Things are heating up on the album front as there is something for everyone this week. The Pretenders and Chrissie Hynde are front and center with a very solid new record, Kansas is throwing dust to the wind and putting out a surprisingly fresh new album, and there are a lot of new singles that are dangled before us to tempt our ears. And, of course, Rock is the New Roll muse Grace Potter is sporting a hip new hairdo on her Monday Night Twilight Hour series of quarantunes entertaining us as only she can.
Dead Daisies with frontman extraordinaire Glen Hughes give us a bit of a tease of what their new record is going to sound like with a cover tune of Steve Mariott’s “Three Days in the Hole.”
And, the band Dawes even shows up with a sublime version of “I Will Run”.
On top of all that, here are five really cool ones hitting our ear-waves this week.
S.G. Goodman – Old Time Feeling
The first thing that hits you between the ears is the raw emotion emanating from S.G. Goodman, one of the fresh new voices on the Americana scene. Second up, front and center, is the depth of the songwriting, most definitely trending into Jason Isbell territory. And finally, with a fully formed picture painted with assistance from My Morning Jacket’s Jim James on production duties, there is the realization that this sonic blend of dusty Kentucky back roads Americana is one of the best records we have heard all year. Just listen to the swamp-noir of “The Way I Talk” and the honesty dripping pathos of “Burn Down the City” and tell us we’re wrong.
Massive Wagons – House of Noise
Of course, Rock and Roll is not dead and we have just been waiting for this latest effort from This group of rockers to restore our faith in the dark arts. No reinvention of the wheel going on here just knock you down riff-laden ’70s dream bad-assery that sounds like the devil spawn of Def Leppard and Foghat. The opener “In It Together” is taking the top down and head for the hills driving perfection and “Bangin’ in Your Stereo” self proclaims to rock like it ’73 all the way from the East to the Irish Sea. And hell, who are we to argue.
Texas Gentlemen – Floor It!!!
It should come as no surprise that the Texas Gentlemen are one cracker-jack of a band since the group was formed by a bunch of session guys who combined probably have played on every Americana record you have listened to over the last five years including in support for George Strait, Paul Cauthen, Kris Kristofferson, Nikki Lane, and Leon Bridges just to name a few. With their musical chops on full display from jump street as it almost seems like they are just warming up on the first two cuts that are pure instrumentals that have sort of a Dixie Land Jazz vibe in places and Broadway show tune dusting in others. A head-scratching way to get things underway, but it works quite well.
Recorded in part at the FAME studio in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, each track seems to take you on a different musical journey. “Easy Street” will float the mind into Grateful Dead territory, “Hard Road” sounds like vintage Harry Nilsson, while “Skyway Streetcar” has a Burrito Brothers essence wafting in the air. Throw in “Charlie’s House” that could have been written by Bernie Taupin, produced by Gus Dudgeon, and performed by Loggins and Messina and you have a record of eclectic subtle surprises around every corner that very much rewards the listener with each subsequent listen.
The Bobby Lees – Skin Suit
Bobby Lees just might be the most raucous b, in all the best of ways, bands that you will hear all year. Delivering bone-jarring Garage Rock as it was meant to be heard, in an actual garage, this group of barely twenty-somethings goes for the jugular on virtually every song. The record begins with a square punch to the jaw with “Move” where we are introduced to frontwoman Sam Quartin in all her glory. Sort of a devil-spawn of Patti Smith and Beth Hart, she seems to be in the middle of some sort of exorcism as she totally grabs the song and whips it into a frenzy. On the second track, “Coin” energy flows fluently through the song and we are introduced to the drummer who has clearly been influenced by Keith Moon, arms flailing in the air and all. And it gets better.
Produced by Jon Spencer of Jon Spencer’s Blues Explosion, songs like “Riddle Daddy,” with perhaps the best-faked, or not, orgasm put on vinyl since Guns ‘N’ Roses “Rocket Queen,” seem to border into going off the rails territory before they are pulled back to earth with joy and abandon in a way that is both refreshing to watch and fascinating to experience.
If the Doors and the Ramones combined forces and Jim Morrison was a woman, the resulting band just might have been The Bobby Lees.
Pretenders – Hate For Sale
The Pretenders are back, they actually never left, and are better than ever with their first proper record since 2016’s Alone. It takes only one song, Chrissie Hynde has a few things to get off her chest right out of the blocks on the title track, until we are treated on song number two with “The Buzz,” a song that could have been the centerpiece on any of The Pretenders early records. “Lighting Sound” carries the trademark Ska-Influenced rhythms to updated levels, and the rambunctious “I Don’t Want To Stop” is pure CBGB vintage fun.