Pop quiz: what connects Blackpool trio A'priori with South African blues guitarist Dan Patlansky and professional Aussie noisemakers Smoking Martha?
The answer? They're all currently standing on the Official Tracks Of The Week Podium Of Rock Success after garnering more votes than anyone else in last week's battle. So congratulations to them all.
And now, into battle we march once more! (please leave your vote at the bottom)
The Hot Damn! - I Didn’t Like You Anyway
The former Amorettes/Tequila Mockingbyrds-founded foursome are back with more high-energy pop rock feels, sounding like a latter-day riot grrrl gang with The Darkness’s sound engineer on speed dial – and Blondie on the stereo. In another life I Didn’t Like You Anyway could have been the theme song for a late 90s high school flick (one of the good ones). As it is, it’s 2021 so we’ll just play it loud at home, or catch The Hot Damn! live. All being well, there’ll be a new record from them this year, so watch this space.
Zeal & Ardor - Golden Liar
Manuel Gagneux has many voices. The Swiss-American mastermind behind these ‘black metal blues’ mavericks – heavily influenced by Tom Waits, as well as the heavier likes of Darkthrone and Meshuggah – can scream like Satan straight out of Hell when he wants to. But it’s on the dark-roots, old spiritual atmosphere of Golden Liar (taken from the upcoming self-titled record) that he really comes into his own. “It’s a slow burn,” Gagneux says. “Rather than using harsh tones to convey heaviness, it uses lyrics and atmosphere to convey weight. It’s both smoke and fire."
Girish & The Chronicles - Primeval Desire
Blast away any residual fatigue, hangovers or emotional niggles from the weekend with this socking great wallop of glossy, balls-to-the-wall hard rock – fresh out of Bangalore. Overall it’s about as subtle as you’d expect from a song called Primeval Desire (plus anything that has you shouting ‘KILL! KILL!’ in the chorus can only be a good thing on a Monday morning, right?). So bombastic it makes Motley Crue and Def Leppard look like shoegazers. Yeah, we’ll have some of that.
Desperate Measures - Scars And Memories
When he’s not running the show at Vive Le Rock magazine, Eugene Butcher fronts this band of groovy, supercharged punks. Scars And Memories ain’t new or ‘pretty’ but that really isn’t the point; gloriously lairy and rough around the edges, but with a tight, driving backbone that’s as much old-school rock’n’roll as anything else. Fans of Discharge and Johnny Thunders will find much to enjoy here.
D'Virgilio, Morse & Jennings - Julia
You’d be forgiven for thinking that the combined minds of Big Big Train, Spock’s Beard and Haken (among others) would go straight for a noodly prog epic. Instead, however, they created this gorgeously stirring, pensive hybrid of pop, prog and folk sensibilities that manage to feel delicate and lush at the same time. Fans of Flying Colors and BBT will love this. “This one was all about the three-part vocal harmony interplay,” Jennings explains, “and ‘pull-at-the-heartstring’ lyrics which deal with themes of regret and forgiveness in the context of a broken father-daughter relationship.”
Three Days Grace - So Called Life
Canadian rock heavyweights Three Days Grace are back with a new album and an oomphy, riff-tastic new single (more to come with next album, Explosions, in May 2022). A beefy chest-thump of hard rock and alt-metal with a highly hummable chorus, it’s an emotionally-charged, cathartic listen that’ll have fans of heyday nu-metal feeling nostalgic. “In these crazy and divided times, everyone needs something to take the edge off,” singer Matt Walst says. Amen to that.
Ferocious Dog - Will You?
In which folk-punk reprobates Ferocious Dog hook up with punk veteran Hazel O'Connor for a stirring version of the latter's 1981 top 10 smash Will You?. The question on everyone's lips, of course, is what they've done with Wesley Magoogan's iconic sax solo, and the answer, what with Ferocious Dog being Ferocious Dog and all that, is that it's now a violin solo. "To recreate this with Hazel herself has been a dream come true for me and we’re now great friends too off the back of this," says head Dog Ken Bonsall. The band are touring the UK this month.
Giant Walker - Optophobia
Of all the songs written about optophobia (the fear of opening one's eyes), this might just be the best. From Newcastle-by-way-of-Guilford prog-metallers Giant Walker, it leaps about with machine-tooled precision, never losing sight of the fact that all the technical ability in the world won't compensate for a lack of melody. So there's juddering bits and elastic bits and thumping bits, and it all wraps around a vocal from singer Steff Fish that's as tuneful as it is mesmeric. Which is great news for those of us with fully-serviced ears.