Curated by Monk

The Uber Rock Approved stampWell, 2021 may have may have finally taken its first reasonably confident steps to the end of its second month, with some light seeming to finally appear at the end of the tunnel for what otherwise has been pretty much of another shitstorm of a year, with the vaccination programme finally starting to take effect and BoJo’s much-vaunted “roadmap” out of the crisis finally having some form of, albeit loose, timetable. Of course, it comes too late for the first half of the festival season, with Glastonbury already shelved for the second successive year and other events, such as Download, also facing the inevitability of further cancellations, while it remains to be seen if there will be any longer lasting restrictions on live events, either indoors or outdoors. With the path to our previous level of “normality” still a long way off, 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 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 just a week 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 a special edition celebrating what has come to be known as NWoCR – that’s New Wave of Classic Rock to the uninitiated.

We’ve taken a fairly wide remit in our use of the term “classic rock”, not just limiting it to the blues-rock revivalists who have come to be regarded as characterizing the genre, but widening it out to include acts who draw their inspiration from the classic acts of the past, be they within the grunge, NWoBHM, power metal or thrash miens as well as the other more usual AOR- or melodic rock-style acts which normally would be included in such rundowns. In addition, we’ve cast our net a bit wider in terms of the timescale involved, to include tunes which were released earlier in the year and which previously missed out on our Club playlists, as well as the pick of the crop of the latest and forthcoming new releases… So, having said that, let’s dive right in, shall we?

Kicking in the doors to take to the death decks first are renascent Leicester power trio Skam, who late last year finally indicated that they had shaken off the hangover created by 2017’s massive concept offering, ‘The Amazing Memoirs of Geoffrey Goddard’ by releasing not one but two EPs which, when placed together would eventually form the band’s fourth full-length album. To mark the release of the first part, ‘Intra’, just this past Friday, they issued a call to ‘Wake Up’ with the latest, typically hard-hitting single:

Next to stroll up to the bar are Swedish psychedelic roots rockers Heavy Feather, who have just issued the fourth and final preview single, ‘Sometimes I Feel’, from their forthcoming second album, ‘Mountain Of Sugar’, which is due for release at the beginning of April. Every track I have heard from these guys has been an absolute stonker, so I can’t wait for them to pour the rest of that sweet stuff over me (sorry – not!) in a few short weeks’ time…

We stay in Sweden to hook up with rising young melodic rockers Creye, a band we first came across at the last iteration of the lamented Rockingham festival – and to say that they made a helluva impression, especially on The Dark Queen is something of an understatement. On this occasion they are taking us on a trip down a ‘Broken Highway’ with another exemplary track lifted from their recently released second album:

We defy travel restrictions and cross the Scandinavian border into Norway in search of ‘The Way Out’ – which we quickly find thanks to the amazing voice of Issa Oversveen, thanks to the lead single from her forthcoming sixth studio album, ‘Queen Of Broken Hearts’, on which she once again has partnered with the ridiculously talented Alessandro Del Vecchio. This is a very taster appetiser for what we can expect when the full album drops on 12 March:

We move back over to ÜR’s birthplace of the Welsh valleys, where we find another extremely talented young lady by the name of Chez Kane, who will be known to regular readers as one of the three sisters who front the kinetic Kaine’d. Well, with the aid of Crazy Lixx vocalist Danny Rexon at the production helm, she’s about to drop her debut solo album. In the meantime, she’s telling us that it’s ‘Too Late For Love’: well, I hate to correct you Miss K, but it’s never too late to fall in love with rock ‘n’ roll, especially when it’s delivered as beautifully as this:

Our search for the third of our triptych of highly talented female singers takes us to Yorkshire to check out a young lady by the name of Loz Campbell, who has been kicking up not an inconsiderable amount of dust and infecting aural cortexes, in the best possible way, via her debut album, ‘Green Eyes’. Now, with her latest single, she’s asking ‘What Are You Doing It For?’.  Well, the love of quality rock ‘n’ roll such as this, of course…

Time to crank up a bit of good ol’ suvern rawk now, as we traverse (virtually, of course) the pond, ‘cos we can’t help answering that call from the great state of Georgia… yes, can you hear it? Well, we can… it’s the new single from Blackberry Smoke, and also the title track of their new album, which comes our way at end of May:

We stay in the deep south – well, sorta – as we are ushered into the VIP lounge to hook up with some Naked Gypsy Queens, who combine southern-fried swagger with sharp songwriting as they tell us the tale of ‘Georgiana’, which also happens to be the title track of their new EP. Said release was produced by the same team that produced Greta Van Fleet’s ‘Anthem Of The Peaceful Army’ – but, we’ll not hold that against them, as this is a rather tasty slice of ÜR-approved chicken indeed:

We head across the USofA to the West Coast, where The Mercury Riots – a new “superband” formed by members of Warner Drive, The Brave Ones and Bullets And Octane – are saving us a drink… which is awfully decent of them to be honest, so we’ll make sure there’s one in the barrel for them should they ever decide to visit the Club in person rather than just virtually… Oh, and this is a rather decent slice of traditional American psychedelic/blues-infused hard rock to boot:

Seeing as we’re on the west coast, we might as well head further in that direction and cross the Pacific to that febrile and fertile breeding ground for some of the dirtiest, sleaziest rock ‘n’f’n’ roll around at the moment. Yes folks, we’re off to Australia, where we’re hooking up once more with those lovely chaps who are just Laced In Lust, who are telling us that it is most definitely ‘Hot Tonight’ with the latest single from their just-released debut album, the appropriately titled ‘First Bites’. Now, don’t be mean with the hairspray folks as you sing into your hairdryers with this little gem:

We’re back in the Über Kingdom for our next bunch of selections, which is led off by Matt Long And The Revenant Ones, a side project made up of members of Catfish, determined to have their say in their own right – and they do so extremely emphatically, as this is a strident and declarative statement of intent for their forthcoming debut album, the arrival of which truly is whetting appetites here at ÜRHQ:

Now, something of a guilty admission on my part: last year’s debut album from the husband and wife who make up blues duo When Rivers Meet somehow passed me by and has been gathering dust in a corner of my studio for far too long. However, the release of this, their excellent new single, prompted me to blow off the cobwebs – and, wow, why did I not do so sooner? Because I’m a feckin’ idiot, that’s why! These guys are definitely among the rising young stars of the ÜK blues scene, and I don’t think they’ll be walking on a wire for long…

From new blood to a veteran of the ÜK scene, in the form of guitarist Myke Gray, an artist who has constantly re-invented himself since his time in Eighties hair metal wannabes Jagged Edge and subsequently bands like Skin and Schism, before quitting the music business altogether. But, of course, once you get rock ‘n’ roll in your blood, well… so, after briefly re-uniting Skin and then following a solo career, he back on the attack with his latest project, which finds him rediscovering his glam roots on this second single – which leaves us nothing more to say but “Wham Bam Thank You Ma’am”:

We head down to Devon, from where melodic rockers Firekind are issuing a ‘Cry For Help’: well, it’s been well and truly answered by the NWoCR community, who are simply salivating over the sound that these guys produce – and quite rightly so:

Spring may be on the horizon here in the Über Kingdom, but it seems to be a case of winter is coming to the Scandinavian archipelago, where Finnish glunksters Santa Cruz are introducing us to the ‘Moonchild’ on their latest single, the suitably chilly video for which is dedicated to the late Alex Laiho:

We stay in Finland, and on the glunk/hair metal theme, as newcomers Wallen ‘Lay It Down’ in fine style, as they introduce us to their new line-up, and not least new vocalist Gary L James. And what an introduction is, as this is a damn fine slice of classic hard rock that definitely should find its way comfortably onto any NWoCR-themed playlist:

Once again defying European travel restrictions, we head down the continent to The Netherlands, where we find that it is indeed Dangerous Times For The Dead. And, as if to prove their point, the Dutch traditional metallers are introducing us to the ‘Queen Of The Night’… and it’s a pleasure to make her acquaintance…

Despite having the ÜR tour bus stereo cranked up as loud as possible, we once again manage to avoid the border police and cross the Alps into Switzerland, where it’s just Me And The Rest, who are ‘Riding With The Wind’ on this solid slice of traditional heavy metal:

We’re nipping back over international boundaries at haste, as we head to neighbouring Germany, where we going to find ourselves Black & Damned as we witness ‘The World Bleed’, a song which ticks all the right boxes in terms of delivering the classic metal goods:

We’re trying (though not very successfully) to keep a low profile in Deutschland, as we brave the autobahn roadblocks to catch up with more hard rockers, in the form Formosa, who find themselves with ‘Starry Eyes’ on their latest single. Yes, the video is a bit shitty, to be honest, but the tune, lifted from last year’s NWoBHM-infused ‘Danger Zone’ album, stands on its own two feet, which is all that counts, right pop pickers?

Shit, the cops have caught up with us, so we’re hot footing it back to the Über Kingdom at top speed, just in time to catch last orders at the bar: it’s just as well that Primitai (a band I have followed for more than a decade, since first being blown away by their debut ‘In The Line Of Fire’ album and subsequent Belfast support slot with White Wizzard back in 2010) are helping us to slam the pedal to the metal and leading ‘The Uprising’ with this, the second single to be lifted from their forthcoming new album, ‘Violence Of The Skies’, due to drop at the end of this coming month:

For our final selection, we’re being offered some Unknown Refuge from the COVID police, thanks to the Bolton metallers of the same name, who are sounding a ‘Battle Hymn’ with this emphatic declaration of war on the forces of mediocrity and in turn flying the flag for the NWoTHM high and proud:

Well, that’s your lot for this special 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 do something less important than listening to rock ‘n’ roll, like cook the Sunday dinner… We hope you found something to tickle your earbuds and drive you to explore some new musical horizons. Until next week, when I’ll once again be behind the death decks to bring you the hottest new singles to have come our way, keep ‘er lit, keep ‘er between the hedges and #StayTheFuckSafe!

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