You know the year is moving along swimmingly when there is a new Bob Dylan record released, a long lost nugget sees the light of day courtesy of Neil Young and his lost classic album Homegrown along with a great new song and accompanying video from Willie Nelson.
Here are five albums that perk up our ears this week.
Bob Dylan – Rough and Rowdy Ways
With his first album of new material since 2012’s Tempest, on this, his latest, Dylan is once again in a fine form combining Blues, Folk, Country, Rockabilly, and Gospel with a bit of protest thrown in for good measure. As we have come to expect, the songwriting on this one is a master-class level history and pop culture lesson with each verse.
There are Road-House Blues on “Crossing the Rubicon,” Jimmy Reed inspired Blues on “Goodbye Jimmy Reed,” and on “Key West (Philosopher Pirate) we are taken on a stripped-down 9:00 journey down the acknowledgment path of mortality. And, the epic “Murder Most Foul” brings us face to face with the Kennedy Assassination for good measure.
This one might be the best album of the year.
Whitesnake – The Rock Album
Full disclosure, here in the Rock is the New Roll H.Q. we are big fans of David Coverdale going back to his Deep Purple days as well as with his band Whitesnake. Released on double white vinyl this latest record is the first in the Red (Love Songs), White (Rock Songs), and Blue (Blues Songs) trilogy all set to be released in the next 18 months. This first outing includes songs originally released between 1984 and 2011 and are pulled from six Whitesnake studio albums. The songs have been revisited, remixed, and remastered making this album a perfect beginner’s entryway into the catalog of one of the greatest rock and roll bands of the late ’80s and early ’90s.
Many of the hits are here including “Still of the Night,” “Judgment Day,” and “Here I Go Again.” For completists, the record includes a remixed version of “All Or Nothing” from Slide It In that features additional guitars along with an alternate arrangement of “Tell Me How.”
And, of course, video vixen Tawney Kitaen is back with an enhanced HD version of the famous video for “Here I Go Again” which is worth the price of admission alone on this one.
Bad Touch – Kiss The Sky
One of the more recent additions to our “Rock and Roll is Not Dead” list of bands, Bad touch is a 5-piece Classic Rock inspired band that based on their sound could have easily come from Alabama or Muscle Shoals Alabama instead of across the band in the U.K. where they are actually from.
Drawing inspiration from The Black Crowes, The Faces, as well as Lynyrd Skynyrd, Bad Touch should be a musical force to reckon that surely will break out in a big way in 2020. “Let Go” is Black Crowes inspired Blues-Rock standout, and the title track “Kiss The Sky” is a bit more of a rocker with singer Stevie Westwood doing his best Glen Hughes impersonation. Covering Kiki Dee’s “I’ve Got The Music In Me” may seem like an odd choice, but here it works quite nicely and serves to show off the versatility of one of the best new Rock and Roll bands to come around in quite some time.
Phoebe Bridgers – Punisher
Fresh off her critically acclaimed collaboration on the Better Oblivion Community Center record with Conor Oberst. Phoebe Bridgers is back in short order with her unique brand of Folk-Pop elegance. The record is a meandering beauty with hushed vocals and lush arrangements with lyrics that can be dark at times against a template of sunshine melodies. The mood is pensive in places, especially on “Halloween” and jaunty in others as displayed on the travelogue inspired “Kyoto.” Exquisitely produced as tight as the skin on an apple this is an elegant release with plenty of high points and very few low ones.
Chris Thile, Yo-Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer – Not Our First Goat Rodeo
As a follow up to their 2011 Grammy-winning album Goat Rodeo Sessions cellist Y-Yo Ma, mandolinist Chris Thile bassist Edgar Meyer, and fiddler Stuart Duncan have gathered the band back together for the appropriately named new album, Not Our First Goat Rodeo.
Each musician, on their own, has a unique skill in crossing genres, and on this beautiful exercise in harmonic convergence, their comradery is felt in every note. Some songs like “Waltz Whitman” would fit in quite nicely scoring an episode of Deadwood, while others the likes of “Voila,” would be perfect at an Appalachian Hoe-Down. When vocals are called for the ethereal voiced Aife O’Donovan fills the bill quite gracefully on “The Trappings.”
You will be a much better person for listening to this beautiful piece of work. If there are Grammy awards given out in 2020 look for this collaboration to garner at least one.