Yes, we are definitely in the dog days of music releases. More Christmas records are starting to pollute our atmosphere, and there is a limited palette for artists to release a record with limited time to crank up the marketing machine to get the word out before the holiday lost in the shuffle scramble kicks in. But don’t panic, we have done the work so you don’t have to and cherry-picked a couple of fine listens for you to enjoy. Editors note, we contractually obligated to let you know that the cue tip on a stick, as Elton calls her, Celine Dion, has a new record out. Unless you are a fan of Cher, stay clear of this one.
Lady Antebellum – Ocean
Not sure why, but Lady Antebellum is somewhat of a guilty pleasure band in the halls of Rock is the New Roll. Every time we listen to them most of us, Bernie Sparrow, is somewhat of an old-school purist, but the rest of us will wonder why we don’t listen to them more. On this record, sure there are some soul-shattering bro-country, cookie-cutter tunes, but, mixed in are some downright semi-rockers like “You Can Do You.” The buttery vocal interplay with all of the band members jumping in is still as cool as when our ears first experienced the band courtesy of their mega-hit “Need You Now.” There is no splitting of the atom going on here but on songs Like “Boots,” there is even a bit of Rock in their Roll. All this being said, they should be forgiven if at times here they sound like a combination of Hall and Oates and The Little River Band.
Joe Henry – The Gospel According To Water
Working through this set of songs as he was battling his treatments for prostate cancer, the tightly woven set of songs was recorded in his home studio over the course of two days. As expected the record has a definite DIY feel to it which is exactly what was intended. Originally approached as a project to gather a series of demos for use in a more fully fleshed out record, Henry rightfully decided to release these close to the bone recordings as a cathartic experience for himself more than anything else.
Milky Chance – Mind The Moon
The duo that brought you “Stolen Dance,” the absolute monster earworm of a song that was pretty much the soundtrack of 2014, is back with their third long-player, and it is pretty strong. The opener “Fado” is a multi-textured affair that carries a bit of a Santana feel with it, and “Eden’s House” with Ladysmith Black Mambazo sounds like it could have been a lost Graceland demo. Overall, this one won’t have you at hello but the diverse soundscapes that are created with varied textures as you stroll through the tracks will reward your ears with frequent visits. “Scarlet Paintings” is pretty much an aural stunner.
Juliana Hatfield – Juliana Hatfield Sings The Police
If Juliana Hatfield likes a band you can be sure that we are going to hear about it. As a quick follow-up to her 2018 record, Juliana Hatfield sings Olivia Newton-John, Hatfield memorializes another influential band from her teens with the appropriately named Juliana Hatfield Sins The Police. Thankfully, she keeps things interesting and offers unique, almost Go-Go’s worthy arrangements for most of the songs. Not sticking to the hits, a couple of deep cuts are covered including the splendid up-tempo tunes “Landlord” and “Murder By Numbers” cranking up the guitars to 11. Throwing everything she’s got into each number, even if you are not a big Police fan the energy that zips from song to song makes this one a real winner. “Canary In A Coal Mine” is worth the price of admission alone and Juliana does the impossible and makes “De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da” listenable.
Jack Broadbent – Moonshine Blue
Pay close ear-tention here. You will be hearing much more from this dude in 2020 and for years to come. Already hailed as the new master of the slide guitar by the folks that run the Montreaux Jazz Festival Broadbent offers up a unique blend of virtuosic acoustic guitar playing to accompany his from The Crossroads slide work. Having recently opened for Peter Frampton, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and Robben Ford, Moonshine Blue, his fourth album, should put this guy on the map. The title track “Moonshine Blue” is one of the better songs of 2019, and “If” has Duane Allman rolling over his grave reaching for his guitar to challenge Jack to a slide guitar duel. “Wishing Well” is a jaw-dropper. Editors Note: After five listens the Rock is the New Roll review team as moved this record into the top 10 for 2019.