Review: Singles Round-up

Another week, another fresh batch of singles just waiting to grab your attention. Here’s just a very small glimpse of some of the singles recently released that we have been enjoying. As usual, click on the artist’s name in bold and follow the link to the relevant YouTube video or social media page.

While the name Alirio Netto might be unfamiliar to most, there is no denying his credentials. One of the most recognisable voices in his native Brazil, Netto handled lead vocals during the 2018 Queen Extravaganza tour after impressing Roger Taylor and Brian May when he starred as Galilleo in the Brazilian production of We Will Rock You in 2016. Roger Taylor commented at the time; “Alirio is not only a superlative singer, he is also a great showman who will deliver our songs with tremendous flair”. Fast forward a few years and Alirio has signed with Frontiers Music Srl, and debut Frontiers album ‘All Things Must Pass’ lands August 6th, with the title track available now as a taster of what to expect. And what you can expect from Alirio is hook-laden hard rock with plenty of familiarities; a touch of Whitesnake here, a dash of Chris Cornell there, a track that might even spark memories of Badlands in those that remember the Jake E Lee/Ray Gillen vehicle. Great guitar riffs, powerful, gritty vocals, and melodies by the bucket-load, it seems that Roger Taylor knew what he was talking about.

The amount of top-quality collaborations coming out of the enforced lockdown shows no sign of letting up, and blues standard-bearers Shemekia Copeland and Kenny Wayne Shepherd have come up with a doozy in the shape of new single ‘Hit ‘Em Back’. Add guest performances from Robert Randolph on steel guitar and veteran blues drummer Tony Coleman who has worked with B.B. King, Etta James, Bobby Blue Bland, Albert King, and Buddy Guy, and the end result is a toe-tapping, hand-clapping romp complete with an array of fretboard fireworks from Kenny Wayne, and some of the best contemporary blues vocals that you might hear for some time, courtesy of Shemekia Copeland. ‘Hit ‘Em Back’ was written at the urging of Shemekia who asked her lyricist John Hahn to write a song to address divisiveness and anger within the greater blues community, Kenny Wayne came on board with the music and a few days later the ensemble was in a Nashville studio cutting the track. As soon as the song begins with someone counting the band in and Coleman beating out a short drum intro, you just know that this is going to be something special, and it doesn’t disappoint. Quite an irresistible few minutes. Do check the video out, and watch out for the part where both Copeland and Shepherd are outside the recording booth watching Robert Randolph laying down his parts. Magical.

Power-trio Florence Black are the latest act to come kicking and snarling out of Wales to put a marker down for others to follow. New single ‘Can You Feel It?’ is the sound of a band who have been biding their time and learning their craft, cooking up something special in the studio; and finally, it’s cooked to perfection and ready to be devoured. Damn, this is a massive step-up in quality from the boys from Merthyr Tydfil, South Wales. An instant holy-shit moment. It’s pacy, powerful, packed with enough riffage to power a small town for a month, and most importantly; hooks to die for. Vocalist/lead guitarist Tristan Thomas plays a blinder and has the throaty rasp of Dave Grohl at his gnarliest, down to a tee. Not entirely Foo Fighters-influenced, but ‘Can You Feel It?’ carries similar qualities to Grohl’s stadium-selling band; including fantastic work from the engine room team in Jordan Evans (bass) and Perry Davies (drums), both building a solid foundation for Thomas to impress with his short-but-fiery guitar solo, but it’s mostly all about the sense of melodies featured within the track. Foo Fighters are one of the few successful modern rock acts that manage to keep the melodies flowing while rocking out at pace, and Florence Black are beginning to show potential to follow suit. Memorable from start to finish.

Ryan Hamilton is six months into his ‘1221’ project (release a new song a month for the duration of the year) and for June’s release the Traveling Wilbury-in-waiting ups the ante with perhaps his most uptempo number so far; ‘Shots Fired’. Coming on like a distant cousin of The Replacements or The La’s, ‘Shots Fired’ is an instant track, mainly because of the opening guitar riffs and Clem Burke-like drum sound that shepherds in the first few moments. Hamilton’s vocals kick in at the same time as a simple piano sound that sparks memories of ‘A Glass Of Champagne’ from Sailor, and like the 70’s classic (gloriously covered by Ginger Wildheart and Hey! Hello!), ‘Shots Fired’ is equally as infectious. Ryan is a vivid, warm lyricist and paints easily identifiable scenarios with his lyrics, and ‘Shots Fired’ is arguably one of his finest compositions to date. Dealing with a toxic relationship, and the reasons why someone would stay in such a relationship knowing that it was unhealthy, it’s a few minutes that most will identify with and offers up some hope that there is a better way once you listen to your heart. Once all 12 songs are released, the plan is for Ryan to release them on an album as one body of work – that gets a rinky-dink dink from us.

Aussie Celtic punk ‘n’ folk band The Rumjacks recently released their latest album ‘Hestia’ to great acclaim, and with the announcement of an extensive month-long UK and Ireland tour planned for early 2022 still ringing in their fans ears, the band has kept the momentum going with the release of a new single; ‘Rhythm Of Her Name’. One of the quieter moments on ‘Hestia’, ‘Rhythm Of Her Name’ is the perfect opportunity to showcase the softer aspects of the vocal range of new vocalist Mike Rivkees. Almost spoken word-like in places, it’s a narrative-driven story played out with traditional instruments melding seamlessly with the punk sensibilities of the band. A few minutes of respite during the whirling maelstrom of a fast, sweaty, boisterous Rumjacks gig. Although it might see the pit taking a breather, there is still plenty of bounce-ability about the track, thanks mainly to the throbbing, larger-than-life bass from Johnny McKelvey. It’s a simple tune, one that might sound easy to execute, but how many times have you caught a band trying something similar and failing miserably? No such worries with The Rumjacks. Catch them on tour during January and February 2022, and be prepared to bounce.

Glasgow alternative-indie band Speak Easy Circus pack quite a considerable amount into their recent single ‘Company Of Men’. Loads of twists and turns, lots of detours throughout its five-minute running time, with some genuine surprises thrown in to catch the listener off guard. A slow, studious intro, complete with a gorgeous guitar-picking tone, brings a sense of intrigue to the party, as Speak Easy Circus let the song grow naturally and are in no rush to get to their destination. The vocals are soft and full of life, with beautiful flourishes of raised volume. Around three minutes in, the volume increases as the band break into a rather nifty cinematic jam and for a few moments, the track is free of vocals. When the vocals do kick back in they’ve taken on an angrier, sharper tone, and for a few seconds, it’s almost like it’s a different band. The song ends the same way it began, with a slow, soft outro. The only thing left to do is hit repeat.

‘When Push Comes to Shove’ might have been born out of a Cumbrian/Gloucestershire mash-up, but peel back the covers, and the roots of this magical collaboration between Thirteen Stars frontman Hoss Thompson, and the ever-versatile Verity White, lie firmly in the US of A. Or to be precise; Gainesville Florida; the birthplace of one Thomas Earl Petty, better known as Tom Petty – the very much-missed Tom Petty. Consciously or not, ‘When Push Comes to Shove’ is arguably the finest tribute to Tom Petty in some time, hell, unless my ears are playing up, there are even some subtle Benmont Tench-style organ licks bubbling under in the background. Thompson’s warm, authentic vocal style sparks so many memories of Petty that at times it is uncanny and if you can listen to his vocals around the 2:45 minute mark without getting emotional in a Traveling Wilburys kind of way, then what the hell is wrong with you, man? Verity White proves to be the perfect vocal partner for Thompson throughout the four minutes, and her gorgeous, clear vocals hit the spot time after time. Throw in a beautiful guitar tone, and the end result is indeed something special. With the news that Verity and husband Alex will be joining Hoss and Thirteen Stars on tour this year, what are the odds on a show-stopping rendition of the Stevie Nicks/Tom Petty classic ‘Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around’ straight after they romp through ‘When Push Comes to Shove’?

Edinburgh-based hard rock outfit Vantage Point recruited the well-travelled talents of one Derek Sherinian for their latest single; ‘24 Hour Breakdown’. Originally featured on the debut Vantage Point album ‘Daredevil On The Shore’ released way back in 2008, the live favourite has been given a fresh coat of paint and re-imagined with the ex-Black Country Communion, Alice Cooper, Billy Idol, and Dream Theater keyboardist bringing his customary flair and versatility to the party. Played at a pace reminiscent of the Spencer Davis Group classic ‘Gimme Some Lovin’’ or even Eddie Cochran’s ‘Summertime Blues’ (especially when Rush covered it), ‘24 Hour Breakdown’ is full-pelt fun with some fantastic vocal hooks that burrow deep into the listener’s psyche and rattle around for some time; the chorus is especially infectious. The high-pitched vocals from Murray Graham will have dogs throughout Edinburgh sitting at attention, and watching raw live footage of the band from years ago, it’s amazing that time hasn’t blunted Murray’s range. ‘24 Hour Breakdown’ is in essence, a party song, the last one to be played before sending sozzled punters home with a smile on their face and ringing in their ears. Having Derek Sherinian tinkling the ivories makes for quite the marquee headline, but in all honesty, it’s the chorus that long lingers on after the last strains of Sherinian’s handiwork fade out.          

Volbeat doesn’t do things in half-measures, so it makes perfect sense for the Danish arena-headlining band to release not one, but two new tracks for the Summer. ‘Wait A Minute My Girl’ and ‘Dagen Før’ make up the first new Volbeat music since 2019’s album ‘Rewind, Replay, Rebound’, and were recorded in Denmark during the pandemic, with guitarist Rob Caggiano laying down his parts back home in New York. ‘Wait A Minute My Girl’ is a rocket-fuelled, brothel creeper-packed romp not a million miles away from the previously released ‘Die To Live’. With saxophone player Doug Corcoran and piano player Raynier Jacob Jacildo, from JD McPherson’s band on board once again, this is Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis done Volbeat-style. And with the always-amazing Mia Maja helping out on backing vocals, the end result is three fun-filled minutes of rockabilly-with-an-attitude and a sax solo. Jack Rabbit Slim’s has a new house band: Volbeat. Total sidebar – JD McPherson opening for Volbeat on the next tour? – carnage awaits. The second of the two new tracks is an entirely different example of the full gamut of the Volbeat sound. ‘Dagen Før’ features Danish artist Stine Bramsen on co-vocals and answers the question “…what would Belinda Carlisle with Volbeat sound like?”. Volbeat at their most commercial, ‘Dagen Før’ is a lighter-than-light Summer anthem-in-waiting. The gorgeous vocals from Stine Bramsen give the listener a feeling of floating on the softest of clouds, and her native Danish vocals are bewitching. With all the negativity around at the moment, Volbeat and Bramsen are offering up a little light to counteract all the darkness. The glass is definitely half-full on this one.

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