The best new rock songs released this week
“So this is Christmas,” sang John Lennon, a long time ago. “And what have you done?”
Well John, we’ve just about made it through another year, and we’ve gotta be reasonably happy with that. It hasn’t always been easy, what with the virus and the cancelled tours and the delayed releases and all that, but we’re still here, and next year can only be an improvement, right?
One thing’s for certain: rock will continue to roll into 2023 and beyond. And each new week will throw up another eight songs for us to wrestle into some sort of critical order. Like last week, when Lisa by Dead Writers topped the vote, followed by Crossbone Skully’s Evil World Machine (opens in new tab) and Steel Panther’s 1987 (opens in new tab).
So congratulations to them, and congratulations to our new intake, whose credentials may be examined below. We’ll be back with the results on January 3, so have a great Christmas and a rockin’ new year, and thank you for being with us this year.
The Winery Dogs – Xanadu
After five years and about seventy other band projects between then, this super-trio (Billy Sheehan, Mike Portnoy and Richie Kotzen) have finally returned with new music, and it rocks – in a noodly yet ultra-groovy way that reflects their collective range of prog, pop, rock and metal chops. A meaty, hooky sweet spot between virtuosity and plain old goodtime rock’n’roll. Check out more on new album III in the new year. Welcome back, chaps.
Robert Jon & The Wreck – Who Can You Love
Taken from RJ&TW’s forthcoming EP One Of A Kind (out on March 10), Who Can You Love is a sweet southern ballad, generously spiked with gauzy melancholia. If the warmest, fuzziest moments in the Skynyrd, Eagles and Allmans catalogues are what do it for you, there’s a good chance you’ll love this, which borrows adoringly from all three of those bands’ books of tricks. Stick them on tour with Blackberry Smoke and you’d have the chillest, most dulcet ‘new’ southern rock show of the decade – not to mention a very fine assortment of hair and hats.
King Kraken – Green Terror
Okay it’s almost Christmas time, carols are wafting out of every shop door, office parties are raging, we’ve already heard Slade’s Merry Christmas about twenty million times… How about some hard rock before we all hunker down in a heap of Quality Street and mince pies for a week or so? But not just hard rock, this is hard rock with wrestling! Both worlds come together in beardy harmony on this chugging slam-dunk of thick, fuzzcake guitars and burly dudes leaping on top of each other. And lycra – loads of lycra. Now who doesn’t want that?
Jesse Malin – Brooklyn (Walt Whitman in the Trash)
Falling somewhere lush between Neil Young and Jason Isbell, this reworking of Jesse Malin’s gorgeous cut from The Fine Art Of Self Destruction (reissued in expanded 20th anniversary form in February 2023) has everything you need for a beautifully bittersweet holiday season: enveloping strings, acoustic strumming, evocative storytelling and a heartstring-tugging melody to tie it all together.
Lucero – Raining For Weeks
Mistakes and lost loves are at the heart of this sweet, sad, soulful new single from Memphis alt/country rockers Lucero. “This was a new guitar part that I wrote while playing guitar and chasing my daughter around the basement,” says bandleader Ben Nichols. “It reminded me of something I might hear in a Wes Anderson film. For such a simple little song, it has some of my favourite lyrics on the album, suggesting the narrator has been completely unaware of the consequences of his actions.”
Klone – Bystander
The French alt rock/metallers had this to say about their new single (taken from the upcoming album Meanwhile, out via Kscope in February): “Bystander is an introspection on our relationship with death and mourning, and its acceptance. Through this dreamlike and totally immersive soundscape, with heady melodies and heightened emotion, Bystander is a subtle blend of sensitivity and intensity.” Prog-metal lovers will enjoy the dark, dextrous heaviness as it climaxes, but the melodic mix of expansive atmosphere and deep, driving guitars makes it a less niched proposition than it might have otherwise been.
Måneskin – LA Fine
LA Fine is a return to familiar territory for Måneskin, their first Italian-language single since last year’s triumphant Zitti e Buoni. It also shares the same kind of wild energy as the Eurovision winner, with Damiano’s breathless vocal riding a riff and a rhythm that couldn’t get any more lively were it made entirely of snakes. We keep waiting for Måneskin to release a dud, and so far it’s just not happening. Third album Rush! will be released in late January, preceded by a single with Tom Morelllo, and if 2022 was a triumph, 2023 may just improve on it.
Hell Is For Heroes – I Should Never Have Been Here In The First Place
Post-hardcore favourites Hell Is For Heroes reformed for some live shows back in 2018, but this track is their first release since 2007’s self-titled third album. Powered by a Pixies-ish riff, it’s a sombre but ultimately uplifting affair, with a chorus that winds its way skywards with bombastic aplomb. “Making music with friends is still a special kind of fun just as it always was,” says frontman Justin Schlosberg, “and we can’t wait to play them live (as well as the old songs).” They tour the UK with Hundred Reasons and My Vitriol in February and March.