This time two years ago, Syrian band About Silver won our Tracks Of The Week competition with their single Silver Shadow. Well, they've only gone and done it again, with new single Rock I'm Rollin' In, mobilising their fanbase to vote in vast and eager numbers and eking out a narrow victory over Northern Ireland's very own The Answer.
So congratulations to both of them, and to Norfolk's finest Oli Brown & The Dead Collective, who weren't too far behind in third spot. They'll all be back again, we can almost guarantee it.
Here's last week's winning entry again, and then it's onwards with this week's election selection. Listen hard, vote harder.
Crown Lands - Starlifter: Fearless Pt. II
A word to the wise: do not be put off by the length of this track, if descriptors like ‘long song’, ‘prog epic’ or ‘a lot like Rush’ typically have you running for the hills or your AC/DC collection. Indeed, if you think that all that stuff isn’t your jam, this Canadian power-duo’s new single might be what converts you (and if it is your jam…well, it’s all good news from here). Starlifter: Fearless Pt II is that rarest of things; an eighteen-minute prog rock epic without an ounce of flab. Virtuosic frills and other-worldly themes are tempered by more-ish Rush and Zeppelin-y riffs, built on a melodic narrative that ebbs, flows and absorbs the listener with ease. It’s classy, clever stuff that wants you to enjoy it – not feel alienated by it. Sweet.
Ashes Of Billy - Shamed
Unsigned Danish trio Ashes Of Billy dropped us this track totally out of the blue, and we’re glad they did – and if you like classic grunge with hummable tunes, you will be too. Formed in 2021, and born actual decades after the ‘Seattle scene’ exploded, the band party like it’s 1992 on Shamed (i.e. moodily, in shades of flannel). It’s like hearing Stone Temple Pilots’ metalhead children, with scuzzed up riffs that bite and swagger with confidence. When you’ve finished weeping at how young they all are (aged 13, 14 and 15 respectively), make a note to check out the EP, The Right Place, mastered by Metallica producer Flemming Rasmussen and out on 1 March.
Ingrid & The Ministers - Broken Leaves
Kiwi DIY-ers Ingrid & The Ministers hit us in the face (metaphorically; they didn’t actually come all the way over here and sock us one) with this messy, groovy, sexy fistful of ragged punk n’ blues. “This blues groove came to me after I discovered Jessie Mae Hemphill’s album She Wolf (1981),” says Ingrid. “It’s full of amazing blues rhythms that you can jam to for hours. I quickly realised, though, that I wanted it to be a lot rougher, and the lyrics to be modern and relatable - definitely not too polite.”
Miesha And The Spanks - It’s My Year
How the hell did it become February already? If you’ve found yourself thinking this over the last few days, and could use an extra shot of internal oomph for the year ahead, Miesha And The Spanks can help. It’s My Year feels a bit like what might have happened if Cyndi Lauper fronted the Runaways, in New York during the early 00s guitar wave – in other words, a tasty antidote to the winter blues. As the band say: “Everything is uncertainty until the chorus hits and tambourines, synths and soaring vocals elevate a garage rock song into the anthem of the year.”
The Damned - The Invisible Man
With a brand new album, Darkadelic, coming later this year, The Damned are luring us in with this first piece of candy from that forthcoming treat bag. And what a sweet piece it is; if by ‘sweet’ you mean darker than Satan’s wine cellar, with a louche, dirty guitar hook and early Stooges-style keys that swerve into psychedelic freakery. If this is anything to go by, that album title is pretty spot-on. Five years on from their previous album, Evil Spirits – and forty-six years after their first – they’ve still got something.
Tempesst - Sunset at Maria's Pt. II
Written quickly (for all its lushness and thoughtful textures), the indie romance of Sunset At Maria’s Pt II feels like an intelligent balm for the soul and the ears, with a beautifully bittersweet, Scott Walker-esque heart. “This is very much a song where there’s light to counteract the darkness,” says singer Toma. “Sometimes relationships can be a struggle, but there are also many moments of bliss and celebration.” Find more on their next album, Prisoner Of Desire, is out in March.
Rock-Criminals - Get Yourself Together
Finnish rockers Rock-Criminals (we're not sure about that hyphen either, to be honest) asked the great Michael Monroe to write the lyric for this refreshing blast of thoroughbred rock'n'roll, and the end result is just what you'd expect. It rocks, it rolls, there's a bit where everything breaks down to hand-claps and "naaa-na-naaaa" singalong vocals, and it's livelier than an electrical cable tossed into a pond stuffed with koi carp. There's also a bit that sounds like The Smithereens' classic Behind The Wall Of Sleep, so bonus points for that.
Screaming Females - Brass Bell
It took a little while to get our tiny heads around this one, but now that we have we can heartily recommend it. Kicking off with overclocked techno synth, Brass Bell picks up with the kind of riff that would feel right at home at a Tool rehearsal, before launching into an instrumental section that reminds us of the main riff of the Scorpions' 1977 classic The Sails Of Charon. "Brass Bell is a song about surrendering your autonomy to something so overwhelmingly powerful you willingly relinquish your ambitions and self-worth," says singer/guitarist Marissa Paternoster. "My intention was to draw an interesting dichotomy between the muscular nature of the song and the rather bleak, worried lyrics." So now you know.