An upbeat sentiment for the times, this ode to looking out for one another with the accompanying video directed by Whitey McConaughey is a perfect holiday reminder.
A bit of a heavy listen, but the Warren Ellis & Nick Cave record released this year should be on your best-of list.
Inspired by the California wildfires when many Californians woke up to a blood red sun bringing everything to top of mind including climate change, drought, and water management.
With Bad Company and Free as primary touchstones here this is the most fun you can have without digging out your old bell bottom pants. The immense closer Living Live on the Edge is about as good as Classic Rock gets.
The new record doesn’t come out until February 2022, but if this one is any indication what is in store color us in. ACDC with just a touch of roots rock is the order of the day on this one. Brian Johnson, eat your heart out.
Buckcherry – Gun
From Buckcherry’s ninth record Hellbound, the band is starting to take themselves more seriously. The killer harmonica intro and the Aerosmith-worthy grooves make this one a hip-shaking groover.
Houndmouth – Make It Midnight
The first single released from their upcoming record, Good For You, this one takes things low and slow on this Americana-tinged late-nite noir beauty.
Blurred Vision – Dear John
Released in support of the John Lennon War Child charity, “Dear John” features the UK/Canadian/Iranian prog-rockers alongside Peter Frampton and Mollie Mariott. This one evokes the spirit of John Lennon with more love than any we have heard in quite some time.
Starbenders – No One Listened
Carrying the torch for new wave glam rock, Starbenders are out with a new single and artistically cool video in advance of a proper release late in the year. Frontward Kimi Shelter puts her best Marc Bolan Ziggy Stadust foot forward on this one.
Ghost Hounds – Between Me and the Devil
Blending Blues, Soul, and Rock and Roll, Pittsburgh rockers Blues Hounds are as good as it gets. Just ask The Rolling Stones and ZZ Top, both bands inviting them out on the road in 2019.
Since everything is just a placeholder until the new Deep Purple record comes out later in the year, there is a chill in the air as a new Coldplay album hits our ear-waves this week. And, it’s not terrible.
The ironically monikered Southern groover Handsome Jack has a new song and video out with “Got You Where I Want To” that would make Doug Sahm proud.
If you were lucky enough to have Hayes Carll draft you a beer at The Acoustic Cafe in Galveston you would have known early on what an electric talent he is. For the rest of us, we get to bathe in his immense talent courtesy of this latest release, “Help Me Remember.”
And, there is great news on the horizon. The great collaboration of David Coverdale and Jimmy Page has four previously unreleased songs set to see the light of day later in the year. In the meantime, here is a bit of a blast from the MTV past.
And, if all of that is not enough to tickle your musical fancy, here are some tasty morsels that we particularly love from this week’s batch of goodness.
TK & The Holy Know-Nothings – The Incredible Heat Machine
Don’t let the fact that Taylor Kingman, frontman and major-domo for TK & The Holy Know-Nothings, self glosses his band’s music as “psychedelic doom boogie” stop you from giving this one a couple of turns around the dance floor.
From the opener, “Frankenstein” a Doug Sahm fronting Whiskeytown vibe grabs you and staples your ears to the speakers. “Serenity Prayer” is Steve Earl at his rebellious best, and “Laid Down and Cried” sounds like it comes from the outlaw spawn of Chris Stapleton and Merle Haggard. And, who among us hasn’t been too stoned to find their beer as lamented on “I Lost My Beer,” a song that would have been perfectly handled by Jerry Jeff Walker or Bobby Bare.
If you are looking for just one recent-vintage cosmic cowboy outlaw country circle of life album to place on your mantle, look no further than this Old 97’s by way of Jerry Jeff Walker-inspired gem.
Jason Isbell – Georgia
Inspired by his promise to record a tribute album to the state of Georgia should the election turn to a democratic blue, Jason Isbell puts politics aside to deliver a solid setlist that pays tribute to the songs and artists associated with his home state.
Highlights abound on this one. The Drivin’ ‘N’ Cryin’ staple “Honeysuckle Blue” is perfect in the hands of Isbell and his 400 unit, and Brittney Spencer offers up a gender turnaround and slays “It’s A Man’s Man’s Man’s World.”
The two R.E.M covers presented here, “Driver 8” and “Nightswimming,” as perfectly crafted as they are, seem to be minor cogs on a wheel of excellence. While the wildcard here is a Santana-tinged version of Allman’s “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed,” the return of Brittney Spencer on “Midnight Train To Georgia” tells the tale the most poignantly.
Sure, if you are inclined to pick nits, you can lament that “Georgia On My Mind” is not included in the set, but that would be short-sighted. By going deep with Cat Powers’ “Cross Bones Style” and “Kid Fears” by the Indigo Girls, there is no doubt that this album was passionately curated from the song selections to the choice of collaborators.
Joy Crookes – Skin
A sure-fire candidate for debut record of the year Joy Crookes’ new record is a blend of Amy Winehouse neo-soul, Nina Simone sultry jazz, and the silky smooth vocals of Ella Fitzgerald.
Standouts “When You Are Mine” and “Wild Jasmine” offer more contemporary song diva fare, while “Poison,” along with the title track, is a girl and her piano offering up some late-night noir.
Especially powerful is “Unlearn You,” a song about the lasting effects of domestic violence. Give this one a spin or three on your turntable, and your ears and soul will be exponentially rewarded.
Pokey LaFarge – In The Blossom of Their Shade
Breezy Americana is the order of the day on this, the seventh and latest record from Pokey LaFarge, In The Blossom of Their Shade. With a bit of an old-timey New Orleans vibe, the music takes you down a country road swerving to avoid cows and trying not to miss a turn causing you to drive into an alligator-infested swamp.
Even when he visits Holland as he does on “Rotterdam,” we get the city of his imagination instead of the real thing. “Drink of You” has the delicate aroma of a Rufus Wainwright song, and “Yo-Yo” has a Caribbean tilt to it that would be best served on the beach next to a fire.
With touchstones that include Western cinemascope, 50’s exotica, 60’s doo-wop, and 40’s big band, it is a wonder that LaFarge can meld these disparate styles into a contemporary tapestry the way he does on this record. If you are up for a road trip the likes of which you likely have not experienced since riding with Ryan and Tatum O’Neill in Paper moon, it’s time to begin your journey.
The Courettes – Back In Mono
What year is it? Is it time to put on my ascot and get ready for Austin Powers’ bachelor party? Yes, on all fronts, courtesy of The Courettes and their latest release, Back In Mono, a record that is the grooviest album of the year, or of recent years for that matter.
With the ghost of Phil Spector dancing all over the mixing boards, this Danish and Brazilian garage rock combo inhabit rather than imitate the Shangri-La spirit of every girl group you have ever heard from The Supremes to the Runaways. From the intensely clever “Want You! Like A Cigarette” to the Ramones evoking “Night Time (The Boy of Mine)” every song delivered to your ears is go-go club cool.
Don’t sleep on “R.I.N.G.O.” as a novelty song soul sucker. It might very well be, but strangely, it works. “Until You’re Mine” is a late-night voodoo hip-shaker, and “Trash Can Honey” will remind you of “Big Girls Don’t Cry” with a Flamin Groovies makeover. And, once the Duane Eddy guitar fuzz kicks in on “Hop The Twig,” it’s game on, everyone on the dance floor!
In Plain Site, the latest record from Neal Francis is destined to be on many a list for record of the year. “Can’t, Stop the Rain” is the latest single to be released from the album and features a filthy slide guitar interlude courtesy of Derek Trucks.
This very aptly named song comes from Dana Countryman’s latest record, Pop Scrapbook. The song, a collaboration with Klaatu’s Terry Draper and Scott McPherson, sounds like it time travelled right from 1975 with a scent of ELO, lots of Klaatu and even a bit of Queen wafting in the air.
Mitski is working on her first new music since 2018. And, if “Working for the Knife” is any indication her new record to be released in 2022 is certainly destined to be atmospherically epic.