Joe Lynn Turner's new album has received glowing reviews, and last week's single Tortured Soul is just one of many highlights. It's almost unfathomably epic, with Kashmir-style strings and backing vocals that sound like choirs of chanting monks and lyrics about falling into the abyss and the end of humanity and watnot. So it's probably no surprise that you voted it into first place in last week's rock greatness chart.
Gliding into second place was Tuk Smith & The Restless Hearts' Girls On The East Side Of Town, while Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown's Off The Rails was right behind it in third. Congratulations to all!
This week we've got bands from Wales and from England and from the US and from New Zealand and from The Netherlands and from Sweden and you get the idea, rock's a big place. So let's get started, shall we? And don't forget to vote, else it's like you've not been here at all.
Skindred - Gimme That Boom
In just over three minutes Skindred make almost everything you’ve heard lately sound kinda half-arsed by contrast. Riffs, beats, wardrobe, enough va-va-voom from mouthpiece Benji Webbe to power every set of Christmas lights in the country. There are no half-measures here, of anything. The new album, Smile, isn’t out until August 2023, so there’s a bit of a wait but Gimme That Boom sets a punch-packing pace. Altogether now: ‘Idontcarewhachagotjustgimmedat…BOOM!’
Royal Thunder - The Knife
Five years after they last released music (2017’s Wick) hard-hitting Atlanta trio Royal Thunder are back with a dark, sumptuous reminder of why they were such a compelling proposition in the first place. Built on a powerful spread of drums, moody guitars and Mlny Parsonz’ extraordinary heavy yet haunting vocals, The Knife is a cool, confident return, whetting our appetites for whatever comes next. They’ve just confirmed three US shows for 2023 (their first live appearances in over three years), but watch this space for more.
Robert Jon & The Wreck - Pain No More
This new single from the Orange County rockers was co-written by Blackberry Smoke’s Charlie Starr, and you can really hear it in the Stonesy sweetness and juicy little major-minor key shifts here – southern-kissed rock’n’roll with twists in all the right places. “The new single is about not being a stranger to pain and heartbreak when it comes to a relationship with another,” says frontman Robert Jon Burrison. “It’s the kind of pain that comes when the other person doesn’t treat you well, but deep down inside, you know you’re worth more.”
Skinny Knowledge - Class A Dummy
Fans of Green Day, Eureka Machines and Foo Fighters, you’ll like this one from British goodtime alt/pop-rockers Skinny Knowledge. “It’s exactly what it says on the tin! A tongue in cheek song about partying, getting wasted, and having a good time,” says frontman/guitarist Andy L Smooth, “Catchy singalongs, big riffs, guitar solos, and a whole heap of energy!” He’s not wrong about any of that, though it sort of underplays how tight and on-the-money this song and its cohort of licks, riffs and beats are. So enjoy the ‘woooo-partayyy!’ vibes and daft faces, but trust that that’s not where it ends.
DeWolff - Counterfeit Love
Take a shimmery, soulful trip back to the late 60s and early 70s with Dutch threesome DeWolff (and their various friends that make up the ensemble feel here). Counterfeit Love feels like something Blackberry Smoke might have come up with after a night of fine wines, Led Zeppelin and old motown records – complete with whirling Hammond solo for added retro crunch. There more where this came from on their new album Love, Death & In Between, which comes on 3 February.
Curly's Jewels - Criminal
Hailing from the home of the world-famous bucket fountain (that's Wellington, New Zealand, kinetic sculpture fans), Curly's Jewels have been going for a decade, but new single Criminal finds them pumping out hot rock action with unbridled youthful enthusiasm. It kicks off with a thumping riff that encroaches on the kind of territory claimed by Pearl Jam's Even Flow, but really gets going on the chorus, where powerhouse singer Jel Pollock sounds like she could give Lzzy Hale a run for her money. Impressive stuff.
Larkin Poe - Southern Comfort
“Growing up in Tennessee and Georgia shaped my sister and myself in so many beautiful ways,” says younger Larkin Poe sibling Rebecca Lovell. “Now, as an adult, I feel grateful to reflect on that childhood and to call Nashville home. I loved writing this song, and getting to share southern hospitality, southern comfort, with all the sweet souls we encounter on our travels around the world, feels empowering." What with all that southern speak, it's perhaps no surprise that there's a touch of Lynyrd Skynyd about Southern Comfort's snaking riff, but the song really lifts in true Nashville style as the chorus hits, and there's a pleasing amount of twang. Catch Larkin Poe on tour in 2023.
Åskväder - Cyclops
Answering the age-old question, "What would a cross between Turbonegro and the Arctic Monkeys sound like?", Åskväder (which means "Thunderstorm" in Swedish), are on a mission to bring the most righteous rock'n'roll to humanity, and Cyclops suggests that they're succeeding. "Our goal for the buildup of the song is that the listeners should be compelled, through the duration of this gem, to raise their fists in the air and start head banging," say Åskväder. And who would be idiotic enough to quibble with that kind of ambition? Not us, certainly.