“AWoHahw music’s so shit nowadays” — no it ain’t fool — get some knowledge in ya.
X-Ray Visions – Clutch (2015)
As Reuben very aptly said, Clutch have set this decade ALIGHT. It’s not complex music to understand, that’s for sure. However, if you’re looking for hard rock to knock your socks ON and off then BACK ON again, you’re not gonna get better. This, the lead single from Psychic Warfare, is the epitome of the band’s mission statement. The grooving bass, the goliath riff, drums that are everywhere at once; a perfect recipe in the instrumental. That said, it’s the vocals that make this track for me — Fallon outdoes himself here, pulling out full throttle screams that don’t let up until the end. SCORPIOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
I Sat By The Ocean – Queens of the Stone Age (2013)
Probably my second favourite on …Like Clockwork, behind Smooth Sailing (we’ll see that minx later), this, in my mind, the signature song in QOTSA’s catalogue, especially for their current era. A bittersweet guitar lead, as well as one of Homme’s famously wicked solos, guides us into this track, as the frontman drowns his sorrows of an ended love. Possibly his finest set of lyrics ever, the romanticised imagery here sees Josh dabbling in pure poetry. In terms of an alt rock song, it’s pretty much perfection.
Love On Top – Beyoncé (2011) – Queen Bey’s best song, I don’t care what you say, this jazzy upbeat track is coated in glitter and glitz. Her vocals are nigh on impeccable and the instrumental draws from enough old school references to qualify amongst the greats.
Told You I’d Be With The Guys – Cherry Glazerr (2016) – This up-and-coming indie rock outfit have been, since their sophomore Apocalipstick (2017), one of the most exciting bands of the decade and this, the lead single from that album, makes it very hard to argue with that. Vocalist Clem Creevy’s stoner-inspired guitar and shoegaze vocal presence is instantly distinctive, while the electronic elements and solid drumming adorn this absolute beaut of a track.
Map Change – Every Time I Die (2016) – My favourite ETID song, with a lot of stiff competition, the closer to Low Teens is quite simply stunning. We’ve got the madness of the band’s sound let loose in the verses, while there are other parts of the track where the songwriting reaches a level of beauty you wouldn’t expect from the group who recently made the news because their guitarist spat beer in someone’s eye and it saved their life. It’s just awe-inspiring.
Mastodon – Tread Lightly (2014)
One of music’s greatest album openers, Tread Lightly is a colossus of a song. It’s the crown jewel of Mastodon’s modern sound, showcasing the mahoosive, groovy riffs and the infinitely powerful melodies. It’s heavy, it’s loud, it’s dark, but it’s that melodic strength in that unforgettable chorus that gives it its edge – all the complexity of Mastodon’s musicianship comes together in a beautifully simple and effective form and every time that chorus plays it has the same effect on me.
Clutch – X-Ray Visions (2015)
IMPACT. POWER. CAPITAL LETTERS. That’s X-Ray Visions. It’s riff HEAVEN, ever strum of the guitars and those beats of the drum are as thunderous as the ones before them, the energy and the sheer awesomeness never coming to a halt. Oh, except when it does, in that interlude. YOU KNOW WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT SCORPIO. It is pure rock and roll bliss. Thank you Neil.
Lamb of God – Ghost Walking (2012) – Screw Redneck, this is Lamb of God’s best song. It’s unforgivingly heavy and those power chords and those riffs are punishing, while Chris slams the skins of his drums like a psychopath on speed and Randy roars his strongest hooks to date. Iconic stuff.
August Burns Red – Poor Millionaire (2011) – In an equal sense this is iconic stuff from August Burns Red. One of the first bands I ever saw live, this band will always hold a special place in my heart – they play angry music for happy people. I feel like this song is the peak of their crushing metallic sheen and their insightful lyricism and unique, winding song structures.
Queens of the Stone Age – I Appear Missing (2013) – The tragic beauty and melancholy of this song makes it the perfect soundtrack for staring at ceilings and watching stars the world over. The introspective lyrics, the offbeat hi-hat heavy drums and the eclectic, weeping guitars come together in many a crescendo in QOTSA’s most intelligent, most technically proficient and most poignant song to date.
Still Here – B. Dolan (2012)
This song is immense. A full band laying down huge grooves with eastern rhythms, bombastic vocal delivery from B and every lyric bursting with the irresistible energy of determination in the face of loss.
MCA gets a reference, Buddy Peace is given a blessing, Dolan’s own father writes a couple of the lines from his death bed. The verse capping refrain ‘Happy New Year’ sounds defiant in it’s optimism.
I Ain’t Hiding – Chris Robinson Brotherhood (2017) – This starts with something close to Supermarket muzak for the first 30 seconds. There’s a groovy bass line behind it hinting that it’s worth sticking around. And it sure is. By the minute mark we have some full on Grateful Dead style groove jamming and you know this is the song you’ve heard before, but it’s been hot rodded and covered in shiny new features.
Then (in a surprising turn of events) an injured walrus struggles up to the mic and honks something between a mating call and a confused wail.
I Sat By The Ocean – Queens Of The Stone Age (2013) – QOTSA’s manifesto: a ‘rock band for girls to dance to’ has seen them well founded. …Like Clockwork is their modern masterpiece. Their best masterpiece since their last one anyway (2001’s Songs For The Deaf if anyone isn’t paying attention).
They do what they do so much better than any other band I often wonder why Queens Of The Stone Age aren’t bigger? And then I realise they’re actually huge. They just haven’t messed it up yet.
Devil Inside Of Me – Frank Carter And The Rattlesnakes (2015) – On Devil Inside Me, Frank hollers about the creeping malevolence he feels rising in the back of his mind. In one sense it’s a song about speaking plainly with regard to mental health yet at the same time it plays with The Misfits and Iron Maiden imagery of Monsters and EC Comics to great Halloween effect.
Being in a mosh pit for Devil Inside Me is like being in a washing machine with a thousand elbows. That’s a compliment by the way.
Youth Wasted – The Bronx (2013) – ‘Sometimes the best laid plans, Still end with blood on your hands’ may sound like a cautionary tale but it comes across as hopeful, it comes across as consolation and as assurance. The music is a little bit Black Flag, a little bit Judas Priest. There’s a modicum of Green Day, a fair shot of Rancid and flashes of Ozzy Osbourne’s solo stuff in this track. There’s a whole fist of ‘uncool’ influences in The Bronx sound along with all the punk greats.
Empire of the Clouds – Iron Maiden (2015)
Rolling In The Deep – Adele (2011)
Stay tuned for more Best Thangs of All Time!