Says guitarist Arran Day: “By re-recording Testify it is us planting our hippie flag in the ground; this is who we are now and we want you all to be part of the journey."
Sweat - Jane
They’re a new Swiss-American band from Pittsburgh, but it’s all 60s and early 70s British rock sensibilities (both prog and early Who-esque mod vibes) on this tasty debut single, shot through with heavy folk lustre and the sort of drive and vocals that would fit right in on a Barracuda-era Heart record. “It’s driving, yet gentle,” says singer Sue Pedrazzi. “It is urgent, yet sweet. It is a rocker with depth.” There’s more to come from them in 2023, so keep yer eyes peeled.
John Sloman - Blind
One of rock’n’roll’s ultimate nearly men, former Lone Star singer John Sloman (he also had stints in Uriah Heep, Gary Moore’s band, UFO…) has stretched his wings in recent years as a DIY solo artiste. Newly remastered and accompanied by a kaleidoscopic video – think trippy animations and Pink Floyd-y vibes – Blind is a swirl of early 70s-evoking prog and classic rock, its psychedelic qualities anchored firmly by a tight, galloping groove. Taken from his Missing Link solo anthology, which is due out in 2023.
Gojira - Our Time Is Now
French prog metal titans Gojira continue their honourable mission to build a world in which Killing Joke's clanking riffs are dialled-up up to 45,000 and allied to messages about the state of our failing systems. Our Time Is Now in dedicated to the women of Iran, and to the memory of Masha Amini, whose death inspired waves of protest across the country. "She was killed in Teheran for not wearing her hijab ‘properly’ by the ‘morality police’," says frontman Joe Duplantier. "We support the women of Iran in their fight, for taking a stand against oppression!”