Review: Singles Round-Up

Another week, another fresh batch of hot new singles ticking all the boxes here at DGM Towers. Here are a few examples of what we have been listening to over the last few days; as usual, click on the artist’s name in bold and follow the link to the YouTube video/social media page.

There’s something quietly reassuring about Bad Touch recording a cover of an Allman Brothers classic at The Marshall Studio; the brand new state-of-the-art recording studio that bears the famous Marshall name…a studio built around a Neve 8048 recording console no less, the holy grail of recording consoles. An analog band in a digital world, vinyl over streaming, Bad Touch, and Marshall Amplification, it all makes sense. And ‘Midnight Rider’? An inspired choice. From the riff-heavy opening few bars, through the thick swinging grooves that sound soooo good, to the lush vocal harmonies that scream “Allmans”, and a killer guitar solo from Bad Touch maestro Rob Glendinning, this is magical. Other bands might have cocked this one up by overcooking it, but in the hands of Norfolk’s finest, it works perfectly. As a precursor to the impending live dates that kick off mid-November, this should have fans of guitar-driven, groove-friendly rock n’ roll purring with delight.

It’s great timing that just as National Album Day celebrates the contributions of female artists to the music scene with their “Hear Her Voice” campaign, Elles Bailey makes her amazing voice heard with the release of her new single ‘Sunshine City’. Lifted from her forthcoming album, ‘Shining in the Half Light’, ‘Sunshine City’ is a barnstorming example of how Elles makes genre-mashing look easy. Roots-meets-Americana-meets-country-meets-blues makes for one hell of a tongue-twister but with Elles you can expect many different tastes and ‘Sunshine City’ packs in a lot during the few minutes it runs for. The star of the show is undoubtedly the vocal prowess of Elles Bailey, which at times sparks flashbacks to discovering Bonnie Raitt for the first time, but the effortlessly cool guitar work from Joe Wilkins runs it a close second. Catch Elles on tour from October 28th through to December 11th.

October; the first signs of the seasons changing, the household central heating is beginning to wake up from its hibernation period, Halloween is on the way (bringing with it the ability to buy multiple family bags of Mars bars without looking desperate), and more importantly…Ryan Hamilton hits double digits with his ‘1221’ project. With an instant explosion of guitar riffage and power chords up the wazoo, ‘Do The Damage’ – track ten of twelve – makes it obvious that Ryan has zero intentions of getting to the finishing line in December in anything other than full-on power-pop n’ roll mode. Total sidebar; but imagine Ryan opening up the European leg of the Green Day/Weezer stadium tour? That would be rather nice. Well written, and as hooky-as-hell, ‘Do The Damage’ is a happy, hand-clapping, knee-slapping tale of getting one back on bullies that make everyone’s life a misery; serious subject for sure, but in the hands of Hamilton and the in-demand-for-a-reason producer Dave Draper, it has a fun side. One of those tracks that you can sing along to almost immediately (a surefire sign of a great songwriter), and might even find yourself whistling along with. Really, really good fun, and pay attention to the short-but-sweet tribute to Kevin Bacon before he had to rely on flogging phones for a living.

If you’ve ever caught FM live before, then you couldn’t have helped but notice the man behind the rack of keyboards – Jem Davis. The stereotypical image of a keyboard player is that they are the quiet one on stage, sitting down, hardly moving, studious. Then there is Jem Davis. He plays as if he was a guitarist. On the move as much as his instrument allows him to, ever-smiling, always making eye contact with the crowd – a bit of a showman, and someone who clearly relishes every minute on stage. Davis also answers to ‘Pepperkid2’, the nom de plume that he has assumed for his new solo project ‘Adventures in Pepperland’ (due 12th November 2021), and those with a hankering for something new-but-familiar can feast on ‘After The Rain’, the debut single from the album. With the always-stellar Mike Dyer from Grand Slam handling vocal duties, and his GS compadre Laurence Archer supplying the sizzling guitar solo that arrives midsong, ‘After The Rain’ is (naturally) a keyboard-heavy slice of bluesy, hard rock that grows with each listen. The keyboard/organ sound from Davis is magnificent, and Davis controls the song in much the same way that Jon Lord would do on anything he played on, never over-powering, but subtle and crucial to the song, as is the nailed-on solo from the well-travelled Laurence Archer. This album is indeed shaping up to be an interesting prospect.

Grammy-winning songwriter, musician, and Godfather of melodic rock Jim Peterik is set to deliver a brand new album as Jim Peterik & World Stage, and judging by the singles already released, it could be one of the strongest melodic rock albums of 2021. Entitled ‘Tigress: Women Who Rock The World’, the album is a showcase for female musicians that Peterik admires, and features known artists such as Janet Gardner alongside up and coming names in the melodic rock world, one such name being the hotly-tipped Chez Kane. Having already delivered one of the top three melodic rock albums of 2021 (her astonishing self-titled debut), Chez Kane finds herself working with the “Eye Of The Tiger” himself and no doubt soaking up all his wisdom and experience like a sponge. The result of the collaboration is the brand new single ‘A Capella’, and for any self-respecting fan of AOR/melodic rock, this is truly something special. Kind of like Mr. Miyagi passing on his decades of wisdom to his young protege, ‘A Cappella’ is what happens when two different generations work together for the greater good; in this case, keeping the melodic rock flame alive. Instantly engaging thanks to the ‘Maggie May’-like musical intro and Chez Kane’s warm vocals, this is Pat Benatar-done-2021 style and one of those tracks that take the listener back to a time when things were less frantic, and a tad nicer. Peterik has already licensed this one to Netflix? Yeah?

Without wanting to wish away the next three months, it’s going to be a bit of a slog until January 28th, 2022 – the day that Welsh wizards Scarlet Rebels finally unleash their new album ‘See Through Blue’ – isn’t it? Avoiding a crowded marketplace and hanging back until January is a sensible move, but that doesn’t make the wait pass any quicker. Until then, fans can make do with new single ‘Take You Home’, a belter of a riff-rocker that gets larger and larger with each listen. With a power-packed guitar solo from lead guitarist Chris Jones (one of three guitarists in the band), this is modern, guitar-driven rock n’ roll that is going to sound bloody massive once Johnnie Walker at BBC Radio 2 gets his hands on it and gets it on heavy rotation. Great melodies, strong vocal hooks, guitars that sing, thumping beats…all the perfect ingredients for an arena-ready anthem. That guitar solo though…oooft! Earache Records are onto another winner with these guys. Away from the music side of things, top marks to the band for organising collections for food banks at their headlining shows. A fantastic gesture that goes a long way, especially in the runup to Christmas when many families will struggle even more. Find out how you can help, here.

Las Vegas-based Cowpunk/Death/Thrash outfit SpiritWorld are set to re-release their debut album ‘Pagan Rhythms’ on November 5th via Century Media Records and it will mark the first time that the album is available (physically) outside of North America. In the meantime, to whet the appetite, SpiritWorld (the brainchild of vocalist Stu Folsom) have released a banging new single ‘The Bringer Of Light’, and alongside it, a jaw-dropping, gory ‘Death Western’ video. Exploding to live with a mix of big-ass thrashy riffs and a mountainous drum sound, the song quickly ups the pace with a brief blast of Mariachi-meets-Megadeth riffs before Stu Folsom casually drops in some impressive hardcore growls. Even though the song is pretty damn brutal, the melodies are never too far away; the guitars throughout the intro are hooky as hell and will take up residence in your brain for some time, with the hardcore-like vocals during the chorus having the same effect. A hint of Mastodon here and there, this is the musical equivalent of a short-sharp kick in the feelies, and the video…oh my!

Think of British glam legends Sweet and the first thing that will probably come into your mind is gloriously bombastic gems such as ‘Hellraiser’, ‘Ballroom Blitz’, ‘Blockbuster!’, and ‘Teenage Rampage’. Chances are that you won’t associate Sweet as a band that can knock out a quality ballad or two, but that opinion might change with the release of their new single ‘Everything 2021’. The inclusion of the current year in the title is a clue to what awaits the listener once they press play; a newly re-recorded version of the song that originally appeared on the band’s 2002 album ‘Sweetlife’, now re-recorded with new vocalist Paul Manzi at the helm. Played at a more relaxed pace than you might expect a Sweet track to sound like, ‘Everything 2021’ is a masterclass in how to take a track from a previous era (and previous line-up) and breath new life into it, and in doing so, sweep the listener off their feet and spark bittersweet (not intended, honest) memories long locked away. The vocals from Manzi are lush. It’s like he’s hardly breaking a sweat, but all the while, delivering a tough, powerful performance. Bassist/vocalist Lee Small lends a hand with some sublime co-vocals and as per usual, Andy Scott slides in to just about steal the show with a beautiful, restrained guitar solo. Catch Manzi, Small, Scott, and company on tour this December.


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