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.

 

 

Five Cool Ones: Five New Records Released This Week (March 5, 2021)

As we hopefully are only months away from real live music becoming a thing again and musicians actually being able to make a fair living, there seems to be a burst of energy in the air taking shape with a lot of interesting notes in the air.

’70s style blues rockers Dirty Honey are teasing our ear lobes once again with a new single video “California Dreamin’.” No, not that song that you have in your head right now, but it’s still a cool rockin’ toon.

The semi-outlaw country artist Travis Tritt takes us back to those halcyon days when you could smoke in a bar with “Smoke In A Bar” his first original song released since way back 2013.

And, the band Wolf Alice shares their freshly minted new single on Later…With Jools Holland.

Here are 5 cool new morsels our ears are wrapping themselves around this week.

Kings of Leon – When You See Yourself

Reuniting with their old producer Markus Dravs (Arcade Fire, Coldplay), the Kings of Leon are back with their driving crescendo-driven rock and roll gloriousness. “The Bandit” is the royal ones at their finest starting slow and building up a head of steam pacing the listener into an atmospheric finish.  And, with “Time In Disguise” things are slowed down until tempo picks up careening the works into a wholly satisfying finish. The is no reinventing the Leon wheel here as the Followill brothers and cousin stick to the same experimental rock template they have been laying down for almost two decades now, but what they do, they do very well and fans will be pleased to have the band back in fine form.

Painted Shrines – Heaven and Holy

If there is anything good to come out of a global pandemic it’s the fact that artists have been able to collaboratively come together to combine their musical superpowers to come up with entirely new and different soundscapes than we may be used to from their individual projects. Here, Jeremy Earl from the Indie Folk Band Woods and Glenn Donaldson who is known for his work with the psychedelic band Skygreen Leopards come together forming the group Painted Shrines. Recorded over the course of one week the songs are loose, brightly energetic, and highly addictive.

“Panoramic” is a Jangle Pop instrumental gem with a bit of a Big Star influence, the song “Gone” highlights Earls falsetto voice that we have become accustomed to with his work from Woods, and the opener “Saturates the Eye” celebrates the Bydsian glory of Donaldson’s 12 string guitar.

This is a relaxed listen that will yield benefits with rotational spins.

The Gold Needles – What’s Tomorrow Ever Done For You
Once your ears regain their sensibilities and get over the shock of listening to the opening title track on this one, a song that brings to the minds-ear what The Grass Roots would have sounded like if they were a Country Band, and on the Moody Blues evoking “I Get The Pressure” there is a realization that sets in that record is a must check out album of the highest order.
With their cover version of the Hollies “Have You Ever Loved Somebody” the U.K. band does indeed make the song their own coming close to matching the original, and with “Dead Man’s Hand” their rock credentials are presented at the door in fine fashion on a song that could have been written by Buck Dharma and Blue Oyster Cult.
Every song’s a winner here, that’s for sure, and if you still are not a believer give the Pink Floyd-inspired wonderment of “Realm of the Black Dog” a spin. This one is an exciting Retro-Future record that will be getting many spins at Rock is the New Roll H.Q…
Mason Hill – Against The Wall
For the rockers in the house, the new banger from Glasgow’s own Mason Hill may be up your street. Strong,  powerful riffs accompanied by anthemic vocals most notably on “No Regrets” and the title track “Against the Wall,” there is a melody to the rock and roll here that sets the band apart and makes this record a must-listen for those that seek a bit of over-amped energy in their lives.

Benjamin Biolay – Grand Prix

Most definitely from the “and now comes something completely different category” comes Grand Prix, the latest record from French artist Benjamin Biolay. Citing influences the likes of The Smiths, New Order, and The Strokes, Biolay weaves textures of Kraut Rock, Post Punk, Electronica, Euro-Disco, Brit Rock, and Chanson into a blend that is distinctly cool.

Being French, of course, he has an affinity for beautiful women, and here his sirens of choice are ex-wife Chiara Mastroianni, former love Keren Ann, and current girlfriend actress Anais Demoustier all lend a helping background vocal here. The small band and slinky synthesizers used on this record set down a groove you won’t need to be a hipster or even French to enjoy.

 

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

 

The musical world is stabilizing and we are getting a good perspective as to how things are going to look on the musical front. And, the future is so bright not only do we need to wear shades but we will need to grow another set of ears to be able to capture all of the sweet music that will be coming our way.

There is a double dose of First Aid Kit news as not only did they announce a new album to be released in March, they are also accepting pre-orders for the recording of their Who By Fire? set from 2017 where they performed a night of Leonard Cohen covers.

We’ve got our eyes, and most importantly our ears, set on Tara Who? a drummer guitar duo that delivers a Blues-Swagger blend of Punk, Grunge, and Ramones style earth-scorching manic depression.

And, another new find to Rock is the New Roll is the Naked Gypsy Queens. Picture Led Zeppelin meets MC-5 throwing a house party in Lynyrd Skynyrd’s studio shack in the backwoods and you will have a sense of the Rock and Roll that these Tennessee lads are throwing down.

And, on top of all of that here are five new records that our ears are hip to this week.

Alice Cooper – Detroit Stories

From the opening bell, listening to Alice Cooper’s vocal kick in, all is right in the Rock and Roll world. Alice is in fine Schools Out era voice. His band sounds like a real ’70s Rock band despite having to use some studio wizardry since it was not practical for everyone to get in the studio together at the same time. And above all else, Alice and producer Bob Ezrin deliver a fitting tribute to Detroit, a city that embraced Alice Cooper and his band as one of their own way back in the day.

Song by song there is some association with the Detroit scene whether it be having Detroit stalwarts, Mark Farner, from Grand Funk playing on the record, including a song written by MC-5’s Wayne Kramer, or covering a song by Michigan Glamsters Outrageous Cherry. And, it all works quite well.

The Velvet’s “Rock and Roll” is delivered front and center changing the location of the radio station from New York to Detroit with energy that should be coming from a much Younger Alice Cooper, but he’s still got it. “Go Man Go” is a Replacements style romp, and on “Detroit City 2021” Alice name-checks Detroit musical icons Suzi Quatro, Iggy Pop, MC=5, Ted Nugent, and Bob Seger. A fun bast back to the past on a record that is full of them.

Willie Nelson – That’s Life

Full disclosure, here at Rock is the New Roll we are not fans of our musical heroes covering the standards, realizing fully that Rod Stewart pretty much ruined the genre for everyone involved including Van Morrison and Bob Dylan. A big but and however is appropriate here as we are making an exclusive exception for Willie Nelson. Every new record the red-headed stranger puts out should be cherished and savored as it might be his last.

Not much to see here on this set of tunes made famous by Frank Sinatra. That’s not to say that the performances were mailed in, quite the contrary. Willie is in fine albeit a bit overproduced voice here and if you didn’t know when this record was released you could not tell whether it was made in 1983 or 2021. All of the above said this album is a pleasant listen. The duet with Diana Krall on “I Won’t Dance” is elegant and “In The Wee Small Hours” is effective and listenable. Thankfully, “My Way” was not re-hashed on this set.

Charley Crockett – 10 for Slim: Crockett Sings James Hand

Country Crooner Chaley Crocket is nothing short of prolific having released 7 records in 4 years, and every one of them seems to pass up the last in quality, heartfelt empathy, and tear in your beer pathos. This time out he pays tribute to the recently passed away Honky Tonk legend James Hand with a set of ten songs that run the spectrum from straight-up barroom laments on “In The Corner” where he stands at a table in the corner by the jukebox, to the introspective “So Do I,” all the way to the closing “Slim’s Lament” where we get the measure of two men, James Hand and Charley Crockett that will now be linked in perpetuity with the release of this record that should be in heavy rotation at a table in the corner on your own personal jukebox.

Curtis Salgado – Damage Control

A mainstay on the Blues Rock scene, Curtis Salgado’s oeuvre lays down like some sort of devil hybrid of Delbert McClinton and B.B. King, with his latest, Damage Control, delivering a set of life well-lived songs coming from the perspective of a weary road warrior. “What Did Me In Did Me Well” throws down his harmonica chops that would make Stevie Wonder take notice, the opener, “The Longer That I Live” espouses the sensible theory that the longer you live the older you want to get, and the lower and slower title track “Damage Contol” has a bit of Steely Dan savoir-faire about it. There is even a flavor Cajun bayou-noir on “Truth Be Told.” Curtis Dalgado is a nice new find for those of you that like Bonnie Raitt, Tab Benoit, and Delbert McClinton.

Sara Petite – Rare Bird

Six studio albums in, Sara Petite with her latest Rare Bird has hit her stride and released the best record of her career. Combining Americana, Bakersfield-dirt soul, and Honky Tonk Saturday night. A solid melding of Tanya Tucker and Lydia Loveless, this one has all the making of a career-making effort putting Petite in the Kacey Musgrave or Margo price status of Country crossover stars.

The opener, “Feeling Like an Angel” is a strong bit of songwriting that brings to mind Lucinda Williams, “Crash Boom Bang” would have fit in quite nicely on a Wanda Jackson record back in the day,  and “Floating with the Angels” is a good old honky-tonk waltz in the making. This one is a diverse listen that will reward frequent dips back into the Rare Bird well.

 

Five Cool Ones: There’s Power in the Pop (Five Power Pop Nuggets From 2020)

 

There is definitely power in the pop these days and with artists like Weezer and Matthew Sweet representing the best in Jangle Pop and Roll as well a wealth of lesser-known artists bubbling just under the surface. Here are five fresh faces that are ticking our ears and jangling our souls.

Brian Bringelson/Gabe Dulek – Desperate Days

Known mostly for his work with posters Anchor and Bear, his latest solo effort, Desperate Days represents a master class in how to make music that may share the DNA of those ’60s Sunshine Pop bands or the ’80s Brit-Pop wave while at the same time making a record that is fresh and alive. Here, the mid-era Beach Boys are well represented on a set of songs where the vocals and the arrangements play together like waves under a surfboard.

Rick Hromadka – Better Days

A member of the L.A. Power Pop underground Rick Hromadka has 9 previous solo albums under his belt and you know he knows his way around the mixing board as the current “in-house” sound mixer at Dreamworks Animation.  On his latest record, Better Days, with a sound that marshalls The Beach Boys with Jellyfish and The Raspberries, there is a surprising marshmallow of a nugget around every groove.

The Well Wishers – Shelf Life 

Essentially a Jeff Shelton solo effort with a few solo guitar guest spots thrown in for good measure, Shelf Life is a fully realized record that would make Brendan Benson and Mattew Sweet proud. There are hints of R.E.M in “We Grow Up” a bit of Greg Kihn permeating on the pulsating “All The Same” and some really cool Western-Noir Buddy Holly on “Holidays Await.” This is a refreshing listen that deserves multiple listens.

Palmyra Delran And The Doppel Gang

As one of the hosts on Little Steven’s Underground radio station Palmyra Delran knows her way around a cool retro tune and with her double-sided single release of “Lucky In Love,” a song that shares some pillow talk with “Then He Kissed Me” and “Who’s Been Sleeping Here,” an old Darts tune come vibrantly to Girl Group life, she stretches her Power Pop muscle.

Dana Countryman – Come Into My Studio

If “Somebody’s Baby” is your go-to Jackson Browne song then the ’70s semi-Yacht Rock influence of Dana Countryman’s Come Into My Studio will certainly be your jam. The title track that could have been a whimsical Harry Nilsson ditty will set the retro mood that is cemented with the Elvis Costello/Burt Bacharach sounding “Every Time You Break My Heart” and driven home courtesy of the Phil Spector grandeur of “Ecstasy.” The Carpenters even make a guest appearance on “Whenever We Walk By” a duet with Dana’s wife Tricia Countryman.