What We’re Listening To: October 18, 2020

Daniel Romano’s Outfit – How Ill Thy World Is Ordered

Not sure how he does it in the middle of a pandemic, but this dude, Daniel Romano has released tons of material while the rest of us are just sitting around watching our hair grow. His latest record, the funkily named How Ill Thy World Is Ordered is a belter and should be up for album of the year consideration. The epic tune “A Rat Without A Tail” is Marc Bolan T-Rex and George Harrison inspired perfection.

The Brothers Steve #1

Once you drop the needle down on “We Got The Hits” from The Brother Steves latest record, #1, you will be hooked and be on your way to coolness a-go-go. With a hip ’60s almost girl group vibe these guys, only one of them is called Steve, are fun, quirky, and mojo-groovy. Think David Bowie covering The Monkees and you will have pretty much nailed it.

The Bookends – Calliope

Born only 12 days apart cousins Karen Lynn and Sharon Lee deliver a swirling potion of ’60s Bubblegum Pop, slicing Rickenbacker guitars, cool organ riffs, and Revolver era Beatles ecstasy. “She’s Got It” is a Nuggets worthy Garage Rock stomper, and “Keep Keeping On” has a distinct “Taxman” vibe about it. Heady stuff, indeed.

Rose Abbott – Magnified

The Laura Nyro inspired title track from her upcoming record, Magnified, has our ears doing cartwheels awaiting the proper full-length.

GospelBeacH – Baby (It’s All Your Fault)

GospelbeacH is one of our favorite bands of recent vintage. On this single from an intimate and acoustic performance at London’s famous Betsy Trotwood pub the essence of the band is framed to sublime perfection.

J.D. Simo – Soul of a Man

This scorcher of a song courtesy of the guitar player’s guitarist J.D. Simo steps out from fronting his own band and goes solo. This cover of a Blind Willie Johnson tune lays the ground bare taking no prisoners.

Live Video of the Day: Heart – Stairway To Heaven (Kennedy Center Honors)

This one never gets old. Jason Bonham, Robert Plant and Jimmy Page sitting next to John Paul Jones, Heart along with gospel backing and a full choir, Simply exquisite. Here’s hoping there can be a comeback for events like this one sponsored by the White House.

Five Cool Ones: Five Cool Records Released This Week (October 16, 2020)

Things are kickin’ on the music front this week. Plenty of musicians have released songs into the atmosphere in advance of albums to be released in the next 45 days or so, there are a lot of pandemic-centric tunes hitting the streets, and old favorites are reminding us why they are great.

Sir Elton continues to dribble songs we have not previously heard, this time with “Here’s to the Next Time” a song that was originally written with Bernie Taupin in 1967 from his recently released Jewels E.P.

Lana Del Rey takes things low and mostly slow with her ode to lovemaking with “Love Me Like A Woman.”

And, Rock is the New Roll favorite Dave Alvin is back, front and center with a scorching version of Highway 61 Revisited in his own unique Roots Rock fashion.

Here are five really cool records our ears are getting jiggy with this week.

The Struts – Strange Days

Ears, down our favorite real and true Rock and Roll band in the last five years, Luke Spiller along with his band The Struts are back and as Glam-fastic as ever. Wearing the Queen, Def Leppard, and AC/DC crown with honor, this new record dials down the showmanship and dials up the guitar riffs most noticeably on “Cool” and “Wild Child,” a song that features Tom Morello. This is a band that is maturing before our very ears, heck they even throw in an “Angie” style ballad that is part Rolling Stones and part Black Crowes. Strap your ears on and enjoy. Just start on song number two and skip the title track that features Robbie Williams. But the literal call-in from Def Leppard’s Joe Eliot on “I Hate How Much I Want You” on the chorus is wicked fun.

Low Cut Connie – Private Lives

One of our favorite bands of recent vintage has released one of our favorite records of the year. Becoming known as one of the bands on President Obama’s personal playlist as well as for their incendiary live shows and over the top quarantine sessions, Andrew Weiner and his bandmates are delivering piano rock to the masses the likes of which we haven’t seen since the early Leon Russell days. Favorites are sprinkled all over this thing with standouts that include the title track, the slow burn of “Help Me,” a song we all need to help us hang in there during troubled times, and the almost Dawes evoking “Take A Little Ride Downtown.” This is a terrific set of tunes that deserve to have more ears sent their way.

Herbie Mann: It’s A Funky Thing: The Very Best of Herbie Mann

Taking a walk on the Jazzy side of the fence, the great Flautist Herbie Mann is out with the greatest hits package that is perfect for the Jazz aficionado, lovers of the mojo vibe of the ’60s, or just folks that like great music in general. Spit polished with enhanced quality versions of the classics, every song on this one is a classic must-hear magic carpet ride. Not quite like the originals in some cases, there are several versions and renditions on this that feature vocalists including Tamiko Jones on “A Man and a Woman,” Carmen McRae on “Live For Life,”  and Cissy Houston on Cajun Moon. The song “Push Push Pt. 1” presented here is worth the price of admission alone and “Respect Yourself” is perfectly sublime.

Seaway – Big Vibe

With more hooks than an episode of Dangerous Catch Canadian Pop-Funk outfit Seaway offers up an anthemic brand of Festival Rock that is as exuberant as it is hooky. The ’80’s Power Pop influences are floating around this one for sure, but ’90’s Indie-Punk in the Green Day mold may be a better touchpoint.” Still Blue” is a festival-ready, if festivals ever become a thing again, romper, “Sweet Sugar” takes things a bit slower and even has a scent of The Cars, and “Peach” could easily have been an ’80s Cheap Trick tune. This one is the ’80’s Teen movie soundtrack from a film that was never made.

Joey Molland – Be True To Yourself

As the sole remaining member of Badfinger and 1 of only 2 members of the band that did not commit suicide, Pete Ham died in 1975 and Tom Evans passed away in 1983, Joey Molland is keeping the spirit of one of the best Power Pop Bands ever to strum a chord very much alive in 2020. Lush and Beatlesque to the core, just like Badfinger, this record is a bit of a throw-back with a lot of present-day spit and polish thrown in for good measure. Produced by Mark Hudson, of the Hudson Brothers’ fame along with serving as part of The Boneyard Boys a group of songwriters that wrote a bunch of the latter-day Aerosmith hits, Hudson produced records for Neil Diamond and Ringo Starr among others. An extremely likable listen,  there are elements of Ringo and George Harrison solo efforts here as well as a whiff of Jeff Lynn and Electric Light Orchestra thrown in for good measure. “Better Tomorrow” is a G. Harrison inspired highlight as is the E.L.O. measured tones of “All I Want To Do.”

We certainly can’t have Badfinger Back, but mad props to an artist that had gone through hell and back again for the sake of his art.

 

 

Album of the Day: Dangereens – Tough Luck

Wham glam thank you, ma’am. If you close your eyes while listening to this glam-tastic new release from Montreal’s premier foot-stomping retro band, Dangereens, you might think you have been dropped into a time warp taking you back to 1975.

The influences and touchpoints are pretty straightforward, but that does not make them any less delicious. Marc Bolan, The Rolling Stones, Thin Lizzy, Hanoi Rocks, pretty much every Rock and Roll band you hold dear to your ears makes an appearance here. Heck, there even is a steady fragrance of epic-era Kinks on this set of odes to coolness.

Chuck Berry Riffs and T Rex Glam share the stage with older than their years’ songwriting chops, New York Dolls swagger, and blouse wearing torsos. This one has Rock and Roll record of the year written all over it.

 

What We’re Listening To Sunday (October 11, 2020)

The wheels are turning and the tunes are spinning sometimes faster than we can keep up. So many great bands, so little time. Here are some of the bands and artists we have been checking out this week.

Tuk Smith & The Restless Hearts

Ever since his band broke up over record company legal wrangling ex Biters frontman Tuk Smith has been plotting his return to the big time with the formation of his new band The Restless Hearts. Luckily, we are treated with a few little breadcrumbs in the form of some sweet singles as an appetizer to the main course to be delivered early 2021.

Christopher Shayne – Pour the Bottle

Sort of a devil hybrid of Guns ‘N’ Roses and ZZ Top, this guy throws down hard-edged Southern Rock with an edge that would make Blackberry Smoke blush.

Carla Bruni – Rien Que L’extase

Translated from French as “Nothing But Extasy we would say that description is pretty spot-on in describing this va-voom live video from chanteuse Carla Bruni’s latest record, Carla Bruni. Just to see the sleeves cut-off Harley T she is sporting is worth the price of admission alone on this one.

Haybaby – Get Down

Sort of Grunge Pop this slow build anthem to being comfortable in your own skin reaches deep into the soul and stays there for a while.

Goat Girl – Sad Cowboy

This lose yourself swirling Techno-Pop beauty is in advance of a new record, On All Fours, coming out later in the year.

 

Five Cool Ones: Five (More) Reasons Rock Is Not Dead

Proving once again that Rock is not dead, you just have to look a bit harder to find it, here are five artists that are waiving the Rock and Roll flag.

JJ Wilde – Ruthless

At the tender age of 26, rocker JJ Wilde quit the three jobs she was working and sold her soul for Rock and Roll. Self-describing her style as raw, rough, and full of honesty her latest record Ruthless shimmers, smolders, and burns like a female Jack White.

The Glorious Sons – A War On Everything

Already an arena-ready band when they first hit our ear-waves, The Glorious Sons is a timeless, taut slice of Rock and Roll heaven. Meandering from straight-ahead Rock and Roll one moment to low and slow-burning in the Bad Company mold the next, with songs as tight as “Spirit To Break” along with the gloriousness of the title track from 2019’s A War On Everything it’s a real wonder why these guys are not more well known.

The Luka State – Rooms On Fire

There may not be a better-monikered album in 2020 than The Luka States latest record, Rooms on Fire. Hailing from Chesire, England these young cats are announcing themselves quite nicely with their mini-album, 7 songs clocking in at just under 22 minutes. There is no time to rest here as each song seems to build on the last with the intensity and bombast increasing incrementally. From the stunning “[Insert Girls Name Here]” to the euphoric “Feel It” if this one doesn’t make you feel alive there is something wrong with you.

The Blue Stones – Let It Ride

The Blue Stones, essentially Tarak Jafar on lead vocals and guitar along with Justin Tessier (drums and backing vocals). are slow-walking their first proper record to be released later in the year with a succession of highly listenable Rock and Roll Nuggets leaving us most definitely wanting more. “Let It Ride” is a Black Keys style rocker, and “Careless” has more of an R&B flair to it.

The Blinders – Fantasies of A Stay At Home Psychopath

Already scorching the earth as one of the bands that should restore your faith in Rock and Roll, The Blinders have already taken over their adopted home town of Manchester and are poised to take over the rest of the world. With a visceral Post-Punk attitude their unique approach to their craft almost deserves its own genre, Punk-Adelic would pretty much fit the bill.