If variety is the spice of life, then this week's roundup of the best new music available to humankind features plenty of chilli powder.
We've got a Mongolian band covering Metallica, some Indian rockers extolling the virtues of "partying like there's no tomorrow", and a Scottish four-piece who've actually gone and done the near-impossible: written a decent Christmas song. Wonders will never cease.
But first, congratulations to Kent rockers Collateral, who triumphed in a bitterly-fought contest last week, finally seeing off SKAM at the actual death. Well done to them both, and to Royal Republic, who rode off into the sunset in third place.
The Wildhearts - Urge
Ideally we’d be enjoying this live, somewhere dark and loud, preferably with a beer in hand and our favourite people close by. As it is we’re cranking it through our speakers at home on a Monday morning, and loving every beautifully ragey, schizoid second. Originally from 1997’s noisy opus Endless, Nameless, it sounds better than ever on the Wildhearts’ new live record, the hit-stuffed The 30 Year Itch. Looking for a Christmas present for the rock lover in your life? You could do a lot worse.
The Lickerish Quartet - Snollygoster Goon
Remember Jellyfish? If so this latest single (featuring alumni from the early 90s San Fran pop rockers) will have you swooning. And even if you don’t know them from Adam, their straight-for-the-gut mix of surfy harmonies, staccato sweetness and heartwarming ‘oooh’s are impossible to resist. Smart, addictive power-pop – done right – is just the best thing sometimes.
Steven Wilson - 12 Things I Forgot
Anyone who's followed Steven Wilson's career will know he doesn't like to repeat himself. But if there's one consistency it's his ability to write a good pop song, and that's what this rousing, piano- and acoustic guitar-led number is all about. Part self-aware contemplation, part bittersweet sunburst, it's an organic shot of warmth against the prominent electronic side of The Future Bites (now out in January).
The Hu - Sad But True
Mongolia’s finest have applied their unique blend of skull-crushing weight and Far Eastern mystique to the Metallica classic. If you thought Sad But True was mighty enough already, you ain’t seen nothing until you’ve watched it being sung by four throat-singers in traditional dress with a tonne of old world and modern metal chops at their fingertips. Turns out Hetfield and co were just missing horsehead fiddles all along.
Greta Van Fleet - Age Of Machine
It clocks in at just under seven minutes and comes with a hearty serving of Zeppelin-esque mystique, and yet Age Of Machine has a grandiose presence of its own; swerving and soaring with a maturity that belies the tender years of GVF. The good news? There's a full album of this stuff (Battle At Garden's Gate) on the way. The bad news? You'll have to wait until April to get your hands on it.
The Dead Daisies - Holy Ground (Shake The Memory)
It’s taken seven years and a lot of line-up changes, but it looks like the Dead Daisies might have hit upon a winning formula this time. Now fronted by bass-wielding banshee Glenn Hughes, they make gratifyingly groovy, muscular classic rock noises on this latest sample of their forthcoming LP.
The Lutras - Give It Up For Christmas
Writing a good Christmas song isn't easy (hell, writing one that doesn't make you want to jam nails into your ears is no picnic either). So it was a pleasant surprise to hear this catchy, harmonised mesh of acoustically driven power-pop, the proceeds of which are going to Shelter and the Music Venue Trust. An offbeat sweet treat, and for a good cause? Smashing.
Girish and The Chronicles - Every Night Like Tonight
Had enough of 2020 already? Take a trip back in time with India's premier hard rock nostalgists Girish and The Chronicles. Every Night Like Tonight is loud, chunky and supercharged with high-voltage machismo. Sure to make you think of Mötley Crüe, Guns N' Roses, Iron Maiden... anyone on the bedroom wall posters of teenage rock fans circa 1987.