Review: Singles Round-up

There is incredible new music everywhere we turn, and here’s just a very small glimpse at some of the new music that we have been devouring this week. As usual, click on the artist’s name in bold and follow the link to the relevant YouTube/social media page. Support new music: play, stream, download, above all…share.

Californian southern rock outfit Robert Jon & The Wreck are not hanging around, and a mere 17 months after the release of their critically acclaimed album ‘Last Light On The Highway’, the band will release a brand new album in the shape of ‘Shine A Light On Me Brother’. The title track is available now for all connoisseurs of rock and soul, and rhythm and blues, to enjoy, and it certainly whets many whistles in anticipation of the albums’ arrival on September 3rd. Less of a southern feel than the aforementioned ‘Last Light On The Highway’, this is the perfect example of a group of accomplished musicians paying respect in their own way to the famed Stax brand of gospel-tinged southern and Memphis soul. Add some great musicianship, including; lively horns, vibrant backing vocals, and the incredible guitar-work of the Gibson SG-wielding Henry James, and you have the finest slice of good-time music this side of Jake and Elwood Blues (hell, the band are even suited and booted). Look out for a slide guitar sound potent enough to impregnate all in its path, and pray that you get out of its way quick enough. As James Brown once asked, “…do you see the light?…”.

Everybody likes something for nothing, right? Whether it’s driving away from KFC with two unexpected free portions of fries in your takeaway bag, stacking as much salad as you can into your bowl at Pizza Hut, or finishing an extra bottle of red wine to prove a point to the restaurant manager that the buy one get one free promotion doesn’t say that litre bottles of red are excluded. You get the picture: it’s good to get something for nothing. And UK slide-guitarist Troy Redfern is offering music fans something for nothing in the shape of a free download of his new track ‘Ghosts’. With a mix of atmospheric Appalachian-guitar during the intro, and a nailed-on “train beat” shuffling drum sound, ‘Ghosts’ sends signals that it is going down an Americana/country route, and to an extent it does, but then Redfern comes in with some explosive fretboard work and even the gap-toothed kid with the banjo in Deliverance throws in the towel. Redfern has a strong, throaty, authentic voice which suits the overall vibe on ‘Ghosts’ perfectly, however, it’s his prowess as a guitar-slinger that makes him stand out from the pack, and there are so many noteworthy guitar flourishes, licks, tones, and one jaw-dropping solo during the four-minute running time that your head will spin; in a good way.

Earache Records have not been slow in realising that the future lies in the hands of the army of young, fledgling bands out there proudly wearing the New Wave Of Classic Rock badge. The latest act to join fellow Earache acts like Massive Wagons, Those Damn Crows, and headliners-in-the-making The Dust Coda, are Welsh five-piece Scarlet Rebels, who certainly wake up the neighbours with the riff-heavy new track ‘Storm’. How often have you cried “Where are all the guitar solos?” when you hear modern rock? To be fair though, that is an issue that mainly blights American modern rock, but fear not, for Scarlet Rebels have not misplaced the six-string mastery here. In amongst this political tale of the confusion of modern-day Britain and how it seems that no-one knows what is going on, there are solos and riffs aplenty, including a Slash-tastic solo midsong on a track that bears all the commercial tropes (including fantastic melodies and lashings of earworm moments) of Foo Fighters and mixes them with a smidgeon of GNR. If guitar-driven modern rock is your bag, then Wales is the place to be,  and Scarlet Rebels are the latest in a long line of Welsh acts punching above their weight.

Sometimes we all need a little slice of goth in our lives, and let’s be honest, even with a renewed glimmer of hope looming on the horizon, now is the perfect time for music influenced by the darker shit in our lives. Step forth British songwriter, musician, and producer Mick Johnson with his solo project The Heartland Collective and a brand new track ‘My Deepest Darkest Friend’. One of those tracks that burrows deep into the listeners subconscious and although you might be discovering The Heartland Collective for the first time, you will gladly tell anyone that will listen that you have been a fan of the band for years now before asking what took them so long to get onboard. With shades of Depeche Mode at their most melancholic, and deep, low vocals in an Andrew Eldritch-vein, this is modern goth/post-punk paying respect to the past, to stunning effect. With Gary Numan, and Justin Sullivan from New Model Army both releasing excellent albums already this year, 2021 is looking good for those of us who never outgrew that “phase”, and The Heartland Collective are helping to keep that flame alive.

Charlotte Wessels, also known as “The owner of the most soothing voice in the world that is not Morgan Freeman” has been creating some incredible, and varied, work in her own Six Feet Under studio for her ever-growing Patreon community. Every now and then Wessels will release a track into the public domain, and the latest of these tracks is the magical ‘Superhuman’. Written, performed, and produced by Charlotte herself, featuring a visually stunning video/piece of art directed by renowned photographer Tim Tronckoe, ‘Superhuman’ is Wessels at her dreamy best. The sweeping majesty of her vocals mixed with subtle orchestrations (crank it up at 2:50 minutes and weep with delight) and a simple piano sound, that almost sounds like a bell tolling, create a dark melancholic atmosphere that is both emotional and uplifting, as well as extremely powerful. The only thing left to do once it fades out is press repeat and fall in love with it all over again.

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