Five Cool Ones: Five New Records Released This Week (May 20, 2022)

The halls of Rock is the New roll are simply.buzzing over the upcoming new Def Leppard record set to hit our shores next week. But, in the meantime.

The mighty Sheepdogs are out front and center with yet another single from their up and coming sure to be a stunner of an album. “Scarborough Street Fight” represents everything we love about The Sheepdogs.

If Maggie Rogers and her Alanis Morissette evoking “That’s Where I Am” has not hit your ear holes yet, that miss-step should be rectified immediately.

And, Train jumped the AOR shark some time ago, but they still put out pleasant sitting at the beach tunes with the best of them. Case in point, “AM Gold.”

But, enough of all of that, let’s move on to the main event. Here are five new albums we are getting jiggy with this week.

Nitty Gritty Dirt Band – Dirt Does Dylan

If , like many musos of our ilk, your first exposure to folk, bluegrass, and roots music was likely courtesy of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and their Will The Circle Be Unbroken series of releases. Here, they put their Americana-tinged coating on a set of carefully curated Bob Dylan covers.

Meaning no disrespect to Mr. Dylan, his songs presented by singers that you can actually understand often times take on a new meaning, and such is the case here.

The opener, “Tonight, I’ll Be Staying Here With You” is a fiddle-enhanced stunner from Nashville Skyline, “The Girl From North Country” is stretched out a bit yet doesn’t stray too far from the reservation, and the iconic “The Times They Are A-Changing” is a must- listen for any set of years with Steve Earl, Isbell, The War and Treaty, all joining the party on gang vocals. This one is worth the price of admission alone.

Take this record, absorb it, and use it as a jumping off point to rediscovering a band that has been doing there thing since 1966 and are still going strong.

This Nashville by way of Alabama band combines Blues- Rock boogie, Americana, and Roots- Rock into a blender that mixes drinks for the common man.

Banditos – Right On

With Right On, the bands third proper record, dynamic front-woman Mary Beth Richardson channels her Motels by way of Beth Hart back of the barroom vocals on a set of songs that range from Americana Brandi Carlisle style to Pretenders Indie Rock all the way to Indigo Girl inspired Jingles.

“On My Way” has a bit of Sheryl Crow in the DNA, “Deepend Weekend” is a ramshackle in all the best of ways tune, and on the closer, Ozone” Richardson does her best Maria Muldaur ‘50s chanteuse impersonation ex.

With the diversity and texture-hopping represented here it is no wonder that Banditos are one of the hottest live acts in Nashville.

Eliza and the DelusionalsNow And Then

Another of the great Aussie bands, Eliza and the Delusionals spin the time machine back to late ‘90s early ‘00’s Indie Rock on their latest long player, Now and Then.

With a wild range of touchstones from Alanis Morrissete all the way to The Breeders and The Motels, “Sad Song” would have fit in quite nicely on Jagged Little Pill, “Get A Hold Of You” is ABBA on steroids, and “Circles” would be a perfect complement to the Sheryl Crowe oeuvre.

Don’t sleep on this record or this band.

Mavis Staples and Levon Helm – Carry Me Home

Recorded during one of his famous upstate New York Midnight Rambles concert from his Woodstock, N.Y. Studios, Levon Helm partnered up with Mavis Staples.

Designed to emulate the traveling musical road shows traversing the country in the 1940’s “Handwriting On The Wall” is church revival music at its finest, and “This Is My Country” is as relevant today as it was when Curtis Mayfield wrote it when it was performed here in 2011.

Highlights are plentiful, but the supreme stars of the show are the laid back, low and slow version of “It May Be The Last Time,” and the closer of closers, The Bands own, “The Weight” with Levon in surprisingly strong voice doing his best Joe Cocker impersonation is epic,

When two musical icons are at the top of their respective games as they are here, the results can only be sublime.

Seth Walker – I Hope I Know

A Blues man dressed in a suit of Americana, Seth Walker has produced a guest drenched slice of topical tunes written for the Everyman. Produced by Jano Rox of the Wood Brothers. The lead off track, “The Future Ain’t What It Used To Be” features the great Alison Russell, and the sparse Dylan cover of “Buckets of Rain” is a sparse delight.

A highlight, for these ears anyway, is the Van Morrison cover of “Warm Love,” and while Walker doesn’t wring all of the emotion out of the standout track from Hard Nose The Highway, he does more than do the song justice with his delicate picking. And, yes there is flute.

As a new set of ears to Seth Walker and his oeuvre, I am prepared to say that if you like laid back Americana Blues in the J.J. Cale mode you will love Seth Walker.

Five Cool Ones: Five New Records Released This Week (May 6, 2022)

Time keeps rolling along, and as the year progresses, the hits are starting to pile up.

’90s vintage Country dwellers Midland are once again summoning the ghosts of Garth Brooks and George Strait with their latest, “Longneck Way To Go.

The Afghan Whigs have released “The Getaway” in advance of a new album to be released on September 9.

And, the Waterboys are out with another album that sounds like The Waterboys. That is great.

But wait, that’s not all. There was a bevy of prime musical cuts to select from this week, so many that we had a tough time paring the list down to five albums this week. But, we did the work so you don’t have to. Here are five groovy platters spinning at Rock is the New Roll HQ this week.

AWOLNATION – My Echo, My Shadow, My Covers & Me

Sometimes, when there is really no legitimate reason for a band to cover a certain song or the song is such an earworm that our ears can’t comprehend anyone but the artist performing it, there can be magic in the air when it is done well. And, that is certainly the case with My Echo, My Shadow, My Covers & Me, the latest missive from AWOLNATION.

With a playlist that is as tight as the skin on an apple, every song presented here is a nostalgic trip down top 40 memory lane from the days that radio play actually meant something. The rendition presented here of “Maniac,” from the movie Flashdance, has enough curves to make this a different listening experience from the original, and the Scorpion’s iconic “Wind of Change”, with a guest turn from Incubus and Portugal. The Man, shouldn’t work, but it does quite well.

Were not sure that there ever has been an attempt at covering Alan Parson’s “Eye In The Sky,” and although this version paints pretty much between the lines, the guest turn from Beck is pretty cool. “Flagpole Sitta” is worthy of some ear time simply because you likely have not heard the song in a while and Elohim very much does it justice, “Alone Again (Naturally),” yes that one, shouldn’t really work either, but in this context with Retro-Country dudes, Midland sitting in it works quite well. If you have never heard the tune with a pedal steel guitar give this one a try.

And, once you add the anthemic “Beds Are Burning,” ABBA’s “Take A Chance On Me,” and the Cars’ “Drive” what you are left with is a highly polished, exquisitely curated set of songs that just might come together as the best covers album of the year when all is said and done.

Chateau Chateau – Grow Up

With the punk attitude of Blondie along with the buoyant energy of The Bangles, Chateau Chateau is a loose-knit collective of Tucson-based musicians that self describe themselves as making cathartic indie pop for weirdos, outcasts, queer folks, and anyone else who needs it.

Grow Up, the band’s sophomore record is a concept record of sorts detailing the various relationships that frontperson Bleu has maintained, both good and bad, throughout her life. “I Don’t Love You Anymore” is a CBGB-worthy rocker with Phil Spector girl group interludes that rails against her abusive father, and “Converted” walks the ground once traveled with a narcissistic ex.

“Push Your Luck” would have been a superb Pretenders single back in the day, and the ‘Til Tuesday Indie Rock classic “Voices Carry” is a perfect cover version to bring out the versatility of the band.

After a couple of spins of this record, especially on the song “Pray,” the specialness of individuality surfaces and is celebrated in its truest form.

Luke Winslow King – If These Walls Could Talk

Recorded in Memphis, New Orleans-based Luke Winslow King with the release of If These Walls Could Talk represents his most pleasingly diverse set of songs to date. From the peppy “Slow Sunday, June,” a song that has them sitting in the shade under a banyan tree on a sultry New Orleans Sunday afternoon to “Love At First Sight” that will transport you to a stroll down Bourbon Street.

Proving he can rock with the best of them, the Jonny Lang evoking “Have A Ball” is pure Blues-Rock Big Easy Style. The title track is a somber look at a relationship that is ebbing away, and “Leaves Turn Brown” is a perfect winsome closer.

Proving that he is no vintage Country and Jazz one-trick pony, this mostly settled down affair will reward the soul wit multiple spins on the turntable.

The Coffis Brothers – Turn My Radio Up

With the very appropriate album title, Turn My Radio Up is perfect Laurel Canyon, Pacific Coast Highway, peaceful easy feeling fare. Produced by Tim Bluhm, frontman for The Mother Hips, the record gives a definite nod to the radio dial harkening back to the late ‘70s, when radio still mattered.

The opener, “One That Got Away” could have been a Timothy B. Schmidt vocal-led single from an early Eagles record, and the single “Turn My Radio” up would have been perfect on a Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers record.

“Ramona” travels into Flying Burrito’s Cosmic Cowboy territory, and “Two of a Kind” brings to mind Jackson Browne in his Running On Empty days.

Growing up in the Santa Cruz mountains in California seems to have been the perfect backdrop for brothers Jamie and Kellen Coffis to hone their craft using Buddy Holly and The Everly Brothers as influences to craft one of the best album releases of the year so far.

Pink Mountaintops – Peacock Pools

With their first record in 8 years, Stephen McBean and his collective Pink Mountaintops weave a magical mystery tour of a record, Peacock Pools.

Full of neo-psychedelic turns around every corner, this record combines early Kinks with Pink Floyd and Alan Parsons if your ears can grasp all of that coolness in one sitting.

Playing it mostly straight on the tender “Nikki Go Sudden,” a tribute to the late Post-Punk icon Nikki Sudden, the rest of the album seems to be in constant motion with “Shake The Dust” propelling down the road with a bit of Kraftwerk in its DNA, and “Miss Sundown” summoning the ghost of early “Jean Genie” David Bowie.

As is the case with most really good records, this takes you down a different Alice in Wonderland rabbit hole with every turn of the groove.

Five Cool Ones: Five New Albums Released This Week: April 29, 2022

Holy mother of pearl, this is a great week for new music. If you don’t believe us, just check out the new single from The Lickerish Quartet, a band that features most of the iconic SF Bay area band, Jellyfish.

Or, expand your mind with the latest from Rock is the New Roll’s favorite’s, Cats in Space. “Poke The Witch” is an epic tune.

And, Delicate Steve is out with a sweet instrumental single, “Playing In A Band” that will be on his upcoming album. For Delicate Steve, it is all about his 1966 Stratocaster.

And, don’t change that channel. There are five really cool records worthy of your earphones this week.

Willie Nelson – A Beautiful Time

Hitting the streets on April 29, 2022, on Willie Nelson’s 89th birthday, the red-headed stranger once again teams up with producer Buddy Cannon on a set of songs that takes old age head-on and addresses his mortality. Taking on themes of life, death, and love from the opening song, co-written with Chris Stapleton and Rodney Crowell, “I’ll Love You Till The Day I Die” to the whimsical Willie at his humorous best, “I Don’t Go To Funerals,” where he professes to be not even going to his own funeral. The voice may be a bit frail and dusty, but the guitar work courtesy of Trigger is as strong as it has been on any record. 

If you have ever wondered what it would be like to play in one of the legendary poker games at Willie’s home in Maui with Owen Wilson and Woody Harrelson, you will get a seat at the table courtesy of “We’re Not Happy (Till You’re Not Happy).” They are there to shoot the bull and shoot tequila, play some cards and hide out from their wives. And on “Dusty Bottles” you will be able to sit down and have a beer with father time.

For someone who has put out as many records as Willie Nelson has, likely over 200, this one should go down in history as one of his best, maintaining a decade-long winning streak of quality performances.

Eli “Paperboy” Reed – Down Every Road

Mostly known for his R&B in the late ’60s to early ’70s Revivalism mold, Eli “Paperboy” Reed puts his blue-eyed soul stamp on a set of nicely curated Merle Haggard songs. The Haggard songbook runs the gamut from Country to Americana music to Jazz, always delivered with a whole lot of soul and, as such, is a perfect background for Reed to explore and interpret in his own style.

Playing it straight Like he does on “Mama Tried” and “Lonesome Fugitive” Reed brings out the soul of the song with the emotion of a Jerry Butler Ballad from back in the day. But, it is on the deeper Hag cuts where this record really shines. “It’s Not Love, But It’s Not Bad” reaches the depths of Sam Cooke’s soul, and “I’m Gonna Break Any Heart I Can” is Wilson Pickett-worthy.

A master class in how to curate a cover’s record, the juxtaposition of selections that walk the line of the original and those that share enough DNA that the essence of the song carries the day makes this one an eclectic listen that will garner multiple spins on your turntable.

Dianne Coffee – With People

Applying his trade with his side-piece band Diane Coffee between Foxygen gigs, Shaun Fleming has released his fourth record with the band, the first since 2019. Produced by Foxygen major-domo Jonathan Rado, on this one, Fleming strays away from the Glam-Pop of his main gig in favor of a more subtle ’70s and ’80s soft rock aesthetic.

From the opener, “Corrina From Colina,” there is a Southern California beach vibe laid down, sort of like a cross between Holland Era Beach boys and Hall and Oates. This is a song that will catch your attention and entice you to head to the beach and paddleboard out in the ocean to catch those bigger waves ahead.

“Our Love/The Run” would have been a perfect vehicle for Freddie Mercury and Queen most notably at the piano break with the repeated angry whisper “You don’t get to treat me this way.”

With Foxygen level pop bombast reached on “Sharks,” and “The Great Escape” that give the record a breezy pop feel, this record is a perfect album for the now, but put a pin in this one and bring it back around when the sounds of summer are ready to dominate the airwaves.

Thunder – Dopamine

Applying their trade going on 35 years now, U.K. rock provocateurs Thunder have released a double album of riff-ready rock and roll that reflects back to ‘70s era guitar rock in the Tesla, U.F.O, and Nazareth mold.

“The Dead City” has leader Danny Bowes channeling his inner Paul Rodgers Bad Company persona and on “Black,” the band takes glam-rock to new heights.

There is beauty in diversity to be found everywhere on this record. “Is Anybody Out there” starts off as a Billy Joel-worthy ballad before it morphs itself into a mid-era Journey via way of Elton John stunner, and “Last Orders” meanders from Pink Floyd to Led Zeppelin with the aplomb of a best in class driving song.

For a record that has Rock album of the year written all over it, this one should settle the rock is dead controversy once and for all.

Trombone Shorty – Lifted

Practically born to be a musician, Trombone Shorty was playing the trombone going back to the days when the instrument was bigger than he was. Mentored by the Marsalis family and close family friends with Dr. John, Lifted Troy Andrews’s latest record has injected all of these New Orleans bloodlines into his veins on his latest record.

A gumbo of R&B, Soul, Funk, and New Orleans Brass, is served on every cut of this impressive piece of work. “I’m Standing here” could have easily been a Lenny Kravitz smash hit in the “Are You Gonna Go My Way” mold, “Everybody in the World” has that Harry Connick Jr. jazz vibe about it, and the opener “Come Back” lays it down like the best of Earth Wind and Fire.

With the single “Lie To Me,” a song that takes second-line gospel chants and melds them with Santana Band vibes and Preservation Hall local color with trumpet and trombones taking center stage, the message is clear. Trombone Shorty is in it to love it.