The year is really cranking up on the music front. Drive-By Truckers are weighing in with an important record, Kesha is back and bolder than ever, and there is even a new Def Leppard single out in the universe. Here are five choice morsels that we think deserve some of your ear time.
Drive-By Truckers- The Unraveling
One of those very rare bands that loses a key member, in this case, Jason Isbell, and continues to be a tour-de-force of a band while the departing member is equally great. With The Unravelling, sort of a sister record to 2016’s American Band, the truckers continue to put their beliefs up front and center and continue to be one of the more relevant bands on the planet. Patterson Hood and Jay Gonzalez don’t spare the ink on what might be one of the more important records in this early decade.
Thorbjorn Risage & The Black Tornado – Come On In
This outfit is 12 records in and, if you are like us, you have likely not heard of these guys until very recently. But, as Joe Cocker would say, “It’s high time we met.” With a unique brand of Blues that includes two guitars, bass, drums, a pair of saxophones, trumpets, and keyboards, the gravel voice of lead singer Thorbjorn is equal parts, J.J. Cale, Ray Charles, Billy Gibbons, and Leon Redbone.
This is an extremely eclectic listen. This Danish band mixes it up on the jaunty “Come On In,” our early candidate for song of the year along with the J.J. Cale by way of Nic Cave somewhat dark “Two Lovers.” This record kicks it with noir-ish jazz, swampy rock, sultry R&B, uptown funk, and house-rocking blues. We are three listens in with this thing and continue to be stunned.
Tre Burt – Caught It From The Rye
Only the second artist to be signed by John Prine’s Oh Boy record label if that tells you anything. Tre Burt’s distinct Lo-Fi aesthetic definitely has a Bob Dylan vibe to it that is a far stretch from this Sacramento natives days busking on the streets of San Francisco. Careful listens will yield glimpses of Van Morrison’s songcraft combined with a poets language all his own.
Smoke Fairies – Darkness Brings The Wonders Home
Deliciously dark in places with graceful harmonies in others, there is a Patti Smith by way of Annie Lennox atmosphere swirling around this entire record. By the time the closing Track “Super Tremelo” rolls around you are ready to get back to the guitar swirl by hitting the replay button.
Blackie & The Radio Kings – King of This Town
One of Canada’s leading Roots Rock Bands, sort of a north of the border version of the Bottle Rockets, this time around the band plays it pretty straight with a solid set of songs that will bring to mind, Tom Petty and John Mellencamp. “North Star” Could have been an early Tom Waits track. After several listens, we also can’t help shake the deep essence of The Bodeans.