Five Cool Ones: Five New Albums Released This Week (July 23, 2021)

With the euphoric sense that the lockdown releases are behind us, artists are beginning to focus on more positive themes, less political nonsense, and seem to be getting back to the basics of rock and roll. And quite frankly, we are all the better for it.

The Black Keys are digging even deeper down that well of blues with this iconic song from their Delta Kream record.

Dan Israel puts everything in perspective with this easy flowing, perfect for driving down to the sea tune, “The Hang of It.”

And Eric Bazilian, the frontman for the Hooters, takes us back to the glorious ’80s with his latest single, “Back In The ’80s.”

If all of that is not enough, here are five more nuggets that are entering our ear-waves this week.

The Peppermint Kicks – The Peppermint Kicks

A Power Pop supergroup with members of The Stompers, The Amplifier Heads, and the Shang Hi Los all representing, Peppermint Kicks lays down a hipster blend of Pop-Punk, Rock, and infectious Power Pop. “When Rock & Roll Met Your Dad” is essentially a love letter to the healing powers of rock & roll, while “Hey Fanzine!” pays homage to those great music magazines from days of yore, Creem, Rolling Stone (when they were a music magazine), Circus, and more. The spirit of Cheap Trick and The Ramones are all over this record, most notably on “Shag ’72” and the ode to pointless rock and roll “I Don’t Hear a Single.”

Coolness resides around every corner on this record that even laments the demise of the hallowed long-lost rock venues with “Johnny D’s (Play It Again)” and the lack of bands that don’t play loud anymore on the semi-loud “Stooge.”

For those of a certain age, this love letter to a time and space before corporate rock will put you in that long-lost ear space that you forgot you missed.

Rodney Crowell – Triagethis time around he

The national Texas treasure that is Rodney Crowell is back with his 18th album. A bit more introspective now, this time around he leaves the negativity to others in favor of songs of sin, mortality, and redemption. The title track compares love to forgiveness, “Something Has To Change” calls out those that darken the world, and “This Body Isn’t All There Is To Me” pretty much says it all.

Though the mood is a bit more somber from what we are used to from Rodney, after all, we are in a pandemic, let’s hold out hope that better times are right around the corner. And, what better tour guide than Rodney Crowell.

Glen Campbell – Live From The Troubadour

Given the state of his health at the time of this recording in 2008 when he opens this show from the famed Troubadour concert venue in L.A. saying it is good to be back at the Hungry I, it takes a beat to realize that he is joking. Here, on one of his last tours, Glen Campbell covers all of his musical muses. His more recent tunes, including “Grow Old With Me” and “All I Want Is You” are intermingled with Jimmy Web Classics “Galveston,” “By The Time I Get To Phoenix” along with the Cambell must-play Classics “Rhinestone Cowboy” and “Gentle On My Mind.”

There are flashes of brilliance on display throughout the set, most notably during “Phoenix” when Cambell calls out “I wanna play one” as he drifts off into a Les Paul worthy guitar interlude. But, for the most part, the set is a poignant reminder of an artist that we have forgotten that we loved giving us one last Hurrah.

Jackson Browne – Downhill From Everywhere

Like an old relative that comes back to visit between military assignments regaling with tales of travel in far-off lands, Jackson Browne is back on our shores with another set of masterclass storytelling. And, he doesn’t seem to have changed one bit.

“My Cleveland Heart” could be the centerpiece in a movie score in the vein of “Somebody’s Baby,” The title track has a timeless feel to it and could have been on the Lawyers in Love record, and “A Human Touch” would have been perfect The Pretender fodder.

Part nostalgic head-trip and part treatise on the state of the world, this one has something for everyone.

Velvet Insane – Rock ‘n’ Roll Glitter Suit

There is truth in advertising seeping through every poor of the sophomore record from these purveyors of Glam Rock. Starting with the insanely catchy “Backstreet Liberace” the stage is set for bringing up the ghosts of Slade, The Sweet, T Rex along with the rest of the Glam gang from the ’70s.

Right up there with Luke Spiller and The Struts this gang of Swedes drives it like they own it on the Slade worthy “Driving Down the Mountain” even display their tender side on the ballad “Midnight Sunshine Serenade”

Unless Luke and the boys come up with something out of this world later in the year, the best Rock album of 2022 has officially surfaced.

Five Cool Ones: Five New Rock Songs On Our Turntable Now

It might just be our ears playing tricks on us, but suddenly, 2021 is shaping up to be a banner year for rock as well as roll.

On that front, here are five rock and rollers we are listening to this week in the offices of Rock is the New Roll.

Samantha Fish – Twisted Ambition

The latest incarnation of Samantha Fish has her shedding her pure Blues gills in favor of a more Blues-Rock Bonnie Raitt style. If her song “Twisted Ambition,” a single released in anticipation of a proper full-length record later in the year, is any indication, it should be a scorcher.

Gorilla Riot – Drowned

This band from Manchester walks the dangerous Grunge Rock streets with aplomb as they channel their inner Pearl Jam as well as the softer corners of Soundgarden’s oeuvre.

The Picturebooks – Catch Me If You Can

This boot stomper of a track features Blackstone Cherry frontman Chris Robertson on a loose-limbed scorcher that goes down like a cocktail served by The MC-5 with Lenny Kravitz ready to buy the next round.

Georgia Thunderbolts – Be Good To Yourself

The young bucks in the Georgia Thunderbolts maintain all of the soul inherent in the Frankie Miller original while adding just enough rock and roll swagger to make this one a contemporary yet timeless classic. The new record, Can I Get a Witness, comes out on October 15.

Joanne Shaw Taylor – If That Ain’t a Reason

With his recent move to Nashville, around the corner from the Ryman, serving to inspire his creative muse, here, he handles the knob-twirling duties as a producer on this sterling true-to-form Joanne Shaw Taylor cover version of the Little Milton tune. Look for some more killer blues-influenced cuts set for release later in the year.

Video of the Day: Night Ranger – Bring It All Home To Me

On August 6 the mighty Night Ranger will release their 12th record, ATBPO, also known as And The Band Played On. As we are typically skeptical about legacy bands putting out quality material, this one should be a notable exception as Jack Blades, Brad Gillis, and Kelly Keagy are. still with the band. If “Bring It All Home To Me” is an indicator we will be starting to rock like it is 1985 all over again.

Five Cool Ones: Five New Songs To Enjoy This Week (July 2, 2021)

While the proper album releases are on hiatus this week and the staff here at Rock is the new Roll takes a much-deserved week off, no worries, we are not going to leave you hanging. 

Here are five choice nuggets to be enjoyed over the fourth of July Weekend.

Bros – Garbanzo Man

A brother spin-off band from Rock is the New Roll of Famers Sheepdogs the fellas have released this one from their upcoming record, Vol 2.. With Hints of Ram era Paul McCartney and Hall and Oates, this one should get some heavy rotation on your summer playlist.

Robert Jon & The Wreck – Shine a Light on Me Brother

This one is like The Blues Brothers and Blackberry Smoke doing Proud Mary. A scorcher of an anthem, this is the title track from their upcoming record.

The Moon City Masters – Starstruck

Moving a fair length away from their cool covers and disco-tinged previous works The Moon City Masters offer up a cozy American-Moonlight single that could have been on a long-lost Poco record.

Kerosene Stars – Where Have You Been

Kerosene Stars are out in front of a new record later in the year with this hook-laden summer rocker.

Everet Almond – All Out of Time

This bouncy piano gem could fit quite nicely on any Paul Weller record.

Cult Stars From Mars – Blinded By The Light

A throwback-inspired band Cult Stars From Mars (Mike Portnoy, Jeff Soto, Darian Sahhanajay) trade-in their harder-edged Rock and Roll edged for a Power Pop sheen on this Bruce Springsteen cover.

Best Albums of 2021 (So Far): (099) Lovebreakers – Primary Colours

(099) Lovebreakers – Primary Colours

Sunshine Punk and Roll is the order of the day on this one. Hailing from Birmingham England with hooks a-plenty, there is an underlying edge to the otherwise jaunty guitar work presented here that lends to the theory that this debut record will be the start of something big for the band. Looking for a touchpoint, look no further than The Arctic Monkeys or the accessible side of The Replacements.

Five Cool Ones: Five New Records Released This Week (June 25, 2021)

The year is now officially half over, and the only thing we have to say here at Rock is the New Roll is that keep your ears strapped on it’s about to get loud. Tours are starting to get announced and cranked up as many musicians have spent the downtime reflecting and writing new music and are eager to share their music with the masses. And we, of course, can’t wait to see what the six months have to offer. 

The mighty Night Ranger is back with a boffo new single and video in advance of a record coming out later in the year.

The virtual one-man bad himself Pokey LaFarge is announcing his new record scheduled for release on September 10th with the single “Get It ‘For It’s Gone.” 

And, the blazing rock duo The Picturebooks team up with the guys from Monster Truck on a single that will bring to the ear the essence of Norman Greenbaum’s “Spirit in the Sky.”

But wait, there’s more. Here are five records that we are grooving to this week here in the halls of Rock is the New Roll.

Hiss Golden Messenger – Quietly Blowing It

In these days of online singles released in dribs and drabs in advance of a proper record release, the anticipation of a proper full-length sometimes builds up to an unbearable frenzy. And, for our ears, this is one of those highly anticipated gems. After initially being introduced to the record via the Laurel Canyon-inspired song “Sanctuary,” it was as clear as the ears on our head that we were in store for an exciting listen when the proper record was released.

Holing up in his North Carolina basement at the start of the pandemic, MC Taylor used the current state of affairs as a mood-setter in an attempt to get under the covers of some of the deeper issues behind all of the turmoil swirling around him. With a certain Bob Dylan quality, the record lays bare the fragility of the moment with the gospel-tinged “It Will If We Let It.” “Glory Strums (Of The Long Distance Runner),” a song that could be the distance cousin of a classic Fleetwood Mac tune, and “Mighty Dollar,” telling it like it is. The poor man loses, the rich man wins.

Don’t sleep on this record. This one has lived up to the hype and more and is destined to take up residence in the top ten once the end of the year rolls around.

Vincent Neil Emerson – Vincent Neil Emerson

A quick listen to some of his world-weary lyrics, most notably on “Debtor’s Blues,” there is a sense that if Vincent Neil Emerson was not able to come to grips with his past through the catharsis of his songs he probably would not be alive.

“I spent my whole life/Wonderin’ why I’m down,” Vincent Neil Emerson sings, not long into his new, self-titled sophomore album. “I don’t feel easy if the blues don’t come around/And my face don’t look right without a frown.”

With life seemingly lived in the verses of a country song after enduring his father’s suicide, alcoholism, a brother’s death in a house fire, and homelessness, there is hope rather than despair prevalent with this excellent sophomore release. “Texas Moon” could have been a John Prine Song, “Learnin’ to Drown” is a sparse piano-led stunner that details the singer’s forlorn days sleeping in his car and lays out his life in under 5:00 of reflective and emotional storytelling that would make Townes Van Zant blush.

Produced by his mentor Rodney Crowell, this deservingly break-out record should cement a place for Vincent Neil Emerson in the pantheon of great contemporary Texas singer-songwriters to be mentioned in the same breath as Steve Earle, Guy Clark, and Lyle Lovett.

Amythyst Kiah – Wary + Strange

For virginal ears not familiar with Amythst Kiah one listen to her latest song “Hangover Blues” will have your ears clamoring for more. Somewhat of a genre-bending artist with a voice that floats somewhere between Nina Simone and Tracey Chapman, as a member of the Rhiannon Giddens collective her latest is a highly empowering life-affirming record that doesn’t shy away from addressing the issues of the day most notably on the powerful “Black Myself” and the topic of suicide on “Wild Turkey” that deals with her mother’s suicide.

“Hangover Blues” is as devasting of a back-end of a drinking binge anthem you will find this side of “Sunday Morning Coming Down,” the song “Sleepy Queen” has a bit of a Bill Withers tilt to it, and “Ballad of the Lost” is a gut-wrenching ballad that deals with issues of abandonment head-on.

There is beauty in diversity, and this is a beautiful genre-defying record. Deep Blues meld with Rock, R&B, and Appalachian bluegrass to create an awe-inspiring textured masterpiece. If you listen to only one album this year, it should be this one.

Grateful Dead – Grateful Dead (Skull and Roses)

Mostly worthy of mention here simply because it is one of the best live records ever committed to vinyl, this 50th anniversary remastered edition captures The Grateful Dead at their accessible best.

Known for the lack of sparsity of Grateful Dead songs in favor of some choice covers, the production value on this one is pristine, the vocals are mixed perfectly, and the crowd energy is palpable but does not overwhelm the mix. Highlights include Mighty Merle’s “Mama Tried” and the extended “Sing Me Back Home,” “Johnny B. Good,” and a next-level version of “Me and Bobby McGee.”

Put the headphones on and absorb yourself in this one.

Pom Pom Squad – Death of a Cheerleader.

As fine a debut record as our ears have had the pleasure of hearing in quite some time, you can pretty much get where the band is coming from when Mia Berrin sings “You should ask your mother what she means, she says Stay away from girls like me.”

Outcast odes aside this is an up-tempo roller coaster ride of on-point songwriting, peppy festival-ready anthems, and highly accessible Indie Rock arrangements from the vantage point of an outsider that has seen what life is on the inside, and is perfectly happy living life on the fringes.

The song “Head Cheerleader” almost has an ’80s fornicating under the football bleachers John Hughes feel about it, and the Joan Jett inspired “Drunk Voicemail” is worth the price of admission alone. 

Come to experience the angst, but stay for the Tommy James meets the white rabbit rendering of “Crimson and Clover”