Five Cool Ones: Five New Records Released This Week (September 10, 2021)

The weather is cooling off just about the same time that the music is getting hotter. Stay tuned for a barrage of music to be released into the wild in front of the Christmas season.

In the meantime, Miley Cyrus, Elton John, and Yo-Yo Ma team up on a collaboration with Metallica on “Nothing Else Matters.”

Greta Van Fleet, the band that tagged as the next big thing in Rock and Roll, is out with a primo new video for “Built By Nations” from their 2021 L.P. The Battle at Garden’s Gate.

And, Charlie Starr and the boys from Blackberry Smoke deliver on a sublime version of Aerosmith’s “Hangman Jury.”

And, of course, everything is just a placeholder until the new Billy Idol record comes out. Here are five new albums that are tickling our ears this week.

The Vaccines – Back In Love City

Once you get past the aural oddity that the opening refrain of the title track, “Back In Love City,” has a bit of “Built This City,” the Starship hit in its DNA, you can kick back with a power-pop gem of a song and an earworm of the highest order. And the hits, don’t just stop there. 

“Alone Star” is a stadium rousing anthemic ear-de-force, and “Headphones Baby” shows off the band’s lyrical dexterity rhyming Thesaurus with Boris along with Americana and Nirvana on a song that is as euphoric as you will have heard all year.

Set against the fictional metropolis of love city, this one is an escapist record of the highest order and will be towards the top of any reputable end-of-the-year best-of list.

Daniel Romano – Cobra Poems

If there is such a thing as Pop-Swagger, Daniel Romano has it and then some. Along with his band, Daniel Romano’s Outfit, the prolific one, has released more than a dozen records spanning the genres from Matthew Sweet pop to country crooner, singer-songwriter, and beyond. Each one, seemingly better and more interesting than the last one. 

Here, the band exercises all of its powers on a set of songs that range from the Marc Bolan T-Rex-inspired “Tragic Head” to the slow-burning Lynryd Skynyrd meets Elvis Costello aura of “Nocturne Child.” The low and slow road ballad, “The Motions,” a song featuring the band’s secret weapon, Julianna Riolina handling the vocal duties, is worth the price of admission alone. 

Wrap your ears around this one and give it the care it deserves. To the listener go the spoils.

Colleen Green – Cool

There probably is not a better title that could have been chosen for this latest record by Collen Green than Cool. The pace is slow and collegial, with a meandering vibe that will take a few spins to hook you.

From the guitar-pop semi-swagger of “I Wanna Be Your Dog” that brings to the mids-ear just about every Sheryl Crow song to the slow burn of “Highway,” and the almost Krautrock drone of “Natural Chorus,” there is a sense of movement on this record that will drag you along for the ride. 

Heartless Bastards – A Beautiful Life

The Heartless Bastards are a powerful Americana three-piece fronted by vocal powerhouse Erika Wennerstrom. Opening with the anti-gaslighting anthem “Revolution,” the band’s first album in six years, the song pulls no political punches and this Ying to the Yang of “How Low,” that comments on the depths folks will go to achieve what they want regardless of the impact on others. 

The palate of songs presented here is about as diverse as you can get. “Photograph” is a cosmic cowboy, rambling masterpiece worthy of a Grateful Dead jam, “When I Was Younger” could have been a country-crooner classic from the ’70s, and “The River” featuring the violin of Andrew Bird is a swirling beauty.

If you like your Americana with a bit of realism mixed with psychedelic and atmospheric jams, then your ship has just come in.

Samantha Fish – Faster

The best female Blues guitarist this side of Bonnie Raitt, Samantha Fish, has officially delivered her freshest and most consistent record to date. Certainly leaning more towards the rock side of the blues-rock duality, the scorching opening title track sets a rocking mood that would make Lizzy Hale blush. The slinky and evocative “All Ice No Whiskey” veers toward the sensual side, and the closest she gets here to a ballad, “Imaginary War,” rings through like an Alanis Morisette lover scorned anthem. “Crowd Control” would be a perfect song for Bonnie Raitt to cover, and even the semi-reach here, the collaboration with Tech N9ne, is listenable even when the rap and the fury kick are on full display.

Blues, Rock, Pop, all are handled with equal aplomb here. The varied textures displayed along the journey make this a nuanced listen that will check off many favorable Boxes. 

Five Cool Ones: Five New Records Released This Week (September 3, 2021)

In the ebb and flow of the weekly new records reaching our ears, this week, albeit a little slow, has garnered a few happy hour gems to enjoy. And, after all, everything is just a placeholder until the new Robert Plant Alison Krause record comes out.

With a new E.P. in the works, Bastette is out with a new single in the Halestorm Pretty Reckless mold.

Amythyst Kiah continues to impress, delivering her unique blend of Soul Americana on this performance of “Firewater” from her recently released Wary + Strange record.

And, speaking of horrible band names, Temple Balls are out with their new single and video “Bad, Bad, Bad.”

And if that is not enough, here are five new albums that are getting heavy airplay in the halls of Rock is the new Roll.

Lady Blackbird – Black Acid Soul

A stunning fresh voice, Black Acid Soul, the debut album from Lady Blackbird (Marley Munroe), is a sparsely elegant masterpiece. Accompanied mainly by Deron Johnson, the go-to piano player for Miles Davis, the singer delivers a haunting set of Nina Simone-inspired tunes that could have been released in the ’60s instead of in the present and produced in the legendary Studio B in Sunset Sound.

Reflecting influences as diverse as Billie Holiday, Chaka Khan, and Gladys Knight, the version of Nina’s “Blackbird” delivered here is a nuanced gem, and “Five Feet Tall” is a torch song with a touch of Amy Winehouse DNA in it. The instrumental title track, as a closer, is a perfect way to wrap up an album that will be considered one for the ages.

Motorists – Surrounded 

Meshing together the irreverent pop-centric qualities of Camper Van Beethoven along with the controlled ramshackle energy of The Replacements, Toronto band Motorists will bring to mind many of your favorite ’80s college-rock bands.

“Vangloirous” has a bit of early REM dusting about it, “Latent Space” throws some krautrock in the mix, and “Walled Garden” has a “Radio Free Europe” vibe going for it. “Turn It Around” even as a Jarvis Cocker and Orange Juice aura that is refreshing to hear. 

This one is about as solid a debut record as we have heard in quite some time.

Pearl & The Oysters – Flowerland

You don’t have to go much past the opener “Soft Science” to figure out the Joire de vie on Flowerland, the latest psychedelic wonder from Pearl & The Oysters.

’60’s French Pop, space-age ’90s pop, and Austin Powers fab-mojo all come together to create a nostalgically forward sounding record that seems lost in time. While Syd Barrett, mid-era Beach Boys, and Jellyfish might be accurate touchpoints for this band, these guys are their very own unicorns. Rather than pick out a single song, this record is better digested as an entire entity. Put the needle down on the opener and let the rest of the album wash over you, enhancing your spirit and adding some soul inspiration to your life.

David Ferguson – Nashville No More

An Americana stalwart, David Ferguson has collaborated with everyone on the scene, including Sturgill Simpson, Charley Pride, Johnny Cash, John Prine, and Cowboy Jack Clement. Now, stepping out on his own with Nashville No More, he delivers on a solid set of tunes that highlight his skills as a singer songwriter in his own right.

Recruiting several of his Nashville pals on this new record, Margo Price joins him on “Chardonnay,” and bluegrass maestro Sierra Hull helps out on “Hard Times Come Again No More.” The cover of “Four Strong Winds” presented here is as good as a version gets, and the Jerry Jeff Walker vocal touch on “Boats to Build” is a homespun-sounding gem.

Gerry Rafferty – Resit in Blue

Collecting a series of demos, some going back as far as 1970, Gerry Rafferty’s daughter Martha has curated a set of songs that focus more on Rafferty vocals than delivering Stealers Wheel B-sides. Deep-cut Rafferty fans will love this record. The foreshadowing opener, “Still in Denial,” is a confessional of sorts as Rafferty died of liver disease in 2011. And, the version of “Dirty Old Town,” as presented here, is as good as it gets.

The song “Lost Highway” would have fit in nicely on any of the ’70s Rafferty solo albums, and, spoiler alert, there is a semi-demo version of “Stuck in the Middle With You,” of course.

Five Cool Ones: Five New Records Released This Week (August 27, 2021)

Everything is just fun and games, of course, until the new Kanye West record comes out. In the meantime, there is still a slew of new music to tickle our earlobes. Newcomers Cruel Hearts Club is out with a new song, “Sink Low,” that evokes the spirit of Lizzy Hale fronting T Rex.

If you like your rock with a side of ’70s swirling organ and swagger to spare, then Jail Job Eve and “Mid-Flight” will most likely be your jam.

And, the band Sweet Crisis brings their brand of Classic Rock Inspired pathos to your ears with “Ain’t Got Soul” from their latest record, Tricks On My Mind.

And, don’t go away just yet. Here are five more musical nuggets for your ears to enjoy.

Brian Setzer – Gotta Have The Rumble

This cat does not stray too far from the Rockabilly tracks on this, his latest album, Gotta Have The Rumble. Taking a break at home in the twin cities during the pandemic, Setzer recorded this album in new-school style. Brian was in Minneapolis, the drummer was in Nashville, and the bass player was in Memphis. It wasn’t ex-Stay Cat Lee Rocker.

There is joy and buoyancy to every track on this one, with songwriting depth lacking on a typical Cats record. “Smash Up On Highway One” is a ghostly noir tune that can be quite relatable to anyone who has driven that particular stretch of the PCH in Southern California. “The Cat With Nine Lives” is a typical rockabilly inspired tune that will bring to mind “Seven Nights to Rock,” the scorcher “Turn You On, Turn Me On” is as close as you will find to a love song on this one. Spoiler alert, the song is about a car.

Southern Avenue – Be The Love That You Want

As Nashville gets more and more overrun by hipsters, in an attempt to reclaim their musical soul, many artists find themselves migrating to Memphis, a city known for Elvis, Al Green, and Isaac Hayes. Southern Avenue, a band in the Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings tradition, features a blend of Southern soul, R&B, with a touch of Delta blues that is pleasing to the ear and life-affirming to the soul.

With Tiernii Jackson on vocal duties, “Heathen Hearts” is a gospel marvel to the ears, and the title track is a topical call to arms.

Produced by Los Lobos’ Steve Berlin, his presence is everywhere, bringing the Soul-Funk to “Love You Nice and Slow” and “Let’s Get It Together” most particularly. Spend some time with this one. It will brighten your day and make you a better person.

Robert Ellis Orrall – 467 Surf and Gun Club

Named after the physical address of Infinity Cat Recordings, the song “Welcome to Paradise,” featuring a guest vocal from the late-great Leon Russell, is worth the price of admission alone. Putting forth a laid-back Brian Wilson, Elvis Costello vibe Robert Ellis Orall seems to be the person that enters your life when you need him most. Whether he is singing about just hanging out after hours in the studio as he does on “Anthem 47” or channels his inner beach boy on the Pop-terrific song, “Iceberg,” there is something delicious and bacon-wrapped to digest around every tune.

After all, who wouldn’t want to jump in on his party that includes rib-eyes, a case of Millers, and a few Fat Tire brews, with some implied herbs thrown in for good measure “Here in Our Backyard.” And if you need a break from listening to the new Beach Boys deluxe edition of Feel Flows, a few listens of the title track “467 Surf and Gun Club” will be just what the doctor ordered. 

Tim Easton – You Don’t Really Know Me

Pulling your ears back somewhere between John Hiatt and Bob Dylan, roots rocker Tim Easton delivers a wanderlust record reflecting on life, the joys of slowing down, and dealing with life at the crossroads.

The opener “You Don’t Really Know Me” could have been on the latest John Hiatt record, “Voice on the Radio” evokes the ghost of John Prine, and Speed Limit is an uptempo number reminiscent of prime Tom Petty.

Play this one late at night with a glass of bourbon and an engaging heart. Soul sufficiently cleansed, play it again. This one’s that good.

Shinyribs – Late Night TV Gold

The band Shinyribs is that cool uncle that comes to visit, gets you drunk, introduces you to all of the great music, and leaves your parents to clean up the mess and get you back on the good foot. Their latest, “Late Night TV Gold,” hits in all of the right spots with the horn adorned “Party While You Still Can” causing an involuntary movement of the feet and “Rhythm of the Night” evoking the “have another one after the last one” spirit of avoiding the last call. 

The kiss-off anthem “24 Hours From Tulsa” is pure Shinyribs fare, and the title track “Late Nite TV Gold” takes yet another swerve into the land of Tom Waits. Eclectic, in the best of ways, a new record from Shinyribs may not be life-changing, but it might be as close as you are going to get for a while.