The best new rock songs you need to hear right now, including The Struts, the Cadillac Three, Dirty Honey and more

Tracks of the Week artists
(Image credit: Press materials)

As England fall at the semi-final hurdle in the Rugby World Cup – following the earlier exits of Scotland, Wales, Ireland and France – it looks as the southern hemisphere's dominance of the sport is set to continue. In rock'n'roll? Not so much. There might be one band in this week's selection from New Zealand, but the other seven entrants are from well north of the equator, and we'll take some solace in that. 

In the meantime, we've got last week's results to deliver, and are delighted to report that the North took home first and second places, although NZ-born Kelsy Karter did deliver a bronze medal for the Antipodes, just to keep us on our toes. So congratulations to Crossbone Skully, for topping the poll, and to CJ Wildheart, for not quite topping the poll.   

This week's entries are below. We hope you enjoy every second. And please vote. 


The Struts - Pretty Vicious

The title track of The Struts’ upcoming new album (tattooed – for real, we can confirm – on the legs of a longtime Struts fan, seen on this lyric video), Pretty Vicious offers a classy taste of a smokier, almost new-wavy alternative to their mega-glitz rock anthems. Built on a smouldering bassline and guitars straight out of Chris Isaak’s Wicked Game, it shows a moodier, dare we say ‘cooler’ side to the band, without sacrificing the simple catchiness at the heart of all their best songs. Cool? Not cool? They’re great at both.

Dirty Honey - Can’t Find The Brakes

Another killer title track, this time of a more squarely ‘rawk’ nature – masterminded by rising California rock’n’rollers Dirty Honey. With its Led Zeppelin-esque boogie and hard-roots swagger, Can’t Find The Brakes finds the band coming over like a beefed up Black Crowes at a biker rally. And, if you like your rock very classic (with a boozy, bearded side of the American south and a West Coast hippie twist), there is precious little to dislike about that. If you like this, check out the full album when it comes out next month.

Creeper - Further Than Forever

The most flamboyant moment in a very flamboyant record, Further Than Forever offers nine galloping minutes of artful gore, guitars and glamour that don’t so much nod to Jim Steinman as build a fifty-foot shrine to him and cover it in fresh glitter and fake blood. And yet, as with the rest of their latest album Sanguivore, Creeper have created an invitingly witchy world that’s all theirs. Plus it features the line ‘I’m Jesus in a strip club, giving head’, easily the most gleefully lascivious slice of subversive lyric fun we’ve heard all year. It’s camp-tastic, but smart with it. So light the candles and get out the corpse paint, things are about to get spoooooky – and in time for Halloween, no less.

Elles Bailey - Mumma And Me

Something a little less bluesy than usual for Elles Bailey as she heads down the Dusty Goes To Memphis route on the soulful Mumma And Me, recorded with a Redtenbacher's Funkestra, a Funk Brothers/Swampers/MGs- type outfit led by Austrian-bred bassist and funk fiend Stefan Redtenbacher. It's smooth and it's sultry, and it's also rather sweet: "It was written during the first few weeks of lockdown as a gift to my mother for Mothers Day, whom I of course couldn’t see,” says Elles. "I know how blooming lucky I am to have the most incredible mother who inspired this track." And if you don't already have a tear in your eye, the song was released on Elles's mother's birthday. Awww.  

The Cruel Knives - Nail Them To The Walls

Fresh off tour in support of Welsh heroes Those Damn Crows, Brit rockers The Cruel Knives (formed in 2017 from the ashes of Heaven’s Basement) weave bold streaks of big-stage oomph into their alt rock and post-hardcore roots, on this chunky, hooky new single. Its driving chorus gives it its anthemic sheen, and makes us think of Mammoth WVH’s first two records – offset by a dirtier, more angular slant in its brooding verses. Nice.

The Cadillac Three - Love Like War

A searing, honest snapshot of a marriage lies at the heart of this grungy new ballad, written in the aftermath of a fight between Jaren Johnston and his wife. The Tennessee trio have a rare abundance of genuine chemistry, hitherto associated with romps about ‘purty ladies’ and cracking cold ones. Now, after a period of loss and emotional landmines, they’ve entered a hard-hitting place without losing the gritty sweetness and personality that first drew us to them. “We’d had too much to drink and she was like, 'I hate you,' and I said, 'I love you.' And that’s how we left it,” Jaren recalls. “I went downstairs and wrote that song and created the demo. I played it for her the next morning… She loved it, because it’s about something real." 

Black Smoke Trigger - The Way Down

Moody, muscular hard rock with a grunge edge and a colossal melody, The Way Down feels ready for arena bills with anthemic beefcakes like Alter Bridge or Foo Fighters. As if to prove utmost dedication to their craft, the Kiwi rockers’ accompanying video features guitarist Charlie Wallace playing a blistering solo, while jumping off the Auckland Sky Tower – the tallest building in the southern hemisphere. “It took a bit of convincing to let me play the guitar solo while falling 630ft from the outside edge of the building,” Wallace says. No shit… Looks cool though.

The Pinpricks - I'm Not Sorry

Opening up with a riff that's got something of The Ramones about it before heading off towards garage-rock-pop-punk territory via some excellent swearing and a truly buoyant chorus, the spiky I'm Not Sorry is the most defiant, liveliest song you'll hear this week. "Liar! Liar!", Ronja Kaminsky sings, before adding, "I wanna set you on Fire! Fire!". So it may comes as a surprise that The Pinkpricks are not from one of rock'n'roll's traditional urban hotbeds but from the port city of Kiel in Germany, perhaps best known as the birthplace of entrepreneur/activist/fugitive Kim Dotcom. Excellent.  

Polly Glass
Deputy Editor, Classic Rock

Polly is deputy editor at Classic Rock magazine, where she writes and commissions regular pieces and longer reads (including new band coverage), and has interviewed rock's biggest and newest names. She also contributes to Louder, Prog and Metal Hammer and talks about songs on the 20 Minute Club podcast. Elsewhere she's had work published in The Musician, delicious. magazine and others, and written biographies for various album campaigns. In a previous life as a women's magazine junior she interviewed Tracey Emin and Lily James – and wangled Rival Sons into the arts pages. In her spare time she writes fiction and cooks.

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