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Eight songs to soothe your soul
We’ve calculated that three most popular artists in last week’s Tracks Of The Week roundup have accumulated the best part of two centuries worth of rock’n’roll experience between them.
Our winner, the great Ozzy Osbourne, has been encouraging fans to go crazy since 1967. Runners-up Nickelback have been treading the boards for 27 years. And the Smith/Kotzen axis of Adrian Smith and Richie Kotzen have racked up as astonishing 85 years of active duty between them. That’s a combined total of 167 years of commitment to the cause of hard rock, and we salute them.
So here’s our winner. And then it’s on with another week of carefully-curated chaos. Frisky Bristolians Mother Vulture are back with a typically rabid single, and a video that finds the foursome performing with some gusto in front of Trereife House in Penzance, Cornwall. Eagle-eyed viewers may recognise the property from the third series of the Channel 4 reality TV show Country House Rescue, but that’s not what matters here: what matters here is a performance so energetic it’s possible that merely pressing ‘play’ may generate a jolt of electricity. Go on, try. We dare you.
Atlanta glam-punk sensations Starbenders have released a silly number of truly great singles over the past few years, and Blood Moon is another. They’ve ramped up the volume of this one and turned in a thumping great glam metal riff, then attached it to a chorus that carries the song far up into the glittersphere. But don’t be fooled, this is much more than some kind of slight, stack-heeled souvenir of our times. “We seem to be hurtling toward an apocalyptic destiny,” say the band. “We decided to become one with the chaos and make some noise. Blood Moon is our catharsis.”
The yellow and black attack is back, and judging by Michael Sweet’s opening scream (we put a stopwatch on it, and timed it at 14.81 seconds), there’s no sign of glam metal’s favourite Christians either slowing down or becoming any less animated. “You take off at 100mph and it doesn’t let up until the very last note,” boasts Sweet. “It’s definitely one of our heaviest songs yet we wanted to incorporate melody and structure.” It’s also a taste of what to expect from upcoming album The Final Battle, which will be unleashed upon humankind next month.
Sometimes, musicians who’ve become famous for their technical ability can become over-reliant on their fleet-fingered dexterity, choosing to shred maniacally rather than face the challenge of writing songs that’ll appeal to an audience beyond lovers of fretwank. Not so Orianthi, whose Fire Together is a smart, grown-up piece of hard yet melodic rock with a chorus that’s truly worthy of the name. And there’s some flash in the solo, so you’ve got the best of both worlds. New album Rock Candy is out next month.
Released to celebrate Living Colour’s triumphant set at this year’s Rock In Rio festival, this new version of the classic Cult Of Personality features a screamer of a solo from guitar wiz Steve Vai, who played with the band at the Rio show. The release also marks the 30th anniversary of Living Colour’s first appearance in Brazil, at the Hollywood Rock Festival in Rio in 1992, which also happened to be Doug Wimbush’s first show with the band. All kinds of history, right there.
The ever-improving Joanne Shaw Taylor paves the way for next month’s Nobody’s Fool album with Just No Getting Over You (Dream Cruise), a slyly funky piece of blues/soul that’s as slick as it is apparently effortless. For those who like their blues without dirt or the devil, Taylor might be just what you’re looking for. The release of the Joe Bonamassa-produced Nobody’s Fool comes just four months after Taylor topped Billboard’s Blues Chart with the live album Blues From The Heart.
Aussie legends The Church have released 25 albums without bothering the UK chart much (third album Seance hit the Top 20 nearly 30 years ago), and we don’t imagine album number 26 will alter that stat much, but the swirling, rather gothic pop-psychedelia of The Hypnogogue is definitely worth six and a half minutes of your time. Rather excitingly, the song is about a machine “invented by Sun Kim Jong, a North Korean scientist and occult dabbler,” and it arrives with a suitably Dystopian video.
Fresh from his triumph at the Taylor Hawkins tribute concert, and his other triumph – a brain-melting version of his dad’s classic Eruption released just days later – young Wolfgang Van Halen goes for three in a row with the launch of a song that was originally a bonus track on the Japanese version of the debut Mammoth WVH album. Talk & Walk is no throwaway, however, with a gentle introduction that ushers in a riff straight from the Dave Grohl school of stadium-friendly rock noise. It thrusts, it slashes, and it’s got a chorus bigger than a walrus.
Online Editor at Louder/Classic Rock magazine since 2014. 36 years in music industry, online for 23. Also bylines for: Metal Hammer, Prog Magazine, The Word Magazine, The Guardian, The New Statesman, Saga, Music365. Former Head of Music at Xfm Radio, A&R at Fiction Records, early blogger, ex-roadie, published author. Once appeared in a Cure video dressed as a cowboy, and thinks any situation can be improved by the introduction of cats. Favourite Serbian trumpeter: Dejan Petrović.
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