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Tracks of the Week: new music from ZZ Top, Steve Vai, RHCP and more

Tracks Of The Week artists
(Image credit: Press materials)

We don't usually do controversy in our Tracks Of The Week roundup, but this week we have some. 

An analysis of last week's voting – in which rowdy Liverpudlians The Imbeciles and Nashville rock'n'rollers The Bloody Nerve collected over 90% of the votes between them – has thrown up what election observers refer to as "suspicious" voting patterns. Thousands of votes were posted for each artist in alarmingly short periods of time, suggesting that a vast army of robot monkeys had been engaged to keep the support coming.

We're not suggesting that either band were personally engaged in any nefarious activity – and if they were, congratulations on such digital cunning – but neither will we allow their medal positions to stand.  

So congratulations to Xander & The Peace Pirates, who finished a distant third in the standings but are also this week's winners. Hooray!

And now, on with this week's competition.

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Whiskey Myers - Antioch

Texas’s gnarliest bunch of southern rock renegades are back, and this time they come bearing horns – plus colossal backing vocals for a rich, swampy rock n’ gospel punch. It’s still the gritty, real-deal taste of the American south that we loved them for originally, but with new layers of ambition. The first taste of their next album Tornillo (out in July) it conjures images of hot, sweaty summers and buzzing festival crowds at sunset.


H.E.A.T - Nationwide

You need speed? Oh we’ll give you speed. Back with a bang – and with original singer Kenny Leckremo in tow, after Erik Grönwall’s departure in 2020 (he’s now fronting Skid Row) – the melodic rock Swedes have released this breakneck first single from their new album Force Majeure, out in full in August. Laden with jet-powered synths, it’s so 80s it should come with its own cherry red open-topped Camaro, driven by Joey Tempest and Kenny Loggins. Yeah, picture that.


ZZ Top - Brown Sugar

Yes, it’s a new release from ZZ-fucking-Top! No, it’s not a cover of the Rolling Stones classic – au contraire, this bad boy is a low-slung, greasy fireball that originally saw the light of day in January 1971. Now, it’s the opening track of the band’s upcoming record, RAW, an homage to their early days. “Brown Sugar has been sweetening our concert sets for many decades now,” Billy F Gibbons says, “so it seemed like the right song to kick off RAW.” Well, quite.


Church of the Cosmic Skull - Now's the Time

Time to get divine, in the company of Nottingham’s sublimely psychedelic freakniks, the Church Of The Cosmic Skull. But this is no band of aimless, bong-smoked wanderers, as this new track confirms. Harmonies, organ whirls, wah-wah guitars and other violin touches are thoughtfully layered, creating a heady yet smart, sweet impact. Check out this and more on There Is No Time, which comes out in May. Join the church. Resistance is futile.


Dorothy - Black Sheep

Built on a chorus you’ll be humming for days, Black Sheep has the arena-courting stomp n’ clap swagger of Halestorm and Shinedown (at their rockiest), loosened up with streaks of California hippie sunshine. Following the near-death of her guitar tech from an overdose three years ago, the Hungarian-born singer/songwriter underwent a reawakening of her own, pouring it into her music. The resulting album, Gifts From The Holy Ghost, is out 22 April.


Beach Bunny - Fire Escape 

On the indie end of our spectrum but still good and crunchy, the latest single from this Chicago troupe (originally the solo project of singer/songwriter Lili Trifilio) is a neat, more-ish little marriage of pop punk, moody lyrics and surf vibes – sugar with a subversive shadow. Proof, if it was needed, that the 90s never really died – plus a hefty TikTok following. New album Emotional Creature comes out on July 22nd.


Steve Vai - Teeth of the Hydra

At last! A chance to gaze with awe upon the alien majesty of Steve Vai's much-heralded Hydra guitar. And boy, is it something, with a zither-type attachment, plus dials and lights and things that make unexpected noises as Vai whips around its multi-necked magnificence, twiddling and noodling and swooping and widdling and making noises beyond the ken of us mere mortals. Watch and tremble.  


Red Hot Chili Peppers - These Are The Ways

While the new Red Hot Chili Peppers album has received the traditional bag of "mixed" reviews from those unwilling to recognise the band's mastery of melancholy, we're delighted that new single These Are The Ways is more of the kind of thing they do better than almost anyone else. So it's a song with that mournful Hollywood noir vibe, but this time they're doing it with more bite than on previous singles Black Summer and Poster Child. In other words, it starts off sad and then isn't.   

Polly is Features Editor at Classic Rock magazine, where she commissions regular pieces and longer reads (including new band coverage) and writes a few things. She also writes for Louder, Prog and Metal Hammer, and talks about songs on the 20 Minute Club podcast. In her spare time she writes fiction and cooks.

With contributions from