NAKED GYPSY QUEENS – Georgiana EP Released – Feb 11th MASCOT LABEL GROUP
I heard the first release from this EP a few months ago and started raving about the band then – loving the vintage classic rock sound, heavily amplified blues, rock solid drums and a twin-guitar assault steeped in the likes of MC5, Free, Deep Purple, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Bad Company – all brought up to date with some supercharged hooks that combines that true classic rock sound with a modern southern-rock swagger!
WILLE & THE BANDITS – WHEN THE WORLD STOOD STILL Release: 28th Jan 2022 FAT TOAD RECORDS
Wille and the Bandits are a British-based band from Cornwall who play a mix of different genres spanning across the Blues, Rock, Roots and Folk rock styles, with a somewhat epic overall effect that channels the monstrous riffs of Led Zeppelin and the atmospheric warmth and depth of Pink Floyd, but all the time seeing the band push the boundaries of sound and rhythm to create a dynamic and unique sonic experience that should appeal to a broad range of classic and contemporary rock music fans.
JACK J HUTCHINSON – THE HAMMER FALLS Release – 4th Feb 2022
London-based guitarist / vocalist Jack J Hutchinson has been one of the busiest musicians out there during the COVID-19 pandemic, doing live streams, special edition recordings, cover versions (including an epic version of War Pigs) and released his last studio album – Who Feeds The Wolf – in Oct 2019, along with a “Live” album Who Feeds The Lockdown in 2020.
SCARLET REBELS – See Through Blue Released – 28 Jan 2022 Earache Records
I have been fortunate enough to get access to a whole host of albums in the past 18 months from the vibrant and booming rock scene in the UK in particular – whether NWOCR or otherwise, and as we roll into 2022, one of the first of the New Year releases has hit my in-box thanks to PK at TMR PR and Media.
Melbourne fuzz-rock band Devil Electric have just released their highly anticipated new album, Godless. The record is a collection of ideas and experiences that can simply be described as “the next evolution” of their sound. While keeping true to the band’s DNA, you’ll still find the heavy grooves and tones of 70’s inspired hard rock as Godless takes it one step further by peeling back to a rather more LoFi sound, a credit to producer Julian Schweitzer who worked with the band on the album.
L.A. GUNS – Checkered Past Released – 12/11/21 Frontiers Music
Long running hard rockers L.A. Guns have announced the release of their new studio album, Checkered Past. Written and recorded while the world was still in the grips of the coronavirus pandemic, the new studio album sees Tracii Guns, Phil Lewis, and company continuing with the darker lyrical tone of the preceding studio albums, The Devil You Know and The Missing Peace, while incorporating their classic rock influences into the mix.
GROUNDBREAKER – Soul To Soul Released – 12/11/21 Frontiers Music
I will never apologise for any inherent bias in
a review, but I am happy to admit that Steve Overland has been able to
do no wrong in my eyes, from the early days of Wildlife in 1980, through
to FM who have been one my all-time favourite bands to the present day,
and are still recording and playing live.
SMOKING MARTHA – UNIVERSE Xelon Entertainment Released – 3rd December 2021
The rising diverse Brisbane alt-rock group Smoking Martha is set to release its new full-length studio album, Universe, this December via Xelon Entertainment. The official music video for the album’s second powerful single, Liquid Sunshine, is out now following the release of lead track, the fun and fiery Good Girls.
The Brisbanites have built up a strong cult following across the UK, Europe and Australia with their high energy performances.
PLUSH – Self-titled album Released – Oct 29th 2021 Pavement Entertainment
The Press Release and the photo give a pretty immediate impression of what to expect from this upcoming release, and while one might think that the band is a modern-day creation of some A&R Svengali thinking we need another Runaways or Donnas – one listen to the opening track from Plush smashes those preconceptions pretty comprehensively.
TRIDENT WATERS – Opus Armada Release Date – 15th October
I have always had a thing for hard rock trios, from the earlier days of Rush and their excellent Canadian compatriots Triumph, through the likes of Motorhead and Budgie to ZZ Top, Everclear, Tracer, The Winery Dogs, The Cadillac Three and California Breed to name a diverse selection of powerful rock trios.
London Blues-Rock band Trident Waters released their third EP back in June 2019 which included 5 tracks to provide a real taste of bluesy hard rock, with that extra groove and energy that you often get from a three-piece.
VEGA – ANARCHY & UNITY Album Release 17th Sept 2021 Frontiers Music
VEGA have been a favourite of mine for a while now, having picked up their first album Kiss of Life around 10 years ago, and also having known singer Nick Workman from his previous band Kick. Always melodic, with a touch of nu-metal edge that set them a little apart from the crowd, Anarchy & Unity is their seventh album release following up from Grit Your Teeth from early 2020, and the new record is very much in the same vein, but perhaps with an added maturity and bite.
James McNair is a hit country songwriter from Aiken, South Carolina. He’s probably one of those names you have never heard, but if you like your country music, then you will have heard a whole heap of his songs.
At age 7 with a Sears catalog electric guitar found in his grandmother’s attic, James learned his first chords. His father, Jim, let him pick through old boxes of records and started him on the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Led Zeppelin, Lynyrd Skynyrd and more. James learned to play along with the songs and developed a deep appreciation for well-crafted lyrics and melodies.
THE GEORGIA THUNDERBOLTS CAN WE GET A WITNESS Released – 15th October
The Georgia Thunderbolts are riding high. Having just been featured by Rolling Stone, who compared their “lean, muscular songs” to artists like Blackberry Smoke, The Steel Woods and Lynyrd Skynyrd, the band has “a full tank of gas and is heading down the road” in the new video for Take It Slow, out now via Mascot Records / Mascot Label Group, taken from the upcoming debut album, Can We Get A Witness.
“In Georgia, you hear Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Allman Brothers, and all of the greats everywhere,” says guitarist, Logan Tolbert. “Rock and roll is something that comes naturally for us. We feel like we can bring it back.” The press agree, with Classic Rock Magazine dubbing the band “your new favourite southern rock band,” and American Songwriter calling their recently released debut EP which contains 5 of the tracks on the album, “timeless.”
This is straight-up southern rock as it was meant to be played, mean and gritty dual guitars, southern twang in the vocals, and the piledriving bass and drums that powers it all along, and Take It Slow opens up the album with four minutes of totally in-your-face rock’n’roll. The guitars get louder and dirtier for Lend A Hand in keeping with the slower tempo, and TJ Lyle delivers a powerful lead vocal, before the chorus explodes into a wall of harmonies. The second verse is totally stripped back which makes the chorus even more of a contrast, before the solo kicks in, and there is a great little mid-section before the final chorus, with the whole song having tinges of Black Stone Cherry in the guitars and melodies.
A loud southern-rock ballad always gives the soul a boost, and So You Wanna Change The World delivers in spades, with Bristol Perry on the drums really adding an extra dimension to the track through the solidity of the beat, and the hammering snare that really defines the track. There is some wonderful and laid-back guitar work throughout, with a tasty solo, and a very mellow outro, showing off the skills of both Riley Couzzourt and Logan Tolbert.
Looking For An Old Friend is the first track the band wrote, and really harks back to the golden era of southern rock, such as The Outlaws, Allman Brothers and of course Lynyrd Skynyrd, but this is definitely not a cheap knock-off of the classics, but a high-class fresh take on the genre, with the raw blues-rock guitars steeped in a soulful southern swagger. The backing vocals here are superb, with bassist Zach Everett doubling the lead line throughout with some classy harmonies.
Next up is the immense Spirit Of A Workin’ Man which is a tour-de-force from start to finish, and has a chorus that raises the hairs on the back of the neck. The guitars run an intricate pattern behind the verse which then blasts into the pre-chorus with some power-chords and accents. The solo is another ripper, and leads us back to another chorus before guitars and vocals give us an impassioned outro. This is an absolute gem, and may be the defining track on the record.
There is a chiming guitar riff opening up Midnight Rider, a brave but effective cover of the Allman Brothers classic from 1970, before some typical southern rock harmonies lead us into the song proper – again seeing Zach Everett providing the harmonies that create the very typical Thunderbolts sound. The guitars both show some unusual interplay before the second verse, before some wonderful harmonic progressions lead us on. Everett adds some great keyboards to the swagger of Be Good To Yourself which rolls along sweetly with a deliberate riff, classic chord sequences, and a southern rock drawl in the vocals. There is a nice touch in the “wooh ooohs” in the middle-eight which you can see being an extended crowd singalong live.
Half Glass Woman has a sleazy, grungy blues rock riff to kick us off, with some blistering harmonica before TJ opens up the verse. This is contemporary southern blues rock at it’s very best, with the bass and drums providing the deliberate solid beat and all the accents, while the voice and guitars do their thing. Twin guitar-breaks share the soloing before the next chorus which sees the backing broken up, the harmonica run wild alongside the really powerful vocals. There is more of a Sweet Home Alabama feel to Dancin’ With The Devil with the guitars taking centre stage, backed up by some lovely Hammond organ, and lets us all take a breather.
Volume turned up, effects pedals kicked on, and the guitars crank out a monster riff in the title track Can I Get A Witness, with TJ delivering a snarling lower-register vocal in the verse before powering up into the chorus which sees him in full-throttle mode with power and clarity both to the fore, after which the guitars absolutely own the break. There is a cracker of a solo with some insane off-beat rhythms in the back which give this an extra dimension. Walk Tall Man is all off-beat urgency in the verse, and then southern rock harmony in the chorus, with a bit of Black Stone Cherry vibe in the tone and phrasing. More excellent guitar-work in the solo over that off-beat tempo, and a real looseness in the drumming through the mid-section and the closing choruses which just strengthens the southern feel.
Bar-room boogie is alive and well with It’s Alright with just a touch of the Free classis Alright Now, combined with straight-up southern rock. “But these Thunderbolts aren’t a low-voltage knockoff of the greats who came before,” Rolling Stone Magazine states; “Rather, they keep things fresh by committing to lean, muscular songs…Southern rock continues to thrive in the 21st century.” The album closes with the deliberate slow-burner of Set Me Free, with the intricate and insistent guitar riff, the power of the pre-chorus chords, and the intense blend of voice and guitars before and during the solo, and in the closing segment. There is an uplifting passion and emotion in the closing couple of minutes, which sees TJ Lyle absolutely let rip on the vocals, while both Riley ang Logan throw guitar break after guitar break as the 7 minute epic fades out.
So much of the music being released recently can potentially be classed as unoriginal and derivative – that is of course true in pretty much every genre, and every decade, and there is plenty of activity in the current crop of rock bands from both the UK and USA that harks back to the “golden days” of classic southern rock. The Georgia Thunderbolts don’t shy away from this at all, “We’re going for that timeless and classic sound with a modern twist and newer attitude,” exclaims Lyle. “We all grew up on rock music,” Riley adds. “If I could think of three words to describe us, they would be Hardworking, Determined, and Humble.” Bristol grins, “If I could think of three words, they would be Rock and Roll.”
DEAD MAN’S WHISKEY
BREAKOUT – EP
Released – October 1 st 2021
Dead Man’s Whiskey are a hard rock band from London UK. Formed in 2016, the 5-piece bring a powerful blend of classic and modern rock, combining heavy riffs with anthemic choruses and stadium sized power ballads.
Following the release of their 2017 debut album Under the Gun, and perhaps the re-mastered and re-packaged 2019 version, Dead Man’s Whiskey have wasted no time in becoming one of the UK’s hottest up and coming hard rock acts.