You gotta feel for Thomas Walsh. Three weeks ago the Irishman finished second in our Tracks Of The Week roundup, having narrowly lost out to Elles Bailey after a hard-fought battle. And now he's only gone and repeated the trick, falling just short of the main prize in our most recent contest despite roping in Def Leppard frontman Joe Elliott for support on the excellent All This Hurt. This time Derby glamsters The Struts pipped the Pugwash man at the post with Rockstar, a song they've been performing live for a decade, with Canadian roots rockers Bywater Call trailing behind in third place. Congratulations to all of them.
This week's entries are below. Go forth and listen.
Dirty Honey - Won’t Take Me Alive
Plenty of current bands revisit resolutely old-school rock tropes. These guys do it better than many. Coming at you with a Steven Tyler squeal and a riff that rocks like Led Zeppelin’s Trampled Underfoot, Won’t Take Me Alive is a full-tilt rocker. Lyrically, the press release tells us, “inspiration was taken from the bravery and defiance found today in the people of Ukraine, as well as from a conversation LaBelle [frontman Mark], had with a fellow traveller he met while visiting the Berlin Wall”. Honestly these aren’t exactly the first things that leap to mind when we listen to this, but it’s a damn good track either way.
Bad Nerves - USA
A sharp, caffeinated marriage of Liam Lynch’s United States of Whatever and Sham 69s Borstal Breakout – flash-fried with the Nerves’ own power-pop sugar – USA was perfectly timed for the Essex fivesome’s new swathe of American audiences (in support of Royal Blood on their tour there). Even by Bad Nerves’ standards it’s on the raw side, but sometimes you just need a bolshy, bright-eyed blast of shout-along punk n’ roll that injects itself into your bloodstream without stopping to explain. Instant gratification at a hundred miles an hour, like Haribo and Red Bull for breakfast.
The Picturebooks - Masquerade
For five albums this German-turned-California duo kept things stripped back – like, really stripped back. Now, for the first time, they’re embracing such luxuries as basslines and cymbals on this cocksure new single; all 90s attitude and smoky old-world undertones. With its spat-out lyrics and biker blues rock swagger, the chorus comes over like something a less confrontational Rage Against The Machine might have done. “We can use bass, cymbals, samples, harmony vocals, and we will still sound like The Picturebooks,” the band reason. “It will only broaden our musical horizon.”
Chris Shiflett - Overboard
Easily one of our favourites from the Foo Fighters guitarist’s new solo album, Overboard finds him evoking the alt.americana sweetness and intelligence of Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit and Hiss Golden Messenger – set to a warm, beautifully yearning melody that’s over in less than three minutes. Without an ounce of fat on its acoustic-strummed bones, it grabs you by the heartstrings and leaves you wanting more. Best of all it sounds like he really loves doing this. Hard to fake, and hard to resist.
Black Spiders - Destroyer
With a chant of ‘jeans jeans obscene!’ our favourite rock arachnids dive into this filthy, swaggering meat feast for rock’n’roll’s beautifully depraved souls. You can practically taste the hurtled pints, the sticky floors, the moshpit sweat. As frontman/mastermind Pete Spiby says: “Destroyer is a spanker off the new record and sets the tone nicely for the September tour dates. We can’t wait to get out there for some hot summer nights, pizza sandwiches and beer!” Well if there are sandwiches…
TesseracT - Legion
The British progressive metal stars are on brilliantly bold, expansive form on this majestic slice of their new album War Of Being, which has just been released. Soaring between sonic extremes – from ethereal, floating-through-space textures to brutal guitar chuggathons – it takes you on a melodic, existential journey in just shy of five minutes, with singer Dan Tompkins commanding all the shades of Legion’s story like an intergalactic Broadway star raised on Meshuggah records. Nice.
Twin Temple - Be A Slut
Twin Temple have one trick, but it’s a fun trick (satanic doo-wop? What doesn’t sound fun about that?) as reflected on the jauntily campy Be A Slut. “Be A Slut is a good old-fashioned pearl-clutching rock and roll song with a real horny sax solo and everything,” the band explain. “It’s obviously about how great it feels to be a slut.” With its twinkling bells it’s also a bit Christmassy. Sort of like The Ronettes covering Wizzard’s I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday. Maybe that’s what we’re all secretly craving in September, as the days start to get chillier and chocolate advent calendars begin to creep onto supermarket shelves.
L7 - Cooler Than Mars
A call to action from L7 as they call out the space bros whose apparent solution to climate crisis is to move off-world, suggesting (entirely reasonably, we think) that all that money might be better off finding solutions back on Earth rather than exploring the galaxy's more inhospitable locations. L7's best riffs always feel a little slower than you might expect but are all the better for it, and Cooler Than Mars is a great example, while the video features many of the weird and wonderful things our current home has to offer. "I feel like there is nothing 'out there' that is as mind-blowing as the biodiversity of what we have here on Earth," says Donita Sparks. "Because we're cooler than Mars, damnit."