As we turn the page and enter into a new month, surprisingly, many artists are putting out some really quality work despite not being able to tour behind their new release. The Ruen Brothers, The band that released the album of the year in some circles (most notably ours) in 2018 with All My Shades of Blue, are front and center with “Lonesome,” a single in advance of a record to be released later in the year.
Norah Jones continues to tease us with material from her upcoming record with “Tryin’ to Keep It Together,” and even Kenny Chesney is out with a new album this week. But, none of this really can beat the excitement of a new collaboration between The Hu and Halestorm on their collabo single “Song of Women.” Mongolia meets heavy metal. Color us all-in.
Here are five records that are in heavy rotation in Rock is the New Roll H.Q.
Hot Country Knights – The K Is Silent
Possibly, no album in the history of the site has stirred up more controversy in the halls of Rock is the New Roll than the debut album from Hot Country Knights, The K is Silent. Their send-up of 80’s hat-country, a genre that brought us Clint Black, Tavis Tritt, and Garth Brooks, is done with such pure intentions that you can’t help but just sit back and enjoy the ride. Dierks Bently is the ring-leader here fronting a band that is part Steel Panther and part Midland. Skip right by the Bay City Rollers S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y style introduction on the opener “Hot Country Knights” and stroll on down to “Pick Her Up” featuring Travis Tritt on a song that sounds pretty much like what you would expect a Travis Tritt song to sound like, and spend some quality time with the Garth inspired “Then It Rained.” If you don’t take this one too seriously, it is an enjoyable listen.
American Aquarium – Lamentations
This is a band that quite simply is getting better and better with each subsequent release. Their 2018 record, Things Change, was pretty great, and the band has even turned it up a notch with their latest, Lamentations, part Whiskeytown by way of Jason Isbell era Drive-By Truckers and part Bruce Springsteen inspired storytelling. With the knob-twirling production of former dB’s frontman Chris Stamey, this one is one of the better releases of the year, any genre. The opener, “Me+Mine (Lamentations)” is epic in all its 6 minute and 40 seconds glory.
Hala – Red Herring
Hala is the nickname of Detroit based bedroom popster Ian Ruhala. Starting his career as a low-fi D.I.Y. artist in the Mac DeMarco bold, with his major-label debut Hala may be about to break out into the mainstream. The record is polished enough, but not overly so, to provide a lovely pop sheen without losing the homespun charm of the artist’s earlier work. There is a bit of a Conor Oberst and Bright Eyes feel to this one as well. Listen to this one twice back to back and we are convinced that it will be on your rotation for much of the year.
Cherie Currie – Blvds of Splendor
Perhaps the least famous of the Runaway’s, Joan Jett gets all of the press, Cherie Currie has carved a Glam Rock and Roll path of her own as a solo act along with the likes of Lita Ford and Suzi Quatro. Still in fine voice, her latest record features Guns ‘N’ Roses Slash and Duff McKagan on the supercharged “Mr. X, a highly polished and quite enjoyable take on Nick Gilder’s Roxy Roller that would make Suzi Quatro blush, and a finale that brings together Brody Dalle, Juliette Lewis, and The Veronica’s on the Runaways song, “Queens Of Noise.” Cherie Currie, still rocking after all these years.
Elijah Ocean – Blue Jeans & Barstools
Opening for the likes of Dale Watson and Charley Crockett this L.A. based by way of Maine troubadour should very soon be carving his own Outlaw Country niche right alongside Chris Stapelton, Whitey Morgan, and Tennessee Jet. His latest record, Blue Jeans and Barstools will be on the shortlist for Texas-style Hony Tonk record of the year. With highlights like the title track, “Blue Jeans & Barstools” his tribute to Buck and Dwight on “Bring Back That Bakersfield Sound,” and “I Left My One Spot (Back at the Five Spot)” his Outlaw Country street cred passport is stamped, sealed, and delivered.