As we celebrate Paul Weller week if there has anything good that has come out of living through a pandemic it is that we have been able to enjoy some of our favorite artists direct from their living rooms. Jesse Dayton has been posting a quarantune show several times per week, Rock is the new Roll Hall of Fame member Grace Potter streams live from her living room, and Lukas Nelson and the Promise of the Real provide us a song every week that is almost as polished as we would be getting had they recorded the song from a proper studio.
Artists have even been able to release proper albums during the lockdown. J.S. Ondara recorded the highly excellent Tales of Isolation with the stellar “Lockdown on Date Night” a standout, and Texas icon Joe Ely has come out from behind his mask to give us Love in the Midst of Mayhem.
Along for the ride, here are five great records to reach our ears this week.
Paul Weller – On Sunset
Whether it is with The Jam, The Style Council, or with his ever-growing cache of solo albums, Paul Weller is always a must-hear. Much like Nick Lowe, Sir Paul is establishing himself as a torchbearer for the old guard rock and roll fraternity. Returning to his old friends at Polydor Records, the label for both of his former bands, on this, his first record since 2018’s True Meanings, Weller has on full display his love for Folk and 60’s Pop in equal measure. “Baptiste” could be a Steve Winwood single from back in the day, and “Old Father Tyme” is a Steve Mariott special. As is becoming Paul Weller’s M.O., there is a bit of an electronic flair mixed in with the troubadour folk leanings that keeps things contemporary while never losing that Country Squire edge. On Sunset is a surprise around every turn great listen that should, scratch that will be, on our list of record of the year candidates.
Willie Nelson – First Rose of Spring
Depending on how you count them, Willie Nelson has released over 100 albums, and, amazingly enough, he has not put out a bad record in at least a dozen years. His latest, mostly cover tunes, with a few originals sprinkled in for good measure, just because he can, has him singing wistfully about his certain stage in life. Produced by long time collaborator and friend Buddy Cannon doing the knob twirling, the formula is not messed with. Solid, carefully curated song selections with Willies trademark delivery providing the nuance that makes a song you have heard many times sound even more special and at times brilliant.
Jimmy Dean’s “Just Bummin’ Around” is a gentle and meandering walk in the park, Paycheck’s classic “I’m The Only Hell My Mama Ever Raised” picks up the tempo and doesn’t stray too far from the original showing that Willie still has his vocal fastball working, and even “Yesterday When I Was Young” is saved from Charles Aznavour Shmaltz with the Teatro treatment that Willie Gives it Here. “I’ll Be Breaking Out Tonight” is a stone-cold country classic expertly delivered by a master at his craft.
Mystery Jets – A Billion Heartaches
This eclectic blend of a band combines Kaleidoscopic Folk, Post Punk, and Indie Rock into an infectious ’60s influenced brand of Rock and Roll. From the earworm worthy song “Hospital Radio” to the delicately soaring “History Has Its Eyes On You” there is something for everyone on this fine record.
bdrmm – Bedroom
This U.K. – based quintet serves up a healthy dose of Dream Pop shoegaze worthy anthems. The combination of surf rock, hazy guitar, and Post-Punk sensibilities displays a template of songs that wander the universe between Brit-Rock, Alternative Rock, and Krautrock at the blink of an ear.
Dream Wife – So You Gonna…
If The Go-Go’s were just a bit more daring and out there, they might have been Dream Wife. Heavy Garage-Punk, Party-Pop anthems along with dance-worthy rave-ups are the order of the day. With their sophomore effort, So You Gonna …., the sound is a bit more polished than their debut, but no less fun. Recorded with an all-female recording crew, there is a bounce to these songs that can take on a “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” flair one moment and a Blondie worthy flare-up the next. This one is a layered listen with rewards waiting around every corner.