Happy Easter Everyone!
Platitudes out of the way, it's back to the serious business of our Tracks of the Week competition, this website's answer to the Oscars. Last week's triumphant statuette winner was Wolfgang Van Halen, a.k.a. Mammoth WVH, whose Don't Back Down accounted for over 50% of the votes. Wolfgang, we salute you.
We also salute Aussie youngsters Mixed Up Everything, whose Knucklehead performed admirably in claiming second place, and Billy F Gibbons', whose West Coast Junkie finished a somewhat distant but still honourable third.
Who will win this week? We'll find out in seven days time.
Royal Blood - Limbo
It's not just the motorcycle helmets in the video, but there's definitely something both Daft and Punky about Royal Blood's new single Limbo: those compacted techno rhythms, the prominent hi-hat, the way the sound ebbs and crescendos, and the slow build towards transcendence as the song heads towards the four-minute mark. All it needs is a Nile Rodgers remix (see Steven Wilson, below).
Peter Frampton Band - Loving The Alien
As a 12-year-old in Kent, Peter Frampton would hook up with an older schoolmate, the artist eventually known as David Bowie, and the pair would play Buddy Holly songs together during their lunch breaks. 59 years on he's covering Bowie's classic Loving The Alien, and very good it is, too. Unusually, it's an instrumental cover – upcoming album Frampton Forgets The Words is without vocals – but it's no less lyrical for that. A lovely bit a music, silky smooth and begging for placement on a film soundtrack.
Wayward Sons - Big Day
"There is a renewed sense of anticipation that is wholly justified as we consider what we have missed and are looking forward to getting back to. We are indeed all looking forward to that big day," says lead Wayward Son Toby Jepson, talking about a song that looks forward to the day when we can all head out into the nation's clubs, bars and venues, free to hug vulnerable strangers without fear of contagion or recrimination. A rare, AC/DC-shaped beacon of positivity.
Briston Maroney - Sinkin'
Inhabiting an unusual position at the intersection of the indie pop/classic rock Venn diagram, Briston Maroney has already been there and done much of that. At 15 he was in a bluegrass band, by 18 he was in rehab, and three years on he's just about to release his full-length debut album, Sunflower. Judging by Sinkin', a beguiling blend of T.Rex and Pavement, it'll be full of surprises, but Maroney isn't a novelty act: there's no doubt the boy can write songs.
The Damn Truth - This Is Who We Are Now
Produced by famed Metallica producer Bob Rock, This Is Who We Are Now is a powerful statement of musical intent from Montreal rockers The Damn Truth, with a chorus bigger than a bus and a guitar solo that absolutely soars. "I realise that people see us as a hard-rock band," says lead singer Lee-la Baum. "We are, but we're also, deep-down, rock'n'roll hippies. All those things about being self-reliant, and community, and peace and love. Well, that's us. That's who we are." So like Halestorm, then, but with added patchouli.
DeWolff - Bona Fide
Taken from the livestream show that accompanied the release of Wolffpack, the recent album by Dutch rockers DeWolff, Bona Fide rides in on a riff so swampy you'll need a tractor to extract yourself on the other side. With a video of vintage hue and a sound that remains unsullied by anything released since about October 1974, DeWolff are the perfect solution for those who want to experience the 1970s but without suffering the Cold War or having to drink Blue Nun.
Van Morrison - Only a Song
Rock's most famously grumpy musician (last time Classic Rock saw him live, he impatiently removed the guitar from one of his band members and showed him how the song should be played while it was being performed) is back with a new album, the inventively titled Latest Record Project. While we're fearful of hectoring titles like Why Are You On Facebook? and Stop Bitching, Do Something, as long as he keeps singing as well as he does on Only A Song (seriously, he's 75, and his voice appears to be completely undiminished), we won't complain too much.
Steven Wilson - Personal Shopper (Nile Rodgers remix)
We have a sneaking suspicion that Steven Wilson likes nothing more than confounding/annoying the more conservative elements of his fanbase with songs that – while showing true artistic progression – veer away from the uniform predictability of what passes for much "progressive" rock in 2021. And here he goes again, getting disco's very own genius Nile Rodgers to remix last year's Personal Shopper single, giving it a shiny, Studio-54 sheen and making it sound even more Heaven-17-meets-The-Communards than it did before. Now can we have an extended version, please?