The Hot Damn! delivered a dose of day-glo delight to our most recent Tracks Of The Week carnival, triumphing over The Struts and Mick Mars in a battle that may not have been for the ages, but it sure was colourful. Long may they continue to effervesce.
This week, we have eight more candidates vying for your sonic affection. But first, here's The Hot Damn!'s Damn! Damn! Damn! Damn! for your pleasure once more, before we run out of exclamation marks altogether.
This week's entries are below, and we hope they also delight you. Please vote when you get to the bottom of the page.
The Gems - P.S.Y.C.H.O
The three ex-Thundermother members, newly united as The Gems, are on supercharged form on this mega-hooky toast to the “energy vamps” in our lives (yes there is another, barely-veiled inspiration suggested in the video, but we’ll leave that particular bear for someone else to poke), with a driving touch of Motley Crue’s Kickstart My Heart. If you like Thundermother, you’ll like this. If you like Airbourne, you’ll love this. Really if you like rock’n’roll that deals in fast, beefy A-chord boogies and Amazonian vocals, you won't be disappointed.
Sheer Mag - Playing Favourites
Danko Jones turned us onto these Philadelphia rockers, and if this single is anything to go by it was a top tip. From the first notes it just made us smile. Sort of like a disco Teenage Fanclub, but warmer and more luscious, Playing Favourites manages to be sweet, weird and anthemic all at once. Heart-warming pop rock for glitterballed concert halls on the one hand, scrappy post-punk vibes for DIY shows on the other. And there’s a moody little chord shift in the verses that makes us melt inside. They’ve got a full album, also called Playing Favourites, out via Jack White’s Third Man Records in March 2024.
Chris Catalyst - Stop
STOP! And crank up this banger from Chris Catalyst, singer/songwriter/man of many bands (Sister Of Mercy, Ugly Kid Joe-ite, former Nameless Ghoul etc etc). Like a sharper edged, less squarely major-key answer to Blur’s Country House, dipped in 90s pop punk, Stop is a catchy ode to various pressures of the modern age, all clean, funky guitar stabs, earworm melody and social poetry that builds to a big, juicy rock finish. Like what you hear? Chris has a new album, Mad In England, full of bangers and ballads alike, out now.
Kelsy Karter & The Heroines - Wild
New Zealand-born Kelsy Karter precedes her next LP with Wild, and it sounds massive. So very, very 80s you can smell the Aqua-net, but with a current sheen from Kelsy’s alt-pop/rock diva pipes, like Heart’s Alone for the iPhone generation. Co-written with Struts guitarist Adam Slack, it’s a proper, open-armed, sing-your-heart-out power ballad, its light notes laced with turmoil – airy synths offset by sparkly chimes and choice guitar fireworks.
The Record Company - Highway Lady
LA’s The Record Company have always served their blues rock with a few smart, refreshing twists, and Highway Lady is no exception. Building from a gentle, gauzy base of rootsy psychedelia that’s a bit All Them Witches-y (at their most stripped back), it swells into a gorgeous headspin of swamp-blues slide, loose, fluid beats, rocked up guitar solos and falsetto harmonies – part sunny Deadhead gathering, part meditative outlaw's tale. Their latest album, The 4th Album, is also well worth checking out.
Laura Jane Grace - Hole In My Head
The title track of Laura Jane Grace’s next album (out in February) advocates the notion that evocative, 21st century americana storytelling with a punk soul can be achieved in a small package – as in, a really small package. About one minute and forty seconds, even. It's like hearing a female Brian Fallon hotwired to Tom Petty and NOFX records, after five coffees. Our one complaint? There’s not enough of it, though to be fair there are worse problems to have…
Hannah Wicklund - Hell In The Hallway
South Carolina native Hannah Wicklund is the opening act for Greta Van Fleet on their UK shows over the next couple of weeks (along with two headline shows of her own), and this single offers an enveloping, slightly psychedelic snapshot of what she’s all about. Previously a more straight-ahead, Hendrix-y rocker with Hannah Wicklund & The Steppin Stones, here she’s more like the lost daughter of Stevie Nicks and Florence & The Machine, all rich, earthy melody wrapped in alt pop-rock, with a classic footprint.
Måneskin - Valentine
Måneskin add Valentine to their ever-growing list of songs that allow frontman Damiano David to pilot his emotional rollercoaster. David comes on like Matt Bellamy during the verses and Oli Sykes at the climax, while some towering guitar work from Thomas Raggi gives proceedings a layer of epic sparkle. Valentine comes from the expanded version of the band's Rush! album – called Rush! (Are U Coming?) – which is out now. And here's a thought: when people complain about the lack of new festival headliners, point them in Måneskin's direction: they're already there, topping the bill alongside veterans Green Day and Avenged Sevenfold at next year's huge Rock am Ring and Rock im Park events in Germany.