Dirty Honey frontman Marc LaBelle claimed that Won’t Take Me Alive featured "the best riff I’d heard in the last decade" and described it as a song "full of sex and swagger", so it's perhaps no surprise to discover that it was the most popular of all the contestants in our last Tracks Of The Week competition. Because who doesn't like sex and swagger? We know we do! So we'd like to congratulate them.
We'd also like to commiserate with Chris Shiflett, whose Overboard came in second, and the Bad Nerves, who brought up the rear with USA. Or U.S.A! U.S.A!, as they probably say in the actual USA. Either way, here's your winner again.
This week's entries are below. Enjoy the rock action.
The Cadillac Three - Double Wide Grave
You wanted a fiery, hard rocking return from the rockingest trio in Nashville, Tennessee? This is it. Described as “a heavy love song” about frontman Jaren Johnston and his wife, written in the aftermath of Taylor Hawkins’ death (Jaren was producing Foos guitarist Chris Shiflett’s solo album at the time), Double Wide Grave is a strapping southern floor-filler with shadows in its wake. Classic TC3, with the richness and nuance of life experience. “This record does have a lot of growth, a lot of hurt and heartbreak,” says drummer Neil Mason. “We are a little more grown up now, but we’re still doing the same thing we were doing in the beginning.”
Bittersweethearts - Empty
This new single from the Los Angeles alt/indie rockers is so 80s it should come with its own line of keytars and neon shoulder-padded suit jacket (sleeves rolled up, natch). It’s like hearing Garbage jamming with The Cars. Accompanied by a stylishly dreamy video that’s a bit like a hazy, LA-centric Thelma And Louise with more lipstick, it’s a colourful, throwback treat that would sit comfortably in a coming-of-age film soundtrack. Singer Zoe Infante says: “I was in a failing relationship that was so draining. People in life can have that effect on you and it's hard to see it until you reach a breaking point. This song is about finally realising that person was not good for me. I’m sure a lot of people can relate to that.”
Robert Jon And The Wreck - Stone Cold Killer
More southern rock now, this time along the more straight-ahead ‘ooh-sexy-lady’ lines, lyrically, and set to a rollicking boogie that wouldn’t feel at all out of place at a Blackberry Smoke show. Recorded with Kevin ‘Caveman’ Shirley, and released through Joe Bonamassa’s label Journeyman Records, it finds the South Carolina quintet on flying form – seemingly making good on the support of their heavyweight blues rock support. No wheels are reinvented, but the existing ones get a proper shine.
Automatic Shoes - Big Idea
Matthew Joseph Hughes makes a welcome return to our playlists (and to Tracks Of The Week) with this sweet, plaintive new ditty under the Automatic Shoes guise (you may also recognise his voice from Spokane, Washington glamsters Atari Ferrari). With its simple acoustic strumming and harmonica lines, combined with Hughes’s warm harmonies and delicate pop musings about dragons in dreams, it feels like the song Bob Dylan might have written with Marc Bolan.
Joanne Shaw Taylor - Sweet ‘Lil Lies
One of those killer guitarists with a voice to match her chops, Joanne Shaw Taylor is back with this classy first taste of her next album. Sweet Lil Lies reflects the soul, Motown and blues records of her childhood, coming together like Bonnie Raitt meeting Joe Bonamassa – in one person. “It was the first song I wrote just for this new album,” Joanne says. “I’d been messing around with the lead piano part and built the rest of the song around that melody. As soon as I had that main melody, ‘I got sweet little lies, all the time’ stuck in my head on a loop. It probably took me less than an hour to finish it; some songs work like that."
Jebediah - Gum Up The Bearings
Aussie rockers Jebediah are back with their first single in more than a decade, and it thumps. Gum Up The Bearings has a boisterous, Stiff Little Fingers-ish kinda vibe, and is named after a maintenance task performed on guitarist Chris Daymond's skateboard. "The song's a bit tongue-in-cheek really," admits frontman Kevin Mitchell, "and doesn't warrant a great deal of analysis. It's just the sound of the band making noise again after a really long time away." Fair dinkum, mate. We won't say anything more.
Rival Sons - Mercy
Scott Holliday breaks out his Jack White pedal for this one, his stuttering, distorted riff providing a suitably rugged backing for Jay Buchanan's pained but also take-it-to-the-church vocal. Holliday and Buchanan's dominance of the Rival Sons sound is such that it's tempting to wonder what they'd sound like as a duo, but hey, those drums won't play themselves. "Anger moves like electricity in a similar way," explains Buchanan. "Once it gets inside you it immediately seeks transmission to latch onto someone or something else. The verses have this cyclical friction to them and it brought this to mind; inherited trauma and its vicious, silent grip."
Micky Dolenz - Shiny Happy People
In which former Monkee Micky Dolenz does the impossible, taking R.E.M.'s ludicrously upbeat Shiny Happy People and making it even shinier and happier than before, almost as if it's been recorded under the influence of dayglo kittens and bubblegum unicorns. It comes from an upcoming EP of R.E.M. covers (we're not making this up, honest) that finds Dolenz also wrangling with Radio Free Europe, Man On The Moon and Leaving New York. What's more, he'll launch the EP with an event in November at Wuxtry Records in Athens, GA, where Michael Stipe and Peter Buck met for the first time way back in 1980. "Shiny Happy People sounds incredible," says Stipe. "Never thought you or I would hear me say that. Give it a spin. It’s wild."