The annual Grammy Awards took place yesterday, and you know what? They may have a bewildering 83 categories of awards, but we're not sure they know what rock music is. As talented as Michael Kiwanuka, Fiona Apple and Sturgill Simpson are, we'd be surprised if all three didn't greet their inclusion in various "Best Rock" categories with a small degree of bemusement.
As far as we're concerned, rock is the only category, and our Tracks of the Week is the only awards show in town. But before we proceed with this week's selection of rowdy rockers and turbulent troubadours, here's last week's winner: Mason Hill, whose Against The Wall gave the band their first UK Top 20 album last week. Congratulations on both counts.
Congratulations, too, to American rockers Dirty Honey, whose California Dreamin' slipped comfortably into second place, and to Dutch garage punks 45AcidBabies, whose Mommy's Favourite 1 clambered into the bronze metal slot.
Danko Jones - I Want Out
Some of rock’s finest moments have come from trios; The Jimi Hendrix Experience, ZZ Top, ELP, the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion… and now, Danko Jones are continuing to embellish that grand tradition with I Want Out. The commanding, tearaway opening statement from the Ontario threesome’s upcoming album (called, appropriately enough, Power Trio), it’ll resonate with anyone who’s felt trapped for one reason or another this past year. Sooo...basically everyone, then? Excellent.
Rosalie Cunningham - Number 149
If Kate Bush had a baby with the Beatles it would have been Rosalie Cunningham. Accompanied by a video that’s part hallucinogenic dreamscape, part magical dollhouse tour (co-masterminded with bandmate/partner Rosco Levee), Number 149 is a velvet-lined freakfest of progressive rock, Alice In Wonderland vibes and groovy Fab Four psychedelia. Nice.
Crown Lands - Context: Fearless Pt. 1
Canadian’s hottest rising rock duo are back and they have LITERALLY turned into Rush… Ok so that’s not strictly happened, but there’s a helluva lot in this new single that makes us think of those prog luminaries (the title, the grand scale, the vocals, the progressive oomph, the Mandalorian-esque video...), and really that’s no bad thing. Bold, bombastic and rather beautiful.
J Lee & The Hoodoo Skulls - Baby Blue
“The song’s blistering guitar riffs, driving beats and swirling organ serve as a no-nonsense statement of intent from us,” says J Lee of this bluesy, tequila-soaked boogie, and good-time first taste of his Hoodoo Skulls outfit. Son of Shakin’ Stevens (yes, that Shakin’ Stevens) J Lee has rock’n’roll in his veins and, as Baby Blue suggests, he knows what to do with it.
Hiss Golden Messenger - If It Comes In The Morning
M.C. Taylor a.k.a. Hiss Golden Messenger has been slowly building a catalogue of songs that don't fall too far short of the singers he sounds most like: Bob Dylan and Tom Petty. He pitches his own, more reflective work somewhere between the two, and If It Comes In The Morning is anything to go by, upcoming album Quietly Blowing It will be worth seeking out. It's one of those tunes that mines hope from hopelessness, with a touch of gospel providing a celestial sheen to HGM's sombre Americana.
Thundermother - The Road Is Ours
A world away from Hiss Golden Messenger, Stockholm sirens Thundermother are back with a new track, The Road Is Ours, which rocks in all the right places and comes from a new, deluxe edition version of last year's well-received Heat Wave album. Throw in a video featuring nods to Star Wars, Shrek, Kill Bill and more, and you've got a literal recipe for rock. As the band say: We don't play rock'n'roll - We are rock'n'roll.
Paul Gilbert – Argument About Pie
So this one’s got livewire six-string action, cartoon sharks and wolves and things (all drawn by Gilbert), and pie. Lots of pie. There is basically nothing to dislike here. Yes it’s an instrumental track from a technically dazzling virtuoso, but one with a jubilant, Queen-like sense of melody. You’ll imagine the lyrics being sung as you watch the video; Gilbert’s lead guitar singing out such profound truths as ‘you can never get in an argument about pie’. Well played PG, well played.
Trucker Diablo - Rock Kids Of The 80s
With references to Rick Springfield, Motley Crue, Kiss, Billy Idol, Tom Petty, Neil Young and more, Rock Kids Of The 80s is a celebration of what the band call "a pivotal time in rock, a tribute to our youth, and the music that shaped us", and so say all of us. A lively banger with a chorus bigger than a cow, all that's missing from RKOT80s is Chris Holmes, drunk in a swimming pool.