If there's a theme to this week's Tracks Of The Week (there isn't) it would be bands returning when you're not expecting them too.
There's Porcupine Tree, back for the first time in a decade despite many thinking they'd never work together again. There's Blues Pills, releasing an unexpected cover version of a Rolling Stones classic without any advance warning. And there's Wolfmother, who launched an entire album yesterday without bothering to tell anyone it was on the way first. Long may this sort of excitement continue.
But first, last week's results. West Country rockers Reef took home the big prize with their single Shoot Me Your Ace, while Sons Of Liberty's Don't Hide Behind Your Weakness and Smith/Kotzen's Better Days filled the minor medal positions.
Congratulations to them all, and here, before we embark on this week's competition, are last week's winners.
Bones UK - Boys Will Be Girls
Rosie Bones and Carmen Vandenberg are back with a swaggering garage-blues blast, dripping with attitude and confidence that made us think ‘Rage Against The Machine-meets-Nine Inch Nails’. “It’s about our lack of desire to conform to gender norms,” the band explains. “It's about how we (and so many others) want to be absolutely, unapologetically who we are as individuals, wear and do whatever we want... and none of that has anything to do with our sex.” Crowned with a cool, cutthroat solo from guitarist Vandenberg, it bodes well for their upcoming UK support shows with Eagles Of Death Metal.
Twin Atlantic - Get Famous
A gloriously on-the-nose ode to clout-hungry Instagrammers – wrapped in a neat, catchy package that’s part Glasgow rap, part 90s rock romp – the Scots’ latest single mixes jagged pop joie de vivre with a punky heart. “Essentially, it’s me having a meltdown”, says singer Sam McTrusty. “Makeup tutorials, juicing, landmark tours, kissing pets, posing in all your expensive clothes…...it’s all mental, but I can’t seem to pull myself away from it - I’m addicted. In filming this video, I also became elements of what I hate.”
Seven Days And Doesn’t Die - Snatching Defeat
Billed as ‘death bait from the gutters of London,’ this new one from SDADD is pure punk-sleaze adrenaline that hooks you in and tears you along for the ride – tailor-made for those who like their rock’n’roll fast and filthy. You might recognise singer/guitarist Kit from Rich Ragany and The Digressions, stepping into the band leader spotlight with panache, her fiery roars wreathed in bar smoke.
Porcupine Tree - Harridan
Just when you thought Steven Wilson might have settled into his solo lane for good, he rejoins forces with the band that originally made his name. As if to make up for lost time, this first studio offering (since 2009’s The Incident) is a meaty eight minutes of smart, heavy progressive colour and shadow that rocks as much as it twists. Not to mention a video that ends, somewhat enigmatically, with gallows on a barren landscape. A new album is promised for June 2022, so keep your ears peeled for further tastes...
Magnum - I Won't Let You Down
A dulcet, mid-tempo melodic rocker, its chorus bathed in strings (anyone else hear a whiff of their old labelmates ELO in there?), I Won’t Let You Down finds the British veterans ageing very gracefully – with Bob Catley in fine voice at this softer end of the band’s spectrum. Find this and more on their new LP, The Monster Roars, which is due on January 14 2022. Still going strong after 22 albums? It’s really not too shabby, is it.
Sweet Crisis - Loosen Up
There’s a flavour of Rival Sons’ Electric Man in this organ-whirling, riff-heavy new number from Cambridge’s Sweet Crisis – all vintage rock vibes with a fresh lick of paint. “Loosen Up was written in Italy on one string on an old guitar,” says singer Leo Robarts. “When I brought it into the studio I wanted it to stay true to its roots but it took on a slightly Southern feel with the middle eight tipping the hat to Free”. There’s more where this came from on their 2021 debut album, Tricks On My Mind, out now.
Blues Pills - Wild Horses
Well, this is nice. The pandemic seemed to throw a hefty spanner in the Blues Pills works, with last album Holy Moly announced, then postponed, then released with the band unable to capitalise by playing their usual festival shows. They still haven't had the opportunity to perform songs from the album, but things are stirring in the Blues Pills camp, and a cover of The Rolling Stones' classic Wild Horses is a rather lovely stopgap. It's a song made for singer Elin Larsson to sing, and sing it she does, wrapping those powerful pipes around the song with no small amount of tenderness.
Wolfmother - Fellin Love
Yes, there's a new Wolfmother album. Rock Out has been released, as mainman Andrew Stockdale says, with "No label, no distributor, no manager, local band, no pre-order or eight month setup and a 19 year old engineer who’s now 20." And it still sounds like Wolfmother. Opening track Fellin Love is typical, with both a riff and a vocal that conjure up the sound of Black Sabbath at the less doomy end of the Sabbath spectrum. "I just think if a digital aggregator can get your music out in a few days, what’s the point in all the rest?", asks Stockdale, not unreasonably.