Just when we get ready to turn the corner into summer it seems that things are cooling off a bit on the new release front. Lady Gaga is out with her new one, Chromatica, and Nick Lowe continues to dribble out new songs with a new E.P. that features Los Straightjackets as his back up band, but otherwise, there are not too many entrants that will be making noise at the end of the year when the best-of lists come together.
On the cool side, however, many artists are putting out some really strong singles as they wait until they can tour to put out another actual full-length record.
The best of those this week include Jonathan Wilson’s cover of “Reach Out I’ll Be There,” the great Glam Queen Cherie Currie along with Brie Darling belting out their timely acoustic version of “Get Together” and Rock is the new New Roll favorite Zephaniah Ohara 0n “All American Singer” tells you exactly how he feels.
Here a five really nice records we culled from this week’s crop.
Dion – Blues With Friends
Dion, yes the “Runaround Sue” Dion, when he is not strutting down Broadway as the reigning king of New York, has reinvented himself a bad-ass bluesman. And here, on his latest record, Blues With Friends, the self-proclaimed wanderer jumps deep into the blues pool with a bevy of impressive friends including Joe Bonamassa, ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbens, and Stray Cat Setzer to name only three. Highlights include the slowed-down “Can’t Start Over Again with Jeff Beck, “I Got Nothin” with Van Morrison and “Song For Sam Cooke (Here In America)” that features Paul Simon. Samantha Fish and Bruce Springsteen also join the party that could end up in a late-night jam for best Blues record of the year.
Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever – Sideways To New Italy
With their 2018 record, Hope Downs, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever honed their three-guitar attack down to diamond-like perfection. And here, with their latest, the Aussie Quintet has only improved with age. The vibe is gloriously cool 80’s Jangle-Pop with a distinct early-era R.E.M. essence wafting in the breeze. Most of the tunes presented here are up-tempo high energy affairs with the notable exception of “Sunglasses at the Wedding,” a breezy ballad that sets a contemplative tone. The closing song, “The Cool Chance” is a Rock is the New Roll favorite.
Brigid Mae Power – Above The Water
Brigid Mae Power delivers a solid set of highly accessible Irish Folk inspired songs to her sophomore record, Head Above The Water. The subtle psychedelic undertones throughout this record help to create a different listening experience song to song. There are several highlights to savor here with “I Had To Keep My Circle Small” a definite stand-out track. This one is for fans of Judee Sill and Joni Mitchell.
Joe Louis Walker – Blues Comin’ On
Another scorching blues record out this week is the Joe Louis Walker release, Blues Comin On. Head-scratchingly ignored as one of the best of the contemporary bluesmen unless you are in the Blues fraternity. Joe Louis Walker broke through in 1986 with his stone-cold classic Cold Is The Night but has never really been able to enter the slipstream of the mainstream always flying directly below Buddy Guy, B.B. King, and even Robert Cray on the Blues radar.
But, here with his latest record, hopefully, things will change. On this one, he delivers an eclectic set of blues and Rock and Roll numbers with a dazzling array of co-conspirators that include Jorma Kaukonen, young guitar-slinger Eric Gales, laid back cool guy Keb’ Mo’, Albert Lee, along with Zevon side-man Waddy Wachtel along with several others. The result here is not as cohesive as the Dion Blues record might be but the sum of the musical parts is a highly rewarding listen its own right.
Sports Team – Deep Down Happy
Any group that takes themselves less than seriously singing songs that celebrate Ashton Kutcher, flip phones, and the joys of British seaside resorts have got to provide a pretty interesting listen. And, these blokes from the U.K. deliver the goods in fine fashion with their debut record, Deep Down Happy.
The influences are clear on this one ranging from “Panic In Detroit” era David Bowie to The Ramones and The Velvet Underground. There is an energy running through every song that will make your ears perk up and pay attention.