A couple of weeks ago Gene Simmons doubled down on his famous "rock is dead" comments, and while that might be a little rich coming from a man whose band had just been paid a no-doubt substantial fee for a single New Year's Eve show in Dubai (the pyrotechnics alone cost $10m, apparently), what it does demonstrate is that The Demon probably isn't paying close attention to our Tracks of the Week feature. He's probably too busy breathing fire or spitting blood or something.
If he was paying close attention to our Tracks of the Week feature, he'd know that rock is very much alive, thank you very much. And this week's selection, which hails from as far a field as Scotland and Syria, is substantial proof.
But first, a hearty congratulations to Inglorious, who successfully mobilised their fanbase and triumphed by a huge margin in last week's vote. The very distant second and third place positions were filled by the Michael Schenker Group and The Dust Coda. So here's Nathan and his crew once again.
Moon City Masters - Takin’ It Back
If, like us, you could use a pick-me-up in these cold, dark post-Christmas weeks, listen in. For a highly danceable three minutes and forty two seconds, New York’s identical engineers of rock, funk and groove (twin brothers Talor and Jordan Steinberg) will transport you to a dance floor circa nineteen-seventy-something, where the mood is sky-high, the harmonies are colossal and the band are literally on fire. Maybe it’ll even incite you to ‘take back’ whatever you’re missing – confidence, lust for life, house keys, that CD you lent your friend months ago.
The Pretty Reckless - And So It Went (feat Tom Morello)
Taylor Momsen pays homage to her late friend and inspiration Chris Cornell on the latest Pretty Reckless single – specifically the Audioslave era, the spirit of which oozes through this mix of swagger, suckerpunch guitar jabs and urgent lyrics that convey despair and, ultimately, hope. Former Audioslave guitarist Tom Morello is on hand for extra grit and beef; the ideal match for this highlight from TPR’s new album Death By Rock And Roll.
Corey Taylor - Samantha’s Gone
Corey’s solo debut, CMFT, felt like something of an antithesis to his last record with Slipknot (2019’s emotionally weighty We Are Not Your Kind); an upbeat love letter to 80s hard rock, glam and more. This latest single – complete with ‘meta’ video-about-making-a-video, co-starring Steel Panther – is probably the bounciest, most jazz-handed thing on it, Corey and chums seemingly forgetting the woes of the last year and having a lovely time.
Mason Hill - D.N.A
Scotland’s rising hard rock stars return to TOTW with this juicy slice of their forthcoming debut Against The Wall. Brooding, introspective lyrics are flanked by headbanger guitars that grab the listener by the throat and refuse to let go – in a chunky, assertive way that calls to mind Black Stone Cherry at their heaviest and moodiest.“DNA is a bit of a demented rock song,” lead singer Scott Taylor says, “about being hooked on something to the point where it almost feels like it’s part of your very fabric hence the reference to feeling like part of your DNA.”
Brinsley Schwarz - Storm In The Hills
Well, this one was a bit of a surprise. Brinsley Schwarz first made his name with the 70s pub rock group of his namesake. More recently he’s played guitar with Graham Parker and The Rumour, and now he’s released this sweet, smart suntrap of laid-back rock’n’roll, New Orleans piano and on-the-nose observation. A loose but perfectly formed tableau of modern anxieties, in song form, it was written five years ago but feels incredibly apt today – without being tired or sanctimonious. He’s releasing a new solo album, Tangled, later this year.
Thunder - Going To Sin City
When we first gave this a spin we made one note, which read: ‘Oh hells yes!’ And after multiple listens we’re happy to report that the sound of Thunder celebrating their inner AC/DC (which is essentially what’s going on here, with brass for extra pizzazz) is just as much fun as it sounds. There’s more where this came from on their forthcoming album All The Right Noises.
About Silver - Silver Shadow
Syria's war-torn capital Damascus might not be the first place to spring to mind where power ballads are concerned, but About Silver are here to change all that. Silver Shadow is a little meek in the production department, but the chorus has the kind of emotional heft of the best Scorpions ballads, and lead guitarist/singer/songwriter Asa'd Alhaddad conjures up the spirit of David Gilmour with a pair of widescreen solos.
Tom Jones - Talking Reality Television Blues
Yes, that Tom Jones. The Welsh colossus returns with a surprising, state-of-the-union address that comes across like Radiohead covering The Velvet Underground's The Gift, with Jones's lovely Welsh lilt replicating John Cale's spoken-word part from the original. Momentum builds over the course of nearly six-and-a-half minutes, with Donald Trump described as "an old man with a comb-over", and it all climaxes in a squall of fierce guitar. As remarkable as it is unexpected.