Five Cool Ones: Five New Records Released This Week (April 30, 2021)

Ears-down the best week of the year so far on the music front, things are heating up. The fantastic B-52 imaging band Hayley and the Crushers are scorching the earth.

RISTN favorite ’70s vintage rock band The Sheepdogs are starting to come out of hibernation having released a fine Bay City Rollers worthy single with “Keep On Loving You.”

And Yola is primed and ready to go wearing her diamond-studded shoes in advance of her new album.

Here are five particular ear-gems we are grooving to this week.

Teenage Fanclub – Endless Arcade 

With their 11th album and first without founding member Gerard Love, Teenage Fanclub may have dialed down the jangle from their Jangle-Pop formula just a tad, but fear not, the melodic maestros are still very much at the top of their game.

From the Folk-Rock Psychedelic splendor of “Come To Me” to the Zombies evoking gang harmonies on “Back In The Day” Endless Arcade is a relaxed and inspiring listen. “The Sun won’t Shine on Me” bridges the gap between Vintage-Pop and contemporary issues-based songwriting quite nicely and “Living With You” plays the Byrds formula and signature Fanclub sound to perfection.

Spend some time with this one then drift your ears back to the early classic albums Songs From Northern Britain, Bandwagonesque, or even Thirteen. Sure, they may have been gone for a while, but with this new record, it’s like they never left.

The Coral – Coral Island

Should you not be familiar with The Coral and their oeuvre, get with the plan, man. The band pretty much mines all of the genres that your ears hold sacred including but not limited to Garage Rock, AOR, Psychedelia, Post-Punk, and Power Pop. A semi-concept album based on the band’s collective experiences at various seaside resorts on the West coast of England, the songs on Coral Island weave together beautifully with brief spoken-word interludes that serve to give Coral Island a real first-person point in time feel.

Lengthy but never burdensome, at 54 minutes the sheer brilliance and texture changes presented on the record will keep your rapt attention. Highlights are many including the carnival game atmosphere of “Golden Age,” the Melanchology sadness of “Old Photographs,” and the welcome to the pleasuredome optimism of “Change Your Mind.”

Three listens in with this record I can’t help thinking it would be cool to visit the seaside resorts brought to life in these brilliant character studies. But somehow, much like Playland at the Beach in San Francisco, The Boardwalk in Santa Cruz, or N.Y.’s Coney Island, the myth is more than likely vastly more satisfying than the reality.

Or, as Scotland’s own Stevie Dal says more eloquently than I ever could:

This one has taken me by surprise. The Corals new album is an utter gem, I never knew they had it in them but there you go, it’s a funny old world.

It’s a double album, a concept album, set in an old rundown seaside town, washed up and all but abandoned by the tourists, populated only by the characters left behind as the young ‘uns bailed out. Memories and nostalgia, lost and broken dreams, first and unrequited loves etc etc.

This is the band’s spin on classic albums like Ogdens Nut Gone Flake ( Small Faces) and Village Green Preservation Society ( The Kinks) and, while obviously not at that level, it’s a brave and wonderful attempt. If you love effortless guitar pop and glorious tunes you will be onboard. A serious contender for Album of 2021.

All of the above having been said this might be the leader in the clubhouse for best album of the year.

Grave Flowers Bongo Band – Strength of Spring

The riff-laden epicness of this Psychedelic Rock album from Grave Flowers Bongo Band was in heavy rotation at Rock is the New Roll H.Q. this week. “Animal Lord” almost blew the roof off the building with its Black Sabbath if fronted by Marc Bolan brilliance, and the lumbering groove of “Smile” will bust your chest open and make you feel alive. 

Gabe Flores weaves his guitar around this set of songs walking that melodic in a hurricane line quite nicely never amping it up to overkill territory while at the same time laying the cosmic pedal down fully to the ground. “Down Man” is like riding an out-of-control rickety wooden roller coaster and “Outer Bongolia” is a freaked-out instrumental that would have fit right in at Austin Powers’ bachelor party.

Dropkick Murphy’s – Turn Up That Dial

Proving that these guys aren’t just a band to be enjoyed on St. Patrick’s day, The Murphy’s perform as advertised and turn up the dial with their latest set of rabble-rousing anthems with their latest, Turn Up The Dial.

The “Queen of Suffolk County” pays tribute to wild women everywhere and is worth the price of admission alone, and you will automatically become Irish after a listen or two of the title track. And, just to prove they can do it, the band slows things down somewhat less than ear-splitting on the poignant and beautiful “I Wish You Were Here.”

If you don’t feel alive after listening to this record at close to full volume then you are more than likely already dead.

No-No Boy – 1975

No-No Boy is the latest nome de plume for multimedia artist and Asian studies scholar Julian Saporiti. On this record, Saporiti explores WW-2 Asian American internment sites, present-day immigrant detention facilities, and refugee camps.

While the entire set is thought-provoking, the centerpiece here is the song “The Best God Damn Band in Wyoming.” Inspired by a visit to a museum in his home state of Wyoming where he noticed a picture of a large swing band with Asian faces much like his staring at him from behind a fenced-in prison yard. After getting over the stunning visual of this unicorn-worthy picture of an Asian swing band that here-to-fore he never knew existed, No-No Boy proceeded to learn more about the inspirational photograph. As it turns out, the photo is of a group of Asian Americans that were interred in a detention camp in Wyoming during the Second World War. Forming a collective of like-minded musicians behind prison walls the swing band would play for local proms and VFW halls in the area and then were returned to prison once the performance was over. 

No-No Boy approaches his subject matter using a template of Traditional Folk, Rock, and Americana to take us on a journey that is not always comfortable, but always revelatory.

What We’re Listening To Wednesday (April 21, 2021)

With a lot of feathers ruffling and playlist debates at Rock is the new Roll HQ, despite our recent Rock jag we have been into we have been able to come up with a consensus this week. As such, here are our jams for “what we’re listening to Wednesday.”

John Hiatt and The Jerry Douglas Band – Long Black Electric Cadillac

The song, not to be confused with the 1958 song “Long Black Cadillac”, is updated for the modern age with a Cadillac that can go 1,000 miles on a single charge. John Hiatt’s latest version with The Jerry Douglas Band will set you up quite nicely as a centerpiece in your next road trip playlist. Hiatt’s new record Leftover Feelings comes out on May 21st.

GospelbeacH – Gimme Gimme Good Lovin’

This one popped up while we were going down a rabbit hole of Good Lovin’ versions from the Rascals. While we did come up with an extraordinarily excellent version by The Grateful Dead from the album Shakedown Street

the real jewel of a find here was this pseudo-cover, “Gimme Gimme Good Lovin” the ’60’s song from Bubble Gum rockers Crazy Elephant performed by RITNR hall of Famers GospelbeacH.

Lee Aaron – Whatcha Do To My Body

The latest book circulating among the members of the Rock is the New Roll book club is Nothin’ But A Good Time, which chronicles the rise and the post-Grunge fall of Sunset Strip Rock and Roll. The discussions about the book led us to current bands that bring the energy and vibe of the Hair Metal days and are playing the Raunch and Roll of the Sunset Strip forward. Rocker Lee Aaron, a bit more amped-up version of Suzi Quatro, fits the bill quite nicely and is a staple on Rock and Roll Saturday nights in The Falcon’s Nest.

The Legal Matters – Light Up The Sky

The first single to be released in advance of their soon-to-be-released third album, Chapter 3, set to be released on May 30. The record is pretty much pre-ordained to be a stunner if this Pet Sounds worthy cut is any indication.

  

Rainmakers – Ashes

Growing up in the same waters that spawned Samantha Fish and The Temperance Movement, British rockers Rainmakers have a mid-era Zeppelin vibe to them along with a Bad Company essence wafting in the air as well. We have our ears tuned to these guys and are convinced that glory days are ahead for this band. “Ashes is a straight-ahead Blues-Rocker.

And, “Forgotten Child” is a Paul Rodgers fronting Led Zeppelin epic of a tune.

Five Cool Ones: Five New Albums Released This Week (April 16, 2021)

Of course, as we all know, everything is just a placeholder until the new Teenage Fanclub record comes out in very short order. In the meantime, there is an ear-load of tasty one-off nuggets to savor.

The Black Keys have one in the hopper ready to see the light of day in a couple of months announcing itself with the single and video “Crawling Kingsnake” filmed at Jimmy “Duck” Holmes’ Blue Front Cafe, the oldest juke joint in America.

Briston Maroney, with his cross of T Rex and Pavement vibes, has released a single called “Bottle Rocket” and continues to show that he is a worthy candidate on our “ones to watch for” list.

And, Sasami an artist that has an actual French Horn degree, is out with her video of “Not The Time.” 

And, if all of the above is not all, here are five really good records released this week.

The Brother Brothers – Calla Lilly

New York-based identical twins Adam and David Moss are one of the closest things your ears will be able to find to Simon and Garfunkel and their particular brand of apple skin-tight harmonies. Their sophomore record, Calla, Lily, mixes smooth Indie-Folk on the opener “On The Road Again,” no, not that one, showing their versatility with the Appalachian-style folk-inspired “The Road Runner Song” and deal from the deck straight-ahead Everly Brothers on “Seein’ Double.”

With a bit of Donovan DNA sprinkled here, and Don Mclean’s spirit there the mood and texture differences from song to song on the record make this one an engaging listen that should have legs on your listening rotation that will please your ears for months to come.

West of Texas – Heartaches, Hangovers & Honky Tonks

Pull on your boots, tighten up your stetson, leave your spurs at home, and head to the Honky Tonk courtesy of the best Western swing record of the year. The Willie by way of Asleep at the Wheel opener “My Whiskey Life” is a perfect introduction to a band that makes no bones about it. They like both kinds of music, Country and Western.

The entire spectrum of country song fare is represented here, Lovin’ with “Fixin’ to Love You,” Leavin’ on “The Cost of Lovin’ You,” and Livin’ representing on “Dead End Jobs Blues.” And, of course, there is plenty of Cheatin’, Drinkin’, and Hurtin’ going on just ask the closer “Cheatin’, Drinkin’ Hurtin’ Song.”

London Grammar – Californian Soil

If you miss The Eurythmic and Florence and the Machine, Californian Soil courtesy of London Trio London Grammar just might be your latest jam. Sparse, Electo-Pop of the highest order, it is the otherworldly vocals of Hanna Reid that carries the day with this band. 

“Lose Your Head” in an epic of a song that will lose you in the groove, “How Does It Feel” is Adele meets Annie and is one of the more straightforward pop songs on the record, and the title track, “Californian Soil” is simply a haunting masterpiece.

Simply put, this is a stunning record.

Jesse Aycock – Steps

A card-carrying member of Todd Snider’s side-piece band The Hard Working Americans, Jesse Aycock combines blissful Laurel Canyon Rock with Tulsa-inspired J.J. Cale Roots rock into a blend that will have you reaching for your old Whiskeytown records.

“Wreck Like You” has a bit of George Harrison sound to it, the opener “Shed The Light” could have been a Chris Robinson Brotherhood single, and the laid-back groove of “Roll South” does J.J. Cale proud. 

“High Hopes” Rocks it up into Tom Petty territory, and the closing “Woodland Park” will most definitely leave you in a feel-good mood. Todd Snider is great, but Jesse Aycock with this new record is right on his heels.

Imelda May – 11 Past The Hour

Full disclosure, while we like this latest incarnation of Scotland’s own Imelda May that she brings out on her latest 11 Past The Hour, we prefer the Eddie Cochran Wanda Jackson version of Imelda versus the Sheryl Crow AOR sound that we get here. Even the presence of Ronnie Wood and Noel Gallagher is good but doesn’t throttle up the coolness meter like her version of “Tainted Love” or the song “Johnny Boom Boom” Does. 

That is not to say this is not a good record, in fact, quite the opposite, it is really good. “Made To Love” is a highly polished Pretenders style track, the title song is a fine bit of late-night noir, and “What We Did in the Dark” is a propulsive highly addictive duet with sometimes Arctic Monkey Miles Kane that will be perfect for the festival circuit should festivals ever be a thing again.

Five Cool Ones: Five New Records Released This Week (April 9, 2021)

Game on my music-minded friends, we are entering into a stretch of glory weeks for new music the likes we have not seen, or heard, since 2019. 

Rock is the New Roll band du jour Starcrawler are priming themselves for some big things later in the year, case in point with this live performance of “Rich Taste” direct from The Roxy in Los Angeles.

The girls in Deap Vally just released a new single and video, “Give Me a Sign” which is certainly a sign that they are on the move this year.

And, wait for it, the Wallflowers are back after a nine-year absence with a new single “Roots and Wings.” This factoid alone makes this a stellar week of Rock and Roll.

And, if all of that is not enough here five new albums we are grooving to this week.

Nick Waterhouse – Promenade Blue

With Nick Waterhouse, the fact that he sounds like himself record after record is never a bad thing. It is hard to pull off vintage cool without coming across as forced, but Nick Waterhouse with his new record Promanade Blue Pulls the trick off in style putting him right up there with Daniel Romano and Chris Isaak as one of the best in the game. 

The hipster tune “The Spanish Look” would have been perfect in the hands of Bobby Darin, “Vincentine” is a swaggering semi-rocker complete with Sun Records guitars that struts out his girl that is brunette but not too brunette, and “B.Santana Ana 1986” is a song that could have been played at Austin Powers’ wedding reception. 

At 34 tight minutes, the record avoids the sameness syndrome quite nicely, and the analog recording methods that Romano adheres to on every record he puts out will make this listen one of the best 1/2 hours of your day.

Benny Sings – Music

The Netherlands with the emergence of DeWollf, the best Rock and Roll band on the planet, and now with Benny Sings, The is quickly becoming a musical hotbed.

With a sound that makes him a card-carrying member of the Yacht Rock club that seems to be gaining in prominence this week with Pearl Charles as acting president, Benny could just be the long-lost BeeGee brother right there alongside Barry, Maurice, Robyn, and Andy. Just listen to “Nobody’s Fault” and tell us we’re wrong.

There is much to savor on this one if you are a fan of The BeeGees, Hall and Oates, or even Todd Rundgren. “Run Right Back” has a Stevie Wonder Talking Book feel to it while “Miracles” could have been a Hall and Oates hit single.

This is a vintage-sounding record with a contemporary sheen that will last long past the next few weeks and should show up on many of the lists later in the year for top 20 consideration.

Silver Synthetic – Silver Synthetic

Feel free to pencil this one in as a top contender for the best debut album of the year. Covering many of our treasured touchstones including Beachwood Sparks, Tom Petty, Wilco, and Green on Red, this New Orleans combo that features members of BOTTOMFEEDERS as well as Jeff the Brotherhood combines analog Rock and Roll, Country Rock, and shimmering harmonies into a blend that plays well with just about any musical taste.

“Unchain Your Heart” could have been a Neil Young and Crazy horse anthem, “Out of the Darkness” is Tom Petty by way of a Kraftwerk single, really it is, and the closer “On The Way Home” has a bit of John Lennon in the DNA. 

Don’t sleep on this one unless you want your ears to leave you for a more musically hip head.

Razorbats – Mainline Rock ‘n’ Roll

We are not quite ready to invite this new rock and roll band into the “rock is not dead” club however, we definitely will have our ears peeled to see how these guys progress over the years. “Rock ‘n’ Roll Kids” has a definite Massive Wagons feel to it, “Big Time” starts with a cowbell, and that’s pretty cool, and “Little Miss Crazy” is straight fire and could have been played on the Sunset Strip in the ’80s.

This one will not particularly reinvent rock music, but for fans of Def Leppard and the band Poison, this one is a pleasant enough jam.

Pink Stones – Introducing..The Pink Stones

Another sparkling debut album this time of the Cosmic Cowboy variety. Bringing inspiration from Gram Parsons, Mazzy Star along with the Brothers Burrito, this one ebbs and flows from late-night laments with “Blueberry Dreams” to last-call honky-tonk stompers on “Barroom Blues.”

“Love Me Hardly” is a Lucero-worthy heart-worn she loves another guy anti-love song, and “Let’s Sit Down” is an ode to the literal high of new love. Fan’s of Neil Young, Poco, and Gram-era Byrds should get on this one post-haste.

Five Cool Ones: Five New Records Released This Week (April 2, 2021)

The new release train keeps rolling toward what is expected to be one of the best release summers in quite some time, American Aquarium is set to release two new records, and Dawes is rumored to be in the studio.

In the meantime, our favorite new rock band DeWolff released a free livestream concert featuring their hit song “Bona Fide” 

The L.A. Maybe get their A.C.D.C. juju going on their latest single and video “Oh Sugar” live from the Silverball Lounge.”

And, Billy Gibbons lays down what will surely be the driving tune of the summer with “West Coast Junkie.”

And if that is not enough, here are five new records that inspire us this week.

La Femme – Paradigmes

One of the more interesting and eclectic listens so far this year, Le Femme with their intoxicating blend of Krautrock, Surf, Serge Gainsbourg French-Noir, and Psychedelic 13th Floor Elevator vibes will take you back to Hugh Hefner’s grotto and George Jetson’s man-cave in one trippy listen. “Foutre le bodel” is a pulsating driving tune with a bit of Devo in its DNA, “Cool Colorado” is a Serge meets Leonard Cohen treat for the ears, and “Lacher de chevaux” is a pure Morricone by way of Kraftwerk special.

Spend a bit of time outside of your comfort zone with this record and take yourself to a hipster land that doesn’t exist but really should. No man bun required.

Major Murphy – Access

Another Classic Rock inspired band from Grand Rapids, Michigan, Major Murphy walks the more melodic end of the Rock spectrum most notably on the Weezer-sounding title track and the ’70s throwback-sounding “In The Meantime.”

Jacob Bullard carries the day through most of the record with his warm and wistful vocals with the rest of the band helping him stay in the pocket.  This is a grower of a record in all the best of ways. Repeated listens of this one will have you scrambling for your old Fountains of Wayne records. Just listen to “Tear It Apart” and tell us we’re wrong.

Cristina Vane – Nowhere Sounds Lovely

With influences ranging from Robert Johnson, Skip James, and the Appalachian hill country, it is no wonder that newcomer Cristina Vane has released one of the more sparkling debut records of the year thus far. After completing a five-month mini-tour of the American South playing bars, coffeehouses, and house parties Vane set up residence in Nashville in an attempt to capture her rock kid in an old musical-soul sound on record for the first time. 

The Opener “Blueberry Hill,” no, not that one, is a mini-travelogue that is a perfect introduction to the budding star that combines unique storytelling with Bonnie Raitt style guitar picking. “Travelin’ Blues” has a bit of John Prine about it, and “Will I Ever Be Satisfied” is an Emmylou Appalachian style stunner.  

If this first record out of the box is any indication we will be hearing a lot more from Cristina Vane in the years to come.

Ex Norwegian – Sings Jimmy Campbell

With Sings Jimmy Campbell the band Ex Norwegian enlists the help of like-minded musician friend-fans of the largely overlooked Liverpool singer-songwriter Jimmy Campbell on a set that celebrates the life of an artist that should have reached much higher levels of fame and is widely described as the John Lennon that never left Liverpool. 

For a glimpse into what might have happened, “Half Baked” with Rhys Marsh could have been a Harry Nilsson song, “Baby, Walk Out With Your Darling Man” has a bit of Scott Walker wafting about it, and “Paris, You’re in Paris” is about as good as a pop song you will find this side of Big Star.

If you can find them, this sampling of an artist that likely has never been on your radar is well worth a deep dive exploration.

Ryley Walker – Course in Fable

The many faces of Ryley Walker are all on display with his latest record, Course In Fable. Dialing in his shapeshifting influences ranging from Blues, Prog-Folk, Desert Rock to Experimental, this song-set may be the most fully formed and accessible record he has released so far in his eclectic career. The opener “Striking Down Your Big Premier” is The Moody Blues by way of latter Day Yes, “Ring Dizzy shows off his Bert Jansch worthy fingerstyle guitar picking, and “Clad With Bunk” could have been a Donovan tune.

Time spent with this record will make you a better person.

Five Cool Ones: Five New Albums Released This Week (March 26, 2021)

There is a lot to love on the musical landscape this week with highly excellent new music from the T-Rex Mojo of the band GospelbeacH and their song “Albatross Baby”

The mellow Steely Dan inspired smoothness from Moon City Masters and their song “Where You Wanna Run To.”

And, Rock is the New Roll favorite rockers Starcrawlers treat the ears with a live song direct from The Roxy in L.A. with “You Dig Yours” 

Along with all of the above goodness here are five albums we are digging this week.

The Streetwalkin’ Cheetahs – One More Drink

Non-apologetic no holds barred Rock and Roll for the masses. Their first album in over 20 years after reuniting in 2014, this record is a cocktail of Power Pop, New Wave, Punk, and Heavy Metal served on the rocks with a dose of Cheap Trick thrown in for good measure, most notably on the title song that is a tribute to Dramarama’s “Last Cigarette.” 

 “We Are The Ones (We’ve Been Waiting For)” is as good as a Rock and Roll anthem can get. And, “Rumblin’ Down” is an off the rails don’t drive 55 scorcher.

Dr. Lonnie Smith – Breathe

With sublime vocal assistance from Iggy Pop on the Santana inspired opener “Why Can’t We Live Together” as well as an over the top-notch cover of “Sunshine Superman,” the king of the Hammond B-3 grooves his way through a set of tunes that would fit in quite nicely at Austin Powers’ bachelor party. Released on the Blue Note record label, Here, Smith has recaptured the energy of his early recordings in the capable hands of producer and Blue Note major-domo Don Was. The breezy “Bright Eyes” was recorded live at The Jazz Standard in New York City and with the snappy “Epistrophy” the organ maestro pays tribute to Thelonius Monk.

The Dust Coda – Mojo Skyline

This one might just be the Classic Rock-influenced album of the year, and it’s only March. Channeling Bad Company, Led Zeppelin, and Humble Pie in almost equal measures, “Dream Alright” has a down-home Lynyrd Skynyrd vibe, “Bourbon Pouring” could have easily been a Faces song, and the closer, “It’s A Jam” would have fit perfectly on any of the early Nazareth albums. 

From the opening lick to the last riff if you are a fan of Rock in general and ’70s Rock in particular, Mojo Skyline is most definitely your jam and will be for the rest of the year.

Badfinger – No Matter What (Revisiting The Hits)

Having released the excellent album Be True To Yourself in 2020, Joey Molland, the last living member of Badfinger, is back with an immensely entertaining set of Badfinger songs. Calling in favors from his famous friends, every song sparkles, and even the deeper cuts such as “Love Is Gonna Come at Last” are brought to brilliant life courtesy of the side-men involved, Rick Springfield case in point on this one. Highlights are many, most notably Todd Rundgren’s turn on “Without You” a song that could have been written by the angels for Todd to sing, along with Matthew Sweet, of course, on the Power Pop masterpiece “Baby Blue.” Rick Wakeman lends some piano chords to “Come & Get It” and legendary slide-man Sonny Landreth completely owns “Suitcase.” 

Do your ears a solid and check this record out. Then, go back and go back and listen to the original library from a band that may just be one of the most underrated of all time.

Brigitte DeMeyer – Seeker

Not new to the scene having relocated from Nashville to California after a series of personal travails, Brigitte DeMeer seems to have reinvented herself with her latest record, Seeker. With a vibe that brings to the ear, Rikki Lee Jones and Sheryl Crow, the songs are mostly low-key in all the best of ways with standouts “Wishbone” and the slow burn of “Louisiana” as must-hears. the over-arching thing of keeping the soul moving forward and overcoming obstacles is prevalent throughout most notably on the title track along “Roots and Wings and Bones,” a song that celebrates having the courage to make healthy changes in your life.

Five Cool Ones: Five New Albums Released This Week (March 19,2021)

It’s official, we have just entered the beginning of the summer music releases. More (almost) music is coming out than we can keep up with and the creativity that is hitting our ears is very much next-level.

All is right with the musical world when Charlie Starr and the boys blend their Lynyrd Skynyrd meets Dr. Hook mantra on a new song like they do on “Hey Delilah.”

And, up and coming Blues Man Zach Person is pretty much scorching the earth with his new single, “Can’t Stop Running.”

To top things off,  The Screaming Cheetah’s spend some time in the record store on the Punk, Rock, and Soul “We Are The Ones (We’ve Been Waiting For).”

And, if all of that is not enough, here are five groovy albums we are all going mobile with this week.

Midland – The Sonic Ranch

When a band like Midland transcends its influences and embraces the sound and the fury of a specific musical moment in time as holistically as they do on their new record, The Sonic Ranch, it is a supreme pleasure to spend some time in the way-back machine that they provide. ’80s George Strait Country is the Joie-de-vie here most notably on “Champagne For The Pain” along with “Worn Out Boots.” The vibe drifts back to Lefty Frizell honky-tonk on “Texas is the Last Stop” and the opener “Fourteen Gears” harkens back to the ’70s trucking tunes.

This is a lose yourself in nostalgia record in all the best of ways.

Black 47 – After Hours

Although no longer together as a proper band Larry Kirwan and Black 47 have produced a Celtic-crisp tribute set of reworked songs from the back catalog. Celebrating the 30th anniversary of their eponymous first album, here a shamrock full of iconic Irish artists including Celtic Cross, The Gobshites, Pat McGuire, and Martin Furey join in on the fun.

If you can mention CBGB’s and still pull off a proper folk ballad, the feat is certainly accomplished on the opener “40 Shades of Blue,” a song that features Katerine Fee and her legendary N.Y. 7 piece band Celtic Cross.  And, the New York-centric songs “Sleep Tight In New York City” and “Rockin The Bronx” weaves that bridge between The Emerald Isle and The Big Apple quite nicely.

Austin Meade – Black Sheep

Refreshingly cool Rock and Roll having been raised on Judas Priest, Whitesnake, and other like-minded rockers of the Day, Austin Meade’s new record, Black Sheep, delivers a sonic palate rock-centric songs including “Deja Vue,” a song that has a 90’s rock vibe, and the Blues-Boogie of an opener “Dopamine Drop” that is as varied as it is cool.

Part Pearl Jam, some Black Sabbath with a bit of Outlaw Country thrown in for good measure, this record should be on your bucket list when it comes to finding that next great rock and roll artist to add to your collection.

Andrew Farris – Andrew Farris

Best known as the keyboardist and the main songwriter for INXS, Andrew Farris is finding his own voice on his eponymous debut release of all-original material. Having written songs we all know including “Original Sin,” “What You Need,” and “New Sensation” and largely idle since 2012, now he takes on the mantle of frontman on a solid set of pop-centric mostly Americana based gems. The atmospheric opener “Bounty Hunter-Hummingbird” sets the mood and “Come Midnight” could have easily been an INXS song back in the day.

“Run Baby Run” sounds like a Dave Alvin run for the border epic, and “Drifting” is as good of a song as has been released in 2021. A nicely varied listen recorded between Nashville and Australia there is a certain sense that there is a lot more to come from an artist that is ready to make himself known in his own right.

Middle Kids – Today We’re The Greatest

A sterling combination of Folk and Synth-Pop, with their new record Today We’re The Greatest, Middle Kids and Hannah Joy deliver a thoughtfully optimistic set of songs that pull from the singer’s experiences before, during, and just after her recent pregnancy. A bed of warm synths is the order of the day here that brings forth a certain air of optimism to the proceedings. The lush “Golden Star” is a highlight along with the Breeders influenced “Some People Stay In Our Hearts.” I Don’t Care” could have been on a Pixie’s album.

 

 

 

Five Cool Ones: Five New Records Released This Week (03/12/21)

As we careen toward summer and massage our ears to get them ready for a veritable slew of new records to be released, in short order, there are a few choice nuggets sitting on our doorstep to savor this week.

There are 8 million stories in the Naked City, “Charyse” is just one of them so says Adam Weiner in discussing the song and video from the 2020 Low Cut Connie release, Private Lives.

The revamped ’70s Glamster Band Sweet is resurfacing with the release of “Set Me Free” from their upcoming new record Isolation Boulevard, a tribute to the 1974 album Desolation Boulevard. The single, with a bit more of a metallic edge, features Cats in Space singer Paul Manzi lending his immense pipes to the re-formed band.

And, one-man-band Jonathon Sabiston operating under the name Wild Spelks delivers a surprisingly cool Weezer meets Teenage Fanclub sounding slice of melodic Alt-Rock heaven with the release of “Dreamer.”

Here are five more records that are vibrating through the halls of Rock is the new Roll this week.

Peter Case – The Midnight Broadcast

A name you might know from his great Power Power band The Plimsouls and their iconic ear-worm of a song “A Million Miles Away,” Peter Case is back with a new solo record that that shows that Case is no one-trick Pop pony, but rather a Springsteen level songwriter of the highest order. The opener “Just Hanging On,” a song that he wrote on the piano in a church when he was 15, would have fit in quite nicely on Darkness on the Edge of Town,” and “Captain Stormalong” is a delicate and hushed tune meant to evoke the spirit of driving through the American night with the radio down.

There is a lot to savor here including the ethereal “Farewell to the Gold” as well as a rendition of Dylan’s “Early Roman Kings.” “Oh, The Morning/President Kennedy” is a revelation and could have been a Leon Russell song.

Israel Nash – Topaz

Recorded in isolation is his newly-built Quonset hut recording studio in Texas, Israel Nash, with Topaz, has created a swirling, subdued blend of Soul-Folk goodness with a touch of Muscle Shoals backing smoothness thrown in for good measure.

Co-produced with Adrian Quesada of the Soul-Rock combo Black Pumas every song on this album is designed to take you on an escapist head trip that falls somewhere between The Black Pumas, fuzzy era Neil Young, and Father John Misty.

Light one up put on a good pair of headphones and groove baby groove.

Blue Water Highway – Paper Airplanes

New Age Americana band Blue Water Highway walk that delicate line between Country and Pop with a glorious dexterity that draws from their background growing up in the Texas Coastal area where they call Lake Jackson home.

With three-part harmonies that can melt butter, on their third proper record, the songwriting has stepped up several notches most notably on the title track where the trials of taking things to the next level during a pandemic are mused upon, and on “Me and the Electric Man” where a son pays tribute to his hard-working father.

This band and this record will separate themselves from the listening pack with successive listens.

Lake Street Dive – Obviously

Make no mistake about it, Boston’s Lake Street Dive has developed their Adult Contemporary Pop sheen to glistening perfection, if it’s not broken don’t fix it. And, they certainly don’t mess with the formula on Obviously a pleasant album that would have played quite nicely as a Christmas gift for your music-loving mother a few months back.

The songs are a cool blend of Vintage Soul and Burt Bacharach Pop with “Same Old News” a ’70s inspired gem bringing forth the spirit of Roberta Flack and Danny Hathaway, and “Anymore” a tune that could have been an “Easy Lover” era love ballad from back in the day.

No surprises are rendered here, but if we don’t have Carly Simon or The Carpenters to hit-up our ears at least we have Lake Street Dive.

Andra Day – The United States vs. Billie Holiday

After originally having turned down the role of Billie Holiday fate intervened and Andra Day who two took her stage-performer name in honor of Lady  Day, the nickname for Billie Holiday, after never having acted before finally acquiesced and accepted the role of a lifetime.

Vocally here Day is more than up for the challenge and her rendition of the groundbreaking “Strange Fruit” certainly will hold up as one of the best contemporary versions of the civil rights anthem, and the song that Diana Ross made famous, “Lady Sings the Blues,” is delivered with the perfect sense of fragility that certainly makes a believer out of the listener.

Ultimately, the best deliverable on this sweetheart of a record is the arrangements and contemporary production techniques that have been employed to bring to life the songs that have previously never been delivered to our ears with the love, fidelity, and sonic goodness that was long overdue for masterworks of this caliber. That buzz you are hearing is from the Oscar committee slam-dunking this one for best movie soundtrack with Soul as the runner-up.

 

 

What We’re Listening To Wednesday (March 10, 2021)

The listening week is shaping up to be pretty groovy this time around with some really tasty morsels blaring from inside the offices at Rock is the New Roll H.Q.

If you are not hip to the band Beebe Gallini and their scene, no worries, the new record is set to drop In March and we are grooving to their latest single “My Way of Thinking” a groovy mix of go-go beats, garage band bombast. There literally is nothing not to like with this one. Look for Pandemos to be released into the wild on March 21.

And, if you are ready to throw your head back, let your nears flop in the wind, and sing out with unbridled joy Snoopy style then “Congratulations” courtesy of The Nobility, the self-glossed 53rd best band in Nashville, will tickle your tail feathers and definitely make your day better, especially played multiple times at increasingly high volumes.

Always suckers for a good cover song, Janita, the up-and-coming Finnish songstress wraps herself in a Peter Gabriel blanket hipping up “Digging In The Dirt” from the 1992 album Us. 

And, keeping the frozen tundra theme going, Vintage Caravan, the boys from Iceland are blasting our ears with some Progressive/Stoner Rock version of Kansas on Acid with their new one “Crystallized,” and we can’t get enough of it.

And Speaking of Psychedelic Rock, Black Mountain out of Vancouver, British Columbia has dropped a couple of Black Sabbath evoking singles including the epic “Juniors Eyes.”

And, what better way to end a fine What We’re Listening To Wednesday than capping things off with a cover version of the Janis semi-deep cut “Kosmic Blues” in the deft hands of RITNR Hall of Famers The Last Internationale.

 

 

 

Five Cool Ones: Five New Morsels We Are Listening To

There is a lot going on this week on the music front, here are five particularly choice ear-nuggets we are listening to here at Rock is the New Roll.

Van Morrison – Latest Record Project

Ming news for all of the right reasons this time, Van Morrison will releasing Latest Record Volume 1, an album of fresh blue-eyed soul with a bit of blues thrown in for good measure.

Jimbo Mathus and Andrew Bird – Burn the Honky Tonk

Jimbo Mathus and Andrew bird combine their creative juices on this mournful late-night Honky Tonk crawler.

When Rivers Meet – Walking On The Wire

The latest Blues Rock video from their highly excellent We Fly Free album released last year. The sound will bring to mind Whitehorse or Larkin Poe.

Jim Capaldi – Short Cut Draw Blood

As the drummer, co-founder, and writing partner for Traffic having co-written “Paper Sun” and “Dear Mr. Fantasy” as well as many others, Jim Capaldi’s third solo record, Short Cut Draw Blood, has been given the reissue and re-release treatment.  This one was Capaldi’s third solo recorded and first after the breakup of Traffic, the record yielded two top 30 singles in “It’s All Up To You” as well as a pretty pedestrian cover of “Love Hurts.” With contributions from Steve Winwood, Chris Spedding along with the Muscle Shoals rhythm section, time will be well spent with this one.

Tony Joe White – Boot Money

Scheduled to be released by Easy Eye Sound later in the year, a set of never heard the light of day songs will be included on the album Smoke From The Chimney. With Dan Auerbach twirling the knobs on this one early placement on your radar is certainly warranted.