Curated by Monk

The Uber Rock Approved stampWell, 2021 may have only taken its first faltering steps into its second month but already it is looking as if it as going be as much of a shitstorm of a year, if not more so, than its predecessor, with the Government apparently losing the war with the pan(dem)ic and “fighting back” with renewed, and even more stringent, lockdowns in place the length and breadth of the Über Kingdom. But, with BoJo’s much vaunted pathway out of the crisis still some way off, and the summer festival season already in severe doubt following the cancellation of Glastonbury and other events looking set to fall like the proverbial dominos, at least 2021 is sharing something more positive in common with 2020, in that it already has produced some terrific new music, with the promise of plenty more to come, if the if the inbox here at ÜRHQ is anything to go by…

In that context, as the new rock ‘n’ roll year finally starts to stand on its own two feet, with its DMs firmly planted in the mire and muck of the dissolving world around it, there has been a healthy slew of new music pinging itself our way, and the number of submissions we received for our ‘Singles Club’… Yes, it’s hard to believe it’s been a fortnight since the Singles Club opened its virtual doors and we fired up the death decks with a selection of the finest single-track releases to have come our way in recent weeks. Yet, here we are again with another bumper pick of the crop, with just shy of two dozen tracks for your aural and visual delectation, whittled down from the 400+ submissions which have come our way over the past 14 days or so, and once again hopefully containing something to tickle almost everyone’s musical taste buds as we traverse multiple subgenres of the glorious artform we like to refer to as rock ‘n’f’n’ roll…

And leading the charge this time around we have a band from the leafy suburbs (!?) of our home city of Belfast, Maverick, who have absolutely kicked it out of the park (well, if they could get into it in the first place, seeing as those luverly peeps at the local council have locked all the gates!) with this, the second single to be released from their just completed new studio album. If this, the massively emotionally-charged ‘The Last One’ – which sees the band take a rare venture into ballad territory – and it’s preceding single, ‘Switchblade Sister’, are anything by which to judge, ‘Ethereality’ is going to be an absolute stonker:

We stay in our local neighbourhood for a “young” band who may be a new name to us here at ÜRHQ, as well as to many others in our particular corner of the Überverse, but the members of Reasy Ajarro have been kicking around the Belfast scene for quite a few years, as the band has emerged from the ashes of pop punk wannabes Surf Green. And they get their career off to an impressive start with debut single ‘Separation’, which appealed to me personally because of the way in which, in the spirit of the mighty Lemmy, bassist Iwan Hynds plays his instrument like a rhythm guitar, driving the song, which is taken from their debut EP (released this coming Friday) forward with aplomb and panache:

We travel across the Irish Sea now to west Yorkshire, Bradford in fact, where we find another young band, in the truest sense of the description, as the members of indie alt-rock quartet Extinktion are all under the age of 16! Their youthfulness shines through in this, their first ever self-recorded and self-released public offering, and we tip our hats to their enthusiasm in pressing forward with their dream, especially in such adverse circumstances:

A total change in mood next, as we defy international travel bans and quarantine rules to migrate (virtually at least) to Italy, where symphonic death metallers Genus Ordinis Dei have declared ‘Judgement’ on the Überverse with the sixth “episode” of their ÜR-approved latest album, ‘Glare Of Deliverance’. It’s suitably epic and majestic, exemplifying all the best attributes of the genre:

The beauty of the internet is that we can skip back and forth across the Überverse with scant disregard for aforesaid travel restrictions, which is why we now find ourselves on the other side of the Atlantic and in the company of another band who recently earned our coveted #SealOfApproval, in the form of Canadian alt-observationalists Kiwi Jr, who are raising a glass of vino and inviting us to enjoy ‘Maid Marian’s Toast’ with the brilliant latest single from their magnificent second album, ‘Cooler Returns’:

We now head to the Midwest states of the gool ol’ USofA, and another glorious slice of power pop deliciousness from the ever-impressive Indonesian Junk, who are giving frontman Daniel (no relation to Nathan) James’ longstanding friendship with the legendary Kurt Baker ‘One More Try’ on this good old-fashioned foot stomper:

Another power pop legend has pulled up a (virtual) bar stool, this time in the form of the man by the name of Brad Marino, who is asking ‘What Do You Know?’…. well, what we do know is this is another superb piece of garage punk, snarling with attitude and serving up a very taster album for his forthcoming latest album, on which he defiantly declares he’s ‘Looking For Trouble’… not that he’ll have any trouble getting it an airing here at ÜRHQ:

We’re now ‘Headed West’ in the company of Michigan duo Ghosts Of Sunset, who have returned to the Club to deliver us the title track of their forthcoming debut EP, a six-track concept work about the rise and demise (geddit?) a “fictional” ‘80s hair metal band following their move from the Midwest to the City Of Angels.  It’s all good fun:

Talking of ‘80s hair metal, L.A. Guns – or at least the Steve Riley incarnation of the band – are proving that ‘You Can’t Walk Away’ with the latest single from last year’s ‘Renegades’ album – one which undoubtedly split both critical and fan opinions, not least here at ÜRHQ… having said that, however, it’s a decent slice of retro-rock that once again serves to remind why we fell in love with this particular musical artform in the first place:

We travel slightly north of the city of angels to San Luis Obispo where, despite the town being completely landlocked, the surf’s up and the waves of power pop lusciousness are crashing around us, thanks to the queen of glitter trash, Hayley and her band of Crushers. Grab a board and jump in at the deep end… but don’t forget to make sure you’re wearing your armbands ‘cos this one might just carry you away to much happier places…

Before we leave the golden shores of the USofA, Fat Mike wants to make us an offer we can’t refuse… and that is to ‘Fuck Euphemism’, which also just happens to be the title of the lead single from ‘Single Album’, the latest full-lengther (sic) from SoCal punk legends NOFX, which is due to emerge at the end of the month… So, having taken up Mike’s invitation, the only thing left to do is hit “play”:

Back across the pond for another change in mood and tempo, as psychedelic doomsters Indica Blues prepare for the imminent arrival (this coming Friday) of their latest album, the predictively titled ‘We Are Doomed’, via one of our favourite labels, the ever-cognisant APF Records. You definitely will be ‘Scarred For Life’ if you pass this immense album by, as it is a complete beast of a release:

Another change in mood as the one and only Gary Hughes has wandered into the bar, and he wants to take us down to the ‘Waterside’ with the rich and luscious title track of his latest solo album, which is due for release next month, coinciding with a double album retrospective of his three-decade long solo career:

We stay on the ÜK melodic rock scene as we visit A New Tomorrow, who have just released what is by our reckoning the third different version of the namesake single from their debut album, ‘Universe’, which was released at the end of 2019. An acoustic version of the song was released last Autumn, and has now been followed by this, what the band describe as the “cinematic” version. Whether the Überverse really needs three versions of the song is to be debated, but any of them are worth checking out just for Alessio Garavello’s stunning vocal:

There definitely have been plenty of times over the past year or so that many of us have felt that things have gone ‘Beyond Hope’… in this case, it is also the title of the latest single from Florida guitarist Jason Bieler (whom long-term readers might remember from the magnificent Saigon Kick), who recruited an all-star cast to make up his wonderfully named Baron Vo Bielski Orchestra. On this occasion, the third single to be released from the cleverly titled ‘Songs For The Apocalypse’ album, collaborators include the inimitable Benji Webbe, Dave Ellefson and Bumblefoot…

Although he’s previously featured in our ‘Video Of The Week’ slot, Australian guitarist/songwriter Daniel Stolka is making his first visit to the Club. But, hang on a second… what’s that noise in the background?  Oh, it’s just some sweet ‘Tape Hiss’, the second single from Danny boy’s Cousin Betty project and their forthcoming debut EP, and a stomping tribute to the days of mixtapes… hell, the accompanying video even has a subtle little tribute to your favourite website the excites…

Another one-man force of nature undoubtedly is Drew Owen, the brainchild behind punk behemoth Sick Thoughts, who over the years has produced a fuckton of what can best be described as sleazy, spit-riddled punk rock ‘n’ roll done right – and wrong – in all the best ways possible! The latest exemplar is this fast ‘n’ furious split single, which does exactly what it says on the tin:

Busting outta Canada to make a return to the Club are retro-rockers The Jailbirds (who ironically share their name with another band on the same record label), who are defiantly declared that they will move on to bigger and better things… and, hell, the dancefloor is already before we’ve even pressed “play” on this rifftastic little beauty:

As we head into our last few songs, we stay in Canada but turn up the volume to 110 per cent as rising Montreal metalcore mobsters Suicide For A King bring out ‘The Worst In Us’ with their punishing new offering, which delivers all the best elements of the genre’s sound in one extremely neat and impressive package:

As Kevin prepares to ring the bell for last orders and we order a double round of neat JDs, we travel down to the deep south, and particularly the swamps of Louisiana, for our penultimate offering, which comes from NOLA sludge progenitors Eyehategod, who are telling us how everything is ‘Built Beneath The Lies’, the third single from their forthcoming album and a track which singer Mike IX Williams describes as a song playing in the background while the back alleys burn with nervous alcoholic tension and people all over cancel their summer plans to stare at the wall...”. In other words, another wonderfully expressed and delivered appropriate soundtrack for our dystopian times:

We bow out in fine style, thanks to one of our favourite bands, the ever-enjoyable Electric Boys, who are preparing us for the imminent arrival of their new album, which is destined to turn things at ÜRHQ ‘Upside Down’ at the end of April, with lead single ‘Super God’, which is another dyed-in-the-wool rock ‘n’ roll hipgrinder from Conny and co… we can’t think of a better way to sign off…

Well, that’s your lot for this iteration of the Singles Club. Yet again, we’ve drunk the pumps dry and the optics are running low, so it’s time to neck the dregs and feck off to enjoy what’s left of this Sunday afternoon sunshine. We hope you agree that it has been another eclectic collection, and that you found something to tickle your earbuds and drive you to explore some new musical horizons. We’ll be back a bit earlier than our normal fortnightly slot, as I’ll be running a special Valentine’s Dau edition of the Club, celebrating all that we love about the best rock ‘n’ roll around. So, until then, keep ‘er lit, keep ‘er between the hedges and #StayTheFuckSafe!

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